Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How would it be...

I was raised Catholic, which in and of itself is somewhat problematic. I have qualms with being indoctrinated—especially since being raised in the religion means the indoctrination began before I could analyse things critically or, for that matter, think for myself. It’s this assumption that these tenants are essential and absolute truths; the whole process of being “brought up in the Church” (for me) boils down to brain washing. It’s not necessarily all bad, as Catholicism has built into its dogma the occasional morality that I can get behind (namely it’s good to love people and forgive)—but the idea that the religious upbringing is necessary to convey these lessons is clearly bullshit. I don’t mean to go on a rant about how religion is evil—I know that religion is very important to some people; it’s the source from where some draw meaning and hope, and for them and others it is a huge factor in their lives. For many of these folks, religion is something that helps them connect in a positive way to others and the world around them, and while I might not like all of religion or the means in which it operates, but if the institution is accomplishing this kind of end for you then, well, it might not be my ideal, but I cannot fault you for it.

Today, though, I want to discuss one particularly problematic entity in Christianity. When I was a kid, pushed through Sunday school, I remember being taught about Original Sin—this idea that because of the whole Garden of Eden incident, we were all marked with sin from the moment of our birth (Adam and Eve were supposed to have transferred their sin to us like some congenital genetic disease—and given that Original Sin is supposed to be common to all people, that’s got to have been one doozy of a genetic disorder, as it has survived for our entire species’ history and has not been selected against by natural selection...oops, there I go trying to apply my science to religion. I forgot that natural selection doesn’t exist, and the world is 4000 years old. Silly me.) Regardless of my long, sarcastic parenthetical, Original Sin is a concept that has become deeply prevalent in our culture, whether we’re aware of it or not: it’s the idea of collective guilt, that there is something inherently wrong with us.

Shame is a big, albeit unspoken, part of our culture. We feel different from others, and wish we were different from ourselves so as to be like others—that way we might belong, fit in, etc. Women are told they cannot be slim enough—must always be thin and feminine. Men are never strong enough. We are never smart enough or sexy enough—never good enough. There’s something defective within us that needs to be fixed; this underlying shame manifests itself in many ways: as doubt, as anorexia/bulimia, neuroses, body dysphoria, as fear or violence, as overachieving or overeating, or addiction, etc. We fight against ourselves or else run away from it—this masked feeling of inadequacy, doubt, fear, and shame. What’s interesting to me is that so many transsexual narratives begin with, “I’ve always know there was something wrong.” Why do we instinctively describe ourselves as wrong. We are wrong.
Think about that for a moment. Take a few minutes and just sit with it: this judgement that we are wrong. Inadequate. Defective. It’s a horrible alienation to subject ourselves to—to reject ourselves so conclusively. Now, what if instead of saying, “I always knew there was something wrong,” we said, “I am [insert gender/identity/affirming word]”? What if instead of describing our bodies as having betrayed us, we welcomed them and welcomed our emotions and our narratives with love and acceptance? How would our lives change if instead of being violent against ourselves, we embraced ourselves?

I’m not saying transition is bad—far from it. Acceptance doesn’t mean you necessarily like something. I didn’t like being gendered as male. I accept, though, that I was. I don’t like my current body—I feel it’s too bulky and too masculine (and getting too fat in places). I’m working on accepting the reality of my body and my own limitations, though I’m struggling with it. A lot. Beneath my feelings of being overly masculine, not feminine, still like a male, different, other, not-whole, fat, ugly, etc.—underneath all this are emotions of fear and shame and doubt. I’ve covered these feelings up with violence, telling myself that I’m, “Not good enough. Not real. Not feminine. Not thin. Lazy. Stupid,” and so on. I alienate myself and fight against my own history, and in a lot of the word choices I see many trans people make, I fear they are doing similar things. Beyond the trans community, though, I know these sorts of destructive coping mechanisms are common in our society, and it’s a thread that goes back to the idea of Original Sin (probably further back from there, too, and made manifest in other forms in other cultures).
What if there’s nothing inherently wrong with you?

