It’s a Disease

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Six years ago I was in a much different place in life. I was a military wife living in Mannheim Germany with my husband on an army base. Six years ago is also when I posted my very first Instagram photo which happened to be a picture of this vegan pumpkin pie. Yes, I was also once a vegetarian. I guess i’ve been just about everything at some point in life. I’ve been a student, a housewife, a vegetarian, a runner, a crossfitter, an omnivore, divorced, a lesbian, a cook, and a man all before the age of thirty.

Through all of these things, cooking was where I found my escape. Especially in those lonely times as an army wife in Germany. I can still appreciate this photo because making food was the only time I felt I had any sort of worth. I made my food with love, and filled it with dreams of better things. I felt it was all I could do to please people in my life… in this moment, my husband.

I have often said that anyone who goes into the food industry has a disease. Some may also call this passion… but the reality is it is a disease to please. No one else in their right mind would work long hours with low pay and most likely no breaks. (unless you smoke). You put your heart, sweat, and soul into the food, and it is all for that first bite. For a cook, it is that first bite that makes it all worth it. The moment when someone takes a bite of your food and a slightly or not so slightly sexual sound escapes from their mouth. A “mouthgasm” they might call it. That is the moment you successfully pleased. It is an addiction really.

I will be honest. Lately I have been feeling burned out with cooking…but seeing pictures like this reminds me how it has always been there for me as an escape in my darkest times. I may not be a chef at a five star restaurant, or a cheftestant on Foodnetwork ( hey but there is still time right? )but it still has the same reward it has always had and that is not only providing an escape, but a way to show love, and a way to connect people from all walks of life. Nothing brings people together quite like food.

It may not be the most glamorous of careers. I will never be rich, I may grow frustrated or burned out, but as long as I can feel like I can contribute a good memory or moment in someones day with a bite of food, I think everything is going to be okay.

 

 

 

 

 

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Just Another Human

Two years ago I wrote this post when I came out publicly as transgender. Hard to believe that was two years ago. I thought of that post as my first and last coming out. I did it. My heart was pounding as I hit that post button but it was done and I felt a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders. Everyone knew my business so it was no longer something people would question. But… as time goes on you meet new people. People at work or etc that don’t know your past.. and therefore the process starts all over again.

One of my biggest fears is that when other people find out I’m trans is that they will see me differently. As something other than just another guy. People seem to look at you differently once they find out. It is almost as if they look at you longer, trying to think of what you used to look like, or what is in your pants… or maybe it is genuine curiosity. I get that, humans are curious beings.

I’m just another guy, just another human who has a different than average past. I’ve seen two different worlds without having to travel a mile but, just like you I go to work, I live, breathe, and bleed the same. I can be fun, hard working, loving, and let’s be real…I can be an asshole, but don’t make that judgement just based on me being transgender.

I struggle daily thinking about attending church or just meeting random people that if they knew of my transition perhaps they would not accept me or want me to be there.  Which also leads me to wonder… for those of which transitioning is against their beliefs what would be your hope for me today? If you were to pray for my soul and salvation, what would that prayer look like?

I can’t help but wonder.

All in all, what matters most is that I accept myself and I am finally in a place where I can say that I do. It is transgender awareness month, but ironically I found myself doing something I never thought that I would. I started deleting old photos of myself from Facebook so that new people from my life wouldn’t find out I was trans. The truth is that my past has made me who I am today and I will continue to be proud of that. Being trans has made me a more accepting and compassionate person. It has taught me that you cannot judge someone based on their past or ever know what someone is truly going through on the inside.

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I knew who I was when I was little, but somewhere down the road I let fear of what others thought of me get in the way.

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This is a pretty drastic comparison photo… but it just shows that you really can not ever know what someone is going through just by looking at them.

On the left: My wedding day. The day I completely lost myself.

The right: My first bodybuilding competition. The day I stepped on stage completely exposed in order to heal from all those days of hiding.

Love The Sinner

“Love the sinner hate the sin” not much can get my blood boiling faster than this phrase. It is only a reminder of how far we have to go in order to breakdown the barriers between the church and the LGBT community. I think that generally, the church is still pretty lost in its stance with the LGBT community. There has been some progress and there are churches that welcome LGBT people with open arms… but then there are those who are still confused. They find themselves questioning how to love. Which seems pretty strange for a religion that follows Jesus; the most loving and accepting  man to have ever walked this earth.

The biggest problem with the phrase “love the sinner hate the sin” is that it was created without people ever really learning how to love. It takes out any personal connection, it’s vague, distant, and hurtful. Just because your view of theology doesn’t agree with someone else’s, doesn’t mean you can’t see the good in someone and fully embrace them with love first, just as Christ embraces you first. He doesn’t wait until you get your get your act together. He embraces you just as you are. Broken, and a sinner. You do not have to agree with the way someone lives their life in order to completely embrace and show that same love. Focus less on how to “live right” and more on how to love right.

