Teela's innermost thoughts and outermost appearance.

Hey All. Hope everyone out there is having a great spring. It is a time of rebirth and growth but mostly it’s an end to winter which, if you live in northern climes, means ‘holy shit we can go outside once again and it doesn’t hurt’!

Anyway I’ve had an interesting past couple of weeks to say the least. The job I currently have includes travel. And by travel I mean throughout the United States even though thus far I’ve only been sent to the south. In January I was sent to bumfuck Louisiana and these past two weeks I was sent to bumfuck Kentucky and bumfuck Alabama (I think there’s a theme starting here). Still waiting for my trips to Colorado and California. I guess this brings me to personal feelings that I can’t say that I’m proud of but feel somewhat justified in believing. Basically I dislike, am afraid of, and am fairly prejudiced against the southeastern U.S. Now I can’t pretend that this feeling is completely unfounded, at least for this non-passing trans girl from the north. But the south is less educated and much more red (republican) than most of the country. And I’m not talking your run of the mill fiscal conservative republicans. I’m talking the crazy right wing nutjobs that want to turn ‘Merica into a theocracy. Although I don’t think they see it that way because ‘CONSTITUTION’! Mind you the proto theocracy they already have going is only building momentum and does not like people like me. In fact, my people are now number one on the enemies list. Mostly because they have almost completely lost the culture war and gay marriage is legal in Mississippi for christ’s sake. Gay marriage didn’t go their way so the next goal of the wacko right is to basically erase the existence of trans people. Although they seem much more interested in trans girls as opposed to trans guys. They seem to have a huge disconnect in realizing that trans guys even exist but that’s a topic for another post. (Note: I am not writing that particular post because it’s so out of my wheelhouse) I think most all of the trans community has heard of the latest round of ‘bathroom bills’ being approved around the south. The bills that are touting what a HUGE problem trans girls are in bathrooms. I mean I know when I go I always try to flush loads and loads of tp down each toilet. Take that janitorial staff! But seriously the right (and here I’m talking about official republican party line) does not want the ‘trans menace’ to spread any further. Never mind the opinions of the AMA, APA, England’s NHS, and honestly several more professionally recognized organizations that all state that gender dysphoria is real, cannot be changed, and can be treated by allowing the person access to hormones, surgeries, and legal rights to live as the gender they know they truly are. I know, crazy right? It’s like they want to us to be treated like actual people. Getting back to my main point here is that my prejudices are somewhat founded but still I really try not to judge people until I have interacted with them personally.

So that being said how did my latest southern odyssey play out? Meh, about how I expected. Now keep in mind that I didn’t really present very femme much of the time. Mostly because when I work in the field it’s full Personal Protective Equipment which includes hard hat and steel toed boots and I also wear old work jeans (which are women’s but it’s not that obvious apparently) and long sleeves at all times. The sleeves are not required but I need to protect my arms from the sun, mostly because I like to wear tank tops in the summer and I don’t need tanned arms to go with ghostly white shoulders. Not a good look. The field is one thing. I expect that. I know how I look. I have a pretty good feeling how an un-femmed me appears to others (hint: like a boy). So I try to prepare myself for this. And honestly I really don’t interact much with the locals when I’m on site. I’m not the field lead and have no interest in socializing at all so I have very little need to talk to them which I think works out for all of us. The field is one thing. My main concern with these trips is my time spent away from the field.

This trip was no different and, as I thought, I ended up spending most of my free time in the hotel. But I did have to venture out at least a little bit. I couldn’t get delivery every night especially since the delivery ‘options’ were crappy pizza chain, crappy pizza chain, and crappy pizza chain. So getting out and about is where my fragile psyche really took a beating. I mean I wasn’t wearing makeup but I still had on larger purple glasses (girlish), skinny jeans (girlish), long hair down (girlish), and girly colored trainers or flip flops clearly showing off painted toe nails (girlish). I really tried to steel myself against all the he’s and sirs that I would receive and that was pretty much all I heard. I was hoping at least a couple (or even one) people would address me as female but that did not happen. I think the worst one was the hotel clerk who had just seen my ID. My ID with ‘Teela Wild’ on it along with a big ‘F’ for female. So she hands my ID back to me and without missing a beat says ‘thank you, sir’. BLARGHHHHHHHH! Seriously?