I want to befriend myself. I want to show myself love and acceptance—embrace all my aspects as neither inherently good nor bad, or as deficiencies or shortcoming. I want to greet every emotion with respect and welcoming. These typically unwanted emotions are indicative of a part that needs attention. It needs love. I am going to share a poem with you, written by Jelaluddin Rumi:

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

I’m told there’s a picture of the Buddha in which Mara, the god of hate, greed and delusion, attacked with a shower of poison arrows that represent shadow deities. The Buddha was seated in the posture of compassion—one hand on his heart and the other extended to receive the forces of Mara. As the arrows touch the Buddha, they become flowers and float harmlessly to the ground. Jealousy, hate, fear, shame, anger—they were all transformed by the Buddha’s loving and wakeful presence.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Written on skin

Author’s note: This post contains topics and visuals that may be triggering to anyone who is or has suffered from self harm/injury.

“What are those?” My mother doesn’t qualify what she’s referring to, nor does she point or give any clear indications. Instead, there’s a subtle connection between here grey-blue eyes and the markings on my forearms. At first, I’m tempted to feign ignorance and sarcastically shoot back, “They’re called tattoos, Mom.” But I know what she means. She’s not looking at the kitsune dancing over the painted lilies, nor is she observing the cherry tree that Steve free-handed on my arm. What caught my mother’s eye were the series of pale, parallel lines etched across my skin—faded visages of my darkest hours and my most deep-seated self hatred, permanently made manifest. Instead of a snarky retort, I lie. I tell my mom I cut my arm on the loose frame of my now-deceased rat’s cage. I don’t know if my mom buys this pathetic excuse, but she doesn’t press the issue further. She continues eating her lunch and our afternoon continues without further mention of my scars.

I remember carving each of the lines into my skin. I remember vividly cleaning the knife and plunging the still soapy tip into my arm. The feel of dragging the cold, metal blade through my flesh—the simultaneously searing warmth, the scathing sting that followed, as ruby beads bubbled to the surface. Clutching my arm in my shaking hand, teeth grinding against the pain, I felt a strange euphoria flooding through me: emotional pain transferred into physical reality, escaping, momentarily, through my veins and into the cold Washington winter air.

But it’s important to remember that feeling of euphoric release is momentary. It’s only a temporary escape from the hell of my mind. Reality crashes down quickly thereafter. I remember the doubts that followed almost as vividly: am I damaged? What’s wrong with me? Am I broken? Am I crazy? Wasn’t transitioning supposed to fix the depression, not make it worse? Depression has a strange way of distorting the mind. Cutting became a magical way of grounding me in a physical reality. Cutting transformed my body into something that was as hideous and broken as I felt inside. This is the danger of transitioning before you’re ready—this is what happens when you’ve internalized all the transphobia of the world and then, without reconciling those attitudes, diving head-first into a transition; those clear blue waters that were supposed to hold the freedom of self-ideation quickly morphed into a thick black wave, all-consuming.

A voice in my head kept repeating: “You’re not a girl. Look at you—you’re too tall, your face is too masculine, your shoulders too broad. You look hideous. You are nothing like that girl you imagined”—the girl with the red hair. My soul mate...my saviour. I was a disgrace—a poor imposter. The voice continued: “You’re not normal. You’re not like the other girls—the NATURAL girls.” And it was true. What am I? Who am I?

Existential doubts are toxic to someone in mid-transition. I found myself calling the local crisis line just for some human contact—a kind word and a sympathetic ear. I put myself into the hospital twice because medical attention was still attention nonetheless. But all these avenues were hollow. The hospitals neglected me, isolated me and asked me condescending questions about my gender; the voices of the crisis line became more impatient and cared more that I didn’t damage my body than that I had a damaged soul. I even took solace knowing that, statistically, girls were more likely than boys to engage in self injury. As I said, depression has a weird way of warping the mind.

I think it was Elizabeth Wurtzel who first compared depression to Hemmingway’s famous quote about going bankrupt; it happens “first gradually, then suddenly.” She’s right. Turns out returning from depression is much the same; I cannot tell you how I managed to crawl out of self injury or how I learned to swim out of the black wave (again, Wurtzel’s imagery. I give her props—she’s the master of describing what it’s like to be depressed). I cannot outright tell you the wisdom I learned that made everything ok, partly because I’m still learning it and partly because the lesson cannot be taught. It has to be experienced to be learned. It has to become engrained on your skin—an etched reminder.

