On Trans Veterans

In my travels online, I recently discovered a very interesting four-part documentary called Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Veterans Throughout American History. I found it really interesting to discover just how many transgender and gender non-conforming individuals have served with distinction in the armed forces in the US alone. Set aside forty (or so) minutes of your time and watch this series. It's definitely worth it!

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJGOOeJYMTk
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnLl-o5bQK8
Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9njRibbYGA
Part 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHMQnK8i888

If you have a story about your own experiences as a trans individual or would like to be interviewed so that you can share your perspectives as a trans person with the readers of this blog, please feel free to contact me through the contact form here: [link]. Make sure you have javascript enabled or the form will just display a blank page. I’d love to hear from you, and I’d love to share your perspective with our readers. Thank you!

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On Coming Out

Photo by Rayne's Avante-Garde
Article By E.S. Wynn

Movies and media tend to make it seem like coming out is sudden, impulsive and celebratory, but in my experience, it was anything but. It was a staggered, starting and stopping process full of self doubts and “screw this” moments that held me back for years. Coming out officially and completely came only after I had sufficiently saturated the people around me with enough information that I felt like I could safely come out, and even then, I wasn’t out everywhere all at once. I made a checklist of things to do with the words "come out" penciled at the bottom like a goal. And it was a goal, but everything had to be perfect first. The big final coming out came in pieces, with my first announcement being to a couple of my genderqueer friends, then to my mother, then six months later to my partner (when we were still just friends, before we were dating) then I started hinting at things and being a little more open across some of my more liberal social networking sites. I changed my bio on my website to include a statement about my being openly transgender in late May, and I finally dropped the bomb across the board (and to my more conservative relatives) on Litha, 2017 (June 21st.) The response was cathartic, but rather unremarkable, which is actually kind of what I was hoping for. The last thing I wanted was fireworks or a fight.

The build-up definitely took time, more time than maybe was needed, but then, I was also battling some pretty intense fears and some bad coding based on my own flawed ideas of what it means to be transgender. I’ve had several false starts and failed attempts at coming out throughout my life, and in reality, the only person I blame for that is myself. If I’d been tougher, stronger, less concerned with what other people think, I’d have come out decades earlier than I did, but there’s no use in mourning the past. What’s done is done. All we can do is reflect on our lessons, learn from them, and share our mistakes with others so that they can proceed forward in their own journeys with more strength and self-love than they might otherwise have to carry them through.

The first time I tried to come out as transgender, I was so young that trans as a concept wasn’t even on my radar. I didn’t have an urge to wear female clothing, and that’s probably because all of my female relatives ran around in pants and t-shirts most of the time. My heroes were people like Ripley (of Aliens) and Amelia Earhart, both of whom dressed with a more stereotypically masculine style. I had a concept in my head, an unshakable feeling that, at my core, I was female. I was about ten or eleven, and had no idea how to deal with it. I had one friend who was as liberal and activist-leaning as me, and I remember bringing it up to him one day when we were alone. “I feel like I might be a woman inside,” I said, and I remember the way he froze, his look of shock and his inability to process the data at all. We were both young, both just starting to get to the age where males accused each other of being gay at every opportunity. I remember that we sat there in silence for a moment, and then I changed the subject and never brought it up again.

Ten years passed before I thought about talking to anyone about it again. Instead of opening up, I joined PFLAG, figuring that though I was terrified of homosexuality (and of being homosexual) I could figure out just what was going on in my head and proceed from there. Through PFLAG, I met the first transgender people I had ever seen, and discovered that they were very nice women. They seemed very wary and timid (understandably) and so I didn’t really take the time to get to know them as I worried I might make them even more uneasy. My own fears about what I might find and what I might learn played a part in the fact that I didn’t get to know them better, of course, as did the mistaken information I had at that time that equated gay with trans. During the course of the year that I was involved with the GSA and PFLAG on campus at Sierra College, I spent a lot of time getting to know gay culture and my role within it. I’m really glad that I did, because by immersing myself in something unfamiliar (and, at the time, utterly terrifying) I learned things about myself, and absolved the fear completely. I went from being afraid that I might be gay to wishing I could be attracted to men, as I had met a lot of really great gay guys who probably would have made good and loyal partners. But if immersing myself in queer culture has taught me anything, it’s that we are what we are. We have set preferences, and men just don’t do it for me.

