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  1. [TRIGGER WARNINGS; INCEST, CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE, SUICIDE, VERBAL AND EMOTIONAL ABUSE.] Basically the gist of this is never casually joke about suicide and incest, ever. I've found that support for myself as a transgender person among other transgender people is almost non-existent. So the gloves are off. I'm coming right out with my worst secret and wanting it public. This post isn't a fancy infographic and it hasn't any gifs of gyrating bodies. It has no pictures or selfies or cats. It has no links to news stories or articles. This post is a news story all its own. It's one of the worst things you will ever read. All of it is true. God knows I can't put hours into one of my other posts and exist. My posts require you to read. So here goes: no setup, no build, no background. No one's reading this far anyway. My Mom knew I was a girl. But, she also had a thing for teenage boys and everyone including my friends knew it. When I was 11 or 12 she stripped naked in front of me and showed me how women masturbated. At some other point, we had intercourse. She was attracted to me. She needed her fix of teenage boys through me. We kept this a secret because we knew how violently my biological father would react. Later on, we knew we couldn't live with ourselves. I was suffering from an eating disorder, bipolar disorder and gender dysphoria. I was vulnerable. At some point, we made a suicide pact. We would at least die on the same day, if we couldn't die together. On March 17, 2009, the suicide pact was finally enacted. She died, I tried but didn't. Why I am still alive is a story for another time. Recently, I tried to tell my biological father that my anorexia had relapsed and I wanted to get some help getting something to eat. He chose to humiliate me in a public place instead. I went home and stared at a suicide note I had written a while ago, thinking they would be my last words. My biological father has permanently surrendered his right to talk or look at me again. It is a miracle I am still alive and I get no credit for my strength of character to avoid suicide. I am not the rich spoiled brat transgender woman that tv news and daily newspapers favour. My pain is much, much deeper than getting bullied at school. But I am invisible. I do not hate my Mom. Her illness was not unknown and she clearly overcame it when my sister and youngest brother were most vulnerable. No physical damage or consequences came of it, like pregnancy or an STD. I love my Mom and I think in penitence she has become my guardian angel. She is a very good guardian angel. I also had a vision of her as The Shepherdess of the Garden of Twilight, the title of one of my novels. But her role as such a Shepherdess is for another post. No, it is my other family I hate because of this. They should be taking care of me and helping me heal. Instead, they think I am better off never hearing from them, and if I never contacted them, I could accurately say I have no family at all. I have been through 23 years of therapy for my damaged childhood, and my family. I will not be polite about it amymore. It has ruined my ability to enjoy sex with partners. But I said to my biological father "my anorexia has relapsed" and he chose to humiliate me anyway. My anorexia relapsed because trauma about my sex with my Mom had been released. My therapist thinks I'm cured just by saying I was sexually abused. I don't think any other therapist will help, please have empathy and do not suggest any. I confessed these things because no one is reading. This is a long-form entry like my others and because it requires reading skills that high school students are no longer required to have, this blog entry is as invisible as I am. My name is Debora Simon. My email is areaeightyfour@gmail.com | My twitter handle is @areaeightyfour | My facebook page is easy to find under Debora Margaux Simon | Please DM me on twitter or PM me on facebook or email me to contact me.
  2. Steambelle

