I gave up my

freedom

and gave it to my

daughter

 

She is not a bad kid, not at all. She is talented and funny, the most sarcastic and sassy little firecracker you ever met. She is a hurricane wrapped in softness.

Video games and DVDs began to go missing. At the neighbor’s house, she said. Empty cigarette boxes piled up in her room. Out at all hours of the night. Sleeping until well into the next evening. Maybe tomorrow she will look for a job. The car would move from one spot to another. Someone needed a jump start. Half a tank of gas missing, no answer this time, no excuse.

So I offered a choice: the spare car key she has been using to sneak the use of a car that she is not licensed to drive, or her house key and I would give her my car key and the title.

She packed her things.

She is only eighteen. Older than I was when I left home for the first time, in my own car, everything I loved stuffed into the backseat and trunk. I was pregnant at the time, and soon homeless, living in that car in the middle of a cold winter.

Our only means of freedom, getting groceries, running errands, was that car. Being homeless forever scarred me, I always liked to maintain at least one vehicle, even if not running, for back up housing. That assurance and our freedom is now gone.

I just could not handle the lies anymore. I could not carry the stress she kept putting on me, the worry of the late nights, the missing things, the bills she fell further and further behind on.

It could not have been easy for her living here, with two disabled people. Perhaps it was this place, this environment, that drug her down. Hopefully a nudge can get her going in the right direction.

I told her I loved her, that she is welcome back if she decides she can contribute in some way, if she gets pregnant, if she has nowhere else and it is too cold outside.

I love her absolutely.

She is the most beautiful thing I have ever made.

I hope this is the right thing for her.

My daughter has gone out into the world. She is better equipped to handle it than I am. She is a hurricane.

SJR39

A controversial amendment is being proposed by Missouri legislatures. Supporters say it protects religious freedoms, but really it feels like thinly veiled rights to discriminate.

I’m all for religious freedoms, but that is already in Constitution. It’s one of those big first ones, right?

So I went in support of Promo petitioning lawmakers to strike down this amendment. There was also some pondering as to why these bills and amendments are cropping up all over the nation. In Missouri, the effect is that it is pushing back a sorely needed statewide non discrimination bill called MONA. So perhaps part of it is a stall tactic since the session is nearly over.

I’m not that deep into politics to be able to adequately explain all the details, but I read SJR39 and it just looks like discrimination to me.

Pictures beneath the cut.

Continue reading »

WPATH Town Hall

Giant, exciting things are happening, and right here in Springfield, MO! Burrell Mental Health and THEA sponsored a WPATH conference for professionals.

For those not in the know, WPATH is the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. They literally write the standards of care that providers are encouraged to follow to properly treat their transgender clients.

It was an amazing question and answer session to kick off a week long training for professionals only, but this gave a chance for the community to speak up. The turnout was incredible, the questions were provocative, the discussions were intelligent.

And, best of all, I hugged Dr. Jamison Green.

Less than pleasant was the continual theme that it is just a matter of waiting for things to get better. And I understand. A lot of surveys and studies don’t have reliable data on the transgender community yet. You can’t make policy without evidence to base it on, at least not good policy.

Waiting is a tough thing when you’re living this, though. Day by day, it isn’t easy, and our healthcare is life or death in many cases. The from the top down model of making policy and the from the bottom up model of improvements in training new medical students both take considerable time.

A ray of hope, someone did bring up a ‘from the middle out’ approach of creating a local gender clinic to help people right here within the next few months. Fingers crossed! And more than that, I’ll be looking for ways I can help make a local impact.

Pictures of the event below the cut.

Continue reading »

Carrying Feminism

This is a lot of where I am at the moment, feeling a little crushed by so much caring and wanting to do more to help, but I have extremely limited resources. And not just financial resources, but I have an unmedicated chronic pain condition which severely limits how much emotional and physical energy I have.

Sometimes it is tough caring about so much and feeling so helpless. I want to change the world! I can’t carry the entire world though, I have to have some ‘me’ left over at the end of it.

Continue reading »

Three Months

Last week I decided to get out and go to a homeless awareness march downtown. This city has quite a serious poverty and homeless problem, and I feel bad that I can’t do more to help. I share and network, give whenever I have anything to give, try to help when I see people in need, offer rides where possible, but it feels like painfully little compared to the size of the problem.

Homelessness is a personal issue for me. It brings up a lot of feelings, a lot of memories. Even though this is something which happened to me many years ago, the effects have rippled down through the years. I worry about becoming homeless every single day. As a transgender person with very little income, this is a very real possibility, and I have been very careful through to years to never let my children experience homelessness firsthand.

