4 Movies/TV Shows That Helped Shape My Queer Identity

I got to thinking recently about all of the media that I’ve consumed throughout my life. And it’s a lot. I’m an only child who has had access to the Internet and my own computer since I was about 10 years old. So it goes without saying that I have watched A LOT of TV and movies over that time period.

It wasn’t until college that I really started seeking out queer movies and shows because up until that point I thought I was a straight cis woman (HAHAHA).

But I was thinking back to the shows and movies that I loved watching growing up, and I realized that there were definitely queer characters and movies that I loved back then, but they weren’t necessarily meant to be seen as queer. Straight people accidentally created the GAYEST characters and then are like o shit and try and backtrack (ex. mulan). Like no honey give us this one thing.

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But, as queer people definitely understand, we take what we can get when it comes to representation, and oftentimes this means finding the queer people within straight media.

So I thought in this post we would take a trip down memory lane and look at some of the movies and shows that really had an impact on little queer trans me when I was under the impression that I was straight and cis (again, HAHAHA).

Charlie’s Angels (2000)

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Drew Barrymore playing Dylan has got to be the gayest portrayal of what was supposed to be a straight character that I’ve ever seen.

As I watched this movie over and over (and still watch it over and over like come on this is a cinematic MASTERPIECE!) I was obviously very attracted to all of them. But even when I watched this for the first time as a 7-year-old, I knew I was drawn to Dylan’s character more than the other two.

It is undeniable that Dylan is queer. Like, there’s no question. I will not hear anyone tell me any different. And watching this obviously queer character in this mainstream movie definitely made me feel ~something~ as a kid and teen watching this. It was probably a combination of gaydar and attraction.

Whatever it was, this movie was so important to me as a baby queer and it still is as an adult. I think I still watch it (and the sequel) at least once every few months. RIP Bernie Mac.

Cheaper By the Dozen

Here, we have another movie that doesn’t seem queer on the surface. In actuality, it isn’t a queer movie at all.

BUT!!!!! We all know that Sarah Baker was queer.

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Exhibit A.
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Exhibit B.

These could be pictures of me at that age. I definitely had those exact outfits. What made her so important to me was that she was just like me: a tomboy who liked sports and hung out with the guys. I never soaked my sister’s boyfriend’s underwear in meat, but that could’ve been a result of not having a sister. We all need to admit that’s one of the most badass pranks in movie history.

Seeing her in this movie made me feel like I was watching myself for once.

She was just so fucking ~~~cool. Words can not explain how much I wanted her frog hat.

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I would still wear this, tbh.

I think most all queer people who watched the movie could say that she was DEFINITELY queer. The hairstyle?? The way she carried herself?? The outfits??? Played softball AND lacrosse?? Come on.

And then they had to have her have a crush on Taylor Lautner in the 2nd movie but let’s just ignore that. She could be bi!!!

Also, this movie had our queer character queen Piper Perabo. Enough said.

John Tucker Must Die

While this movie only really had one instance of queerness that was obviously a gross example of queerbaiting/using queer women to lure in gross teenage boys, I fell for it. The Sophia Bush/Brittany Snow kiss in this movie was a game changer.

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*cries in gay*

You know when you’re closeted/don’t know you’re queer yet and you see ~gay~ stuff and you kinda just go like “ooooooooh~~~!!!” without really understanding why? That was me watching this kiss in the movie. I was watching it at a slumber party and all the girls were swooning over the very plain looking lead guy while they all were like “omg yuck!!” at the two girls kissing.

I, meanwhile, began to feel warm all over and couldn’t understand why I suddenly had a nervous stomach ache. I couldn’t quite understand WHY I suddenly felt like throwing up and cheesing hard while I watched it, but I definitely couldn’t tear my eyes away from the screen the entire time.

I ship it.

Pretty Little Liars

This was probably the first piece of media that was purposefully queer that I watched, and it definitely had an impact on me. That’s probably why I stuck with it through all the bullshit storylines (somewhat randomly making a trans person the evil villain?? Beheading Noel Kahn?? Making it ok for a teenage Aria to be in a relationship with her teacher?????).

While some of the early storylines of Emily revolved around her being closeted and her coming out, many of her romantic storylines were treated as “normal” romantic storylines. Not all queer media has to revolve around coming out stories: we have lives beyond coming out of the closet. Watching Emily have multiple different partners, normal relationship issues (besides the slightly abnormal complication of A trying to kill her/ruin her life), and ultimately be more than her sexuality was eye-opening for me as a young queer person.

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With this show, I got to see a classic coming out story while also not seeing yet another disaster/horror story about coming out. She had struggles with her family accepting her, but her friends were there for her and her family came to accept her and be proud of her identity.

Sure, this show obviously isn’t the best or most representative piece of queer media out there. But this one character showed me that not all queer people have to have horrible lives that revolve around their queerness. Emily was a normal teenager with struggles in school, with swimming, with her family, and an always evolving murder mystery involving multiple fake deaths and numerous rumors!! Who doesn’t go through all that in high school amirite??

Also, we got to see Moze from Ned’s Declassified play a queer character, which I was also waiting for since the School Survival Guide dayz.

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Moze + Ned 4 ever

So idk how to end this post!!!

