A kind soul sent me a beautiful, inspiring message on Thursday, and expressed interest in hearing an update on how things are going for me. Here is that update. I’ll break it up into a few parts, since it’s been a good while since I’ve last posted something of substance. Plus, formatted text is always a delight.
Now Legally Milo
This last Friday was my court hearing for my legal name change. As the title of this section suggests, it was successful, and I now begin the process of updating every last institution and documentation that uses my old name. I don’t have any game plan for this in place, and beyond the important stuff (social security card, driver’s license), I figure I’ll just tackle various things as they come to mind. I’d actually already been using my new name when I could get away with it for a few months – for things like dentist appointments and therapy and such. So that will ease the process a bit.
This was perhaps one of the most dreaded steps in my entire transition, believe it or not, and mostly because navigating legal systems and red tape terrify me to a nearly phobic level. The thought of appearing in court was, to say the least, wholly unappealing.
On the morning of my court date, I dressed nicely for my hearing, and took my anti-anxiety pills before I left, trying to time it so that their effect would hit me right about when the hearing began and I’d be rendered as dumb and uninhibited as possible without anyone thinking I’d wandered into the courthouse plastered or something.
The hearing was… hilariously unceremonious. At least, considering the stress I’d experienced beforehand. I think even my husband was almost disappointed there wasn’t as much pomp and circumstance as we’d anticipated – and all we’d really anticipated was my name being called, standing before a judge, a brief exchange of words, and a stamp and a few signatures. It wasn’t even that.
There were about ten other parties in the courtroom, and at the appropriate time, we were all ushered in and took our seats. Since I was one of the first in, I tried to be courteous and not choose the seat closest to the aisle so as to not force everyone thereafter to awkwardly stumble over me to get to the remaining seats. Instead, it just meant that I sat at the very opposite and then had to squeeze my fat ass past every one else on the way back out. Nobody was a winner. Oh well.
My paperwork had told me that there would be clerks in the courtroom to double-check paperwork prior to the hearing proper. They called us up to a little side-table, a couple at a time, to go over our papers with us before sending us back to our seats.
After that, we waited. After about thirty minutes past the time of the hearing, I began to suspect the judge was late or something, but at that point, one of the clerks called me, and only me, back up to the little side table. I thought, shit, something’s amiss, I forgot some document at home somehow, something’s weird with my birth certificate or ID or something, shit shit shit.
“Congratulations”, she said, as I sat down at the table again. “The judge approved your name change. You’re good to go.”
Okay then. Nobody ever saw the judge – he was in another room the entire time, signing and stamping our paperwork. Fine with me – I really hadn’t particularly wanted to stand up in front of a dozen people and be asked about my reasons for changing my name (which is putting it lightly), but it did catch me completely off-guard.
So, that’s that. I’m now officially, legally Milo.
A Scar Never Fully Fades
When I wrote the Identity Coma post, I know that I was all but reveling in my newfound comfort. I don’t regret that, either; it was warranted, at least in my mind. I expressed that I was aware of this then, but I think even more so now do I realize that what was once a crippling discomfort will continue to linger as a sort of post-trauma – in some manner or another, for the rest of my life. It will continue to soften and I will, ideally, continue to refine my ways of coping with what continues to haunt me.
I am still figuring out my anxiety – in particular, social anxiety. It is profoundly less than what I used to deal with, and I feel like it’s steadily continuing to improve, but it still troubles me. My medication is a good crutch, but there are still times I get very frustrated with my brain’s reaction to certain stimuli. Like the court hearing, or airports. I hope that I will either learn to be less frustrated with myself, or the anxiety itself will taper off almost entirely. Then again, I imagine they need not be mutually exclusive.
Ultimately, I feel better, but heavily scarred. The basic (and major) difference between the struggles I have now and the struggles I had back then is that I have a sense of safety, and more importantly, a sense of my future – these two things work in tandem to create what I feel is the basic scaffolding of my being – a sense of self. I’m not preoccupied with trying to repair, but instead grow – build, expand, know myself beyond the pain I struggled with. Before, I felt as though I did not have that scaffolding – like my being was some amorphous, gelatinous thing that slipped through my fingers any time I tried to shape it into something that resembled myself.
Curiously, I have had people who struggle express that I am fortunate for being trans, as if I’ve found an easy, fix-all solution that only people in my shoes are lucky enough to be able to apply. To a degree, I do fault myself for inadvertently presenting my situation as such; I can easily imagine the profound and sudden joy I’ve felt has made it seem as though I have, by total chance, stumbled upon absolute happiness. That isn’t the case – in fact, I’m reluctant to believe there are many stories that genuinely play out in such a way. My actual story is rather complex in the same way that all life stories are, but in the interest of brevity, it’s more that I used to not feel human at all, where now I do. I have a beginning; my scaffolding.
I am fortunate that I’ve found this, and I have much sympathy for those who have not, and will never find that. My situation as a whole is not fortunate, though – not in such a conventional or straightforward sense. I still hurt, I still struggle with a colorful variety of things that I’m still working to understand, and I will continue to seek a sense of wholeness.
