Reclaiming my Body

“How am I reclaiming my body?” I am asked by my friend, Haley for a challenge she started. This challenge is the whole reason you are even reading this right now. I ponder the question. A few answers pop up, then push them away thinking they are too personal, so I say I will go to back to thinking about it later. I mindlessly watch Tv, zone out, but the tantalizing question keeps whispering in my ear and finally an hour later I finally confront it.

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Just now- posting that first picture of my mostly naked body…I could stop typing right now is reclaiming my body because I feel like I am going to throw up and my body is hurdling through space and my head is spinning. Am I going to post this? My grotesque body for the world to see? We will see if this post ends up on the internet. But I digress and push all feeling of utter detestation, distaste and revulsion for my body and I’ll post what I originally wrote:

I reclaim my body everyday that I no longer cut it’s beautiful, unique shade of carmel- honey-brown-sugar and in return, the counter on my phone applauds me by tallying another day clean. I reclaim my body with every morsel of food I eat to nourish my body. Is it fun to have to force yourself to eat sometimes? Or realize it’s 10pm and you’ve gotten though another day without food and find satisfaction in that, but also sadness because it’s not fair to yourself? Absolfuckinglutly not. With every sip of water I drink my body silently thanks me. Every cigarette I don’t smoke anymore and pollute my lungs with is a victory after 7 years of wasted money, stinking clothes and rotting breath. I reclaim my body when I remind myself that it is mine and nobody else’s and that *I* am in control from here on out. It’s revolutionary when I have the small “it wasn’t your fault” moments and feel that I no longer have to feel like a victim- they are few and far between but those are moments to be cherished. I reclaim my body when I see myself as more than my physical body and include my beautiful, brilliant, creative, afflicted mind as part as my whole self. I am not the sum of my physical parts.

Even in the moments when I all I can see are is damaged parts; the fat, hideousness, disgust, shame, laziness, loneliness, mental illness and sickness that swallow me whole, I try to salvage the idea that I am not a failure. I am intelligent, well spoken, educated and have an alacrity and appetite to learn more and more about the topics that interest me. I always say, (especially when it comes to dating) “I would rather be respected for my mind than my body.” Body shapes and sizes are ephemeral, intelligence is forever.

I reclaimed my body and soul when I declared my trans identity and express that in a plethora of ways because of the fluidity of my gender expression is infitie. On August 8, 2016 I surgically reclaimed my physical body.

I reclaim my body when I write because all the neurons and synapses in my brain are firing at once. When words surge at the speed of light out of my fingertips and onto a page and simultaneously thoughts erupt out of my brain like lava exploding out of a volcano–I must find a way to express myself because spoken words won’t suffice. My body is reclaimed when I speak about my mental illness because I can use my brain, (a seemingly endless mocking dichotomy of strength and weakness) as a beacon of hope for others because I am articulate, open and honest. I can show my scars, tell my stories, share the trauma and what lead me to who I am today. I use my lips that I once hated because people, men, used to make sexual comments about them to share my message of hope.

I am reclaiming my body when I go to therapy 2 times a week to work on the skewed and sometimes illogical beliefs I hold about myself and my body. I am challenged by a brilliant therapist to really look at myself and thoughts and notions about myself and the world and question if what I am thinking or feeling is coming from an emotional place or a place of logic.

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I am in a perpetual state of evolution.

#ReclaimingMyBody

Gender is a performance, and I have taken the stage.

April 11,2017 3:24pm

I transcend gender. My gender is too complicated to fit into a box- the binary is just too small for me. I am finding that I go beyond what it means to be male or female, I am neither and I am both all at the same time. I can’t remember the last time I was this confused, yet liberated. Probably since the first time I came out as transgender, when I idneitifed as ftm— female to male. When I first stared questioning my gender, I quietly identified as genderfluid. I thought that since I still liked wearing makeup that must mean I was still “partly” a girl. I am learning now, after being out as genderfluid for 2 months now, that just because I like wearing makeup still is not what in essence makes me “feel” like a girl still.It’s more how I think, act and feel that makes me still identify partly as female. Men can wear makeup and dresses too. I am who I am and I feel comfortable wearing different clothes based on how I feel any given day or situation. I am finding that if I am going out to a party, I like to get dressed up, put on a cute dress and do my makeup, where as sometimes during the day, that seems far from my mind and does not sound appealing to me at all.