I’m sure I could name more if I really thought about it, but I’m lazy so 4 it is. These 4 were the ones that I really remember being attached to growing up. Of course, I watched Grey’s Anatomy (Callie is my bi queen), Glee was up there, I called Harry Styles’ queerness in high school, and I definitely read some gay fanfiction during my tumblr days of 2012 when I looked like this:

 

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so quirky!!!!!

 

There y’all have it!! 4 movies/shows that impacted me a great deal as a little baby queer tran.

P.S: Only a month and a half until pride month!!

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Visibility

You know how people always talk about those moments that change their life? Those moments in films and T.V shows where a character reads Catcher in the Rye for their English class, and the camera pans out to their face as they have some sort of epiphany, probably something like “life is too short to waste time on stupid stuff” or something, so they frantically grab all their papers, shove them into their backpack and sprint out of class while the teacher shouts, “Hey! Get back here!” but they can’t get back there because they have to get out of there right that very second after their epiphany to sprint to the person they have a crush on and confess their feelings in a crowded cafeteria where they kiss as a song like The Reason by Hoobastank plays in the background? Talk about dumb clichés, am I right?

Well, unfortunately for my cynical self, I became one of these clichés. I had that epiphany moment. It wasn’t after reading Catcher in the Rye though. And I didn’t get a nice public smooch either. Despite missing these ESSENTIAL components of a cliché epiphany, I think my story is worth telling.

 

I have been completely out as queer for a little over 3 years and as trans for less than 1. In that time, I’ve struggled with being out and proud. It might not seem like it since it seems all I can talk about or care about revolves around my queer identity, but it wasn’t always like that.

There was a time in my life that I didn’t really want anyone to know that I was queer. I didn’t want people from my high school to see and think, “oh yea obviously they’re gay,” or for people who I wasn’t friends with to know my personal struggles with self-hate and self-acceptance.

I was having a hard enough time doing this all on my own; why would I want the world to watch as I fell apart and painfully built myself back up? Why would I want to endure the judgments of people from my small New England town? Why couldn’t I just exist without having my queerness and my transness “taint” how people view me?

And honestly, that isn’t an uncommon (or an unacceptable) way to think. You don’t “owe” your own self and your own identity to anybody. Just because you’re queer or trans doesn’t mean that you “owe” it to anybody to share your journey, your transition, your life. It is your safety and your life. It is your life to live as you wish.

And that’s how I felt for a long time. My own struggles with my identity overwhelmed my desire to share my experiences and my story. My self-hate made me believe that my story wasn’t worth sharing, that my voice didn’t matter, that my identity wasn’t worthy of being visible to the world.

Despite my internalized homophobia and transphobia telling me to sit down, shut up, and live a miserable and closed off life, I am a writer at heart. Expressing myself through these stupid little blog posts literally saves my life. So even though my brain was filled with negative thoughts telling me my positive thoughts and journey and my queerness weren’t worth shit, I wrote them out anyway.

So I wrote a personal essay about my struggles with bisexuality even as my mind shouted at me to stop typing stop typing this is shit no one cares you really think people are going to care about this shit? You’re a nobody you’re average you’re normal you’re not special just because you’re queer who are you trying to be who are you trying to impress why do you think anyone would even want to read this?

I submitted it to a journal the publishes bi+ women’s stories and experiences even as my mind told me this is shit it’s worthless your story means nothing compared to the hardships and struggles other people have who cares about some average person with nothing new to say about queerness this just exposes you for what you are to the world people will hate it people will hate you you hate you so why would anyone else love you or what you have to say?

You must be wondering when I’m going to have the fucking life epiphany after all this angst. You’d think the epiphany would be getting my work published, right? LOL wrong.

It got published in that journal and on the collegiate news site I was writing for at the time. Getting that story published didn’t mean anything in my mind as I told myself it was a fluke, they accept everyone’s writing, it doesn’t mean anything, no one is going to read it anyway.

The day came that my story came out in the journal and on the website. I didn’t expect much. Maybe a few pity likes from my friends and maybe a comment from some queer people from my college or high school.

I’ve never been happier to be wrong about something in my life. The post got likes from my friends, my family, and from people I had never met. People were commenting that my story resonated with them deeply. They said I put their experience into words. They said it made them feel understood.

I had people I hadn’t spoken to in years message me saying that my article helped them. That they look forward to reading more of my work. That they love my blog. They said my story helped them feel accepted. It made them feel understood. Thank you they told me thank you for writing that. It helped me a lot. 

I had people from my past contact me asking for advice because they felt like they could talk to me after reading my story. I had people come out to me. I had people asking if they could put me in contact with one of their friends who was struggling with their identity. I had friends approach me to talk about their personal struggles because they were struggling just as I had and how did I come to accept myself how was I comfortable being so visible as queer and trans?

This story I wrote helped people. My struggles helped people. My life, my story, my experience, my visibility. Helped people. My “unimportant” story. My story that I’d told myself was worthless and stupid and would never amount to mean anything.

I was dead fucking wrong.

And that’s the epiphany.

I don’t need some extravagant or even unique story to have my voice be an important one. Simply talking about my experiences and about my life is enough. My life is enough. My visibility is enough to literally change the world.

I am proud to be visible as a queer non-binary transmasc individual. I am proud to share my story and my experiences and my visibility for those who cannot be visible or share their stories.