Monday, September 21, 2009


The issues I discussed in my last post, “Cis-/Trans- Isomerisation” still bother me. It troubles me that there are folks who would use “cis” as an insult aimed to hurt the people who may otherwise be our allies, and it troubles me that people now find the term offensive, when it was meant to be neutral, to allow a discourse of both trans and non-trans people, and to put the two groups on even footing. The thing is nobody really likes it when an outside force labels them—hell, a lot of people don’t even like labelling themselves. It’s nice to think, “labels are for envelopes,” but in the real world, labels are a necessary evil. Without them, we would have no means of addressing the issues at hand (in this particular instance, discussing social and biological narratives of trans and cis individuals in order to bring insight and understanding to these important cultural issues as well as help fight against some of the oppression that is all-too-often shunted onto those who fail to conform to the combine of sex and gender regulations, whether that nonconformity be stemming from biological determinants or the unforgiving demands of an idealist culture).
I noticed upon rereading my last post that it could have come across that I was denoting “cis” as an identity. If this is indeed the case I apologize and outright blame this slight on fatigue and a complete lack of editing (which I touched upon in the author’s note). Cis isn’t so much an identity as it is a description of a social or cultural perception. To quote Julia Serano:

An analogy: I don’t strongly *identify* with the terms “white” and “able-bodied,” even though I am both of those things. After all, I have been able to navigate my way through the world without ever having to give much thought to those aspects of my person. And that’s the point: It is my white privilege and able-bodied privilege that enables me *not* to have to deal with racism and ableism on a daily basis!
In general, we only identify with those aspects of ourselves that are marked. For example, I identify as bisexual, and as a trans woman, because those are issues that I have to deal with all of the time (because of other people’s prejudices). While I may not strongly identify as white or able-bodied, it would be entitled for me to completely disavow myself from those labels, as it would deny the white privilege and able-bodied privilege I regularly experience.

I hope that clarifies some of my thoughts around using the terms “cisgender” and “cissexual.” At the end of the day, these words are meant as tools to teach one another and to help us recognize differences in our own stories, helping us to become more understanding and compassionate of one another—and, of course, not take our own privilege for granted! (And yes, we ALL have privilege and oppression that affect our lives). I don’t particularly want to discuss this issue any further, because I’m sick of it. I’m going to continue using the term cis (or cisgender or cissexual where appropriate) to highlight a specific narrative. I’m not going to use it to imply transphobia or to imply that anyone not identifying as trans is somehow ignorant or bigoted, and I will not be using the term in the context “hey you cis transphobe, yadda yadda yadda”—those usages of the word really aren’t appropriate, and I discourage them.

That said this whole discourse around cis and trans has brought up one degree of cis privilege that I want to discuss openly, as it is one privilege that I envy above all others (and again, this isn’t meant to assume cis people are transphobic or unaware of this privilege...I’m not making judgements about anyone’s biases here. I really hope I never have to put this kind of disclaimer anywhere again).
Before my plane even left El Paso, people here in Adelaide knew who I was and, more importantly, they knew that I am trans, even though I never once mentioned my biological history to anyone in this hemisphere at the time. They had got wind of it by utilizing the magic of the internet! Evidently, my biological history is plastered all over my facebook, certainly in this blog (which I stupidly or arrogantly or hopefully—your pick—list on my facebook), and more than that, my name pops up in several google/yahoo searches in articles discussing LGB and especially T issues. All you need to know is my name and the links pop up; throw the word “transgender” into the search and boom: I’m all over the place. But, even beyond that, my history is easily uncovered by asking any number of my acquaintances, as most of the have heard me speak on trans issues either within private groups or on forums. And again, even if you didn’t know my name or anyone I happen to know, my trans status is apparent in my physical features, should you know what you were looking for. Altogether, this simply means one thing: my closet has been reduced to ashes. There is no chance for me to go stealth at this point; not unless I delete my blogs, my email, my facebook account, and any other mention I own online; not unless on top of that I change my name, cut all ties with everyone I know, move to a completely different part of the word, and undergo some surgeries to mildly change my appearance. Even then, though, traces of the former self would remain, and anyone with enough time and dedication could uncover the paper trail. I am underscoring one simple, albeit cruel, reality: there is no such thing as stealth.

