A retrospective and some advice for newly out and younger trans people

//Content warning: transphobia, depression, suicidal ideation//

When I look back at my life, I have one major regret: that I didn’t transition earlier. I learned what trans meant at 15, back in 2005. I didn’t come out before 2014 and, because my country’s trans health care is slow as all hell, I didn’t start my physical transition before 2016.

Two things prevented me from accepting myself and made me put off being authentic for 9(!) years. The first was being told I couldn’t have a relationship with the Divine if I was trans. I have always, my whole life, had this deep longing for the Transcendent that nothing else could quench. An existence without it felt like a fate worse than death. So, I chose for a long time not to risk it.

Eventually, I lost my Christian faith. This allowed me to finally accept my transness but life felt empty until I found religion again. Of course, you don’t have to be religious. But if spirituality is important to you, don’t just accept that the Divine (regardless of whether you view Them as One, Many or kind of both) won’t accept you for who you are.

Visit progressive and accepting mosques or churches or Pagan temple or whatever else is associated with your particular tradition. Read books with different perspectives. Pray and turn inwards, away from the hate others are trying to make you feel about yourself. Don’t give away the right of interpretation to some religious authority.

That’s my first advice. My second advice is stay away from TERFs. I speak here from experience.

Shortly after leaving my church, I happened to befriend some women who can accurately be called TERFs (trans exclusionary ‘radical feminists’) and some even wore that title like a badge of honour. TERFs are most known for hating trans women and transfeminine people with a blazing hatred (warning: mention of extreme transphobia). But they also like to try and convince trans men and transmasculine people that we’re just self-hating women.

Their basic argument centers around the idea that gender dysphoria in AFAB people is a socially constructed phenomenon. That because society looks down on women and because female gender roles are restrictive, that the dysphoria we feel is a symptom of internalised misogyny and that transitioning is a destructive act of self-hatred.

The problem with that argument is that gender dysphoria doesn’t happen because of what society thinks or because you have what it deems a ‘masculine personality’ in a female body, or vice versa. It happens because you have a brain wired to function with a certain type of body which doesn’t match your actual body.

That’s it. That’s the whole thing. It’s not because you have certain hobbies or how you like to wear your hair or the kind of toys you played with as a kid. That just sexist bullshit and if you transition because of shallow stereotypes, you’re probably going to end up regretting it and detransitioning.

But the thing with TERFs is that they don’t actually care about your well-being. Maybe a few of them are simply ignorant and misguided and actually think they’re helping. But a lot of them just really like to hate.
And perhaps because I was already feeling like absolut shit every day of my life, I believed them when they told me I needed to accept that I was a self-hating woman who would be cured of gender dysphoria if I just accepted their ideology. When you’re depressed, you easily believe others when they tell you it’s your own fault you’re suffering. Thankfully, I didn’t stay friends with these women for long. But it still delayed my coming out by a couple of years.

Now I look back at my life pre-transition and it amazes me how I managed to survive over a quarter of a century in a body that felt like a foreign object. It amazes me just as much that I now have a body that feels like mine, with the exception of that last small part bottom surgery will soon take care of. I look back and I see how I went from feeling constantly tired, depressed and suicidal to being happy and hopeful about the future. I went from an existence that felt like being forced to live someone else’s life to thriving and enjoying being alive.

One of the worst lies TERFs tell is that dysphoria isn’t helped by transitioning. I know it’s a lie because the treatment worked for me. If I’ll one day be 100% free from any dysphoria remains to be seen after I’ve had bottom surgery. But even if it doesn’t go fully away, the distress I feel now when I’m dysphoric compared to how it was before is like comparing the pain of stubbing your toe to the pain of breaking your leg. My quality of life was immensely improved by medical transition and I’m so grateful for it.

But I’m aware I got lucky. I’ll be 32 this summer. A lot of people I knew didn’t make it this far. I met quite a number of trans folks who ended up dying from suicide, substance abuse or self-medicating with black market hormones. Most were under the age of 25.

