torquill: Doctor Wilson, thoughtful (wilson)
I told my therapist that I've had a lifetime of falling through the cracks, of not fitting into any of the boxes. Forever a square peg. )
torquill: Doctor Wilson, thoughtful (wilson)
Something broke loose about twenty minutes ago, and I just started crying. Sitting at my computer, nothing happening except the mental echoes of a TV episode I had just finished, and a thoughtful comment about the underlying psychology of play parties on my Facebook feed. And suddenly I was crying.

I let it happen. I'm not afraid of that sort of flood now; I know I won't wash away, and the torrent will be finite. I even knew something of why it was happening, though I'm still a little unsure of the details. I can guess, but that's all it is, because Amy doesn't have words for issues as complex and hugely simple as these.

Life lessons from fictional characters )
torquill: Doctor Wilson, thoughtful (wilson)
I run across remnants of old stories occasionally.

It really is this simple )
torquill: Doctor Wilson, thoughtful (wilson)
I've got the papers ready to go off to Social Security and MediCal tomorrow.

Akien mentioned that I've been much quicker to do the legal name change than he was. There are a couple of reasons for that; the simply logistical one is that, since 9/11, it takes a court order to change my name in roughly 2/3 of the places I encounter it. Banks, credit cards, my driver's license, my business license, my health records -- all of these require formal documentation. 20 years ago you could change half of those just by asking them to put a different name down.

The more personal reason is that I think the differential (at any given point, not overall) between my old self and my new self is greater for me than it was for him. He went at the shift gradually, but I took a mad leap in a short space of time. I don't have all that gradual work to support me; more of my identity hangs off of my perception of who I am at any given moment, as I get used to the new reality. Contradictions of that perception -- such as referring to me by a name that belongs to a person whom I am actively learning not to be -- break my concentration, as it were. It's like being in the middle of a live-action role playing game and referring to another player by their out-of-game name. It's jarring, and in my case, disconcerting, and sabotages my self-assurance.

I would much rather be misgendered than dead-named. Thus the rush to try and get my old name out of my daily space. The proof is in the relief I feel with every agency I settle it with, every document I get with my new name on it. It matters. It isn't this important for many trans people, but I changed personalities before I changed my gender. If I take care of the one, the other will be easier.
torquill: Doctor Wilson, thoughtful (wilson)
I guess, if no other good comes out of this year's medical difficulties, it's causing the scales to fall from my eyes.

No more subservience and guilt )
torquill: Doctor Wilson, thoughtful (wilson)
The experiment proceeds. So far so good, for the most part.

Hormonal details )
torquill: Doctor Wilson, thoughtful (wilson)
I commented in response to a FB post about finding body-acceptance while disabled, then realized that it's probably the most articulate I've been about this subject in a long time.

*********

I have gotten much more patient with my body, even as I've gotten stronger; I still have CFS crashes, and I've come to accept that and work with it rather than getting angry or depressed. I've learned to accept that I grow out of my clothes as time goes on, and I'll have to shop the big&talls soon. I've found things that my body does especially well all by itself, which I can appreciate and have a certain pride in.

I haven't managed to accept my looks, though. I'm hoping I'll gain ground on that as I continue to work on finding a gender presentation that makes me comfortable. It may involve top surgery, or other things to bring my reflection into line with my mental image... I guess I can take some comfort in the fact that I don't hate my body, or anything about it. It just isn't quite how I want it to be, but I can work with that.

*********

I would say it's gone in stages. My health has not improved steadily, and there have been lots of setbacks and high points. First I was figuring out my limits, and sometimes what I found was devastating. I mourned a lot of goals and dreams, and made new ones, only to have them dashed the next time my health took a turn. Over time I became more modest with my dreams, and conscious of my limits. It meant that my world shrank a lot, but I was no longer battering against my cage. I turned inward.

I learned to listen to my body, to find out what made it worse or better, what to eat, when to stop. It was able to give me directions, and when I followed them, things stabilized. I found alternative treatments that made me stronger. When I started to get more ambitious again, such as going back to school, my body became a partner with voting rights; I wasn't always happy about that, and sometimes I pushed too hard, but I was always aware of its commentary. And I got used to falling down, and resting, and picking myself up. It got less scary, more routine.

By now I'm very selfish about my health, and I look out for my body's needs first. My career and lifestyle have been shaped around what I'm physically capable of, so they don't often come into conflict. I know that when I crash, I'll come back again in due course, I just have to wait. And I've simply given up on some things (like traveling the world) and focused on finding contentment with what's within my abilities. As a friend says, what you focus on is what your life becomes full of. I don't focus on my disability, I focus on what my body can do for me every day, and what pleasure that can bring me.

Maybe someday I'll be able to be as confident in my appearance as I am in my performance. I'm working on it.

*********

I was talking with Akien after this, and mentioned that this is the reason I don't seek out the company of fellow CFSers anymore. I had to clarify that it's not a matter of lack of self-acceptance; I still do accept my disabilities. But being with a group of people where the only thing we have in common is a disability means that that commonality is what we all focus on. And I don't want to spend a lot of time thinking about how I'm disabled, what I can't do, how I'm different. I'd rather focus on other things I can do, interesting things, ways of connecting on levels beyond the physical. That's where I want my attention and my energy to be, not on my physical struggles or the unhappy years I've left behind.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (cougar)
The difference between being non-binary and wanting to just bust gender norms:

In hot weather, men can go shirtless; some women want to do the same, and "free the girls". After all, bras are at least as hot as anything men can take off.

