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Realize

IMG_6907Today marks seven years since my wedding day. Although it seems like a blur there are specific moments that continue to flash through my mind. I remember coming through the doors to walk down the aisle and not knowing what emotions I was supposed to be feeling. Was I supposed to cry? What did I feel? Physically I felt naked and hungry, but emotionally I felt numb. It was the kind of life I had watched unfold in movies, but it was not the life I had imagined for myself. I never imagined myself as a wife. It all makes a little more sense now.

I don’t remember much of the reception afterwards, but I remember dancing to the song “Realize”. by Colbie Caillat for our first dance. That song will forever remind me of this day, the first dance, and the moment I realized the man I was dancing with had no idea who I was.

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I have realized a few things since this day seven years ago….

1. Life is short. Live it for yourself. No one is going to live your life for you, so don’t live like that is even a possibility. Don’t let other people’s opinions hijack your life.

2. Shame can kill. The less secrets you have, the less it allows for room for shame in your life. Being vulnerable is hard, but secrecy, silence, and judgement are breeding grounds for shame. Everyone always says “I’m only human.” Show people just how human you are. Empathy is key.

3. If it scares you, do it. Doing the very thing you are afraid of, can set you free. Fuck fear.

4. Failure is your greatest teacher. We learn some of our biggest life lessons from mistakes or failure. As long as you learn from it, failure doesn’t exist. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger….

5. Follow your passion, dream big, and never give up. Persevere.

6. Never follow blindly. Ignorance is not bliss. Ask questions, do your research, keep your mind open and never stop learning.

7. Surround yourself with good people who support you, encourage you, have your back, and always push you to better yourself and call you on your shit.

8. It’s okay to say no. Know your limits. If you don’t want to do something. Don’t do it. There is a difference between being selfish, and self preservation.

9. Patience. You can’t always get what you want WHEN you want it. Things you want to achieve may seem impossible… but it may just take some time. I feel like transitioning has been a huge test of patience. Life is such a weird balance between being patient and taking action.

10. Love yourself. It sounds cliche but I didn’t realize how important this one was until now. Not loving yourself first is a sure way to find your way into a bad relationship of any sorts. Relationships are not meant to feed an emotional hunger. It is like feeding your body empty calories. It may satisfy you for a short time, but in the long run it doesn’t nourish you, and is bad for your health. If you are not okay alone, you can’t be okay in a relationship.

All of these realizations are an everyday work in progress for me. I am definitely not patient, I am still driven by fear, but I am learning how to use it as a motivator, instead of letting it debilitate me. I still hate being vulnerable and let feelings of shame creep up on me, but I am taking back my life and living it for myself. I am slowly learning to love myself, and will not allow for my life to be hijacked ever again.

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Life looks a little different than it did 7 years ago.

 

 

 

Freak

The word transgender has been all over the news lately. Most recently you may have had a two hour peek into Bruce Jenner’s life, or heard about the issues surrounding laws with using public restrooms. It is great to see transgender issues making their way into the media. It is at least an opportunity for discussion and education, but it has also been a reminder of how far society has to go in at the very least being tolerant to transgender individuals. ( I hate the word tolerance… because it is something that you “have” to do. We tolerate things like bad smells, or genital warts. )

I have experienced a pretty positive response through my transition so far. I have made it a point to surround myself with a close knit group of supportive people that I am incredibly thankful for, but reading some of the social media comments concerning bathroom use for transgender individuals was a bit of a reality check.

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Seeing words such as “Gross”, “creepy”, “disgusting”, “sick”, “freaks” and etc. ( the list goes on…) is really discouraging. These are words that have caused me much personal anguish, and a big reason of why it took me so long to consider transitioning. Most trans people have probably fought an inner battle with these words. They create wounds so deep it is hard to just bandage up and move on. It takes time to heal and it is like re-opening a wound to hear/see it coming from other people. I can only assume that people may use these words toward transgender people out of fear or lack of education. They most likely don’t personally know a transgender person.. not that they know of at least. It is a good reminder of why I am choosing to be more open about my own transition. I refuse to be ashamed, my world is not so freaky, and there is nothing creepy, sick, or disgusting about being transgender.