On top of dysphoria, most trans people have to deal with discrimination and oftentimes abuse. In later years, it has become trendy among conservatives to hate on trans people. It feels like every day, a new fearmongering news article comes out spreading lies and misinformation about us. It’s quite honestly exhausting.

That’s why it feels more important than ever for us who survived to help those who struggle. Being open with my story, I hope will help someone out there see that things can get better. It certainly did for me.

Book tip: ‘Mademoiselle de Scudery’ (1819) by E.A. Hoffmann

History's first known murder mystery!

5 very queer Norse stories

An interesting article from PinkNews: https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2022/05/07/viking-norse-gods-lgbtq/

I’m particularly obsessed with this beautiful illustration of Thor:

The Giants Shine at Night

I have wandered many nights when I could not sleep.
I have wandered in Gothenburg and in Bangkok, in Dubai and in Lyon.
I have wandered under falling snow and in tropical heat,
At the feet of skyscrapers and beneath cathedrals.
I have wandered alone, most of the time.

And in all cities the world round,
The giants shine at night. 
Like self-proclaimed gods,
Above the fates of men,
They do not care for my sorrow,
Not for my joys or my tears.
So why do I find such comfort in their glow?

If only I could be like those giants at night,
Standing tall,
Glowing in the darkness,
Unbothered by the sufferings of the time…

The unhelpful common trans narrative – and why it’s hindering further acceptance

I’d like to start this post with a thought experiment. If you are right-handed (or the opposite if you are left-handed), imagine that you lived in a world where less than 1% of the world was. Your whole life you were scolded every time you used the hand that felt natural to you. People told you that you were wrong and weirding everybody out. So, you forced yourself to use the hand that felt wrong and most things you did just felt wrong. But you kept doing it because you didn’t want people thinking you’re a freak.

Then, one day, you find out there are other people like you. That it’s simply your nature to be left- or right-handed. That you’re not some perverse type who likes to mess with people’s heads. Full of joy, you tell everyone about it. You’re a proud left- or right-handed person. Things will no longer feel so forced and strange.

But your friends and family are less than thrilled about your self-acceptance. Your difference is an inconvenience to them. It’s so weird and gross, they just can’t accept it. And what will people say? Have you even thought about how it will make them look? They demand that you justify yourself for being what you are.

So, you decide to try and make a case. You bring stereotypes about people with your hand preference. Things like how left-handed people are often better at mathematics and you’ve always had great math grades. Or how right-handers are supposed to have superior language skills and you’ve learned several languages. Therefore, it’s obvious why you’re the way you are.

Because most people can’t explain the deep brain-wiring that causes handedness. Or sexual orientation. Or gender identity. So, you rely on stereotypes, hoping that people will accept that you can’t help being who you are because of these shallow, socially constructed ideas.

A result of this is that trans people often have to use sexist stereotypes to justify our existence. Both to family, friends and to medical professionals. When I was forced to justify my need for transitional care to the so-called ‘gender specialists’, I had to lie through my teeth a lot of the time. No, of course not. I never played with dolls. Yes, of course, I love sports. I watch it all the time. Yes, I’m attracted to women. Yes, I watch straight porn. I love titties.

Lies, all of that. They did help me get testosterone, top surgery and – hopefully soon – metoidioplasty. So, I can’t say that I fully regret those lies. But this narrative needs to stop for several reasons.

First, it hurts trans people by making us feel like we need to be walking gender stereotypes to be allowed to exist. Some people who need to transition might put it off for years simply because they don’t feel macho or feminine enough, causing great harm to their mental health.

Secondly, it might make some cis people think that they need to transition. The stories of people who regret their transition (far less people than the media wants you to believe, but they still exist) is almost always someone who transitioned to escape restrictive gender roles and ended up realising that the changes to their bodies made them feel horribly. They ended up with dysphoria they didn’t have to begin with.

(On a side note, I’d like to say that if you are thinking about transition because the expectations society has on you, then please consider the fact that the other side will have plenty of expectations too. Speaking from experience, I can say that both the ridiculous beauty standards of the female side and the toxic macho norms of the male side are pretty shitty and can be hard to bear.)

