I am still here, somewhere

It has been a while since I have been able to sit down and write. Its’ not for lack of desire, and on occasion, lack of trying. Life has become too full for me, and the space that I have outside of my day job has become full of emotional TLC and basic responsibilities. I can manage to take out the trash, walk the dogs, and finish laundry but the remaining time of the day I just feel like I can’t do anything. Or, maybe I can go to the store to pick up a few items. Forget about actually grocery shopping- I don’t have the energy nor the foresight to plan and I definitely don’t have the energy to carry groceries to my fourth-floor apartment. Plus, the burden of unbagging and putting away the groceries is the icing on top of the cake that I can’t bear to even think about because it is just too much.

Needless to say, writing has not happened. And even as I find myself writing this now, lurking in the back of my mind are all of the thoughts telling me that this post probably won’t even get finished. But still, I persist.

I am finding myself at a… well shit, not even at a cross roads because a cross roads implies that there are clear paths to go down. I’m just at a wall. The wall can be a lot of things (time, work, general adulting, emotions, relationships) but it boils down to not being able to do the things that are fulfilling and the impact that it has on the world around me. Work is probably my biggest issue as it affects not just what happens in my work day but also my responsibilities, time, and relationships. I am not sure what to do.

Perhaps I need to take a leap of faith- though it is hard to leap when I am staring down, or rather up, against the tallest wall I have ever seen. So instead of a leap, I need to climb. I can pick out a hand hold there that I can grab onto and a place for my foot to go over there but I cannot climb this wall without a rope, harness, and safety net. Can I be taking a leap of faith if I try to climb this wall and fall to my death? Probably not. And I am definitely being dramatic about the dying part… or am I? I mean… literal death may not befall me, but what do I have in my life that is growing, even slowly despite the inhospitable environment, that could suddenly see a sharp decline in health once I start this climb? My relationship? My financial stability? Any feeling of security for the future? I can guarantee every plant in my apartment will likely perish, but that’s because I have not been able to keep a plant alive. Ever.

So I can climb. No rope or harness, just me. Its terrifying.  The other option is to stay here, in front of this damn wall and continue to have it loom over me, representing everything that I am not doing but could be. Neither option is easy or comfortable. Sitting in front of the wall is at least more familiar than climb up it would be. But… how many great people did great things staring up from the bottom of a mountain?

Suffocating Femininity

My femininity is suffocating sometimes. I don’t really know how to be less femme or more androgynous. It isn’t something that happens naturally for me, which makes me wonder if I am trying to force myself into this nonbinary, androgynous shaped hole were I don’t fit.

I hate that being androgynous means having short hair. Looking though tags on instagram I was only able to find a very small handful of people who identified as androgynous who also had long hair.  My long hair, I often feel, holds me back from looking or feeling less femme. I am not ready to part with my hair- I love it. So how do I find my own androgynous?

Honestly, I’m probably just a wierdo when it comes down to the bottom line. I would love to wear cute pants with cuffed ankles, suspenders, and a cute t with a snap back. Androgynous goals. But I hate wearing pants; I prefer shorts always. When I do wear pant I typically like them super skinny- no way to roll the ends. I can rock a t when the weather is cool but come summer I feel most comfortable in tanks. Most tanks from the guys section are too long to tuck in and I prefer to wear my pants slightly lower than my waist- or wear high waisted pants. Suspenders become weird here. I have a small collection of snapbacks but I hate compromising a good hair day under a hat so I have to perfectly time hat wearing with hair washing. Can you see how the look falls apart?

And yet- I crave the look. It’s the balance of masculinity that still lets me look femme. It is the indicator that I am queer, even if I just come off as a lesbian. It is a way to dress that holds significantly less rules about how my body should look in the clothes. It is a freedom that can allow my body to just be instead of having to hide.

I cant ever see myself not dressing in a way that is typically more femme- but I am hopeful that I can find myself in clothing more often than I do now. Social media makes me long for what I don’t have, but it can also be a way for me to identify clothes I like that are less femme than what I would usually find. By seeing on others, I can have a better idea of what to look for when I am shopping. I can find my balance between femme and androgynous, one piece of clothing at a time.