There is a very specific type of venom that Christians spew when they feel they are defending God. Unfortunately the LGBT community has fallen victim to this venom for many years now, and it has led to a lot of pain, hurt, and anger. So how do we fix this? What is the anti-venom?

Love, empathy, and respect.

I think one of the biggest fears that Christians have is that fully embracing someone who is LGBT will create this image that they condone their “lifestyle” ( this word makes me cringe. ) Or that it is doing the other person a disservice by not keeping them in line with God. But, here is the thing. That is not your job. Other people’s salvation, is not your responsibility, nor is it in your hands. God is always doing his work in you, do you not have faith that God is also doing his work in others? Embrace with love before anything else.

I think it is pretty easy to enforce your convictions on someone else if you don’t personally know someone who is gay, or transgender. I feel like many people in the church hold certain assumptions about the LGBT community because they have never really had a personal encounter or experience with it. Believe it or not, but we do more than just frequent the local gay bars and parade through the streets with rainbow flags. Our community is more than just one big gay pride parade. We are your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers. Most importantly, we are human beings. Just. like. you. We are human beings that need and deserve love and respect. How would it make you feel if people just made assumptions about you without truly knowing who you were as a person?

I think people have gotten so caught up in their own fears , assumptions and insecurities. Barriers that seem impossible to break down have been built off of a lot of misunderstanding…but I don’t think it is too late. So how do we break down the barriers?

It may seem too simple, but remember when you were little and you did something that hurt someone else? Your mother, teacher, or etc would hold you by the shoulders, bring you face to face with that other person, have you look them in the eyes and tell you to apologize.  ( twice if it didn’t sound like you meant it ) It was never a pleasant experience but necessary to move on.  Unfortunately apologies don’t get any easier in adulthood…but they are just as meaningful. Perhaps, this could be the best way to start.

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Rebirth

Tomorrow is a pretty big day for me. It is the day of my rebirth. By rebirth I mean a total hysterectomy. ( Ovaries, Uterus, Cervix and whatever else that is not supposed to be in there. ) It is kind of a surreal feeling. I’ve been wanting this ever since I became aware of these organs existence.

Compared to top surgery I feel like the lead up to this one has been a bit lack luster. The results are not as physically obvious and appealing as chest surgery… but this step in my journey is still incredibly meaningful. ( After all, those little turds called ovaries are responsible for needing chest surgery in the first place. ) I feel like this surgery is finally giving me some closure. Hysterectomy. It is like removing the pulse to the memories and the pain of puberty. I will no longer be a part of the cycle of womanhood. I will officially be disconnected hormonally just as it should have been from the start.

I’ve been thinking back to my childhood a lot this week. I remember the days when I was free from any knowledge that I was any different than any other boy.

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Little did I know what life had in store for me.

I still remember the first day I joined the cycle of womanhood. I cried. I was so confused. Sure, this was okay to happen to my friends. They were girls… but this was not supposed to happen to me. I felt so much confusion and shame. This is also around the time where I began to struggle with anxiety. I didn’t want anyone to find out I had joined the woman’s club. It just wasn’t the right club for me. I was a boy. If the invite to this club was optional I would have surely checked the “Will not be attending” box.

Puberty was a dark time for me. Looking back I wish I could have found the words to express myself sooner about how I was feeling… but I was scared to talk about any of this. I was afraid to talk about feelings at all. At that time all I could really comprehend is that I felt a deep sadness. I had no name for it. I had no way to express it. I just knew something was not right.

Getting ready for this surgery has led me to process a lot of my feelings surrounding these organs that do not belong in my body. It may seem a bit dramatic to say that puberty was traumatic.. but can you imagine going through the wrong puberty? Stop for a second and imagine this: Men, can you imagine menstruating and growing breasts without being terrified and confused? Women, can you imagine sprouting all sorts of body hair, having your voice deepen, and not having the soft feminine features of a woman?

It is traumatic indeed. Gender dysphoria is no joke. It is still hard for me to describe what Gender Dysphoria feels like, but I know that I used to feel invisible. I survived going through the wrong puberty, and that is exactly what life was about before transition. Surviving. Now, I am doing more than just surviving, I finally feel like I am truly able to LIVE. It is amazing how much more I value life since transition. I no longer feel invisible.

Although tomorrow will bring a lot of physical pain, I feel like I am finally being set free.

I am incredibly thankful to have come this far in my journey, and even more thankful for the love and support of my family and friends.

 

 

 

 

 

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 🙂