When the bough breaks

I was supposed to go to a conference this weekend, the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Trans Allied College Conference, or MBLGTACC. I don’t know why the A doesn’t stand for aromantic (people who don’t experience romantic attraction), or asexual (people who don’t have a sexual orientation), but that’s a post for another day, I’m afraid.

A week ago, I got sick. A week ago, I was finishing up my last few shifts at Starbucks and someone punched me in the chest and threw me out of the men’s room. Then I got sick. To top it off, my cousin is dying, and my uncle had stage 4 liver cancer and passed away on the 18th. I was supposed to leave at 4am on the 19th, which was also the 4 year anniversary of me celebrating my transition. Sometimes you have to make executive decisions that suck but are better for you in the long run.

Last week my partner Jo and I got the rest of my stuff out of storage and then Jo got sick as well. I’m also officially starting my new job as a personal care assistant on Monday. I knew if I was to go to MBLGTACC that I would hardly be sleeping and I’ve been sick for over a week so I decided that I should probably stay at home, get Jo to and from work, and get caught up on my life. That’s a tall order for a 3 day weekend but I’m up for a challenge.

First I tackled doing all of the laundry. Jo did dishes and cleaned the kitchen I also decided that in my 25 years on this planet, I have acquired way too much stuff. I also live in a small apartment and I had mono a few months ago. I’ve lost a bunch of weight and a lot of the clothes in storage don’t fit anymore, or they look ratty. So I threw away at least 4 garbage bags. I can always start over with getting clothes that fit and don’t look disgusting. I am a huge fan of thrift stores.

I am a person that gets a million ideas at once and gets really inspired and passionate and basically I am the king of half finished projects, which I really discovered when Jo forced me to do a yarn stash inventory. We put all of my yarn away and in an order of projects that I have to finish first. I was also a bit disgusted with myself and how much yarn I have. This habit of not finishing projects follows me in other areas of my life. I was so excited to get the entire apartment cleaned that I wanted to run around doing everything at once.

I learned it is much more effective to stick to one room at a time. Finish one knitting project before starting another. Write this set of poems before you leave them in the depths of your computer never to be seen again (which reminds me that I should totally go through my computer and find those poems I’ve left abandoned. Sorry, poems).

I’m also a stressed out senior trying to work an internship, a full time job, and go to school full time. I don’t have a lot of free time. I get burned out. I get tired. I think about dropping out at least once a week. I don’t seriously consider it, but the thought is there. I’ve been forced to become a morning person. It is in the morning when I am waiting for coffee to brew and Jo is sleeping, that I take out my computer and write a page. Or a poem. Or think about what to talk about next on this blog.

Sometimes when the bough breaks and you feel like you are that baby that is going to fall, you have to stop what you are doing, do an inventory, deep clean some stuff out, find the time to take care of yourself (for me that’s allowing myself to watch a short episode on Netflix and knit a few rows) and figure out what you have to give up in order to get where you need to go.


New Things.

I’m currently staying in Georgia near Atlanta. I haven’t written in months and things got a little crazy. Long story short, I’m sitting in the guest bedroom of my future mother in law’s house. We just made dinner. Jo and I left Minneapolis on Saturday night after I got off work and drove 18 hours to the house he grew up in. We are spending a week here. I am in love with Georgia. The people here are so nice and accepting and my future in-laws are amazing people.

I met Jo three years ago when I was living in North Carolina. He moved to Minneapolis in August. We got engaged at the end of September. We plan on getting married when I graduate, which will be December or May of next year. Then we plan on moving back to Georgia to be closer to family.

I did not go home for the holidays. I have not talked to most of my family in months. My mom calls occasionally and I talked to my older sister on Christmas.

I’ve met a bunch of Jo’s friends. Life is nice here. We wake up and drink sweet tea and sit and talk and his Mom made us breakfast. I’ve been sleeping like the dead and it is super refreshing. We’ve been hanging out with his friends and he’s been showing me where he grew up. I found a Starbucks that I can transfer to and a university I can go to for grad school.

Our best friend and I started a charity for trans people. We are collecting things for people like binders and clothes. Jo’s mom is helping me write up requests for grants. We are moving forward with things. I’ve never once been uncomfortable by anyone here. His family loves me and accepts me and it is so nice to be able to be here. I’m happy.

