Posted on Apr 22, 2015 ; related to Updates, Real life, School. Leave a comment?
So I’m transferring from my school in Milwaukee to Kettering University. It’s been a long time coming, at least for me, even though I tried to deny it since day 1.
I don’t think I’m such a horrible person as to be stuck up or to not be friends with anyone, and I like to think I’m an open person, but honestly being at my current school is very trying. It wasn’t just being harassed; it felt like I didn’t belong in the school. When I was applying for colleges, I often scoffed at the notion of “fit.” If the school had a good reputation and gave me a decent amount of money I would be willing to go: the more money, the better.
Naive me had a rude awakening. The first day at school, or rather, the first day of orientation, I felt like I didn’t belong. I made acquaintances, I went to the welcome week events, I tried to get to know people, but the longer I was there, the more and more I felt like a freak. These kids weren’t like the ones I was used to back in my hometown-whatever that meant.
I grew up in liberal Ann Arbor, a hippie/hipster town where diversity wasn’t even a thing you had to encourage, it just happened. I grew up around all kinds of people, and I never had the luxury of only interacting with people who were exactly like me. In Ann Arbor, you learn to be totally okay with people of different race, religion, and sexualities and genders.
Not so in Milwaukee. Everyone was white. I would say 90-95% of the school population was white. I thought I was used to that, used to being the only nonwhite kid in the group, but what I didn’t realize was that the general climate of the campus was more close-minded (I hesitate to say conservative because not all conservative people are close-minded). Even in my first week, I felt acutely aware of my race, that I wasn’t white like everyone else.
Presentation was very hard for me, too. At home, after coming out I could dress as masculine as I liked and use any gender restroom I preferred, but I couldn’t in Milwaukee. It felt like everyone fit their gender role so well that any difference would be strongly discouraged. I went so far as to hold my pee in for five hours straight just to avoid using the bathroom.
That, combined with getting harassed, and having my hearing aids break and the school losing my replacement which was supposed to come by mail, felt like the final straw. Things did get better, I got a job, and I made more friends, but I realized that I didn’t want to stay in this kind of environment. I didn’t want to stay in a place where I felt like I didn’t belong because of my gender and race, where the LGBT student club refuses to send campus wide emails because they didn’t want their members getting harassed.
I applied to Kettering as a transfer student and got accepted. I’m in the process of getting a co op position, and am considering changing my major from mechanical engineering to computer science. All in all, right now is a time full of changes.
What I want to do for Wacky Onion is to keep it up, definitely, but now that I’m more busy with life, I can’t regularly add new content such as site layouts and articles like I used to. I will keep those up, mostly for nostalgic purposes, maybe keep them under an archive, and repackage Wacky Onion as more of a personal blog.
Here’s to hoping that everything will work out.
Posted on Mar 21, 2015 ; related to Updates, Identity, Looking Back. Leave a comment?
This post is really on a whim. I saw this post on Tumblr and went on a little in the tags. I felt compelled to post more about this on an impulse about my experience.
I may have mentioned this before, but I had lots of mental health issues growing up. I grew up with anger issues, anxiety, and some OCD. When I hit puberty I started questioning my gender identity (this was way before I even know being transgender was a thing) and I started having depression and self harmed a bit at the age of 12. Things went up and down from there, and things got really bad in 2012. The depression got worse, the dysphoria came, I had suicidal thoughts all the time, and I started self harming regularly. 2013 was the worst year of my life.
But the point isn’t to have a pity party. This post is about recovery. It took time. It really did. At first I didn’t even make a decision to recover initially. It was more like a “no promises” kind of thing. I’ve been addicted enough times to know that resolving to quit something (in my case, self harm) was setting the bar too high.
So I started with low expectations of myself. But it was gradual. Each day didn’t seem much different from the last. Little things happened, and I didn’t notice it during the way, but when I look back it seemed so much more obvious. Me telling my mother about my self harm, me getting a therapist, me not wanting to die for the first time in 2 years, me being 6 months clean.
So now am I perfectly normal and happy? Far from it. I still think I’m pretty fucked up and I want to go back to old habits. When that happens I remind myself I used to be even more fucked up and that wasn’t fun at all.
To any of you who are struggling with this right now, life isn’t a spiral of downs and more downs, though it really fucking feels like it sometimes. If there are downs, there are ups, and if you’re down now, you’re just saving the ups for the future so you can appreciate it more.
Alright, I think I’m done rambling. This is all I wanted to say for now.
Posted on Jan 25, 2015 ; related to Gender, Identity, Looking Back. Leave a comment?
It’s kind of surreal to think back to 2010. It’s already been half a decade since then. In 2010, when I was 13, I was still figuring all this gender thing out. It had been one year since I made the decision to cut my hair, and I was getting used to being read as a boy and being treated differently. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was starting to know what having male privilege was like. The difference was not obvious to me, but as my mother started to point them out to me, I noticed. Things that I liked happened: people moving out of my way more, being more respected, and not feeling constantly aware of being sexualized. But some things also happened that made me uncomfortable: being told to “man up,” feeling like I have to constantly prove my masculinity, using public restrooms, and getting weird looks when people realized that I was “really a girl.”
13 year old me didn’t know it at the time, but looking back, I was a boy then. A young trans boy exploring a new identity, what it means to be a guy, what it means to be a girl. The funny thing was, I wasn’t aware I was a boy at the time. Five years later it’s obvious to me. I made friends in homeschool co-op who didn’t know I was “really a girl,” I grin and feel good whenever I got read as male in public, and I felt totally comfortable wearing clothes from the men’s section.
No, actually, looking back I was kind of aware something was up. The previous year I decided to cut my hair because someone thought I was a guy. I hurried back home and googled “girl who wants to be a guy.” Thanks to the Internet, I knew what “ftm” was. I longed for binders, I wanted to present and live full time as male, but I thought it was sin. I gave myself a way out by thinking that I was just a tomboy, and this was just a phase. I wasn’t really a boy, I was just a girl who liked masculine things.
But I was never shown what being a man looked like. My father was distant and I didn’t respect him much, so I looked to other sources. The traditional American macho philosophy provided me a framework, if you will, for what masculinity should look like. I wanted to belong, so I took part in misogyny. I looked down on girls and tried to distance myself from anything remotely feminine. I already had internalized misogyny from my years of not being “one of those girls,” so it was an easy fit for me.
Even with all that, 2010 was a good year, all in all. I still have a picture of myself at 13, wearing a Flyleaf t-shirt and cargo shorts for my homeschool co-op picture. In it I just had a haircut and I am smiling widely. I didn’t have to deal with a lot of things yet.
If 13 year old me could see me right now, he probably would have lots of questions. He would ask if I have a binder, if I was a boy or a girl, how I made it the past five years. But most importantly, he would ask if I were still me.