The past few months have been laced with an odd mixture of monotonous stress and unexpected, bewildering calm. Sitting around alone, effectively quarantined, for weeks upon weeks was not a choice I would have made for myself - and yet, as odd as it may sound, I'm glad to be doing it. In a way, I'm at peace with continuing to do this for as long as I need to. It's not a resigned, powerless sense of "guess I have no choice" - I've actually become interested in making the best of it, for as long as I can.
Which is not to say it's been fun, or easy, or even consistently enjoyable.
I am a rather complex person and one of my personal realities I've been unable to hide from lately is my neurodiversity. There are many words for this set of characteristics and traits, but they carry a lot of stigma, misconceptions, and even overt prejudice in the world these days. I prefer to describe what I experience, first and foremost, and not shy away from the complexities and messiness of it all. An exploration of that particular set of oddities, however, probably belongs in a different entry.
Really, though, the subject reminds me of a much larger pattern of my life - and, in particular, my past 463 days of living it.
There is something tempting, I think, to the idea of simplification. Certainly the pressures of daily life tend to lead us to want things to be a little less messy, a little bit clearer, a little easier. We're busy, the world is a chaotic place, and stability and certainty are at a premium these days.
I feel like I have something of an unfair advantage in that regard. I don't like simplicity. I don't like stagnation or excessive predictability.
There's a word, I've often observed, to accurately describe what happens when things stop changing. The correct adjective, in English, to describe a state where complete and utter stability and simplicity has been achieved, is "dead."
Life requires movement. Movement requires that things change, even if the changes are subtle. Change implies loss: something old goes away.
Change also implies something new arriving.
For change to occur, something old has to stop, and something new has to happen. Change is movement; the very language of physics, and of much of mathematics, reflects a human understanding of the fundamental connection between movement and change.
Attempting to separate these things will always, in a sense, be an exercise in shutting out reality. It isn't as simple or blithe as "take the good with the bad" or anything as pat and impractical as all that.
I think of it like a palette of paints. Take a dozen colors, totally different hues, some vibrant, some muted, some contrasting, some barely distinguishable from each other. Consider a decent sized paint can of each color.
Throw them all in a bucket and stir it up vigorously.
What you get will inevitably be a bland, probably vaguely unappealing blur. Erasing the distinctions doesn't just make it simpler; it makes the dozen colors into a nigh-on useless muck.
The first trick is to stop trying to make everything simple.
Those exact same ingredients - the same selection of colors - can be turned into a beautiful display of artistry and expression, given patience and a willingness to respect the differences and the nuances, and a little bit of vision.
Given sufficient practice and imagination, a painter can take virtually any selection of twelve colors and produce something amazing with it.
I don't want to go through life wishing for a smaller selection of colors. I'd rather learn how to paint.
Sometime in the evening, 463 days ago, I sat down at a computer keyboard and struggled to evoke something I knew I needed to tell myself.
I re-read that first entry dozens of times during 2019. Even now, I go back to it often.
Part of managing my life involves a carefully designed infrastructure of recording data and planning for what needs to be done. I can't keep much in my head, at any one time, so I rely extensively on lists and notes. I don't post long-form stuff much right now, but every single day, I write at least one set of thoughts in a journal entry on my phone, usually just before bed.
Last night, given some time and quiet to just think - a habit I've truly come to love and enjoy - it occurred to me that I wanted to know how long it's been since I wrote that first post.
This is day 463 - and the reason that number means so much to me, right now, is because it is not just a number of 24-hour periods that have slipped away.
Every single one of those days has something in common: for every single day, 463 of them in a row, I've been fighting for someone.
At first, I barely knew who she was. The glimpses were rare, faltering, and dim. But they were enough - enough to know I couldn't stop looking, couldn't stop pushing on, couldn't stop what often felt like an unwinnable struggle to set her free.
Many of my notes from those days have wound up here, as a sort of attempt at helping anyone I can to deal with their own complex and difficult journeys, if they happen to look anything like mine. It is no coincidence that the very second entry I wrote for this project was a dedication.
Some days were harder than others, and some days have held immense moments of triumph, of success, of freedom, and happiness, and even thriving.
At some point, somewhere in there, I stopped having to look for her. I know exactly when it was, in fact - it was May 18, 2019.
The specifics and nuances of those past 463 days have evolved - have changed, in every meaningful sense - and yet every day has something in common.
Somewhere around late August of 2019, a couple of weeks into hormone therapy, I realized I needed to radically reconstruct everything I thought I knew.
Not just about myself, not just about the world around me, not just about certain ideas or subjects. Everything.
In order for that to work, I needed to build back around something - a core, a structural foundation. An identity.