    No More Christmas

    This time of year is traditionally known as the holidays, and my experience is that we should spend it with our families. Our culture is descended from traditional nuclear families, Judaeo-Christian religion and binary gender identities, and it’s time we took this day back from those who demand we practice their traditions. I hate Christmas, but I don’t think there’s anything humbug or Scrooge-like about my hating Christmas the way I do. I don’t think my heart needs to grow three sizes like the Grinch. The reason I loathe Christmas so much is that I resent living in a society that assigns you a Christian identity by default, unless you explicitly state otherwise. Jehovah's Witnesses, who don't celebrate Christmas, are afforded respect out of their own sense of Christian tradition. But non-Christians who don't fit the narrative of conformity are not given the benefit of the doubt. They are often coerced into recognizing and often celebrating a religious holiday that has no secular equivalent, that they are not given the option of not recognizing. The “war on Christmas” conspiracy theory is ironic and frightening being that Christianity began in a state of persecution. But today, all efforts to reflect the plurality of religious belief in our public institutions, including atheism and non-belief, is opposed by Christians who resent being told that they can’t impose their religion on others. In my experience in my family, Christmas has a "copy-of-Mein-Kampf-in-every-home-in-Nazi-Germany" quality to it. You're expected to put up at least a begrudging recognition of Christmas, in your own personal space, even if you have no love for Christmas at all. This is invasive. I don’t identify with the European-American visuals, decorations, music, and Christmas-themed entertainment of Christmas, and I am distressed that our culture has passively integrated retail promotion into daily celebration of something I legitimately don’t want in my life. Recognition of Christmas is a ubiquitous expectation of everyone, regardless of whether or not you fit the narrative of being a Christian. In my childhood it felt very suffocating. Many people are still trapped in a religious bubble where they have no choice but to pretend they are happy being immersed in Christmas when they don’t want to be. Most of what I dislike about Christmas is not bitter, resentful atheism. I have said before I am atheist, but I feel that is changing. My new, tentative theism has nothing to do with Christianity, and I am still pro-abortion, pro-freedom of gender identity and sexual orientation, pro-decriminalization of marijuana and sex work, and pro-recognizing sex work as real work. Christians have no right to claim me as one of their own. They have no right to say their beliefs are validated because I have possibly changed my mind. When I finally had a choice as an adult living on my own, I realized nothing about Christmas appealed to me, regardless of what I wanted to believe. Here are some examples. My living space is beautifully decorated all year round. I do not believe Christmas decorations are particularly pretty. They would diminish what I surround myself with and I am proud of. If I want to have a special look to my place for a special occasion, I would not put up a tree or anything particularly associated with Christmas. I like some parts of some Christmas music like Handel's Messiah, but I expect a lot of beautiful music to come from religious sentiment. I do not like a single post-industrial Christmas carol, which are almost all about retail promotion. I consider post-industrial Christmas music to be aesthetically and artistically inferior to non-Christmas music. I'm a post-20th-century believer in labour laws that respect individuals rather than a privileged class. There is something wrong with Christmas being a universal holiday on it's own. It is too specific towards one special group of Christians. I'd rather see a December statutory holiday that, for example, is the first Monday after December 21. Christians should not have the right to impose the arbitrarily-set birthdate of Jesus on others. But currently, this is the privilege they have. I think it's time we took it away.
  3. Me to my dad: "I suffered from a relapse of anorexia nervosa this fall and summer" My dad: "who's fault was that?" Me: triggered, feeling suicidal, hating the world, getting no help
  4. Steambelle

    Trans Suicide TW

    I nearly commited suicide today. I was so triggered by the thought of asking for help from my family. I feel my long road of resilience and survival has been wasted if I'm expected to care about this man who has consistently tortured me for my 43 years, all the while putting me in the worst possible place. I felt humiliated, demeaned, hurt, abused, and subject to harsh misogyny. No matter how much I protest, assert myself, give myself pats on the back, try to boost my self-esteem as a trans woman, everything comes back to one fact: I am just not good enough as a human being. Everyone has to lecture me, tell me the way things are, refuse to let me into their circles, give me condescending mansplanations and exclude me from the positions of online leadership I have shown I am prepared and experienced for. I hate this shit, and it's insulting and degrading. Human beings need help. I've been excluded from these kinds of affirmations of my humanity since I was eight years old. It is not my fault that I hate the world and everyone in it. I really tried to see the good in things, including myself. There just isn't any.
  5. Steambelle