I’m a pretty normal guy… ( depending on which friend you ask ). I go to work in the morning, I come home, workout, eat, and sleep. ( Maybe even poop?! ) The only difference is that I was born with a few abnormalities. I may have a few more surgeries in my life, and my body doesn’t naturally produce enough testosterone on its own so I have to give my self an injection once a week. Being trans has taught me how to overcome many fears… a fear of needles being one of them. Every Saturday I go against all human instinct and self inject myself with a 1 and 1/2 inch long needle into my thigh.

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I had top surgery Sept. 25, 2014 and began taking testosterone on December 11, 2014. It has almost been 5 months. Here is what it has done for me so far:

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Some would say I did my transition a little bit backwards. Many guys go on hormones before they have top surgery, but I was on the fence on whether or not I would go on hormones at all. I was scared of many things about taking hormones and I wasn’t fond of the idea of having to rely on a medication for the rest of my life, but who is to say I wouldn’t have to rely on some sort of medication down the road…whether it is testosterone or something else…so I took the leap.

Top surgery day was one of the happiest days of my life. Before top surgery I wore something called a binder. It is an incredibly uncomfortable article of clothing that binds your chest to give it a flat appearance. It constricts your breathing and can even be dangerous if not worn correctly. But it eases dysphoria temporarily until surgery is a possibility. It is hard to believe I used to workout in a binder. ( not recommended! ) Before wearing a binder I would be so dysphoric about my chest that some days I wouldn’t want to leave the house. Unfortunately most insurance plans don’t cover things like top surgery, and many guys can’t afford to have surgery and are stuck wearing binders. I wore binders for about 2 years but was fortunate to have a friend help make top surgery possible for me. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about how grateful I am for this friend, or how there were times where I wanted to give up. She helped save my life.

I am currently going through my second puberty. Just like any other teenage boy I require more food and sleep or else I am a bad mood waiting to happen. There are also a few hot flashes here and there to add to the fun. I dream of the day I may have a beard, and I dread the day that I may lose all of my hair… but just like any other guy, these are things I can not control. Deciding to transition is a good lesson in letting go.

Bathroom anxiety is a real thing. If I am out in public I either hold my urine or I know where I can find a gender neutral bathroom or a single stall bathroom. I find myself keeping my liquid consumption down when I am out and about. I have only used the mens restroom once so far. It is always a hard call on which one to use. I fear being beat up if I am discovered in the mens room, and I fear being yelled at if I go in the woman’s restroom.

I am mis-gendered more now by people I know well, rather than strangers. Friends, and people at work have been great about the name change, but it seems that the pronouns are the hardest part. I think it is because when I am around people everyday they don’t notice as much change because my face is still familiar… but when I am in public places around people I don’t know, I am usually identified as male. I don’t hear my birth name nearly as often as I used to. It happens sometimes usually by someone in another department at work. I don’t take offense because I know they probably don’t know my situation, but it hurts more than giving myself an injection these days. I don’t take offense to people slipping up or taking some time to adjust to name and pronoun changes, I only take offense when a person refuses to use my name because of their own issues… it is just plain disrespectful.

This is a basic overview of what life for a transguy is like. Hopefully it helps take some of the mystery out of what a gender transition consists of. I live a pretty normal life, there is no need to be called a freak, or be disgusted by the way I live it. Although I am happier than I have ever been, there are still struggles. I face the fear of rejection everyday, and although I am strong enough most days to let negative things go, there are some days where hurtful words or situations can bring me down. I am just another human being. I live, breathe, and hurt just the same.

The Journey

It has been awhile since I have posted. The last time I posted I wrote of My Truth. I have been trying to decide how much truth is too much, I am a pretty private person but in this case I want to be as transparent as possible. I have nothing to hide, and maybe it will help someone else. This is my life, and my journey. I am proud of it, and I will continue to share it openly. Since my last blog post I have started another phase of my medical transition. I started taking hormones in order for my outside appearance to match who I feel on the inside. On December 11th 2014 I received my first shot of testosterone.

I wasn’t sure that I would ever medically transition, or that I would even have the means to do so… but  having been on testosterone for a little over 3 months now, I know that medically transitioning was the best decision I’ve ever made.