But let’s suppose for a minute that it is possible to do all the above—to completely erase the old self and become someone else, to in essence fully convert from trans to cis (at least in the perception of everyone in the world, including governments, doctors, lovers, friends, enemies, etc.) Even then, I could never be stealth from myself. It’s no small secret that being trans is a large part of my life; I live it, I study it, and I’m an advocate because of it. Recognition of my trans status is constant for me, and while I can say that trans and cis women are not inherently different from one another, I can feel the difference in my own mind.

On a very activist-oriented level I know that there is no inherent difference between cis and trans women, and the assertion of such a difference would imply that all cis women are the same as one another and that they are a distinct group, separate from trans women. Moreover, it would neglect the large variation between and overlaps among cis and trans women (to paraphrase Julia Serano again). But that said, there is a persistent feeling of difference. And maybe this is a product of socialization or of the intolerances prevalent in our culture.

Discussing the issue around word like cis and trans, I often heard the argument, “I don’t identify as cis.” Everytime I read this statement, a part of me whispered, “Well, I never wanted to identify as trans. I fought against that identification until denying it further brought me to the brink of my tolerance. I fought against it until I realize I had to transition or die.” I often wish I could fade into obscure oblivion—enter into the normalcy offered to the cissexual world and never have the recognition of my biological reality constantly at the forefront of my mind. While I identify as a woman, I can never *just* be a woman—there is a lot of additional information that gets tacked on there, whether I like it or not. And whether I like it or not, I am always going to be aware of these circumstances—that’s why we call it an identity. We’re marked.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Finding the Common Thread: Anti-Intersex Bigotry in the Media

Logging onto Yahoo today I found another of those obnoxious, offensive, sensationalized headlines: “Hermaphrodite shock: IAAF tight-lipped.” Wow. Just...wow. But, oh, it gets so much worse...

By now everyone must know about Caster Semenya (after all, I rarely read the news and never watch TV, and I still know about her), but in case you had forgotten, here’s a quick recap: Caster ran in the Olympics, and she ran amazingly well—knocked out the competition without seemingly trying to. And, because she kicks ass so hard, and because of the way she looks, officials ordered gender testing. Jenny Finney Boylan wrote an op-ed in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/03/opinion/03boylan.html) a little over a year ago discussing why gender testing is neither reliable nor ethical. The examinations test chromosomes, hormone levels, and genotypes, the assumption being that males will have one set testosterone range that females will not have, and that males will have Y chromosomes while females do not. But this obviously leaves large gaps around intersexual and transsexual people. While transsexuals are allowed to compete in the Olympics, they are required to have undergone genital reassignment surgery and have had two years of hormone replacement treatment. This, in my opinion, is really warped, as it sets up a classist basis for transsexual competitors. Intersex athletes are more of an ambiguous issue as they can have wide ranges of hormone compliments and/or genetic makeups. Often the athletes are unaware of their intersex status and the impromptu revelation of something as intimate as their sex to the public—something that also frequently destroys their careers and sends their social lives into a Helter Skelter hell—can be psychologically disastrous. This brings us back to Caster.

It has just been announced that Caster Semenya is intersex, having female external genitalia and internal testis. First thing the papers have done wrong is refer to Caster as a hermaphrodite. The term “hermaphrodite” is generally used to refer to an organism that has functioning male and female sex organs, though many hermaphrodites do not undergo asexual reproduction (i.e. they do not self-fertilize their own eggs). Hermaphrodites can be either simultaneous, in which case they have both male and female reproductive organs present at the same time; however, sequential hermaphrodites also exist that are born one sex but change sex at some point in their lives, usually in response to environmental stimuli. The important thing to note is that while cases exist of humans having both ovarian and testicular tissues, humans are incapable of producing both eggs and sperm, and therefore can never be true hermaphrodites. Indeed, humans who are born with both testicular and ovarian tissue have a condition that is now (more accurately) termed ovo-testis (the name is self-explanatory).