So This is Parenting

I want to start out by saying I don’t actually know if I am a parent. I didn’t birth any children or raise them from infancy. I don’t have the daily responsibility of shuttling kids from school to soccer practice to the choir concert. I haven’t ever had a teenager slam the door in my face- though I have had one hang up on me. So am I even a parent?

My girlfriend has three kids. From the start, I have been pretty involved with her family. The kids have liked me since the day I met them and we have had many family outings and vacations spent together. I think the kids look at me as a parent figure- though I can’t ever feel too sure of that. I don’t want to inject myself into a role that other people don’t feel comfortable with me being, so I am constantly navigating the questions of who am I and how do I fit in these relationships and in this family.

I don’t know when a significant other becomes a step parent, officially. I am involved but always from a distance. The kids live in a different state so I can’t go to every orchestra concert and be there to help with homework the way their mom does. I don’t ever have to be the one who stops kids from bickering or who has to diffuse an angry child. I never have to tell anyone I need space to calm down or worry that a kid will be banging on my door when I am trying to take a few minutes to myself.

I talk to the kids’ mom regularly and I often know more about what happening with them before my girlfriend does. I have sat in on IEP meetings and helped with homework. I provide input on consequences and help guide big decisions. As far as my girlfriend and her co parent are concerned, I’m a parent, 100%. If that is true, why don’t I feel like I am? And am I a fraud for calling myself one or referring to her kids as my/our kids?

I can count the ways in which I do parent like things. I can also count the times when I sit back and let their “real” parents deal with whatever issue arises. I don’t know that I will ever feel like a parent from such a far distance. I am honestly not sure I want to. Parenting is a lot of work and it is terrifying. I have the luxury of being in a bubble where parenting cant impact my daily life. Does that make me a bad parent, enjoying the fact that I don’t have to parent every day? Does that negate any parent I may have in me already?

If I am not a parent, then I don’t know who I am in these kids’ lives. If I am actually a parent, holy shit.

Transtrender?

I can’t tell you the number of times I question if I am really trans or nonbinary. There is a constant struggle with validating my identity that swirls around within my brain. I fear that I am not really trans but just a wayward cis. How do I confirm that I really am trans?

My girlfriend made a comment that I don’t know what I want to do with my body. It wasn’t an invalidating statement, but it makes me question my transness because what trans person can’t make a decision about their transition? I can’t even commit to a legal name change let alone medical procedures.

I feel a lot of fluidity- so I think what may be perceived as not knowing what I want is a manifestation of the fluidity that I experience. I have always switched between names- sometimes inside i resonate with one more so than the others, and then it changes. So how do I make legal and permanent changes when I don’t land in the same spot every time I jump?

The world isn’t designed for fluidity. Look at people who identify as bisexual- we constantly want to pigeonhole them and their sexuality based on who they are dating at the time. There is a constant air of indecision around bisexual people that doesn’t actually exist. Being more fluid than one or the other isn’t easily understood and it isn’t super mainstream when it comes to dating, gender, or identity.

Perhaps I am indecisive. Perhaps I am fluid. I don’t know how to tell the difference between the two, honestly. It is hard giving myself space to just exist in this middle place between knowing and not knowing. I don’t think it changes much because I know my pronouns are they/them, I know I don’t like to be called a lady- those things won’t change. It’s just about finding certainty within myself, for myself; Im just not there yet.

Bodily Autonomy

In special education we work off of a principle called Least Restrictive Environment where we look at what type of environment a student with a disability is best served in. There is a continuum of options starting with keeping them in their regular classes and extending all the way to attending a special school. In a perfect world, we want all students spending as much time in their regular classroom as possible. Any time we remove a student from their regular class, we consider it to be moving them to a more restrictive environment, even if it is just for 30 minutes.

Here is the catch: not all students can function in a regular class, and by putting them there, we are limiting their ability to learn and make progress. So for a student who needs a much higher level of academic or behavioral support, an environment on the continuum that we consider to be more restrictive is actually their least restrictive environment. Though we want all students to be in regular education classes, that isn’t what is actually best for all students, and forcing that principle on everyone does some students more harm than good.

