So it’s been a couple of months since my last update, so it’s time for another!
For the new peeps here.
So this is only episode 3, but I figured since I plan on posting this episode a little bit, I’ll give a summary. My name is, currently, Casey. I’m 29, and live in Western Canada. Earlier this year I made the self-discovery that I’m transgender. I’ve since started hormones, but more on that in a moment. Why am I monologing about myself? Because I want to give back a little. It was through reddit and some youtubers that I was able to make this discovery, and have confidence when I say that. It was relating to other people’s experiences that helped me out, and I wanted to provide the same to others. If nothing else I have a journal of my journey, and that’s enough for me. If someone is able to learn more about themselves by listening to me, then it’s worth keeping it public. I do also publish the scripts to the website that should be in the description if that’s preferred for you. Everything I do will be out in the open and freely available. If you’d like to support hosting this podcast, on my website there is an option to subscribe, 50% will be donated to a local charity, and the rest will be to host the podcast and website. For those listening and want to look at it, it’s self processing dot me. If you want email notifications of when new content is posted, you can easily subscribe there as well!
Another quick disclaimer is that I’m a random asshole on the internet. I’m not an expert in health by any stretch of the imagination. If you are questioning, I strongly recommend finding some kind of mental health professional. They have the tools in their tool chest to help you unpack and process these types of struggles.
Where am I?
So I started HRT about a month ago at this point. I actually noticed a small change in my face today. With the onslaught of video conferencing during a pandemic, I had a moment to actually look at myself. I was surprised to find I liked what I saw. Sure I have a mirror as well, but it’s very rare for me to actually take a moment and take in what I’m seeing, rather than focusing on what I’m trying to do. I’ve conditioned myself to not actually look at myself while in front of a mirror. I focus on shaving or brushing my hair or teeth. Not actually look at myself.
I noticed that my face didn’t appear as masculine as it did in the past. I actually started to like the way I looked. Which is something I’ve never really been able to say about myself. It’s an odd feeling to look at the mirror and actually be happy with what I see, even if it’s just a glimmer of hope.
Mental health feels like a yo-yo right now. Constantly up and down. Some days are much better than others, but the nugget I’m trying to hold on to is that the highs are getting higher, and the lows aren’t so bad anymore. Even in the bad moments, I still catch myself smiling a little. It’s really hard to tell yourself how much of a piece of shit you are when you're smiling.
So what am I trying to work on? The honest answer is self care. This has been something I’ve struggled with all my life. I’ve never liked who or what I was, even if I wasn’t able to place a finger on what. It made it easy to tell myself things like I’m not worth anything, and that people would be better off without me. I’ve always felt like I’m a disappointment. I became really good at minimizing myself and my accomplishments. Telling myself things like the people I love would have found better replacements for me if I was never there in the first place.
Writing this out it’s easy to see the toxicity of these statements. But hindsight is 20/20. In the dark moments it’s so easy to believe these things. So my first goal is to recognize these thoughts, and not focus on them.
The thing with these depressive spirals is that they’re super fucking adictive. To my best friends laughing at this because they’ve been making that point to me for years, I know. It’s a state of mind that I know and am familiar with. Kinda like getting familiar with your local weather, even when it sucks. It’s what you know and you’re used to. I live in a place with cold winters. Just like the thought of living in a place like Arizona where the winters are still hotter than a lot of my summer days, just seems unbearable. So does having productive thoughts. It’s just so foregin to me, that it’s inherently uncomfortable. Unlike the weather, that’s not a good enough reason to stay there.
So that’s the start of trying to improve my mental health. The next is actually enjoying myself for me. I’m the one that I have to wake up with, so I might as well make something of myself that I actually like. I can still hear my friends laughing at the fact they’ve been saying this to me for years. But that’s also the reality. Something I’m doing is taking myself on dates. I’ve been going to the mountains every other weekend or so to just grab a bite to eat and enjoy them before it gets cold again. It’s nice to just sit and read a book, even if it’s a programming one.