    Shepherdess, Part Three

    TW: Discussion of abuse, including childhood sex abuse and incest. Early in my childhood, I learned a lot about emotional and verbal abuse from my parents. Later my Dad tried to excuse both he and my Mom by dismissing their behaviour to my younger brother and me as “practice parenting” That meant that the “successful” parenting was saved for my sister and youngest brother. I always felt this was very selfish and ignorant on their part. To this day, I wish my Dad would take back this smug dismissal of the way my brother and I were exposed to some terrible things. I do believe that abusive relationships need to be ended right away. Unfortunately, the one relationship that I would have ended early if I could, I didn’t have the option of ending: the complex, sexually and emotionally tangled, incestuous relationship with my mother. In a future part of this story I’ll talk about why things got worse for me and my Mom, and how we remained kindred spirits throughout our days together. What I am about to say is my own opinion, and you may want to skip the next paragraph if value judgements about abusive relationships is triggering to you. Even if you love someone you abuse, and you may love someone who abuses you, there is a skin that is broken, and a tipping point that is reached, whenever there is abuse in a relationship. I feel it is possible that abusive behaviours can be unlearned, and that the trauma of suffering abuse can heal. I have experienced both. But if there is one thing I could take back about my past, it would be my belief that an abusive relationship can continue without abuse. If I could have a talk with my past self about this horrible, necessary subject, I certainly would. This is just the way I feel on my part, from my lived experience as both abuser and victim. My heart truly is with abused partners and family members who cannot leave an abusive relationship. Verbal, emotional, physical, sexual abuse: they all come from the same place and I feel they all can scar us equally. But this narrative is not about statistics and studies. What hurt me just as much as the abuse was the fact that I had no options for coming out. I come from a Mormon culture that blames the victim of sexual abuse, that requires that the victim meet in a room with their abuser, apologize for accusing their abuser, and accept that the church has administered the appropriate punishment towards the accused. Law enforcement is never so much as considered, and the victim is never assisted with their trauma. The most egregious abuse I have suffered has been sexual abuse, and if this is how my community mishandled sexual abuse, what chance would I have of being believed for the emotional and verbal abuse from my parents? I wish I could go back in time and pull ten-year-old me out of the Mormon church and give myself a supportive hug and tell her “I believe you.” As much as I blame my parents for their “practice parenting” cop-out from accountability, as much as I blame my Mom for having her attraction to teenage boys and for having sex with me (I talk about that in part two), I blame the Mormon church for creating the anti-female, anti-LGBT cloud of toxic misanthropy that surrounded my family for years and still lingers over my community. I knew about and experienced things that no child should ever have to go through or be aware of the existence of until later in life. What I said to my Dad when I first came out as a woman reveals what I would have said at ten years old, if I were not emotionally and verbally browbeaten into “respecting” my “elders” at such a formative age. As much as the Mormon church aligns itself with what they see as family-friendly values, it’s inability to adjust with the realities of human nature as they are revealed in someone like me, a trans woman, makes it a cult that is rigidly in lockstep with the unquestioned, authoritarian leadership of men. I should have more to say about having a repressed transgender identity throughout my childhood, but I have mixed feelings about talking about the duality I felt. It hurt. In my nightmares, I was always telling someone to stop chasing me. My pain was represented by a hideous demon that pursued me relentlessly through a maze. The maze represented the world, the neighbourhood and our house. They were horrible, traumatic nightmares no one ever helped me with. Sure, it was the early eighties, but I was a young boy having nightmares that were about more than scary monsters from movies, and no one so much as talked to me about them, even when it was clear I was suffering. I’ve been told that at sometime around my twelfth birthday, I built a mental wall around myself, started talking about and threatening suicide, studying subjects far above my grade level, and telling my friends about my sophisticated sexual fantasies. There’s a lot to explain these things: bipolar disorder, gender dysphoria, an eating disorder, hyper-sensitivity and autism. This would be a good time to remind you of my above trigger warnings of incest and childhood sex abuse. I realize now I can’t talk about what is the most traumatic and the worst memory I have of my mother. I hope you understand, but know what it probably is, from your point of view. For me, two and two keep making four, not five as I would like them to if it means removing this memory and experience that has traumatized me. If you know what I mean by that, I apologize for my cryptic way of communicating it. If you don’t, maybe it’s for the best that it remains a cryptic message. At this point I’m going to say I’m not even considering the Oedipus complex. My existence as a queer transgender woman invalidates the binary gender bias in Freud’s work, as well as his belief that homosexuality can be “caused” by the Oedipus complex. I do not even consider any of Freud’s work relevant in our age of ever-advancing understanding of the complexity of our brains and our sexual and gender identities. My Mom would often tell me how grievously guilty she felt for how she and my Dad treated me and my younger brother. She could see how hard it was for us to have and keep relationships and jobs and succeed in school. My teachers would express concern that I was hiding something from them, especially when I would start the school year doing brilliant work and finish it doing no work at all. In these years I felt I could see myself from the outside in a detached version of my life. I don’t want to speculate about what should have happened were I able to come out as an abuse victim as a child. Feelings that a victim may have toward their abuser may be very complex and may not be outright condemnation. That is certainly what I am trying to communicate about my relationship with my mother.