All it takes is one person sharing their story to change someone else’s life.

It changed my life too.

I miss being a girl: trans guy rambles

I’ve touched on this topic before in my post called “Losing a queer identity” where I talked about how being a queer woman was a huge part of my identity. Transitioning means I lost that part of my identity and it makes me sad.

But I think my feelings and thoughts on losing that queer girl identity goes deeper than losing my place in an area of queer culture that I know and love (ok it is a lot about that but there’s more lol *issues by julia micheals starts playing*).

I think my main issue and reason why I miss being a girl is because I don’t like men. I have deep-rooted and internalized issues regarding men. Who doesn’t amirite?!~

I don’t trust men.

I feel uncomfortable around men. A lot of men are sexist and misogynistic. Men rape women. Our culture raises men to be violent and intimidating. Men take up space that is not theirs.

Men scare me.

And now suddenly I am presenting and feeling like I lean towards being a binary guy (I’m not binary but I present and appear as a man to most people). How can I suddenly be a part of this group of people who I generally feel anxiety towards? How can I be a guy if I generally fear and don’t like men?

But that’s where I’m at. I’ve become, I am, something that scares me. I’ve basically become a part of a group that I generally don’t like and that I generally fear.

I didn’t have any close, male friends until college. And even then, I found that I always held myself back. It was never the same type of friendship and camaraderie that I have with women. Perhaps that’s because male friendships are often coded and structured differently because of the patriarchal society we live in. But a big part of that must be that I don’t trust men, even men that I am close to.

The idea that I am seen and interacted with as a man makes me genuinely sad. That’s likely for a few reasons. First of all, I don’t identify as a binary man. Being seen and gendered as a guy definitely makes me more comfortable than when I was gendered as a woman, but my non-binary identity is seemingly erased by my masculine presentation and my physical transition.

But my discomfort with being viewed as a man doesn’t end with my own identity. It branches out into my relationships and my social interactions. Women, both who I know and don’t know, will likely feel the same things about me that I’ve felt about other men.

I likely make women feel uncomfortable, even as I am hyper-aware of my proximity and interactions with women. I remember even being in the same room as a man I didn’t know put me slightly on edge, even if he was being entirely respectful and not even speaking to me.

I could be, and probably am, that source of distrust and discomfort for women around me. And the thing is, I still feel like women and non-binary individuals are my people. Seeing a group of men doesn’t make me eager to join them and become ~one of the guys~ it makes me want to run for the fucking hills.

I miss that friendship you would make with random other girls when you go out and talk in the bathroom. I miss being a queer girl bonding with other queer girls about Hayley Kiyoko and Amy Ordman. I miss being one of the girls. There’s something magical about two women in a relationship (saying that now as a transmasc guy it kinda sounds creepy like those men who shout “hot” at two girls kissing in public) and I’ll never really experience that again as I’m not a girl with another girl.

Being a queer girl made me feel special. I was a part of this great, exclusive club complete with inside jokes and instant friends. Now, I’m just some boring guy. And I know that’s not really true, but on some level, I believe it.

And as much as I want to keep myself in the queer girl culture that I’ve loved for so long, I also don’t want to be that guy who encroaches on their wonderful space. It’s not something I should be a part of anymore, and while that sucks for me, it’s the truth. I don’t want to insert myself into a group that is not for me anymore no matter how much I miss it and wish I was still in it.

How can I miss being a girl so much, how can I really not like men, and still (kind of) be a guy? Let me know lol. Gender is a shit show sometimes.

Even though I’m happier and more comfortable than I’ve ever been, I’ve also never felt more lost. “Who am I” sounds like a stupid, existential question, but it is one that has been plaguing my mind for months. Without my identity as a queer woman, it feels like I am no longer who I was.

And that’s ok in a way.

But currently, I feel like my whole self has been flushed down the fucking toilet and all I’m left with is an internalized distrust and hatred for men, and thus, for myself.

 

 

How I Didn’t Know I Was Trans

I think I’ve watched every “How I Knew I Was Trans” and “How to Know if You’re Trans” YouTube videos in existence.

 

A common theme throughout these videos is, “I feel like I’ve known for my whole life,” or, “I’ve always known something was different about me.” Of course, this isn’t always the case, but it seemed like almost every video I watched had some iteration of this.

 

Which kind of sucked, if I’m being honest. I mean, great for them. But not so great for a very confused and distraught me. Because I didn’t have that.

 

I didn’t know. I had no idea. No signs. No clues. No funny feeling. I just didn’t know. Until I did. And even when I knew, I wasn’t sure.

 

So, whether it was to validate myself, or to fit in, or to try and find a definitive “reason” of being trans, or a mixture of the three, I struggled to squeeze myself into that box of people who knew since they were kids or teenagers.

 

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This is me dressed as a guy for Halloween when I was 12. Lmk how I didn’t figure it out lol

 

I came up with the brilliant idea of making a list. I would look into my past for the “common signs” of being trans as a kid; DUH! Of course I knew all along!! I forced myself to think as I struggled to come up with the clues from my childhood.

 

Making a methodical, finite list of traits and qualities, likes and dislikes, seemed easier to me than accepting that there is no list of finite traits and qualities, likes and dislikes, that could ever tell me my gender. Only I could tell myself. And that shit is fucking terrifying.

