Thank you, byanyothername. June 24, 2013 5:45 AM   Subscribe

Thank you, byanyothername.

I get the feeling that this thread is a lot more fightier than it needs to be or could've been, and that fightiness probably could've been averted if I had framed the post better; or included a trans 101 section like Juliet Banana's excellent recent thread; or even if I had just waited a bit for after the third and final apology.

But, ultimately, I am glad that I did post that thread, because I am really glad that it got some of the comments it did. Mostly for this very specific bit from byanyothername:
being trans is not like having this little voice inside you screaming, "I'm a lady! I'm a lady!" or "I'm a duuuuuude!" at all times. There is an inherent sense that you are what you are; it feels good and right and normal when people treat you as what you are, and bad and weird and wrong when people question what you are or treat you as what you're not. Trans people really fundamentally are the gender they identify with
I've been struggling with my own identity for a very long time now. Sometimes still very much in denial even after having been on HRT for just over a year and three months now. I started self-medicating after the mefi thread on Dys4ia, and I go back to Dys4ia and that thread a lot (notably, loquacious' comment there and in a previous thread), just trying to figure out what the hell I was thinking that day when I decided to order hormones off the internet. And really, I still don't have a clue what I was thinking. But it doesn't matter anymore.

I started going to an informed consent clinic and seeing a therapist there not too long after that, and while we talk about gender and identity quite a bit, I've still had reservations about who I am. But I've been thinking a lot about byanyothername's comment above these past two days. And I realize that I do get almost euphoric when others gender me correctly, and that I feel absolutely terrible when they don't. Being gendered correctly makes me happy and glowy, and, I realize I've felt that way for a long time now, but I always casually discarded that entire feel believing that people were just being polite and not really seeing me as who I am. But, it's been happening enough with people I'm not strictly out to and even with complete strangers, that I realize it's probably not people being polite. And that these feels are real, and genuine. And they literally define who I am.

I went through a phase where I rejected the gender binary completely. Experimented with gender neutral pronouns and all that. Getting gendered as male made me feel like shit, but, being neutrally gendered didn't hurt as much, I guess. It was probably just a coping mechanism. Enough to keep my gender dysphoria from being crippling, but, I do think that set me back a long time. I really would do anything to get those years back, and to have started my transition earlier. I actually still toy with the idea of being agender, even as recently as last week. But I realize now that with gender-neutral pronouns I never got that happy-glowy feeling that I get now when I get gendered as female.

And, really, that is all it is. I get happy when people gender me correctly. And that presumably makes me trans. And I'm willing to accept that as all there is to it. I can accept that I am trans, or, really that I am a woman, because it does make me happy when people see me and treat me as a woman. I need to wrap this up as I'm late for therapy now, but, I am super glad that byanyothername posted that bit above, because I don't think I would've made these realizations without it, and I think I still would be struggling with the current depressive downswing I was in. I think that comment helped a lot for me.

So, thank you, byanyothername, for your words, for your insight, and for being part of this community.
posted by yeoz to MetaFilter-Related at 5:45 AM (29 comments total) 79 users marked this as a favorite

If Metafilter ever decides it needs a logo, I nominate the lightbulb. Because I think most all of us have read something on here and had the experience of a metaphorical lightbulb switching on and the inner voice saying "Aha! That explains it!" (And "it" is often something that you didn't even realize you didn't know.)

Now if I could just get that lightbulb to switch off when I want it to, so that I can sleep instead of clicking MeFi links all damn night.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:19 AM on June 24, 2013 [73 favorites]

Ok, back from therapy. This wasn't the initial intention, but, I think and hope this post serves as contrast and as a follow-up to this comment of mine from a year ago. I've been severely depressed most of my life, and transitioning really does seem to be the answer to that for me. When I say 'almost euphoric' I really do mean it. Maybe it's a bit of an exaggeration from the newness of feeling honestly and genuinely happy about myself, after years and years of not really knowing anything else but crippling depression. But it does feel that way to me. It's something that absolutely screams to me that I can be and actually am happy. I'm glad to be able to say that I haven't been remotely as suicidal as I had been back when that comment was written. I still get a little depressed here and there, but, there's an overall sense now that my life is actually on the right path now, and that I'm not doomed to an early end like I always thought I was.
posted by yeoz at 8:09 AM on June 24, 2013 [25 favorites]

It's been a long time since we played together in fields of colored paper on GNE, but I just wanted to say that I'm happy that you've come through this struggle stronger and happier.

Sending much love your way.
posted by Mercaptan at 8:22 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hooray for happy and glowy!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:25 AM on June 24, 2013

Hooray and joy!
posted by KathrynT at 9:48 AM on June 24, 2013

And "it" is often something that you didn't even realize you didn't know.