Thirdly, it actually makes acceptance of trans people harder in the long run. Both trans-hating “radical feminists” and conservatives are using this narrative against us, claiming that we’re out here actively pressuring anyone who breaks gender roles into transition. They don’t realise we’ve had to resort to this narrative to counter their intolerance. It is, after all, conservatives who think boys should like sports and girls should like dolls. They’ve pushed us into a corner, pressured us to use their own worldview to justify our existence and now gone full circle and saying we’re the sexist ones!

Part of the solution to this, as far as I can see, is that we need to stop trying to justify our innate gender identity to cis people. They might not get it, and they don’t need to get it because it’s nobody’s business but ours.

I realise I’ve never mentioned on this blog before that I’m a trans man. Honestly, I just wanted at least one space online where I wouldn’t have to deal with the transphobia that always follows with being openly trans. But there is so much hate right now, with all the sensationalist media spreading bullshit about us and conservative politicians doing all they can to make our lives hell, that I felt I needed to step out and come out here too. Being silent is exactly what our detractors want from us – and I simply refuse to give them that.

France sends song about witches dancing in the wild to the Eurovision

Eurovision week is finally here! I’ve been looking forward to this since the last one but I’ve yet to check out all the songs of this year. Less than an hour before the first semi-finale, I decided to look up what song France was sending this year. Turns out it’s a song about witches performing magic and dancing in the wild!

Fun fact: the song is not in French but in Breton, the last Celtic language on the European mainland.

A prayer poem: Song of Byggvir

I am the son of the soil
My feet are in the dirt
My bones grow downwards like roots
My soul reaches up high,
Where Mother and Father wait
All Their children’s return

My body comes from the soil,
From the lovely body of Jord, I was born
My soul comes from Oden,
He breathed me to life,
Gifted me with spirit and mind,
As He did all His children

So, let me be humble,
For I am but dirt
But let me be noble,
For I came from the High Ones.
Let me be a servant,
For I am but chaff,
Foder for the cows.
But let me love myself like a king,
For I am a child of the Father of all.

Since we’re on the topic of weaving…

I came across this and was reminded how we are all co-weavers of She Who Weaves Existence:

May She bless us all with good thread.

The book is ‘The Monk Within: Embracing a Sacred Way of Life’ by Beverly Lanzetta.

What is the core of Heathenry?

The other day, I had someone visit at my apartment. While there, they noticed my altar and the statue of Freya on it. They asked:
”Who’s that?”
I said that She is Freya, one of the Goddesses of the Heathen faith. They asked if I was a Heathen and I said yes. Then they asked me something I’d never really thought about:
”What is the core of that religion?”

The core? I didn’t know what to answer at first. The purpose of any Theistic religion is to foster a relationship with the Divine. We might have wildly different views of the nature of that Divine, but we all aim to know Them through our beliefs and practises.

Because the person asking used the Swedish word ‘grundläggande’, which can mean both ‘core’ and ‘fundamental thing’, I figured they meant the thing that sets this religion apart from others. So, I said:

”That you should be good to people because everyone is part of the web that is the world.”

While this view is actually not unique to the Heathen faith but is common to many Pagan worldviews, it’s still the best answer I could find. And it’s something that I love about Heathenry: the idea that we are all connected, that even with our own uniqueness and idiosyncrasies, we are all part of the Web or Wyrd and can participate in the sacred work that is the weaving of the world.

After being brought up with the sheep and goats/saved and unsaved/eternally accepted or eternally rejected theology of Christianity, it’s something I still struggle with sometimes. Surely, the Divine can’t be this grand and tolerant? The idea still feels revolutionary, somehow. And yet: this worldview is far older than Christianity.

Of course, not all who call themselves Heathen or Asatruar have these views of universal belonging and acceptance. Norse and Germanic Pagan spirituality has a long history of being appropriated by fascist and there is a folkish branch of Heathenry that believes the religion is only for white people. But there really isn’t anything in the religion itself to support such views.

In the end, we are all weaving needles in the tapestry of existence. We all have something unique to bring to the table, as well as a responsibility for what sort of threads we choose to weave into the world.

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