Unlearning Internalised Biphobia and Shame.

I started writing poems in letter form to my ex. After our relationship ended almost three years ago, I realised how emotionally abusive it was. One of the things he told me as we dated was that I couldn’t identify as bisexual because I am attracted to anyone, regardless of their gender, and I chose not to say anything. We’d only been dating for a month, and by this point, my second tumour came back. So I didn’t want to have a label war. To be quite honest, I didn’t have the energy for it.

I was spending most of my time in my bed in chronic pain, or at the doctors, or driving around North Carolina trying to find hormone doctors. So I started saying I was pansexual again. I’m not here to tell anyone how to identify. This was the same ex I tried to tell that I thought I was non-binary. I feel comfortable as a boy, not as a man, and sometimes I use the pronouns they/them/their.  I’m fluid in my expressions, but I never feel female. A month after this, I found out I was born intersex, so my identity is now super important. This ex basically shot me down any time I tried to say I wasn’t 100% male. I think part of this was the fact that I started transitioning ten days after I had the final part of my hysterectomy. Before that, he was more masculine than I was. Then I started T and because I have no reproductive organs, I started changing a lot faster than anyone expected. My voice dropped after two weeks. I started growing a beard after a month. My body started rapidly changing.

He was fighting so hard for his manhood, and here I was, on hormones, and trying to say that I didn’t feel 100% male.

We were also dating in North Carolina. So we never held hands in public or made it known that we were a couple, unless we were with other queer friends, and that was rare. But I got so angry because here was this queer and trans person telling me how to identify.

I try not to think about this ex. I haven’t dated anyone since him. I’ve been in therapy unlearning all of these things, and dealing with the emotional abuse that was our relationship, trying to notice it, and deal with it, and move on. Part of that has been writing poems to him about all the things I wanted to say. Part of that process has been to proudly claim my bisexual label.

If I am even thinking about dating someone now and they try to tell me to say I’m pan, I won’t date that person. I remember when I was 21 and came out as trans for the first time, and I knew that I was primarily more attracted to people that have been assigned female at birth, and I knew that I was still considered female, and I thought, well, I’m not usually attracted to cis men, so I can’t be bi. I don’t want to be bi. So I said I wouldn’t date bi people and I would just be a lesbian that’s a boy. Shame. Right there. There’s so much stigma. I was already feeling pretty crappy for being trans and the last thing I wanted was to have the other most marginalised identity in the queer community as a part of me.

I look back on that moment and cringe.

I look back on the moment that I told my ex I was pan, then, and I cringe.

However, I notice all the biphobia on the internet, and from well meaning queer people that aren’t bi, that are my friends, that say, well, I wouldn’t date a bi person. And I tell myself the same thing that I told myself for the first two years after coming out as Blake: You have to unlearn all the prison speak. You have to unlearn that you are really a female. It is not your fault that someone told you how to identify, and you didn’t want to fight, and you didn’t want to deal with it. And I know that the gender issue was a pretty big issue, and you were sick, and scared, and it’s okay. You can let go of that. Forgive yourself. No one is perfect. We all have things we regret. We all have things to unlearn.

I am fiercely bi now. I refuse to let anyone give me an identity that is not mine. Today I even bought a bi pride patch, and my sister is going to sew it onto a jacket for me. I am going to knit myself a bi pride flag hat. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point. As I finished this school year, a friend in the queer community on campus told me that I am such a great trans activist, and as I was in the bi spaces at queer conferences, I knew, and I knew after my friend told me that I’m a great trans activist, that I need to do more to be a better bi activist.

I don’t want anyone to learn the shame that I have. But if they have, I want us to let go of it. Don’t carry it with you.

Unlearning things is a process. It is scary as hell sometimes. It feels exhausting. Surround yourself with other bi people. Reach out to a bi group on the internet if you don’t have one where you live. Maybe even start a bi group where you live, because bisexuals are everywhere. Seriously, we make up half the community. And finally, if I could tell you one more thing, it’s that you are okay. You are beautiful and incredible and you can live such a great life, and do it being extremely proud of the person you are, and the people you love, regardless of their genders. There’s no one way to be bi. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

I believe in you. You exist. I see you.

