This is the post where I, without warning or reason, abandon the “witty observation and random pop culture references in lieu of actual humor” formula that has been the formation of our entire relationship and instead get creepily personal, divulge way more information than you're comfortable knowing about me, and set the stage for many an awkward “is she joking or is she having a breakdown” moment in the future. You will be disgusted by my cheap ploy for an emotional response, and I will be wrought with conflict over whether or not I've betrayed my target audience, and four or five years from now everyone will say this was one of their favorite articles of all time, OF ALL TIME!

So let's just skip the foreplay and go straight for the silent, uneasy morning after breakfast.

To maintain my reputation as a touchy feely bleeding heart liberal, once a week I take public transit to downtown SFO and cry, scream, and perform interpretive dance for a therapist. I've been in therapy for two months now. While it started out as a means to appease loved ones and people who were growing bored with my blog, I quickly realized how not okay at all I really was, and have slowly begun to put my faith in its usefulness.

As a youngling I hid my feelings of gender discombobulation behind a mask of sociopathic emotionlessness. I never smiled, save for photographs, and it took me a long time to find a natural-looking one that didn't scream “you me and a roll of duct tape make three”. Eventually I settled for something between “bible camp counselor” and “I just saw a guy get hit in the nuts and that is relevant to my interests”. Christmas was especially difficult, as my parents insisted on recording us opening presents, and my father would often stop recording to “remind” me to show more enthusiasm. As my previous use of quotation marks to suggest a sarcastic euphemism might imply, with my father's help I found an emotion I was comfortable expressing: anger. In fact, I became so good at expressing it that I was in anger management while in junior high, and was actually suspended for two days after the Columbine Massacre to “clear my head” and “keep me from getting any ideas”.

Anger was my sole means of relating to the “male experience”, which was convenient because my whole life I was angry at having been born in a male body. My other emotions had atrophied, and letting out a smile or a tear was so taxing on my soul. If I have a soul. The treatment LGBTs receive from others for no logical reason is convincing more and more each day that we are nothing more than DNA and shutter shades.

See, I told you this would be awkward.

Unsurprisingly, this need to share my pain with everyone around me (which was my school counselor's code phrase for “punch random people in the face”) began to shape my intake of media. I was reading The Punisher at a time when most kids were still grappling with the moral complexities of Rugrats. I avoided video games that were not violence-oriented; I didn't own a MarioKart game until I bought a Nintendo DS, which brought with it the “Dude, You're A Grown Man, Why Are You Always Picking Peach?” scandal of my early 20's, which I'm actually still in despite my reminiscient language.

Coming out tempered my anger and need for seeing people succumb to senseless violence. Despite myself, I made a conscious decision that I was going to forgive myself for all those misspent years, and that I could no longer displace my self-loathing on other people. Lennon was my favorite Beatle, after all. I should expect better from myself. After I came out (and was no longer hung up on “showing my emotions” because I had been subsequently abandoned by everyone who criticized me for it), I began to drop the “tough guy” facade and took up some of the less aggressive video games and comics (I've even become a regular reader of some comics where nobody dies ever omg). Notice how I said “aggressive” and not “violent”.

Because while Super Smash Bros and Sandman are a definite step down from Call of Duty and Sin City, they would by no means appeal to the parent concerned with stomping out any violent urges in their child. I have come to a place in my fandom where I can appreciate the cartoony fighting in Street Fighter and the heavy life-and-death situations in Watchmen without thinking “oh man, I wish I could break someone's neck like that to fill the emptiness that dwells within me”. A notable exception to this scenario is Left 4 Dead, which really doesn't count, because that's not catharsis, that's survival training. When the zombie apocalypse comes, you'll have to race Janeane Garofalo to the tactical shotgun.

While I was initially tempted to distance myself from the things I enjoyed in my “previous life” I have come to understand that aggression (and/or outright sadism) is inherent in my personality, and just as I can't go walking around with it turned to 11, I also can't smother it. That much I figured out without therapy. However, the transition from “first born desperately finding a sport they excel at to attain the father's approval they will never have” to “glamazon feminist with only one pair of flats in her whole collection girl power yeah!!!!” has left me somewhat unable to relate to people, in social situations or in private.