  6. Alberta moves to protect gender identity, expression in human rights law EDMONTON (The Canadian Press)— Alberta has put forward legislation to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression. The changes are part of a bill introduced Thursday that, if passed, will become part of the Alberta Human Rights Act. “No Albertan should be denied basic services for being true to themselves,” Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley told reporters. “This change will increase access to justice and make it clear that discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression is against the law.” Once the bill passes, Alberta will join Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Manitoba, and the Northwest Territories, which have similar bans in place.
  7. TW: discussion, though not explicit, of sex work; descriptions of transphobia. The possibility of becoming a sex worker has never strayed too far from my life. If I’m approved for affirmation surgery soon and I have the procedure before I’m about 50 (I’m 43 now), I would strongly consider sex work to supplement my income. I’ve been a sex worker before, though at the time I never would have called it sex work, for the same reason I never would have considered coming out as transgender: it was the mid-90s and I was scared to death of just being out as non-heterosexual. There’s a reason I didn’t want to risk extending the acceptance I had to something even more polarizing. The words we use, and that others use to label us have a far-reaching effect on how we are treated, and how we treat ourselves. I never thought that, dancing in a cage for money, I would be saying twenty years later that I’m a transgender woman with a living name and authentic identity as Debora. We had “LGBT” then, but it was mostly LGB and almost no T. I recently found a book from 1996 that is very supportive of transsexuality, and while I can see that it was possible for me to come out as transsexual in 1994, when I was stripping in a cage, I would not have done so. I’ll tell you why. Please don’t get mad at me for saying this, but transsexual people were on the fringes of our community then, where I was living. The recent, abhorrent “drop the t” petition would have found some backers in some of the fellow activists I worked with. I used to know activists who told me transgender women were just gay men afraid to put themselves in the “gay” column. At the time I was not who I am now. The me of now would have told those transphobic men to stuff their prejudice and accept me for who I am. But my status as a cute, beloved, sexy “twink” was too much fun and too valuable for me to change. I made some money, but my expenses were high. “Someone who looks fabulous all the time usually spends a lot of time and money looking like that” definitely applied to me. I had already come out as gay to my parents, and they were already worried about my late nights, use of their internet for sex connections*, and frequent trips to gay bars in Calgary, Alberta, the nearest city with a sizeable gay community. They frequently gave me extra money and my Dad’s cellular phone for my trips (this was 1994-96), knowing I might need an emergency hotel room and roadside phone call. They did what I would have done if I had a young twentysomething child in my situation: try to protect me to the best of their ability, knowing they couldn’t keep me from living as who I was. I did not want to fix what wasn’t broken, and at the time, for as much as I think it was a horrid arrangement, coming out as transgender would have pushed me further to the fringes. I danced in a cage and did other things because I could, I sometimes enjoyed it, and because I got paid. My Mom’s feminist books that I read growing up helped me live with myself, though I told no one I was identifying with the women I had read about, and read the words of. Looking back, I led an inner life as a woman, but I acknowledged that the world viewed me as a man. I didn’t like the arrangement, but at the time I was the most comfortable with it that I would be for the next decade and a half. This life didn’t last very long, and there’s a whole new chapter that begins after I lost one of my battles with anorexia and bipolar disorder and I ended up in the psych ward having my eating and moods frequently monitored. In the psych ward I met someone who would significantly shape my identity as a woman. I don’t think she was aware how much I was taking notes about how similar we were, though I tried to hide it with ‘manly’ behaviours, habits and interests. Probably the most awkward moment we had was when she saw my decorated basement suite. I was very proud of having proven wrong everyone’s assertion that I could never live alone. She remarked that she thought it looked like someone much younger lived there. I asked, “how much younger?” She answered, trying not to laugh, “a teenage girl.” I tried to repress the moment as far back as I could, and it haunted our relationship for almost the next 5 years. She apologized and explained it was what she loved about me, that I wasn’t “one of the boys” and that I related to her interests much more than anyone else she could be dating. After being a prized “twink” tossed out of the gay community, and spending time in the psych ward and a group home, I was happy someone loved me in spite of my bizarre contradictions. (There's something missing here, and that thing is drugs and alcohol, but I'm still sorting out how I feel about myself when it comes to that, and I don't want to talk about it here.) I knew that, in 1997, this was going to be our secret. To the world, we looked like a typical hetero couple. The word “transgender” never came up. She told me she thought I wasn’t “100% straight” (true, I came out as bi and then as pansexual) and left it at that. I was so confused I didn’t know what to think. My residence was very brightly colour-coordinated, with plush toys and lots of teeny-bopper and trendy fashion magazines. I had decorated it without her input, and she said she was suspicious there was someone else influencing me. My relationship with her is a long, turbulent story for another day. *this was 1994 and computers with internet connections, which were controlled by the government and universities, were few, and my parents had one.
  8. Steambelle

