A Parent’s Love and False Hope

In the trans community, a lot of us worry about how our parents will react when we come out. Will we be accepted, rejected, or even subjected to violence? And unfortunately, a lot of people tend to offer this advice: Don’t worry — if they love you, they will see you are happy and accept you! It will all work out!

Except very often. . . it doesn’t work out. Not even close.

What’s even worse is that often times if we are rejected by our parents, we are told they will “come around eventually”. This is giving false hope in a lot of cases. And I can personally attest to having one of these parents.

I will first give credit where credit is due. . .

Years and years ago if you would have told me I’d have a great relationship with my mother, she’d accept me soon marrying a woman, and introducing me as her son? I would’ve thought you were hallucinating. But she is now all of those things. I am beyond fortunate to have even one parent who is in my corner. Sadly, a lot of trans people have two parents that are like my father (or worse than him).

When I came out to my father as being transgender, he turned his face to me. “You can’t do that here,” he said. But “that” is what I AM. We have barely spoken for months. He leaves the room when I enter. During the subsequent time I have stayed with my parents, he has forced me to shave my face or I will be kicked out of the home. Thankfully, I now as of this week have a place to move to with my fiancee.

But he completely pushed me aside.

It hurt. It stung. It burned like a fire that my father no longer wanted me. He no longer wants me. He will never see me as his son. Hell, I don’t even feel like he sees me as his child anymore. So many times spent in the same room with him silent, turning a cold shoulder to me. And so many times when he got up and left the room, just because I entered it.

It hurts. But I knew this would happen.

My father is not only a “my way or the highway” kind of guy, he’s a diehard, right-wing conservative. Politics are his religion. He spends hours of everyday consuming right-wing media, whether it be FOX news, listening to AM broadcasts, reading Glenn Beck’s latest book, or surfing Republican blogs. I just don’t fit into his red way of life. He sees me as a disgrace. And he has always been like this. I have always assumed that if he knew the truth, he’d one day just push me aside.

Despite knowing him and having a pretty good idea of what he’d do, numerous people assured me it would “be okay” if I came out to him.

Including my mom.

People assumed because my dad loved me, that love would just solve everything. (However, it begs the question if you can so easily abandon your child, do you in fact really love them? I don’t think you can, but that’s a subject for another day). I mean, I am his child. This man made me and has been around my whole love. He just has to love and accept me, or “eventually come around.” That is what countless people assured me of. But I knew in my heart they were wrong. And creating false hope only made my situation worse.

I can still recall working my third shift job after my dad rejected me. Sitting up all night, I sobbed and it felt like it would be without end. In the months that followed, I contemplated suicide several dozen times, more seriously than I ever had in my entire life. I watched this man I had become close to devolve to a stranger, and treat me like I was an enemy. Of course, why wouldn’t he? I was a threat to his “way of life”, and these brain-washed FOX zombies? Well, love doesn’t overcome if they are taught that love is a weak and useless emotion in the first place.

To this day, I still cry about the father I lost.

And my situation could’ve been much worse, too. News headlines are filled by gay and trans kids being tortured, abused, or killed by their parents for coming out. This is why it makes it all the more dangerous to just tell kids they will be accepted “because their parents love them”. As much as we want it to, as a society, love truley doesn’t conquer all.

It stings, burns, and aches that my gather will never accept me. Hell, he won’t even ever truley love me and I’m not sure he ever did. But don’t sugarcoat it to me. Don’t tell me it will be fine when I knew all along it wouldn’t. I would rather know the painful truth than hold onto one little false hope that maybe he would actually care.

I think that’s much, much worse.

Dear L and G: Please Don’t Forget the Other Letters, Okay?

Apparently, a message of love and acceptance doesn’t always include everyone.

When I was only fourteen, I realized I liked girls. Naturally, I came out as a lesbian. I kept a more minor attraction to boys inside and to myself. After all, every young lesbian I met told me they’d never date someone who “played for both teams”.

Anyway, still in my teens, I remember a thread started on one of the lesbian-specific Facebook groups I was a part of: “Would you accept your child if they came out to you as transgender?” I was shocked to see hundreds of comments come in as a resounding “no”. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. All of these lesbians posted messages preaching acceptance and open-mindedness on the daily.

Huh?

It didn’t make sense to me then. So when I started to realize I was and had always been transgender, I kept it to myself for the longest time.

Lesbian friends had one of two reactions. “That’s wrong” or “Eh, I’d still do you anyway!” Nonetheless, I certainly wasn’t going to come out to anyone as pansexual at that point. At least, not until I started socially transitioning. Lesbian friends of mine started telling me I looked just fine and didn’t need to change a thing. Some called me “tranny”. I flat out lost a lot of friends, and not one of them was heterosexual and cisgender.

