When I first decided to embark on the project that later evolved into TransNerdFeminist, I spent a lot of time considering whether or not to include writings about my personal journey through transition. “After all,” I thought, “haven’t lots of transwomen far more interesting and with much better writing talent already shared their stories? What could my story possibly add?” I still think that I’m not all that wrong there…my story is important to me (because it’s me), and to the people who care about me, but it’s not exactly compelling literature. I think at first I started writing about my own experiences mostly for posterity…something to look back on and see how far I’d come when the journey got daunting. But a second thought occurred to me while I assembling my (ever growing) blogroll. I remembered just how much reading or hearing about the experiences of other transwomen had given a sense of hope during the very early days after I had made my decision to transition. Hearing about these brave women’s victories and how they endured the challenges of their transition gave me hope about my own future, and helped me push on at those times when fear nearly overtook me.
The process of gender transition is rather unique in the grand scheme of human experiences. There’s not much in your life than will really prepare you for what you’re going to face, and it’s difficult for people who haven’t had this journey to relate to it. Don’t misunderstand, I have AMAZINGLY supportive friends who do everything they can to understand what’s going with me, but there’s a degree of understanding that you can’t really get from any other way than living through it. Furthermore, everyone’s experience is rather unique. I don’t there’s any such thing as a “typical” transition or even a typical journey to arriving at the DECISION to transition, and that means that all of us have a different story to tell, and different experiences to share with one another
I’ll be honest, without the internet for information, I’m not sure I’d even still be alive today. All of my earliest information (dating back to high school) about gender dysphoria, being transgender/transsexual, and transition came from the internet. It’s what first allowed me to associate a name with what I felt (even if I frequently fought against accepting it), and feel like I wasn’t totally alone in the world for feeling that way. In the earliest days of my explorations with expression, it’s what let me shop for clothes without fear of being outed. It’s partly where I learned makeup, and entirely where I learned how to take care of my hair. I think for a large portion of the younger portion of the trans community, the web has played a huge part in helping us come to grips with who we are, and allowed us to find resources to help us survive that otherwise would have been much harder to come by. But I think even more importantly, it’s allowed us to connect with one another and to share experiences through blogging, vlogging, podcasts and other social media.
For me, reading blogs became a form of support group (traditional support groups are difficult for me due to social anxiety). During the period where I was still struggling to understand my gender identity and make sense of all of my conflicted feelings, I was able to find affirmation in the stories of others who had come before me and struggled with similar feelings. Not every blog I read matched up exactly with what I was going through, but each one seemed to validate a different part of the mess of things inside my brain. This piece by Casey Plett (who sadly no longer blogs) is one I still have bookmarked from that period. I was able to form some pretty solid ideas of the sorts of challenges I’d be facing in transition, but more importantly, I got to hear just how much transition had improved these women’s lives. I got to read about the fears they had experienced or the doubts they might have had, and that gave me a sense of validation. And as silly as it may sound, it gave me role models. LadyVixion was a huge inspiration to me back then. Around the time I was working towards the transition decision, she was posting hilarious (and sometimes deeply touching) video blogs on youtube about her transition and trans-related issues in a confident, sassy style that resonated with me. I don’t think I’ll ever manage to be quite as bold and brassy as she is, but it definitely helped me realize that it was okay to be ME, and not feel like I had to fit neatly into a particular trans-person mold. A few others who were important to me were MeghansLife and Grishno. I wish I had bookmarks for all the blogs that gave me so much inspiration back then so I could give them the credit they deserve for helping me through those tough times. Of course, if I’m giving credit for inspiration, I’d be remiss if i didn’t mention two wonderful, beautiful friends of mine who blazed the trail ahead of me. They’ve been invaluable support and amazing resources, and I don’t think I’d be in nearly as good a place as I am without them. For all of our privacy, no names used…but they know who they are.
And all that social media didn’t just help me, either. It helped people around me. When I couldn’t put how I was feeling into words, I could often point to a brilliantly poignant blog post or video posting. When I needed to share information about trans etiquette and basic advocacy with people I had recently come out to, I could also point them to some brilliant writing from the trans community. And beyond all of that, just having that information and those stories out there and accessible means it’s that much more likely that the rest of the world will read something that will give them some insight into what we struggle with, and the complexities of our lives, or just maybe dispel a bit of disinformation or a stereotype in their minds. Information is power, and it changes minds and hearts. And we need all the minds and hearts on our side that we can muster.
I can’t imagine I’m alone in my experience. There seem to be more trans blogs springing up every day throughout wordpress, blogspot, and tumblr. Trans topics pop up on reddit on a regular basis. WeHappyTrans is growing in popularity. The #GirlsLikeUs tag on twitter see dozens of tweets a week. Our presence on the ‘net is bigger than it ever has been. I see comments on so many blogs about how what people are sharing is making a difference in the lives of total strangers, sometimes on the other side of the planet. It’s allowing our comparatively tiny community to shrink the distance between and foster connections that are helping to make us healthier, happier, better informed, and more politically and socially influential that we’ve ever been before.
So, at the end of the day, that’s why I decided to publish my thoughts and experiences about transition: the chance that my experiences might smooth the process or give some reassurance to someone else struggling with their identity or getting ready to start transition or taking the leap to come out to people they care about. If all the work I’ve put in here can give just one person a little more confidence, or help them find clarity when things seem the most confusing. or even just validate a tiny bit of the sea of complicated feels that come with being trans, then it’s absolutely worth it to me. If it helps one cis-person have a better understanding of their trans friend, family member, co-worker or spouse, then then I won’t regret a single second of the work I’ve put into this project. It’s THAT important.
For the good of our community and the sake of those who follow behind us, the more of us sharing our stories, the better.