oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)
So, I wrote a fic for Kanata's transfic mini-fest!

Prompt: Warehouse 13, any characters, transitioning with a little help from an Artifact: the good, the bad and the ugly
Warnings: None.
Words: 975

Intuition )

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This is the first fic I've written in... a long time. And the first one I've posted since the last transfic mini-fest, I think, haha. It was an interesting process; I definitely want to get back in the saddle.

Af for the fic itself-- I really wanted to convey how Pete, specifically, would experience transitioning. I basically decided that Pete would have the same kinds of feelings I do (probably why I was drawn to Pete, ha), where it's not the words that are important but the experiences. Pete isn't interested in forming a narrative or an explanation. I tried to think of a girl's name but nothing sounded right, and again, that's the kind of external symbol that isn't necessarily too important to Pete. This is also why I stuck with male pronouns as long as I did.

I also tried to show the difference between Myka's dysphoria (when she's swapped with Pete) and Pete's dysphoria (when they're not swapped) -- I don't think Myka is the kind of person who could make it to adulthood without noticing she's trans, because of the way she deals with discomfort. Moreover, if she was trans, her transition would be the complete opposite of Pete's. (Probably why I wasn't drawn to Myka as my trans protagonist.)

I'm not really "current" on the show-- I think I'm somewhere mid season 2 on Netflix-- but I really enjoyed thinking about how these characters would experience things.

If only I could think of a title that wasn't abominable.
oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)
Lately I've been telling a lot of people about my favourite poem. Lucky you, I'm gonna tell you too! My favourite poem is by Williams Carlos Williams:

This Is Just To Say
I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

For me, this is a poem about not having regrets. He says "Forgive me," but he doesn't say "I'm sorry"-- he says, "they were delicious." For me, this poem is about not apologizing when I'm not sorry. It's about being able to acknowledge the collateral damage of my choices without ever forgetting why I made those choices. It's about choosing the things that I actually want, instead of the things that will result in the least resistance from others. So it's a very soothing poem for me; I've had this poem memorized for years, and I like to turn it over in my mind, like a worrystone, reminding myself of its shape.

Regret has played a huge role in my life thus far. I have regretted pretty much every life decision I've ever made, ever. I regret both of my serious girlfriends, each in their own way. I regret coming to Duke. I regret leaving Duke to go on medical leave. I really regret coming back. I have regretted every purchase and every joke I have ever made. I regret 90% of my social interactions-- and I definitely regret every time I've gotten drunk.

I don't always regret these things-- in fact, most of the time, I'm okay with the decisions I make, or at least I'm able to move on. It's just the awful social anxiety that makes me replay everything in my head, late at night when I'm trying to sleep, and everything I do seems so much stupider-- it's only in those moments that I regret. Well, and then in the morning I regret spending so much time focusing on my regrets.

But this is changing. More and more, I'm able to remember why I made the choices I did-- and more importantly, I'm able to remember the positive outcomes of those choices, and not just the negative ones. My regrets are more fleeting and less heartfelt, and they never keep me awake any more.

And, I now have two major life decisions under my belt which I have never regretted, not even for a moment. The first is my decision to write a thesis. For the first time, I allowed myself no excuses. I turned in a project that was the very best I can do. This is honestly pretty scary, because it means that if my advisor says it isn't any good, I can't blame something else-- it'll mean that I'm not very good at what I do. But that would be better than failing because I'd never even tried. Even then, I wouldn't regret.

The second thing I never regret: starting testosterone. It's been a little over five months; people have been commenting that they can see changes-- a little fuzz on my cheeks, a different shape to my face, a deeper voice. I don't see any of it, but I do feel... different. More solid. More okay.

I don't think I could have written my thesis, without testosterone. For one thing, T cured my writer's block! I hadn't even realised how hard writing had gotten until it was suddenly easy again. But more than that, being on hormones, and therefore making progress on the path I want to live-- it allows me to just not think about all my personal shit all the goddamn time, so I can think about Romantic-era novels instead.