The last pillar I’m working on is physical health. If you know me personally, you probably know my family is the history of heart disease. When I went to the doctor that prescribed me hormones, there was a form asking for my family history. He joked when he read it that “You just kinda ticked everything off didn't you”. And that’s not far from the truth either. I’ve been trying to eat a little less and run a little more, even if I hate it. I’m jealous of the people who get the “runners high”. I’ve never felt that once. But if I want to hike the west coast trail someday, I need to start exercising regularly now. My family has said I'm finally starting to show some weight loss finally, even if I don’t actually use a scale.
So that’s an update as to where I am right now. Something I started with was saying that I wanted to share my journey to give others something to relate or not relate to. I believe this can be helpful in finding yourself. Being able to pick elements you share and elements you don’t. It was important to me.
So let’s get even more personal and talk about my dysphoria. When I was starting the journey, I thought to myself I don’t really have dysphoria. That I would just prefer to be a woman, even if I don’t hate being a man. This came from a place where I didn’t relate to the extremes. I never caught myself looking at my penis and saying ew get that thing away from me. Even if that’s how I relate to penises in general. I don’t hate my name. The people intently listening are now thinking about what I just said about looking at myself a moment ago.
But with some more though came some realisations. I don’t hate my name, but my name is more natural. I might actually feel different if my name was something like Jack. I also thought I never looked at myself and felt disgusted. That might not actually be true. I’ve always hated the way I look. I told myself that it’s just weight, but when I was a teen, I wasn’t that heavy. I was a healthy weight for myself, and reasonably in shape. I just wasn’t muscular. I was talking to an old friend of mine who commented that a lot of people in a youth group actually had crushes on me. I knew of some of them, but definitely not as many as there seems to have been.
No, I just don’t like the way I look. It’s not something I’ve ever vibed with. Even after coming out, the answer didn’t seem as obvious as it could have. That I hate the way I look, because I don’t vibe with being a man. I simply don’t have an immediate reaction to still being a “man”, making it harder to find the cause and effect relationship. With my depression I’ve identified triggers that send me down these spirals. They do make it easy to identify what’s happening, but that doesn’t mean I don’t dislike being a man. Just because I’m not triggered doesn’t mean it’s not there. Just that it manifests itself differently, and is still very much there.
Looking back I’ve always had a guilty pleasure with feminine moments. That I’ve hated how much I’ve enjoyed them as well. This might not directly be dysphoria, but is still very much related.
So I want to take a moment to talk about The Matrix.
I came across a video essay talking about how the matrix is a metaphor for being transgender. And you know, I don’t think it’s wrong. In fact, one of the co-creators has explicitly said this was the original intention, but “the world wasn't ready for it”. It’s worth another watch with this lense. The obvious one is the character switch. They appear as different genders in the matrix vs the one outside. But how neo processes being “the one” is also very relatable to how I came to terms with my identity.
So let’s lay some foundation. Mr. Anderson lives two lives. By day he’s what everyone expects him to be. He’s a software developer for a “respectable” company. He just lives a boring life. But by night, he uses a preferred name, searching for truth. Sound familiar?
During the process of discovery, or discovering what is the matrix, there’s plenty of doubt. He doubt’s he’s actually “the one”. There’s several points where he’s offered an out. Offered a chance to go back, and even at times wants to go back. Trinity at one point even says “Because you have been down there, Neo. You know that road. You know exactly where it ends. And I know that's not where you want to be.”
The end of that road for me would be suicide. When you see the road, it’s dark, cold, and rainy. Everything that my depression has been. I think that’s the same for a lot of transgender folks.
Coming back to the question, “how do you know” question? The answer is usually the same answer Morpheus gives to “what is the matrix?”
“What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.”
That hits the nail on the head for me personally. How do I know I’m trans? It’s just something I feel. Something has always felt “off” for me. Only recently have I been able to find it. Something was wrong with my world, and I think I finally found the one thing I need to change.