As an agender individual, I don't want to "free the girls". I don't really want to have "girls". (On one recent occasion, I actually had a brief stab of envy for how the guy's chest looked.)

I support the desire to bust gender norms in general, but it's not really what I'm out to do.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (Default)
"Castle" surprised me with the best explanation I have ever heard of the interplay of self-image, confidence, and attractiveness, particularly in women (but it applies to men too).

Castle: Are you TRYING to give [my daughter] body image issues?

Martha: News flash -- she already has body image issues. It's an intrinsic part of being a woman. Everyone in the world has some part of herself that she absolutely hates. Her hands are too small, her feet are too big, her hair's too straight, too curly, her ears stick out, her -- oh, god -- her butt's too flat, her nose is too big... and you know, nothing you say can change how we feel.
What men don't understand is, the right clothes, the right shoes, the right makeup, just -- it hides the flaws we *think* we have. They make us look beautiful, to ourselves. That's what makes us look beautiful to others.

Castle: It used to be that all she needed to feel beautiful was a pink tutu and a plastic tiara.

Martha: We spend our whole lives trying to feel that way again.
torquill: Doctor Wilson, thoughtful (wilson)
I'm starting to see a trend here: Go to party. Have a good time. Wake up the next morning. Fall completely to pieces.

Mind the gap )
torquill: The magician Howl (happy things)
Well, my health has temporarily tanked (little did I know that this year's Cherry Buckskin Survey would make me sick for a week), but I think I'm happier with myself.

General update )
torquill: Doctor Wilson, thoughtful (wilson)
Since most of my personal journey has been available only in friends-locked journal entries, I thought I would offer a little background on the origins of Sam.

Background )
torquill: The magician Howl (happy things)
I am Sam.

I'm telling you this because I promised everybody I'd let them know when it was official. It's now official. I am no longer Alison; I am Sam.

It's been a long and difficult road since last fall, figuring out how to become the person I truly am, and it's been full of surprises. Chief among them was discovering that I am not a woman, and never have been. I am coming out as agender, and a member of the genderqueer and trans communities.

Agender is not something most people are familiar with; it's on the non-binary gender spectrum, but in my case it essentially means that I fall somewhere between male and female, but I don't feel either of them very much. Sometimes I feel kinda more feminine, sometimes I'm sorta masculine. Mostly I'm just me.

I may end up presenting as female quite a bit, because (let's face it) it's hard work for me not to. But please keep in mind that how I look is not necessarily an accurate representation of who I am. You may be a kickass CFO, and the fact I happened to catch you in pajama pants (or boxers) and bunny slippers doesn't change that. If I have hips, and cleavage, and a rounded face without a beard, that doesn't make me a woman. Nothing about my body makes me a woman. What counts is how I see myself. If someone asked you whether you're a man or a woman, you'd probably answer one or the other, and be sure you're right, because you just *know*. That same feeling is how I know I'm not either of them. It's been that way for over thirty years, but I finally have the label I can apply to it.

So, if you are willing to be my friend, please call me Sam. Alison will remain my legal counterpart for a while, but I am not she. I'll probably have to keep her around until the DMV offers forms which have more than just two options under "gender".

Further details you may find useful:

Name: Sam Leslie Stewart
Gender: none
Preferred pronouns: Spivak (e, em, eir, emself); the LambdaMOO flavor is the best developed. I'll accept other neutral singular pronouns (such as zie). I tolerate they/them but I'm unhappy about having plural verbs applied to me, so if you're willing to break English enough to say "they is", I salute you. Ultimately, English pronouns suck.
Biological sex: none of your business
Sexual orientation: also none of your business, unless you think you might want to ask me out (if so, email/pm/text me).
Identification: Agender, queer, genderqueer, and transgender. "Neutral gender" is a term I'm okay with but not fond of. "Neutrois" may be accurate but it's just weird. "Androgyne" is both horribly clinical and more biological in nature, and may be offensive (don't use it with anybody).
Title: Mx (pronounced "mix", thank you OED).
Address: I'm Californian, so "man" and "dude" are gender-neutral. "Your Grace" is also acceptable.


Thank you for caring enough to take me for who I am.

For what it's worth, the person I am now is happier, more at peace, and almost fearless. I could never have gotten here as Alison. I'm looking forward to my life as Sam.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (cougar)
On my drive home tonight, I realized I was feeling something unfamiliar. It was a deep contentment.

Deep water )
torquill: Doctor Wilson, thoughtful (wilson)
I went out and did a google search for "exploring non-binary genders".

Some interesting finds )
torquill: The magician Howl (happy things)
I Know the Rules- I Just Don’t Care

I am also 38. And while I care a lot more about my appearance than I did not too long ago, the rules I care about are not the ones I'm "supposed" to care about. I've got grey hairs, and dimples on my elbows, and the same big, meaty thighs as the OP. And you know what? I still look awesome.
torquill: The magician Howl (happy things)
I seem to have hit the other side of my latest redefinition. It took four months (which is an incredibly short time even for me), but I have been rebuilding my mental geography almost from scratch. My old identity disintegrated in November, and I've been walking a very narrow bridge to the other side since then. It's been pretty rough.

Arrival )

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