Food Dogma

libraryisle

My hand hurt and I realized it was because I was gripping the steering wheel like it was keeping me alive. I felt like I was suffocating and realized it was because I was holding my breath.

Standing in that isle, walking down the rows and rows of books reading headline after headline, claim after claim: sugar is the cause of diabetes and heart disease, animal protein is the cause of diabetes and heart disease, bread is the cause of western diseases, fats are the cause of western diseases, lose weight and gain energy with this diet, with that diet, cure this ailment, cure that ailment, cure all the ailments, live longer with this supplement, stop taking supplements, the news on fiber, the news on trans fats, the news on carbs, the news on dairy and calcium, the news on prescription drugs, the news on eating disorders, the news on heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, depression, anxiety, obesity, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, and on and on and on.

Nutritionism. Nutritionists, all diving for answers and screaming they had found “the secret.” The “secret” being what nutrients were killing us and what nutrients would give us everlasting life. The demons and the angels. The ratios. The food rules. The cannon. The script.

The dogma.

The noise.

The flurry of confusion and contradiction and manipulated research and exaggerated research and empty promises. They had pierced my nose and pulled me around with a string. Their voices spouting off claims echoed in my mind like the footprints of a grand exodus on a wide dirt path.

I closed the book I had been reading and gathered the stack in front of me, shoving them back on the shelves like I was pushing away a plate of food that was inciting nausea.

The ground slid towards me as my knees collapsed and my hands cradled my head between them. I needed to stop. I needed to stop now. This illusion that I didn’t know how to eat to be healthy. That I would eventually find out the one perfect food religion that would somehow solve my incredibly disordered relationship with food that was making me sick and robbing me of my livelihood. It wasn’t going to happen. It was a joke. A joke that was costing me my life and costing millions of others the same.

 

Denial or Manifesting a Positive Outcome?

Lately I have been having different thoughts like:

Walking through the library looking at a book on how to stop compulsive eating and then just sighed and rolled my eyes and thought: “Why am I even looking at this; I don’t even binge anymore.”

Feeling like I have to finish my food because it’s there and I don’t have the self control to stop when it’s there, thinking I have to remove it from view and just paused, like:

“Fuck that, I’m in control. I’m gonna defiantly leave the rest of this food sitting here in front of my face just to prove it.” And then I did.

 

Not sure if I’m in denial or if I’m just done…

 

 

Breaking my “Earn It” Cycle

I’m a goal setter. I’m a list maker. I’m a dreamer and an achiever. I do things that terrify me when I believe they will help me become a better person or reach a new level. I’m proud of these qualities.

I also have an addictive personality and a tendency toward the extreme, and a never satisfied need to prove myself worthy of my own love and respect. My own love and self respect are always just 3 or so goals away, but it never matters because of those 3 goals, I will achieve  2, drop the 3rd and brutally punish myself for it, and set 5 more goals at which point, THEN I will be happy with myself.

Even though I look back on all I have accomplished in the last week, the last few months, and the staggering progress of the last year, I’m destroying myself with anxiety and self condemnation over the many times I have fallen down and not accomplished something I set out to do. So I decided to try something. I decided to try to go 18 days without setting a new goal or commitment, and instead, to do all the kind and enjoyable things for myself that I never let myself do because of their lack of “production value.” Yes, it’s that bad. I haven’t believed that anything enjoyable that wasn’t forcing my progress in a goal was worthwhile, and therefore I haven’t relaxed in months. I might give myself the “reward” of doing something enjoyable if I hit a goal (because I don’t deserve happiness otherwise), but then when I hit the goal I don’t do it, because I see it as a “waste” of time that could be spent on the other goals I have.  It’s that whole, “I’ll rest when I’m dead” mentality, applied to my own happiness.

It’s been challenging. I didn’t realize just how crazed my mind was on goal setting until I tried to stop it. I would say my mind congers at least 20-50 new goals a day, of which I am trying to simply observe. It isn’t that I don’t have good ideas. I have great ideas! They get me excited. But I noticed something. I may have a wonderful idea that thrills me, but then I turn it into a task and immediately I begin to have anxiety and fear in the pit of my stomach, and a heaviness on my shoulders of yet another thing I “must” do or else I will fall down the spiral of self hate.