I think the clear indicator to me that my gender is fluid is that I can feel male or female given different circumstances. Sometimes when I am with all females I feel like one of the girls again, I feel a sense of kin ship and understanding that I don’t get when I am surrounded by cis men. I always felt like an outsider among my cis male classmates and peers. Something about me didn’t quite click and I always felt like an outsider. I thought I was too feminine and came off flamboyant and “gay” to people if I was compared to cis men. I am now realizing, maybe I’m not flamboyant at all, because I think that is a very gendered term for a male that is flashy and exuberant, but maybe I am just me. Maybe I am just a loud, glitzy, extra person regardless of my gender identity du jour. I think I need to stop putting myself into catergories and say that my gender is what it is in the moment! Maybe I don’t have a “resting” gender identity and I don’t normally sit on the male or female side of things and it literally is different all the time. Does transmasucline even fit me anyone? This can be confusing and exhausting when it comes to picking out what to wear for the day, but over all I feel more free than I have in awhile.

There is a different sense of relief with my second coming out. When I first came out as ftm I felt like I wan’t lying to myself anymore and I was able to just be me. I didn’t have the gender expectations to be dainty and pretty anymore, now I could be rugged, rough and tough (and anyone that knows me, knows that is a far cry from who I am). Now that I am fully living as me, in all my various identities I feel that no part of me is hiding any longer. For the past 2 years that I have been out, I stifled the feminine parts of me, saying to myself that was wrong, and I was “too gay.” But now I see the fact that I enjoy wearing makeup and dresses is just as another facet of my gender expression and who Rilen is as a human being. I am no longer pushing any part of me away in order to conform to societies expectations of what it is to be a male OR a female. I am swimming around, wading in the water, getting wet and having fun. Gender is a performance, and I have taken the stage. It’s all a big lie in my book, and now that I am unthethered to what the world expects of me, I am living my best life, and damn it feels good!

A Life Lead in Confusion

Tuesday February 7,2017 10:35pm

My life is lead in confusion. I am confused about my gender, my trauma history, why I drink, why I cut, why I am so mentally ill, why I have no friends, why I feel empty. I am surrounded by endless thoughts of what, why, how come? I wish I had answers to all the questions my mind asks of me, instead I walk around in a haze, stumbling around trying to find the door that holds my secrets and unsolved truths.

I want to be understood, I want to be loved, I want to once again, feel whole. I want to have people in my immediate surroundings who I can spend time with instead of seeing blurred faces through a computer screen. I long for someone to touch, to hold and be held by. I want to sit in my sweatpants and watch sappy romantic comedies with a friend while shoving our faces with popcorn. I want to feel so fulfilled and purposeful in life that I am bursting with life, unable to hold in my joy that I could get up and break into song at any moment. I want to greet my days with purpose instead of shades of grey that paint my days. It’s only been 2 months since I’ve been out of school and I feel disheartened. I wonder, will I ever make it as an actor or will this be my life forever? Living off my dad and lying around, like an amorphous blob in my bed.

When will I look in the mirror and be happy and not see double chins and fat hips? When will my legs gain their strength and tone again? Do I want to continue hrt and become looking more and more male, or do I want to slow down and stay how I am, in the middle? I don’t fit with others and I don’t fit with myself ,there is turmoil and unrest deeply settled in my soul. My withering soul that longs to spark back to life. To feel free, love, understood, apart of SOMETHING. So much, if not all of my life I have been alone and felt disconnected, I now wonder if this because of my disorder, or is that just me? Forced to walk beside my own shadow? I don’t have the answer to all of these pitiful questions and it plagues me. I want clarity, I want to take of my splattered glasses that are covered with fog and dirt and see clearly. To feel complete and needed. I make youtube videos to help others and help myself, but I wonder, who is really helping me? I have a mental health team that encourages me and understands, supports, empthathizes and sympathizes with me, but am I really interconnected with anyone? Or am I just a flag flapping alone in a field?

I don’t know what I want most in my life, if its to feel included and understood? Or to just feel whole and content within myself? I don’t have any answers at this point. I am lost.