Agreed; it's happened enough times since I started reading MeFi that I've internally coined a term for it, the "Holy Shit Moment." From privilege to sonder and few thousand ideas in between, most of my enjoyment of MeFi has come from what I didn't know existed.

The real Holy Shit Moments are when I realize that the things I didn't know existed sometimes define other people's entire lives.
posted by Mooski at 11:15 AM on June 24, 2013 [12 favorites]

yeoz, I am so glad to hear this.

And like you and gilrain, I am really grateful for the openly trans MeFites who have chosen to participate here (shouts also to jiawen and AoK!). Trans dance partyyyyy boots cats boots cats
posted by en forme de poire at 11:20 AM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

/me nuzzles yeoz
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:23 AM on June 24, 2013

I am not trans. I was important for a time to someone who is. I could identify with and understand some of it because I have a genetic disorder that was not diagnosed until I was nearly 36. I spent my life being called "lazy" and accused of being a hypochondriac. Getting a diagnosis was empowering and life-changing and has allowed me to get a lot healthier physically (though it hasn't really improved the social piece, just changed what I get accused of). So I do understand having some invisible issue that gets crappy social reception. I do understand what it is like to know something is not right with my body and my life and to have everyone tell me "it is all in your head."

My genetic disorder significantly impacts lung function. Getting healthier has literally resulted in breathing easier. The social piece still makes me feel suffocated, strangled, like I cannot get air. But it is less bad than it used to be.

Thank you for posting this. I favorited it just for pointing out some excellent comments elsewhere and for being a "thank you" note before I read the entire thing and realized it was much more than that. May you find a way to breathe easy.

(((((hugs, if you want them)))))
posted by Michele in California at 11:44 AM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

yeoz: "When I say 'almost euphoric' I really do mean it."

Funny thing. That euphoria's never quite gone away for me. Like, I'll have whole weeks and even months that are just normal boring life months, and then I suddenly remember, hey, this might not have been me. I might not have made it. Look at all these people, accepting me for who I am! Look at me, I'm pretty and my nose is awesome! YEAH!

It's neat.

A hug and a high five and a big happy smile are all offered, yeoz. <3
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:56 AM on June 24, 2013 [30 favorites]

That euphoria's never quite gone away for me. Like, I'll have whole weeks and even months that are just normal boring life months, and then I suddenly remember, hey, this might not have been me.

This is one of the most beautiful things I've ever read.
posted by Elsa at 12:02 PM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

Thanks for posting, yeoz. Hugs to everyone.

AoK's nose is indeed awesome. Noses generally are pretty fantastic.
posted by arcticseal at 12:08 PM on June 24, 2013

Oh, yeoz, I very much know how you feel, and while I want to emphasize that there is a little invisible addendum at the bottom of everything I say ("Warning: Often as wrong as anybody else."), I am glad that my words could help, and gladder still that you are figuring out a path to happiness. I think I have a similar history and I'm very much still in the process of working through my own issues. My experiences have been similar to yours, and one of the nicest, happy-making-est things about transition has been that, now that other people just automatically assume "cisgender girl" when they interact with me, I've felt this massive, unbelievable relief: "Oh thank god I don't have to lie anymore."

I hope that weight is leaving you now. For anyone, I think, just being who you are is one of the most difficult things you can try--but especially for those of us who are trans, there are so many barriers set by other people. People sometimes call it "brave," and that rubs a lot of trans people not-quite-right because it's so much of an understatement. Whenever I hear it, a little part of me thinks, "You have no idea."

As someone in the trenches, too, please don't hesitate to contact me if you ever need someone to talk to. Sometimes, I think, sharing moments with people who have been through similar things saves our lives. One of the saddest things anyone ever told me was to say that we are like drowning people; that, as much as we may try, we all have to swim for ourselves. We can't save anyone from drowning if we're drowning ourselves. After having years to think about it (and let the weight of it grow), I don't think that's true, exactly. We can't live for anyone else, of course, but we can recognize each other and we can shout warnings and ways we've escaped sinking in our seas. We have to. We're social. We need other people who know what we've been through.

This has been a difficult month for me. It's getting better and I think I'm in (or approaching) a fairly happy, more or less stable place right now, but it has been very difficult. My anti-trans family decided to confront me about that, which hurt me tremendously (and, I'm hoping, woke them up a bit). I spent most of the month withdrawing harder than I ever have. I read Tatsuhiko Takimoto's Welcome to the NHK (this is the best review I can find, but I think it misses the wider theme of needing to feel compassion even for people whose beliefs or actions we find unforgivable) a beautiful and brutally real novel about loneliness, depression, suicidal ideation and loving each other. Everyone in that book is drowning, but what saves them is loving each other. I know that sounds cheesy, but it's not--rawly loving other people is absolutely terrifying. It's too bleak for most people I've recommended the book to, but there's something real in it, I think.