It goes like this:

Wow, I love yoga. Yoga makes me feel more relaxed, more open, stronger and energetic. I would really benefit from making this practice a bigger part of my life than it is currently.

(Then comes the goal setting) I’m going to do 15 minutes a day of yoga each morning for the next 30 days. No, an hour of yoga each day for the next 2 weeks! I’m going to pick a yoga video each day and do it. I’m going to add meditation and breathing for 10 minutes. I’m going to do more deep stretches. New goal: I’m going to be able to do the splits in 2 months. I’ll do these 3 stretches every day to accomplish this. How about a progress board? While I’m at it, I am going to master my handstands….

This goes on until I set a goal. I’m already feeling dreadful because of all the goals I thought of that I’m not going for (aka already “failed” at), and the fear I have of not getting the one I decided to go with done.

I’m trying to break this cycle. If I love yoga, maybe I will do some right now. If I know breathing exercises help me, I’ll just do 5 deep breaths as I’m thinking of it right now. Or look up a free yoga class and put it on my calendar and repeatedly assure myself gently that I do not HAVE to go to it, I am not COMMITTED to it, but that it’s optional if I decide I want to.

I love reading. But for a long time I have avoided reading because if I get a book and don’t finish it, I view myself as a failure. I can’t just pick something up and enjoy it. I have to commit to reading x amount in x amount of time or something. Yesterday I went to the library ( I had to kindly reassure myself that I was not a failure for going to the library today and the beach yesterday when I had planned for myself the beach today and the library Saturday….good lord, it’s bad, isn’t it?). I didn’t even bring any home to haunt me with doing and I repeatedly told myself I did not have to read any more than I desired to at any moment. I picked out 6 books, read chunks of each of them, and then put them all back. I “accomplished” nothing but my own pleasure (and some knowledge gained that I wanted, not that I had committed to learning). It was wonderful.

This project of an 18 Day Vacation (I know, a commitment in itself…) has been very eye opening, making me realize that around every corner, I zap my life of joy because of all the opportunities I create to label myself a failure. I have done several things in the 4 days of this I’m into so far that are productive and working on myself, but with an incomparably greater amount of enjoyment than before. I’m realizing that I do get things done that I want to get done, just by wanting to do them, not by forcing my hand at everything with the threat of failure at my every turn. I might even be getting more done this way? I’m at least doing more of the things I like.

Which I should add was another reason I am doing this. I realized that my task-oriented obsession had become so intense that the only pleasure I was deriving was from food, and this fact was sabotaging my attempts at beating binge eating. I realized that I needed to be deriving relief and pleasure from other things.

It’s interesting to see where this will go eventually. How this could actually radically change my life and my relationship with myself, and my level of happiness.

I’ll post a progress status on this later. Or not.

 

I Will Grind

I lost my marriage.

I lost my job.

I lost my home.

I have sacrificed everything to transition to the man I envision myself as.

I can’t lose it all for nothing.

Going back is not an option.

Failing is not an option.

Character is what happens when you are at the end of your rope and can either push through with the last of your strength, or break.

I am at the end of my rope.

Fasting Challenge

This year has been a bull ride.

Between the debilitating digestive issues/intestinal infection and food in tolerances, the steroids my doctors put me on, and smothering my relationship problems with food and reverting back to binge eating behaviors, I put on 30lbs this year, and I have felt like total garbage.

I knew something had to change. Dramatically. And I’ve been researching it for months, and decided to do a prolonged fast. Initially I was in it for the weight loss and getting rid of all the excess toxins and hormones, but the more I read, the more I saw that I could potentially cure my digestive tract and clear up my ache in the process! I’m pretty excited about that possibility, as my intestines haven’t been themselves in a couple years.

I’m on day 5. Previously this is the longest I have ever fasted (I’ve done 5 days twice), so officially by tomorrow I’ll be in new territory, and from what I’ve read, this is where the real healing begins.

My goal is a 21 Day water fast (with some occasional black coffee to get me through work, and herbal detox or green teas as desired), and then to extend to day 40 a liquid fast of some kind—I’m thinking green juices and broth. I’m only doing 21 days of water because I want to be fast safely and not put my body in any kind of danger due to nutrient deficiencies since I am not being monitored by a medical professional, and it isn’t recommended to water fast longer than this be most sources I have found, though juice fasting can be done for months unsupervised.