Generally the misgendering occurred along with some really nasty looks. Now, I’m fairly used to the stares. Or if not stares than the eyes of people lingering a bit too long trying to figure me out but I got those and then some when I was out in the south. I mean really nasty hateful glances. Maybe it’s in my own head. Maybe it’s not. And in a nutshell that was pretty much it. No one (and I mean no one) addressed me as female. It’s hard not to be a bit down after that. It’s hard not to feel that I just went back to square one with this whole transition thing. I mean I know what I look like. I know what I sound like. But I also know what I am and not being addressed correctly by any stranger takes a toll that I thought I could handle but really had a lot of difficulty dealing with. But I made it through. I even got to have dinner with a twitter friend on the way back home so getting out and being myself for that one evening made a world of difference. And then I got back home late the next night and I realized just how comfortable home can be. And how my life in Upstate New York is about a million times better than anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line that I’ve been. And how I still try to give all people that I encounter the benefit of the doubt but also knowing that there are many out there that hate me for just existing. And, honestly, really happy that I wasn’t born in one of these bumfuck towns because who the hell knows where I would be right now? Probably not living as openly trans that’s for sure. Alright, that’s enough of my The South bashing. I know a lot of great folks that live down there and there are good and bad people everywhere so I probably shouldn’t be so narrow minded about their perceived narrow mindedness. I guess.

Thanks for reading. Stay safe out there.

Teela Jewel Wild

Me vs. The Mirror

There is a subject I’ve been wanting to write about for quite some time now. It seems to be a subject that is very important to a lot of us girls that were assigned male at birth and went through a masculinizing puberty. If I’m being perfectly honest it’s a subject that’s very important to me. As I say this I must concede that although it is a subject that concerns many a trans girl the very mention of it can cause us discomfort and strife. This topic deals with the acceptance of our own appearance (by ourselves and by others) in a cis normative expecting society. The concept commonly known as ‘passing’. I’m sure we all have our own definitions for it but I always consider it as looking as cis as possible in a trans body. Anyone who frequents almost any of the myriad of trans themed Facebook groups has inevitably come across the posts of a photo with the words ‘Do I pass’ written above it. Reactions to these posts are mixed. Of course there are a lot of supportive folks out there with many responses of ‘Of course!!! You’re so cute!!!’ On the other hand there is a segment of people that find the very concept of passing or trying to pass as being untrue to ourselves as trans people and they state that these posts are ridiculous and help no one. I must admit that I personally get quite annoyed by these posts but the reason is more of envy as I often think the person pictured looks better than I do. They look more ‘passable’. And this usually sends me into a bit of a downward spiral that rotates around ‘AHHHH other girls are so good looking why can’t that be me’ and ‘AHHHHH I freaking hate you with every envious cell in my body because you’re so much better looking’. And believe me, I have A LOT of envious cells. I wish this wasn’t the case and I know it’s my own problem but it’s a problem I’ve been dealing with a long time and never seem to get anywhere with changing it.

I have often asked myself why this is? Why should I care? I can’t do anything about it in my current situation and I have some positive qualities that I see when I look in the mirror. But it is always there. This doubt. This profound discomfort with how I perceive myself and how I am perceived by others. I always see my past self staring back at me and sometimes, not all the time but enough, it puts me on course to depression. I usually successfully stave this off temporarily but the doubt is always there and it’s always a struggle. Now, there is something that can be done about this. It’s a medical procedure that is commonly called Facial Feminization Surgery (FFS) and it is a drastic step. And it’s very expensive. And not covered by insurance (as the amount of ‘GO FUND MY FFS’ pages can attest). And sometimes it is more successful than others. But still I would jump at the chance of getting this procedure myself. I think to myself that I don’t need very much done but I do have some specifics that I would want to get taken care of. My nose should be thinner. My jawline softer. A few other smaller tweaks as well but let’s not go crazy. That’s mainly what I’m thinking when I stare at myself and that boy is looking back at me. But people tell me I’m fine. I’m sure some of the girls reading this are like ‘Shut up. You look fine. Quit bitching’. While other girls will be like ‘Phew. I’m glad I’m not her’. And a myriad of thoughts and feelings in between. I used to think that I wanted to look more feminine just for how others would see me and treat me but I have realized it goes much deeper than that. It has become a very personal desire. Something that I want to do for myself. I want to see that girl in the mirror. But then the reality hits. It costs thousands of dollars that I don’t have. It is major surgery and takes weeks of recovery and I can’t take that time off. My partner is just fine with how I look and dissuades me whenever I start talking about it.