Between the ages of twenty-three and thirty-one, I fell headfirst into my career and my writing. The dysphoria was a constant companion, and though I did go through periods where I conducted extensive research on trans issues and transitioning, I never spoke to a soul about any of it. Work kept me busy, and through my writing, I lived as a woman for 8-10 hours every single day, which made it easy to cope with the dysphoria. By age 27, I was in a relationship that heated up fast and would lead to a very intense marriage with a woman I loved dearly, both wanted and wanted to be with equal intensity. She became the sole focus of my existence for years, and so I didn’t want to do anything that would throw a wrench in the relationship. One transphobic statement from her about an experience she had as a teenager was enough to shut the door on transitioning for me forever. I never breathed a word to her about my dysphoria, or anything even related to it. I was too afraid to.

I suppose it’s no surprise then that I finally began to unpack my psyche when she ran off with an old boyfriend and moved halfway across the US. About two months after we said our final goodbyes, I started investigating transgender perspectives on life and on transitioning on Youtube. I started really living my life, going to concerts, clubs, bars, exploring and discovering myself and my place in the world. There was a period of several months where I came into work with painted nails, shaved arms, shaved chest and shirts with plunging necklines. I got a few weird looks and not much else. In the end, I stopped shaving my entire body (too much work, too much cost of razors) stopped wearing nail polish all the time (too much cost, too much lost time doing the painting, too many weird looks and questions from old men) and with those gone, I didn’t see a reason to wear shirts that were cut for a body with cleavage. Exhaustive research led me to the decision that, though I like the punk and artistic aspect of dressing up as a woman and going out in public, I have no interest in transitioning (I’ve got an article about it over here: [link]) I don’t need to pass as a woman to feel like a woman. I feel like a woman all the time anyway, even when I’m dressed in a tux in a Masonic lodge addressing a room full of brothers. For me, transitioning to full time female is just too much of a pain in the ass.

So here I am now, writing articles about trans issues from a trans perspective while being openly trans. As I mentioned earlier, it was cathartic to completely come out, and though it wasn’t without its little snags, fears and weirdnesses, it was relatively relaxed and easy. I was lucky enough to have a community of people around me that has been more supportive than I expected they would be, and I’ve overcome the worries that plagued me in the past. If you are trans and you’re thinking about coming out, realize that there is no right or wrong way to do it. There is no deadline. Sooner can be nice, but it is not necessarily better. If you’re going to come out, do it in your own way and at your own pace. Only you can decide the course and timing that are right for you. All I can offer is my own experience, and a prayer that you will be strong and confident about your course, whatever you choose to do.

If you have a story about your own experiences as a trans individual or would like to be interviewed so that you can share your perspectives as a trans person with the readers of this blog, please feel free to contact me through the contact form here: [link]. Make sure you have javascript enabled or the form will just display a blank page. I’d love to hear from you, and I’d love to share your perspective with our readers. Thank you!

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The Importance Of Your Voice

Photo by Rayne's Avante-Garde
Article By E.S. Wynn

I see it all the time in my travels online. A minority or marginalized individual will stand up and use their voice for political activism, drawing from their personal experiences (much as I do) only to have a person speak up afterwards with a line akin to “Your work is really great, but I wish someone would stand up for my oppressed minority!”

I am of two minds in regards to this. While I do believe we should help each other as much as we can and provide platforms where we can that people can use to talk about their pain and struggles (especially if society is turning a blind eye to that pain and those struggles) I also believe that no one is more qualified to talk about your experiences than you are. We all have our own battles and rights to write about, our own experiences and wars to wage. We can't expect others to do the hard work of expressing ourselves for us.

I give this same feedback to people who tell me they'd like me to make their life story into a book. The stories are always interesting in brief, but I know that I'm not qualified (nor do I necessarily have the time) to turn their experiences into entertainment or direct activism. What I tell them is that they have a good story, and that they should write it out. If they need help with editing, formatting or diving into the corporate meatgrinder of the publishing industry, I can help with that, but I can't tell their story for them. It can be hard to stand up in the face of a hostile society and state your truth, but someone has to be strong enough to do it. Might as well be someone who has direct experience with it. It might as well be you.

Another reason why your voice is important to the fight against the struggle you’re facing and living through is representation. If only one person stands up and says “I am part of this minority and I am oppressed!” then that person becomes the face of that movement. It’s happened in the trans community, and I’ve mentioned this in previous articles. I bear no ill will toward Caitlyn Jenner or toward any of my fellow transgender people, but I want more diversity in representation. I don’t want people to think only of her (or her and LaVerne Cox, or god forbid, Rocky Horror Picture Show’s Frank-N-Furter) when they hear the word Transgender. I want them to think of the heroes who have battled with gender dysphoria and who have transitioned openly under the force of tremendous scrutiny and hate. I want them to think of all of the people working in the trenches of art, education, and hell, every field out there who openly identify as transgender. I want to pack the minds of the populace with an entire army of trans voices so that they can see that that we aren’t weird or dangerous or freakish. We’re people, just like they are. We’re people, and our experiences need to be voiced.