The first 3 days have been the hardest, I was so cranky and craving sugar like mad. Yesterday and today I feel much better, and not craving food anymore, in fact, the idea of eating food sounds like it would hurt. I know the last 5 day fast I did I ate too much too quickly and got very sick, so I know I’ll be weaning back into food slowly. I also know this is partly why I gained weight before—back when I had an eating disorder and wasn’t eating hardly at all I went straight to eating a normal, much larger amount because I was getting over my fears of eating regularly (which was good, I just had no idea that my metabolism was so tanked I needed to very gradually up my calories to fix it.

 

OK

I’m gonna be okay.

At least until I die.

Then I’ll be gone.

A memory of crying in a strangers’ bed while the the boyfriend who never loved me partied in the next room. That isn’t fair. He was too consumed in his own pain to notice mine. And my tears reminded me of his own. Does that mean he didn’t love me? Does it matter? Did I love him? That was the time in my life when the demon I hardly still believe in was following me around.

The feeling of laughing, watching him standing on a fallen tree peeing on the front lawn of his friend’s house on our road trip. We were both so high we fell asleep on the floor laughing and I woke up and drank an entire gallon of water.

Screaming at my dad and hearing his head crack sickeningly on the floor the last time he tried to beat my brother. Wondering if I had been born the boy I was supposed to be if that would be me crushing his skull against the hardwood. If that would have felt good and satisfying, or if it would have shoved me into a hell space.

Songs that make me cry in the night and why I still listen choose to play them. Trying to get back to a feeling of more purpose. Trying to get back time I lost. Time when I was young enough that unachievement wasn’t such a bad place to live in. Trying to close my eyes and kiss my grandma’s buttery soft cheek one more time. Breathing in the smell of her sweaters. I just wanna wake up one more time in my ugly old night gown and creep down the stairs early in the morning and have her pour me a bowl of cereal that wasn’t sweet enough or make an egg that wasn’t runny enough, because it wasn’t how my mom made it, or how my dad made it, but I had her all to myself in those mornings and that was all I needed. The quiet hum of the dishwasher and staring at the swing set in the back yard through the stained glass birds on the window and just being there with my grandma with nobody interrupting.

What is there to live for but the sound of a musician on his guitar that gives your heart strings a little tug. The pleasure of looking down and seeing the veins bulging on your own hands.

Lately I can’t handle being alone. It’s like a prison. I used to use time alone constructively. Now it’s just a shit show. A storm. A panic. It feels like I can’t control myself, my thoughts, my feelings, my behavior, and trying to wait it out slows the hands of time times a million. I decided I can’t eat alone anymore. It destroys me. Literally I can’t handle that kind of responsibility. I don’t even want to talk about what things I do or think during those times. Actually… that might be helpful.

Thoughts I have are:

I am hungry.

I should eat because: I need the energy for my workout. I need the protein. It would make me feel less anxious, just this once, then I’ll be good. I should eat because I told myself after *fill in the blank time* I would fast. I need this to relax. I can have this because I only had *xyz* at work today. I should eat because I don’t know when Jack will get home. I’ll just have this one bite. Just this one bite more. This doesn’t count, it’s so little. Just this little bit more. Oh my god this has turned into way more than I should have and I snuck all these calories, I fucking hate myself, I’m so upset, what the fuck is wrong with me, I’m just gonna ride this out and eat what makes me feel better and start over tomorrow. Better get it in before Jack gets home. Why isn’t he home yet? I’m so angry he hasn’t given me an ETA and he knows how anxious I get. Ugh that’s stupid of me to get upset at him, it isn’t his fault, this is my problem, I always do this. I feel so stuck. I say I’m gonna be better now but I’m lying to myself. Resetting never works. I always fail again. It doesn’t matter what rules I put in place to control me. Nobody can see how depressed I am because I’m not skinny. I can’t go in public looking this fat. My stomach hurts because of so much food and I feel awful. I’ll just go to bed early and when I wake up I’ll feel better. When is this going to end? Maybe I’ll take a selfie I like and then I’ll feel better. Ugh I look fat and tired and old and not like a man but not like a woman. There, that one was OK. Who should I send it to? That’s conceited, I’ll just save it on my phone. Look at these other pictures of me that look good. Ha I know how many I had to take to get that one. The camera is lying, I don’t even look that good in real life. I bet everyone secretly thinks I looked so much better before I started transition. Well I’ll get better looking, it’s just a phase. Won’t I? Yeah, I will. I’m gonna work out really hard and not overeat anymore and get really hot. More like I will for 5 days, then binge for 3 and feel like I want to kill myself and then do it all over again. I feel so trapped. I have so much anger and I don’t know where to put it, so I just put it in my stomach. How do I stop? Help. Help. Why can nobody help me? Why can’t I help myself more? Even when I do well for a few days it isn’t enough to make a difference, and it’s so hard.Life is too short to waste it like this. It makes me wanna go back in the closet. Ha but it was actually worse in there than now. Nobody knows that. I just can’t talk about this now because nobody gets the transgender thing and I’m afraid they will blame my anxiety and depression and eating disorder on my transition. I’m so tired of it, I don’t even want to think about being trans anymore, I’m just me, OK? But then what should I think about? Maybe I’ll watch this show….this show is stupid. Everyone in this show is an idiot. This did not make me feel better.