    Dawkins and Gender

    This is an email I tossed off to my sister, a researcher for a consulting firm in Alberta. Her background is in biology, for which she has a PhD from the University of Alberta. I'm copy-pasting the text here. I never got a reply, but this seems to be all the things I said in a phone conversation with her where she agreed with me, so preaching to the choir and all that. She is also very supportive and has helped me frame and word my trans identity for other purposes. See what you make of it. "Richard Dawkins said that my identity as a woman is based on "semantics." Aren't defining chromosomes "male" and "female" based on semantics also? When you get right down to it, isn't Dawkins field of evolutionary biology just the breakdown of the evolution of sex traits into smaller and smaller parts until "male" and "female" become irrelevant terms? Saying "man" and "woman" are the only choices because of chromosomes also denies the vast potential of gender variation in human lives to enrich our culture. Humans have the opportunity to understand things he clearly cannot. If denying I'm a woman because of the semantics of molecules were put into legally enforced practice, I would be in terrible danger in men's spaces. Many people remark I am more feminine, and allegedly more vulnerable to violent and misogynist attacks, than many cis women. But I think all women are equally in danger if there aren't social safeguards that protect us equally. I cannot help being who I am any more than very feminine, or masculine, cis women. As a woman I need to be in women's spaces. He is just reinforcing the privilege of people who identify with their birth gender to define "man" and "woman" both scientifically and socially for others like me who do not have that privilege. That should not be his place and he should know better as an evolutionary biologist. He should also know his words will enable hate speech and hate crimes because he is a public figure. I don't want his courtesy because he is clearly masking transphobia the same way he tries to mask Islamophobia in his criticism of Ahmed Mohamed (the boy with the homemade clock.) I feel bad because I once defended him and supported him during the evolution-over-creationism days of the four horsemen. Now I feel like an enabler of his public visibility. I want nothing to do with his social persona because of his views of sexual harassment, Muslim teenage boys, and transgender people like me. Something about the very things I read in his books say to me he's wrong about saying chromosome pairs and combinations can be "male" and "female", especially if he wants to say my identity as a woman is semantics. Then, as weird as this may sound, shouldn't your identity as a woman be semantics as well? That seems contradictory, and dangerous. He is defining sex and gender as something that may come from a predestined divine source, and that goes against everything I have ever read in his books. As evolved humans and not divinely-created images of God, we have this seemingly beautiful thing called gender. That means variation, right? That should also mean, according to his logic, gender should not be determined by molecules and their pairs and combinations. In my opinion his view is the same as creationism. He is proving that some people contradict the accomplishments of their younger years because they cannot adapt to progressively changing realities. I hope we don't end up that way! P.S. Sorry, this turned into a blog post instead of a tossed-off email. Love you and appreciate you! ❤️❤️❤️” I could interpret Dawkins’ tweet to mean he fully intends to respect the identity of trans people and that he concedes that his field of study has been flawed in its assignment of human gender traits, qualities and labels where they do not exist. I might as well expect a certain ‘feminist’ (and to be honest, I think her writing is now irrelevant) to change her view of me as a castrated male who thinks I’m female.
  9. Steambelle