So why did the media use the word “hermaphrodite” to describe Caster when the appropriate word is “ovo-testis”? Well, aside from the general public being absolutely ignorant of such terms (as well as biology in general); the media is trying to sensationalize the story. The obvious problem is the “hermaphrodite” when applied to humans is an extremely loaded and offensive term. It has been used—and continues to be used—to stigmatize intersex people; just reading through the comments section of the Caster Semenya articles is evidence enough (I’ll address this more in a bit). The Intersex Society of North America put it this way, “five ISNA-associated experts recommend that all terms based on the root ‘hermaphrodite’ be abandoned because they are scientifically specious and clinically problematic. The terms fail to reflect modern scientific understandings of intersex conditions, confuse clinicians, harm patients, and panic parents.” Given the dark history of medical intervention into the lives of intersex children, and given that better, more accurate terms are readily available, and GIVEN the intense social stigma attached to the term, it is despicable that the media has decided to handle Caster’s story in this manner.

Let’s talk about the comments of the even-more ignorant masses, shall we? First all the comments reverting to mixed pronouns (i.e. “she/he”). Caster is a woman. She has been raised as such and she identifies as female. Therefore the pronoun is “she,” not “he,” or “she/he,” or “hir,” or “ze,” etc. Using a pronoun aside from the feminine in the case is disrespectful to Caster’s gender identity. This should be self evident. But, worse than this are the people referring to Caster as an “it.” Do I even need to go into this? “It” is used to reference inanimate objects; in using “it” as a pronoun you are effectively not only being disrespectful to Caster’s gender, but you are also dehumanizing her—suggesting she is not a person. Stay classy. There’s a deluge of idiocy that I won’t even touch on here. Instead, I have two more points I still want to make:

The first of these is all the commotion about Caster deceiving people and competing in an unfair way. This is preposterous; it is very possible that Caster never knew she was intersex, and even if she did that is scarcely evidence of deception. Such an argument boils down to an attack on Caster’s own gender identity; to make her “out” herself—to require her to reveal publically that she was born intersex is both an invasion of her privacy as well as tantamount to asking her to stigmatize herself. If a person live and identifies as a given gender, that, really, ought to be good enough. There is the issue that Caster and many other intersex female athletes have high testosterone levels and that this gives them an unfair advantage in competition. The problem with testing hormones and declaring certain levels as unfair advantage is that naturally occurring hormone levels vary widely between individuals. Where is the threshold of male levels vs. female levels, and what happens when a female individual with no other biological anomaly shows up with “male” testosterone levels? Is she barred from competing? Because hormone levels have such variance, and because those same levels are ambiguous, putting rules in place based souls on hormone concentrations is unreasonable. Furthermore, such qualifications will serve to only further alienate anyone who identifies outside of the gender binary. The notion that a naturally occurring high testosterone level is “unfair” advantage is a mine field of logical fallacies and small-mindedness.

The last point I want to make here is concerning the stunning lack of biological knowledge in the comments I have read. A lot of these boil down to people thinking the presence of testicular tissue indicates maleness, which is clearly a phallocentric assumption that is would otherwise be challenged by the mere existence of ovo-testes. Unfortunately a lot of misinformation is also spread by individuals trying to defend Caster against the bigoted remarks of the ignorant. For instance, Pam Spaulding (of pamshouseblend) wrote that Caster’s condition would not be potentially fatal (as an article suggested it would be). The truth is that intersex conditions often come with a number of additional health risks, due in no small part to intersex conditions being caused by mutations in genes essential for development of not only reproductive organs, but other tissues as well. A mutation in the Sox9 gene will result in an intersex condition as well as a bone deformity. Many intersex conditions, especially those resulting in internal testis tissue or undeveloped gonads (as in Caster’s case) come with high risks of cancer—hence the “potentially fatal condition.” Other people have argued, in defence of Caster, that all people are born “programmed” as female; this is that common misunderstanding that people are girl in utero until a male sex-determining pathway is triggered. While this hypothesis used to be popular, it is dead wrong. In embryonic development we start off with the potential to develop into females or males. I could get into the details here, but it would take too long. The take home message is that it takes work to develop into females as well as males. These processes are very complex, so there is a lot of chance for errors along the way—this is probably why intersexuality is so common (~1 in 100 births).

