Tag Archive | being transgender

Identity & Conflict

Through most of my life, I considered myself a boy. I was such a dude that it still bothers me to see men wearing pink, and I’ve said countless times that the shirt that says “Real men wear pink” is stupid–real men avoid wearing pink at all costs. I wore boxers, shaved my head, and had a bad ass goatee. No one in their right mind would have looked at me and suspected that I was anything but ordinary heterosexual male.

I drank beer, ate steaks, had a wife, knew how to work on automobiles, knew how to repair washing machines, and all the usual stuff. Yet the person there in that pic–that’s me. That person in that pic who five minutes before or after would have laughed at a guy for wearing a pink shirt–that’s me. That person who would have sneered if someone offered him a wine cooler over a Bud Light–that’s me.

Recently, Caryn Harlos has called me a revisionist making the party look silly because I say that Nolan was, and always was, an anarchist, even if he identified in the past as a minarchist. Speaking as a transgender person, I know exactly how this goes, and that’s why I bring all of this up. There is a lot of truth to the idea that a M2F trans person will embrace the most masculine aspects of being a male. It’s not an accident that I shaved my head, had a goatee, lifted weights, wore muscle shirts, and all the other shit. One might say I was overcompensating.

Yet the truth always bled through, often unbidden and without conscious intent, and I wondered about it for years. I remember remarking to a friend several years ago that I am, and always have been, an enthusiastic supporter of LGBT rights, but that I wasn’t sure why. I’m not gay or bisexual, so why should I be such an Ally that it consumed probably 10% of my political discussion? It didn’t make much sense. This was the transgenderism bleeding through subconsciously, without my knowing it or realizing it.

Of course, you could ask my ex-wife (from whom I divorced for reasons entirely unrelated to any of this) about other ways my transgenderism bled through. I mentioned in Dancing in Hellfire that my cousin enjoyed wearing makeup when we played various games, but as early as kindergarten I loathed makeup. Our kindergarten teacher forced us all to put on lipstick to kiss a paperplate (making a thing for our parents), and I resented her from that day forward. Makeup was for girls, and I wasn’t a goddamned girl. Only because I was a freak (what people today would call “goth”) did eyeliner get a pass, and only then because it looked so freaking awesome, and that was much later.

There were always periods, though, no matter how masculine I presented myself, and no matter how generally conformist I was to sexual stereotypes of heterosexuality, it always bled through. I’ve described being transgender and having to repress it as desperately needing to breathe, but being able to breathe only in short, very sporadic gasps. But no matter what I did, no matter how I attempted to hide it–often from myself–it always bled through. My grandmother would find women’s clothing hidden between my mattresses. I wore them when I could, while at the same time hating myself for wearing them, knowing that I was betraying some other part of me.

It was conflict, pure and simple.

Conflict between who I was and the identity that I proclaimed–the identity that I believed in.

And now look at me.

Who would ever have guessed that the person in the above pic was not truly the person he identified as? Who would have guessed that the goatee, the shaved head, the muscles, the Bud Light, the steaks, and all the other things… were just ways of masking the true behavior that underwrote so much of what I said and did?

Because it’s true. I wore my girlfriend’s prom dress before she did–and she thought it was hot. I had long hair through most of high school, too. At one point, my hair fell below my breasts. This same girlfriend gave me tons of panties, yet at every given moment I’d have insisted that I was not even a cross-dresser, that I was adamantly against the notion of transgenderism. I’m sure that I’ve in the past said “Boys are boys and girls are girls, and that’s that.”

When the True Self conflicts with the Expressed Self, there are contradictions–often glaring contradictions.

It would be the height of transphobic ignorance to look back at that first pic, of me with a goatee, and say that I was clearly just a male, that I was only a male, and that I was not, even then, transgender. I most certainly was. I was even female then. I simply repressed it because, for various reasons that are often unique to the individual, I could not accept it, and I was not ready to accept it.

Several, several years ago, I mentioned to a friend that if my ex-wife and I ever divorced, I would move to California and get a sex change operation. I told this to another friend, too–one that you could almost call a boyfriend, except that it wasn’t like that for me. When he brought this up again a year later, I adamantly denied it. Even though I had told him to his face that I felt like a girl and wanted to pursue that, when he mentioned it later, I abjectly refused to admit that I’d said that. I told him he was taking it out of context and making it to be a much bigger deal than it was. Readiness often comes in phases, rarely does it come all at once.

Nolan’s early writings, particularly his written declaration of the case for a Libertarian Party, have anarchism bleeding through it in exactly the same way that transgenderism bled through so much of my life, even as I identified as a male and sought desperately to hide any indication that I wasn’t quite normal. We see in Nolan’s other writings exactly the same conflict that we saw in me when I said “real men don’t wear pink.” Coming to term with oneself and making that final leap is often extremely difficult, but it shines through, and nothing can dim the inner light of the true self.

When such a conflict arises, how shall we form an understanding of the person? Through their often-confused and often-contradictory expressions and positions, or through the inner light that bleeds through no matter how adamantly it is denied, and is only embraced much later in life? Should we embrace the identity of the person as they express themselves while clearly embroiled in internal conflict, or should we be more understanding and accept their internal conflict as just that–internal conflict that was only resolved much later in life? Nolan denied being an anarchist and expressly stated that he was a minarchist with exactly the same fervor and tenacity with which I stated that I was a normal heterosexual male.

But I was never a normal heterosexual male, and Nolan was never a minarchist.

So, no. Caryn Harlos is wrong. Nolan was an anarchist, even back then, and it clearly bleeds through in his early writings in exactly the same way that female clothing bled through my otherwise-normal male adolescence. That I claimed to be a normal male didn’t make me one; that Nolan claimed not to be an anarchist didn’t prevent him from being one. It merely prevented him from coming to terms with what was already then shining through.

But apparently I’m a revisionist for saying that, clearly, Nolan was always an anarchist. If so, then I’m a revisionist for saying that I was always transgender.

Moreover, I can claim right now to be a minarchist. That won’t make me one. I could just as easily call this site “The Minarchist Shemale” and write pretty much the same things, though occasionally throwing out contradictory articles about how we need a state to protect us from a state. None of that would make me a minarchist, though–it would only make me confused about who I am and what I believe.

I’d rather take the word of the person who has worked through that confusion and expressed an identity that is in accord with their inner identity than to arbitrarily cling to the confused contradictions of someone struggling to come to terms with their identity.

But that’s just me…

I’ve Been Down This Road Before

fingerThis morning my employer confirmed the suspicions that I wrote about yesterday. His reply was exactly what I had expected, and had been delayed for exactly the reasons that I expected. Like my sister, he expects me to “just deal with it” and to just be trapped in the box out of pragmatism.

But I will not.

I will not do it again. That is no way to live.

Like my sister assumed, he assumes that I will back down because I have to have a place to live, and he’s not wrong. I don’t make enough money to afford anywhere else. I live in rural Mississippi and am basically a serf to this employer; it doesn’t even appear to be by accident that I don’t make enough money to do other things, you know? I’ve talked about that before, and I’ll provide the link here.

This situation is very much a “You’ll hide the fact that you’re transgender from my son, or you’ll be kicked out, and I don’t pay you enough for you to live elsewhere, so suck it up and put yourself back in the box.”

How can I take it any other way?

It is irrelevant that he is a bit nicer about it than that, and that he hasn’t overtly said that, but that is what he is saying nonetheless. Look at the situation more closely, and keep in mind that I’ve spent the last year trying to get a different and better job. There just aren’t any here in rural Mississippi; I need money to leave, and I need to leave in order to make money. And now I am facing a situation where my employer is threatening that I will be kicked out if I continue openly being transgender, and so I must get back in the closet because he, my employer, doesn’t pay me enough for me to do anything else.

suspicions confirmed

Though it was not overtly said, the message is clear. If his son moves into the house in question, he expects me to get back in the box. He doesn’t seem to have grasped what I meant when I said that I will not be put back in the box. Have you ever seen the film The Man in the Iron Mask? Leonardo Di Caprio gives a stunning performance, and at one point he cries, “No, kill me if you must, but do not make me wear that mask again.”

I am being told to wear the mask again.

What consequences will result from this decision? Terrible ones. Unemployment, homelessness. Yet the alternative is one that I cannot face. I would sooner die. I have lived that life before, trapped in a small box–then a bedroom–and not even allowed to go to the bathroom. I wasn’t even able to be me until after my nephew had gone to sleep because, no matter how many times I berated him, he had the lamentable habit of barging into my bedroom without knocking. My sister and her husband would have thrown me out then and there if her son had walked in on me as me, and I couldn’t handle that. And even then, once they were gone to bed, I was forced to stay in my bedroom. I couldn’t go to the kitchen or bathroom. If one of them woke up and saw me, they’d have thrown me out.

This is the same situation, and I’ve been here before. The box in which I will be trapped is bigger, but I will be trapped nonetheless. Did I leave something important in my car? Uh-oh, better change clothes completely. Can’t just walk outside and get my stuff out of my car. Do I need to do laundry? Better hope he doesn’t open the dryer or anything. Plus, for complex reasons I don’t feel like getting into, I bathe in this house that we’re talking about. I use the freezer in this house that we’re talking about. If all this strikes you as bizarre, read the post I linked above.