    The Long Road

    The act of coming out to me was fairly simple; it was a matter of acknowledging what I had been feeling for more than 35 years. It was also a way of putting two and two together, finding a common thread in all my dysphoria, understanding why things were the way they were in my life, and so on. But the difficulties I've faced since then have a lot to do with our culture, the history of our Western society, and the enforced binarism of cis privilege. We as gender non-conforming, transgender, non-binary, and genderfluid/queer people existed long before the 21st century. Humans have a beautiful thing called gender, and it's hard for me to understand why so many people still believe there are just two. Variation is part of life, is it not? So because gender is such a variable thing from person to person, it's fair to say, at least in my view, that my trans identity is as old as humanity itself. I think it's becoming clear that a child will navigate themselves towards their identified gender regardless of their birth-assigned gender, if given the vocabulary, support, freedom, and medical help to do it. A child telling their parents and the wider world what their gender is, as opposed to the other way round, should be as natural in their development as learning to walk, talk, and using the potty. The increasing number of children identifying as other than their birth gender is evidence of this. But tragically our society hasn't shifted and adapted to this fundamental, beautiful part of human nature. It shouldn't take time. That's not something we should have to passively accept.
  10. Steambelle

    Shepherdess, Part Two

    Trigger warning: rape, incest, abuse, discussion of mental health and suicide. What I am most afraid of is introducing the other person who matters the most in my narrative. She has almost been written out of my family’s history, even though she gave birth to four beautiful children who have grown up into wonderful adults. There are many reasons why I think my family has neglected her memory and ignored her influence for so long. One is that she suffered from an undiagnosed mental illness, and as I know from having a mental illness myself, mental illness is misunderstood and looked down upon as a weakness in my family. She suffered from tumultuous emotional mood swings and unresolved abuse issues with her own parents that I know very little about because no one will tell me. Also, she died by committing suicide, and suicide is by far one of those things I wish people wouldn’t condemn. If you aren’t doing what you can to help people you know who are suicidal have a better life, I'm not sure you have any right to condemn their choice to take their own life. That being said, my Mom was roundly condemned by my family for committing suicide, and I alone feel that she had every right to. This is where my story goes into some pretty disturbing details. There are very few words to accurately describe what I experienced, and what she experienced. I want to preface this by saying that I understand the rage and anger some people may feel at what happened to me, and that at this point, it may be hard to keep reading. Mine is not a rape story that elicits in me the kind of indignant outrage you as the reader may be feeling. You may tell me I should be feeling rage and seething anger at my Mother. You may not understand why I want to keep capitalizing the title Mother/Mom. I feel the need to tell you why. My Mom was a supportive and kind friend to all who knew her. She always was welcoming and interested in our many trials and tribulations as children and teenagers. She got to know our friends as human beings first. Many of my friends remarked years later that she was the first adult they knew who took them seriously as people and didn’t talk down to them as "kiddies". That’s a quality of hers that I try to emulate whenever I interact with children. But, later on as adults, me and my siblings understood what our parents approach to parenting was. I was born in 1972, my younger brother in 1974. My Mom wanted a girl, and though I was assigned a boy at birth, she did get her wish to have her first child be a girl. But she wouldn’t live to see her wish be fulfilled by my transition. Over time, my Dad has excused the mistakes he and my Mom made raising me and my younger brother as “practice parenting” for my sister and youngest brother, who were born in 1979 and 1981. That’s fair enough, and on the surface, I accept that. But my scars go pretty deep, and I don’t think I will ever be believed for what I am about to say. At the time, my Mom was raising four children, being a housewife, battling a mental illness, and coping with her own traumatic personal memories of her own upbringing. So you can probably see where my sympathy for her comes from. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to say all rapists are monsters who belong in hell, but not only do I not feel that way, it’s actually a trigger for me to hear it being said, without the person saying it qualifying it to some degree. So, because the exact time is still unclear to me, I do not know if I was 11 or 12, or if my Mom was 30 or 31. My Dad was always working extra hours to keep us afloat financially, and none of the four of us were old enough to work at part-time jobs yet. The stress in our family was unbearable. Our Mom would often suffer from crying fits and breakdowns. I learned to repress my burgeoning sexuality and even my real gender identity, which I quietly filed away as “hopeless”, in the sense that I never saw myself in a real relationship with someone in the “going out” sense. My sister and youngest brother were the children she felt she needed to make up for the mistakes she and my Dad made in bringing up me and my younger brother. There wasn’t a lot we could do about it, and the two of us felt like we were being cut loose emotionally, though we were only 9 and 11 at the time. That would work for my younger brother, who was more emotionally stable than me and better able to handle himself socially both in school and out of school. But I still needed my Mommy. I wasn’t sure what was happening to me physically, why it felt so wrong for me to have the body I did, why my throbbing penis made me feel the way it did, and why I didn’t fit into what our sex-ed class was teaching us about boys and girls. All of that would have to wait because she was too busy fawning over my sister and youngest brother. There comes a point in this narrative where I have to say my Mom started to develop an unhealthy obsession with both my and my younger brother’s friends. She was the cool Mom on the block who could play board games and talk with us and not be repulsive, as in “eww Mom!?”, but there were other times where, as much as I enjoyed watching my friends getting owned by my Mom in a wrestling match, I was scared that what I was watching wasn’t right. These memories I’ve mentioned have been repeated to me by my friends over the years as we’ve talked now and then. I have always been a natural writer for as long as I can remember, and it comes as naturally to me as breathing. I didn’t learn to read as much as I picked up books from my parents’ bookshelf and started to read them unassisted. There is no explanation for this; my sister started reading the same way and neither of us really care to have this gift explained to us. I started writing as an expression of my sexual and gender identity as early as 11 or 12. I moved from simple stories to erotica without stopping for a breath. I felt inadequate, underdeveloped, wrongly developed, clueless about what was happening to me, but I could always find clarity and joy in writing about my fantasies. This was greatly helped by the fact that I was hoarding my Mom’s women’s magazines under my bed so I could look at the fashion, read the feminist articles, smell the perfume samples, and immerse myself in women’s culture. But, as can be expected in many of these kinds of situations, my Mom caught me masturbating. The irony was, she sometimes didn’t know I was doing it, because of the non-handjob style I used. I used my hips as I lay face down on a soft or semi-hard surface like a mattress, a towel or the carpet. Before I learned to maturely space out my masturbation moments, I was masturbating wherever and whenever I could. I rarely used visual aids except the visual cue of one of those fashion magazines so I could put myself in the right frame of mind as a girl. I was always dreaming and imagining about what was occurring in my written work as sexual fuel for my imagination. My Mom started reading my amateur erotica. My long ordeal of dysphoria, which will get even worse as this story goes along, became evident if it wasn’t already. She knew I understood the female perspective of things. I haven’t said anything specific, but please don’t be mad at me for not condemning her as you would. My memory of our experiences and relationship together is just beginning to thaw in my mind. I still don’t know, or can’t remember, exactly what happened. My therapy for this has revealed my Dad may have been involved, but there is no way to know for sure. This is where the narrative partially stops for a time-out. I have to explain where my life went to in the time between then and now. I am different, there is no doubt about that. Many theories have been explained to me about what that “different” is. The answer is that I am transgender, assigned male at birth but really a girl. I don’t think anyone would argue against that now. For years, that fundamental part of me was invisible and silent, known only to someone if you looked under my bed or mattress. I am still afraid to let anyone near me emotionally, and this mistrust of people’s intentions and motives, even when I am not threatened, started in my twelfth year. I describe it as having the defensiveness of a wounded animal. My bipolar, if it is indeed bipolar, didn’t come until later. My confrontations with my parents about how they treated me went way beyond teenage angst. I can remember learning how to be emotionally and verbally abusive from these arguments. There was something my younger brother and I, the “practice” children, had gone through that the “successful” children hadn’t. There were times I knew, looking back, I was a bratty little shit, but mostly, I was trying to get my parents to admit something they weren’t willing to admit. Over time, they made wonderful gestures to try to make it up to me, but I can never get those years of my life back, and what I want more than anything now is to be accepted for who I am.
  11. Steambelle