I still waffle a little about some parts of transitioning-- I really love the middle name Isaac, for example, because I like the name and I like the homage to Isaac Asimov, but it makes my initials LIE, and LIE is even worse than LEG. But testosterone-- every single day I feel more at home in my body, more content with the direction of my life. I've been having a hard time, lately, explaining How I Know that I'm trans, since I don't fit a "typical" trans narrative, and I didn't Know until pretty recently. But the answer is-- I never regret a single step that I take toward transition. On testosterone, I feel more like myself. And for the first time, I also feel happy about being myself. I can actually imagine a future in which I don't regret anything. It's a remarkable new outlook.

So these days, when people ask me how I'm doing, I say I'm fine, or I even say I'm great-- but inside, I'm always thinking, delicious.
oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)
This is my last semester at Duke, finally. I matriculated in 2007 but then took a year of medical leave, so it feels like I've been here forever. And yet I feel like I've hardly done anything.

I definitely feel like I've been busy my whole time at work, never enough hours in the day to get my work done. I've had a full course load every semester, and I've been working on an honors thesis for nearly a year. I'm a member of a Greek organization; even if I'm not the most active brother in the world, I hold an officer position. And I've been working ten hours a week at my job for two years. But I feel like at Duke, this is just average -- I feel like I should be able to squeeze in at least one more thing on that list.

There are a lot of things that I love to do, that I wish I'd been involved in throughout my Duke career -- I could have continued doing graphic design at the Chronicle, or I could have stopped by my scholarship office twice a week for the visiting lecturers and the brownies, or I could have edited a student publication, or gotten my own writing published, or actually attended more than three total BDU meetings in my life. These are all things that I would have enjoyed, that would have helped make my life more like the kind of life I want to live.

Instead, my biggest extracurricular is "stressing over LGBT issues." Not advocating for LGBT issues, or raising awareness, or anything externally productive -- just the internal emotional stress of navigating the world as both trans and queer.

It's a little like the 'second shift' a lot of women have to cope with -- when they go through their normal workday and come home exhausted, only to have an entire second workload of childcare, housekeeping, cooking, scheduling, etc. dumped on them without pay or acknowledgement. Except, I only wish this stuff happened in a separate shift. Instead, it's happening right at the same time as everything else I'm doing, like when somebody says something in class that totally freaks me out.

Managing my freak-out so as not to disrupt the class is work. I mentioned to a friend today that being LGBT sometimes felt like an extra class I was taking, making every semester an overload without even the advantage of getting an A at the end of the semester, and she asked me what took so much time. My first response was to complain about all the time I spend at the Duke Hospital dealing with my endocrinologist, but this is part of the answer too -- navigating the world while LGBT requires extra emotional work, which has an opportunity cost. Any time I spend dealing with a freak-out is time I can't spend listening to my professor, or taking notes, or thinking about what I want to have for lunch. Either I do those things later, taking time away from sleep and relaxation, or I don't do those things at all.

Similarly, every hour I spend arguing with my parents -- that's an hour that a non-trans alternate universe version of myself was able to spend reading a book for fun. Also: talking to friends about arguing with my parents. Doing research. Crafting extra versions of my resume to give me options in outing myself. Long coming-out conversations. Some mornings, I even resent the time it takes to take my T and bind; all I can think is that the time I spend applying gel and waiting for it to dry every day, is time I could have spent doing anything else.

Now, I have my life running fairly smoothly now. I doubt I've spent more than a few hours total this whole semester dealing with this stuff. But I have surgery in my future, which is time and money a cis guy could spend going on vacations. Not to mention the fact that my entire gap year is 100% happening so I'll have time for that surgery, and otherwise I'd be going to grad school. And the medical leave I took freshman year-- that was crisis of identity that consumed my life for an entire year an a half. A non-LGBT version of myself would have been allowed to go to Oxford that summer.

