transness as a bridge between my “lives”

[TW: emotional and physical violence, suicide, self-harm, dysphoria, sexual abuse]

this post is gonna be heavy. not cuz i’m down (i’m not), but cuz i’ve been thinking about this for a long time and it’s just heavy shit.

so, i don’t feel like pre-transition mx. punk died or is dying. i don’t feel like there’s a pre-transition/coming out mx. punk and a post-transition/coming out mx. punk. lots of trans* people talk about feeling like their old life is divided from their new life by their transness, but it’s not like that for me. actually, i often feel like my transness holds my 2 lives together and makes them almost whole.

this is how i feel.

in my old life, i was little. my family was always yelling and throwing things. if i didn’t want to get shat on, i had to yell and throw things, too. the most any of us could hope for was that we’d leave each other alone for a little while. we never solved anything by talking about it; emotional and physical violence were law. we were always hitting and grabbing each other. someone sexually abused me throughout my childhood (and i don’t really wanna elaborate on that right now). we didn’t take care of each other and we didn’t know how to take care of ourselves.

it probably wasn’t so bad;i know lotsa people have it worse than i ever did. but, fuck, it feels good to write about it, so i’m gonna keep writing. i feel like i might learn something if i keep writing.

when i was very young, i started cutting myself and fantasizing about death. in elementary school, i went through a phase where all the stories i told ended in death cuz i thought that was a happy ending (for real). i was unable to envision my future; i believed i was going to die soon. at one point, grieving, i tried to kill myself.

i should probably talk about that in greater detail. k.

so my family had a farm; we’d been there a long time. we had cattle, sheep, chickens, and vegetable gardens. a lot of the land was forested and one side of the farm ended on the lip of a river. well, we called it a river, but i think it was more of a deep creek than a river. anyway, the river was narrow and fast in most places. it cut through dense forests of thick red cedars, salmonberries, alders, and maples.

every summer, i lived in the riverbed. i prayed to the river and the sun and the water and the trees and the sky between the trees. i believed the land owned me and that i would die there one day. in retrospect, i think the land was the only reliable source of kindness and safety in my childhood.

they sold the land when i was 19.

i have trouble talking about this cuz i feel like no one knows what i mean. i say, “i grieve cuz they sold my home,” and people say, “so what? everybody moves. why grieve?” and i wanna say, “i grieve cuz i feel motherless. i wanted to die to stay there. if i’d died in the river, the salmon fry and the caddis larvae would’ve eaten my meat and then no one would’ve been able to make me leave. but i didn’t die and that’s why i grieve.” i never say that, though (except to my sweetheart). i rarely even admit to ever having grieved, let alone about something as seemingly trivial as moving. maybe i won’t even post this article. we’ll see.

anyway, we moved to the suburbs and i stopped writing poetry, playing music, and telling stories. i tried to die a few weeks before we left, but i did a shitty job of it. [eta: in case you’re wondering, i’m reallyreally super glad i suck at killing myself. life is awesome and i could go on for years about all the love, kindness, respect, and hope in my life right now. k? <3 so don’t get all worried about me.] before moving, i believed i would die. i would kill myself or i would die of grief. everybody always talks about dying of grief; surely i would die of it if it were possible. and somehow, moving felt like dying.

i’m sorry. i’m really not trying to be a drama king/queen/unicorn/thing, but i don’t know how else to write this. i feel like i died. i feel incapable of reconciling my two lives, divided as they were by leaving my home and grieving. the chasm between my lives is so wide, it feels like death.

my new life is different from my old life.

i’d been grieving for over a year and i was sick of it. i left the suburbs to go to school in the city. my sister told me to get the fuck outta the house and go to school or get a job or something, so i did (yay for my sister!). i met my sweetheart at school and i started playing music again. i started writing poetry and telling stories again. i don’t wanna make it sound like my sweetheart fixed me, but falling in love with him and going to school helped me feel hopeful about the future.

happiness snuck up on me, i guess.

we’ve been living together for almost 5 years. we make food together and we eat food together. we’re kind to each other. we don’t yell at each other or hit each other. we get enough sleep. we talk about our feels and we talk about our future. we grow vegetable together. we work together. we love all our plants and we love the birds who visit us. we love the caterpillars who sneak bits of our lettuces and we love each other. we used to live in the city, but now we live in the forest in a rural area. i guess what i’m getting at is that our home is safe and loveful.

i sing and write poetry. i’m friends with real, actual trans* people. i have a job. i’m out as nonbinary. my mom is my friend. i have a blog with a bunch of super-awesome readers/commenters. i feel like i’m part of a community. i love the sunshine and the rain. the maple trees in the forest out back have leaves bigger than my face. the sugar snap peas in the garden are ripe with all the sweetness of the sun.

i want to do things! i want to help trans*/queer people and make the world safer for trans*/queer kids and grow all of my own food. i want to get top surgery and find a way to help other trans* folks afford the surgeries they need/want. i want to build a house out of cob and learn how to bake bread. i want to hug my sweetheart when i get up from writing this post. i want to wake up tomorrow and i want to grow. i feel like i have a future cuz i don’t feel like i’m going to die.

and i can’t fucking fathom it. for the first few years, i believed i was dreaming. i believed i would wake up and be back on the farm (my real home) with people i hated and who hated me. we would abuse each other and everything would be back to normal. or worse, i would wake up in the suburbs.

