She was there. 

“It’s a phase”, “Think of your family”, “are you sure this is right”?   Questions ever reoccurring on a soundtrack set on repeat for everyone to hear.  The sounds of family trying to come to grips with a new reality that has been laid before them.  The thought that one day someone woke up and thought “Gee, this sounds like fun”.  There is a lot more to it and to best describe it I will use a 2 sided role of the mind.  The struggle in ones own head, well my own head at least.  

In elementary school we start our socialization.   The entire purpose in truth is to educate, but there is an underlying education of who we are to be.   “Be a man” or “Act like a lady” become staples of daily life as if being a Tom boy or feminine guy is not an option.  Buck the trends and you get your labels…. the Tom boys are “butch” or “jocks” while the boys are deamed “sissy” and “gay”.   A pre conceived ideal of the perfection we are chosen to be.   There is something more though… something deeper.  We don’t all deal with it but for the ones that do it becomes a fear that will haunt and tournent for the next 5 to 50 years.  For me this torment became years of viewing life through borrowed eyes.  

She was there in elementary school when  we learned that it’s not ok to be different.   We were born a certain way and it’s not ok to go against that.   We were separated into genders and I was told this is where I stand.   It doesn’t feel right but how could they be wrong.  I was different yet who would have believed me?   They could never understand could they?

She was there playing football.  The fact that she had to stay hidden drove me to be more then I was.   I had anger, hatred, and no sense of self.  The days of band I wasn’t one of the girls nor was I one of the guys.  I remember staying back and not dancing.  Wanting nothing more then to wear the dresses they dreaded to wear.  I remember being jelous of the girls in school with their Mary Janes, cute outfits and freedoms.    No one saw it… or saw her…  what else was I to do but hide. 

Graduation day.   The boys wore red and the girls wore white cloaks and hats.  It was only a color and they were identical in every other way yet here we were.  She was weeping as I doned the red veil that I was told to wear over my dress shirt, tie and dress shoes.   I longed for the ability to wear a dress and heels.  I longed to look how I felt.  I continued to hide… maybe I just needed to grow up an “be a man” like they taught us all those years ago. 

She was there when it came to the time of marriage.   Truthfully one of the most amazing, prolific, and happiest days in my life.   You would never this know by the pictures though as  I looked miserable or distant depending on the image.  That hidden girl was crying.  She wanted to wear a dress and she wanted to look even half as beautiful as the one she was marrying.   Strange to think back now and think about the fact that Cindy had no interest in wearing a dress and heels and that’s all I wanted.   

She was there when I thought having kids would make me a man.  To be daddy, father, parent.  To become half the man my father was.  This surely had to stop that feeling deep within.  My kids can never know what I’ve been through.   Has every boy gone through this?  Is this what the coming of age really is?  

She was there in 2010.   She sat quiet as I wanted to end this life.   She watched as I trembled.  As I tried.  As I failed.    I couldn’t believe after all those attempts that that I was still here… and so was she.  It was her turn, her time.   I needed to stop pretending that this was some split or disconnect and finally admit that she… was the real me.  This brought me to many feelings of failure as I realized that 29 years of my life had been an act.   I was playing a part to fit into the play of life.   

It’s been almost 7 years since that day.  7 years I’ve lived on time I tried to give away.   Depression, fear, angst all played a part in the reality that was him.  Now…
She is there for every play her kids are in, she never misses a game or horse event, she never hides in the shadows.   Social anxiety that goes down every week and the ability to press on when all seems like to much.  She is there for her friends, family, and holiday.  Every kiss, trip, hug, and drive has more meaning.    All this has relevance now when before it felt fake and manufactured.    We always fear tomorrow when it’s the same old thing and I enjoy the fact that I now embrace tomorrow.   It has a meaning and purpose.  She was there when he wasn’t.  

She will not be silenced anymore.   
 

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All is fair in horses and bunnies. 

Camping, animals, and the pride of showing ones skills with them, along with the stressful realization that kids are a joy even when they are crazy.  Moving from that 2100 sq ft home into a 26′ travel trailer for a week tends to up the stress levels to epic proportions all in the hopes that tomorrow brings the next blue ribbon.  Awards to show success in the great big world of show and sporting animals.  

Like life, we strive for the win.  That big blue ribbon to prove our abilities.  From the starting line through the twist and turns of the polls and barrels, we weave our way through life trying to find the finish line learning love and compassion along the way.   No one ever knew how much a horse would actually mean to them.   