It was actually that house that I was renting in the first place. But the owners keep a bunch of ceramic knick-knacks and other shit in there, and my cats broke one of them. They were supposed to come and remove their shit, but never did, and they ultimately asked me to move into the other place, which was fine, for the most part. I still have free access to the other place–I do my laundry there, I freeze my ice there, I bathe there, I park my car in its garage, because it’s like fifty feet from where I do live.

I knew as soon as I received the initial email Sunday that this was going to be bad, because it all hinges on one thing: his son’s tolerance, or lack of, for transgender people. It’s hard to believe that this guy who has known me for 5 or 6 years would so callously see to it that I’m kicked out, even though it wouldn’t be doing him a damned bit of harm, but I already know from experience… that it doesn’t matter.

My own sister, someone I have known my entire life (obviously), kicked me out for it. I have no delusions that his son will be more reasonable, more open, and more understanding. The fact that he’s known me for years and knows me to be, at the very least, an alright person, will count for nothing.

It’s not even “being transgender” that people have a problem with.

Think about it. How many times have you seen a girl wearing men’s clothes without it being a problem? Just the other day at a client’s, there was a girl working there who was clearly wearing men’s clothes, and no one looked twice at her about it.

It’s not crossdressing or transgenderism that people get pissed off about.

It’s feminization.

Even here in bum-fucked Mississippi, it’s totally acceptable for a girl to wear guys’ clothes. In fact, it’s pretty common–probably more common here than in other parts of the country. But if a guy is caught wearing girls’ clothes… It’s life-threatening. At the very least, he’ll be attacked.

And that’s the problem here. So many of these people know me as a guy. They won’t see Aria and go on about their business. They’ll see this guy that they see every other day wearing women’s clothes. Even though they wouldn’t care in the slightest if ” a girl they see every other day” was wearing men’s clothes, I would not be so lucky.

I’m honestly not sure what to do here. I can’t go back in the box, and I won’t. My employer’s latest email insists that I’m jumping the gun a bit, but I have been down this road before. His gut reaction is the correct one, I know from experience.

When I first realized I had to start coming out to people as transgender, I was torn about my sister. My gut told me that she would flip out, and a friend of mine who knew her very well agreed. As I continued pondering it, however, I became convinced that I was freaking out over nothing. She already knew for the most part–it was an unspoken secret. And she was my sister–together, she and I had gone through alllllllll that bullshit:

And this one:

Yes, we went through a ton of bullshit, and all that is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s enough for me to fill an entire book that I’m calling Dancing in Hellfire and am trying to find an agent for. God, having that book published would alleviate all of these problems, would easily provide me with the means to move to Vegas and escape this nightmare where shit is constantly hanging over my head, where I’m always in danger.

I convinced myself that she wouldn’t care. So I told her. She said she was fine with it, but that she’d have to ask her husband whether I could simply be me as I paid them rent each fucking month. Weeks passed. I finally asked again. She said she hadn’t. More weeks passed, and I finally asked again. She said that he had a problem with it. She lied, of course, and I knew that she would: it was never her husband (who had once lived with a cross-dresser) who had a problem with it. It was her, and she used her husband as a convenient excuse.

Finally I laid it all out for them in a letter, informing them that I was proceeding with it, and that they could accept it, or not. It was then that I received that fucked up text message from my sister:

bitchSo oh, yes. I’ve been down this road before, and unless I’m able to move to Vegas this time, I will end up going down this road again. It’s so much easier for people to reject me than to confront their own discomfort, their own disdain for feminization, and their own cognitive dissonance.

I’m so tired.

I just want to be left to live, work, and love in peace. Why is that so goddamned much to ask? Everyone else is allowed to do it. But no, because I choose to wear women’s clothes and present myself as a woman, I’m not allowed those basic things.

Why can’t I wear the shirts I want to wear, the jeans I want to wear, and the shoes I want to wear? Why can’t I present the face that I want? Men can grow beards if they want; men can grow mustaches if they want. But I can’t wear makeup? Why can’t I wear my hair a certain way? Everyone else can. Everyone else can wear the shirts they like, the jeans they like, the shoes they like.

But me?

No.

It’s not a matter of courage. There is nothing to be gained by presenting myself as a female permanently here in Mississippi. It would leave me unemployed, homeless, and starving to death very quickly, and that is if someone didn’t attack me and kill me before those other circumstances started falling on me. It wouldn’t be “courageous” to present myself as a female all the time here, because everyone here has known me as a male. You can see from my videos that I’m passable, for the most part. Yet I’ll never be passable to the people who have always known me as a male. While my friends are accepting and don’t give a shit, that doesn’t apply to the random people who see me around town.

I’m so tired.

Shemale Lesbian Problems

I’m sexy as fuck.

3I have to be honest, though, that my muscles are seriously beginning to irritate me, even as there’s nothing I can do about them except wait and let hormones knock them out. I imagine that it’s going to take a while, because I’ve always been pretty muscular. I’ve lifted weights most of my life, too, which has caused a lot of people to be surprised when I have to do something that really shows my muscles–or just flex. When I worked at Domino’s Pizza years ago, we were messing around near closing time, and discussing exercising, and everyone was showing their muscles. When the conversation worked its way around to me, I was like, “Nah, that’s alright. I’ve gotta do some dishes.” They pressed, however, so I flexed.

People are always surprised, because I’m so skinny, but I’m seriously all muscle. When lifting weights years ago at a gym, I had to be strapped down while working a machine that had me pulling the weights down from above, because it was instead lifting me into the air. It was a reverse benchpress kinda thing, I don’t know what it’s called. But there were several people in the gym, and everyone was shocked that skinny little me was like “No, put 150 pounds on it. I’ll start there.” When I owned a Bowflex (Don’t buy a Bowflex), I had to order two extra 50-pound resistors, because the default weight wasn’t enough for me to get a workout.

When I got home from school everyday during early high school, I’d jump and grab the roof of our house, and proceed to do pull-ups while lifting my knees–there’s nothing that works abs as much as doing that. And when all that combined, I ended up with mostly a 6-pack abs and quite a bit of muscle on my arms. So there was like a decade or more of pretty regular weight-lifting, crunches, sit-ups, and pull-ups.

I’m thinking it’s gonna take a few years for estrogen to atrophy those muscles away.

2I’m also looking pretty good, though! I don’t normally do my makeup that well, but I had several hours over which to do it, and I had plans that night, so the extra effort was important. I could have gone anywhere I needed to go looking like that, and no one would have looked twice–well, they might have, but it would not have been because they suspected I might have a penis.

Well, except for the muscles.

Those still are dead giveaways.

_20160717_120753I am pretty sexy, though, and I do enjoy showing that off. I’m kinda torn on the subject, though, because I want to take extra care to avoid being stereotyped like many transgender people are. I can handle my abs being like the pic there on the left, and you can even see where curves are starting to develop. There are clear curves there, and I really like that.

Even my legs are pure muscle, though. Look at them.

Just one big ass muscle there.

My legs are okay, though. I’m not particularly bothered by my legs, though I don’t like my ass.

One of the girls I was recently talking to pretty obviously wanted me to keep being a guy. It does put me in a weird position, granted, because these two left-aligned pics… they seem more like the sort of thing that would attract a guy, not a girl, and I’m not trying to attract guys. I’m well aware how this works for me sexually/romantically, thanks.

Interestingly, I used to take pictures because I looked more feminine in pictures than I did in the mirror. I went from using a lot of Photoshop to using filters to using no filters to using the rear camera. Now, however, I find that I look more feminine in the mirror than I do in picture. Why is that?

Mostly, it’s mentality.

I know the blurring work is sloppy. I don't really care.

I know the blurring work is sloppy. I don’t really care.

I know that my friends are put off a bit by it, and seeing pictures like those two on the left and this one on the right leave them asking, “Um… What kind of girl is she going to attract with pictures like that?

Well…

Um…

One that licks ass, I suppose.

But no, seriously, I’m well aware of the problems it creates–I spend a lot of time thinking about that. It’s also true, though, that I’m sexually fluid–something that very few of my friends know, but may have guessed, and something which alleviates much of the problem. While I could never be with a guy in any serious way, I like having a good time. And there’s also the fact that: yes, there are plenty of chicks out there who would see that pic and be interested.

They’re not in Mississippi, though.

They think they are, but they’re not. They always end up back at that place, where they’re basically asking me, “Can’t you just be a guy?”

No… No, sweetie, I can’t just be anything except me.

I’m working on leaving Mississippi, though. I’ve got a GoFundMe Campaign aimed at that end, because it’s really important that I leave the south and go somewhere that I can live and exist in peace, security, and stability. If you’d be interested in donating or even sharing the campaign, that would be fantastic, and infinitely appreciated: www.gofundme.com/transgendermove . I’ve submitted a novel recently for publishing and have my fingers crossed for that, but that’s a long shot, you know?

Transgenderism: Who Needs To Know?

It wasn’t terribly long ago that I unfriended this transgender girl on Facebook, and I did so for a number of reasons. First among those was that she was extremely derivative of myself, essentially following in my footsteps with her online presence, but was exploiting her sex appeal and the fact that she performed shows and gained a fanbase that way. I found that to be cheap and tawdry, but that wasn’t the reason that I removed her.