Labels are for Soup Cans, Except for When You’re Wrong.

A few years ago (after a decade of bi activism, it’s hard to keep track of exactly when I said something) I wrote about biphobia and pansexuality and that label war. Since today celebrates three years of ending an abusive relationship with a partner that told me that I couldn’t identify as bi because I’m trans, I thought it was appropriate to talk about it today.

I’m going to make it bullet points because I tend to rant passionately. Because this matters, and the stakes are high.

  • I’m just going to say that the bi community has been defining bi as being attracted to same and other genders for decades. Then gays and lesbians decided hey, you know what, let’s get a label war started so let’s tell bi people that their definition is wrong, make a new definition, tell them they’re transphobic, create a new label using their old definition, and then profit off the fact that bi+ people are now fighting each other and we can continue discriminating against them.
  • Not all gay and lesbian people are like this, but biphobia in queer spaces is rampant. It’s one of the reasons the last 2 queer conferences I went to have bi plus spaces with disclaimers saying yo, we aren’t gonna do the bi verses pan debate here. Let’s talk about the b.s the community throws at us. If you feel like you belong here, you do. We aren’t gonna tell you how to to identify.
  • Especially because the main focus of queer groups is marriage equality, and their main argument for marriage equality is “we’re just like you, except in the bedroom” and they are threatened by us being attracted to more than one gender, so that invalidates their argument. They’re also threatened by trans people, and have often tried to keep us out of the community, as if we didn’t start the Stonewall Riots. You know, the catalyst for “GAY Rights-i.e marriage equality.
  • It wasn’t always marriage equality that was the main focus of queer groups. It was fighting for our rights to exist outside of bars, and to not die, and to have the right to legally change our genders, and have our families recognised. I’m not saying marriage equality isn’t important. It’s just not the only issue.
  • If you go into trans and bi spaces, our spaces don’t just focus on marriage. A lot of queer spaces, i.e gay and lesbian, have the mindset that the supreme court is going to vote on legalising marriage across the u.s in June, so the fight is over, we have achieved equality. See that point about us being just like everyone else except for in the bedroom.
  • We don’t need to tell other bi+ people how to identify. We don’t need to spend our precious time and resources on a label war. We need to combat all the b.s  that the queer and straight community throws at us and stop focusing on marriage. I don’t care if I can get married if I have a 1 in 12 chance of being murdered. I spent 2 years of my life unemployed because in North Carolina it’s 100% legal to tell a queer person that we won’t hire you because you are queer. I had several jobs tell me they wouldn’t hire me even though I was qualified because I couldn’t meet gender appearance standards because I was legally female and presenting as female, which is a fancy way of saying, you are too queer for us, get out.  I couldn’t take night classes at school for a semester because I was visibly transitioning and being threatened constantly and the security was on speed dial. The stakes are a lot higher than how you choose to identify, or if you can get married. I could have been denied housing. If I had children, I would have to worry about whether or not they would legally be considered mine, which would mean if they ever got sick, I could be denied the right to see them in the hospital because I wasn’t family. Or if my partner had kids and died, I would be done, because the kids could never be mine, because I was forced into sterilisation by the medical community for being trans.
  • Labels matter. A label war is garbage, but labels matter, because you need to be able to find your community and know you aren’t alone.
  • Don’t tell people how to identify.
  • Learn the history of the group you are a part of.

As a bi person, I’ve heard all of these a million times: Please stop saying these:

  • You’re really pansexual. Attraction to more than women and men is pansexual. I identify as bi. I am bi. Bi means attraction to same and other genders. See bullets above.
  • Why would you identify as bi? You’re trans?  Because being bi doesn’t make you transphobic. You know where I get the most support for my trans identity? The bi community. You know where I get the most support for my bi identity? The trans community.
  • I came out as bi to lessen the blow to my parents that I’m really gay or lesbian. Umm, why don’t you keep that biphobia a million feet away from me? Stop using us as a stepping stone to gay or lesbian. We exist. You are erasing us. I know sometimes people need to discover themselves, but stop (as a response I told someone I thought I was a lesbian once but saw a really cute boy and just knew at that point, yup, I’m bi, sometimes you gotta unlearn internalised biphobia).