But always that nagging desire. So what am I to do? Keep wallowing in my own pity? I mean I get out and live my life. Most people in public don’t pay me any more or less attention because I’m trans. Some may even not even know that I’m trans, although that’s probably just from a quick glance. I have never thought of myself as ‘passable’ but I really try to blend in as best I can and why shouldn’t that be enough for myself? Why can’t I start to look in the mirror and see the positives? Maybe a blast of positivity is all I need. Maybe I should start believing people when they tell me I look good. Maybe I shouldn’t give it a second thought when I’m called ma’am or miss and think this person is just humoring me. This could be a new me. A new way of life. A whole new attitude. Give me that mirror. I look great! Everything is perfect. Why did I ever think differently? Except my nose could be thinner. And my jawline a bit softer. And……Ok, so who wants to pay for my FFS?

Thanks for reading. Stay safe out there.

Teela Jewel Wild

I’ve been wanting to write something about a subject for a while but it can be quite contentious. In fact I don’t want to specifically talk about this subject (being gender critical vs gender non‐critical) at all but I want to talk about people’s reactions and counter reactions to it, especially in the Twitterverse. First I should state that my personal feeling about having any kind of argument on Twitter is that it’s dumb. It seems too easy to respond to any statement with which one disagrees with a string of insults. It is too easy to hide behind an anonymous account. It doesn’t do anybody any good when people go back and forth in a forum where nobody is changing anybody else’s mind and absolutely nothing positive comes of it. Nobody wins in a Twitter war, people. But they happen. And sometimes I watch. And usually I really agree with one side but when the dust clears nobody is the wiser. It seems in the trans community that this type of discourse can be common. Now believe me, as a trans woman myself there are many sites and subjects that I avoid like the plague. Mostly because the vitriol surrounding topics concerning one of the most discriminated against minorities, trans folks and ESPECIALLY trans folks of color, is ramped up to hyperbolic proportions on both sides. Very few conversations that I’ve seen among trans people and those who disagree/don’t believe in our very existence end in any way but a negative. I guess what I’m trying to get at with all this is that all of us should take a step back and if possible not participate in discussions where we know nothing positive is going to come out of it.

There are several articles that have been circulating lately really bringing to the forefront the view of the gender critical and the subsequent backlash to these writings. I’m not going to link to anything specific but you can find a lot of examples by searching terms like: ‘Gender Critical’ and ‘TERF’ which will generally reveal one side of the argument and searching these terms in combination with Transadvocate (or any other gender non‐critical trans author or publication) will reveal the other. It seems clear the divisiveness pretty much comes down to the legitimacy of trans women. This difference is basically what I want to focus on. We aren’t getting into the ‘politics of transgenderism’ here so let me state right now that I consider myself very gender non‐critical. I consider myself a woman. A trans woman but a woman all the same. That’s why the term ‘trans’ is an adjective. It describes the kind of woman I am. It is not one word: transwoman. It is two words: trans woman, with the noun and my existence being woman. I consider trans to be an umbrella term and I believe a person when they tell me how they experience gender and how they would like to be thought of and addressed. However, I have tried to understand the other side. I have tried to not over react to people who try to deny my right to identify. There is the term out there, TERF (which stands for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist), which is bandied about, mostly by the gender non‐critical trans folks to the point where many so called TERFs find the term a slur. Now, I’ve used this term before. I have also seen instances where it is used in such a way that it could maybe be construed as a slur. And in a spirit of letting people define their own lives, if some consider it a slur I will not refer to people by that term. The term that you have seen me use is gender critical (trans women =\= women) and gender non‐critical (trans women = women) these are very simplistic definitions but for the purposes of this piece it will work. Honestly I find these terms equal and descriptive about a person’s basic beliefs so even shortened to gender crit (non‐crit) I hope we can agree these are not offensive or a slur.