10:46

I don’t fit in a box, I’m not a fucking pizza!

January 24,2017 9:11pm

It’s been 2 years since I came out as trans. 565 days on testosterone. The oily liquid that I pump into my thigh via a long needle once every Thursday has changed my features, lowered my voice, made me hairy, horny and happy. It’s funny that as of yesterday, the actual anniversary I seem to have come full circle to where I am in discovering my gender identity.

When I first came out this time 2 years ago I was a lost 24 year girl, who was awakened to the reality that I was trans. I lived my life happily as female, enjoying makeup, looking pretty, getting ready and dressing up. Sure, my idea of dressing up was an adidas track jacket and spandex skirt paired with adidas sambas or converse, but I still liked it to a degree. When I first came out, I knew I was trans but not in what sense, I didn’t know if I was gender fluid or ftm ( female to male.) It took 7 months of intensive therapy to uncover that I no longer connected with my birth name, my female pronouns didn’t suit me, and over a year to realize I didn’t want boobs anymore. I thought in the beginning that I was gender fluid, meaning some days I felt feminine and some other days I felt masculine. But the overall feeling of my identity was mostly male. As time has gone on I have begun to occasionally, and now seriously, question if the label of FTM that I adapted fits me anymore.

When I first started this blog my first entires were about how I hated my name and how I wasn’t sure who I was. Now that I am on testosterone  for a year and 6 months and had surgery I have a clear sense of who I am, but that doesn’t mean that some days haven’t been hazy. The haze seems to have settled back in the forefront of my vision. I now wonder if I am truly just gender fluid and mainly on the trasmasculine spectrum. The problem is I still like feel feminine and “like a girl” sometimes. In the middle of my gender journey ( which is ongoing) I felt eventually identified as  100% male but the problem then, and the problem now still is I am not seen as who I am. I am misgenreded every day, never being seen by the public as the man that I have so identified myself to be. See, even when I type that “the man” doesn’t feel quite right.

I know I am not a girl, that ship has sailed. Somedays I love my masculine face and the clothes I wear, I feel confident and at home. But other days, I love wearing leggings and a comfy sweatshirt and a snapback. I like the way my eyes look when I wear black eyeliner, something I have only done maybe 5 times in the past 2 years. I miss wearing makeup, a lot. I miss wearing foundation and blush and eyeshadow. I was good at makeup and it was fun to paint my face and give off different vibes based on how I felt that day.

I think what I need to figure out is how far I am willing to go to express myself through my gender presentation and expression. I have a nose ring, both ears pierced, a high voice and freshly dyed pink hair. I always wanted to have pink streaks in my hair. From the time I was in a 6th grade art class I said “ I’m going to move to New York and be an actress and have pink streaks in my hair!” I’ve experimented with red and blue streaks, but I’ve never dyed my whole head. But last night at 1:30am I decided after a week or so of debating, to just do it. So I went out in the rain, took the train and bought a pink splat hair color kit. Now that I got my hair cut in addition to my hair being pink and my bangs blue, I resemble an egg, because I am basically bald, with magenta hair. I was always afraid to dye my whole head a certain color because I didn’t want to look like a freak. And since coming out as trans I didn’t want to dye my hair or do streaks because I didn’t want to be perceived as “gay.” Apparently, I have no fucks to give because my hair basically glows in the dark.

2 years later and I am circling around creating myself and becoming who I want to be again. Do I want to say I solely identify as male? Or do I want to allow myself to be and say I am gender fluid and express my feminine and male sides when they come out without judgment on either end? I guess the good thing that plays in my favor is this: I am still perceived as female by the public that does not know me. So  say, I wanted to wear a full face of makeup I would just be perceived as a very androgynous alt girl. The people who know and love me might be confused AF as to what’s going on. I don’t want people thinking I “changed my mind and am going back.” I still identify as male but I think it’s time to move forward and embrace my femininity and stop trying to fight it. Dying my hair pink I think is a good step on my journey to becoming me. I hope that someday I will have the confidence to wear makeup and a dress again. I don’t want society to tell me who I have to be. I don’t like that because I said I identified as male, there was another set of rules I had to embrace and now the things I did before are now off limits. Thats not fair, I don’t fit in a box, I’m not a fucking pizza! I’m a person, who has multiples facets to them. If it weren’t for society telling everyone who they can and need to be I wouldn’t even be writing this because I would wear my dresses and eyeliner and nobody would care.