I think that’s what most creatures with a sense of self-awareness tend to do. It could be considered, perhaps, ultimately a futile process, but one I feel is wholly worth engaging in regardless.
Like I expressed before, it will be hard for me to forget the 26 years of tar pit that claimed my life. I’m not striving to; I know it’s valuable. It has shaped me in its own way. I also know that, even if I’ve managed to climb out of it, the edge of it still exists just a few steps behind me, waiting and hungry.
A Few Words on Genuineness, Gentleness, and My Goals as a Human Being
Having some semblance of goals is personally important to me. I know a few people who are very much the opposite and do not value the concept of self-improvement goals, but I feel like many of those same people, at least partially, share my perspective regardless. I feel as though I will never be satisfied – and I never want to be, since that would lead to a cessation of growth. It’s a funny sort of conundrum.
The difference between a goal-oriented personality and one that isn’t, isn’t inherently based in a disinterest in self-improvement. Instead, I feel like it’s perhaps just another way of shaking one’s fist at that catch 22. That’s not to say I don’t believe in idiots, but that’s not what I’m writing about here. Or much of anywhere.
Regardless of how much of a gap between your gender and biology there is or isn’t, or how you identify in terms of sexuality, I think a lot of people do struggle with finding a balance within the self – in whatever form that takes. Personality has so many facets even beyond gender and sexuality, and a lot of life seems to be a balance between being genuine, and being accepted. And not merely accepted for the sake of being accepted by the world as a whole – not in the sense of “fitting in” – but learning the difference between blatant self-absorption with complete disregard to loved ones, and being wholly true to oneself. It’s something of an art that comes more naturally to some than it does to others.
If nothing else, I strongly feel as though my transition thus far has rendered me a more gentle person. I have a much larger reservoir of patience and empathy to draw from, and I am still learning how to apply that in ways that genuinely benefit people, and in a way that does more good than giving me something to pat myself on the back for. I’d be giving myself far too much credit if I didn’t say that at least some of my motivation is based in self-gratification, but I do think a new interest is blooming alongside that.
I see people hurting, and I know that so well, or at least my own particular flavor of that – and I can’t help but want to help, in some way. If there is a chance for me, I feel like there’s a chance for everyone.
I’m still getting a feel for how true that is, as well the art that is helping, in and of itself. I feel as though I’ve always been something of an empathetic and gentle creature, but almost always passively. Having lived in my head for so long, I admit that being truly proactive is a very new thing to me.
Whatever the case, I wouldn’t call it an obligation, but I feel far more compelled these days to give. Right now it sometimes feels like a clumsy compulsion of sorts that manifests in the form of occasional little GoFundMe sprees and sending encouraging e-mails to strangers online who seem to be hurting, but I want to make going out of my way for other living things a habit – and I want to refine it so that it is of real benefit to them, and without being a detriment to myself in any way.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I was a selfish or greedy person back when I hurt – I don’t think much of anyone who knows me would say that about me. But I only had so much capacity for generosity in any form, and even then I had a much harder time distinguishing generosity from well-meant naivety that got taken advantage of more often than not.
Other Miscellaneous News
I am looking forward to going home to see my family for the holidays. Portland has been wonderful and welcoming – both the friends my husband and I have here, and the local strangers. At the same time, I am a bit homesick – not for Kansas, but for my family. I am excited to spend Christmas and New Years with them.
Everyone continues to be supportive. My husband, in particular – I think I take his love of me for granted. I think I’m prone to that in general. My family, too, has given me nothing but encouragement. I occasionally get messages from people I’ve never met, whose kind words move me to tears – one of those is largely responsible for me updating my blog, and whose message was mentioned at the beginning of this post.
I took up vegetarianism on September 22nd for reasons I would prefer to keep to myself, at least publicly. That said, since doing so, I’ve lost another 10 lbs.. I don’t think it’s the lack of meat in my diet that helped me get back on track, at least not solely, but instead the practice of self-discipline and my diet being limited in a way that benefits me beyond satisfying my moral concerns. I’ve reasoned that vegetarianism just has such a basic rule set – no meat – whereas eating healthy involves a vast variety of factors and multiple levels of self-monitoring. I’ve been able to adhere to my vegetarianism since starting it, and I think that ability has enabled me to apply the same self-discipline to other areas of my diet, as well as in general.
I struggled with a brief bout of mild depression throughout October and the end of September that mostly resulted in fatigue, lack of focus, and feeling a little more on-edge than usual. On top of my depression and anxiety, I also suffered (and perhaps still do) from seasonal affective disorder that generally hits right around the end of August and lasts anywhere from November to January. Incidentally, I was also diagnosed with a pretty remarkable vitamin D deficiency recently, and just last week got started on a supplement to help bring my vitamin D levels back up to a normal range. There’s also the transition to vegetarianism and the temporary iron deficiency that tends to come with that. So, I’m not sure where the depression came from, if anywhere in particular (it’s sneaky like that), but there seem to be a couple potential causes. In any case, it seems to be on its way out.
I think that’s most of what I had to share for the time being. Thanks for reading, as always.
Oh! And a recent picture. Why not.