COVID-19 and work from home dysphoria

Like most of the world, my life has changed drastically since COVID-19. I live in Illinois, and the stay in place order has been active for a week now. Even before that my workplace closed its offices, forcing me to work from home. It’s been a week since I even left the house and honestly it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in regards to my being transgender. I was unemployed for six months, and even that was easier to deal with than the last two weeks.

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Swimming while trans

I did something recently that I didn’t think I would ever do again. I put on a swimsuit and swam. It was one of the scariest things I’ve done since coming out as transgender. I was in the relative safety of my close family, but even then it was hard to show myself in a swimsuit.

Growing up swimming was something I, and anyone affluent enough to enjoy a community or private pool, take for granted. My family vacationed in the Ozarks, specifically outside of Branson, Missouri. We’d swim in the lake or one of the pools in the cabin resort we’d visit each summer. We also belonged to a pool club that we’d swim at during some summers.

I was never really comfortable with my body and my appearance, but dysphoria isn’t something I could have understood at that young of an age. Nonetheless I’d put on a swimsuit and enjoy the water.

A lot of transgender people, however, cannot so easily do the same. It is hard to find a swimsuit that can hide the obvious bulge in a pre-operation transgender woman’s crotch. Swim trunks for men do the task, but look strange when paired with a top made for women. In addition, it’s almost impossible to find a top that would fit the pre-pubescent breasts of an early-in-transition transgender woman. I don’t even want to think about how hard it must be for a pre-surgery transgender man to deal with having to cover up in the pool.

Before this weekend, the last time I had put on a suit was two months after starting hormone replacement therapy. I wore a two piece bikini with a skirt, and swam in an empty hotel pool. The top didn’t fit right, and the bottom hid everything when dry, but the second it got wet it clung and revealed everything. It was far from a euphoric experience. I looked like a man in a woman’s swimsuit.

This weekend, however, was different. It’s been three years, and while I’m not sure if I am quite fully developed or not, I can actually fit into a proper top, and with a bit of searching I was able to find a bottom that had a skirt that did a halfway decent job of hiding my junk. Putting on the swimsuit was, for the first time, euphoria inducing. With the exception of my wide shoulders, I actually looked like a woman. 

It felt great, but once it was on I had the realization I’d have to walk out of the bedroom I was staying in, and confront my fears of being in front of my family. I was sure they would say something. Not intentionally something that would hurt me, but no matter what they said, it would make me self-conscious. Much more so than I already was.

Fortunately, what I feared would not come to pass. I managed to get into the pool without an awkward word from my family.

It was great, and euphoria inducing, which is so nice compared to everything else that causes so much dysphoria.

The power of a photo (or many photos)

I’ve been using Google Photos to backup all of the terrible cell phone photos I’ve taken since 2012. There’s maybe 50 photos of me before I started transitioning in 2017. Most of the photos are of pets and random things. Now there’s a huge collection of selfies that document my entire transition. At least once a week, usually 3-4 times a week, I’ll take a photo of myself. Either at my desk, in bed, on my couch, or in my car. Wherever the mood strikes me. That’s not something that ever happened before transitioning.

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Suicidal ideation and self harm

I’ve been catching up on a lot of the back catalogue of leftist YouTube personalities lately, and I finally worked up the courage to watch Philosophy Tube’s video on Suicide and Mental Health. It’s a rough video to watch, especially as someone who’s been there, has dealt with those feelings, and still deals with those feelings. However, it did convince me to write this post, despite having sat on it for months before finally posting it.

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Transgender communities throughout transition

I’ve been in and out of many progressive, social justice aware, LGBT, and transgender communities throughout my adult life, specifically leading up to and throughout my transition. Some of those communities came and went, others are still around but I grew out of them, and some I’m still a part of but only visit when I’m in the right mood. The only community that I’ve remained a part of through everything is a small group of best friends that all met each other in random corners of the internet, only to eventually settle in the midwest, and all come out as some form of LGBT.

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Pronouns and inclusive language are important

I often talk about pronouns in this blog, but I’m not sure just how much I’ve been able to emphasize how important they, and inclusive language in general, are in our day to day lives. Of course this is an English blog so I can’t speak for other languages or members of the transgender community whose primary language isn’t English. Every language is different, and I can’t imagine how hard it must be for transgender individuals in countries where the primary language is extremely gendered.

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No one talks about euphoria

Gender euphoria is the opposite of dysphoria. Where dysphoria is the distress and discomfort felt by not fitting in the gender that suits you best, euphoria is the elation and rightness you feel in those moments where everything aligns just perfectly. I never heard the words gender euphoria until long after I started my transition, and to me that’s really sad because if it had been something that more people talk about I might have realized who I was far sooner.

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Starting Fresh – Part 2

I already talked about my excitement about starting fresh at a new job. It’s been just over two months since then and now I want to talk about how my expectations compared to what actually happened. Along with being exciting and wonderful, it’s been a long and stressful two months. I’ve been moving to a new place, preparing my old one for sale, and getting acclimated in a job that truly feels like I’m being thrown into the deep end. The new job has been amazing regardless of the stress that has come along with it. For the first time I feel like I belong as a part of a team rather than either a cog in a machine or a lone developer doing my own thing.

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Pride – Year 2

I wrote a lot about Pride last year, about my perceived failures, and about how hard it was to take pride in myself but how that was changing. Unfortunately, the rest of the past year was marred by even more failure. That feeling of pride and being happy with who I was unfortunatley short lived.

My divorce was finalized, I lost my job, and it took me six months to find a new one. In that period of unemployment depression set in deeper than it had in a long time. It didn’t help that I couldn’t afford all my medication since I didn’t have insurance. As it turns out Abilify is an amazing drug, and no they’re not paying me to say that. Though I wish they would. Depression led to my house becoming a depression nest. My finances took a nosedive. Things got really bad.

It’s been two months since my fresh start. My new job is going awesome, I have a new house, my old one is getting cleaned up for sale, and my sleep schedule has returned to something resembling a functioning individual. I’ll talk more about how things are going in my next blog post, but today I want to focus on Pride, the event.

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Starting Fresh

There’s one experience that I’ve always dreamed of and that’s starting fresh. One of the things that prevented me from coming out sooner is that very dream. It’d be so much easier if I could just start fresh, and have no predefined expectations of who or what I was. Unfortunately for me, by the time I was ready to come out of the closet and realized it was even a possibility I was out of school and well into my career.

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