So I guess, what I am realizing is, while I look and sound the way I do, it’s time to experiment. I will face more ridicule if I have a beard and am wearing a dress and lipstick. Better have fun now before the time comes that I will be tied down to one gender. When it comes to that point, having a beard and low voice, I will have a clearer picture of who I am. I want to be seen as male, I want my voice to drop, I want to be called he and him, because thats how I identify. But whether or not that paints the whole picture of me…? I’m thinking not so much anymore. I’m too creative and messy to be just one gender, so I will just continue doing me and being me and see where it takes me. I am sick of feeling like I have to fit what it means to be the perfect man, I just want to be MY version of what a man is, and if that means matte lipstick and pink hair, then so be it!

How Tumblr helped me discover my gender and sexual identity AKA, Tumblr made me GAY!

Thursday March 26,2015/Monday March 30


Without Tumblr I don’t think I would be as gay and I mean that in a good way. Actually, I mean that in a GREAT way!

After all, what could be more liberating than being your true self?

Without Tumblr and the freedom to express myself freely on the internet, I don’t know that I would have an outlet to express myself in the way I want. I solidified my transgender identity on Tumblr and I continue to explore my gender identity. In addition to that, I can freely express my sexuality and I am proud of my sexuality- cuz I can face it now, I AM GAY AS HELL! (How I fooled myself or thought otherwise is beyond me!)

The clearest example of me being okay with being gay is the rainbow bracelet I have on my wrist with the words pride on it- a year ago there is no way in hell I would have had the balls to wear this!

I can honestly say that in the past 3 months Tumblr has helped me immensely in terms of exploring my gender identity and where I fall on the transgender spectrum.

You are probably sitting there thinking, what the hell is this person talking about? How can some dumb-ass website where people share pictures of cats and Taylor Swift change someones life in a profound way, let alone allow them express and explore their sexuality AND decide they are TRANS??  Well, the simple and perhaps obvious answer is because of the anonymity! Tumblr has given me ( and millions of other people around the world) the courage to post whatever I like. I have 430 followers on Tumblr and not a single soul on that site do I actually know in real life! Which is funny, because in some aspects, I am more honest and myself on Tumblr than I am in real life- which is the whole point of this entry! I refuse to share my username with people in my life life ( not that anyone has asked anyway) because it is my sacred space despite being available to the masses and the fact that I gain new followers on a daily basis!

I have to give some serious credit to Swedish sex-pot model, Erika Linder. If it were not for her, I

A)I would not be where I am in terms of my understanding of my gender identity,thus I would B) not even be writing this article in the first place!

Erika is an androgynous model, meaning she has the unique gift of being able to fluidly transition from male to female while she models. So sometimes she is hired as a male model (which is when she is THE SEXIEST PERSON IN THE ENTIRE FUCKING WORLD!!!) and she is also hired as a female model. Because of her beauty and androgyny, little ole me was sitting around a couple of months ago envious of this beautiful creature I peered at though my computer screen. How could someone so beautiful be neither male or female but be the perfect mix of both?

My whole life I never felt like I fit into the box that society says a woman is supposed to fit in. I have always wondered and yearned to know what it would be like to feel comfortable dressing and looking the way a piece of me has ways felt inside, which is like a boy. It’s funny because lately I have looked back at pictures and old facebook status posts from high school and even farther back and noticed little “red flags” of me grappling with my gender. Little things like me wearing mens pants and declaring its “man pants Monday” when in reality, I wanted everyday to be man pants day! Or when I would wear boy short underwear because they were close to boxers, but still feminine enough that it was considered “normal.” So when I saw Erika Linder, this gorgeous woman with her short hair, her pouty face and expressive eyes flawlessly modeling male clothing, I thought to myself- wow, how great would it be to be androgynous! I should try to do something like that! What really inspired me the most however was Erika’s quote on her twitter that states “I have too much imagination to be just one gender” What a concept!

