Let’s Dust This Thing Off

So, I’m quite aware I haven’t updated this. Every time I thought to, I could not bring my words together in a coherent fashion. Today is only different because I find myself in a coffee shop with terrible wi-fi and a great latte.

A lot has happened in the past five months, but nothing has really changed. It is incredibly frustrating, which seems to be the theme of my life recently.

In October I edited a series of short erotica stories for a friend, which he published. Then in November I wrote a very emotional rough draft of a novel that dealt with a lot of relationship issues and abuse. That was an extremely rough month. December of course brought rough holiday blues, culminating in January blues which seems to have resolved. Almost all of that was nothing more than the yearly remembering of things lost, regrets, and the horror of an entirely new year to screw up.

See, last year was the Year of the Horse. It was supposed to be a very good year for me. It was, in ways. I came to several wonderful revelations. The path is just a rough one.

There were doctor appointments in January as well, neither of which seem to be bearing any sort of fruit toward a medical transition. It is incredibly difficult being on Medicaid and getting any sort of care in this state, let alone transition.

In more happy news, I had my first kiss of the century. That’s right, century. I have completely shunned dating while I worked on myself and made sure I was mentally ready for another relationship. So I’ve been dating myself for sixteen years, and I think it’s time we started seeing other people. We’re not breaking up or anything, but it is time to invite one – or more – into my life.

Exciting, frustrating, and mostly just surviving.

The Long Road

I have to admit, the last few months have been tough.

Compared to the rest of my life, I shouldn’t really complain. I knew going into this that transition would be a long process, I knew that. Still, I guess I expected a lot more small steps instead of a whole lot of nothing.

Despite my mass levels of procrastination, I do enjoy getting things done. Procrastinating actually just increases my anxiety until there is a point where that anxiety overwhelms my lack of energy in a burst of getting stuff done. Living with chronic pain and fatigue for so long this is just how I operate now. It isn’t the best strategy, I’m well aware, but in the end things get done.

However, with my transition, it feels like nothing is getting done. My anxiety is high, my desire is incredible, but I can’t apply that anywhere. So it wasted energy. And wasted energy for me is a huge source of depression. I have so little, to waste any is devastating.

I made my declaration, I cut my hair, I tried to bind my breasts. I was already wearing what I wear, men’s Wrangler jeans and tank tops, men’s shoes, nothing too very feminine. Except bras, those are a bit of necessity, or else back pain ensues.

I’ve wanted to speak up a great deal more than I have, be more active, write more articles, reach more people. I’ve even pulled back on social media against my will just because I don’t have the energy. It’s all being drained down into this black hole of getting nothing done in my transition.

I called around looking for doctors in my area. The soonest appointment for just a first meet and greet I could get was January. Then I realized that perhaps you have to go the psychological route first to get some sort of letter, so I called around for that. No idea how I’m going to afford anything, or get myself from here to there. No progress on that front either. Not a single appointment, not one return phone call.

As for packing or binding? No progress there either. I use a sock to pack and a weight loss sweat band to bind, but I want to take the next step. However, I can’t afford the next step.

Money, energy, wellness, time… spiral down the black hole into depression.

There is no progress. How can I climb out?

A Small Stand

One small stand for a trans man, one giant leap… towards what will likely be blinding rage by the end of the day.

I have this one person in my life. You probably know the type. Super religious, super high on her morals, super everything except actually following through on anything she preaches.

Yes, one of those types.

Well, today I have a long drive with her. One last act of charity, she says, then we have to stop relying on her.

Excuse me? Relying on you? This whole thing was her idea, her push, every year. And now we’re suddenly a burden because it was her idea to do this?

Just so much sighing.

Well, after this one last time, then I have to pay her back another $320 and then she will be out of my life. I just don’t need this stress. I need positive people who accept me, not bring me down, and I know that. The only reason I associate her is because my children used to see her as a grandparent. They have since become wise to her hypocrisy.

I’ll still love her for what she has done for my family, absolutely, but I just can’t handle the criticism.

One criticism is going to be the fact that I have not shaved my face in a week. Five days ago we went to lunch to celebrate my daughter’s birthday, and my son pointed out that he could see my facial hair. Now, you reading this blog understand why I might want to grow out said facial hair, but I could not just admit this to her. So I made up some stupid excuse about banning razors from my life, tired of oppressive beauty standards.

So for this trip with her, stuck in her car, driving for hours, I debated shaving, just to save myself the grief.

But no, that would be dishonest to myself. That would be giving in. So I’m not going to do it.

Each and every hair on my face is one small stand against oppression!