Stripped of my “caustic jerkass with a heart of gold” costume, I find myself struggling to participate in even the most menial of discussions, often sitting for an hour without making so much as the “obligatory laugh to show that you're humorous anecdote has been acknowledged”. When people comment on my appearance, my first response is to deflect or change the subject. Like an alligator (or is it a crocodile) at a watering hole, I wait for someone to bring up a topic that I am interested in, and then speak way too loud than is comfortable for other people's ears on what I think about the topic, only to creep back into the water once I've made my point. I have been known to “make coffee for everyone” even when nobody wants or drinks it. I have difficulties with being introduced to new people, and will often have bouts of anxiety when friends bring unannounced friends with them to the house. If I can't punch you or fuck you, I have a hard time figuring out what to do with you.

I am conflicted with how to express and communicate my gender in social situations. On the one hand, I can't say “women act this way, so I should act this way” because that only enforces the oppressive gender binary and would ultimately be trading one puppet show for another. But on the other, I crave more validation than reading feminist literature alone in the basement can offer. But how and where do I find that? I cannot tell where mimicing learned behavior ends and where being “myself” begins. I still can't decide on a fitting middle name for myself. How the fuck am I supposed to know “who I am”? I know that I am a woman. But the farther I progress in my transition, and the more I reject the conventional trappings of womanhood, I'm missing out on what that means for me. My “cynic sense” tingles as I write this, suggesting that someone reading this believes that this is proof that I just don't “get it” or that I'm not “really trans”. FYI, fuck you.

I've thought of joining a trans support group, or a roller derby team. In a perfect world I'd get to do both, once I stop putting my friends straight to voicemail. I hate my voice and have considered learning ASL and pretending that I'm mute (just have to make sure nobody I pull this on ever sees my band perform). Despite my best intentions, I cannot shake the feeling that I still look, sound, and act like a man, and cannot seem to convince myself that being invisible is not a more viable option than making friends, for making friends and forming romantic relationships might leave me vulnerable and force me to open up, something I have been trained my whole life not to do. Nobody likes an ice queen. Unless their fridge breaks down. Or they like temperature play. No. Stop it. I've decided to give myself the weekend to mull over the benefits of going to a support group, and if it will give me a room to open up and be awkward about it. The internet has sort of burned me out on “group share time”. Everyone's got their own glistening snowflake of an opinion and is just so eager to let you have a piece. I fear the meatspace won't be any better.

While I let the voices in my head debate over that, I'm going to devote more time to my art and writing, hoping that if I express myself clearly enough through my art I won't have to in day to day discussion and person to person relationships.

Transfeminist and I are in the early process of launching our own label, Cowgirl Astronaut Comics, the first queer trans feminist comic label run by bloggers that works exclusively in webcomics. Webcomics, my cherubs, are the future. One day we will not need to scavenge for the occasional niblet of acknowledgement from the mainstream. We will have hundreds upon hundreds (dare I say an “oodle”) of queer and trans friendly comics on the web, and it will only cost you an internet connection and 1/12th of the time spent looking at lolcats. Consumerism is so heternormative anyway.

I have been encouraged to keep a poetry journal to detail my feelings about therapy and my transition. If I can read my poems out loud in a support group, than maybe I could have my cake and have sex with it too. Wait. No. Yes. I got it right.
Perhaps that is where people like are best fit; contributing to the media representation of the culture and community and without having to interact with it. It would explain why so many LGBT writers and bloggers and celebrities get caught saying the most problematic of bullshit in their off time. You know who you are.

This article is going nowhere. Like an Orson Scott Card novel. I guess the moral of the story is that while it makes a good magazine story, some of us do not transition to “be happy”. Some of us are compelled to do it, to balance the unironically crooked painting, knowing full well that doing so may harsh our spiritual and psychological mellows. I might be in therapy for the rest of my natural born life. But will it all be worth in the name of gender euphoria? Probably. I think so.

Thank you for joining us for this very special episode of Bitchzarro. Join us next week when I ask Wolverine what all those “cigars” are about!

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