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

My Room Is Illuminated and Bright. A story of personal growth and overcoming self harm.

I woke up this morning to this this Facebook reminder. When I looked at it I smiled and was briefly reminded of how much this day was a catalyst to where my life is now. Now less than an hour later, on the 1 train headed to the Apple store, I feel sick to my stomach. I feel sad. You see, I had to just count on my fingers how many days it had been a year ago (when this post was made) that I first started self harming. At this point a year ago it was a week straight; my troubles started December 8, 2016. This is a day that I remember like an anniversary, like one would remember a birthday or death (perhaps this was a rebirth?) On this 1 train at 1:21 pm I am listening to my playlist “December 2016” which consists of all the sad songs I used to listen to for almost 10 months. Just as a little taste some of the songs on this pit-of-despair-in-music-form playlist I’ve got:

⁃ Hurt, Johnny Cash (a personal fav when the self loathing of cutting came in)

⁃ Under The Knife, Icon For Hire ( I think we can all guess what that’s about)

⁃ Creep, Radiohead

⁃ Hurts Like Hell (which, shockingly enough is NOT about cutting- it’s about people leaving you)

…Anyway. You get the hint. #sad #angst

SO! On December 8, 2016 I began to cut, on December 16 school let out for Christmas break, and Christmas Eve I left acting training.

It wasn’t another 4 months until my violent, life threatening behavior ended and I stopped hurting myself in March 2017. I can greatly attribute my recovery to my constant cognizance that what I was doing was dangerous, in addition to my willingness to go to therapy 4 times a week. Now I’m down to 3 because I don’t need to meet with my psychiatrist weekly anymore- we are now on a 3 month in-between period to touch base.

It’s sad because that moment in the status above mentioned a teacher grabbing my face and saying those words to me “you are worthy of love and belonging” was in response to me simply saying I probably wouldn’t return for the third year of training (a whole semester away from where we were now in training.) What I was really saying was “I know I don’t have you as a teacher next semester in the first place, I know I would have you again next year but I can’t do this anymore. Goodbye.” Same thing happened when my classmates and I went out for drinks after class was finished for Christmas break- I knew in my heart that I wasn’t coming back. I sat there, detached at the schools haunting grounds, mildly dissociated trying to quietly let on I was leaving.

I guess word spread among the staff at Atlantic because I soon revived a message from the student affairs director on December 23 and then eventually we had a phone call on Christmas Eve discussing my “options” even though we both knew it would be in my best interest to leave the rigorous training program that I was no longer mentally capable of meeting the demands required for success in the program. It’s funny, I was going through my old phone a few days ago and found the exchange between this human and I over Christmas break:

Looking at the conversation I see the resistance, anger and embarrassment I was harboring at the fact that she had found out what I had been doing to my body. It’s clear the amount of shame that I had considering this is the woman that took me to the hospital in the middle of a school day and ended up saving my life when I came to her and told her that I had tried committing suicide the night before back in September 2015 .During our phone conversation on Christmas Eve with her I decided to leave school. So there I was, in the north woods of my Wisconsin lake house in 18 degree weather, I felt as if a weight was lifted from my shoulders. I KNEW it was the right choice. I wrote a blog post that was called “Christmas Eve Drop Out” that I posted on Facebook and my WordPress blog. That night my post was read over 100 times and I received over 30 comments from people, some current classmates, some classmates in the grade below me who I never got a chance to know, family friends, teachers, and some private messages etc. In that moment I felt loved and supported. Part of my post:

“I had deep undercurrents of sadness and a sense of mistrust in myself and my ability to succeed at this school. By the final two weeks of school I had cut myself near 100 times on my wrists and legs as a way to deal with my feelings that I couldn’t express. I made it through to the final day just barely, missing classes became a pattern for me which is a no no at my school. I had begun to fall down the rabbit hole each night that I took a razor to my skin and inflicted such pain on myself.

I am lost and weak. I have lost who I am. Yesterday I wrote saying ” An inferno of sadness as engulfed my soul.” In this moment however, I don’t feel that way. I see a light in the corner, a light that I am actively chasing to eventually illuminate my whole room. This is the reset button. I will leave school to undergo intensive psychotherapy and get the help I desperately need but more importantly, want…. It is time that I stand  (shakily) on my two feet and walk into the light of recovery. It’s time to rebuild. “

After I came home from the lake house it was time for an action plan. We looked into hospitalization back in New York because I refused to move back to Wisconsin- cutting or not New York is my home. My therapist was in way over her head and told me she couldn’t help me anymore. Luckily that’s when Callen Lorde came in and saved my life. Callen Lorde is an LGBT community health center in Manhattan– the place I make the 2 hour commute 3 times a week to better myself.