If you have heard my voice lately, you may have thought I was sick. Nope, that is just me going through my second puberty. Although testosterone will help me match more of who I feel on the inside, it also brings along with it the awesomeness that is puberty. Voice squeaks, body hair, acne… moodiness. Oh to be 16 again. Despite the not so pleasant second puberty, I am finally starting to see myself. Someone asked me if the extra body hair was weird for me. Surprisingly no. I feel pretty comfortable with all of the changes that are happening to my body. This is how it always should have been. This is how everything should have happened in the first place.

I have been asked if I am mad at God for being transgender. I have definitely gone through my stages of anger and sadness, but I can firmly say that I am not mad. Every person has their own unique journey on this earth. Maybe God meant to make being transgender a part of mine. I don’t know why I wasn’t born male and didn’t get the chance to always be in the right body, but I am thankful for the things that I have learned from it and how much stronger it has made me. Being transgender has taught me acceptance, kindness, resilience, and gratefulness. I can get angry for how hard this journey has been, how much shame I have had to overcome, or how much it has cost me (money-wise)  so far just to feel more comfortable in my own skin… but the perspective I have gained is priceless.

My beliefs are something that had me toggling with the idea of medically transitioning for awhile. To change your body so drastically is a pretty big no no. I was created in God’s image. I didn’t forget this. Nor did I forget that God does not have a gender. The God I was taught to believe in valued our souls over anything else. My soul was created in his image… and it remains unchanged

My transition has not only  been a transition for me, but those around me as well.  I know that name and pronoun changes are no easy task and I am so thankful for those around me that have been so supportive. I couldn’t do it without you. ( Special shout out to my Crossfit community ). I am excited to see where else this journey takes me, and continue to live as my authentic self.

 

Note: If you ever have any questions, I am an open book. Don’t hesitate to ask. I like questions 🙂

My Truth

It is transgender awareness month, and today specifically marks the 16th annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance. It is a day to memorialize and honor transgender persons who have lost their lives to murder, or suicide.

226 transgender people were murdered this year. All because of their gender identity. It is hard to believe the hatred that exists in this world. Many have fought long and hard in an effort to beat homophobia. While we are making great strides in ending homophobia and working towards equality, people are failing to realize that transphobia is real, and strides to overcome it are much shorter.

There are many transgender people that live among you. Although they are not as visible of a community… they are there. Transgender people often struggle just to make it through a day. Maybe they are fearing that someone will find out their secret, perhaps they may be unsafe, or fear that they may face ridicule. In some cases they face so much hardship that they opt out of life all together.

Being transgender is not easy. I feel so sad for those that have lost their lives. It is unfair that their lives were ended prematurely. Life is short..and because of this I am choosing to live mine more honest, open, and true. I feel the only way we can bring change and progress is to be proud, tell our stories, and share with people in order to help educate them.

To my co-workers, I am Amber. I am a quiet twenty-something lesbian. To my close friends, I am Codi. A twenty-something female to male transgender. I have always been a boy, but somewhere along the lines nature betrayed me.

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I’m the boy on the right…

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The boy on the right of the soccer ball.

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Bottem left. I don’t know what I am looking at…

 

I thought I was a boy most of my life. I passed as a boy… and no one knew any different unless my parents told them. I hated the usual girly things like wearing a dress.( I hated going to church on Sunday because of this! )  I played with G.I. Joe’s and wanted to do everything my brother did. Puberty was an incredibly hard and confusing time.

Long story short, because of my religious beliefs somewhere around my second year of college I tried fitting into what I thought I had to be. I started to try and dress a little more feminine… and dated a guy who I ended up marrying and then divorcing three years later. I soon came out as gay but shortly after started realizing that there was something else going on. I wasn’t gay… I was transgender. I was born in the wrong body. This is only a very short version of my story, but the most important part is that this is my truth. 226 people lost their lives this year for living their truth. I am grateful to still be living a life on this earth, and I am going to live it proudly as my authentic self. I am Codi. And I am transgender.

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The Pursuit of Happiness

The key to happiness is an unachievable pursuit. This is something that has been playing out in my mind for a few weeks now. My life has changed a lot within the past few years, and lately I have been getting a little frustrated with myself. I always seem to be reaching for something. Whether it is something that has to do with me, my job, relationships, or etc… ultimately I am just reaching for happiness. But when will I be happy? Will I ever be happy?