 

So, I made a list instead.

 

  1. I never liked dresses. In order to convince me to wear one to a family event, my dad once told me that wearing a dress was the only way I would be comfortable during the car ride. I cried, but I did it. I told him I wanted to wear a tuxedo to my wedding. He said only boys could do that. I was upset, but not life-changing upset, you know?
  2. I only wanted to play baseball, not softball. Baseball always seemed cooler to me because that’s what the Red Sox played. I was forced to join softball when I was 10. I loved it.
  3. I cried one year on Christmas because my Nana gave me bras in front of everyone. I’m still salty about this.
  4. I insisted I only liked “boy” colors like green and blue in preschool. A boy told me I could only like pink and purple, which is why he stole my green marker. I told him he was being a butthead. I got put in time-out.
  5. I had mostly guy friends (until someone made fun of me and my best friend for having “guy-girl sleepovers.” Then, I didn’t have any guy friends).
  6. I was upset when I got my first period. Mostly because I thought that I was going to bleed out and die.
  7. I didn’t like “girl” toys. I got given a Bratz doll for Christmas one year. My friend and I spent the next few weeks putting it in my driveway and laughing when it would get run over by my neighbor’s truck.

 

I triumphantly stared at my list (‘7 whole signs!!’ I thought to myself) for a good minute.

 

All of the things on this list did happen and are true. But this list doesn’t mean jack-shit about my transness.

 

So what if I didn’t like dresses? You know who else doesn’t like dresses? A fuckton of people of all genders.

 

So what if I cried when I got bras for Christmas in front of my family? What 9-year-old wouldn’t get super embarrassed opening underwear in front of their Uncle and his nice, but overbearing, girlfriend? Does that make every embarrassed pre-teen person who receives bras on Christmas trans by my list-logic?

 

So what if I was upset when I got my period? You know who else is upset they got their period? A fuckton of people of all genders. Perhaps especially every person who ever bled through their pants in middle school and had to watch people laugh and point at the stain in the hallway. Are they all trans by my list-logic?

 

So what if I had mostly guy friends? So what if I only liked blue as a 5-year-old? My cis girl friend Jessie’s favorite color was blue as well. Does that make her trans? And what about people who had those markers you blow on that sprayed out a mixed color? What gender does that make them, by my own list-logic??

 

I stared at my list for a little while longer as I methodically refuted each and every clue I had thought of. Each “sign” from my childhood crumbled away until I was simply grasping at straws. I think I might’ve cried in the library (not an uncommon occurrence during college, to be honest).

 

I crumpled up the list and recycled it. (I know it would’ve been cooler and more dramatic if I’d thrown the list into the garbage, but climate change is a real fucker, you know?).

 

I didn’t know I was trans. Until I did. Gender is something no single list, word or experience can fully articulate. On some level, I wish it were that easy. That way I could’ve saved myself a lot of angst and a lot of time spent watching “How to Know if You’re Trans” videos on YouTube (literally would give me days of my life back).

 

There’s no list to check off. There’s no experience you have to have. There aren’t any trans prerequisites. Even if you don’t know like other people know. Even if you don’t know when other people know.

 

There’s just what you know. Even if you don’t know quite yet. You will.

I Don’t Feel Like Myself

This is a ramble with little to no point or resolution. You’ve been warned.

I haven’t been feeling like myself lately.

What does that mean? I don’t even know. I just don’t.

It feels like everything that makes me “me” is a socially constructed façade. Would I really be funny or nice if being funny and nice weren’t good things to be in our society? Would I care about my looks or my fashion if I never saw another person?

Who would I be without the world around me?

I don’t feel like myself because I feel like I don’t have a self to call my own.

I feel like a fake person. I really can’t even elaborate on what the fuck that means.

I stand in the shower, staring at the wall, wondering why it is I’m in this body at this particular time with this personality and this general feeling of unease.

Can I blame this feeling on my depression? On my anxiety? On my transition? On being a 20-something year old? Who or what can I blame for feeling like a fake person besides myself? Does it matter if there’s something to blame?

I lay awake at night for hours, feeling like I’m watching myself from above. Who is that? I ask myself about myself. What do they want? Who do they want to be? Who am I if that’s me?

This feeling doesn’t go away with any amount of sleep or activity. It feels like I’m floating through life making no impact on anyone or anything. How could I when I can’t even make any impact on myself?

I feel like so much in my life has changed so rapidly that there’s no question that I’ve changed too. I know I’ve changed. But I don’t know what exactly has changed or if it’s a good or bad change.

The only thing that calms my mind is running until I can’t breathe. That way, my only focus is on the physical, the tangible. Physical exhaustion is the only thing that can combat mental exhaustion.

I have no identity that I can pinpoint. What does that mean? What even constitutes as an identity? Is it gender? Personality? Values? Favorite foods and books? Who you are when you’re completely alone? Surrounded by people?

Whatever it is for me, it’s changed so much that I don’t know where it’s gone or what it is. I don’t know who I am, and I don’t understand how to figure it out. How can you understand something that might not be understandable in the first place?

I promise I’m not high writing this lol. ~Or~AM~I~?? lol jk

The real question is if I can allow myself to have this “identity crisis” and experience it with curiosity instead of dull emptiness and sadness.

I guess we’ll see.