My own experience happened in 1996. I had graduated high school a year ahead of schedule. Suddenly I had to choose a college, rush the applications, and move onto a campus far from home. A great deal was thrust onto me in a very short period of time. In addition to the academic woes of a budding adult in their first foray out of the nest, I had found myself in an abusive relationship.

I remember distinctly the first drive up to the campus, Northwest Missouri State in the beautiful town of Maryville. It was far enough away from home to feel independence, but close enough to visit, and even closer to Iowa where my beloved cousin was living. However, my thoughts were not on having fun with my cousin or how I would adjust to living in a dorm with a roommate or the hectic life of a student with eighteen credit hours jammed into their schedule. I already knew I was pregnant.

My fears were realized when the morning sickness prevented me from attending nearly all of my classes. I was sick constantly, it seemed. I had no idea what to do, where to turn. This would devastate my family, being so irresponsible, even though I had used protection. My grandparents had invested so much into me going to college. So I turned to the father and trusted him to take care of us.

By the beginning of October, I found myself living in my car in Kansas City. His family was there and he had promised they would help, but they would not take us in. Instead we were left to sleep in our vehicles in truck stop parking lots and under railroad bridges, chased from here to there by police, trying desperately to work even though we could barely groom ourselves.

Hell was my contacts being frozen in their case and having to put them in using my rear view mirror just so I could see and stumble my way to the nearest bathroom to throw up. Hell was knowing that for the first trimester, the most important trimester, I was reliant on the nutrition of soup kitchens and food pantries. Hell was trusting the father of my child to find us a place to live and ending up under a bridge. Hell was finally, after three months, calling my grandparents to tell them the heartbreaking truth of how I had failed them.

It was only three months, but it changed me. The passionate person I had been was now obsessive, paranoid, and anxious. I could not let go of things because they might one day be useful. But I also could not stand useless clutter because what if I had to pack it all in a car again? Then I could not junk my van when it broke down because that was my back-up housing. It has been twenty years, and the effects of those three months are still with me.

And it was only three months.

The threat of being homeless again has edged closer and closer in recent years. There were several times when I had to secure shelter for my children without knowing where I would be going if this or that strategy were to fail. Thankfully things worked out each time and my children have not yet experienced homelessness. It has its lessons; a certain freedom, a way of teaching humility, and giving me an appreciation for things I do have. Still, I would not wish it on anyone.

I’m grateful every day for a space that is mine and a warm bed to sleep in. My situation has me only a few dollars each month away from becoming homeless again. For others it may be a paycheck or two, or a few bad decisions. It can happen to anyone, and we should help each other when it does.

The Last Straw

Trigger warning: suicide

 

Well, I’ve finally worked up to it. I’m going to rant about the Last Straw doctor’s visit.

Those close to me have already heard this story, and hashing it out in a support group setting really allowed me to realize just how much this event had impacted me. For weeks I’ve been dismissing it as just another ‘no’ in a long series of ‘no’ responses from the medical field. Just the norm, just what everyone has to go through, right?

But no, this was devastating. This broke me for a good while before I put myself back together again.

A bit of history, I am on Medicaid. This means I call a Medicaid hotline to see if any doctors are currently taking Medicaid patients. Most of the time there aren’t any. And I get it, why have a poor Medicaid patient take up a slot which could be more profitable. The healthcare system is incredibly profit driven. Without money to flash, I’m not going to get optimal care. That’s just reality.

So I call, there are two, one in each of the major medical systems in this city. I make appointments with both and both are a six month wait before the initial appointment. That’s difficult enough already.

The first visit with this doctor immediately had me take my shirt off for a breast exam, because I am biologically female. It raised a red flag for me, and it made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. However, that is just his policy. And I do have breast tissue which should be regularly checked, that is just good common sense, but he handled it very badly without any respect for my preferred gender identity.

I presented immediately with my two primary concerns, my chronic pain and my desire for testosterone. He decided to focus on getting me healthy first, prescribed me a medication which has worked for me in the past, and sent me on my way without another word about the hormone replacement therapy.

Next appointment six months later. I was an idiot who wore xis binder for far too long and cracked some ribs. Not only that, but wearing the binder so frequently had caused some changes in my breasts that concerned me, and I actually asked for a breast exam this time.

With the help of the medication he had prescribed, I could function for several hours a week again, so I had implemented a healthier regimen of light activity; including yoga, water exercise, light walking, and weight resistance training. However, I was frustrated because I was not seeing many gains despite what I thought was a serious amount of work and dedication. He dismissed those concerns by excusing that whatever time I had spent completely non-functional (four years) would take at least half the time to return to prior functioning (two years) and six months was not adequate time to see change.