My own experiences aside, there are many people who don’t fit neatly into the boxes that cisgender gays and lesbians create for us. Some people are asexual, demisexual, bisexual, pansexual, aromantic, etc. or some of us just flat out aren’t cisgender. The very existence of trans people has caused an outcry from the lesbian and gay communities, some calling us homophobic by nature and others calling for the “T” to be dropped from LGBT.

And let’s not forget the issue of racism running rampant in the lesbian and gay communities, too. No, being lesbian or gay doesn’t automatically make you not racist. Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way.

Ever heard of Stonewall? It wasn’t some white, cis, gay man that threw the first brick. It was a black transgender woman, Marsha P. Johnson. Because of the Stonewall Riots, white lesbian and gay people are free to walk the streets and live openly as their true selves today. That is, with very little acknowledgment to the people who fought for that freedom. It included a lot of trans people, bisexual individuals, and people of color.

So why is transphobia, biphobia, and racism ever prevalent in the LGBT community?

I don’t know. And that is a sad fact that I really don’t have the answer. A lot of us don’t. I have never understood why people hold so tight to discrimination and hatred of other people. Especially when their own personal lives are not affected by it.

In the summer of 2017, the rainbow flag in Philadelphia added a brown and black stripe for people of color the LGBT+ community. Despite the positive message of inclusion they were striving for, many white lesbians and gays took it as some sort of attack on the rainbow flag.

A lot of TERFS — Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists — happen to be lesbians. They argue that trans women are “men invading women’s spaces” and that trans men are anti-lesbian; both by fact of mere existence. In fact, quite a few lesbians have taken to creating blogs that not only lash out against transgender individuals and their rights, but target trans youth and publicly out them.

Publicly outing a trans person can be dangerous to them, in an unlimited number of ways.

Bisexual and pansexual people face a large amount of backlash from gays and lesbians, frequently being called derogatory names and being berated at pride events. Asexuals, along with plenty of other sexualities, are simply often not even given acknowledgement of their existence. Let me give you a hint: the “A” in LGBTQIA doesn’t stand for “ally”. . .

Under a sky of rainbow flags held up by transgender, bisexual people of color and even more exists a large parade of white, cisgender lesbians and gays who claim those colors solely for themselves. That isn’t right. Our contributions to this movement are either ignored, mocked, or outright stolen and taken credit for by others. While you preach a message of love and tolerance, hundreds step on the feet of thousands working to make that message a reality.

Listen up L and G: none of the other letters have stopped fighting the good fight. Why have you so hastily cast us out?

Where I’m At: Sixteen Months On T

So, I’m going to post some info about my own journey on hormone replacement therapy and what not. I’m doing so in the hopes that maybe talking about it may help some other AFAB people who are on testosterone as well, or who are hoping to get on testosterone in the future.

I started testosterone on March 1, 2016. I started on gel and moved to shots after that. I have been on different doses. March 1st – July 1st means sixteen months on T for me so far, yay!

It’s important to note I have also been on lower doses of T since my journey began.

Since starting testosterone, here’s just a few of the things I have experienced:

-Increase in body hair growth, including more hair in places where I had hair before, and new hair in places where I never had it.

-Lots of different places on my face where I am now growing hair. However, sadly, while still living with my conservative father, I am forced to shave on a regular basis. Sometimes I let it go for a few days if I’m working a lot and know I won’t cross paths with him. But if he saw it, I’d be kicked out. I was temporarily banned from living here for a few months earlier this year, but have been staying here a little in the summer until my girlfriend and I can move in together.

-A LOT of increased muscle mass; especially in my upper body.

-Increased libido and growth “down there”.

-My hair line has receded at least a little, but it is noticeable.

-I have gained more weight around my mid-section, but I hope to start getting back to the gym soon so I can work it off.

-My voice has dropped but is continuing to drop. Other people notice it much more than I do and I notice it more when I compare it to old videos of me speaking and singing. The drop in my singing voice is actually much more noticeable than the drop in my speaking voice, too. I can especially tell my voice is different, however, when I sneeze or cry. Really. My sneeze is much different. So is my voice when I’m crying!

-I can see changes in my face.

-My period stopped for about three months and then started up again. Recently, though, it has been super light so I hope it will stop again.

-I sweat WAY more. Like seriously. What the heck?

-My eyebrows grow together faster. I don’t know why. . .

And much, much more. . .

At my last endo appointment, I was told my testosterone levels are in the 500’s, which is good. However, my estrogen levels are high. I know that a lot of the FtM community frowns upon using supplements and such, but I have started using DIM (diindolymethane) in order to help balance out my estrogen levels. I’m not sure if this will help, but I guess we will see.