Or I’ve just had too much coffee.

You Just Never Know

One of the worst things about this process is being accepted for who you really are. Or, rather, the fear of rejection by people you care about. How many years have I spent with a certain person? That is a lot of investment in a relationship.

Of course when you traipse along this process, you open yourself up to new friends, similar folk and allies, so you can add new relationships. And naturally you shouldn’t keep people in your life if they aren’t adding to your life. Someone just taking up your mental and emotional energy and not giving back, well why are they there?

But I digress. Maybe I’m strange. And I don’t mean that my friends have to daily compliment me or help me out in some way, or be in constant contact. I have a group of wonderful friends I only see one month a year (you know who you are) but they’re there for me hardcore during that one month where we all try to write an insane amount together without going completely insane ourselves.

Have I digressed from my digression?

My point is, you never know who is going to support you and who isn’t. In anything, not just transitioning or coming out, but even little things like say, I want to take up pottery!

Okay, that’s a crazy example.

Today I discovered that there are other people like me, living right here in this town. That was amazing. Connecting with like people and sharing is something that is hard wired into us. We are social creatures, even the most introverted ones of us.

And, trust me, after this many years of playing the homebody introvert, I’m ready for some serious connecting.

So all boosted up from that wonderful little event, I gave my uncle a call.

Now, my parents are both dead, my father when I was 6 and my mother when I was 14. My grandparents who had a hand in raising me also died. So what I have left are two uncles, an aunt, and a lot of cousins. They don’t live near me, I don’t talk to them often. Why? Because last time I went to some family gathering and mentioned I was dating a woman, I got some serious flak for it. I basically left and swore never to talk to any of them again. Which was unfair, that one person didn’t speak for everyone.

And it wasn’t even a ‘real’ coming out, it was just a test. It was the best thing I had at the time to label who I was, lesbian. It was also fairly accepted, just not in the middle of small town Missouri so much, and not with my family.

So I haven’t spoken to most of them in a few years.

I came out to my twitter friends first and gathered quite a lot of additional amazing twitter friends. However, Facebook is full of real life friends and a few gaming friends, plus two family members. So that took just a little while longer. Still, nothing blew up. Okay, all good.

Then I was warned, the gamer community is awful about LGBTQ issues, but I love my gamer friends. So one by one I felt them out and every single one of them has been nothing but supportive. Do I know how to pick friends, or what?

But those are friends. Family you can’t pick. And what if they reject me? The pain would be so much.

And yet… why am I worrying?

The loss is THEIRS. If they reject me and I have to remove them from my life for my own mental well-being, then it is THEIR loss. They have lost the wonderful, beautiful, amazing creature that is me in their lives.

And it is. NOT. MY. FAULT.

This is who I am. Yes, I’ve had kids, yes I’ve lived 35 years fitting into typical female gender roles, but that was just pretending. This is the real me and I’m too TIRED to hide and pretend anymore.

Yes, it will hurt to be rejected, of course it will, and someone that you put so much love and time into not accepting you as you are can hurt so badly. But it’s better to go for it and find out instead of living the lie.

So I did. I called my uncle. I asked him how he was, made sure he was feeling okay first, and then I said it. “Happy Fourth of July, your niece is now a nephew, and I love you.”

And he said “Really? Well… okay then, yeah, OKAY. I love you, too.”

That’s all that matters. Just love each other. Don’t judge, don’t hate, just love.

I’m such a fucking hippie.

Pridefest 2014

So, as I was going along quietly on my own personal journey, I realized rather late in the game that June was LGBT Pride month. I don’t recall exactly, but I discovered only days before the event that we had our own Pridefest on the square in downtown Springfield on June 21st.

Well, I just had to go! For some reason, I HAD TO. I didn’t understand why, but there was this driving urge inside me.

Now, I’ve only ridden the city bus maybe once or twice on my own before. I begged and pleaded on my Facebook for anyone who might be able to give me a ride, but alas I don’t have many local friends. An unfortunate product of being about 90% housebound due to whatever disability this is that I have – though that is a rant for another day.

So I figured very carefully, do I have the $2.50 required to take the bus there and back? No, I did not. However, I had saved back $1.25 in quarters for emergency laundry. That would get me there. It would have to be enough. So I was going.

The entire night before I fussed and fretted about what to wear. Should I use my binder? No, my binder is actually just a weight loss sweat belt and wearing that in June heat would surely kill me. Better to wear a sports bra. Nowhere near the presentation I want. Damn boobs. The least I could do was wear my jeans and my belt buckle. I love my belt buckle, you have no idea.