Perhaps true, but I thought I had well demonstrated that I was on the path to managing my chronic pain and we could now focus on testosterone. He insisted that I stick to what I was doing, be patient, and he would see me in six months.

This was also the visit where he clarified what name I was wanting to be called, even if they had to use my birth name on the charting, they could make note of it. I told him NilLynn. Nil. Lynn. He looked so confused and called me Dillon at least three times. Then asked me why I hadn’t chosen an easier name. I would probably get more support if I helped other people out and used a name that was more familiar. So much anger packed into here I just don’t have time or room for it all right now.

Six months later, in January of 2016, I was just about done with him stringing me along. I was going to either fish or cut bait, as the saying goes. I’m no spring chicken anymore; wasting time is not something I want to do. Not only had I stuck to my daily yoga and walking, but I had made consistent gains on the weight training and was going to the gym at least five times a week. I was mobile, I barely needed my cane anymore, and I was up to eight to twelve hours a week of good functioning.

The nurse seemed confused as to why I insisted on being called ‘sir’ and the use of he/him pronouns (because xe/xim, my actual preferred pronouns are ‘too weird’ for most people just yet). I explained that I was a transgender male.

No joke, she looked at my chest, and I have no shame in saying that I have fantastic breasts, and stated, “Oh, so you’ve had ‘the surgery’ already.”

I was not sure if I wanted to laugh at how ridiculous that was, or cry because this person was on my health care team, or just be proud because she thought my breasts were so great they had to be fake. It was a weird moment.

Then there were questions about my sexual activity, naturally, but the nurse prodded a little too hard into the area of why my partner had died. It upset me. Even after four months of grief therapy, I was still grieving. Two months later, I’m still grieving. It is not a wham bam and done process. This was a raw, emotional issue for me. Still, she pressed, and left me in the room crying.

By the time the doctor arrived, I was terribly uncomfortable about the surgery remark, oddly flattered, and extremely upset over losing Raiyne. I don’t blame him for asking about my mental health care. But I explained to him that I attend several support groups, I have a therapist, I am trained as a therapist, and I have grief counseling. I have my mental care well in hand. It’s sort of my thing, it’s what I do. Yes, sometimes it is difficult for a mental health practitioner to see their own suffering, but I had thought I was doing damn well.

He looked at me and said that he wanted me to get a therapist and work on my mental health. As if he had not even heard me that I was already seeing a therapist and a counselor.

He flat out stated that being transgender is a mental health condition and I was too focused on it, that it was not any concern of his and he did not believe that it impacted my physical health.

I have rarely felt so dismissed, so pushed aside, so unheard.

I asked, feebly, just once more, about testosterone. It would help me by managing my debilitating period pains, help me regain functioning through my gym progress, and just living authentically would reduce stress. He said no, he would not treat me.

I said we were done. I left the office crying, I checked out at the front desk, crying, and said I was never going to return. It was humiliating standing there with the secretary sympathizing and asking if I wanted to speak to an office manager. I didn’t have it in me. I went down to my car and just sat there and cried.

It took everything I had not to put my car in gear and drive forward into the street in front of me. I called five suicide hotlines, none of which picked up. I sat there for over an hour, just willing myself to sit through it, to tolerate it, to just wait.

Now, I was suicidal for several days following Raiyne’s death, and that scared me. I love life, I want to live, and these suicidal ideations scare the crap out of me each time they happen. I reach out for help because I know these things aren’t me. This time I reached out and no one was there. The doctor responsible for caring for me, someone who took an oath to do no harm, had torn me down and treated me like a second-class person. And this was after years of getting the same from half a dozen other doctors.

This was crushing, and only now do I see just how low it had brought me, both emotionally and physically. Without my medication, the pain and muscle spasms are so much worse. I haven’t been to the gym in two months because why? To work my ass off for little gain? I can do all these things I’ve been doing for two years and people at large don’t see me as male.

But I don’t want to go back there. I spent four years immobile in bed and just miserable. I can’t go back there. I need to live as my authentic self. Raiyne and everyone else in our community who has lost their lives is behind me, and I’m still here, I have to go forward.

Hey! Listen!

In the update schedule set up by Morgan and Bartholo- I mean me, today is transition blog Sunday. Last week I set out a schedule by which I would update my various projects, and really only followed through on two of them, but I did a whole lot of work on all of them, so it felt like a win. Two out of seven isn’t bad, right? Ugh, it looks horrible saying that now.

Anyway, I wanted to cover any number of transition related topics which tumbled out of my brain last week, but I am absolutely, one hundred percent, completely and totally distracted from any of that.

Instead my mind is filled with worry and upset and just plain hurt.