Are You Twins??: Queer Couple Struggles

This is a ranty post that I didn’t really plan but has been on my mind lately.

This topic is familiar to every queer couple I’ve ever known, and it is fucking annoying as fuck. So often queer couples will be asked by random (mostly cis straight) people, “Are you two twins?? No?? Sisters at least, right?? Wow, you just look so similar!!!!!!”

First of all, fuck off. Even if we were twins, why do you feel the need to ask?? Twins exist… get over it. And people are so excited when they ask if a queer couple are siblings. WTF? Do you know how many siblings exist in the world? What’s the big fuckin deal and why does it matter so much to my middle-aged waitress?

Also, apparently having the same color hair and wearing glasses makes me and my girlfriend look identical to most people. Tight.

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But that’s not even the point. How often do straight couples get asked if they are siblings even if they have the same color hair or both have short haircuts or are the same ethnicity or both wear glasses? Probably close to never. Do you think their parents, friends, and acquaintances feel the need to comment how similar they look like it’s some sort of cool, funny observance?

It also hurts my feelings when people say this. And not just in a regular “that was a shitty thing to hear” kind of way, but in a dysphoria inducing, wallowing, deep-depression type way. Being compared to my girlfriend looks-wise is somewhat of an honor because of how gorgeous she is, but besides everything else I said that makes this a shitty thing to be told: I AM A GUY. How do you think it makes me feel to constantly hear that I look exactly like my GIRLfriend who is a WOMAN when I am a TRANS GUY who is a MAN?!

It’s offensive and annoying to hear constantly from strangers, friends, relatives, and acquaintances friends that I look like my girlfriend so much so that we are twins.The worst part about this is that OTHER QUEER PEOPLE SAY THIS SHIT TOO. It’s bullshit to “mix up” our names when talking to us: that’s not funny or cool it is hurtful and fucking annoying. It’s bullshit to tell a queer couple to their face, or at all, that they look like siblings/twins. LITERALLY, WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT?? WHO DOES IT HELP?? WHAT IS THE POINT OF SAYING THAT?? If you wouldn’t say the same thing to a straight couple who both have red hair or who both have similar cheekbones, then why the fuck would you say it to a queer couple?

All it does is belittle the relationship and encourage people to see queer couples as no more than “oh they must be siblings or gal pals or brothers or something.” It isn’t a funny comment, it isn’t an interesting comment, it isn’t a comment that ever needs to be fucking said so just shut the fuck up and let queer couples be happy no matter what they look like.

Rant over.

 

Why Being Morbid Can Be A Good Thing

If you’re one of my close friends, you probably know that I think about death a lot. I have since I was pretty young as well. I have a tattoo that literally represents death and I think about it on the reg.

This sounds morbid, depressing, and potentially creepy. But I don’t see it that way.

Being aware of my own mortality and my impending death pushes me to live. I know that I am not going to be here forever. So while I am here, why not do everything that I want to do? Why not get the tattoos I’ve been wanting? Why not stay in if I don’t feel like going out? Why work at a job that I hate? Why not live out and proud? Why not take a crazy chance? Why not do a crazy dance? If you lose a moment, you can lose a lot. So why not. Why not!!

If I’m going to die one day, I might as well live the life I have exactly how I want. And being aware of death is ironically what pushes me to live.

I’m not sure what prompted my daily thoughts about death (holy shit that sounds so creepy and weird wtf!!!) but I’m glad for it. Besides pushing me to live how I want while I’m still living, it’s given me a new outlook on regret.

It sounds stereotypical, but I really do think that the “no regrets” thing has some clout.

But I would modify that a little bit. It’s not that people don’t have any regrets. We all have regrets, no matter how small they are. I regret one of my college majors. I regret not coming out sooner. Fuck, I regret saying “you too” to the people who sell tickets at the movie theater when they tell me to enjoy the movie.

But all of these decisions are things I can live with, and have made me who I am today. Who knows where I’d be, better or worse, if I hadn’t done those things. When trying to decide something, there’s nothing helpful about asking yourself “What if I regret it?” because that is always a possibility.

The real questions you should ask yourself are, “If I do it and I regret it, can I live with it?” And, “If I don’t do it and I regret it, can I live with it?”

Let’s look at some examples from my own life. I know that I’m a trans guy who wants to medically transition, but I wrestled with the idea of starting hormones for almost a year. The main thing holding me back was my nagging fear that I would regret my decision to start them, seeing as some changes are irreversible.

But the idea that I could die tomorrow without ever even trying hormones was more terrifying than the idea that I might regret a permanently lower voice. I would live with more regret having never gone on hormones that I would if I do go on them and regret it.

So I’m starting hormones this Tuesday and getting two new tattoos next Saturday. And if I regret either one, I can live with that.

We all have regrets. Which ones can you live with?

 

Losing a Queer Identity

The title here is misleading because I am queer and will always be queer.

However, once I realized I was trans (transmasculine to be specific) I did experience a loss of part of my identity. While I gained happiness and confidence, I lost my “queer woman” identity, which has caused me to experience a wide range of confusing and upsetting emotions. (Let me know why that intro sounded like a shitty first draft to a persuasive essay you wrote in the 7th grade).