That’s a pretty average look into my brain when I’m alone on a NOT so bad day. It gets a lot worse than that. I’m gonna try this warrior diet thing, eating only once a day and not when I’m alone, and see if it helps reduce my anxiety and binge episodes because I won’t be allowing myself the option to eat when I’m alone anymore. Here is to trying one more thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anger

I hate to be really stereotypical, but since starting my transition, I’ve been feeling really angry. I don’t think it’s the testosterone. When I came out to my family they were like, oh that’s cool, you’re going to Hell bla bla bla. You aren’t who you say you are, it’s FINE. We don’t believe you because of some religious bull shit and you’re fucked up and wrong and we refuse to call you anything but that stupid name SARAH but it’s cool because we LOVE YOU.

Shut the fuck up. You don’t love me. You don’t even know me. You won’t even acknowledge who I am, let alone get to know who that is. I post some watered down attempt at getting you to use your brains on Facebook and it gets shared by my sister who is like “oh look! Not all Transgender people are just transitioning to give God the middle finger!” Like what. What the serious fuck. Yeah, I’m transgender because I want to piss people off. Because I want people to misunderstand and attack me. Because I want to go to Hell and ruin my life.

I can’t kiss my husband in front of his mom. He conforms to it. I don’t deserve his affection because I’m trans, and her feelings matter more than mine. You know what, fuck that shit. I want to leave. I want to go off and start life over on my own. Without dragging my partner through all this shit he doesn’t want or deserve. He married a woman. He loved that woman. That woman doesn’t exist anymore. I’m just an angry man.

I’m getting goose bumps all up and down my arms. I feel nearly drunk and I’m not even finished with my first beer. It’s the anger that’s intoxicating me. I feel like I haven’t slept in a week. I haven’t very well at least. I keep thinking of the sounds of Megan having sex with him, it keeps playing over and over in my head on repeat, like a torturous piece of the film got scratched on repeat, and is driving me crazy. The thought of his dick inside of her. The way she orgasms. How I don’t deserve her. How I don’t deserve him. How I can’t touch them. I can’t. I’m paralyzed. I’m so mad at Zach. He fucked me up. It’s my fault for getting into it with a straight guy. It’s my fault for being a trans man and KNOWING it and playing a girl for him. I knew as he fucked me I was losing capacities. Things were shutting down inside me. Feelings were shutting down. Systems were going on strike. Systems needed in a healthy, intimate relationship. Systems of emotional vulnerability. Now I see Megan, I see her, how radiant she is, how mind blowingly perfect she is in this world full of agony, and its like there is this giant, several feet thick wall of glass between me and her, and I can’t feel anything, can’t reach anything, can’t love. Can’t become vulnerable. Can’t cry. Can’t want her. I don’t want her. I don’t want anyone. I’m trapped inside my own mind, the prison of my own body, which I abuse with food, I feed myself and get bigger and stay empty inside. Stay angry inside. Anger. It’s all I can feel. Part of the anger I feel is cause Zach was the straw that broke the camel’s back. And coming out had with it this overwhelming fear of being not wanted anymore, and then that is what happened with Zach, and it isn’t his fault, isn’t anything he did wrong, in fact, he did it with such grace as to make us still friends, make everything fine, but somehow letting it all happen that way was too much for my subconscious psyche to handle. I had ignored it for too long, not worked to make it healthy, and it just…it just…broke. It broke. It fucking got destroyed. It internalized that message of not being wanted anymore and said ABORT ABORT ALL SYSTEMS.