I still didn’t feel like I was presenting as manly enough, but what more could I do? I’ve been shaving my face for a good twenty or so years already and I had a few days of stubble, but nothing that would outweigh the chest mountains making my shirt hang all funny.

Still, I was compelled. I had to go. No idea why, and it isn’t my place to figure out the mysteries of the universe. Everything happens for a reason.

Even before I arrived, I believe it was on the bus when I was struggling to get up to the slightly upper ‘deck’ in the back, I was called a woman. You see, I’m not visibly disabled, but I can’t always walk properly, so the stairs were a problem. The fit young people on the lower deck seats are supposed to clear a space for anyone disabled or elderly. It didn’t bother me that they didn’t, as I said, my illness isn’t readily visible and people mistake me for able bodied all the time. Somehow, being called a woman hurt more than not being considered disabled ‘enough’ to not make a fool of myself trying to get up two damn steps.

I had tried, really tried, to look as masculine as possible. My day hadn’t even started and my confidence was shattered. But I made it to the square.

As we were sitting around in the grass, in the shade, enjoying the lovely breeze and starting to make friends talking to one another, a group of religious protesters marched through the square. They were carrying a cross and signs, shouting through a speaker system.

I had heard their rhetoric so many times before. I graduated from a Christian high school, it was the Mormon church who encouraged me to marry the man who had raped me and be a proper woman. I sat in tears, trying not to lose my fucking mind. The festival music was turned up, the religious people turned up their volume. It was an ear-splitting battle that meant we could not be comfortable and talk to one another.

During the speeches, the protesters would not even give a moment of silence to remember those we have lost. Not even that. It was heartbreaking. Yet we had three churches there supporting us; obvious examples of good Christians.

Kristin Beck was there. I stood close to her, let other people talk and take pictures with her, but I felt inferior. I was not enough to even speak to her. She would mistake me as a woman.

It’s easier though, right, for FtM? That’s what I keep getting told. Just grow some stubble, take some T, and wear guy clothes. I’ve been wearing guy clothes for years, men’s jeans are all I wear, the only things that are comfortable. My shoes are men’s.

But it’s easy. Right?

Why do I feel like a failure?

Why couldn’t I just speak up and talk to this amazing soldier and tell her how much she inspired me?

Why did the people at the Glo tent ignore me? Three times I approached and no one ever spoke to me. Why couldn’t I speak up first?

I instinctively sought out the comfort of people more familiar to me: a writer. I hid from the heat in her tent and probably annoyed the shit out of her and her lovely rainbow mohawk wearing husband.

Then came the process of getting home. There was no way I could stay out very late, the buses are strange enough on the weekends, getting home alone after dark was not an option. Sitting at the bus stop I had my first trans* confrontation with a cis woman. Even though I likely had heat stroke, was sunburned and dehydrated, I took a walk around the block to just cry. The police officers there for security just gave me strange looks and I was too scared to ask them for help. I nearly fainted and stumbled my way into a little hole in the wall burger joint. They gave me water and let me sit down.

Somehow I made it home. I’m not even really sure how. I’m pretty sure I fell down on the bus at one point. Some lovely guy helped me up. Seeing him offer me his hand… I will never forget that image. Laying there on the ground, seeing a hand thrust toward me. It was all I could see. His hand.


The Breakthrough

So here I am.

Thirty-five years living as a female and knowing all the while that it was wrong. I am not female.

I knew this from the time I was a small child. I always wanted to grow up to be a cowboy. My first love was a girl, Lisa. She had long, curly black hair.

Quickly I was forced into dating boys to be proper. I married, I had children. I was a proper woman. But it was wrong.

The realization came to me as I shared my stories on the #YesAllWomen Twitter hashtag. My entire adult identity was a lie based on the expectations for a woman in this society.

I wrote about it briefly on my creative blog on May 27th, focusing on how it impacted my writing.

As much as my art and writing dominates my life, it is not all that I am. I required a more private place to document my experiences. And so, here is NiL.

NiL was created through a few playful exchanges on Twitter as I was debating my brand, an important thing to consider as I just self-published my first novel. Nihilim seems a bit far to go, so I am settling happily on NiL. My initials are N.L. anyway, so adding an “i” in the middle is a small matter. Thus. NiL McFarland. It pleases me.

My internet persona of Garney is still going to reign online. Garney is an amalgam of all things I creatively hold dear; a beingĀ of fire and passion, a unicorn, a creature who creates, and an homage to my mother’s birthstone. It is only my real life self who is changing, becoming NiL.

A small distinction, but one I am very pleased with.

I hope you enjoy my journey.