I guess this brings me along to the thing I want to talk about, People’s Personal Beliefs and the Ability to Define Our Own Existence. I am a true proponent of everybody thinking the way they want to think. Others can’t control the way others think anyway but suffice it to say we all have our own minds and use them the way we wish. For example, you can think that I’m not truly a woman. You can think that I’m mentally disturbed or some kind of predator (a predator tho? Really people? You don’t know me. 😉 ) and I can vehemently disagree with your thoughts but I can’t control you. My only recourse is to try to convey my thoughts on the subject and if I’m faced with your inability to believe in my existence or even worse, a string of vitriol and name calling, I end that conversation. But this brings me to the crux of my entire thought process here. Obviously there are many folks out there that don’t agree with each other, specifically in conversations about transness. But let’s just say, for simplicity’s sake, that we each believe the other thinks that way and we each believe we are not about to change the way the other thinks. At this point I think society takes over and politeness and even agreeing the other exists on a basic human level should come to the forefront. Let’s take me. As I have stated previously I consider myself a woman. In fact I know I’m a woman because my brain has been screaming that at me for as long as I can remember. But I know there are some, those that are gender critical, that do not think that about me. They don’t believe what I tell them and have their own belief system which is fine. But how can we both exist in a civil society without basically resorting to name calling? The one rule that I feel that everyone should follow is that when addressing a person of differing beliefs, in this case a trans person, one should use the pronouns and gender that they choose. One would address me as she and agree that I believe that I’m a woman and should call me as such. When not addressing me, or talking amongst their peers they can call me whatever the hell they want. But to my face and in any kind of public forum we should address each other how the addressee chooses. At the utmost not doing this, referring to me as male and he, could be construed as an act of aggression. At the very least, not doing this is rude. It’s very, very rude. And since we all live in a society we should at the very least respect all others to the point where one is not rude. I know this is probably very simplistic and even naïve of me to think that this will change anything but I think a basic level of etiquette that is agreed upon would be a good start. And really it’s only just the basic surface level of understanding and respect. But it’s definitely a start. And hopefully if I don’t use the term TERF and one addresses me with my correct gender and pronouns I’d probably listen to what the gender critical have to say. I mean you’re not going to change my mind or anything but civil discourse in itself is a noble goal.

Thanks for reading. Stay safe out there everyone.

Teela Jewel Wild (@TeelaWild)

(Written a few months ago but posted here for your reading pleasure)

 

Hi, all! My name is Teela, and I’ve recently come out in all aspects of my life as a transgender woman. I had been sporadically posting on the Twitters recently about the trials and tribulations of getting my name changed in Upstate New York (I live in the Capital District of New York State, near Albany).

I do want to talk about my recent life changing events of going ‘full-time’ as a backdrop to my current name change status. I had been living as a ‘part-time girl’ for the last several years.

What that meant is that pretty much outside of work I was presenting as female. I have been on HRT for the past 17 months or so and was finding it harder and harder to carry on at work pretending to be a boy.

It all finally came to a head about three months ago when I nervously came out to our HR ‘department’ (which in my small company is one woman who does a thousand other things as well) and to my amazement she was very supportive and even a bit unfazed by the news. She kept telling me that it would not be that big of a deal, and I didn’t believe her for a second, but I knew it was something I needed to do.

I worked at an Engineering/Environmental company run by old men at the time, and I had no reason to believe my trans-ness would be accepted. But I will say when I finally came around to showing up to work dressed as me for the first time (on 10/15/15) Some minimal backlash came my way. However, I was accepted by my peers and work is good. So, at that time, my work environment has been relatively accepting, and I feel alright with that. And since this time I have actually taken a different job with a different firm. Who da thought a trans girl would actually have some choice of employment???

Now we are getting to the processes of legally changing all of my documents to reflect my new name and gender. I have officially completed the first step of this process that is getting my name legally changed. I should note that I talk to a lot of trans folks around the country (and a lot of Brits as well), and I am amazed by the vast differences in this process that vary from state to state. So my experiences are not necessarily the norm by any stretch.

