Cultivating an Identity

Lindsay Ellis recently released a video about manufacturing authenticity on YouTube. I’d like to think a lot of her points don’t really apply to my blog, but the more I think about it the more wrong that initial assumption might be. I am very much manufacturing an identity for myself, and doing so for my personal gains, however small those gains might be. I have a Patreon, that I’m spending more money on other creators than I’m making myself. I have Google Adsense running, that has net me a grand total of $23.73 since the start of my account as of writing this post.  So while I might not be successful marketing myself as an internet personality, I’m still manufacturing a version of myself to be sold online.

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Checking the Diversity Checkbox

I’m going to start with a story that I don’t think I’ve shared with anyone before. When I got hired on at my current company, they gave me a form to fill out. The HR representative explained to me that they get a tax credit for diversity in hiring practices. I didn’t have to out myself as anything. All I had to do was check a box. I hesitated for longer than I care to admit. My brain swirling with indecision and fear and doubt as I read through the list what the state considered diverse. I hesitated because it listed being transgender. Noticing my hesitation, the HR representative started clarifying the form more, also mentioning that depression and anxiety count.

I checked the box.

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Waves of Dysphoria: An Emotional FedEx Arrow

Dysphoria is defined as a state of unease or general dissatisfaction with life. As someone who has fought depression, anxiety, body issues, and gender issues for as long as she can remember, I am well acquainted with the concept and many of its permutations. Even before learning what dysphoria was, I experienced it, which I think is honestly the most frustrating part of dealing with it. It is impossible to talk about something you don’t even understand yourself, especially if you don’t even know there’s a term for those experiences. It is something I’ve struggled with throughout my life, but only in the past five years have come to understanding it as gender dysphoria.

Gender dysphoria is the term for what transgender people experience in regards to the gender they were assigned at birth. What I would learn as I researched and read about transgender issues in my attempts to make sense of the feelings not only enlightened my past, but also made dealing with that same dysphoria even more difficult.

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Pride is something I’m still struggling to understand, and since it’s pride month I thought it would be a good idea to put my thoughts down. Pride means so many things to so many people. More than anything, I think it means being proud of who you are as a person. That is something I’ve struggled with my entire life.

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Reactions to coming out as transgender

Everyone reacted to me as coming out as transgender differently. I briefly touched on this in my post about coming out, but I wanted to go into more detail about those reactions, rather than the process itself. Each reaction can be grouped into one or more of a few categories: excitement, questioning, doubt, indifference, and turning it back on themselves. I can’t say that one group of reactions is better than another, because they all have their positives and negatives.

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Geekway to the LGBT Crew

I’ve already written about my experiences at inclusive conferences in my post about Code4Lib, but Geekway to the West is different. It’s a convention purely for fun and socialization. I’ve been going to Geekway, an amazing board game convention for the midwest, for five years now. It might not be as big and impressive as Gencon, but it’s been my convention of choice since it was introduced to me. This year was the second since I came out a transgender, but the first that I’ve been able to truly be myself. Last year, I’d barely been out as transgender. I was on HRT for a whole two months at the time and I know I didn’t pass.

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Visibility and why it’s important

Today is the Transgender Day of Visibility, and it’s my first one being out as transgender. I really wanted to come out last year on this day, because visibility was, and still is, important to me but unfortunately it wasn’t quite in the cards. If it wasn’t for past days like today, I might still be in the closet, dealing with my gender dysphoria in private, and being miserable in the process.

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Depression, anxiety, mental health, and being transgender

It’s an unfortunate misconception that being transgender is a mental health issue. The fact that it was listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM) as “gender identity disorder” until 2013 didn’t help matters. That isn’t to say that there aren’t mental health problems that go hand in hand with being transgender, but instead that being transgender itself isn’t a mental health issue.

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Why can’t you accept the way you are?

Early in my transition I was asked by several people why I can’t just accept the way I am. I find it a really hard question to answer in a way that is satisfactory, and that they can understand. The problem is that they’re looking for an answer that can’t be given. The fact of the matter is that transgender people who come out as transgender are finally accepting who they are. Possibly for the first time in their lives they’re doing exactly what the people asking that question are asking them to do.

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