TLDR: Don’t tell people how to identify. Labels are important, and you need them to build community. If you’ve ever spent a significant time trying to find out who you are, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  No one has time for a label war. The queer community is not done fighting for equality. Stop throwing bisexual people under the god damn bus.

Spring Break, Trans Day of Visibility, Hospital Visits.

I started spring break on Monday by flying to Colorado. My parents moved there in January. It’s where my Dad grew up and a majority of his family is. I had to take the train to the airport because my sister had her spring break last week (literally everyone was on spring break last week, private school problems) but it was fine with me. My flight from Minneapolis was at 2:20pm but I got there at noon because every time I fly, I have problems. So I go through security, and I fail my body scan. I always fail my body scan.

So I tell the male security officer that I am trans and I ask for a female officer. I should have remembered his name, but I was panicking. He didn’t give me a female officer. Instead, he patted me down. But this was not a normal pat down. In the last three years, I’ve flown probably a dozen times, but I’ve only missed an extra pat down once. I know not to wear my binder when I am flying. It’s bad for my lungs, because you shouldn’t bind when you are flying. It’s also bad for trying to get through security.

He spent a good thirty seconds groping my chest. I saw the scanner, and it was both chests as problem areas, as well as my legs, up by my crotch. He groped me there as well. This body scan took a minute. I left the security gate shaking, made it over to my gate, found the nearest bathroom and had a full on panic attack. I felt so violated. I then had to spend the next hour and a half sitting at the airport waiting for my flight.

My mother still works in California and lives with my older sister when she is there, so she splits her time between California and Colorado. She arrives this morning. So I call my Dad and tell him that I’m at the gate and everything is okay (everything is not okay, but my Dad does not need to know about the assault from a TSA agent). He can tell something is off about my voice, but he doesn’t say anything. I tell my mother that I’m there. That I’m okay. I tell her that I’m going to do what we talked about: tell my family members that my name is not Trish. I think it’s funny that this document tells me that that name is spelled wrong, but Blake isn’t. Anyway. She even suggested I pull out my license and say that according to the government, my name is Blake.

My Granddad was hospitalised with pneumonia over the weekend. Yesterday was his birthday, and he was discharged to a half way house where he will spend the next week. I knew this when I was leaving for Colorado. So my Dad picks me up from the airport and we don’t hug, because I just threw my bag in the back and took my camera with me up to the front of his truck. We might hug when I leave. We hugged at Christmas and Thanksgiving when I left. We had a nice conversation on the thirty minute drive home. I’d never seen the new house, so he gave me a tour, and opened the fridge up and said, I bought you all the gluten free vegan stuff you eat.

This is a big deal. This tells me he is trying. He calls me Trish though. He uses she and her pronouns.  But he bought me vegan food. We haven’t argued yet. I ignore the misgendering and tell myself that this is a lot better than where we left things a year ago.

He shows me the basement where my childhood is in boxes and tells me to look through them and figure out what I want and don’t want, that they will save it for me, so I can have it when I don’t live in a tiny apartment. We start going through the boxes. It’s got poems I wrote my parents at five. Letters from pre-school, a million photos, report cards, cards I made them for mothers and fathers day, books, yarn I’ve had for 14 years from my Great-Grandma.

I didn’t tell him I don’t remember it. I don’t remember pre school because I was three and four. I remember the church because it’s in my home town and it hasn’t changed much. I don’t remember most of the events in the pictures. Reading about my childhood, letters home from teachers, letters from me, was weird. But I decided to keep them, because it was a part of my life. I don’t like to think about a lot of the events. This happened nearly 2 years ago when I went to my cousins high school graduation, and my aunt and uncle were showing me all of the pictures from family trips we took. I didn’t remember any of them and kept asking about the events.

When I was taking my writing course in January, we had to write about our childhood and teen years. When we wrote about childhood, I didn’t remember much. It’s mostly gone. I think I blocked most of it out so I could deal with the Gender Stuff.

I’m taking the yarn home with me. I’m making a blanket out of her yarn.