I know from that therapy book I haven’t been able to deal with anger. Haven’t allowed myself to feel it until now. I was scared of it. I could not, would not, deal with it. Anytime I had that response I turned it into something else, ANYTHING else, so I could handle it: sadness, frustration, concern, hunger…endless hunger. Hunger until I was so full it hurt and was still hungry. I feed my stomach when it’s my heart that needs fixing. Now I see that, now I let myself be me, and it’s like this flood gate of anger I have been storing up my whole life is just coming at me, just spilling everywhere, making a giant mess on the floor. At work sometimes I feel on the verge of cracking. I feel two paper sheets away from unleashing the shit storm inside on someone.

My dysphoria with my chest has gotten so bad. So, so bad. I feel like my binder straps anxiety to my body as though my boobs were anxiety themselves. I know its exaggerated. I know it isn’t true, but it feels like if they were gone I would finally be free. Finally not be a girl. Not be wanted as a girl. Not be objectified as a girl. Not be handled carefully or tenderly or kindly or demeaningly or desirably as a girl. I don’t care what the positive or negative effects of being seen as a woman are or aren’t anymore. It’s like I shoved and shoved and shoved and was fine with it and was fine with it and was fine with it and was fine with it, and now I’m full, so full of shit, that any more misgendering just spills over, just makes me hurl, makes me vomit it out.

 

If You Are Anti-Transgender Because of Religion, Read This

I’ve spent the last few months coming out as transgender to friends and family, which has been met with all kinds of responses. Universally, most people react in some degree with fear, because it is something unusual enough for them to not have been given a script on how they are supposed to react, or what they are supposed to expect. People fear what they don’t understand. Fair.

I’ve had more support than I expected. For that I’m grateful and feel incredibly privileged, especially when I compare my experiences to the experiences of other transgender people in this world. Last night I dreamed I was sexually abused and then killed for being a trans man. For far too many people, that isn’t a dream they can wake up from.

While I don’t want to focus too much on the negative, I see the religious response to my coming out as particularly troubling, and as someone who spent most of their life so far  trying to erase my sense of self and replacing my identity with only and ever my religious duties — the “I must decrease, so that He may increase” virtue; to the point that it took me until age 25 to even begin stepping into my own skin with self confidence and knowledge, I can’t not say something.

I’m going to address the arguments I have received from others in opposition to my decision to transition, one by one. I would first of all like to just say that being transgender is NOT a choice. However, coming out of the closet and choosing the transition physically and socially, is, and the statements made that I am about to address are from people who would rather shove me back in the closet because they hold the belief that this is healthier for me, or will somehow save my soul.