No, the reason that I removed her is because of this long “Oh, poor me” post about how hard it is being transgender, and how she had once been beaten and raped by this guy when he found out that she had a penis. Her excuse was that it never occurred to her to point out that she was transgender, non-op, and that she didn’t think it was her responsibility to go around telling people that she had a penis. And while I agree in many ways, there’s certainly a grey area there, and the point at which she should have told the guy that she had a penis was long before he was taking her pants off.

People like that who think it’s everyone else’s responsibility to cater to them piss me off, because it’s that ultra-liberal, anti-progressive bullshit, and it’s much simpler than that. So let me just say for the record: Yes, if you don’t have the sexual organs that the person who you’re sexually involved with expects you to have, then it is your responsibility to inform them. I know we’ve seen shemale porn where the guy pulls off the girl’s pants and is delighted to find a penis staring up at him, but this isn’t porn; this is the real world, and you’re an entitled moron to put yourself in that position.

I’m not justifying that the guy attacked her and raped her–two pieces of information that don’t quite fit if you remember that the reason he became angry was that he did not want to have sex with what he felt was a guy. And she can argue that with him all she wants, but it’s not going to change how he feels about it. That conversation should have happened long before that point when they were getting naked. People like what they like, don’t like what they don’t like, and aren’t interested in what they aren’t interested in. There is very little someone could do to persuade me to put my dick in a dude’s ass. And while I would absolutely have sex with a shemale, I don’t consider shemales to be men–hence myself. But there’s also a wide range of people there, and it would depend more on the individual than any simple, universally applicable statement.

However, if I was removing a girl’s clothes in between drunken kisses and suddenly felt a hard dick, it would absolutely give me pause, and it might even be an enormous turn-off. It certainly wouldn’t go down like in porn; I wouldn’t grin and moan and bend down to slob on it. I don’t know if this is what the girl I’m talking about expected, or if she just expected that the guy would ignore her penis, but one thing is certain:

He wasn’t expecting to find a penis there.

A lot of men out there simply aren’t willing to have sex with another guy. This does NOT make them homophobic. Being unwilling to have sex with a non-op transgender woman, or a pre-op transgender woman, also does not make a person homophobic. People like what they like, and they have their own inhibitions. I wouldn’t want to have sex with a guy–does that make me homophobic? If I removed a girl’s clothes only to find a penis, only to find out that she wasn’t even transgender but was just a cross-dresser, I would feel both betrayed and unaroused. I have very little control over that–I’m not attracted to the male form. I like curves. I’m not going to apologize for that. And removing a girl’s clothes to find out that the curves weren’t real would ruin her sex appeal for me. This does not make me homophobic; it is simply my preferences.

If you think it’s unreasonable for a guy who is removing a girl’s clothes to expect to find a vagina there, then you should probably re-evaluate what you think is reasonable and unreasonable. People have expectations, and one of those expectations is that women have vaginas. If you knowingly go against that expectation that is shared by pretty much everyone on the planet, then it is your responsibility to let someone know that before you become sexually involved.

Does it have to be the very first thing you say? Do you have to tell every random person you see that you have a penis? Absolutely not.

My dream is to be able to just live as myself, to have a job as myself, and to just be able to exist as myself. To everyone who saw me, I’d just be a woman, and they’d know nothing more than that. My co-workers, employees, colleagues, friends, whoever–would see only a woman, and that is all they would know. They would never need to know more than that. However, the girl that I was dating? Yes, she deserves to know, and it is my responsibility to tell her. Letting her pull off my clothes and find a penis there when she expects a vagina would be betraying her entirely reasonable expectation.

I unfriended her when I saw her attempt to gain sympathy about how hard it is to be transgender, because she can get attacked and beaten “just for being transgender.” This wasn’t even remotely what happened. She was attacked and beaten for betraying someone. Whether she intended to or not, she knew that the average guy–even 99.9999% of guys–expect that removing a girl’s clothes will reveal a vagina. She knew that she was going against that expectation, and she knew that the guy expected her to not have a dick.

Her defense that “Being transgender is just normal for me, I never think anything about it” is utter bullshit. If you “never think anything about it” to the extent that you’d let someone have sex with you without telling them that you don’t have the organs that they expect you to have, then you are being wholly irresponsible, reckless, and ridiculous.

Things are no different for me. Just because it would be a girl undressing me and finding a penis doesn’t mean I have no responsibility to inform them–there are plenty of lesbians out there who wouldn’t be interested. But it’s humorous for me to note that it has only become easier for me to find interested chicks, when I imagine that the opposite would be true for a non-op transgender man who was into men. God, this terminology is so sloppy. You have to stop and think too much about what “non-op transgender man” means–what sexual organ does that person have? A vagina. This terminology is far too clunky.

That’s why I love the term “shemale” and will continue using it no matter how many transgender women tell me that it is somehow an insult to them that I use this word to characterize myself. It’s even better when they try to tell me the connotations of “shemale” like I don’t already know that it’s tied to porn–in fact, it’s rather important to me that I break that connotation, and it was an important milestone for me to see that “anarchist shemale” has me as the #1 result on Google search, beating out a fair bit of porn to get there. Breaking how “shemale” is tied to porn is a major part of the reason I use it. But do people ever ask about that? Nope. They just assume that I don’t know that shemale is tied to porn, and that I’m not aware of how I’m offending them by calling myself a shemale.

Just think about the absurdity of that, and how it so obviously requires group-think. I can’t even call myself something without it somehow being applied to all non-op transgender women. What kind of madness is that? I didn’t say you are a shemale, lady. I said that I am a shemale. If your ego and narcissism are so out of control that I can’t call myself something without you somehow making it about you, then you need a serious reality check and a firm reminder that you and I are different people. I would suggest such people remember that, first and foremost, they are individuals; they are not the characteristics they happen to have.

What do they want me to do, call myself “The Anarchist Non-Op Transgender Woman”? God, that’s so catchy! Of course! Why didn’t I think about it before? It’s so obvious! I was originally going with “The Libertarian Shemale,” of course, but swapped it out for Anarchist. I did this for two reasons. First, because I am an anarchist, and not a libertarian. Second, “Anarchist Shemale” sounds a whole lot more memorable and awesome than “Libertarian Shemale.”

facebook

You don’t own me. I can call myself any goddamned thing I want, and it has nothing to do with anyone else. I hate to belabor the point, but it’s an important one, and it has happened multiple time. I’ve been chastised several times for calling myself a shemale, told how “offensive and insulting” it is to other people, and lectured on how the word is tied to porn. I’m well-aware of the last bit, and anyone who spends any time listening to the things I say will conclude that I’m obviously well aware of that. But the notion that it can do injury to other people (because to offend them is to commit some offense upon them, to make them a victim and injure them in some way) by calling myself something is patently absurd.

Well, I got completely off track. I apologize for that.

Hey, but if you like what I have to say, you might enjoy my latest video:

Or if you’re more interested in things that pertain to transgenderism:

You could also check out my podcasts at www.ariadimezzo.podbean.com–there are 37 or 38 episodes there, most of them are Rantings & Ravings, about 1/4 of them are Food For Thought, and another 1/8 of them are Transgender Frustrations, which are mostly just me bitching about things here in the real world, not creating my own problems and then bitching because I landed myself in a horrible situation and faced disproportionate consequences.

Transgender people face real problems in the United States, and especially here in the south. I went into Wal-Mart today to buy a new microphone (I have no shame shopping at Wal-Mart), and while there I walked by the flip-flop aisle and saw a few pairs that would actually fit me. Since I wear a size 12.5W/11M, it can be hard to find flip-flops that fit. And these were adorable! But it was mid-afternoon in Wal-Mart. I couldn’t just buy a pair of women’s flip-flops. So I whipped out my phone, took a few pictures of the aisle, and sent them to a friend on Facebook, pretending that I was picking them up for someone else.

That’s the kind of real issue that a transgender person faces in Wal-Mart. I’m thrilled that this transgender chick in freaking Michigan has no problem going to Wal-Mart, and that no one will follower her home and burn her house to the ground. That’s fantastic. But what does she do with that wonderful ability? She creates her own fucking problems, and then screams and cries about them like her self-created problems are even remotely on par with actual transgender problems that people have to face all over America. I would sell my soul to be able to just walk into Wal-Mart and shop for clothes, but I can’t. I wouldn’t make it home, and I probably wouldn’t make it out of the parking lot. In fact, I would probably have the police called on me.

Oh, yeah. For sure. Some old Christian woman with her young daughter would be “creeped out” and would notify the manager. Without doubt–I mean, really. That would happen. If there was anyone else shopping in that area, that would happen. And the manager would immediately think “Pedophile” not “Transgender” and would call the police. Then, after extensive searches of me and my phone to verify that I wasn’t taking pictures of little girls in the changing room and repeatedly demanding to know why I was in the girls’ clothing area in the first place, I’d probably just be banned from the store.

That’s my reality.

So I’m not going to cut some stupid bitch slack when she creates her own problems.