Without getting too caught up on the details, my daughter is off and seems to be absolutely incapable of letting me know where she is, when she will be back, and has no consideration for my feelings. Fairly typical of a teenager, I know. She is only a few months away from eighteen, which is that really awkward period for parents where you’re technically responsible for the offspring, but the offspring are already way out of the nest and flying around doing stupid things and trying to live their own lives.

And she should live her own life.

This is just one more thing in a long series of things where she does not let me know what is going on, leaves me sitting here worrying, and does not consider my needs in the matter. This occurs almost daily.

I know, teenagers are notorious for getting wrapped up in themselves and their own needs and I shouldn’t let it bother me. I should just brush it off, keep my boundaries clearly stated, and not worry about things I can not control.

But I feel weak. Really weak and torn down. Like I sit here doing my very best to cope, to manufacture my own self-esteem and happiness, build up the reserves of emotional and physical energy, and then she comes along and not only steals away the products, but tears down the walls and kicks at the foundations. Not maliciously, not even consciously.

I should be the strong adult, but I just feel weak and worn out. It’s my responsibility though. Sometimes that gets tough to carry and I just need to get it out of me and vent and put the feelings here so they don’t fester inside of me.

And I utterly hate that I can’t vent. Because venting puts it out there for people to judge and give advice. I don’t need advice; I don’t need to be told the hundred ways I have failed and am still failing. I need my happiness and self-esteem factories to be rebuilt and stop kicking them down in the first place. Unless I ask for help or advice in parenting, do not give it.

I see this everywhere. Someone feels bad and just needs to vent or be told that people have experienced the same thing. Yet people just leap in to give advice, to admonish and shame, usually with ideas that have already been tried, so it just feels like more admonishment and shame that those ideas did not work. I probably see it so often because it is what I need, maybe those people are seeking advice, but I’m so tired of advice. I just want support and understanding.

I just want someone to listen.

Roadblocks

So I have spent the last two days working on a new obsession; photography. I set up a blog, dug out my old photos, and found my digital camera.

It has been a long time dream of mine to learn photography and to take stunning, professional quality pictures. Sadly my education drifted away from the arts and into psychology because it was more likely to result in a decent income. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t try, right? The internet is a boon of information, and I already have a good foundation of composition and other design elements from my artistic background.

However, like many other projects of mine, I almost immediately ran into the roadblock of money.

Everything I want to get into has invariably led to this point. Even just sketching requires a pencil and paper. Now if you want to get into the really good stuff, a decent pencil and nice paper. To get better, you need better tools, and spend more money. Painting? A set of acrylics isn’t all that expensive, but I want to really paint like Bob Ross that would mean oils and canvas. Ceramics? All sorts of money required there. Scrapbooking? Easy enough, but if you don’t want to damage photos, you have to use special acid free papers and inks. Customizing My Little Ponies, Pysanky, sewing, quilting, needlepoint, all require an investment in the tools and materials. I could go on and on about the number of hobbies that are just sitting and waiting and collecting dust until I have enough money.

Better tools make a better artist. Those better tools require money. So yes, I can play around here with my very cheap drawing tablet from ten years ago with a free art program, but all the talent in the world does not replace having a drawing tablet with pressure sensitivity and a beastly art program with all the bells and whistles.

So I dig out my old camera. It is a Canon PowerShot A510, a rather nice model at the time I bought it. However, by today’s standards it is seriously lacking. It has 3.2 mega pixels. The camera in my refurbished cellphone has more mega pixels than that. Yet a new camera would cost half of my monthly income. So that just is not going to happen.

The same can be said about transition. I can make due just fine with a binder through an exchange program, haircuts I do myself, and working on things that don’t cost money like my gait, movements, and speech. Therapy, medical care, surgery, hormones; everything costs money. And I know that is just the way of the world, but down here without two quarters to rub together, there really is nowhere to go.

How much potential in the world is being held back by the roadblock of money? People living in poverty, in worse situations than mine, what wonders could they contribute if they were not stifled by the all consuming process of trying to survive?

I am Transgender

See this, Nil? Play this when you’re afraid. Stop being afraid.
Everyone is behind you. Raiyne is behind you. There is no reason to be afraid.
I am transgender.

Blog Topics

Dictated to my phone while stuck in bed.

Doctor visit
Transition stagnation
Disability
Vision con
Grief
Gaming
High school dropout
Marijuana
Financial responsibility
Homelessness and how it impacts hoarding tendencies
Catch 22 of medical care and disability
The problem with caring about everything
My name is not complicated
I want to be an activist but I also want to live
The god damn bathroom
Being called Nil for the first time
Deadpool controversies
Am i single divorced separated?
Percentages of sexuality