So. That’s all in the past, yes? Well happily the answer IS yes. I haven’t cut myself in 286 days (and for those of you that are mathematically challenged *not judging, so I am* OR too lazy to figure out how long that is- it’s 9 months.) I still have sooooo many clinical diagnoses that are listed in the charts by the many mental health professionals I see, but guess what? I am working on it. Although these conditions will never go away, I am finally in a very stable place where my days aren’t soiled with the acrid taste of regret (usually alchohol) and sorrow that used to wake me in the mornings (and by mornings I mean like, 2 pm because I was a depressed mess.)

I have written about my past of self harm and depression extensively on my blog ‘The Rilen Files’ on WordPress (shameless plug. )Most notably the post called “56 Little Marks” that has a (horrifying) 486 views where I document the 56 scars left on my body that still remain a year after my 3 month fall apart-who-the-fuck-am-I-help! period in my life. Below is the beginning of the post (a good read if I may say so myself)

It’s nice that I’ve gained allies throughout that horrific time in my life. I’ve sustained friendships that have weathered my tornado. Friends I’ve met online across the world on different continents who I talk to daily,and trust inherently. Not your every day Joe Shmoe could’ve been sucked in and devoured by my sea of despair because they simply weren’t strong enough or had the compassion to deal. Cuz seriously, what the hell would YOU do if someone was texting you at 3M, drunk, depressed and (sometimes) angry telling you they a) have a knife next to them and either they want to cut themselves or b) they are already bleeding????I don’t even know how I would react to that.

So, to those friends, and therapists (that will never be able to read this- unless I decide to take the whole session to read this novel) thank you. Thank you for your friendship and unwavering love.

It’s been a year and then some but as 2018 approaches in (counts on fingers again- I told you I wasn’t kidding) 16 days, despite the haze that used to cover my eyes and cloud my thoughts, the darkness that consumed me, the vicious thoughts and voice in my head that whispered and sometimes screamed at me to cut deeper and give up, I am excited to see what wonderful opportunities are headed my way. On December 24,2016 I wrote “ I see a light in the corner, a light that I am actively chasing to eventually illuminate my whole room.”

And now on December 14,2017

My room is illuminated and bright.

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!

That Hue Of Purple

Thursday Feb 16,2017 1:28AM

That Hue of Purple

I remember the days when I had to stop drinking caffeinated mountain dew at night so I could fall asleep so I could forget your purple face and skin. I used to lie awake fearful that I would see you standing at the foot of my bed, in the same state I saw you last; dead, gone, deceased. I used to have nightmares of you hiding underneath my bed and finding you with your eyes snapped open, frozen in rigor mortis starting at me. I will never forget the amount of seconds it took for the paramedics to assess that you were dead. They walked up our blue carpet, must have seen your hue, felt that you were frozen, and made the assessment that you were gone at 56. I’ve woken from my bed, screaming, crying, fearful of the images I saw that day. The last time we spoke echoes though my head like an ear worm. The sound of your slurred words and click of me hanging up followed shortly by the ringtone on my phone with your caller ID calling me back, I press ignore. Oh, how I would have answered that call if I knew it would be our last. I would have told you so many things, about how beautiful you are, how we both hurt the same. I would I have told you you are loved, and stunning, intelligent and generous, but instead I kept shopping at walmart for a stupid sweater while ignoring your call.

Days go by, even weeks and months where you no longer haunt me. I no longer fear, that after the 3 years that have passed that I will find you at the foot of my bed, staring at me. Although that shade of purple that illuminated your skin will never, ever fade from my mind, sometimes I see you as how you were. With your sparkling green eyes, beautiful soft blonde curls, a cackled laugh, a cigarette in hand and a smile on your face. I remember when you received golden braces on my birthday. The years have passed, each one gets easier than the next. While you are not with me in every waking thought anymore, I wear your ring around my neck, the diamonds sparkle, just like your eyes once did.

So much has changed since you left us. I am no longer who I used to be, I am now Rilen. You could have had a son, my dear mother, but you left too soon. I chose my name for you, Rilen. It’s gaelic for Island Meadow. While you are not in my thoughts every second anymore, I carry you with me on my skin, with my tattoo— art on my brown skin. Now this art is framed by scars, framed by shame, guilt, sadness and hurt. Oh how I wish you could see me today. Flat chest, facial hair, square round face. I know you are with me, I feel you sometimes. I hear you when you communicate with me though music, you’re here. But theres so much I want to ask you. Are you okay with the fact that I am trans? Do you like my new name? How do I deal with my mental illness? How do I stop cutting? Why am I so sick, and alone? These questions I will continue to ask myself for years, but the one that haunts me  the most; are you proud of who I have become? Is the man that stands, broken and tall, who you wished I would be? Should I be doing more? I want your guidance, I need your love. I want to feel your skin, hear your laugh, feel your arms wrap around me once again. Even if it’s only in a dream I will take it. I will take it over these haunting, vivid memories that are so visceral and real. But most of all what I want mom, is for you to rest peacefully, knowing that you are loved by many.

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.