I've never liked, "It Gets Better." I think--god, how hard I am trying not to be angry at that phrase--it is a privileged lie for people too insulated from life to understand anything about it. Takimoto does better, though mostly in longer passages that need contexts for their full impact. There are a number of powerfully succinct phrases that echo throughout, though:

"Life is painful and difficult. A lot of things really will get the best of you. It's actually rather hard."

"Our problem is that there are no villains anywhere. Nobody is to blame."

and simply: "Please, don't die."

I hope this long-winded post isn't one big self-absorbed tangent. I tried to write a simple, short, "I'm glad I could help and I hope things get better for you," response, but I'm touched and I think there's something a lot deeper and truer here. It really helps to recognize people; to see the things we've lived in the words of others. That's why those phrases above are so powerful to me. They form a trifecta of compassion:

1) Acknowledgement that life is just difficult
2) Acknowledgement that it's not your fault and while there are violent, dangerous people (see 1), there are no "bad people" in the world, everybody's just trying to get by
3) Personal connection and reaffirmation that you matter to other people

Those three things hit a lot closer to my heart than easy platitudes. They're not necessarily as pretty, but I think they are more beautiful. We all need to be seen and acknowledged and understood. I'm glad my words could be a useful mirror, and I want to say that yours have been for me, too, yeoz. Thanks, too, to everyone who is kind and supportive. We really all need each other.

Sorry for the ginormous, tangential, emotional post. But I'm glad I could help and I hope things get better for both of us.
posted by byanyothername at 12:14 PM on June 24, 2013 [31 favorites]

byanyothername, if you'd like someone to vent to about the events of this month, let me know. Actually, that goes for all the yeoz and all the trans people here: if you need someone to vent about whatever to, or just someone to listen, let me know.
posted by jiawen at 1:01 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Mod note: This is a comment from an anonymous mefite.
The various discussions of trans issues on metafilter have massively changed my understanding and contributed significantly to my ability, as a manager, to support the organisation I run when a member of staff recently decided to transition. This made a real difference to the person involved, to me, and to the rest of our staff team and clients.

I'm incredibly grateful to the people who have shared their personal experiences, the knowledge that comes from lived experience, and persisted in doing so the face of a lack of kindness, and outright hostility.

It makes a difference. Thanks.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:35 PM on June 24, 2013 [61 favorites]

What a great post. What a great series of comments. Some very important people to me are trans. I'm so happy to see tiny inroads all the time.

When I think "trans" I think "motion." I think of Peter Gabriel's "Big Time" -- "I'm on my way, I'm making it." So, yes, your heaven will be a big heaven.
posted by houseofdanie at 2:42 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by NoraReed at 3:20 PM on June 24, 2013

You go, girl.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:13 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wish I knew someone IRL who is trans. Reading what each of you have written over the past few years has taught me about a world that I literally knew nothing about.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:15 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just read that whole thread, as I'm prone to avoid any discussions online that are trans-related. For the first time since acknowledging myself as trans and coming out I feel a stronger sense of womanhood than I've ever felt before, which is odd because my usual reaction after reading a fighty trans thread is wanton dismay for having been born trans as opposed cis, stewing in a place in my mind where transition feels like a selfish, narcissistic act that harms my family.

But that did not happen today. I can do this.

Thank you you yeoz, you have helped me in so many ways (and Corinth,AoK,jiawen,rtha,Dysk, and so many others I will invariably fail to mention) and thank you mefites for making amazing progress towards a better understanding of this subject.
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:38 PM on June 24, 2013 [14 favorites]

Bravo, yeoz, for having the courage and the strength. It makes me wonder how many people out there are deep in treatment for depression and don't have the resources to even start asking whether they may not be depressed, but trans, and much nearer to happiness than they know.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:40 PM on June 24, 2013

Thank you Yeoz,

For attempting to deliver critical information under hostile conditions.

We never would have made it through that nebula without you.

Unfortunately we were all killed because I suck at that game.

Your sacrifice will not be in vain, we will get that information through the rebel fleet even if it takes me 1000 tries, and it probably will.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:47 PM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'm learning a lot here. Thanks, y'all, for sharing your perspectives and experiences. Some day I hope to understand... well, more than I do now. And you are helping a lot.
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:29 AM on June 25, 2013

*dabs eyes*

*throws confetti*
posted by infini at 7:06 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

So, yeah, on reflection the morning after, I was totally aiming just for a thank you note, and it kinda turned into something a little too raw and personal. I guess, in the end, I was writing it down more for myself than the person I was thanking. There were a lot of thoughts in my head, and I had to get them all down. I think the process of writing has always helped me put words to the thoughts in my head that aren’t quite complete yet too.