So stop reading this article, get out there and make your voice heard, whoever you are. Your perspective matters, and regardless of how or where you choose to express it, express it openly and completely. The only thing you have to fear is fear itself, and fear is a toothless bitch. You’ve got this. You’ve so got this.

If you have a story about your own experiences as a trans individual or would like to be interviewed so that you can share your perspectives as a trans person with the readers of this blog, please feel free to contact me through the contact form here: [link]. Make sure you have javascript enabled or the form will just display a blank page. I’d love to hear from you, and I’d love to share your perspective with our readers. Thank you!

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Allowing Experimentation

Photo and Article By E.S. Wynn

Author's Note: This photo feels almost like a baby picture to me. I took it when I was first exploring my trans identity a few years ago, and first starting work on my personal battle jacket.

It can be really difficult to live a life without judging others. I’d even venture to say that it might be near impossible to never judge anyone for anything. We can work on it, strive toward an ideal of empathy over judgment certainly, but I think even that is a practice, a constant journey that we never really complete.

But judgments also come in many forms, some of them more dismissible than others (or even accepted in certain communities.) At some point in our lives, we’ve all looked at someone trying to find their own look, trying to find their own way in the world, and had a reflexive, negative gut reaction to what we’ve seen. It’s normal, and though I’m working on being more empathetic and understanding, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had that kind of reaction many, many times in my life. I’ve looked at the actions and external manifestations of others’ attempts to discover and define themselves and I’ve had powerful, negative gut responses to them.

The ironic thing is that, in every single case, I’ve always been the only one affected by my reaction.

Allow me to digress with a story. When I turned twenty-one, a number of my friends and relatives offered to take me out and get me drunk for my birthday. It’s like a rite of passage that most people I know have jumped at the chance to go through with. Myself, I turned every one of those offers down and went out for a nice sushi dinner with family instead. I’d seen so many people make utter fools of themselves while sloshed and had heard so many stories of things people had done while drunk that they could never live down that I had no interest in drinking anything alcoholic ever. As far as I was concerned, booze was for losers who didn’t care about ruining their own lives.

Just before I turned twenty-two, my life fell apart in a major way for the first time. Literally everything I had built up until that point, everything I had traveled halfway across the country to secure blew up. I was stranded with heavy debt, a broken heart and no place to shelter except the guest room on my mother’s farm. Again, friends offered to take me out and get me drunk, and again, I declined, but this time there was a certain desperation, a certain feeling of being at rock bottom, with nowhere else but up to go.

That was when I tried alcohol for the first time. I went out to the store, bought a big bottle of the cheapest vodka I could find and wandered around the farm sipping it on a hot summer’s day. I chose that day because I knew I would be alone. I knew I could make an utter fool of myself and no one would know about it. In the end, it makes kind of a funny story. I made myself a “White Russian” out of skim milk and vodka, and drank enough of that horrible concoction to get a little shaky and bleary, and then I went to bed. End of story. No one else was around to witness (or judge) my brief period of self discovery.

In all the time since then, I’ve gone through years of total sobriety, years of heavy drinking and have leveled out at a place where I have a cocktail with friends about four times a year. It’s easy, comfortable, and I have no issues or judgments around alcohol anymore. I look at college kids getting wasted on jungle juice and I laugh at their antics, but there’s no judgment. They’re discovering themselves, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

So how does this relate to my experiences as a transgender person? Well, like with my experience with discovering alcohol, my experience with discovering my identity as a trans person has been largely conducted behind closed doors, where I cannot be observed or judged. In researching and exploring to understand my own experiences with gender dysphoria, I have run across so many images of transwomen bravely putting their faces out there online to be seen as they begin to discover themselves, and even still, I sometimes get skeeved out. I hate it, and I’m working on it. I ask myself what my problem is and I think the clearest answer is “do people see me that way when I wear a wig and eyeliner? Do people have the same kneejerk negative reaction and think I look weird and wrong?” Maybe. I’m sure there are quite a few people who do. I know for a fact that there have been people who have been totally skeeved out by me when they’ve seen me out in public with full gear on. I’ve seen the change in facial expression, the realization in passing and heard the comments. It sucks, but I’ve gotten really good at shrugging it off because I know I’ve got my look down as good as I’m going to get it down. I’ve done everything I can do. This body is simply male, and there’s no way to hide that completely, from myself or anyone else. It shouldn't be an issue at all, but I address that in my article On Passing.