Dancing in Hellfire, 2nd Draft Preview

This is essentially the first few sections (because the manuscript isn’t divided into chapters) of the upcoming autobiography Dancing in Hellfire and is, basically, the Submission Sample. While I’m not submitting yet, because I won’t until the final draft is 75% done (I really dropped the ball on it, but have recommitted to x pages per day, which is the only way to do such things), I think that this will get the job done. I’m going to continue rewriting those first few paragraphs until they leave people fucking speechless, though. Anyway–I hope you enjoy. Well… I hope you find it fascinating and interesting, because it’s not the sort of thing anyone should really enjoy…

You could also watch this video, where I tell a very small portion of the story–only a few parts that relate to being transgender–in video form, with wickedly appropriate music in the background. 😀

Introduction

 

The absolute best that I can say about my mother is that: even if she was kidnapped and wasn’t murdered outright, it has been seventeen years, and she has surely been killed by now—so, even if she was tortured in some psycho’s basement, it’s over now.

It’s the greatest of the series of tragedies that characterized my early life, and the worst part is that there is only truth in the above; that is the best that I can say of her fate. She vanished when I was twelve years old, and no body has ever been recovered. Since the last person with whom she lived has served a prison sentence for an unrelated murder, and that all he had to say back then was that “She left with a truck driver named Tim,” it’s not hard to piece the puzzle together, but it never grows beyond speculation. Without her body, it can never be more than baseless speculation.

And though that is surely the worst of the true and unembellished tales I can impart, it is far from the only such story. Instead, there are more horrors to be uncovered and shared—a reminder of the terrible depths to which human depravity can sink, and of the extraordinariy resilience of the human spirit that refuses to surrender. Because it’s possible—and I know it’s possible. Sometimes other people delay things and force transgender people to be something they’re not, but survival is always an option, and nothing can truly destroy someone’s spirit, hope, or identity.

It’s strangely easy to forget how much all of this really sucks. It’s easy to forget how horrible it was to lie awake, crying and listening to the screaming and sounds of shattering glass as my mother was beaten by her alcoholic boyfriend at two in the morning. It’s easy to forget how angry I have the right to be at my father and grandmother, for forcing me to oppress myself, to make myself forget who I am. And it’s easy to forget how terrible it was when my father killed a woman, when I was interrogated by police at the age of five, and how deeply the emotional scars of that childhood really extend.

When my mother disappeared off the face of the Earth, never to be seen again, I was only twelve years old, and people today are stunned that I speak of her murder so matter-of-factly, though her body has never been recovered and the only real evidence of her death is that the man with whom she was living has since been to prison for another murder. It’s amazing what the human spirit can become accustomed to, a fact clearly evidenced by the almost lackadaisical way I approach these would-be bitter memories.

But that’s all they are: memories.

Today I am a transgender woman and resident of the state of Mississisppi—the U.S. state that just passed a law allowing discrimination on religious grounds. Really, this is about as frustrating and difficult as one would expect, and the only thing that keeps me safe is the secrecy that surrounds me—not many people can link my male identity to my female one. That’s only dealing with what people do under the radar, though—in the open is another story, because it was already impossible for me to find a job as my true self, which forced me to live a lie to some degree as long as I am here, so the new laws don’t really have any impact for me. And I survive. As always, I simply roll with the punches. There is no choice. Nor was there a choice those early mornings as I became witness to horrific domestic violence.

C’est la vie.

I once uttered that phrase almost ironically, but it’s now one that I speak with the greatest of sighs, because there is no truer expression in any language: “Such is life.” It’s not that I consider existence meaningless and bleak, but I have been looking upon an unnecessarily brutal world since before my mind was capable of even grasping its tragedies. I did not live the sheltered life, and that delusion, that there is a Great Justice that one day is due us all, was ripped from my hands before I had even taken my first steps into a school.

I don’t begrudge the past. If anything, I am thankful for it, because we are all shaped by our experiences, and I’m pleased with the person I am. However, I am one of the lucky ones. The majority of people who endure such childhood trauma, and who are forced by religiously oppressive authorities to repress their own natures, are not so fortunate. Most of the former lose themselves in a sea of drugs that allow them to forget, while the latter are, perhaps, even more unlucky, and lose themselves to the blade of a razor.

Where to begin, in this sordid tale of devils and demons? Obviously, with the family that is, to be frank, to blame. Though I am not perfect and have done plenty wrong, my mistakes generally come after I was shaped by that childhood and adolescence.

My family is exactly what one would expect of a north Mississippi lower middle class / upper lower class white Christian family; it was only a few years ago that I first heard the acronym WASP, and I have to admit: aside from its redundancy, there is no more apt description of my family. With the exception of only myself and one of my cousins, the family is almost stereotypical in how typical they are of an ordinary white fundamentalist Christian family from the southern United States.

Everyone in Mississippi isn’t like that, however, and that’s one of the main points I’ve attempted to make in online communities: Mississippi does contain many people like myself. It must be acknowledged, though, that the common thread between us is that we’ve broken free of the terrorizing and gripping fears of the local religion. As a friend recently put it, “We grew up in an area that is run-down, poor, and stupid, over all, where most of the populace is indoctrinated by religious nonsense to the point where they can’t even recognize rational thought. We pushed through what it takes to fit in here, and we defined ourselves. That’s something to embrace and be proud of.”

My friends and I have reached the end of a long and grueling journey that was filled with adversity and people who would use any means at their disposal—terrorism, fear, violence, and coercion—to bend us to their will,s and we’ve looked back at the paths we traveled, and rejoiced that we survived and stayed true to ourselves. Friends are… absolutely priceless when one is transgender in a family full of fundamentalist Christians.

Both of my paternal grandparents would reject me entirely—they do not yet know, and they will be among the last to know, since I see them only a few times a year. “You don’t know how they’ll react,” I’ve had people tell me. “Give them a chance. Sometimes people surprise you.”

With all due respect, to everyone involved, those allies and friends have no idea the type of people we’re really dealing with. My Mississippian friends know better, too; they know that there is no chance that my family will ever welcome me at Christmas dinner as a female. When my grandfather (who, for the record, is on his tenth or eleventh wife) learned that my sister was living with her boyfriend, he wrote her a lengthy letter, wherein he quoted Biblical passages and called her a whore. When my grandmother found girls’ clothes hidden between my mattresses, she wanted to send me to a foster home and asserted that she would not have that in her house; if they had thought I was gay, they would have sent me to one of those awful “pray the gay away” camps. These are the type of people that comprise my family.

Again, this isn’t to say that I’m perfect, and acknowledging my own faults and mistakes will be the most difficult part of writing this. I have made plenty of mistakes, blunders, and stupid decisions that brought myself, and people around me, severe difficulty and hardship, and that is particularly true regarding past relationships.

My memory is also not perfect, and I am likely to make mistakes, and, given that some of the information comes from extremely unreliable sources (like my father), some of that can’t really be helped. It honestly doesn’t matter, though. The point of this is to show how awful parenting shaped me, and the countless lies that my dad told me are part of that. That said, I strive for honesty, integrity, and sincerity in all things. Consider this my vow that everything within is, to the best of my knowledge, the unaltered truth, except that names have been changed.

 

South Pontotoc

I was born premature, thankfully, too, because the umbilical cord had wrapped around my throat and I was born black, reportedly. This was surely a result of my mother’s cigarette smoking and eating painkillers while pregnant. My father insists that she didn’t do drugs while she carried us, but… Yeah, she did.

I don’t remember my birth, but I do remember some things from shortly after my birth. Though my family says there is no way I could remember it, my introduction to the world came with overwhelming confusion: I was in some sort of cradle, and the back of my right hand hurt like hell, and it was pained because a number of needles and tubes penetrated my flesh. The details are blurry and fuzzy, as we’d expect from such early memories, but the needles hurt and itched. They irritated me, and I wanted them out. I was afraid and confused, with no idea why these things were stabbed through my hand and no understanding of what was going on. I knew only that I was hurting and helpless to do anything about it.

Confusion—pure confusion. I didn’t even have a sense of self. I had no idea that I existed, that I was a baby in a hospital, and that I was a being. I could feel the needles in the back of my hand, and they hurt. The pain, however, was not unbearable, and that wasn’t the main facet of that moment. It was confusion. I was not afraid—I didn’t have enough self-awareness for the confusion to make me scared. I simply knew… nothing. I was a blank slate, onto which was being written reality in the ink of experience. And then I didn’t even know that I was a blank slate; I knew only that I hurt, and that I was confused. I was not in the arms of a loving mother whose warmth brought me comfort. I did not stare up and into the eyes of a nurse who was delighted to see a baby growing healthier by the hour. I was not being cooed by an older brother happy to have a new sibling, or rocked in the cradle while the soothing voice of a loving grandparent read a story. I was in a room shining in fluorescent light, alone, and hurting.

That was my first experience with the world. That was how I was introduced to the universe—in the sterilizing, emotionless light of an empty hospital room, not the gentle and soothing light of a home. I heard the beeps and sounds of monitoring equipment, not the joyous laughter of a loving family. I lie alone in a hospital contraption with the shrill, uncomfortable hospital sheets, not wrapped in a blanket and the arms of a doting mother.

And the worst part—the indisputable worst part—is that I remember this.

The first few years of my life were probably normal, about what anyone would expect from a southern, lower middle class white family that subsisted more on the successes of previous generations than the merits of its own. There were some oddities, though, and signs even then of who I really was, but it was the mid-80s, then. It wouldn’t really be fair to blame my parents for not recognizing it and embracing it.