I will point out that in doing research for supplements that help decrease estrogen, I found a lot that decrease estrogen in folks assigned male at birth, but most of the same ones INCREASED estrogen in folks assigned female at birth. However, with DIM, I feel the research points toward decreasing estrogen levels in both. That is part of why I decided to give it a try.

My next appointment with the endocrinologist is on Halloween. And hopefully at that point, I will have had top surgery done and changed my legal gender marker, both of which I’m working on. I have my name changed and my gender changed on my driver’s license (working on having it changed on my birth certificate).

Thanks for reading!

Five Things Not To Say to Trans People

You would think people would have some common sense, or at least that they would reasonably keep up with the times? No, not really. I think the title speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Here’s a list of five things you should generally never say to transgender people, especially trans people who you have just met or barely know.

“Have you had the surgery?”

What surgery? What the shit are you talking about? Surgeries for transgender people don’t just boil down to one session of going under the knife and waking up as the opposite sex in the recovery room. It doesn’t work like that. And there are many surgeries trans people can have. Top surgery. Different kinds of bottom surgeries (there’s by far more than one option for bottom for FtM individuals). Facial reconstruction surgeries. And the list goes on.

“So what’s your real name?”

My real name is Kane. Even before I had it legally changed, my real name was Kane. Are you talking about my birth name? I have no obligation to tell you about my birth name or any other aspect of my past, unless I choose to do so. It’s my own personal, private details and you are not entitled to them. Plus, I don’t ever want anyone calling me by my birth name anyway. That just feels demeaning.

“So. . . how do you have sex?”

Once you launch into an intimate 20-minute explanation with full info-graphics and slides on how you have sex, I’ll tell you about how I have sex. Sounds fair?

“But why would you do that? You’re just fine the way you are!”

To be honest if you say this, I’m not even going to dignify it with a response. I’m just going to glare at you and then walk away. But for the sake of this blog post I will say. . . I do not care if someone else sees me as “fine” in my gender assigned at birth. I’m the one who has to live in this body. And I’m the one who isn’t “fine”.

“Can’t you just change the way you dress? Do you have to change your name? Go on hormones? Get surgery done?”

Not all trans people choose to change their names and/or medically transition. But a large percentage of those that do find great relief from their dysphoria, and are generally satisfied with their transition. Also, see above: my body, not yours, your opinion literally is irrelevant to me.

From Gel to Shots: My Experience With Testosterone Administration

I was the child who hid under the table at the doctor’s office, screaming and crying, when it was time to get my vaccines. There was no way I fathomed being able to handle giving myself shots of testosterone. Therefore, I decided that Androgel was the way to go, and would be the perfect solution for me.

So in the almost sixteen months I have been on testosterone, why have I been giving myself shots for almost the past fifteen?

Androgel just doesn’t agree with everyone. I found that out the hard way.

I first started using it, applying it as directed. I had the little packets, not the pump. And at first, some things seemed great. My libido was super charged, and I had more energy and felt better overall. But my anger levels seemed to be really unusually high, too, and I didn’t know why.

Then, I started not feeling well and getting sick. Before I realized it, I saw an omnious red rash covering my chest. I had a terrible allergic reaction to Androgel, and it’s marked in my chart that I cannot take it at my doctor’s office. I also looked it up and found a lot of stories from cis men who had taken it for different reasons, and also had negative health reactions to it.

So. . . I chose shots as the next option.

And a lot of people choose shots over gel because they claim the changes happen “faster”, but for me that wasn’t even a factor. Anyway. . .

Despite being pretty scared of needles. I mean, I have tattoos, but that’s different, isn’t it? Tattoo needles only go into the skin. Whereas shots? Well, they go further. And to have to give them to myself? I was terrified. I had never known anyone as phobic of getting shots as myself.

I even chose to stop getting flu shots when I was 8. In fact, the last time I got a flu shot? I bit the nurse. I’m sure that she was also thrilled that I didn’t come back for any more after that.

Initially, I decided I want to do sub-Q injections instead of intramuscular. My research showed that they worked just about the same, and actually could be a little safer. After all, I really don’t want to hit a blood vessel or artery. And when I got everything to do my very first T shot, the plan was to have my friend give it to me. Unfortunately, when I went to her place, I had a panic attack so bad that she had to take me to the emergency room right away.

Needless to say, I did not get my first shot of testosterone that day.