of course, it’s not a dream (right? right?!), but i still have trouble grasping my situation. i live with someone who loves me. he helps me take care of myself. he helps me when i have trouble with ptsd. he helps me not be too scared to go to the dentist. he is kind to plants and animals. he plays music with me. we play fun games. we have dreams. we have plasmic sex. i love him. i save him from spiders (i put the spiders outside; nobody gets killed). sometimes we argue, but then we talk about our feels and we grow more. we hold hands all the time.

and i feel like all this is impossible. my life today is so different from my old life, i must’ve died. i must be somebody else. what the actual fuck.

but i’ve always been trans*. there were times when i didn’t know it, but i’ve always been trans*. i’ve always been nonbinary. and weirdly, my transness seems to hold my 2 lives together. i think it’s the one constant.

i know there’re other things that must tie my lives together cuz, really, they’re only 1 life and i’m only 1 person, but it doesn’t feel that way. and feels don’t have to make sense.

like, there’s this thing i do that i’ve done ever since puberty. every time i do it, i feel myself doing it in my old life, too. i feel all the other times i’ve done it. it’s like all the mx. punks of all the times and all the places always do this thing together. i did this thing before i knew trans* people existed or that there might be more than 2 genders. i still do it sometimes; it feels like some sort of body dysphoria ritual.

this is what i do. i squint at myself in the mirror, trying to find someone who looks like me.  i squish my chest down and glance at my reflection outta the corners of my eyes ―like i can see myself if i’m sneaky about it. if i see myself, even if i’m all blurry from squinting, i cry with relief. if i don’t see myself, my body dysphoria gets really bad.

somehow, the feeling that all the mx. punks of all the times in all the places do this thing together makes me feel like my life is almost whole. i feel connected with the 12-year old mx. punk who couldn’t believe how wrong their body was growing. i feel connected with the 14-year old mx. punk who wrapped their tits with ace bandages and duct tape. i feel connected with the 16-year old mx. punk who practiced loving their tits and thought they succeeded. i feel connected with the 25-year old mx. punk who is going to fucking get top surgery one day.

more than that, i feel that coming out as trans* is part of some inevitable arc that began with my childhood or my birth. like how i got oyster shell slivers embedded in my feet and they came out years later. just pushed their way to the surface and my skin bubbled over them like blisters and the skin died and the shells came out all on their own. i think my transness is like that. there is nothing i could’ve done to keep this shit buried. nothing. it would’ve unburied itself one day. i feel like my transness was always in me, even before i knew who i was.

and that inevitable arc feels like a bridge between my lives.

so in spite of every asshat who’ve ever called me a freak or a pervert, in spite of all the friends and family members i’ve lost when i’ve come out, transness holds my lives together. i’m proud to be trans* and i’m proud to be nonbinary. i’m not so proud of being unable to write this without sounding grossly dramatic (i’m reallyreally sorry), but that’s something else. when i say i’m proud of being a nonbinary trans* person, i mean “i’m glad to be me and fuck anybody who thinks i shouldn’t.”

*   *   *

holy fucking long. i dunno if i’ll post this, but if i do i’ll keep this note at the bottom just in case anyone thinks i think this is worth posting. cuz i don’t. not really. but it was worth writing. i feel totes better for having written it.

 

5 responses to “transness as a bridge between my “lives”

  1. I love you, Mx. Punk! Not dramatic. No. This is strength. This is what power is made of. You got it.

  2. Of course it’s worth writing.

    Thank you for sharing. It’s beautiful, plasmic and takes so much courage.

    I hear what you are saying. It makes sense. And none if it sounds overly dramatic (though, it totally sounds like you would be well within your rights to be a little bit so, if you pleased). Reconciling who you were and who you are is an interesting feat. Especially for those of us who have this silly desire or inclination towards personal growth and development. Loving both who we are currently, and who we were, I feel, is no easy task, and yet incredibly important. But also, loving who we will become, and being open to that.

    Its a struggle, we all have, in some form. I love who I am now, in many ways it feels like my truer personality than who I was previously. But at the same time, a lot of it feels new, and it scares me. I don’t always have the confidence in the newer pieces. Since I havent learned how to be this way yet, because it is new, I forget that there is a learning curve to it. And no one, not even me, is smart enough to SKIP the learning process because of how smart they are.

    ITs truly awesome (in that awe-inspriing way) how much change, and re-birth one person is capable of. And even how that affects those around us/we affect others.

    Understanding our origins and our histories, even sharing them, are so important. tanks for sharing a little bit of yours ! I feel quite honored.
    ;-)

  3. I am glad you posted, I loved to read this. (Not because you hurt.)
    As for this: “it probably wasn’t so bad” –
    Yes, it was, that bad. It really was that bad, the things you went through. (Just in case you needed someone to say so.)

  4. @ rose: thanks, cat! i was hoping you’d read this one. cuz we were both there.

  5. @ sonicrhubarb: wow, cat. just what i needed to read, actually. <3 especially about getting used to the new "pieces" of ourselves. thank you! thank you for reading and sharing. <3 that means a lot to me, cat.

    @scb: i think you're right, but i'm scared to admit how bad it was cuz that makes it more real. but i'm also scared of it NOT being "that bad" cuz that would mean lotsa kids go through what i went through. and that's fucking brutal. so i dunno.

    but it's so so so good to hear from you! you're one of those cats i'm always hoping will read my posts (along with sonicrhubarb, reneta, and a few other fabulous people) cuz i value the feels.

    k. i forgot what else i was gonna write, but i keep writing emails to you in my head, so i should probably just write one for reals, right? k. <3

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