Happiness has no finish line. It is not a race, nor is there a path to it. Happiness is more like the pretty flowers along a path. You have to stop and smell the roses. I am not saying that I am not happy right now. I feel pretty fortunate and blessed for where I am at in my life, but I may always have that need for pursuit. I always have this sense of urgency that tells me that I need to push myself to the next step, or the next path in life. Feeling stagnant makes me a little crazy.

Architectural Signage, Way finding Systems, stamped out of metal with lettering embossed or printed,

When I think about what it would be like if happiness did have an end… I think of how boring life would be. It is all about the pursuit, and your state of mind. The end of anything is rarely a happy occasion, ( unless it is after a massage, but hey…those are illegal. ) Lets face it, happy endings in movies are not realistic. Life does not just end after you win over the person you love, after you get the dream job you always wanted, or after surviving the apocalypse. We write our own story but we don’t get to decide when to roll the credits. ( let’s not weigh suicide as an option here. )

I am realizing that happiness relies a lot on your state of mind. There is a lot that we can do to help our state of mind, ( like therapy, exercise, relationships, reaching life goals.. etc ) this is to the extent that we can control the feeling of being happy. I feel more at peace letting go of the fact that there is not ONE simple thing that is going to lead me to my permanent state of happiness. Being happy is a lot like exercise. You have to keep up with it and continue to do the work. You can’t just reach your fitness goal and then stop working out. You have to work to maintain it. Nothing good in life comes without work, not even happiness. People who claim to be happy without trying are not truly happy…they are just truly great at lying, or perhaps did too may damn drugs. ( or are currently on drugs ).

I still have a sense of urgency to find my next path in life, but I am feeling more at peace acknowledging the fact that I am not searching for a finish line to happiness. Life is all about the journey, and you only get one. Enjoy.

Finding Strength in Pain

Life can certainly be a roller coaster. I feel like I have been riding one hell of a ride since I moved into my new place. I’ve had some ups, and some downs…and then some more downs. It has brought on a pretty good amount of pain. More pain than I thought I could handle. The past few months has led me to develop a bad habit of anticipating pain with fear, and sometimes I let that fear defeat me. I have always been a dare devil when it comes to physical pain. In skateboarding, I would only let it intimidate me for a short time until I remembered that pain was temporary or until I got too pissed off to care. When it comes to emotional pain however, I am a complete pussy. It terrifies me. Fear is something that has nearly crippled me in the past. Lets face it, pain sucks. As humans our natural instinct is to avoid pain. It hurts, it could be damaging, and it will certainly never be forgotten. You may still remember the first time you fell off your bike as a kid, or the first time you experienced someone at school saying something hurtful to you. Pain can scar you, but you also learn from it, and it can make you stronger. No pain no gain right?

I am starting to realize that some of the most painful times in my life have also brought on some of the greatest periods of personal growth. Pain has forced me to step outside my comfort zone, it has taught me how to be vulnerable, and that showing emotions is okay. ( Alright, still working on this one ). It has also shown me that pain is temporary, and with time you begin to heal. Your scars will fade…they may never completely go away, but it is a good reminder of how much deeper your wound used to be, how far you have come, and how much you have learned from it.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that not only do the lows allow you to feel the highs, but that feeling anything at all is a blessing. Back when I was married I felt so numb. I didn’t know what love was, what heartbreak felt like, and I had completely numbed myself from feeling anything but the physical pain I brought on myself from running mile, after mile…after mile. I ran away from reality, emotions, and pain. Looking back now, I feel very lucky to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all. Can you imagine a life without knowing what love feels like?

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Tattoos wouldn’t exist if scars were not meant to be reminders. They are merely a fancy scar that we can mold into what we want it to remind us. This is my most recent tattoo. The lyrics of a Lumineers song. “It’s better to feel pain, than nothing at all, the opposite of love’s indifference.” These lyrics have gotten me through a lot, and it now reminds me everyday that pain is just part of living that you should allow yourself to feel, and embrace. Shit happens, you learn from it, you grow stronger, and you move on.