Three years of transformation

I’ve got the privilege of living an adventurous life together with lots of beautiful, creative and playful friends. We have a tradition some of us, consisting of dressing up in old’ times clothing and going on an adventure together the first weekend in December. Today it was my third time.

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Our brave advent expedition today.

I had a really great time and now when I look back at the pictures we’ve taken this weekend over the years, I can see something extraordinary. I can see how I’ve transformed over the past three years, how much I’ve changed. I thought that I would post a few pictures from each year so that you can follow my transformation. I’ll be starting with the oldest ones and going forth until today.

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This is me in 2011 on my first advent-adventure.

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The expedition crew in 2011. I’m number four from the left.

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This is me exactly a year ago, on the first of December 2012.

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There is something different and more androgynous about my personal expression in the advent adventure of 2012.

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This was today. I’m the grumpy and masculine looking one with his hat in his hand.

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I’ve gotten myself a seriously authoritative body language!

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Sometimes, I don’t recognize myself in the mirror at all. Other times, I feel that this is the way it was supposed to be, all along.

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I think looking forward into the future is worth doing in full colour, and with some of your best friends by your side.

It is really a huge change of personal expression, mostly related to gender identity, that I’ve been trough. Thank you Sofia, Karin, Johan, and Frida for the awesome pictures, and also a great thank you to all of my adventurous friends who’ve been in on this!

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Name day

Yesterday was my very first name day with my new name!

My transitioning process did not begin with my name, Emil. But the day my name found me was the day when it first became evident for me what I had before me and what I already had laid behind me. The need to somehow transition became real, apparent and inevitable. I think that sharing the full story of how I chose my new name, or rather how it chose me, is a suitable way of celebrating. So here it goes:

One night early in June this year, when my name was Ida and many people saw me as a girl, I had a dream. I dreamt of an event I’ve been planning for and working with together with my friends for almost two years, a huge 14th century reenactment event. Among many other things, I was involved as the official blogger for the event – you can find my blog and read more about it here.

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In my dream, I looked somewhat like this.
Picture by Lisa H. Ekbom

It was yet two more months to go, but in my dream I was already at the event. I was wearing men’s period clothing. For someone assigned a female gender, it is no small matter to wear male clothing as a participant at a public living history event, but this is not the place for going in to why it is so.

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This is me, two months after my name-dream.
It is a picture of a dream that came true, in many ways.
Picture by Sofia Stenler

I walked around in the huge late medieval war camp among my friends and new acquaintances. I was consequently telling everyone I met that I’d like them to address me as Emil and he or him from now on. Not “during the event” or “for now”.

It was:        “From now on.”

That was the first time I ever associated the name Emil with myself. But it seemed completely logic and sort of self evident that it was my name (more about that here). In my dream, I felt confident, happy and true to myself while doing this in a way I never had before in my waking life.

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An old picture of me, properly dressed as a working 14th century woman, spinning wool.

But I woke up baffled, at first not knowing what to make out of it all. I laughed at the absurdity of my dream; A male name and identity? And in this special context, what was the meaning of it? I knew that it would be deeply unsuitable and very likely unacceptable for me to dress as a man during the event. I was expected to wear a woman’s shift, full length woollen kirtle and to cover my hair with a white linnen veil, as I had before, on other events.

So what was the meaning of it? When I thought of it, how I use to feel when I try so hard to look and behave like I feel is expected of a woman (or any gender, really) in our society… I mean not only on reenactment events, I mean always – everyday… Then I became itchy and sort of cold all over.

I had breakfast that day with one of my closest friends and I told him about my dream. He listened carefully, nodding and encouraging me to go on. But in the end of my recapitulating of the story I choked on my own words, realising how important this dream and its message really was.

The seriousness mirrored to me from my listening friend told me that he knew what this was all about. I realised that we had been over this hundreds of times before, only I hadn’t understood that it was so important and something I had to act on. This was not only about a dream or about clothes or how I wanted to experience that reenactment event. It was about me and my life. About my right to be myself and to express that rather than conforming into something that is not me.

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I’m Emil.

The impact of my insight was enormous and life changing. This dream brought up something to the surface that has been simmering below for a very, very long time. I had to make a change and the dream had suggested in what direction to go. And since it was only two months to the event that my dream had sort of assigned the role of official starting point, I was in a bit of a hurry. I had some serious coming out-stuff to do, people to talk to, a 14th century male outfit to sew and thousands of other important things to arrange and to think of (and a FAQ- blog to set up!) But I needn’t come up with a name. It had already found me.

I had no time writing all of this yesterday, on my name day. I was busy working on a new 14th century outfit, having coffee and watching a good old movie together with some of my best friends…

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This was an important part of the celebrating of my first name day as Emil.