Throughout college, I was extremely unhappy. I had some amazing times, made amazing friends, and met the love of my life. But deep down, I constantly felt unattractive, unhappy, and unmotivated. Looking back now, I know it is because I am supposed to be a boy, but I was living as a girl.

But at the time, I had no clue. I began college as a straight girl, clinging to femininity thinking that it would make me happy to have men attracted to me as a feminine woman. While I know I was objectively good looking, and I know that men were attracted to me, I was still unhappy. I became almost self-destructive and made my whole self-worth based around my looks and whether men wanted me.

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Meet my past “straight girl” self (left) who wore crop tops to class and apparently fake leather shorts and sandals to frat parties.

Obviously that is unhealthy and that thought process was likely because of my upbringing as a woman in a patriarchal world.

So when I figured out I was bisexual as a sophomore, it was as though a whole new world opened up to me. My thought process went something like this: Men never made me feel good or like I was worth anything, so perhaps focusing on my attraction to women will make me feel good about myself.

And while this logic is still flawed as it uses other people to value myself as a person, it was kind of right. Discovering I was attracted to women as a woman made me the happiest I had ever been.

I was suddenly more confident in myself. I loved being gay (I’m using gay as an umbrella term here, I am bi, but I like the word gay for myself as well, let me live). I embraced my queerness to the extreme.

I wore exclusively tumblr lesbian clothes. I watched the L word on repeat. I posted selfies on tumblr on the reg. Snapbacks were a lifestyle. Softball 4 dayz. I even watched all of Carmilla (my fellow queer people, you know when you watch Carmilla that you are DEEP in queer culture). I embraced my already pretty gay walk. Queer lady YouTubers were my people.

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The peak of my gayness: Summer 2015. Peep the vans, the button up, and the sunnies.

I got to be the classic gay feminist constantly having gender and social justice discussions with my friends. Halsey and Fifth Harmony hypnotized me with their hotness. I had a sexy picture of Emma Watson in my room (to be fair, I had this up before I realized I was queer. lol at my past self thinking I was straight).

I walked around like I was hot shit. I wanted people to look at me and think “queer.” I flirted with girls and was with girls in a way that I had never been with or connected with men. I was actually loving myself for the first time. I was so proud to be a queer woman.

So why was I still unhappy, even when embracing my queer identity? I didn’t figure it out until the end of my senior year: I wasn’t a queer woman. I’m a queer guy.

Realizing that was a turning point for me. I am the happiest I’ve ever been right now living as a boy. I’m starting hormones soon, I’ve changed my name, and I’m in a much better place.

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I made my mom take this.

But being a man means that I am losing my place in the wlw, queer woman community. Being a queer woman brought me so much confidence and happiness during a time in my life when not much else made me happy or even made me want to get out of bed.

Not only that, but I am afraid of not appearing queer at all anymore, not just not appearing like a queer woman. Im not super masc or anything, but I’m afraid as I start passing that I will be straight/cis passing as well. I am so proud of my queer identity; I don’t want to lose it. I don’t want people in Provincetown to think I’m just some straight tourist. I don’t want to go to pride and have people upset that a straight appearing cis-looking guy is there.

Realizing my trans identity has given and is giving me so much. I’m just afraid about what it might be taking away.

It sounds dramatic, but I feel grief over the loss of this identity. But I’m also confused. I know that I’m a guy, but when I see queer lady stuff like Hayley Kiyoko’s new gay as fuck music (WHICH I AM LIVING FOR BTW) and Lauren and Halsey’s queer duet song and girls holding hands in public and other wlw stuff, I feel a kinship with it. I feel like, hey that’s just like me!

But it isn’t anymore. I feel cut off from that world that brought me happiness and confidence during a time where I almost always felt like shit. And when I feel like I’m a part of that wlw community still, I start to question my trans identity. How can I be a guy and still wish that I was a part of a wlw community? How can I look at my favorite queer lady YouTubers and feel so connected with them as though I am one of them if I’m really a guy?

Being a gay girl gave me things I desperately needed as a depressed 20 year old: community, confidence, and hope for happiness. Losing that is really hard for me to deal with. But as a guy who is sad about not being a gay girl anymore, it is a confusing loss. I know I’m moving forward and being who I really am as a boy. But being a gay girl was fucking fun, and I do miss it.

Hopefully that made some sense and can resonate with someone out there. You can be trans and miss parts of being your old self. You can be a trans guy and miss your experience as a queer girl. Being trans doesn’t have a rulebook or any requirements.

I’ll just keep telling myself these things until I really believe them.

Reading Every Book On My Bookshelf: Wild

Excuse-filled Intro

So I’m kind of bummed that this second installment of this series took forever for me to get to.

I was thinking I would do like 1 post of this series per week, but thinking back that is a little unrealistic for a couple of reasons.

First of all, I do have a job. People think that freelancing means a ton of free time, and sure it might mean some more free time than other types of work, but I still have to work.

Secondly, I am a fast reader, but I’m by no means one of those people who can scan a fucking page and then recite it back. I take my time while reading especially for things like this were I’m taking notes, trying to find meaning, staring at the same sentence for a few minutes for no reason, etc, etc. And not only do I have to read the whole book, I then have to actually write the post about it.

So one post of this series per week? Fuck no lol. I’ll aim for once every couple weeks, but we will see.

After that long ass intro, I still didn’t write what book I read for this post (even though it is in the title of the post). I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I’ve read this book a few times, and each time it was an emotional and amazing read.

