An act of queer defiance.

I quite like the queer moment that sometimes happen when I have to show my new ID, even when I don’t really pass as a guy. The name on my ID is coded male, but if you look closely you can see that it is also marked with “female”, and the picture is very androgynous. I like to think that every time I show it, it is both an every day ritual but also an act of defiance right in the face of the cis-gender norm. Possibly or hopefully, it is also an educational moment for whoever asks to see it, if they notice anything out of the ordinary and the importance of it.

Okay, I admit that sometimes I don’t really care. But at other times, it feels very important. Like today. I love having my REAL name, MY OWN name on a package that is delivered to me. I’m so proud that I can go and get my medication without explaining anything. And I laugh every time at Systembolaget, when I seem to pass as an under-aged male and get very suspicious looks before I speak up and show my ID.

I hated to have to go and make a new ID. I got angry when I thought about it. I had the most irrational (or maybe not?) angst before the task. I detest to be photographed by the authority, I loathe the signing of important papers while receiving questioning looks by bored policemen and all that. IMAG3362But it sure provides less friction in my every day life, to have an ID with the right names on. I consider it a privilege sadly not granted to all transgenderd people out there. It was not much more fuss for me to make one than for anyone else and I’m glad I did it, at last.

/ Emil

And here is a picture of me and my dog, for no other reason than that I’ve got a pretty dawg!

 

 

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Everyday things I do to transition

Sometimes you hear frustrated trans people who are pre-diagnose, pre-surgery or pre-hormone treatment saying that they are “pre-everything”. Some say that they are “early in their transitioning” or that they haven’t even started transitioning yet. I don’t feel like that. Even if I’m currently pre-everything mentioned above, I’m not pre-everything. I like to think that I’m in charge of my transitioning, not any team of doctors and psychiatrists I might meet in the future.

Sure, I’m waiting to get in contact with the special trans care-team, but it is more empowering to think of the things I can do for myself every day. I feel that my transitioning is an active process that started long before I was even aware of it, years ago. I’m now post decision, post name-choosing, post coming out. Everyday I actively do lots and lots of things related to trans. Almost every aspect of daily life is somehow influenced of my transitioning and in this post I will go in to a few of them.

Meeting my reflection in the mirror is a transitioning experience every time as it has to do with my self image, how I build gender. I can also see many of the little things I do to make myself more androgynous.

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Is today a boxer, binder and packer day or not?

I transition when I get dressed in the morning. What I’ll wear is based on two questions; how comfortable verses how representative for myself do I want to be today? That settles if I’ll wear my binder or a sports bra or neither. Then; am I going to change clothes in the girls locker room at the gym later that day? In that case, no boxers and no packing, that’d be to embarrassing.

Every shirt I buy, I have to alter a bit before I can wear it. Nowadays men’s shirts fit just fine over my shoulders but the sleeves always needs shortening. I also have to shorten the bottom hem or else the shirt will be to long and to narrow over my hips. It took me a while, but now I feel that I’ve really gotten the hang of how to adjust men’s clothing to my size without making them look feminine.

After dressing I’ll have breakfast. Back when I was a “she”, I’d have spent >20 minutes in the bathroom first, doing all sorts of stuff to tidy myself up, like braiding my hair, picking eyebrows, going through a serous skin care routine and putting on make up. Now, I just wash off and go for a less tidy look. 😉

When it comes to food, I try to stuff in as much as I can manage in order to get good result out of my intense training routine. I want to gain muscle weight, but I have trouble eating enough to make that happen. Therefore I drink full milk instead of the less fat one I used to prefer. I have extra meals when I can and always gainer after training. For breakfast I try to eat a large portion of porridge rather than a few sandwiches as before. The texture of the porridge is absolutely disgusting and I really, really hate it. But because of the texture I can spoon in more of it before I feel full.

That brings me to health issues. Being trans affects how I feel about myself and how much energy I have (there is a lot of work with the transitioning stuff, that is what this post is about). I eat a few health supplements for supporting my training and I’m cutting down on some medications in order to gain weight and grow. I do what I do with my doctors support but every time I talk to him or anyone in the health care system, there is a huge gender confusion from their side. They simply can’t get it straight.

In school or among other people I watch my voice so that I keep the pitch down as much as I can. After all, I’m studying to be a speech and language pathologist – voice matters to us! I also try to monitor my way of speaking and behaving so that I make sure not to take to much or to little place in conversation. I’ve noticed that people tend to give more room to me now. They ask for my opinions and listen in a different way to me when I use a more masculine model of speech. That is a male privilege, if you ever saw one. I don’t want to take advantage of that on someone’s expense if I can help it. Also, to some extent I try to monitor how others speak to or about me. Sometimes people who don’t know me to well need to be informed on what’d be the right pronoun.

phone

My phone makes me uneasy.

Suddenly, sometime during the day, my cell phone rings. I always freeze for a second when it happens. Every time. I’m not comfortable speaking in the phone any more. I have a male name and a distinctive female voice. When my only mean of communicating, (my voice, language or way of speech) is deceiving me in how I want to be gendered, I feel uncertain and uneasy.

Is it a relative calling, someone that I haven’t come out to yet in person, someone that’s worried about talking to me or unsure of how to adress me? How am I to make this person feel more at ease? Is it a stranger calling? Is it some bureaucratic issue regarding my gender where I’ll be held responsible for a missunderstanding or for being “missleading” in some way? Am I going to have to come out as trans or do some awkward explaining about my name or voice or pronoun now? Is a conflict or insult coming up when I take the call? Usually, everything is fine. But this panic reaction just keep coming.

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I work out at the least four times a weak. That is eight visits to the locker room were I feel unwelcome and frowned upon .

After school I either meet up with friends, go to work or to the gym. The two later activity’s usually means confronting issues of taking or not taking conflict abut my gender identity. When having to choose gender/locker room, that is a conflict to me, I don’t feel welcome in neither.

And on work, well, I work with mentally disabled grown ups that have no idea about non normative gender expressions and identity issues. I started to work there before I came out as transgender and I have only outed myself to my boss. That went well but later she seemed to sort of accidentally have happened to slip information about it to my co workers. I feel that it is to much for me to educate both clients and co workers on the matter and because of that also to much to ask for to have them using the right name and pronoun. That is somewhat depressing to say the least and I consider changing workplace so that I don’t have to waste energy on constantly holding myself back.

But I’m very lucky when it comes to how my family, friends and close relations have handled my coming out as transgender. I’m so proud of my parents! They have been more supportive and understanding than I ever had hoped for, even if much of what I’m going through is new to them. My friends have also turned out to be genuine super allys and I feel truly blessed to have such a strong network. ❤ Thank you all.

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.