The level of confidence and security I have currently comes from my own patterns, and that’s the jist I’m slowly working toward with this article. I mostly perfected my look behind closed doors, hiding who I am until I was secure enough in the fact that I’d done everything I could do to make myself as immune to judgments as I possible. When I see someone who was born male just starting to discover herself, taking her very masculine body and strutting in stereotypically female fashion with hot pink dresses and blond bob wigs, it can be physically painful, and there’s a whole host of my own issues behind that, like a knot of extension cords I’m working to untangle (and I'm committed to working on ironing out those issues, because anything less would be hypocritical, sexist and all around shitty.) I hate that I find myself wishing they would just hide themselves behind closed doors until they’ve finished discovering themselves and have cemented who they are, but the thing is, there is no right or wrong way to discover yourself. Some people do it openly and in public from the very beginning, and that’s okay. It’s actually transphobic to feel like they make the rest of us look bad, (especially when the standards for "looking good" are so oppressive and insane) and that’s one of the issues I’m working on myself. We, all of us, have to allow people the space to discover themselves in the ways that work best for them. We have to pull at the threads of society as much as we can until anyone can go out in public wearing anything and people only absorb it or appreciate it, instead of being skeeved out by it. There’s honestly no reason to be judgmental toward another person’s way of expressing themselves. Discovery starts basic and takes time, and can sometimes be a phase, but never at any point in that growth should we judge the way a person chooses to express themselves or identify. Every transwoman has stood in front of a mirror with her first bra and a cheap wig, trying to see if womanhood is right for her, and what it means for her, what kind of woman she’ll mature to be. It’s part of the process. We need make a conscious effort to work on our own judgments and learn to be as supportive of everyone as we can, especially in their most vulnerable periods of self-discovery. That’s just plain human decency.

If you have a story about your own experiences as a trans individual or would like to be interviewed so that you can share your perspectives as a trans person with the readers of this blog, please feel free to contact me through the contact form here: [link]. Make sure you have javascript enabled or the form will just display a blank page. I’d love to hear from you, and I’d love to share your perspective with our readers. Thank you!

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Transgender Sci-Fi

Art "Valkyrie / Mother 2017" and Article By E.S. Wynn

I am first and foremost a science-fiction lover. I love absorbing all of the different interesting forecasts that sci-fi storytellers make about what might come to pass in the near and distant future. in my own visions of where we could go as a species and what goals we could accomplish, I like to think that maybe transitioning from one gender to another will become a much less arduous and much more complete proposition than it currently is. I like to think that someday we will reach a point where popping our consciousness into a new body will be as easy as installing software on a new computer. In that future (and I hope I live to see it) I'd love to make a complete transition to female, to the fully customized physical form that would most fit my ideal vision of myself and who I could be. Heck, if I could try different types and shapes and styles of bodies on, run around for a week or so in each, I’d definitely be willing to give that a try too!

Now, certainly I have the opportunity in this life to seek a gender transition, but I choose not to, partly because the technology of today is too crude to change my external characteristics to the degree necessary for me to be happy with the result (my previous article talks about my reasons for not transitioning.) If I had access to the technology that would be necessary to change my outside to match the physical parameters of the woman I am inside, complete with modified genes and a fully functioning female reproductive system, I would jump at the chance. A brand new body, custom-designed to fit my specifications? Who wouldn't want that? I know quite a few non-trans people who would love to completely overhaul their bodies. I wonder how many people would run down to the "body shop," as it were, to swap out for a different model than the one they're currently wearing. Heck, even being able to swap bodies with others would be a neat compromise. Imagine a database of people who are looking to trade their physical form with a specific other type of physical form. Imagine being able to arrange a swap, or a collective of swaps, so that those who don't like their bodies can trade them out for one that they do like, with enough people in the chain of swaps that everybody ends up happy. Sure, there are a lot of potential problems that could come out of a situation like that (what if you end up with a body that has major undisclosed problems, or just miss your old body and want it back?) but I wonder if the benefits might outweigh the drawbacks. Depends on how much you have to gain and how much you have to lose, I suppose.

Though we can certainly achieve wonders, I feel like today's technology for gender reassignment still leaves a great deal to be desired. To get an idea of how good it could be, given a sufficient level of technological advance, check out the free-to-read stories I've included below, which are my own explorations into the future of gender, and how it might be modified to suit the needs (and whims) of the individual. Click on the names to view the stories.

Cool Blues of Fresno Bay

Gender Revolution

Digital Repatriation


If you have a story (or poetry) about your own experiences as a trans individual or would like to be interviewed so that you can share your perspectives as a trans person with the readers of this blog, please feel free to contact me through the contact form here: [link]. Make sure you have javascript enabled or the form will just display a blank page. I’d love to hear from you, and I’d love to share your perspective with our readers. Thank you!

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