Why I Bought the Book in the First Place

I’m going to try and follow a similar structure for each of these posts, but obviously it won’t be exactly the same.

So as I said, I have read this book before and I loved it. I’m always a slut for books about people dropping everything to go on a journey, especially ones that involve hiking.

But my journey with this book didn’t start with the book: it started with the movie. Usually I am that annoying person that smugly slips into conversation, “Oh, I read [insert book name here] way before it became a movie.”

However, that was not the case here. I saw the movie when I was a sophomore in college, which was around 3 years ago (fuck I feel old). The movie was great and it does a great job at adapting it to a film (except that Reese Witherspoon is deff not 26 in the movie like Strayed was on the trail). I actually saw it with my mom, which turned out to be good because a lot of the book/movie revolves around Cheryl’s mother, her mortality, and their relationship. Needless to say, I sobbed multiple times at the movie (I’m a soft kinda guy what can I say).

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Me, a sophomore in college, holding this up as a “joke.” Me, queer??? as if!!!

After we walked out of the theater, I immediately made my mom drive me to Barnes and Noble where I bought the book and read it in one sitting, through the night, until 3 am.

What I Would’ve Rated it Then

I would’ve given this book an 11/10 if that were an option. I was enthralled and read it multiple times in a row because of my love for it and its message.

Why was I so enthralled? This book tells the true story of a real person in a transition period of life, dealing with death, family, and her own identity. Sure, she was hiking the PCT and having adventures and misadventures alike. But the underlying message of personal growth and odyssey was so captivating to me.

This message of growth and transition was especially appealing to me at that time when I was going through this type of growth and change as well. I was just realizing my sexuality and queer identity, I was halfway through my college career, I was depressed and anxious, and I had no self-esteem. I was searching for meaning in my own life as I tried to understand myself.

Knowing that, it isn’t very surprising that I latched on so tightly to Cheryl’s story of independence and hardship. I felt so alone without any direction. Like Cheryl, I wanted to escape all of my problems and find a journey that would help me learn about myself. I wanted to walk and hurt and feel pain until I could no longer think about everything I was going through.

So I read. And I read this book. And it helped me more than anything or anyone else during that horrible time of my life. It wasn’t a super happy, uplifting book that made me feel better in that sense. It was raw and sad and painful and made me cry and laugh and feel scared and understand mortality. It is someone’s real life and it describes some of the hardest things we as humans have to go through elegantly with wit and raw emotion. It was a narrative that I could relate to.

Perhaps my own issues at the time didn’t really match up to Cheryl’s in Wild: I still had (and have) my mother in my life, I had many close friends, I wasn’t using drugs, my family was and is a constant support, and I wasn’t in a struggling romantic relationship.

But what was (and still is) so great about this book is that its truth extends past these particular struggles that Cheryl faced. Just because I hadn’t lost my mother like she had doesn’t mean I can’t read her words and feel a little bit of that pain. Just because I hadn’t lost my family doesn’t mean I can’t feel the fear of that loss, and the grief that I will have to endure. Our struggles were different, but the emotions are universal.

So, like I said: I would’ve given it an 11/10.

What I Rate It Now

With the previous description I just gave, it isn’t surprising that I’m still giving this book a high rating, but perhaps not quite an 11/10. I’ll give it a 9/10.

For all of the same reasons I listed earlier, I still love this book. I still felt the emotions, I still cried, and I still connected.

But it was harder for me to get into it on this reading. I feel like I thought too hard about which book I should read next for this series. It makes sense that I would read this book as I am yet again in a transition period: I am literally transitioning from female to male, but I am also just out of college trying to figure out my life. It makes sense to read this book about transitions.

But I think I overthought it. I didn’t re-read this book now because I felt like it or because the message truly spoke to me like it did when I first read it. I read it this time because it made sense for this blog post. I thought it would be a great parallel for my life, just like it was when I first read it.

And while it is a great parallel, I think that I am going through too much hardship in my own life currently to want to also read about someone else’s hardships. When I first read it, Cheryl’s struggles helped me feel less alone and helped to put words to my pain and my inner desires. But when I read it this time, it was as though I was feeling the burden and heartache of her life along with everything else that I’m going through. I still felt the raw emotions that make this book so special. But those raw emotions, instead of making me feel validated in my transition, made me feel worse.

I chalk this up to my worsening anxiety and depression and not because of a dislike for the actual book. My desire to have a romantic and poetic reading because of the ~parallels~ between my life and the book got in the way of me actually reading something that would touch me in that way.

Instead of reaching for something I truly wanted to read, something that called to me, something that had a message that resonated with me right now, I chose something that I thought should’ve done all of those things because it did in the past. And that is a mistake.

Why is that a mistake? I made a decision for my current self based on my past self. This might seem dramatic (It’s just a book Elliot jeeze) but it is the truth, and it’s something that I do a lot. I make decisions for myself based on how I felt in the past or how I think I will feel in the future. This will only lead to angst and struggle. My past self and my future self are not more important than my present self. I need to think about myself now and what I need to do to be happier now, not what I did to be happier 5 years ago or what I think might make me happy 5 years from now. I am important, right here, right now. I need to make decisions with that in mind.