I was a bit overwhelmed when starting the process and had been to seminars and talked with friends who have gone through it, but I will say the most helpful resource was a DIY forms website for New York State. I went through the steps that automatically filled out my forms with the information I input and voila.

Seriously, there were only two forms that I needed to bring to my County Clerk’s office. Now along with these forms I needed $210.00, and I also brought along my ID and birth certificate. Now I had heard from many parties that the original copy of my birth certificate was crucial, and they wouldn’t accept my forms without it. But when I was at the counter, I handed over my forms, gave up my check, and that was it.

They didn’t say anything about needing to see my bc, and they said if they needed anything else from me the judge’s office would call.

Welp, a few days later I got a letter informing me that the judge is now looking at my case. I fully expected them to contact me requesting more documentation for my name change. But the call never came, and about two weeks later I got the letter saying my name change is complete!!! Now there were still a couple of hoops I needed to jump through to make everything official and filed in the County Clerk’s office. I needed to put an add in the local paper with my previous name, my address, and my real name.

Putting my address in there was a bit unnerving but I didn’t want to go through the process of getting that waived, so I bit my tongue and placed the add. It took three days to appear in the paper and on the next Monday morning I picked up my affidavit from the newspaper and brought it to the county clerk and there it was. Officially Teela.

Now the next step is getting my doctor to write letters for my SSN, birth certificate, and license and get each of these documents updated with name and gender. Along with the land deed, bank account, insurance, and I’m sure a hundred other things I haven’t even thought about yet.

Now, I know this experience of having things go so smoothly is not all that common. And it’s my feeling I got rubber stamped but, believe me, I’ll take it. I will say that probably the majority of my friends (both online and in RL) have had more trouble with this. Some are held up by past debts or having to pay child support. Some friends have hired a lawyer who makes the process much easier but can cost at least an extra $500. Some friends live in states where they make it a pain in the ass to go through this process, and it costs even more money. Some have to go in front of a judge with witnesses. So much depends on the state (or country) in which you live so all I can recommend is research all information thoroughly and if possible talk to people who have gone through it. And some people can get assistance to hire a lawyer so look into that as well. So much depends on your knowledge of the process. And let’s face it, a little luck never hurts either. We deserve as much luck as we can get.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe out there!

-Teela Jewel Wild

Welp, this is my usual ‘wait several months for the next post’ post and I will say that my life has really progressed. Last post I had just outed myself to HR and from that point it took me another couple of months to out myself to the entire company. And now I am working for an entirely different company. But I am out. I am living as myself full-time. It has actually been ok thus far. Like (and I really hate admitting this in writing) I do feel better. I feel more authentic. I don’t feel as though I’m not lying to myself or others as much anymore.

So this is basically just a quick update and I am going to try and post more. Some actual opinion article type things so just wait for that. LOL.

It has been A WHILE

Ok. It’s been several months and actually I think my attitude has improved a bit and I am getting really close to ‘that day’. That day when I start living as myself full time. Full time Teela. Even at w*rk. Not too long ago (maybe about a month) I spoke with our HR ‘department’. I put that in quotes because it’s not as much a department as it is one woman who does a million other things around here but I set up an appointment and totally outed myself to her. She was actually quite supportive so that’s good. It took a little bit to get the actual words out, ‘I am transgender’ and saying that to the other people I’ve told hasn’t made it any easier but I said it. And then explained what it meant to me in my daily life. Like, outside of work I am pretty much presenting as Teela. To the restaurant, to the grocery store, to the pretty much everywhere. Now in all honesty, I sometimes do not venture where I think problems could arise but generally I’ve gone about my business with little more than a few stares (well more than a few) and a few ‘sirs’ which are honestly the WORST. It does kind of hurt to hear ‘sir’ come out of someone’s mouth when I’m OBVIOUSLY presenting female but I have recovered well and fairly quickly afterwards so more power to me. Now, honestly I haven’t told anybody else that I work with and actually am not very close to anyone here but they will hear soon enough. Also, there are more things in the works possibly so I’m biding my time for now.