My mother calls me and tells me that she had a conversation with my Dad about not calling me Trish and not outing me in public. She says he didn’t fight her. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t grumble. He just listened.

We drove an hour to get my cousin, she’s terminally ill, and we stopped at the grocery store in her town. He asked me if I wanted Starbucks, because I’ve been working there since October, and I said I was fine but I had to go to the restroom. He said he did too.

I waited for him to finish. I texted my mother asking if he was going to do anything about me going into the mens room. I have a noticeable beard that he asked me to shave before I came. I said I wasn’t going to do that. She says you don’t have to ask for permission to do those things. I say, I know, but I don’t want to be killed for it. We are in a small town. Last summer when my parents drove me out to Minnesota, he outed me every time someone gendered me correctly.

He comes out of the restroom and asks me if I’m going to go. I say, yeah, I was just talking to my mother. He says he’ll be at the Starbucks in the front of the store and to meet him there when I’m done. He saw me go into the mens room and didn’t say anything.

We get to my aunt’s house. My cousin hugs me, calls me Blake. My aunt comes down stairs and calls me Trish. My cousin says, his name is Blake. She’s got problems remembering things, but she knows. We write letters. She calls me Blake on them. She gets mad at family members when they misgender me.

We get to the hospital, and the doctor tells us that my Granddad can be discharged. He turned 85 yesterday. The nurse is talking to my Dad and he doesn’t use a name, but uses they pronouns when talking about me. He calls me and my cousin you kids, instead of you girls. It’s a big deal. He’s never done that before.

As we are taking my Granddad to the car, the nurse calls me a boy. My granddad then says, oh she’s a girl.

I inwardly cringe, but I tell myself that he is 85 and my Dad has made it clear to me that I am not allowed to tell him I’m transitioning.

We get home in the afternoon and my Dad takes me out to dinner. We stay up talking about things. Books I’m reading. Things I’m writing. The classes I’m taking now. The classes I’m taking in the summer and fall. We talk. When I left home, we wouldn’t talk at all. We couldn’t stand to be in the same room.

Yesterday was the Trans Day of Visibility, where we post pictures of ourselves and our pronouns and we talk about our lives. It was a day of celebrating our bodies.

I saw my favorite poet on Thursday, after finding out one of my friends in North Carolina, a trans poet, 18, killed himself. I needed to go to that poetry reading. Andrea Gibson talks about gender and the body and loving yourself and how important it is to live. I went with one of my friends from St. Cloud, also a trans boy, who lives in the city, and friends I met at Augsburg at MBLGTACC, the huge queer conference I went to in Illinois 6 weeks ago. I got a book of their poems and they signed it for me.

I kept thinking about their poem, I Sing the Body Electric, Even When the Power Goes Out. They read it on Thursday. Yesterday I celebrated my body. It is my skin. It allows me to write poems and stories and to read. It allows me to take photos with my Dad. It allows me to watch sunsets and sunrises and listen to birds. It carries me everywhere I go. So often, when you are trans, a lot of the focus is on how you hate your body. It’s how we are portrayed in films. It is how we often refer to ourselves. There’s this idea that in order to be trans, you must hate your body. I do not hate my body.

I Sing The Body Electric, Especially When My Power’s Out.

This is my body
I have weather veins
They’re especially sensitive to dust storms and hurricanes
When I’m nervous my teeth chatter like a wheelbarrow collecting rain
I am rusty when I talk- it is the storm in me

The doctor said some day I might not be able to walk
It’s in my blood like the iron
My mother is as tough as nails, she held herself together
The day she could no longer hold my niece she said
“Our kneecaps are our prayer beds
Everyone can walk farther on their kneecaps than they can on their feet”

This is my heartbeat
Like yours, it is a hatchet
It can build a house, or tear one down
My mouth is a fire escape
The words coming out don’t care that they are naked
There is something burning in here
When it burns, I hold my own shell to my ear
Listen for the parade when I was seven
The man who played the bagpipes wore a skirt
He was from Scotland- I wanted to move there
Wanted my spine to be the spine of an unpublished book
My fate, the first and last page