  1. “God doesn’t make mistakes.” ….thank you? I never called myself a mistake. You are presuming my argument is that God made a mistake when my body developed certain sex characteristics. That was never my argument. How about asking me my perspective before attempting to shut it down with an illogical statement? I, A, don’t think my body is the problem, I think society’s narrow minded ideas about gender is the problem, and B, even if I did think my body had a problem, this argument has so many holes in it that it hasn’t ever even held a drop of water. People are born with diseases, disfigurements, imperfections of life threatening or life impairing degrees all the time; and nobody is opposing the medical treatment of these problems by saying “how dare you seek surgery that will allow you the use of your paralyzed legs–you were born with paralyzed legs, and God doesn’t make mistakes.” We seek to correct or improve our lives and our bodies all the time, some of us on a daily basis; and this is seen as honoring to our bodies and lives, which is what I am doing. In this instance, however, I am attacked with “God doesn’t make mistakes!” Check what you are saying; that statement is inconsistent with everything else that you would approve of.
  2. “You know my standpoint on this.” Do I? Actually, do you? Don’t just say to me “you know I can’t approve of this” as though there is a clear teaching against transition that we have discussed together before. There isn’t. You are assuming this somehow “clear” teaching that anyone has yet to spell out for me. I think this statement comes from recognizing that being transgender is outside of your usual framework of life, and assumes it must be wrong, therefore. “I don’t understand it, and I’ve seen it affirmed in secular media, and heard it frowned upon by people in my church, therefore it must be bad.” If this is your argument, maybe you should use your brain. If you have a better reason, please explain this to me. Nobody has.
  3. “The Bible is clear on this.” No, actually, it mentions transgender people and teaches on transgender issues exactly zero times. Every time I am told this and respond by telling them that actually the Bible doesn’t say anything about it, my statement is ignored. Nobody has given me a verse, or a solid Biblical argument. It shuts down the discussion, which I’m assuming means that I’m right and you can’t say anything to counter it. And yet, it hasn’t changed anyone’s mind. My prevailing opinion is this is because the “group think” of your religious group is stronger than both your personal use of logic, and your own ability to research your scripture.
  4. “I urge you to think and pray thoroughly about this.” This statement just exasperates me. I have been wrestling with my gender assignment my whole life. I have spent countless amounts of time over the last few years thinking, praying, crying, trying one approach, then another; reading everything I could on the topic, going to therapy, and exploring every single option possible. The idea you have that I have somehow flippantly decided to undergo the enormous endeavor of socially transitioning my gender identity, is mind boggling.
  5. “Well, you’re the one who will have to answer to God on it, not me.” Thank you for throwing the responsibility at my feet after judging me, then walking away. If you truly believe this is between me and God and it is none of your business, why are you making it your business by verbally opposing me? If you didn’t want to get involved, why are you getting involved? You should probably just respect my pronouns like you do to every other person you meet, and move on with your life.

 

These are literally the only answers I have gotten when I press anyone attacking me for a reason. Overall, this is my point: to the religious people in my life, who are so certain that I am making a giant destructive decision, please use your brain and think about this a little more before coming at me.  I’m not trying to be closed minded to you, it just troubles me when I have been met with strong rejection upon which people think they have the clear, God approved moral high ground, yet can give me no actual reason to back it up. When I question you, I am not just “being closed minded”, I’m actually asking where you are coming from. When you give me a vague non-thought out but religious sounding judgmental response, you are affirming that even though you don’t understand what being transgender is, and haven’t put hardly any thought into it, you are verbally assaulting me in a way that has led to the suicide (and depression, and anxiety) of literally countless transgender people across time and space.

All I am really asking is that you think a little more before you judge. You have no idea the impact your judgement can have on people; or the enormous amount of damage your words can do. If you “love someone” enough to tell them you reject who they are, please at least be prepared to give a good reason, or you aren’t doing anyone any favors at all.

I’m hoping that this post challenges at least one person to be more careful before attacking someones identity, or at least, to think a little more deeply about why they have the moral ideas that they do and where they come from. To anyone who as read this, thank you for taking the time to think about this issue. It matters.

 

 

Letters to my Mother

 

So, I came out as trans to my mom maybe a month ago now. My mom prefers letters to communicate big news so I chose that method, even though I hate the waiting game that goes along with it. I thought this might give her a chance to react better, too. She would have time to process; time to come around; time to see how her words of rejection looked on paper and maybe think to revise them.

No such luck. Her response was to tell me I was unquestioningly wrong, that I was on a high created by my supportive friends who weren’t doing me any favors, that I would deeply regret transitioning, and that she refused and would forever refuse, to call me by my chosen name or acknowledge me as anything but female. She followed this by asking me to reply explaining more about how I came to this decision, and that she wanted to maintain mutual respect.

Let me say this. My mom and I are not close. We generally don’t see eye to eye, nor do we have similar personalities or values. We operate very differently and our relationship over the last 9 years has felt distant, fragile, and very near collapse; only held together by our mutual refusal to let the relationship fall apart entirely. My mom only acknowledges the parts of me that she likes and approves of, and fears anything else. If we didn’t have such a history, I might have seen her response through a softer light; however, her reply felt like a resounding, final slap in the face of disrespect and lack of acknowledgement of who I was, and entitlement to still have me open up to her, to be fine with it, and to hand her a big prize for still loving me.