At the end of the day, though, this isn’t about people preaching biological misinformation—though that certainly pisses me off. This is about the mistreatment of Caster Semenya, along with all intersex people, at the hands of the media. I feel like in our subdivided alphabet soup communities (LGBTTQQIA...etc) we forget about the plight of our fellow letters, especially those who are less prominent. Yes, Transgender is one of the less prominent, but Intersex is usually even further down the list, relegated to the world of medicine and even less understood by the general public (though make no mistake, the general public and even the queer community more often than not fails to understand either Transgender or Intersex). But look at all that’s been said about Caster is the past few weeks and see how eerily similar it is to the crap trans people have been going through. Truly, we are sister communities, and while our battles are often very different there are many moments in which we are one...though not only in our combined subjugation.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I honestly can't think of a good title for this post...

Wother; I’m first of all sorry I haven’t been writing (anything) for the past…however unreasonably long it has been. I really wish I had some kind of excuse for my lethargy, but that’s just it: I was being lethargic: ergo, no excuse. Er, I should also apologize in advance to the complete incoherence of this post, though you’ve probably caught onto that by now. What have I been up to these past…weeks? The general breakdown of events goes like this: wake up, go to the lab (where I toil over bioinformatics and an endless deluge of journal articles), only to return home to practice violin and re-read the Harry Potter series in its entirety. How sad is it when your life can be quickly and thoughtlessly summarized in one sentence? Oh yeah, Australia is one hell of an adventure.

Enough complaints, though. For the past two weeks or so I have been conversing with a girl via facebook and Yahoo! Messenger—a girl who is just now starting the beginning of her transition by, unwisely I might add, advertising her coming out through her facebook status bar (to an unsuspecting family, I might add). The whole process of chatting with her between trying to focus on my own PhD work has been rather a…interesting experience for me. It’s made me look back at some of the emotions I had when I was immersed in my own nascent transition. I remember feeling, just as this girl does, a strong and urgent need for acknowledgement and recognition of my identity, this interspersed with a paucity of impatience and easily roused feelings of frustration and angst—all culminating in an unbearable plethora of pathos. I’d like to think this obnoxious/annoying teenage-esque state of being is common to anyone transitioning, but having read a lot of Lori’s blog, I have to change my theory (Though Lori, or lorisrevival, did write a lot about painful emotions, but she was never pathetic, and she displays and unbelievable amount of patience and understanding). No, this girl (and yes, I, too, at one point did this) remind me in many ways of Veruka Salt from Willy Wonka:

Essentially: I want my identity recognized NOOOOOOOOWWWWWWW!!!!! I want to be able to transition NNNNNOOOOOOOOOWWWWWW!!!!! Alright, these are a little exaggerated—but only a little! In my ideal world, yes, no one would have to worry about their identity not being recognized, or otherwise being impugned. In an ideal world, we could transition right away—or, for some of us, we might not have to transition—and everyone would respond to trans people with consideration and respect. Unfortunately, such a world doesn’t exist. Instead, as we all know too well, we’re presented with a world so steeped in gender roles and expectations—a world that takes the rigidity of gender for granted—that people generally don’t know how to process transitions between sexes. Least of all families who, after getting to know us (typically over decades) have those relationships fundamentally shaken by our coming out (my note: this sentence feels really poorly written to me, and even Word is underlining it in zigzagging green doom…I’m just too lazy to fix it at the moment).

In my conversations with this girl I continually repeated the same few words: I suggest you be patient and understanding towards your family. All the while I remember the great impatience I showed my own. Yeah, I wish transitions didn’t suck and I wish they could be done with a simple flick of the wrist or a twitch of the nose (remember, I’m reading Harry Potter). But transitions are, at their core, life journeys. In what is one of the saddest truths I have ever learned, the cast of characters often changes after these life journeys, but if you’re lucky you’ll make it out with very few losses. We, those transitioning, are not the only ones on the journey. We have a whole traveling group of companions going on this quest with us every step of the way, and each of us has our own parts to play and our own challenges to overcome. Patience, understanding, and trust are tantamount to transitioning…and, unfortunately, sometimes, even that’s not enough.

One of my greatest regrets in life is alienating my family as much as I did. If I had shown more trust, patience, and understanding earlier in life, I would have found myself with allies—I’m only now beginning to have that relationship with my family after nearly pissing it away in the early stages of my transition through my impatience and lack of trust/understandin.

↑ That’s me typing frustration because I don’t know how to end this (I warned you about crummy incoherence). This is what happens when I get stuck in a rut in a foreign country, then, following a self-imposed guilt trip, write blogs.