So in the end, the actual re-reading of this book didn’t give me as much insight as the choice I made to re-read it did. Weird how introspection works sometimes.

Am I Keeping This Book?

If anyone remembers back to my first post, the reason I decided to do this “re-reading my bookshelf” series is because I am trying to focus on a minimalist lifestyle and only have things that really add value to my life. I wanted to clear out my huge stash of books because they take up so much space.

So am I keeping this book? Short answer: no.

But that doesn’t mean that this book didn’t add value to my life. It 100% did and has added value to my life. But just because it did add value doesn’t mean that I should keep it. It is a great book that I will always love and will always remember as something that got me through one of the hardest times of my life.

But this book isn’t something that I reach for to re-read regularly like some of my other books. Wild is something that I didn’t even really want to re-read right now, I just did because I thought I should and I thought it would help me. It has added value to my life in ways that I can’t even begin to try and put into words.

But the physical book itself didn’t add that value. It was the situation in which I read it the first time. It was me, crying about coming out and realizing I was queer, reaching for this book in a time where all I did was panic and hate myself, and reading it through the night. It was watching the movie with my mom, realizing how much I love her and how short life is. It was reading about the pain that Cheryl felt and thinking that my own pain was somehow being written down by someone else, and how that meant I wasn’t alone. It was me writing in my journal about how much I loved this book and how much it helped me start my own journey, just like Cheryl did. The value was how the story affected my life in a time when that was the exact story I needed to hear.

It was never the physical book. Until now, I hadn’t read it since I read it three years ago.

With that said, I can’t justify keeping the book. If the message and the story calls for me again in the future, I can buy it again or go to the library. But I need to make a decision for the present day me, not the future me. And I can’t see myself wanting to read this book again for a while.

That doesn’t mean its message and meaning have not given me something so valuable that I really, truly think I owe my current life to it.

Another post will come soon(ish).

I Do Horrible Drawings 5: Trans Ban Tweets

We all heard about the trans military ban Donald Trump tweeted out yesterday.

I have a couple of thoughts. I’d like to posit some serious questions and then move into something that can maybe bring people some happiness (I’m talking about my horrid drawings).

The support I have seen on social media from both queer and cis allies has been immense, and for that I am grateful.

But where is all of this support in day to day life? Trans people face this type of discrimination REGULARLY. Trans people are attacked each and every day. Trans people are killed each and every day for just leaving their house in the morning.

Allies should look themselves in the mirror each day and ask how they can support trans people. Not just on days when there is a mainstream report of discrimination, but on normal days. What can you do if you see discrimination in action? Can you try to identify any internalized hate you have towards queer and trans people? What can you do each and every day to support people instead of only tweeting your support when it’s a hot topic issue?

This goes for all issues of discrimination. Black lives still matter even when you aren’t getting mainstream coverage of discrimination. Trans lives still matter even when you don’t hear about violence against trans people in the news. Women’s lives matter. POC lives matter. LGBTQ+ lives matter. What can you do every day to show your support for marginalized groups? Be better, analyze your words and your actions, and stand up for those whose voices are silenced. Recognize your privilege and use it to help others who don’t have the privilege you do.

With that small rant out of the way, let’s get into some drawings.

I found some of my favorite tweets from yesterday’s response to the trans military ban and I thought they could use some illustrations. So enjoy.

First we have this tweet:

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This one just made me smile and think of trans people growing out of a garden, happily just living, surrounded by plants and the sun. So that’s what I tried to draw. But as I’m sure you know, my ideas for drawings and what I actually translate onto the paper are two very different things:

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This drawing was supposed to be cute and make you feel good. Instead, it looks like donuts got stuck in an abnormally large piece of broccoli and a creepy, demonic Arthur the Aardvark has decided to lean against a tree to examine his triangle leg.

For wanting to create something that gives off a “flourishing” vibe, I didn’t really put in many plants. There’s literally only two plants.

At least this was created with a nice sentiment in mind, right?

The next tweet was more of a funny one that I actually lol-ed at (forgive me for using “Lol-ed” unironically):

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It’s tweets like this that make me still fucking love twitter. That is some good shit.

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While this is a pretty literal interpretation of the tweet, I think it’s dope. I’m gonna give myself a pat on that back for drawing 3 people who actually look like people instead of my usually drawings that make people look like evil creatures from The Ring.

I think the bottom-right panel is particularly good. Not only is that unmistakably Donnie (peep the double chin and weird circular mouth with two tiny teeth showing), but also notice the great detail I put into Donnie’s hands and weird mullet hair. Let’s give a round of applause to the cartoon about to chuck him into that volcano. You’re doing amazing sweetie.

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This another tweet that I laughed at (ok laugh is a little bit exaggerated: I smiled at my phone, which counts as a laugh when it comes to twitter).

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There’s a lot to absorb with this piece. I haven’t yet come up with a way to draw Trump the same way in multiple different situations, so enjoy the random changes in his face and structure.

I thought I was pretty clever with this one (ex. Trump in bed with the Earth saying its hot. get it cuz like global warming?!?! it’s a hot globe!?? I guess it was funnier in my head). Enjoy looking at his Cheeto chest hairs and his creepy frog smile.

And finally, we have this tweet:

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I think that sums up my thoughts pretty well. Not much to elaborate on.

So, until next time: be better ever day.