And so it began. A few days later On January 23, 2015 I went to cost cutters and paid $17 to cut 3 inches off of my hair and chopped it off to the point where my hair fell above my jaw line. I was happy- I looked like a boy in my eyes. Perhaps to the outside world I looked like a lesbian. Or maybe I just looked like a girl with short hair. Either way, I was happy, and that is what matters. A simple thing like cutting my hair was the beginning of what will continue to be a life long journey of self discovery!

After I cut my hair I stopped carrying around a purse, I decreed that purses were not for me and that I hated how feminine they were. Why should I have to carry around this cumbersome bag with me just because I have a vagina? So I switched to a “mens” wallet which in turn drastically changed the clothes that I began to wear. Because I no longer carried a purse, the pants I wore began to change because now I had to put my belongings in my pockets. I did not have to buy any new pants luckily but the way I wear my clothes in different now. My closet is a bit unbalanced between mens clothing and women- surprisingly a lot of the clothes that I have unpacked right now ( a lot of my clothes are in boxes because I moved a couple of moths ago) are mens. In my closet I have it divided between women and mens clothing depending on how I feel on a certain day, it is easy for me to pick an outfit. My mens clothes are darker in hues- dark blues, greens, reds, grey and blacks. And then on the other side I have 2 pink sweatshirts and a few other “girly” clothes.

Now you are probably like, what the fuck does ANY of this have to do with Tumblr? Everything my dear friend, everything! Without the help of the internet, youtube, Tumblr, books and articles I would not feel comfortable with who I am, let alone know HOW to define myself! In the age of the internet I feel I am able to freely express who I am. Whether that is a picture of a beautiful woman or a dog, I can post whatever the hell I want. I don’t have to be ashamed if I see a picture of a chicks ass or bangin’ bod and find that more attractive than a guys six pack abs.

I grew up in a predominantly white, upper-middle class, catholic, republican town where being gay is not talked about. I went to a catholic high school, where if you were gay you were closeted. I knew I wasn’t straight, or had an inkling back in middle school and was seriously questioning my sexuality by freshman year and throughout college. I finally came out to myself as bisexual when I was 18.

In the past few months, the internet has taught me that it is okay to be gay, but even more pertinent, it is okay to be transgender.  Remember how I just said being gay was not really discussed, well neither was being transgender. Let’s face it, a lot of people still don’t know what the term even means- which is fine, our time is coming! You see how I said “our?” I say “our” because I consider myself part of the transgender community– a label that not many people close to me know about and a label I am still getting used to. I heard about transgenderism back in high school and always knew that the label fit me, but pushed it away because it was too painful to face.

Youtube and Tumblr, more specifically demonstrated to me that being trans is okay! It taught me that being trans isn’t gross, abnormal, weird, psycho, nasty, immoral, disgusting or wrong. There are millions of Tumblr users and millions of trans people peppered all over the world. The fact that I am able to simply access and see real peoples stories and accounts of beings trans has been an indispensable resource for me. I am able to type in “ftm”, “trans”, “transgender” and thousands of posts will pop up! Whether it is pictures, videos texts posts, rants, hormone replacement updates- anything– it is all readily accessible and at my fingertips.

I never knew that there was a whole community out there for people that felt like me and they were facing the same questions and struggling with the same shit I am. The same everyday problems that cis people don’t have to think about. Questions like, how do I get my friends and family to call me by my chosen name? How do I bind properly and what is the best company to buy from? How do I even know if I am transgender???

I am happy that I feel I have found my place. I have a long way to go. But from the support of friends and family, and some of my Tumblr followers, I feel like I am on the right path- so thank you! So in the end, I guess this is a big thank you to the internet and a testament that good can come from the digital age that we live in.

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Just call me Ri.

January 31, 9:48 PM

He will never understand. They will never understand. Nobody will ever understand.

I set myself up for fucking failure by asking a stupid question at a dumb time. I cautiously took a deep breath, and let the question explode out of my lips. “So, what do you think about me changing my name?” Huff. Eye roll. “For acting you know. I want something more original…” silence. A few minutes pass. “ I mean, not legally or anything. Just like, a nickname that has nothing to do with my birth name?” After my first question he tuned me out. Allie is on some stupid whim and wants to change her name. blah, blah, blah. 