    Shepherdess, Part One

    I've been debating whether or not to share my story about something that's been very long-term in terms of how much of my life it has encompassed: nearly 30 years. I want to start slowly, and I don't know how long it will take me to finish the story. It will be a long, emotional read when it is completed. The ending, and it's implications, may be terrifying to some readers. I think my story confirms some degree of life after death, but I won't debate its specific details with regards to a specific faith, belief system or philosophy. I'm not even going to speculate. That's for another time maybe years down the road. I want to parse out the story as I am comfortable sharing it, so I can't guarantee it will be completed in regular, reliable intervals. There may be long gaps or I may do several posts in a short period of time. Whew! Here goes: My story begins on February 14, 2014. My phone had died, and I was locked out of my downtown apartment. Before my phone died, I had called the police, for one very important reason: they had the master key for me to get into my building, and I was confident the officer would make an emergency call to the locksmith for me. Both of those things happened, and the officer called the locksmith and waited with me to make sure they could get into the building to let me into my apartment. We had a long chat while we were waiting, about this and that, and interestingly he knew a lot about the 107-year-old building I lived in, a converted hotel for miners built early in the 20th century. I brought up that I did not feel safe in the building. We talked about the reasons why, and I said it was because of my non-binary sexual identity. I said that yes, I presented male to the world, but privately I identified as female and always have. Though it may seem weird to be talking about this to a police officer, on the phone the dispatcher asked me what pronouns I preferred, and I said it was OK to use he/him. The officer who waited with me clearly identified as male, but he did not come across as a bro. Myself, I was lightly bearded, wearing my leather jacket, jeans, and rough skater sneakers; though I looked kind of rough, he treated me with sensitivity and kindness. Pre-transition I sometimes came across as quite fearsome and intimidating, but he could see I was unguarded and frightened. I can take care of myself most nights, but on this night I was terrified of the thought of not having my apartment to come back to, and I didn't hesitate to tell him that. Everything worked out as planned, and I entered my apartment safe and sound. My nerves calmed, my keys found and back where they should be, I wanted nothing more than to eat supper, take my evening meds and fall asleep. My conversation with the police officer still in my head, I unexpectedly relived the narrative of my life before my sleeping pill took effect. There was one terrible, frightening memory I almost always relive before I fall asleep. I will begin reliving it again when I go further into my story. My transition began that night. Being 41, unable to work and finally able to talk about gender identity with a kind human being, I devoted my energy to sorting out what I really felt. One conclusion kept arriving to greet me: I am a girl. Childish was how I felt. The language and culture to express trans identity was so new to me I felt like a child again, and my life could begin with no painful denial and repression; no harmful double life. The joy I felt was undeniable, and I couldn’t stop smiling for days as I existed without shackles for the first time. There are stories about my transition, both good and bad, but they are not what this blog entry is about. I want to go back to what I said earlier, about there being one memory I cannot help but relive most nights. I want to go back to my childhood to place this memory in context. That's going to be the subject of my next entry.
  12. Steambelle

    Trigger Warnings

    Hi, I'm Debi, also known as Steambelle. My blog is going to go into some very deep places. I think it would be right for me to say the following trigger warnings are in place: -childhood sexual abuse, including incest and rape -talk about suicide, mental illness and depression -eating disorders -self-mutilation -psychiatric hospitalization -physical, emotional and verbal abuse -reparative therapy My first full blog post is coming later tonight. I'm mad as hell about there not being any supportive services where I live, and I'm not afraid any more of talking honestly about what's happened to me. My transition is the greatest thing to happen to me and I am very happy finally identifying as who I am, but it still has to be said it is a miracle I am still alive. There are still a lot of suicide risk factors in my life and I feel I have nothing more to lose by relating these especially in the context of being transgender. I hope I can keep doing this as I blog more.