I was, of course, born male, “with a penis and everything.” But whenever all of my underwear was dirty, my mother would put me in my sister’s panties; it wasn’t a punishment, to clarify. Being the clever child that I was, I soon began hiding all of my underwear, just so that I could tell my mom I didn’t have any, and so that I could then wear panties instead. There I was, at three years old, taking all of my tidy-whities and throwing them into the back of the closet that no one ever opened, and then I reported to my mother that, strangely, all of my underwear was suddenly gone.

So when I say that I’ve been transgender since birth, it’s as close to “since birth” as one can get. I couldn’t have been older than three years old at that point, because my sister hadn’t begun kindergarten herself. I knew then that I preferred women to men: I loved my mother and sister, and, even at that age, I had a deep appreciation for feminine beauty. I also thought that my Aunt Daisy was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen, and my mother used to laughingly make fun of me for my enamorment with my aunt.

My experience with men at this point was limited to my father (who was fat and not overly pleasant to look at), my brother (who was thin, but who had nothing on my mother), my grandfather (who was also overweight, and a jerk), and my Uncle Dickbag (who has always been an asshole). Although it’s typical for young boys to love their mothers, I wanted to be just like mine, and I suspect that had a lot to do it with, but who can say? I was three when it began, and I simply wanted to be a girl.

I had a blanket (what most people would call a “blankie,” though I never called it that), and it was one of those cotton-threaded ones similar to fishnet. I refused to sleep without it and my pillow. The pillow actually wasn’t that important, but the pillowcase certainly was. I rubbed the pillowcase between my finger and thumbnail, sleeping on the central heating vents in the floor and driving my father crazy with all of it.

 

A Look At My Father

I would love to say that my father isn’t a bad man.

But he is.

That’s a difficult thing to say and accept, but I have to stress that it doesn’t really make me love him any less, and that the predominant emotion I have for my father, even now, is pity. Even so, I would be lying if I said that he was a good man who simply made some mistakes; that isn’t the case at all. He’s a bad man who has made some good decisions, not a good man who has made a few bad ones.

His own childhood was no walk in the park, and was tarnished by my alcoholic and abusive grandfather beating the hell out of my grandmother. Though not much of that has been shared with me, I can certainly relate to what he has said, and it’s clear the the recollections are as painful to him as it is for me to recall the abuse my mother endured at the hands of alcoholics.

At some point, my grandparents divorced—Go, grandma!—because my grandmother wouldn’t put up with the abuse. My grandmother is easily worthy of her own story, because she is an unsung hero of the feminist movement without even trying. In the sixties and seventies, she left her violent husband and blazed her own path, winning the house in the divorce, and then worked at a college the rest of her days, finally retiring at the age of 67.

True to the family history, my grandmother endured her own screwed up childhood, and was even sent away by her mother, for undisclosed reasons, to live with Uncle Ben and Aunt Ethel on their farm. Evidently, Aunt Ethel didn’t like my grandmother one bit, and was very unkind to her. What set of circumstances caused Jessica—I’ve never heard my grandmother refer to her own mother by anything other than her name—to send my grandmother off to this farm? What internal strength caused my grandmother, in what must have been the 40s, to graduate as the valedictorian of her class? What quite resolve allowed my grandmother to learn the necessary skills to work in the administration section of a college during the 60s?

These are questions to which I would dearly love the answers, but I’ll never have them; they are not things that my grandmother is happy to discuss. Questions about her past are met with short answers, and I can’t really blame her for not wanting to talk about it. She lived a difficult life, but she’s also the strongest woman I’ve ever heard of. I would love little more than for her story to be known, and that’s part of what makes her so remarkable: she doesn’t want her story to be told. Her humility and sincerity are matched only by the courage and wisdom it must have taken to craft the life she did in a time when women were “not allowed” to be more than housewives.

On one particular drunken rampage, my father was forced to hold a gun on my grandfather so that my grandmother could limp out of the house. While I truly hate that he even had to do such a thing in the first place, I’m also jealous that he was old enough to do something about it. When my mother suffered under Assface’s hands, I was in the second grade, and too young and weak to do anything to get in the way.

For years, my father insisted that he had been drafted to Vietnam, and he even pulled the whole John Rambo thing, where he talked about how he was called a murderer and spit upon when he returned. At one point, though, my sister and I realized that… there’s no way. Either he was actually the oldest between him and his brother (and thus wouldn’t have been drafted), or the Vietnam War ended when he was 16. In this little alternate reality he had crafted, he had to be older than our mother (which was blatantly false—she had always been recognized as the older one, by several years), his brother had to be lying about his own age, and almost everyone had to have falsified birth records.

He retconned his story to say that he was in Vietnam during the 80s, through another offensive that we did, but I have been unable to find any military record for him, and have even signed up for one of the paid services to look. Whether he did fight in Vietnam or not, he did mislead us into believing he’d fought in the Vietnam War, which is a lie of such magnitude and scope that one has to marvel at it.

He is a religious man, though it’s hard to tell by looking at his behavior: heavy drug usage, constant lies, and steady manipulation. Although he is less religious than other members of the family, the secularism is applied in strangely selective ways, and he’s generally just as fundamental as everyone else in the family—he continues to believe that Obama is a Muslim, is more or less openly racist, and is a diehard Republican, despite the fact that he’s effectively a ward of the state who benefits substantially from liberal policies.

I obviously don’t see eye-to-eye with him, but we do have some similar interests. It was he who introduced me to Fantasy literature and tabletop gaming, both of which almost immediately became passions for me. In turn, I exposed him to the tenth installment of a wildly popular roleplaying video game, and I’m still happy that I was able to show him to something that he enjoyed so immensely. He must have played through it a dozen times, and he certainly discovered more of its secrets than I ever would have.

As an aside, with the recent HD Remaster of said video game’s release to PC, I actually installed it onto my grandmother’s computer for him, thereby allowing him to play through it again. He’s been really excited, and I’m glad for that. Though I’d name him Lardnugget if I had to “All names have been changed” him, I’m still glad that I was able to do that for him.

There is some kinship between us, and I do love him, despite the more numerous differences, and in spite of the fact that he has done me far more harm than good. More than anything, I pity him, because the traumatic childhood seems to have destroyed him; he is one of the ones who did not come through unscathed. He was swallowed by the mentality that the world owes him something, whereas I left with the same feeling and the certainty that, whether the world owed it or not, it would never give it willingly.

The rifts between us began because I was just… not the son that he wanted. He hated that I loved sleeping on the heating vents—I’ve always loved heat. I would wager the guess that, particularly at those young ages, it was related to my premature birth, but, regardless, I wouldn’t sleep anywhere else. I had to sleep on one of the floor vents, and the heat had to be on. There in the floor, I had the pillow and pillowcase that I refused to sleep without, and the blanket that I really wanted with me when I slept.

My father hated all of these things. We went to visit some relatives at one point, and I left my blanket and pillow at home. With no other way to shut me up, my parents took me to a store to get a new pillow, and there I went from one to the next, tearing open the plastic just slightly, and “testing” it with my finger and thumbnail until I found one that was satisfactory. When we got back to our trailer a few nights later, dad told me to bring my pillow outside.

As I stepped out into the night air, I saw him kneeling just outside the small stone circle beside our front steps. It had once been a flower garden—conceived and implemented during one of mom’s highs, when she was bolstered with energy and had the random idea to start a flower garden. Naturally, the high wore off, but the flowers remained in that little circle of stones—at least for a while. Then they died, unwatered, neglected, and forgotten.

Almost like a demon out of a child’s horror story, there was my dad, grinning devilishly and eagerly with the flickering glow of his lighter shining on his face, urging me to throw my old pillow onto a mess of crumbled newspapers soaked in lighter fluid. “We need to burn it!” he said, and I refused. There was no need to burn it. They were already making me throw it away—they were already making me discard into the trash this pillow that I loved and had slept with every night for years. Was that not enough?

“We need to burn it!” he said again, and I ran back inside, crying to mom that dad wanted to make me burn the pillow that I loved. It may seem strange that I had such attachment to a pillow, but I did, and both of my parents knew it. My father knew it; he knew very well that I loved that pillow.

And that’s why he wanted to burn it. Because I loved it.

We didn’t burn random things, and I doubt that we ever burned anything there at all. But he wasn’t content to simply force me to throw away this pillow that I loved, this symbol that I was an emotional person and not the crass son that he so desperately wanted. The pillow had to be destroyed in flames because I loved it, and because “real men don’t love.” This silly, feminine weakness, this emotional attachment to an object—it had to be gotten rid of, and in the most dramatic way possible.

It was not the pillow that my dad wanted to burn.

It was my heart.

My mother intervened, though my father came inside and continued insisting that we needed to burn the pillow, because he was afraid that I would be able to talk my mother into letting me keep it. One has to wonder why it was even an issue that I wanted to keep my pillow. In the end, I placed it gingerly on top of the garbage can in the kitchen and told it goodbye. I hated to do so, and I cried, because it didn’t make sense to me (and still doesn’t).

