Home Again? Not So Much.

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I just got back “home” from my last year at my university. Admittedly, my initial feelings about coming back were very positive; I was so excited to see my little siblings, and the sign for my hometown literally brought a splitting grin to my face. Every square mile of this city is pregnant with wonderful, nostalgic memories.

That being said…

It didn’t take more than a few hours for the seemingly comforting walls of my parents’ house to become prison bars.

Something strange happens to my personality when I live with my family. It’s like I become a different person, or rather a half-person. When I’m away from home, I grow in leaps and bounds as a distinct, coherent, real human being, with hopes and dreams, likes and dislikes. When I come home, whole huge parts of my soul just shut down. My whole body goes into emergency mode. I’ve had two panic attacks already. I’ve only been here about 26 hours and I’m already sick in bed.

It seems like I revert back to how I was in high school. I turn into this horrible person: angsty, depressed, moody, insular, antisocial, lazy. I spend half my time trying to avoid the other people in my family because being in contact with them means interacting with them, and interacting means turning more and more into this soul-less monster.

When I climbed into my childhood bed last night, I had a very palpable flashback – almost like a mini post-traumatic stress episode – to those unhappy high school days when I’d lock myself in my room and be so scared: of myself, the world, my gender identity, my sexuality, God, everything. That bed is the unhappiest place on Earth for me, and I have to sleep in it for a whole week.

Another way I’m reverting back into my old high school self is I feel emotionally, physically, and socially exhausted all the time. I crashed real hard in the middle of the afternoon. I was comatose.

When I napped, I did so downstairs on our study couch. Apart from fleeing the horrors of my old bed, I was also standing guard over my three boxes of papers and binders which I was busy organizing. The papers are my summer research material – 1000’s of pages on transgender theory, feminist studies, Bible studies, theology, philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and everything else under the Sun that is relevant to the kind of stuff I write about on this blog. Well, despite the fact that I was sleeping – more like hibernating – my Mom crept in and looked through my binders. She woke me up, saying: “I need to talk to you about your stuff in here. I’m not happy with this. I just saw a binder that says ‘Transgender Studies Reader.’ You can have a few hours to pack this stuff up, but then I want it out of the room.”

So I can’t even read about my own condition? What, should an autistic person not read about “autism studies”? Should a teenage boy not read about “teenage studies”? My parents are so unable to grasp reality that they even have to control what I read.

I feel like every move I make, every possession, every expression, is scrutinized.

The problem is I feel so guilty some days. I see seven large brown pairs of eyes staring me down with ignorant love, begging me to stay with them and be the half-dead person that fits into my family’s structure. There’s only room for half of me at home, and it’s the worst half. The better half of me is in agony. My family doesn’t love that half because they don’t understand it. What is distressing is that the robotic, play-acting, ‘brother’ half of me that is such an unhappy jerk, that struggles to even be around people without having a panic attack, even though it isn’t really me but only a small part of me – that angsty, unhappy, gender-conflicted teenager is who my family wants. And I want to give it to them because I am in love with my family. But as long as I live this half-life, shutting down the majority of who I am, I really don’t have any love to give. When I’m whole, when I’m all of me, when I’m this cool, bohemian, tomboyish transgender girl named Anna, I have so much love to give. When I’m this unhappy, repressed, antisocial faux-bro named Anthony, I have nothing to add to the family.

Maybe this conflict is all good. I’m leaving for St. Louis in a few weeks, and maybe this is God’s way of getting me ready to leave this all behind. I’ve been home hardly more than a day, and I already want to move out yesterday.

I love my family, but reality is what it is. There’s not even much of a choice here. My growth is stunted at home, and I need to go where I can actually become a human being and not a robot.

Despite what my parents think, I still don’t know where I’m going in life, but I at least know I’m going away. It’s not even a question.

Meet Eliana Rubashkyn

elianaWhat would you do if the simple fact of who you are brought about discrimination, abuse, slander, and ostracization?

One of the most courageous women on the internet right now with a very moving story is my dearly beloved Eliana Rubashkyn, a Columbian transgender woman who blogs about her experiences at soyeliana.org. Eliana moved from her incredibly transphobic home country to Taiwan to begin a new life, which included medical studies at Taipei University and hormone replacement therapy.