This was my reply:

“Dear Mom,

I would like to systematically address the things stated in your reply to me, so I can give a thorough and justified response to your letter.

Number 1—I have zero doubt that you love me the best that you know how. Also, your grief is justified.  I’m upset that you said I would accuse you of being un-loving for not supporting my transition. You are not un-loving, you are simply dismissive and disrespectful of me and who I am telling you I am. I do not pretend to know your grief, nor am I offended by it, your feelings of grief are valid and justified; rather I have compassion for it—so much so that I have shielded you from the truth until it was unavoidable. Not from fear of you withdrawing your love or worrying you wouldn’t accept me. I anticipated correctly that you would both continue to love me and simultaneously reject who I am, as you have. The last few years I have hid to protect you from your own pain. You have lumped me in with the pain of your divorce: I am not your husband and that is unfair, and I have never expected you to just “smile and pretend it is all normal and fine.” No, I expect you to grieve.

Number 2— You are being dismissive and closed minded, and as such, unless you change, you have effectively CLOSED the door for further discussion on the matter. You have asked that I reply sharing more of my story on how I have reached where I am today. But how can you ask me to open my heart and mind to you, when you have already made it abundantly clear in your letter that, before seeking to understand, you have already decided the narrative that is my life; you have already decided that you know better than me what my name is, what my gender is, what my current emotions are, and what my future will be. You do not get to hear my story when you are listening with shut ears, a closed mind and already a judgment over me.

I am not on a “high” off my decision to transition; transitioning is very difficult! I do however have a peace and certainty about the decision; but this is pointless to share as you have already made up your mind about what my feelings are and will be. It is offensive to tell me that the gender I am telling you that I am is a delusion and a lie. You are saying that I am a lie, that who I am is fake; that the person I know myself to be is no deeper or more important than the sex between my legs. You are holding up your own definition of what gender is high on a pole, at the cost of erasing and invalidating me as a person. This is offensive and always will be offensive; this is personal and always will be personal. No, I cannot respect your beliefs when you have come to them so quickly without being open minded for one moment.  No, you cannot disrespect and dismiss me and in the same breath expect the privilege of me sharing my heart with you.

Number 3—Your refusal to call me Ray is plainly disrespectful and has nothing to do with a moral viewpoint. Take the moral high ground about my gender, despite the Bible saying NOTHING about being transgender. Fine. But you cannot argue that GOD named me Sarah. No, you did. And I am now naming myself Ray. The truth is, I am not your possession. I am a grown adult and my own person. You should respect my chosen name Ray the way you respect my chosen name Didier. The fact that you refuse to even open your mind to the possibility of calling me by my chosen name tells me that you think you hold the right the define who I am more than I do. I understand making the switch being difficult. That doesn’t make ignoring my name a respectful option.  Ray is a gender neutral name and you choosing not to acknowledge even my name just tells me how little you are willing to budge to accept me at all.

Number 4—John does not own me, but you should be thankful for his support. You said in your letter, when I got married, you saw it as him taking the responsibility for caring for me and leading me. John does not lead me or get to decide who I am or what I do with my body and my life. He doesn’t care for me in any way that isn’t equally reciprocated by me caring for him. I am a grown adult who makes my own decisions. I love him very much and he loves me very much, and we share our hearts and lives together. Despite your beliefs, that is how it has been and how it will continue to be. You should be thankful that John is supportive of my transition, not angry at him; because I’m not sure I would be alive without it.

 

Mom, ultimately, you have come at me making it very clear that you have no intention of listening before you make your judgments; and your standpoint is one of uncompromising rejection of who I am and disrespect for me. I would ask you to reconsider your stance. If not, there is not much else to say on the subject.

 

Love, Ray”

I kept thinking this was harsh. But she had been harsh with me, and this letter was after years and years of hiding, sugar coating, speaking incredibly gently to her to avoid upsetting her; erasing myself for her comfort. I sent her a text afterwards essentially summarizing my terms in a bit less angry sounding, but firm fashion.

She replied, saying in essence that she wanted that mutual respect and to please be patient with her as it was all foreign to her and was difficult for her. I think this is a very positive response. I am crossing my fingers that all will turn out better than expected!!