It’s understandable that I developed such strong emotional ties to inanimate objects: even before the separation, neither parent spent much time with me, and there wasn’t much hugging in the family. Mom and dad were always high on one drug or another, lying on the couch and borderline comatose. I don’t know how Brandi handled it then, or what she did in order to get through the long and miserable days, but it was surely as awful for her as it was for me. Unlike our older brother, we didn’t have friends with whom we could go hang out. Or, at least, I didn’t. Brittney was friends with a girl who didn’t live too far from us, and I hope that my sister was happy then.

 

Aunt May and Kay-Kay

For a while, mom did work, as did my father. While Brittney and Anthony were gone to school and my parents were at work, I was babysat by our great aunt who lived next door, a relatively kind woman who I remember as mostly humorless. Sadly, I’ve also been told that my father fleeced her out of most of her money, which is the same thing he did to my great-grandmother and is currently doing to my grandmother. However, I was too young to comprehend any of that, and there isn’t much that I remember about Aunt May.

It sucked at Aunt May’s, though. There was probably nowhere that would have been worse for my three or four-year-old self. I wasn’t allowed to take my Nintendo the vast majority of the time, which left me there alone with an eight-year-old woman and very little to actually do, because there was no one to play with and nowhere to play at. Aunt May wasn’t unkind, but she was not particularly joyful. I don’t blame her for that—she was a very old woman, and probably not really able or happy to babysit a four-year-old.

A kid at that age should be outside playing and having fun, not sitting in a living room with an eighty-year-old woman and playing with paper dolls that she cut out of a magazine. Of course, such things seem droll only from a modern perspective, but I was accustomed to video games and cartoons, the heightened entertainment possibilities of the late 1980s. In the 1880s a child would have been thrilled beyond measure to sit on a couch in an air-conditioned house and idle away the hours with paper dolls.

But just imagine the blank and horrified response one would get if a modern child was asked to spend day after day in that environment, with only a very old woman as company. There would probably be allegations of child abuse! Of course, I’m not making that claim. However, many modern parents would likely consider that to be, at the least, borderline child abuse. To me, it was simply boring, and the time passed so slowly that I probably lived more moments there at Aunt May’s house than all the moments I have lived since.

I don’t mean any of this to be disparaging to Aunt May. I have no doubt that she did the best she could, and significantly better than many people in her position would have. Still, I dreaded those days when both my parents had to work, and it was routine for me to ask mom each afternoon, “Do you have to work tomorrow?”

Aunt May had a moustache, as well, but I never noticed it. It wasn’t until I was a teenager and I was shown a picture of her that I learned she had a moustache. I was pre-kindergarten when I spent time with Autn May; the idea that a woman didn’t have facial hair wasn’t in my head at that point, so it was perfectly normal to me. My father had a moustache and Aunt May had a moustahce. Cars have tires, and cows go “moo.” It simply was.

One horrible day, as Aunt May sat in her recliner, concealed in the corner from view of the kitchen as I sat on the couch near the front door, there was suddenly a crash in the kitchen. The kitchen was near the back of the house, and had a door to the outside attached to it, and I will never forget the fear that fell over this old woman’s face. Someone had broken in through the back door.

She and I hid in the living room, cowering in the corner behind her chair. I don’t believe she ever called the police (I don’t think she even had a phone), or did anything else about it, but my memory of that ordeal is really vague. I recall only the noise, the unmistakable terror in her eyes that I was able to recognize even at four years old, and the hiding.

Because she was very old, it simply wasn’t possible for Aunt May to always babysit me, and I had another sitter called Kay-Kay—a hefty, middle-aged woman who seemed to be doing pretty well in life. She had a house, at least, and I recognized that as an indication she was alright—we lived in a trailer, and most of the people we knew lived in a trailer. Living in a house… That was a grand thing to me. I didn’t mind that we lived in a trailer, and I was much too young to know that being the child of two fast-food workers (even if they were supervisors) who raised Confederate flags, shot up heroin, and ate Xanax made me the definitive example of “trailer trash,” but I knew enough to know that it was a great thing to have a house.

Kay-Kay, however, was a pretty ordinary woman, but there was a lot going on beneath the surface that most people never saw. As I sat in one of her bedrooms, playing a video game, there was suddenly a banging on the door and people shouting, demanding to be allowed inside and promising that, if Kay-Kay refused, they would tear the house down.

Although I was shocked and scared at first, Kay-Kay expertly put my fears to rest by handling it so well. She answered in an almost aloof way, as though she had no concern about it whatsoever. Even as they banged and screamed, I was unafraid, because Kay-Kay didn’t appear to take it seriously. After a minute or so, they stopped for a moment, and then the rhythmic pounding echoed through her home, clearly coming from somewhere in the back.

“They’re going to tear the house down!” I shouted to Kay-Kay, scared once more. In my head there was the image of two enormous, burly, and angry men outside with huge hammers, smashing away the bricks and crashing through the walls.

“Oh, no, they’re not, sweetie,” came Kay-Kay’s reply as she dropped to a knee and hugged me. “They’re just mad. They’ll get over it and leave in a few minutes.”

Sure enough, Kay-Kay was right: they did leave shortly thereafter. In actuality, they probably just had given up on the front door and gone to try the back door. Finding it locked, they banged and shouted some more, and then stopped. I never learned what any of this was about, and Kay-Kay asked me to not mention it to my parents, which made sense: that isn’t the sort of thing a mother wants happening at the selected babysitter’s home. I didn’t stay quiet, though, and that was the last time Kay-Kay ever babysat me. It was also the last time that I saw her.

The Rise of Tumult

There was a “friend of the family” called Doc, and I liked him a lot. Everyone liked Doc—he was a friendly, charismatic guy. Being my parents’ friend, he was also heavily on drugs, but Doc was also in a motorcycle gang, which created a bit of a problem, because shooting up was explicitly against the gang’s laws. Just to be clear here: this is the world I grew up in. This was normal to my three-year-old self. On any given day, I was likely to see one or both of my parents shoot up heroin, smoke a joint or two, and collapse onto the couch, unmoving and in a stupor, droning out “Yeah…” to no one.

I watched my mother, laid out in the loveseat on one side of the living room, look over at my father. She held up and toward my father a syringe full of some red liquid, and then she asked in a seductive voice, “Lardnugget, do you want some of this?” And as she spoke, she pressed in the syringe and sent a jet stream of this stuff—whatever it was—flying across the living room. They were both just out of their minds, just high as hell.

Disheveled, frantic, panicked, and terrified, Doc stopped by our trailer one day and wanted to sell my father a half-pound of weed for fifty bucks. My father had twenty dollars he could pay. Knowing my father as I do, it’s amazing that he had any money at all, but he did, and he explained to Doc what he had.

Doc in turn explained that he had to get out of town. “Had to,” and my father understood what that meant: Doc had been caught shooting up by the gang. Doc had to get out of town before the gang could find him; whoever had discovered the secret would tell the others, and they would force Doc to run the Gauntlet. Because, apparently, that actually happens. My father bought the weed, and Doc fled, but it was to no avail. Doc was eventually found, and he did not survive.

We also frequently drove north to visit my Aunt Danielle and Uncle Dickbag (the man who would later go to prison for murder and, though there is no body or evidence, would one day murder my mother), as well as our cousins. We did this regularly, and one of these trips proved to be one of the most traumatic experiences of my childhood.

As Brittney and I rode with dad in his yellow truck, in a secluded area where the road was surrounded on both sides by trees and steep ditches that spelled certain death for anyone who lost control and went over, an 18-wheeler decided that he needed to pass us. The trucker blew his horn a few times, and then he went for it. As he passed, he veered to the right—or dad swerved to the left. The enormous sideview mirror of the rig crashed through the window beside dad and sent a spray of glass shards through the cab of our truck. Luckily, neither my sister nor I were cut.

The fault was probably my father’s, driving under the influence of one drug or another, but the reason officially given was that the highway there simply wasn’t wide enough to feasibly pass. This excuse was given much later in the day—after the trip got significantly worse. Whether the trucker stopped after the incident is anyone’s guess, but I don’t blame my father for continuing on; in an age before cell phones were common, it would have been stupid to stop in an isolated place and confront a trucker who had, whoever was to blame, just smashed a torrent of glass through the truck that held two children (Anthony rode with our mother).

We ended up in Memphis as we traveled, and came upon an intersection. Not paying attention, I couldn’t tell you exactly how it happened, but there was shaking and noise. We rear-ended another vehicle. It’s possible that my father simply didn’t stop quickly enough, and it’s possible that he pressed the gas too hard and too quickly after the light turned green. Regardless, we hit the vehicle hard and sent it careening into the intersection—reportedly, it traveled fifty feet from the impact.

The driver of that car died on the spot with a broken neck.

Obviously, the police were called, and my father was arrested. The police had Brittney and me wait in the back of the police car with him, which made us feel as though we were also being arrested, and that is terrifying when you’re four or five years old and have literally no comprehension of what is going on. As though we were playing out a scene in a movie, the very same trucker who had hit us earlier happened upon the accident, and presumably told the police that dad was driving erratically. The next thing I knew, the trucker was banging on the glass beside me, shouting obscenities at us—not just at our dad, but honestly at the five-year-old children, too. I was terrified, confused, and frightened out of my mind, and it didn’t help that dad, with his hands cuffed behind his back, was frothing at the mouth, rocking the police car, and demanding to be let out so that he could fight the truck driver.