So, my upcoming tasks for this life changing event that is upon me include:

  • Legal Name Change
  • New Driver’s License with Change of Gender Marker
  • Purchase New Work Clothes
  • Eventually SSN and Birth Certificate Gender Change

I hope to start the name change process ASAP as I’ve heard it takes about 6 weeks to complete in the county that I live in. I have been told by some that I should hire a lawyer for this process, it would make things a bit easier but the lawyer (who is trans friendly and even works at a reduced rate for name change) costs $500. That is on top of the $210 that it costs to just file the paperwork. I’m going to have a hard time coming up with $210 much less an extra $500. She would let me pay $50/month but that is an electrolysis session. I upped these to once a week and if I’m going FT soon I want as many as possible between now and then. Anyway, I guess the big thing the lawyer helps with is ‘sealing the files’ and making it so I don’t have to post an announcement in the local paper. To be honest, I don’t really care if the files are sealed. I’m pretty obviously trans so if you can’t figure that out in a second after meeting me and have to dig through my records to find out, first off you’re dumb. Second off, I don’t care. It’s the same attitude I have about posting my name change in the local paper. Again, it’s obvious I’m trans. Why the hell do I care if strangers know about a legal name change? Although it does make me put my address in there so that’s a little unnerving but still I don’t think it will be a big deal (hopefully, *fingers crossed*).

Everything else kind of follows this (except clothes shopping, that will happen sooner). For everything else I will need a ‘permission slip’ from my Doc but she is very experienced and I foresee no problem with her writing it. It will just be a situation of waiting for her to do it. She’s very busy. ‘She’s harder to get in to see then the Pope’ says her secretary. Fun stuff. I’d better post this as I started it 5 days ago or so. Maybe I’ll even update sooner this next time around.

 

So, I completely lost it at work today. Let’s just say I’m thankful that I have my own office and thankful said office has a very thick door. I don’t know why I have been so depressed lately. I was good on Tuesday (today’s Friday) as I volunteered for our Equality and Justice Day which is a Pride event that’s focused on lobbying state politicians about LGBT issues. For the first time that I know of the main focus for the Empire State Pride Agenda is for a state bill called the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) which will afford protections in housing, employment, education for gender non-conforming New Yorkers. Anyway, Tuesday was decent. It was educational. I didn’t feel too dysphoric. I’m starting to really question ‘my look’, however. I see pictures and I look so unnatural. Need less make-up. Actually, to be honest, I need a new face but I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen. I’m guessing not. Back to my point that I’ve been feeling extremely (and like some of the worst I’ve felt) depressed since said event. My dysphoria is at maximum. Triggering severe depression that I’m finding it very difficult to break out of. Leading to my hitting a fucking wall at work, quietly closing my door, and balling my eyes out for about 15 minutes. Honestly, I do feel a bit better after that but I know this episode is far from over.

Basically it all comes down to what I’ve discussed at length several times before and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get past this point. It’s very disconcerting. I’m just so afraid for myself and my future. I’ve thought that full time transition at some point was going to be what was needed to make myself whole but thinking through the step by step process that would need to take place I really don’t know if I’ll be able to do it. I have a feeling that my ceiling with a full time transition is that my life will be slightly less shitty than it is now. The worst case scenario is that my life will be much worse. That I’m stared at and harassed on a near daily basis. Any kind of meaningful employment will be unattainable and I’ll be lucky to get a job as a fucking barista somewhere. Very lucky to get a job ANYWHERE. I’m just deathly afraid I will lose any kind of anonymity that I have now. I will forever be on display as a creature to be derided. I will never be able to go anywhere without thinking of my safety first and probably devising an escape route for any horrible situation that could possibly (at any moment) arise. I know what I look like. I hate the way I fucking look. Hate it. I see very little daylight at this moment. I see very little hope that I’ll ever be the person I truly need to be and very little hope I will attain any kind of meaningful happiness in my life.

I’m tired. All of my thoughts these days are about my gender identity and what a pain in the ass it is. But I know I can’t change anything. I can try to change to way I think about things and the way I view myself but the possibility of that happening seems more remote every day. I’ve never been suicidal even in the depths of my dysphoria. I do not plan to get suicidal about my dysphoria in the future but I’m also getting to a point of hopelessness. I love so many people in my life dearly and would never be selfish enough to put the end of my problems before my love of my partner and my family. I just wish things could be different. They cannot. And I have to fucking deal with that.