A similar, yet differently applied principle exists in the medical field: do no harm. In this, the least invasive protocol is followed to bring maximum benefit. Only after less invasive or protocols are found to be ineffective do medical practitioners allow for more intense options to occur. It is a pretty solid premise-but I have to wonder this: how do we assess harm, and does harm look the same for all?

I had a phone consult with a physician this week about my request for a hysterectomy. Part of our conversation included them saying that the practice of do no harm means we should be trying other alternatives before moving to surgery, and that because this person assumed it has been a while since I had tried other medicinal solutions, there was still more work to do before I could have a surgery, especially since my complaints of bleeding and PMS could be eliminated by medication. This sounds totally reasonable, however I am not someone who takes medications unless absolutely necessary, and as someone who is in good health, that is rare. Im sort of a hippie- I love essential oils and natural remedies. I am more than open to trying anything that isn’t chemical or pharmaceutical  based. I have tried multiple things to manage my menstrual symptoms, and even though I am in a pretty good place with what I am doing now, I still get a period. I don’t want a period, period. I don’t feel like my body should be bleeding every month- and the clear solution, to me, is to remove the parts of my body that allow it to bleed.

Given my lifestyle choices, it is significantly less invasive for me to have a surgery and deal with a year figuring out how my body reacts without a uterus than to take medication regularly for the next 20-30 years until I hit menopause, in which I will have to take a sleuth of other medications to manage that. The thought of taking medication daily, weekly, monthly, and putting chemicals into my body without a clear idea of how they will react in my body (I have some idea because I’ve been on birth control before; it wasn’t fun) sounds FUCKING MISERABLE. And yet, that is the only solution being offered to me. It is a one size fits all prescriptive plan to health care and I’m not okay with that. Medication is not my least restrictive form of health care.

At what point do I get to say I am done experimenting with drugs and exercise my bodily autonomy to make health care choices that I want?! In the health care system, bodily autonomy only extends as far as other people deem to be acceptable and permissive. In a lot of ways it is a good system, but IT DOESN’T WORK FOR ME. My students and their families get to have discussion with a team of providers both inside and outside of school who work with them to decide where the student is best serviced and what least restrictive looks like. We look at data and other factors to determine best course of action for out students. All I get out here in the real world is some doctor, ONE doctor, who gets to make decisions based on a pattern of practice within a one size fits all model.

Its hard being a transgender or nonbinary person having to navigate a world that wasn’t made to accommodate us. It is hard having opinions and desires that go against the grain of what is considered normal or reasonable. The more I seek medical treatment, the more I feel like what I want is wrong or that I am wrong for wanting it. I am not uneducated, I am not naive; I am me, and I have a much deeper understanding of what I want and need than anyone else ever could.

Part of me wants to throw a big fuck you to the medical community, and to the people who I have in my life who don’t seek to understand or accept why I want to make the changes to my body that I am seeking. I am not sure how far anger will get me, especially if it is turned in a direction that pushes people away instead of pushing me forward in proactive action. I am not sure what my next move is, but I know I am much too fired up to be able to make decisions not based on feelings. I am tired of jumping through Kaiser’s hoops for nothing but frustration. I am tired of not being heard or understood. I am tired of being judged. I am tired.

I am tired.

Not A Girl

Remember that one time I wrote about how I wasn’t a girl… here’s the shirt (And the original blog post )!

Though it looked like a more masculine cut it fit more like a feminine cut. I’m a small in men’s and a medium in women’s (because The extra room in the shirt makes me feel more comfortable vs something that’s so form fitted). I’d recommend going a size up if you’re in between like me.

Here’s where I got it.

It’s crazy because as much as I love the statement this shirt makes, I’m absolutely terrified to wear it in public for fear of any negative attention it’ll bring me. This is just another example of how I continually keep myself in the closet and hide behind my femme cispassing appearance.

One day I’ll have the guts to be more public and open about who I am and who I am not.