A New Kind of Normal

I’ve never really had anything close to a social life, even when I was in high school. Even though I’m an extrovert I’ve spent most of my life in a reclusive state. Part of this is the fact that I am transgender, and the discrimination that I’ve faced because of it, part of it is because of my sensory issues, and part of it is the fact that I was never really allowed to socialize outside of the halls of my middle and high school. Growing up I was never allowed to have friends over nor was I allowed to leave home to go meet with anyone that could be considered a friend outside of school related activities. 

Since moving to New York, and beginning to emerge myself in the world of the SCA, I’ve found something akin to a social life. There are people around me that understand, or at least accept my eccentricities and it doesn’t seem to bother them in the least. I’ve found something that I never thought that I would have, and that’s a community. I feel like I’ve finally found a place where I can belong not hide away from society as life passes me by like I’ve been doing for the past twenty years. 

It’s past time for me to let go of what happened to me in the past and start working towards the future that I want for myself and for my family. 

For the first time in my life I’ve joined a gym so that I can get into shape. I’ve started attending rapier practice within the SCA, and archery as well. While there has been a few bumps in the road, I am actually starting to look forward to the future with excitement rather than disdain or upset. Things are still rough, I’m still fighting for SSI because of my autism, in July of this year it will be two years since I’ve applied. I went into my final appeal in November of last year and that can take up to 15 months. 

I’ve scheduled an appointment for the 22nd of March for the consultation for my chest reconstruction surgery, and my insurance here will cover it and all other SRS surgeries that I need. I can’t believe this year I’ll finally be able to take that step closer to being whole. 

My depression was really bad for a while, but it’s a bit better now. I don’t wake up every morning wanting to die. I hope that this is a permanent change, but I know that there is the possibility that it isn’t. It’s just something that I will have to deal with as it comes along. I know I’m going to have to find a therapist and stick with them, but for once I have a few clear goals in my life that aren’t just ideas. 

I have an idea of where I want to be headed by the end of this year, I’m not completely lost to the chaos anymore. 

#depression, #letting-go-of-the-past, #lgbt, #mental-health-2, #mental-illness, #moving-on, #new-york, #srs, #trans, #transgender

Gypsy

More often than not I’ve been homeless, I’ve never really stayed in one place more than two years since high school. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I moved around a lot when I was growing up, the fact that I’ve never really felt at home anywhere I’ve lived, or the fact that my disability makes it impossible to hold down a full time job for any length of time before I have a complete meltdown. Once it was so bad that I ended up admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

I’ve stayed with family and friends most of my life, which isn’t something that I’m really proud of because I feel like a complete waste of space. Even though I try hard to help out; cooking, cleaning, yard work, fixing vehicles when they break down, household repairs, etc., I end up feeling like a burden and unwanted to the point where I’m suicidal.

I’m at that point now.

Couple my depression with the fact that I have a school district that has discriminated against my son, refusing him the services that he needs to thrive (I have a feeling it’s because I”m transgender, something the county of Amelia seems to have an open hostility towards.) and the fact that they like to threaten me with truancy even if I home-school him and things have just gone to hell.

I’ve been trying to find a new place to stay, praying that someone would let my son and I crash on their sofa for a couple of weeks until my wife and I could work out better plans, but that idea failed. The only friends that offered were unfortunately in Australia, with me being in the United States, that just isn’t going to happen. Though I am extremely grateful that they offered, even if we are half a world apart, its more than any of my more local friends offered. That hurt, maybe because I’d open my home to a friend with a child in an instant if they were having troubles like I am.

So it’s back to the gypsy style of life to make a long story not so long. After my wife had an argument with her mother this morning about our predicament it’s obvious that we aren’t welcome here any longer and need to leave. At least this time we have a larger SUV and trailer so we won’t lose everything that we have yet again.

It is for this reason that I’ve had to postpone the TransMuted Project, which is breaking my heart. It gave me something to focus on, and for just a few weeks I felt not so worthless. I felt like I had a purpose in life and now that’s been taken away.

So off into the wild blue yonder with us.

Luckily I still have my Chromebook and for the next month at least a cell phone with internet access, so maybe we can make something happen. Wish me luck everyone, my family is going to need it.

#autism, #depression, #disabled, #friends, #gypsy, #homeless, #homelessness, #lgbt, #transgender, #wanderer

Transgender Visibility

Ideas have been mulling around in my head for the last several days of how to dispell the negative ideas around people that are transgender after reading the appalling ways in which transgender people were talked about in my local newspaper. Since the Obama Administration signed an executive order that banned the discrimination of transgender students in school regarding bathroom usage, there has been plenty of negative backlash towards the transgender population of the United States.