Then there are the bunnies, soft and fuzzy with nothing but love and cuddles… Along with a few scratches.   We learn to love and bond with those fuzzy little things.   Thousands of kids and adults parading past trying to get a glimpse of the inevitable beauty. 

Beauty that we all find in different facets of our lives.  From appreciating the camping here or the friendships made with other parents.  Late night cookouts and bonfire fun lead us into something more than friendship and into a family.   I’ve grown close to the parents and their kids all while watching them grow.  The 4-H maybe low priority to some, but if you see the amazing people produced from it, you will see why it is so much more than just an animal or just a show.  

As we come to the inevitable close of the 2016 fair week and I can look forward to sleeping in my own home and bed I will look back at this week.   Watching the kids open for an amazing group called the Steel Town Gunslingers (and being ask to do it again).  The days of having 6-7 kids camping in one trailer.  The kids making new friends.  The times shared and planning for the next show and the next year.  

Sure, some days we will fall off, sometimes we are just short of that ribbon yet we carry on into the next compition learning from our mistakes and taking note of what to fix.   Never giving up on the final goals.   

Seems a lot like life in that grand scheme.  Sometimes we hit the blue ribbon and sometimes the red second.   Other times you walk away with the learning experiences that came with it.   So as we wind down and the girls are celebrating and partying at the 4-H dance I can sit here and reflect on what I learned…

It’s not about that final goal or how the end comes.  It’s not about ribbons or glory.  It’s not about watching life pass by or defining who you are.   Life is about living, memories, and the people who make it worth while.   Kids riding rides and families coming together.  Life isn’t about being transgender or being the best at something.   It’s all about living.   

Dream as if you’ll live forever.  Live like you’ll die tomorrow. ~ James Dean

Identity and why it matters.  

Behold… The age of the Internet, social media and all the wonderful comments that come with it.  Everyday I’m bombarded by digital spitballs of wonderful “opinions” in the comments sections from articles all the way down to pages that you would think are friendly.   From the memes to condescending judgements about my living situation (or others like me).   Then some pastors with their recent ploy to call on men to prove their faith by shooting transgender women in the bathroom.   With all the hoopla… I figured I would touch on something that has become some sort of smart ass rebuttal to people like me.  

To identify:
Full Definition of identity

plural identities

1

a : sameness of essential or generic character in different instances

b : sameness in all that constitutes the objective reality of a thing : oneness

2

a : the distinguishing character or personality of an individual : individuality

b : the relation established by psychological identification

3

: the condition of being the same with something described or asserted <establish the identity of stolen goods>

4

: an equation that is satisfied for all values of the symbols
(Pulled from Merriam Webster)
So when a transgender person identifies as a female, they are doing it to the letter of the definition.  More over the idea that when someone is identified as transgender it isn’t a decision made day by day.   It is something that has taken years to process, handle, and deal with.  It comes with many bouts of self doubt, self evaluation, and self shameing.  We totally destroy ourselves and pull through depression, loss, and suicidal thoughts.  We have to weigh the though of losing everyone and everything we have ever had and have just to be free of ourselves.  

Yes, I identify as a transgender woman but I also identify as so much more:

Penguins fan 

Gun collector

Compassionate friend

Loving friend 

Automobile enthusiast

Home improvement gal

Lowes employee 

Activist

Writer

Student 

Parent

Wife

Photographer

And so much more.  

So yes, our identity is who we are as a person.   It’s not some made up falacy we pull out of our rears one day.  It doesn’t change for access to a restroom every so often.    It’s has come with sacrifice, tears, and pain.   We have done our time in our prisons and others have paid the ultimate price to just be free.   We have shown our true identity to the world not for them, but for ourselves and if you think it’s a choice… Maybe you need to research what it takes to transition.   Look up and see not only the struggles, but look at hose before and after pictures and see the happiness in someone’s eyes when they are finally free. B

So the next time you see someone say “I identify as a millionaire, should the bank give me the money?” Remember that transgender people have put everything on the line.  We have struggled, funded, and lived lives of hell to be free. If you want to identify as a millionaire… Put in the work, time and commitment.  Place yourself into the struggle to make it happen.  It’s a choice for you to do such.  A choice to better your life, sadly, our choice is life or death. 

Not all of us are here to comfort, educate, and answer every question.   Some of us are there to help.   Just remember as you’re learning and questioning.  Remember that if you wouldn’t ask your friend the same question… It’s not a good question.    For example, I don’t go to work and ask one of the girls there what’s in their pants…   Not my business.  So don’t think it’s ok to ask a transgender person the same question.  It’s just none of your business.