A week or two later, I got some lidocaine (which numbs the skin) and got myself a little drunk (disclaimer: do NOT drink before giving yourself a shot). Then, laid there on my bed, my hands shaking, nervous and tense and panic stricken for about an hour on and off. When I went to put the needle it, it seemed like it took forever to go in, and then it felt funny once I pressed the plunger down.

But after the shot? I felt very proud of myself. And no, it has certainly not been smooth sailing since then.

There have been times recently where I still stared at the needle, nervous, and wanting to cry. I break out in a nervous sweat every time I give myself a shot, still, to this very day. I’ve gotten my girlfriend to give me my shots many times. And I’ve even said to her, “Someday I want to look into pellets, because I’m so beyond tired of giving myself these shots all the time.”

I have, however, long ago gotten to the point where I can give it to myself without numbing the area and without drinking (neither of which I recommend. Don’t do these things!). And I still can’t imagine that I have to stick myself for a needle every week for the rest of my life. But the progress I have made with my transition has made it so completely worth it. And actually doing the shots has gotten easier for the most part.

Seven Things I Wish I Knew Before I Changed My Name

Like a large number of other transgender individuals, I pursued a legal name change earlier this year in my home state of Pennsylvania. Luckily, it was granted and I now live free of the chains of my birth name. Or at least, I’m trying to. . .

Here’s a list of seven things I wish I had known or thought of a little more before having my name changed at the legal level.

Renting Or Buying A Home Outs You

Earlier this year, my girlfriend and I were looking to rent. Now, we’re in the process of trying to buy, but both processes come with a snag — verifying my identity means verifying my identity past when my name was changed. In order to check my job history for two or more years, my credit score, and even checking my tax returns shows potential landlords and home sellers that I am trans. Especially since my name before was very feminine and my name now is generally masculine. Renting was harder, as I got a lot of raised eyebrows as soon as I brought up the name change. However, buying seems to be a lot friendlier and I’ve even been correctly gendered more often in this process. It still outs me, though.

Everyone Hears “Name Change” And Thinks You Got Married

Six months after the fact, I am still changing my name at doctor’s offices and various places. When I approach someone behind the counter, it usually goes a little bit like this:

“Hi! My name was [birth name], but it’s now Kane, as I’ve had my first and middle name legally changed. I need to change it in your system.”

“Okay. . . all right. . . let me pull it up in the computer here. . . All right. . . Hmm. . . Let’s see. . . Okay, now, what’s the new last name? And your marital status has updated, right?”

“. . . I said first and middle name.”

And Believe Me, There’s Lots Of Places To Update Your Name At

More than you even realize. I even considered taking off of work for a week at one point just so I could make phone calls to update my new name at places. There’s Social Security, health insurance, auto insurance, work, PayPal (which was a HUGE pain in the butt), Amazon, the dentist’s office, that one gas station you have a rewards account with your name in the account, and more and more and more. And each one of these is an opportunity to out yourself if you weren’t ready. Fun, right?

Your Mail Is Gonna Be Interesting For A While

Here’s the thing, I get my health insurance and dental insurance from the same company. For four months, I would get two bills per month in the mail — the health insurance one was in my new, correct name. The dental one was in my old, incorrect name, despite the fact that I had been calling and calling and calling them to demand they change it. They knew I changed my name, after all. I still get tons of junk mail in my birth name, and it’s become a way now of knowing whether mail is important or not.

Scumbag Gmail Doesn’t Let You Change Your Name On Your Email Address

This one is pretty self-explanatory. However, if I had known it before I changed my name, I wouldn’t started using a new email address a long time ago. Now, too many of my important contacts are in my Gmail account to abandon it at this point. If you work at Google and you’re reading this: I hate you.

Changing Your Name Doesn’t Mean You’re Going To Get Gendered Correctly

This one was a pretty crushing blow to me, as it is to many trans people who find despite becoming a “Steve” or a “Max”, they are still called “ma’am” over the phone. Even over a year on hormones, I am still frequently misgendered. I cringe when I am in public and someone refers to my girlfriend and I as, “ladies”. But interestingly enough, recently, someone said to me, “Oh, I guess I didn’t realize Kane could be a girl’s name, too.” Meaning they really thought I was a girl who’s parents had named me Kane.

After A While, You Start To Forget Ever Associating Yourself With Your Birth Name

I honestly didn’t think this would happen. But after using my correct, chosen name everywhere for six months? It is a striking, startling response inside when I hear my birth name, even if it’s just someone else with that name. I used to answer to it for over twenty years, despite always hating it. But now? It’s no longer a part of me, and I’m pleasantly shocked by how I’ve distanced myself from it thus far.

In spike of the ups and downs, I am thrilled with the freedom that a legal name change has given me. 10/10, would do again!