My sister and I were taken to the hospital, and we were repeatedly questioned about the accidents by police, doctors, and therapists. Of course, we were separated from our father, but also from each other, and that served only to make the experience more traumatic than it had to be. We were finally told that we would be going into the care of Aunt Danielle and Uncle Dickbag briefly, and they were the ones who picked us up from the hospital. My grandmother acquired a good lawyer for my father, and he was able to go to rehabilitation rather than prison, or something to that effect.

For a long time, my nerves were absolutely shot, and it was nearly impossible to get me into a vehicle, which is probably the normal response of a four year old child after having been in two accidents in a single day, one of which resulted in a death, because the parents didn’t mind driving after eating a bunch of pills. Naturally, to fix the problem, they shoved pills down my throat, giving me what they called “nerve pills” that were probably simply Xanax or Klonopin. This was the only way to get me into an automobile for several months after the accidents, because otherwise I would scream and throw fits; knocking me out with drugs was the only way they could get me into one, though eventually that anxiety faded.

Things returned to what we considered normal, though that isn’t to say that either of my parents stopped doing drugs. I doubt either parent was ever clean for any noteworthy period of time, and they continued inviting friends over frequently. These parties, while they were more or less tame and simply consisted of people drinking, doing drugs, and playing spades, they were not what would constitute “normal” for most kids.

On one such occasion, one of the people with whom they were hanging out decided that it would be a brilliant idea to inject peanut butter. Presumably, he’d heard that “The high is incredible, man!” and wasn’t much interested in maybe asking a doctor before doing something so horrendously and creatively stupid. According to my father—who is a known pathological liar, it’s worth remembering—the man died on the spot, so they took him home and left him on his couch, dead. I have no memory of this, but it allegedly happened some time around my fifth birthday.

I started kindergarten, and I loathed it. Up until that point, my life was fantastic. I could wake up whenever I wanted, spend the entire day watching cartoons and playing video games, snacking whenever I desired, and just basically doing any damned thing I pleased. Then suddenly I couldn’t do that any longer; I had to wake up at a specific time, go spend the entire day in a boring school, and then only had a few hours afterward to do the things that I enjoyed doing. As early as kindergarten, it struck me as absurd: if the point of life is to be happy, as everyone constantly insisted to me, then why did I have to go to school?

We were poor—dirt poor, as you might expect, given the heavy drug usage. Although both parents were managers at various fast food restaurants at times, my mother eventually quit working altogether and got onto disability for her migraines. It was with tremendous excitement that we were approved for food stamps, and we waited for weeks with palpable eagerness in the air, though I had no idea what it even meant. There are two times that I distinctly recall the entire family waiting anxiously for something to happen, and the anticipation was identical on both occasions; we waited for food stamps and we waited for our cable to be activated with the same sense of impending thrill, as did I, even though I had no understanding of what either meant.

Getting approved for food stamps felt like having a birthday, and so did the cable company finally coming out, after weeks of waiting, to connect our cable television. While I understood that having cable meant that we would have Nickelodeon, there was no way that I understood the concept of food stamps, so my excitement was surely nothing more than a mirror of my parents’ own eager anticipations. It was just months after this that I began school, and just months later that mom became convinced that dad was not really working, and that he was just disappearing while he was supposed to be at work.

It was a schoolday when it happened, because we were supposed to be in class, but mom kept us at home. My much older brother, my slightly older sister, and I were told that we were leaving dad, and I’m sure I handled that as well as any six year old child would, which is to say with naked emotion untempered by the jaded self-control we are taught to exercise in later years. I didn’t understand what was going on, but I was devastated nonetheless. First, the life I had come to know and love was wrecked by having to go to school, and then what little semblance of it remained was being irretrievably shattered by this upheaval. I spent the entire day in tears, as did my sister. Whatever was going on between our parents had nothing to do with us, and our lives were being cast into the hurricane because of it.

Too young to truly understand what was really going on, my primary concern was whether to leave my father “the good Nintendo” or the bad one. They both worked, but one of them was much more difficult to get working. Both my dad and I were big on video games, and so was my older brother, and even my mom and sister played occasionally. There were lots of family moments when we all took turns, and we even had one of the NES Satellite devices that allowed four controllers to be used.

I agonized over that decision far more than a six year old should, and my mom didn’t give the situation nearly as much attention as it deserved. My entire world, prior to school, consisted almost entirely of playing video games. That I even debated which one to leave was a tremendous indicator of how much I loved my father, how much I didn’t want to leave, and, above all, how poorly equipped I was to cope with the chaos I suddenly was confronting. Mom was tearing our family apart, breaking it into two pieces, and she never sat down with my sister and me to explain what was happening, to assure us that we’d still see our dad, or to promise us that it would be okay. While to some extent that’s understandable, since she had to pack and load things up, the utter failure to remember that she was literally wrecking her youngest kids’ lives is very difficult to excuse.

To make matters worse, she was cowardly about it, too, because all of this happened while my father was at work. We lived in a trailer on my grandfather’s land, and it’s very likely that my grandfather was the one who alerted my father to the moving truck that was at his home. However, seeing as my grandfather later offered to shoot my mother for my dad, I doubt he would have showed the restraint to simply inform my dad of what was happening.

Regardless, dad pulled up while we were finishing and preparing to leave. The next little bit is a blur of anger, hostility, and shouting from which I am able to pull very few details. In a flash, dad went from anger to pleading, but mom refused to listen; her mind was made up, and she cranked the car, put it into gear, and hit the gas. Dad threw himself into the side of the car and then hit the ground, fell onto his back, and then lie there in the grass. My sister and I screamed and cried—our dad had just been run over!—and mom shouted at us to stop yelling. I gazed out of the back window at my father as we drove away, and there he was, lying unmoving in the grass, and all I could think was the horrible thought, “Dad is dead.”

There in the back of the car, crying quietly, having just watched my father die from being hit by a car, I sat at the age of six years old, being shouted at by my mom to shut up because I freaked out when I saw her kill my dad.

The story goes on to explain that, obviously, my dad wasn’t dead. He just, quite pathetically, wanted my mother to think he was hurt so that she’d stop and check on him.

Girls Don’t Seem To Get It

Funnily enough, it has become pretty much trivial to find chicks who are interested in dating me. In fact, I don’t have to find them anymore, because they find me. And while this has been rather fun, it has also been pretty distressing, because… none of them seem to get it.

When I mentioned to a girl a few weeks ago that I was outside tanning, she said, “Nooo… Be pale. Pale is sexy. 😉 I like pale.”

When I mentioned to a different girl a few days ago that I was probably going to lose 20 to 30 pounds as my muscles faded from hormones (she asked a number of followup questions that required me to explain every facet of what I meant–it was rather exhausting), she replied, “But maybe I like muscled women.”

These are just the most recent examples that I can think of, but they are by no means the only ones. The assumption that what they like should be a factor in what I do and don’t do with my appearance underlies nearly every interaction with them, and the idea that I’m doing things to make my appearance what I want it to be is, evidently, completely foreign to them. Despite how virtually everyone says “You shouldn’t exercise so that other people find you attractive–you should exercise only if it makes you feel better about yourself” and “You shouldn’t do makeup to look attractive to other people–you should only use makeup if it makes you feel better about yourself” and things of that nature, when they’re legitimately presented with someone who does exactly that, they don’t know how to understand it.

Even if I’m not going anywhere when I get home from work, I’m going to put on makeup. Because I’m not doing it for other people. I’m doing it for me. When I exercise at night, it’s not because I want to look great for other people; it’s because I want to think I look great. It’s sort of the reason that I’m transgender at all–I want to be what I find attractive. Is it so unusual to want to look into a mirror and think, “Wow, I’m beautiful” or “Damn, I’m sexy”? It has nothing whatsoever to do with what other people like and don’t like.

If I was motivated by what women like and don’t like, the very last thing I would do is look less like a man. Whatever I was doing before went pretty well; it was never a problem to find a girl. If my motivation was to be “what the average woman found attractive,” then the very last thing I would do is modify my appearance specifically so that I wasn’t that. I would be enhancing my muscles and six-pack, not trying to get rid of them.

A lot of confusion arises because I’m not masculine-interested; I’m feminine-interested. For those who don’t read everything I write, this means that I’m not interested in men; I’m interested in women. I think straight/gay/lesbian/bi are inherently broken ways of doing it, because it leads me to either being a straight male or a lesbian female, and my own gender shouldn’t determine my sexual orientation.

http://ariadimezzo.podbean.com/e/rr-ep-09-gender-identity-and-sexual-orientation/

People expect me to be interested in men, and therefore assume that I’m doing everything that I’m doing because I want men to be attracted to me. In their own limited way, that makes sense. Most transgender women are into men, and thus are, whether intentionally or not, doing things that men are more likely to be attracted to. It doesn’t make sense, then, that I would alter my appearance so that women are less interested in me, on average.

But, again, my motivation isn’t what other people find attractive. I don’t tan because Girl C likes darker skin. I tan because I like darker skin. I’m not growing breasts because Girl L likes breasts; I’m growing breasts because I like breasts. I’m not getting rid of my muscles and six-pack because Girl M likes curves; I’m doing it because I don’t find masculine muscles and six-packs to be sexy.