Because of the intense changes brought about to her physical appearance by hormones, Eliana was requested by the Taiwan government to renew her Visa. She dutifully set off to Hong Kong to visit the nearest Colombian consulate, not knowing how transphobia would turn her overnight into a victim and refugee.

You can hear about the rest of her story here:

To learn more about Eliana’s story, read her posts about her airport and refugee experience (1, 2, 3), or this LGBT Hong Kong pamphlet.

How can I help Eliana?

As a sister in need, Eliana is asking for our aid in improving her situation and fighting for trans* rights.

The first way you can help is to donate through her blog. You can donate to Eliana through her mom’s Paypal Account:

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Eliana’s Mom email: rubashkyn@live.ru
https://www.paypal.com/webapps/mpp/send-money-online

You can also help her by spreading her blog to raise awareness regarding the discrimination she faces daily. I recently nominated her for a Liebster Award. Post her link on your blog, twitter, or facebook to bring her story to others.

Finally, you can use this form to send a petition to the UN’s Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to get Eliana out of Hong Kong and to a country where she will be safe.

Video

Trailer for my upcoming trans*themed short film ‘REPARATION’!

This semester I finished up an undergrad film degree at my University, and my final project was to make a 5-8 min. short film. My film partner and I chose a script I wrote in January based on my own experience with and what I’ve learned about reparative or ‘conversion’ therapy of LGBT people.

SYNOPSIS: A young transwoman must escape a reparative therapy hospital where she is being held prisoner before the evil Dr. Fitzer rewrites her personality for good.

SPECS: 1080p Full HD, 24 fps, 9 min. 30 sec. Filmed on RED One MX in  4K resolution.

Some Pleasant Suprises

For the past year now, as I’ve come to terms with being trans, I’ve found myself always negotiating a fine line between being who I want to be and being who I actually am. I’ve wanted my gender expression to line up with my gender identity (so, a feminine expression to correspond with a ‘girl’ identity).

At first it seemed like a difficult balance trying to be authentic without over-compensating and becoming the opposite of authentic. I’ve been afraid of falling into the same trap as when I was trying to be hypermasculine, but this time as hyperfeminine.

I think that fear actually helped me stumble into a healthy way of approaching my gender expression. Because of a combination of scrupulosity about being “fake” and left-over social anxiety about still wanting to hide my feminine side from people, I’ve taken a very slow and passive approach to letting my ‘inner feminine’ come out.

The result of this cautiousness is that I’ve been pleasantly surprised – almost ambushed – by my own personality. As years of internal disintegration start to heal, I find my soul thriving in a whole new way. And as my soul becomes more whole, it naturally expresses itself more and more. And as it expresses itself, I discover the girl beneath the surface in a totally fresh, spontaneous, natural way.

There are so many tiny things that have changed about me without me even trying.The vocal range I speak with, my movements, my mental and social reactions to things, so much that I always assumed was permanently masculinized (and I thought would take worrisome effort to reverse) has very simply and naturally changed – or shown its true colors.

One day I was wearing more masculine clothing (an athletic shirt and straight jeans), and a friend commented that it was really weird to see me dressed like that. I have to agree; it felt weird. It felt like I was in drag. I mean, I guess technically I was. It doesn’t take effort to be me, but it takes very definite effort to try to fit in to a macho persona, even clothing-wise.

The Princess

I think there is a fine, delicate, beautiful balance that can happen when you experience life passively and live life actively. That’s been my motto for this transition. I neither want to take things lying down like a lump on a log, nor over-exert myself in trying to “become” a particular stereotype. Life needs to be lived (carpe diem!). At the same time, it needs to be experienced. It needs to be given a voice so that it can teach and form you. Doing and being. Both are important.

What I’ve found is that this balancing act is easier than it looks. I don’t know how to be authentic (there’s no eHow directions for it), but I think that simply by living life I’ve grown into a more authentic, integrated person. And being authentic naturally means both seizing life by the horns and letting it run its course.

It’s so wonderfully gratifying to get to see myself grow into me.For the first time that I can remember, I’m not performing an act. I’m not performing as masculine or feminine, I’m just… me. And it’s really cool to see that the emerging me is the person I always deep down knew myself to be: naturally ‘feminine’ (if we have to put a gendered label on it).

In many ways life has gotten so much more complicated since I came out, but it’s nice that on the most important level – what’s going on within me – for once things aren’t quite so complicated.

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