Somewhere back in the pre-HRT haze of 2019, as I was chasing the fever-dream of who I was meant to be, I saw a picture in my head that I couldn't explain, and couldn't escape.
I saw a girl with long, dark-blonde hair, laughing and then looking away shyly, sweeping her locks off her face with a practiced gesture. Kind eyes, the sort that offer a window to a soul full of scars, the soul of a woman who shows every sign of having earned the right to be weary and bitter, and yet refused to stop simply being happy, whenever she could.
I saw me. All of me.
That vision was what pushed me through night after agonizing night of dysphoria, of depression, of confusion, of rejection and disgust from people around me who couldn't accept the very same reality that, simultaneously, I couldn't stop chasing. I spent many long, painful, sleepless nights just trying to see one more fleeting glimpse of her.
I still see that girl - all the time. These days, all I have to do is walk past a mirror.
I carry a lot.
I've been through things that even the most open and candid posts here only very vaguely allude to.
Not everything I retain is particularly lovely. There is a kind of sad beauty in scars, both the emotional ones and the ones left across my body. But there are other wounds I still hold, some still infected, some still leeching quiet poison into everything else. I do my best to tend them and heal them, and I'm grateful that these days I can fairly readily recruit help from other people.
Nobody should have to do this alone.
Being alive and being open to life carry an inescapable risk. Eventually, there will be more hurt - life means movement. Movement means change. Even the most graceful will have accidents and injuries, and that's before including the grimmer realities that not everyone is out to make the world a brighter place. I am, also, not particularly graceful most of the time.
As far as I'm concerned, the artistry of it all isn't in avoiding the nicks, the bruises, the deep hurts. The true artistry of living well lies in avoiding the blatantly needless ones, and tending everything else that might be incurred along the way.
To really live means that some of the colors in the palette may not be pretty. They may clash with the rest, or they may just carry some inherent connotation or sentiment that we'd rather not be staring at.
Having learned to paint with the colors we're given, the next challenge is to learn to choose our own.
I've been painting for 463 days. Many of the strokes are faded, or have been layered over, or simply still need some more work. I'm still learning: who I am, who I want to be, how to weave all that into the vast world I can't even begin to influence around me, let alone control.
I don't intend to quit learning. I've made something of a template for it, since I've had a lot of time to just think this year.
- Awareness. If I don't know, I can't possibly do anything with it. To do something, to know something, to experience something, I have to become aware.
- Acceptance. This is not a sigh, a shrug, or even agreement. It is simply an acknowledgement that there is a reality to interact with. If that reality seems unpleasant, I must add my own reactions to the context - by starting with awareness of how it all makes me feel.
- Respect. Again, this is not agreement or deference. It is a form of humility - the attitude of a beginner, of a student, of someone wishing to learn and grow. Respecting things I like is easy. Respecting the reality of things I don't like - whether they are within me or in the rest of the world - is much harder, and therefore much more important to practice.
- Understanding. Only through a proper mindset can I begin to cultivate understanding. Understanding often brings new awareness. Start over at step one, adding the new elements each time.
- Potential for Loving Action. After enough repetitions of this process, enough accumulation of ever-growing spirals of context and complexity and nuance, I have often been pleasantly startled to find that I don't actually feel a need to do anything. The rest of the time, the need for action becomes uncontainable, and - most importantly of all - the path I want to take is almost always instantly clear. If it isn't, I'm missing something. Ask more questions. Have a realization - that's new awareness. So start at step one.
The word "loving" was not snuck into step 5 by whimsy or accident. It is a sort of re-casting, a lens which I insist on adding to my actions whenever I am consciously able. This, of course, includes a very important (but easily omitted) caveat: sometimes I am not able.
My lesson, to myself, from thinking over the past 463 days is that this is how I live, now.
The consistency has been there, the whole time, a guiding beacon of how to make the choices - tens of thousands of them, some tiny and inconsequential, some massive and literally life-altering.
But I didn't write all of this to talk about me, actually.
I wrote all of this to you. I can't possibly know what might be meaningful to you - nor can I, really, know who "you" even are.
But I need you to understand something. I know that you are the one that needs to hear this, even if I don't know exactly what to call you. Even if you don't know what to call you. No matter who's there, no matter what has happened, no matter where life is going, I love you. Nothing can ever, ever change that.
If you're actually here, actually really truly seeing this, I've dedicated every scrap of soul I can pour into these pages to you. My truest, deepest dream is that you might see things here that resonate, that speak to your own soul, that finally say that you are not alone, you never have been, and we love you.
These are the Trans Mission Logs of the Starship Gender.
Welcome, traveler. Let's go somewhere lovely together.