I don't necessarily regret all of these opportunity costs. I don't think I'd be the person I am if I hadn't had those experiences, especially the year off. I made it to Oxford eventually, and I find time for all of the most important things in my life. But I feel like this kind of emotional work can lead to a more subtle kind of discrimination against LGBT individuals: if we have to spend a lot of time and energy just dealing with the basics, we're at a disadvantage when compared to people who didn't have the same distractions. My resume, quite frankly, doesn't look as good as the resumes of my straight, cis peers.

I still kick ass, so I'm not too worried. But it makes me think about what a better world would really look like, and makes me wish I had time for just one more thing so I could make that world happen.
oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)
So, I accidentally left my binding shirts in Italy. Terrible! I had to bind with Ace bandages for an entire week because FedEx was terrible. (I had work, and was just coming out at work, so tits weren't really an option.)

Anyway, when I ordered replacements, I picked different ones based on the issues I'd had with the first two I bought, and I thought I'd share my input for trans dudes coming after me!

Double Front Compression Suit (Style 997) - one of the two I had originally. Awkward/tiring to put on. Very effective binding. It was really long on me so the bottom tended to roll up. Tight pants would at least keep it from rolling all the way up, but the thick band around my hips would get painful. In looser pants, it would roll up to my natural waist; when this happens I'd double it up (difficult to explain!) for even more compression, but over time it would slip down so I'd have a huge bunch around my natural waist, which was uncomfortable. Possibly people with less exaggerated hourglass figures wouldn't have this problem. Overall, not a binder I felt I could use all day, but good for limited events.

Ultimate Chest Binder Suit (Style 967) - one of the two I had originally. Awkward/tiring to put on. Very effective binding. I particularly liked the way it slimmed my hips - it actually brought me a pant size down, which made it easier to find pants in my size! I also loved the fact that it didn't roll up, even in the built-in shorts felt a little silly. I could just put it on and not think about it. ...Until I had to pee. Since I don't use an STP I had to take off all my clothes to use the bathroom, which is prohibitively awkward in most public bathrooms! I'd often have to leave events early to get back to my own bathroom. So, for a different reason, this is another one that I didn't feel I could use all day.

Tri-Top Chest Binder (Style 983) - new. This is basically how I wore my Double Front Compression suit, except it's actually designed to be this size. It's much easier to put on with less fabric to deal this, and the triple-layer gives really great compression. It's also easier to adjust chest shape. Possibly due to my hourglass figure, the bottom of the shirt does sort of stick out, rather than fitting snugly, which can give a visible line in tighter shirts, but a looser button-down style doesn't seem to show it. When paired with the right shirt, I can wear this all day without needing awkward adjustments.

Power Compression Vest (Style 980) - new. This is SO EASY to put on. It's much lighter compression, but still enough for a low-dysphoria day. It's kind of a perfect 'lazy day' binder - easy to put on, easy to wear all day. It is long but I don't have as much trouble with rolling up, possibly because it's not as tight, possibly because the eyelets give it structure. I don't usually do up the last four or five clasps, which may help as well. The eyelets do kinda-sorta show through thinner shirts, but I can wear it with a wider range of clothes than the tri-top.

All-in-One Body Shirt (Style 994) - new. This feels ridiculous to wear, and it's not super-comfortable because it's much too small around the bum area (I was riiiight on the border for sizes and guessed small when I shouldn't have) but I can tell it's going to be a great all-day binder when I get a new one in the right size. The snaps just do not budge! Which means there's no worry of rolling up, but it's really easy to pee. And it's invisible under everything, unlike the other two new ones.

Overall, I think the all-in-one is going to be my 'staple' binder, the tri-top will be for extra-dysphoric days when I just really want that extra compression, and the vest will be for lazy days (or asthma days).