The day my ribcage became monkey bars
For a girl hanging on my every word
They said “you are not allowed to love her”
Tried to take me by the throat
And teach me I was not a boy
I had to unlearn their prison speak
Refuse to make wishes on the star on the sheriff’s chest
I started wishes on the stars in the sky instead

I said to the the sun
“Tell me about the big bang”
The sun said
“it hurts to become”

I carry that hurt on the tip of my tongue
And whisper bless your heart every chance I get
So my family tree can be sure I have not left
You do not have to leave to arrive
I am learning this slowly

So sometimes when I look in the mirror
My eyes look like the holes in the shoe of the shoe shine man
My hands are busy on the wrong things
Some days, I call my arms wings
While my head is in the clouds

It will take me a few more years to learn
Flying is not pushing away the ground
Safety is not always safe
You can find one on every gun
I am aiming to do better

This is my body
My exhaustion pipe will never pass inspection
And still my lungs know how to breathe
Like a burning map
Everytime I get lost behind the curtain of her hair
You can find me by the window
Following my past to a trail of blood
In the snow

The night I opened my veins
The doctor who stitched me up asked me if I did it for attention
For the record, if you have ever done anything for attention,
This poem is attention
Title it with your name
It will scour the city bridge every night
You stand kicking at your shadow
Staring at the river
It does not want to find your body
Doing anything but loving what it loves
So love what you love

Say this is my body
It is no ones but mine
This is my nervous system
My wanting blood
My half tamed addictions
My tongue, tied up like a ball of Christmas lights
If you put a star on the top of my tree,
Make sure it’s a star that fell
Make sure it hit bottom like a tambourine
Cause all these words are stories

For the staircase to the top of my lungs
Where I sing what hurts
And the echo comes back
Bless your heart
Bless your body 
Bless your holy kneecaps
They are so smart
You are so full of rain
There is so much growing
Hallelujah to your weather veins
Hallelujah to the ache
To the pull
To the fall
To the pain
Hallelujah To the grace
And the body 
and every cell of us all.

MBLGTACC and Three Years of Transition

Last weekend I was in Normal, Illinois, with my university, and a lot of other universities across the midwest, and even the northeast, the south, and the southwest. MBLGTACC, the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Allies College Conference, is the biggest LGBTQIA conference in the country. I spent three days networking, looking at graduate programs that are LGBTQIA friendly, and doing workshops on queer issues. I had a blast and I was able to listen to Laverne Cox, a transgender woman of color most known for her role on Orange is the New Black, speak on issues that face trans people. I also got to listen to her talk about being a successful person and never giving up. The message of her keynote address was definitely one of hope. I have been to pride nearly every year since I was fourteen and my uncle took me for the first time in Minneapolis.  But being around about three thousand university students and making friends with them, including filling an entire auditorium with trans people, was absolutely incredible. I didn’t want the weekend to end.

I started the spring term on the fourth of February. I’ve been busy with school and working about thirty hours a week. I have 400 pages of reading due a week. I am writing so much and thinking so much but I love it all. I should graduate next year. It could be the year after that depending on a few things, but I am on track to finally graduate.

On Thursday, I celebrated three years of transition with a friend that is also trans. We met in October at a conference at a local university. We went dancing and ate pizza. I had a wonderful time.

Last night, my Dad called my sister, the one I live with, and she started using my birth name and she and her pronouns, and I asked her if she would please stop. She said, I know you are Blake.  But Dad hates calling you that, and I don’t want you to come between my relationship with him. I said I don’t want to do that, either, but last month I was almost arrested, last weekend I was kicked out of a restroom, last summer my Dad outed me in public and I am lucky that my mother got me away before something happened. I said that misgendering me is very dangerous. She said we were in the apartment. After she left to go back to school (she’s graduating in May and basically lives at school) I called my Mom and just said, I’m upset, and I don’t know if I have the right to be upset. So we talked for a while and I explained why I was upset, and my mother said she would talk to her.

They were talking this morning and I walked into the kitchen and my sister called me Blake. Which she does, unless we are around my Dad, or extended family. I have told people that if they continue to put me in dangerous situations, I’m not going to come to family functions, and I’m not going to be around them, because I can’t do it anymore.

But other than that, things are good. I’m saving up all of my money for my surgery this summer. Next month is two years on hormones. For the most part, things with family are good. I feel pretty good about my life.