The best way to dispel negative thoughts, ideas and the like is to counter them with something positive that disproves the false ideas. Ideas like all transgender people are sexual predators, sex workers, drug abusers, etc. Just like cis-gendered people, transgender people come from all types of life, sure there are some that fit into those categories, but there are some that do not. Being transgender does not make you a bad person, it simply makes you different from the masses.

Recently, a study has shown that being transgender is not a mental disorder, but rather there are mental health disorders that can stem from being transgender. These disorders are not caused by being transgender, but rather the way in which society has treated individuals that are diagnosed with gender dysphoria and have sought treatment for it. In short, society is responsible for the mental health issues that transgender people have due to their intolerance, hatred, discrimination, and unhealthy and often unfounded negative biased ideas towards the transgender population.

The goal of this project is to educate society as to what being transgender means, the hell that people who are transgender often go through for anything from seeking medical attention to finding gainful employment, and perhaps most importantly to allow other people to walk a mile in our shoes.

I will be launching the project sometime in September of this year (2016). First, I want to focus on telling the stories of the transgender population (mine included). From there I would like to expand to interviews and articles with doctors and mental health professionals that see and treat those of us that are transgender.

I think that it is important to share our stories so that people will see that we are not monsters or worse. Later in the month, I will post more information about the project as I get it together.

If you are someone that identifies as transgender and would like to tell your story, please drop me a line so we can chat. My email is AydanOConnor@icloud.com I check it about once a week, so if I don’t respond right away please don’t get discouraged. Names can be changed to protect identities.

Thank you.

#ftm, #lgbt, #mtf, #tg, #tg-community, #tg-visibility, #transgender, #transgender-activism, #transgender-stories, #transgender-visibility, #transman, #transsexual, #transwoman

Just Words

They are just words, this is the mantra that I’ve heard over and over again when lesbian women refuse to recognize their gender of their significant others who happen to be transmen. The use of female pronouns and labels meant only for women are constantly used towards transmen and by their own girlfriends, wives, fiances.

The damage that these words do to transmen are beyond measure, they chip away at his confidence, they destroy his identity, and they leave emotional scars that are far harder to heal than any physical wound. By calling a transman someone’s wife or girlfriend one is not only completely neglecting to recognize his identity, but it is also disrespectful, and emotionally abusive.

They are just words.

The real problem is, they aren’t just words. Words give life to perceptions that are otherwise silent, the give life to our emotions in ways that affect the world and people around us for better or for worse.

Study after study researchers have found that negative words can have lasting effects on people not only mentally but also physically. A 2013 study found that teenagers of normal weight had a higher rate of becoming obese if they thought they were overweight than their peers that thought they weren’t overweight or were told differently.

Imagine what effect being called a woman, wife, she, her, etc. has on a transman. If a teenager being told or believing that he or she is overweight causes them to in fact become overweight, wouldn’t this have a similar effect on a transman. It could cause him to question everything that he feels and believes about himself and cause him to have a crisis of identity. Afterall, if everyone around him thinks or sees him as being female, perhaps there is something wrong with him mentally.

For those that still call transmen by female narrative despite their wishes, imagine now if you will, someone doing that to you. Imagine that everything you are absolutely certain about yourself someone denies and in fact claims the exact opposite of, and not just once or twice in passing. Every single day that you wake up everyone around you denies you that ability to make decisions or choices about the person you are.

They aren’t just words, they are affirmations of who and what people are and experience.

#female-to-male, #ftm, #lgbt, #transgender, #transsexual

How Many More?

It’s been nearly two weeks since the mass shooting in Orlando, FL at Pulse, a club that was a supposed to be a safe-zone for members of the LGBT community, their friends, family, and allies. A dance club was turned into a slaughter room when an armed man entered the club and began shooting the patrons that were there just to have a good time. In all fifty lives were lost, including the shooter, in a shocking event that served to remind America that we have two very serious and potentially deadly problems.

The first problem that we suffer from as a nation is the rampant hatred that seems to consume far too many people in this country. It all to often manifests itself in ways such as homophobia, transphobia, racist and sexism. In the case of the shooting in Orlando, Florida the hatred caused by homophobia reared its ugly little head in the form of twitter users when they began to congratulate the shooter, praising the slaughter of the people in the club and even claiming their “God” allowed it to happen.