I can’t remember a time in recent history that I have felt so crushed and denied as a person. I feel like I was just thrown away into the trash and ignored while I took a tiny step into baring my soul. I understand that he does not know what I am going though. The confusion, anger, sadness and curiosity that I am feeling. For the past 2 weeks I have been voraciously reading, checking out books, scouring Tumblr and Youtube for people like me. For people that feel the same way I do. For people that are confused as fuck as to what their gender is…I spent over 3 hours today making 7 lists about gender. I forced myself to begin to map out what it means (or rather what society says ) to “be” a man, or “be” a woman. I listed what characteristics and stereotypes are associated with each gender, in hopes that I will be able to define myself more clearly to see where I measure up within these norms.

There has not been a day since 2 weeks ago that I have been not been obsessed about gender. I am scared. I am scared of these labels that are big and seem so final. Petrified of what lies ahead for me. Nervous that in order for me to be happy or feel whole is to change my name, the way I dress, the way I walk, and the way I talk. If he dismisses me for bringing up the idea that I might want to be called a different name— a name that I didn’t even disclose to him,how could be possibly understand that deep down—way down, a part of me identifies as male?

This is uncharted territory. I don’t know how much more freaking research I can do into these topics until I can just say; accept it kid! Accept that you are different and deal with it. You are transgender. Sure you don’t want to have surgery but face it; you are queer in every sense of the word. I am longing to just talk to someone who gets it. I don’t want to explain, I don’t want to defend— I just want to talk, and be me. He will never understand. They, will never understand.

So for now on, Just call me, Rilen. Or Ri for short.

Non-Binary Bliss!

January 28,2015

Well, these past 2 weeks have been a whirlwind.

I ditched the purse and went with a wallet, I chopped my hair off into a more androgynous style and I ordered my first binder today!!

Never in my life have I felt so confused, conflicted and confident. After I cut my hair, I felt beautiful, sexy and confident. I like that while my hair is still somewhat feminine, I have found ways to style it to be more androgynous and that is when I feel my best. I am obsessed with hats- thank you Wal-Mart for selling winter hat beanies for only $2! I proudly sport a hat with my new short hair cut which frames my round face accented by my millions of freckles.
I did have a bit of of a talk with one of my friends about this whole gender confusion thing. I ended up crying eventually because I didn’t necessarily feel that they understood how confused and out of place I feel.

I think I can officially identify as being gender fluid. I always thought this label loosely fit me. But within these past 2 weeks I feel like it DEFINETLY fits me. These past 2 weeks I have felt masculine 90% of the time and I LOVE it! I have finally chilled out and just realized and gave myself permission to just be. I still have some discovering to do in terms of my gender identity but I feel like these past weeks have been in hyperdrive and I have to remind myself that maybe I won’t figure it out tomorrow or the next day…Maybe it won’t just fall into my lap. Perhaps I won’t wake up next week and be able to declare, yes I am trans and I need to start thinking about transitioning and what that would mean for my future. I have to remind myself to calm down and wait and hope that things will fall into place, eventually. Right now I think I just need to keep doing what I am doing. I need to keep feeling what I am feeling instead of pushing it away and thinking that how I feel is “Wrong” or “unnatural” or just simply deny that this could be where my life is headed.

I am jazzed that I bought my first binder today! I just ordered it about an hour ago and I am SUUUUPER GIDDY! I want to jump around and shout- which isn’t exactly a possibility because of my knee, but whatever–the intention is there. I am excited and curious to see where this takes me! Perhaps this will open new doors of discovery for me and I will delve deeper into my gender expression and what feels comfortable for me. The only thing that really blows about this is I don’t feel I can talk to anyone about this because they won’t understand. I tried talking to my friend the other night when I had a mini breakdown, and like I said, I don’t think they really understood how I felt. I kept saying that something doesn’t feel right and something is off but they kept telling me to stop putting myself into a box and stop feeling the need to “define” myself. Yes, labels are what others use to define us. But I have found that, at least for me, I need to have some sort of label for myself. I don’t give a shit what anyone else wants to label me as, whether thats being confused, trans, gay, gross, immoral or whatever! I want to know what I am so I can feel comfortable with me.

Peace and Love!