Some New Exciting Things.

I thought I would just talk about some of the new and exciting things going on in my life. Sometimes, I feel like I get bogged down with all of the horrible things I’ve had to deal with in the last three years when it comes to my transition.  Last month, I almost was arrested for riding the train to work at seven thirty in the morning on a Saturday and the metro transit police thought my ID was fraudulent. This sparked a debate with my parents and my goal is to have my surgery this summer so I can legally change my gender.

I now have health insurance at work. Starbucks pays up to 25,000$ for transition related expenses. I’m going to use some of that for top surgery at the University of Minnesota as soon as I have saved up money for my copay, which will be about 2,000$. I’m hoping to have the surgery this summer. It’s exciting.  My parents are paying my bills and my rent so that I can go to school and work and get my surgery. All of my paychecks are going to the surgery funds. I also have friends that I am knitting things for and they are paying me for them, so that money is going to my copay as well.

I had my license switched back over to Minnesota on Saturday. I had to go in with proof of my name change and there was some hangups with it. The woman doing the license transfer realized that my license never expired because I changed it back when I was living in St. Cloud, so it was a name update and address change. She kept trying to put my gender marker as Male, but if I let her, I could be accused of fraud and arrested. Then she was confused about what name was my current legal name and whether or not I had changed my last name as well. She handed me my yellow papers and told me it would take at least two months for the hard copy because now Minnesota has to contact North Carolina and verify my name change.

Verifying my name change has been my experience nearly everywhere for the last seven months. My background check for Starbucks took two weeks because they had to verify my name. My financial aid was messed up at first for the fall because they didn’t know who I was and everything had to be double checked.

But the name change was done after eight months of dealing with court, so even though now my life has become double verify everything, the name change is done.

I’m about to start my spring term at Hamline. I just finished my January Term taking a class about writing for children and teens. The class was great, but also hard. We did a lot of exercises about our childhood, recalling things we did as kids, and what events happened. I don’t remember if I’ve talked about this or not. But a majority of the events in my childhood are gone. I don’t really remember kindergarten. I remember the school pictures every year and my grandmother curling my hair and forcing me into lace dresses that itched and I know that I always tried to run away from her when she got me dressed for them.  I remember puberty starting and I know there are pictures of me at family members houses of me as a girl on family trips. I don’t remember the trips. I don’t remember why I was wearing the dresses. I don’t remember most of what happened at school. I blocked it out to deal with it. I have a friend that found a notebook from when she was in third grade and it said, I know I like girls but I’ll deal with it later. She didn’t deal with it until college. I feel like I did the same thing.

When we got to the teen unit, and we had to describe high school, I could remember more details, but I never wanted to share any of the details with anyone else. Most kids were recalling sports and other fun things that they did. Remembering ninth grade was the worst for me. It was one of the worst years of my life and I attempted suicide four times. I spent a majority of the school year gone. But I love the classes and I think it was a way of writing about what happened, and moving on and dealing with it.

I’m excited for the classes I’m taking this spring, Poetry II, Literary Theory, Intro to Women and Gender Studies (I’m getting a minor in Gender Studies) and Intro to Social Justice.  I’m going to be in Chicago the 13th through the 15th with Hamline at the Midwest Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Ally, College, Conference and I’ll be meeting other queer students from all over the midwest for a weekend. I’ll also see people I went to school with in St. Cloud, and kids from Minnesota I met in November at MOCC, Minnesota Out College Conference, so I’m excited. I also get to meet Laverne Cox and learn more about being a better transgender activist. I’m very excited.

I’m also almost done with my undergrad degree. Now I’m just looking at colleges for grad school, or going back and getting my teaching license for teaching secondary school English. If I had done the Education major now, I would have had to take an extra two years, but I already talked to the program directors and it made more sense for me to graduate with my writing and English degree first. So I continue moving forward and I’m happy with where my life is going. Sometimes it’s hard. My Dad and I write letters and I always just sign them with I love you, not with my name, because I don’t want to start a fight.  He always addresses me with my birth name and she/her pronouns. We don’t fight about it. It is what it is.  I can end my letters with I love you.