“Florida Pulse gay club attacked I’m so happy someone decided to start shooting perverts instead of innocent people.” Twitter user @Jhowell1214

“50 gay people died in a nightclub thats what you call an effective shooting good shit gays dont deserve to live” Twitter user @Wontage

“The only good thing about the Orlando Shooting is that is was a gay club. So less gays in the world today.” Twitter @peterkaweesi

“I wake up to some dude shooting up a gay nightclub. Isn’t that weird. Homosexuality is condemned by God so that’s why he let that happen ppl” Twitter user @AhchNach

“I as an individual would congratulate and give thump up to the brother who killed filthy gays at #orlando shooting” Twitter user @VoiceofMuslims2

 

The popular idea among people like this is that everyone must conform to the idea that this is a “Christian” country, and therefore the constantly cherry-picked bible should be law. It’s a lie, it’s bullshit, and it’s a fear tactic that people use to try to control the masses and discriminate against those different from themselves. Along with this ideology comes the notion that “gay” people are subhuman, somehow less worthy of living than everyone else. If you don’t think this is true, just read the responses to the shooting . There are preachers that are actually happy that fifty people lost their lives because they (49 of them actually) were in the wrong place at the wrong time, while another fifty-three were wounded.

The second issue we face as a country is our obsessive need to own and stockpile weapons to the extent that civilian homes look like military storage rooms, (except less secure) and to use those weapons on people we don’t agree with or worse, total strangers that have done nothing. The United States is among the top four countries in the world with the most firearms owned by civilians, and has the most lax gun laws of those nations. The last mass shooter had been under investigation by the FBI and was still able to purchase the firearms used to gun down forty-nine innocent people and wound another fifty-three.

A mass shooting is defined as a shooting that leaves four or more people wounded or dead. In the United States there is a mass shooting nearly every single day, and sometimes more than one a day.

In 2015 we saw more than 209 days of the year with a mass shooting taking place and this year has brought us one of the most deadliest mass shootings in the history of the United States in the form of a hate crime that is claimed to be driven by religious zeal.

Since the Columbine shooting in 1999 the frequency at which renegade shooters destroy or ended the lives of innocent bystanders has increased at an alarming rate with no end in sight.

How many more innocent lives have to be taken by people with a god-complex and a hard on for assault rifles before something is done about these problems we face?

How many more graves have to be filled with children, teens and young adults that had their entire lives in front of them cut short by a bit of metal, black powder and someone with nothing to lose?
How many more?

#anti-lgbt, #gun-control, #hate-crimes, #lgbt, #mass-murder, #mass-shooting, #mass-shootings-2, #orlando-shooting, #pulse-club

Bathroom Hysteria – Q&A

As I often do, I shared my post “Bathroom Hysteria” on another social network called Postwaves. From that posting I received a question from one of the members there asking if I thought that school locker rooms should be separated by gender. I feel like the question can be applied to any public facility like bathrooms and locker rooms. I wanted to share my answer with my awesome readers. I invited and encourage debate as well.

I do not think that we need separate restrooms or locker rooms for men and women, I think that we need to redesign public facilities completely. Public restrooms are created for one purpose and one purpose only, to allow people to urinate or defecate while they are away from home, wash their hands and then return to their business. Locker rooms at schools have the purpose of allowing people to change their clothing and maybe take a shower. (Though my son’s high school doesn’t allow anyone except the sports teams to use the showers in the locker rooms.)

We do not segregate restrooms in a private setting, so why is there a need to separate the men’s room from the women’s room in a public? The answer is, there isn’t a need for it at all. If public restrooms were redesigned to hold multiple stalls and urinals, both men and women could use the restroom and without the mass hysteria that the transphobic people are trying to spread. As for locker rooms, a design containing single stall changing areas for those needing to change their clothing would suffice. There are a lot of young teens that don’t want to change in front of anyone and are often harassed because of this. Mass gender locker rooms are often where body image issues begin, by creating a safe space where people can change without being judged by others around them because of their looks there is a possibility of lessening eating disorders, low self-esteem and other mental health problems that arise from the peer-led torment that occurs in locker rooms.

I’ve heard arguments that bathroom bans will keep sexual predators such as rapists and child molesters out of the ladies room, and my first question is what about the young boys that will have to face using the restrooms with these predators? Young boys and men are all but forgotten when people are crying foul to protect “women and children”.  My second question is, what makes anyone believe that by banning transgender people from using public gender-segregated restrooms that anyone will be protected from being assaulted in the restroom?

I have a good friend from Mississippi that was nearly assaulted in a public restroom at a Greyhound station in Fayetteville, North Carolina by a cis-gendered man. I have permission to share her story and would like to share it here:

“I don’t normally post a lot of personal things. I have nothing against people who do, within reason anyway. It’s just not usually my thing. As you may have guessed, this is not one of those normal posts. So here goes.

There’s been a lot of posts crossing my feed lately about trans people using bathrooms, “what about the children”, and so forth. Much of it has been pure speculation, so I’d like to lay a little real-world experience on you.

