Archive | June 2012

“Being Emily”, How It Felt Like ‘Being Michele’

When story creators try to create the trans-experience, a lot of them run into a major road block.  Creating the trans-experience and not being transgender themselves, it leaves a lot to the imagination.  This can be evident is several movies, and or books.  This past week, Being Emily, was released, telling the story of a 16 year old girl from rural Minnesota named Emily.  Emily isn’t the average girl though; she, despite knowing she is a girl, was born as Christopher.  Rachel Gold takes us through the turning point in Emily’s life where she can no longer bear trying to act like a boy, and become the young lady she is.

Now, as previously mentioned, someone who isn’t transgender trying to create the trans-experience has to leave something to the imagination.  Or, in Gold’s case, you can take insight from people whom lived the same situation and imagine from there.  Let me say that, Gold’s method of creating this story was dead on.  The book starts in the dead of winter early one Minnesota morning, where Emily starts another day.  It was a morning where, she could imagine her body to some degree, matching her internal image.  She, though not physically at this point, starts to get ready for school and the last swim meet of her junior year. On her way through another school day, an assignment given in psych class turns her world upside down, and now the desire to be herself becomes nearly unbearable.

In Being Emily, we experience her reaching out through online communities, coming out to her girlfriend, making a friend with another girl further into the journey.  Other parts of the story, we go with as Emily goes out into the world as herself for the first time, going to the women’s restroom (and getting caught!), having a girls night/slumber party, seeing a conservative doctor.  All of these come from Emily’s point of view, so relating to her and feeling what she feels can easily be done.

In so many ways Being Emily hit so close to home, of course there is the gender dysphoria Emily experiences through out the book which is so much like my own.  I remember several times laying on my bed wishing I could grow up and be female.  Much like how Emily talks about wishing how she could grow up to being a woman.

After knowing that nature by itself would change her in ways that we wouldn’t want, Emily started to have an automated response system, for a lack of better terms, to blend in as ‘a guy.’  The book represented this as a simple computer program running in MS DOS.  I found these automated responses rather amusing it seems so much like a method I had used to do the same thing.  But the idea is that these systems that are developed by some trans people to try and blend in as the gender they were born as and not let on to people what exactly what’s going on, on the inside.

So many chapters in which you read through the eyes of Emily, Gold conveys so much emotion, I could not help but feel those emotions with Emily, the times of triumph, being scared for her in times of first time exploration, and unbelievably happy with how her journey turned out.  As a transgirl myself, who grew up an hour outside the twin cities (just like Emily), the challenges and everything else about the beginning of the trans experience seemed so much like my own.  The difference is this girl was so much braver and I can not help but admire it.  I never enjoyed shedding tears as much as I did with the ending of this book, I reiterate this point as it inspires other trans people m2f and f2m to be true to themselves and things work out.  Even now as I say that and think of the end of the book, I can feel my eyes well up to the amazement of the story that is Emily Haase.

Being Emily gets a 4.75/5 in my opinion, I feel that perfect is near impossible to get, but near perfect is certainly attainable if done properly.  This is not earth shattering for anyone going through this themselves, but it’s a great story or overcoming obstacles and inspires people to be themselves.  For cisgender folks, this book brings you into the minds of some of us and hopefully provides a little clearer idea of what exactly occurs in our minds.

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This entry was posted on June 30, 2012. 2 Comments

Thankful For People Around Me In Transition

Transition can be difficult things a person could do in their life.  Changing their body and image of the gender they were assigned at birth to become more of a person on the exterior that matches their interior.  What can make it even more difficult is being alienated from friends and family, the possibility that their employer will not support the change and find a way to terminate them.   For those folks, transition is extremely difficult and can be bitter sweet.

I on the other the other hand have been beyond fortunate.  I don’t mean this to brag, but to take this opportunity to thank everyone in my life that effects it regularly.  When I finally started to come to terms with being transgender 3 years ago, I was terrified to know what my friends, family would think.  I shutter the thought that, if I did transition, would I still have my job?  Then after my first public outing, Halloween, it wasn’t as bad as I thought.  How was it that I found it to be safe to do this, with the help of my friends Kate and Leah. You were my first friends to know of my internal struggle and accepted me for it.

Two and a half months later, I was outed to two people.  They were very meant to know, but I am eternally grateful that these two came to know more about me.  Mistique and Amanda, you two got me out into the world and gave me my first experiences as a woman.  You let me grow, learn and adapt to who I really am.  Through you I have met a plentiful amount of people who accepted me and again allowed me to explore and experience a role and a life I was growing accustom to.  Now, the girls, Monday night is always a thrill.  No matter what happens during our ventures out to the bar, each Monday getting dolled up with you is always a highlight of my week.

My family  of course was another concern.  The first person to know was my sister.  Then father, mother, then brother.  Again I was surprised and fortunate.  Despite difficulties, my sister said she would always support me, my mother who said I would always be her child.  My brother who said, it was not his burden, so then not a problem.  Now my mother is learning to adapter to a second daughter, and a sister who is adapting to having a sister.   The fact my family chooses to support me and love me still is amazing, instead of giving up hope and alienating me.  Now, even an uncle and cousins are learning about me, and once more, they are pulling through and surprising me, supporting me and still acting as family.  Sam, thank you for being a great cousin.  Mom, you have done so much, listened, allowed me to cry.  There’s a saying a girl’s first friend is her mother, and as I could come to say I am a girl, you are my friend.  Kris, you have gone to a level that astounds me.  To know that I will be a bridesmaid brings tears of happiness nearly each time I think of it.

My co-workers and manager are also among the people, whom after learning of my trans-identity, accepted me.  Instead of angry, hostility, or punishment; I was met with understanding.  As I transition on the job, I’m met with difficulties, as are you guys.  Getting questioned regularly about being a man or woman, hostilities of the less-understanding can be a pain in the ass.  But not just that, each person as gone to some degree of learning.  All of your instead of turning, instead asked questions, desired to learn.  What’s better is each question I’ve been faced with are GOOD QUESTIONS.  I’ve enjoyed answering all your questions and allowed you to at least understand my trans-identity.  The fact that we’re at a point where we can even crack jokes, (No, I don’t throw like a girl…but nice try Brenna.) is a level of acceptance and comfort that few trans-people are greeted with.  Thank you for your acceptance, and I hope that when I return to work as Michele, that does not change.

My point of sharing this is to first, thank everyone that has touched my life positively in the past 3 years.  If I went through and listed off everyone, this blog would be the size of a book.  Secondly, I wanted to put it out there, that if you are transgender, and you’re struggling through this coming out part.  I can say that not all people are bigots.  A lot of people are great, it’s a matter of finding them.  If you did not have the same results as I did, I may not be surprised as I have been beyond fortunate.  But, you can rest assured that people are out there that would accept you.  Just don’t be afraid to find them.