I actually did briefly regret writing all of that stuff yesterday, and that only changed when I heard from a trans* friend in another corner of the internet that someone on mefi had linked it to her, and it that she had found it useful. I suppose if my thoughts can help me, they can probably help others as well.
posted by yeoz at 7:36 AM on June 25, 2013 [13 favorites]

That thread was hard on me to read, those times I have deliberately wandered into it. I've been aware of knowing trans* and intersexed people for more than half my life, and their openness with me, as mine with some of them, is a gift.

I'm in the midst of a long process helping someone navigate through a system that is frustratingly hostile to her wellbeing without being overtly antagonistic: it's at times wearying and triggering. I'm saving up my energy to march in Pride Toronto as a tiny but important-to-be-visible part of a larger contingent, despite my strong introversion, because someone I respect believes it's important for very good reasons. I've been under more than the usual amount of stress from other sources for months, limiting my resources for handling gender issues with the grace and aplomb I feel I should.

Thanks, yeoz, for giving me a place where I could write down for others to see a few hints at why I need to turn my back on educating people on trans* issues this time too.
posted by thatdawnperson at 12:35 PM on June 25, 2013

I think that because trans* people are so marginalized, gender transition tends to be framed defensively and piteously: "I was so tormented by gender dysphoria that my options were transition or suicide."

Personally, I lived for over 40 years with gender dysphoria. I didn't like it, but I lived with it, and--I believe like many trans* folk--I wondered if I were "trans* enough" or "really trans*" since I could survive living in a gender with which I didn't identify.

This is why I think gender euphoria is so much of a better frame than gender dysphoria. It was such a relief when I started my transition. It was also quite difficult and frustrating--but the reason I kept moving forward wasn't negative ("gotta do this or die"), but positive ("YAAAAY"). It's just so much better to be able to live life authentically. Glad you're feeling it too, yeoz.
posted by DrMew at 1:47 PM on June 25, 2013 [12 favorites]

I've been severely depressed most of my life, and transitioning really does seem to be the answer to that for me.

This has been my experience entirely. In the space of a few years I've gone from an utterly broken person with a laundry list of mental health diagnoses, to a happy well-adjusted person with no meaningful mental health problems (unless you really want to count being transgender as one, in which case grr). I constantly hear people saying that transition is hard; for me it wasn't, at all. It was possibly the first natural, easy thing I've ever done.

Glad things are working out for you.
posted by Dysk at 5:19 AM on June 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

"For me it wasn't" should probably read "for me it isn't" or "for me it hasn't been", on reread.

My experiences have been similar to yours, and one of the nicest, happy-making-est things about transition has been that, now that other people just automatically assume "cisgender girl" when they interact with me, I've felt this massive, unbelievable relief: "Oh thank god I don't have to lie anymore."

It's far from the case that people tend to assume that I'm a cis girl (just the other day a girl at work asked me if I was a guy or a girl, saying that there were all sorts of contradictory rumours going round, which made me chuckle) but it's still night and day compared to living as a guy. If people get it wrong, I quickly correct them and tell them I'm trans. It hasn't caused an issue with anyone yet (though I haven't tried it on the people who occasionally heckle me when I'm walking about town). I was often absolutely certain that it would be an issue, but people are apparently a lot more awesome than I give them credit for. I guess I've been lucky.

I hope that weight is leaving you now. For anyone, I think, just being who you are is one of the most difficult things you can try--but especially for those of us who are trans, there are so many barriers set by other people. People sometimes call it "brave," and that rubs a lot of trans people not-quite-right because it's so much of an understatement. Whenever I hear it, a little part of me thinks, "You have no idea."

It rubs me the wrong way because I think it's the opposite of the truth, not because it's an understatement. I realise that my experience of the whole thing is pretty different to a lot of people, though - I wanted to believe the lie that I was 'normal' so badly that I managed through sheer bloody-mindedness and wilful ignorance repress the knowledge that I wanted to be a girl. I knew on some level all along in retrospect (I actively battled against it, in a sense, which belies a degree of acknowledgement at least) but didn't allow myself to admit it until I was knocking on my mid-twenties. Once I 'knew' it was a case of 'well now that I know what's wrong, how could I not work to fix it?' and so it seemed natural, almost inevitable to come out and begin transitioning. It was certainly daunting and nerve-wracking, but it was the easy choice, too.

(Something of a self-indulgent derail, I realise. Apologies. Also more than happy to talk or listen if anyone is having a hard time with anything or just needs an internet stranger.)
posted by Dysk at 5:48 AM on June 27, 2013 [4 favorites]

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