Once upon a time, I was at the Greyhound Station in Fayetteville, NC. (How coincidental is that?) While I was washing my hands, a man walked in. I don’t mean “a man dressing as a woman”. I mean a man. Or at least a human being of the clearly male gender. I said “I think you’re in the wrong room, sir” in a pleasant tone. While I was saying that, he crossed the room and slammed me into the sink. Dude had plans, and wasn’t in the mood to take “no” for an answer.

Two things were immediately obvious. First, it was a virtual certainty that I was going to lose the struggle. He was way out of my weight class. Second, the odds of rescue were rather slim no matter how much I screamed. The place was just about deserted, and the bathrooms were away from the main traffic area. He’d chosen his time & place well.

In the midst of all this – and “all this” was only a few seconds, even if it seemed like an eternity at the time – the door opened again. And I heard a voice. A low, soft, Southern-drawl female voice that said “You really don’t want to do that.” Mr. Flannel Shirt looked up and said “What are you gonna do? I can take two women as easily as one.”

I’d gotten my head free by this point, and caught a glimpse of a well-dressed, middle-aged businesswoman in an expertly tailored suit. She looked at me, smiled, and then looked back at him. She moved closer.

“That may be true, but here’s the thing. I haven’t always been a woman.”

And she grabbed him by the neck, spun him around, and knocked him out cold with one punch from her exquisitely manicured fist.

She asked if I was alright, and if I needed to do anything else in there. She volunteered to stand watch. “No, thank you so much, I’m fine. Let’s get out of here.” She agreed, and paused for a moment to check her nails. “I really must remember to thank my manicurist, not even a chip.” And we laughed.

Turned out she was going to the same bus as me. We shared company all the way to NYC, including a lovely meal in Baltimore during the layover. She was one of the best travel companions I’ve ever had.

Thank you, Stella, wherever you are. I hope life has been kind to you. You were an angel when I needed one most.”

Now, I’m sure someone is going to say that this is a prime example of why we should have segregated restrooms but ask yourself this, is a deserted public restroom any less dangerous for an individual than a dark alleyway, an empty store, a park, or any of the other nearly countless locations where sexual assault and rape often take place. The answer is no.

Approximately 4 out of 5 instances of rape are committed by someone that the victim personally knows. That means only about 20% of the sexual assault or rape cases are perpetrated by strangers, and only 18% of cases happen in a public area, and only 7% happen at a school.

Perhaps if there was more concern for catching the sexual predators and punishing them with more than a slap on the wrist and community service these rates would be even lower.

#bathroom-bans, #bathroom-discrimination, #gender-equality, #hb2, #lgbt, #north-carolina-bathroom-ban, #transgender, #transgender-bathroom-ban, #transgender-discrimination

A New Start for the Summer

I’m headed back to Arkansas, it’s really the only place that I have to go if I want to keep my sanity and not kill myself. Over the past two years, I’ve come to realize what a horrible, unwelcoming place that parts of Virginia are or have become.

When it comes to community, it doesn’t exist here unless you’re picture perfect or as close to it as anyone can get. If you’re not skinny enough, slutty enough or willing to sacrifice everything that you stand for just to fit in, you’re not welcome. To me, that isn’t a community, that is the same old high school drama that I’ve fought so hard to get past since I graduated fourteen years ago.

Since I moving to Virginia I have been: threatened with a gun, been refused assistance when I had to break down and ask for it because I am transgender, had my vehicle vandalized after appearing on television to talk about how my coming out has impacted my relationship with my birth family, profiled by police officers in my county that now proudly bare “In GOD we trust” across their police cruisers, my children have been denied the services they need in school to thrive to the point where I have to homeschool my youngest who as ASD, my eldest is being discriminated against by a teacher at school and neither the principal nor the vice-principal will do anything about it. In short, life for us LGBT Pagans is hell in Virginia.

The state motto shouldn’t be “Virginia is for lovers” it should be “Virginia is for heterosexual, cis-gender, Christian sheep”.

So we are headed back to Arkansas with the hopes that we can start over again work towards a better life. We have an uphill battle, as usual, the deck is stacked against us as it is for most Pagan or LGBT people. Doctors don’t want to touch the “offensive tranny”, therapists don’t want to deal with the drama of someone “mentally ill”. There is so much hatred towards people like it, it’s no wonder that the suicide rate is still climbing.

I can hope for a change, for a better future for my children, but that’s all it is…hope.

There is so much anger and violence in the United States today, I don’t see a positive change happening with the spilling of blood. Another civil war…

 

#arkansas, #community, #discrimination, #healthcare-discrimination, #lgbt, #lgbt-discrimination, #pagan, #pagan-discrimination, #religious-discrimination, #starting-over, #tg-community, #transgender, #transgender-discrimination, #virginia