Yaaaaaaay binding!
oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)
I was eating lunch with a group of friends, most of whom don't know I'm trans. As part of an argument, I mentioned that I don't eat bacon, and M, who isn't in the know, said that it didn't matter because I wasn't a guy. E, who DID know, made a sympathetic little noise and touched my arm. I'm pretty sure M thought it was about the sexism inherent in the idea that a woman's opinion wouldn't count (at least I'm pretty sure that's what he thought, based on his apology) but I know that E really meant to comfort me in the face of having someone assert that I am the wrong sex.

Anyway. I just wanted to remember that, because it was so tiny but it meant so much.
oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)
I got distracted from my goal of blogging because I came out to yet another friend so I directed all my trans-chatter his way for a while.

I'm now out to E., A., Ma., Mi., and C. I think that's all. It felt like a huge number of people before I had to type up their names. Now it feels so small. Especially since all of them are still mostly using my girl-name. Except A.-- all her emails to me start with "Hey dude!" which is unbearably nice. She did it half the time before anyway, it's kind of her thing, but it feels more meaningful now.

I'm a little conflicted about coming out, actually. I just took a nice little 5-day train tour around the U.K. and while I travelled I found myself feeling really frustrated by how people gendered me but not in the way I expected. It wasn't so much that I wanted everyone to read me as male as it was that I wanted to be in control of how they read me. I was frustrated by the fact that I couldn't prevent them from reading me as female.

Part of this I think stems from thinking about my family. I wish I could get read as male by other people without losing my ability to pass as conventionally female at home-- not even particularly butch because they don't approve of that either.

I wish I could move back and forth. Not just so I could move once, from female to male, and then fake it as female at home-- I feel like maybe I would switch often. I can't tell. This is sounding more genderqueer than trans. Should I choose Logan over Lawrence even though Logan is awful with my last name?

Except I don't think I would ever really want my breasts, so I don't know. Sometimes I mind them less but they never stop bothering me deep down.

Who knows! If I don't, probably nobody does! Oh well.

High Table

Jul. 21st, 2010 09:21 pm
oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)
I love dressing up for High Table-- suits! my favourite!-- but I always forget until right when I sit down that binding + fancy dinner = severely underappreciated food. I get full after, like, three bites. Fortunately, I'm getting canny enough to mostly ignore the appetiser and entree so I can eat all of the dessert :)

Also, after being served champagne, white wine, red wine, and coffee... I need to pee. Ordinarily I love my underworks binding-shirt-attached-to-shorts thing, because it never rolls up and it helps my luscious hips fit into 36-waist pants (often the largest waist carried in stores!) but it is the worst possible thing to be wearing when seized with the sudden urge to pee. Especially when you're also in a suit. It takes too long to get out of everything! I wish I could pee standing up (it has one of those still-vaguely-hilarious penis-flaps); it feels ridiculous to have to get totally naked just to take a piss.

Also also, I can already tell that this is going to turn into a constant stream of I'M TRANS DID YOU KNOW I'M TRANS I USED TO ACT LIKE A GIRL BUT I'M ACTUALLY A BOY I'M TRANS. Which I think is standard post-coming-out procedure, honestly. I was definitely the exact same self-absorbed asshole when I first realised I was interested in women-- it felt like my entire world had shifted and everything suddenly made sense. It was such a huge epiphany it blocked out other thoughts. (And I've definitely watched more than one person do the same thing, and smiled and nodded the whole way through it.)

So, please just smile and nod, My Nonexistent Audience; it's going to take me a while to work through everything. But I'm excited.
oulfis: A teacup next to a plate of scones with clotted cream and preserves. (Default)
So! I've been having the urge to blog, which I haven't felt since, like, 2008. Trouble is, in 2008, I definitely blogged about being a girl, and gave that blog link to tons of people who would probably notice if it started updating. Like my mom. However, I am not a girl! I am a dude! (At least, that is the current hypothesis; I'm testing it by increasing my butchness over time to see how butch I have to get before I feel comfortable in my body. But my prediction is 'oops, I was a dude all along'.)

SO. Now I have this. Please call me Lawrence! Or maybe Logan-- I haven't decided.

Off to get my photo taken... in a SUIT!

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