What’s so complicated about that?

What other people like and other people are attracted to will never be a factor in what I do and don’t do with my appearance. I’m trying to look like what I find beautiful and sexy. I don’t give a shit what other people find beautiful and sexy. I don’t live for them.

More alarmingly, though, is that it seems to indicate a bigger problem. I suspect that the kind of girls who are telling me that they’d rather me have muscles aren’t really bisexual, or aren’t really lesbians. If they were, then why in the hell would they care?

Legalizing Hate

In the 1920s, a bunch of conservative Christians got a wild hair up their asses and decided to outlaw alcohol across the country. The result was widespread disaster. What they learned was that–if people want to do something, then making it illegal for them to do it merely shoves them into the underground, to the Black Market, and away from the watchful, scrutinizing gaze of society. Al Capone and his kind were products of Prohibition, because people still wanted to drink, and sending them into the shadows–where the social constraints of decency, cooperation, and respect didn’t exist–turned them into vicious criminals. In the shadows below society, might equals right, and power is the only thing that matters. As Jack Sparrow said, “The only things that matter are these: what a man can do, and what a man can’t do.” That is the only rule of the underground.

Society rejects that. In fact, the distinction between society and the underground is that we have constraints in place that hold back that mindset: we have rules, written and unwritten, and we decided thousands of years ago that cooperation, mutual agreement, and consent were infinitely better ways of doing things than force, violence, and coercion. When cooperation, mutual agreement, and consent break down, you end up with “societies” identical to the American prison system internals–rule by the strong, where might equals right.

Nothing would win the Drug War against the Mexican Cartels and Colombian Cartels quite as effectively as would legalizing drugs. The Mexican druglords are simply the Al Capones of today. How did we get rid of the Al Capones last time? Did we throw more and more cops at them until they were finally defeated? No–the more cops we threw at them, the less effective the cops were. We got rid of them by repealing Prohibition, by bringing the manufacture and distribution of alcohol back out of the shadows, allowing it to happen beneath the scrutinizing gaze of a society that is built on cooperation, agreement, and consent.

Why am I getting into all of this?

Because we know… We know that outlawing Behavior X when people want to partake in that behavior will not prevent that behavior from happening. It merely shoves it into the underground, where the social constraints don’t exist. If the last 40 years have taught us anything, it should be that it’s impossible to send enough cops and armed forces in to put a stop to the behavior we’ve outlawed–it’s gonna happen. People are gonna do drugs, and it doesn’t matter how much military might we use or how many people we arrest. It’s simply going to happen. Outlawing the behavior does nothing to curb the desire to undertake that behavior.

I’m speaking of hate toward LGBT people. In the modern United States, it’s dangerously close to illegal for conservative Christians to express their hatred of LGBT people. A lot of people would say that this is a good thing, but we have to look beyond the surface, and we have to realize that: Outlawing the behavior does nothing to curb the desire to undertake that behavior.

Making it illegal for them to say that they hate LGBT people, and to act in accordance with that hate (as long as they don’t use force, violence, or coercion, obviously) isn’t going to help, because the hatred remains, and because the desire to express that hatred remains. All you’ve succeeded in doing, when you make it illegal for them to openly express their hatred, is shoved them into the underground, where social mores don’t exist. All you’ve accomplished is pushing them out of the light, where the best they can do is hate speech, and pushed them into the shadows, where the only thing that matters is what a person can do, and what a person can’t do.

These people are going to express their hatred. They can’t help it. Just as people couldn’t help it but drink alcohol, just as people can’t help it but do drugs, and just as people couldn’t help it but get back alley abortions when abortion was illegal, they can’t help it now. Have you learned nothing from human history? The hatred they feel goes nowhere when it is outlawed. Their desire to express it goes nowhere. The only difference is that they have to express it in the shadows, because they aren’t allowed to do so openly.

Instead of speaking out and saying that they hate gay people, instead you have five trucks filled with people pulling into the driveway of a transgender person’s yard. What are you going to do to protect me then, society? Your laws will not protect me when my yard is filled with a bunch of raucous, drunk people with guns, swept up in the mob mentality and desperate to express their hatred in the shadows of the underground–the only place they can express their behavior? Your laws will not save me then. Your words on the Internet will not help me then.

“Call the police” you say? Oh, I can imagine how helpful that would be in a place like this. It’s a pretty good chance that one of the people taking a hammer to my front door is related to the cop who would show up. Even if not, with the average police response time being so high, by the time the police arrive, I’ll already be scattered on the pavement, dragged by chains behind someone’s truck. Your cops won’t save me. Your cops can’t save me.

You can’t plant a cop in my driveway 24/7. And even if you could, what the fuck would that do to help me? When the mob of 50 stormed the jail in Alabama and pulled out those three black men, and then hanged them, there were cops present, and the cops tried to stop the mob. Face it, society. You CANNOT protect me. You couldn’t keep people from drinking alcohol when you made it illegal, you couldn’t keep people from doing drugs when it is illegal, you couldn’t keep people from getting abortions when they were illegal, you couldn’t keep people from being gay when it was illegal, and you can’t keep people from expressing hatred when it is illegal. One by one, you’ve been shown for thousands of years that you cannot eliminate outlawed behavior, and you cannot protect people from the underground forces of human nature. You’ve been shown how outlawing alcohol produced Al Capone, you’ve been shown how outlawing drugs produced the Mexican drug lords, you’ve been shown how outlawing abortions produced back alley abortions. Do I really have to die for you to realize that you can’t outlaw behavior to put a stop to it?

I live in Mississippi; I’m transgender in Mississippi. These people that you talk about–they are distant ideas to you. They are neighbors to me. I buy groceries from them, gas from them, and fix their computers. They surround me. You’re antagonizing these people and shoving them into the underground, away from the watchful eyes of society–an act that poses no risk to you. It won’t be you, in New York and California that these people drag from their home and beat to death with a tire iron.

It will be me.

So I’m not telling you. I’m ordering you:

Legalize hate.

If you continue pushing them into the underground, then my blood will be on your hands when they come for me. Because we’ve seen it for thousands of years: keep behavior in the open. Allow them to fulfill their desires in the open, and the consequences will be minimal. They won’t take part in violence, because society is watching them. Outlaw their ability to express their hatred, and you do nothing more than ensure that you won’t be there when they do express it.

That Day.

I’m consciously aware that my life is pretty easy at the moment–I mean, relatively. That’s kind of depressing, but I’m speaking of being transgender. At the moment, I still work as a male, and generally just go to stores as a male. I very rarely go into public as a female, and then only to places that I know very well, or that are open to that sort of thing anyway, like a LGBT bar. It won’t always be this easy, though. There will come a time when I can’t pass as a male–my hair will be too long and feminine, my facial features (which are already changing subtly) will have changed too much, and I’ll have boobs that will be impossible to hide.

No matter what, there must come a day when the transgender person must cast aside the old shell and step back into the world. That will be difficult no matter what part of the country one is in, and I would certainly say that it will be substantially harder in Mississippi, but it’s never easy. In so many ways, it would have been easier to do this in high school, but I didn’t have that luxury. I envy those who did.

I regularly stop by a gas station and am on excellent terms with the people who work there. It’s one of those ones owned by Middle Eastern people, which means they’re probably Muslims and have much the same position on transgenderism that Christians have. I see these people as my male self every single day. What am I to do that morning when I wake, and it’s That Day–That Day when the shell has been shattered beyond repair, leaving the facade that was my male persona rotting in the past? Must I simply walk away from that store, never again to see those people? No amount of time could pass that they wouldn’t recognize me–people remember me. They always have.

I live just a few minutes from a general store that I go to a few times each week for miscellaneous things that I don’t get elsewhere. When I wake up That Day, will I simply never go to that store again? How could I? With the cashiers staring, their mouths agape, speechless and all of them thinking the same thing:

“What… the… fuck… Do we… Do we call the police?”

I have not yet had the luxury of even going clothes shopping. How can I, when my voice still needs so much work? How would the cashier at Rue21 react when I replied to her greeting, with my masculine voice that clearly marks me as “not quite simply a woman”? I’ve done most of my clothes shopping online, or with friends–then I have the excuse that the clothes aren’t for me, but for my friends. But there must come a day when I go to Rue21 as myself, or to TJ Maxx as myself–what shall I do on That Day?

That’s undoubtedly the hardest part, and I’m afraid–of course I’m afraid. Even if this wasn’t Mississippi, I would be afraid. I once made the analogy that it’s a bit like going to school after getting a new haircut, and the anxiety one feels the night before, totally convinced that other kids are going to laugh and say that it looks stupid. And they might–it’s always a real possibility that the haircut does look stupid. But this isn’t high school, and this is so much more than a haircut.

One day I will think nothing of it as I leave my house, get into my car, go to the store, and do everything I need to do as Aria. That day must come; that day is coming. It is, perhaps, approaching faster than I thought it would. But before I can do that–before that day comes that I am simply comfortable doing what I must do–the penny must drop. It is something I have put off–understandably so, as I’ve said, because it’s simply not reasonable to do such a thing until I have progressed further along this voice issue.

But I am not known for being a coward. Neither will I put that day off one sunrise longer than necessary.

But I will be afraid.