Saturday, March 31, 2018

Episode 010: "33 Going On 1"

The days of my transition have been pretty full: misgenderings, side-eyes, stares, winks, flirtatious moments in theaters, and an attempted assault, just to name a few.  Events that will stick with me forever, and others that are gone in the blink of an eye. Each of these mini struggles, strives, and situations I’ve encountered in my transition feel like they could fill a mountainous library of infinite volumes.

And it hasn’t even been a year yet.

Recently I’ve made the stupidly obvious discovery that it’s only been 11 months since I made the big leap to living as myself full-time. After recently being let go at my job, I’ve finally had some alone time to stop and reflect on my journey, which I haven’t been able to, due to crazy-hectic work pressures.  No month-to-month summaries; no journalistic discoveries.  And out of all the thoughts I’ve been encountering, the biggest one is: I’m kinda starting from scratch.

I’m 33 years old.  I’ve paid taxes, I’ve moved, I’ve given eulogies at my parents’ funerals, I’ve said goodbye to friends, I’ve had $.81 cents in my bank account, I’ve traveled abroad, and found love. But none of them as a woman. None of them as Jasmine. None of them as my complete, coherent self. My mind houses decades of memories that I don’t understand or that no longer relate to me.

Part of my issues come from losing interest in much of what I have previously experienced: foods that no longer taste the same, textures I no longer desire, and favorite movies that don’t keep my interest. The other side I deal with is recalling a life that was lived so bizarrely and opposite of who I am. Why wouldn’t I flirt back with those winks and smirks that were sent my way? How could I pass up the endless opportunities to go dancing with my girlfriends? Why didn’t I care about the fashion I wore?!

Remembering the life I’ve lived feels like reading a book in a different language, in which every page is bound in the wrong order.

Now keep in mind, a lot of these alterations aren’t just emotional: they’re physical. So much of my body has altered, from my skin thinning, all the way down to my senses of taste and smell being adjusted.  The other day my partner ordered a little pre-packaged flan at one of our favorite restaurants; a flan I’ve tried before and snubbed my nose at. But after being force-fed a piece, I discovered that cold and little wobbly gelatin actually tasted good for once. And I kinda craved it! If I had it my way, I would re-do every journey I’ve been on and every song I’ve heard to see how my tastes have altered, since everything I do now is a new experience: the fresh point of view of a child sewn-up to the tired experience of an adult.

It’s weird being this age, yet still wide-eyed. Every tiny “new” moment is a massive milestone. Reading old comic books with a new outlook has me rooting for old characters for the first time (INVISIBLE WOMAN!) and liking them from different sections of my spirit. I wanted to shout from the rooftops that I had my first job interview. And unfortunately for me, I don’t have much of an audience. The majority of my immediate family has passed on, which means the people who raised me don’t get to share in my mini triumphs. So if any of you readers gets a text or a call that’s showing off my first professional manicure or some weird fact about my period, it’s just me celebrating being alive for the first time in over 3 decades. Because with 30 years of my life behind me, every day is a scary new chance to live loudly and proudly, with no time to waste.

XOXO,

-Jazzy



Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Episode 009: "Little Lost Luna" or "The Girl In Apartment #1"

I figured the days of writing about my transition were over. I've been on hormones for over a year and living as my authentic self for 6 months now. While there are new discoveries and situations, much of it just feels the same: "I hate my body", "Society treats me differently", blah blah blah. I had come to terms with what I really was and was learning to make peace with everything...

...except.

Through all my trials and transitions, there was one part of my gender puzzle that was missing. The earliest memory I had of showcasing my true self was me at 4 years old, screaming at my dad from the bathroom: "I TOLD YOU I COULD BE A GIRL" *edited for embarrassment*. Obviously, something prior sparked this sass, and something for sure happened after (because my dad wasn't OK with this type of stuff).  But that recall was blocked off and out of my reach. No matter how many pain-staking inner journeys I made, I had to count these losses as victims of time and trauma. 

Well:

A few nights ago, my partner and I were enjoying some much needed quiet and relaxation. Having taking a few recreational (and legal) edibles, we sat down to giggle at TV and escape the sheer emotional terror we are constantly in. A few hours later, my brain was bombarded with the specific image of a pair of my mother's black and white studded heels. I turned to my girlfriend and said:

"I remember fondly looking at them, when I used to play in her closet. I remember because I always wanted to be near her, because I wanted to be just like her. And sometimes I would put her heels on and try to walk around, so she bought me a little pair of girl's wedged sandals so I could feel fancy and pretty too. But then my father found out and got quite upset. They always seemed to get into little arguments about me, but I wasn't sure why. I was just being myself- did that mean I was bad? And every time I would talk about being female, my embarrassed father's face was always there to quell it. These increasing denials led to that night in the bathroom where I was sick of being told what I wasn't. And as I defiantly shouted at him, he came seethingly down the hallway, with a look I had never seen before, screaming with rage. As he tried to set me straight, I ran and hid in my mother's closet, while the two of them argued the heaviest I had ever heard them. As I cried, I looked over at those heels that had caused all this pain: a part of me that seemed to make everyone upset. I ran to my father in the hallway, grabbed his leg, and said 'I'm just kidding, Papa! It's just a joke; I'm really a boy, I'll stop. I'll be good'."

As I finished saying all of this, my partner's eyes were as wide as dinner plates, because she has never heard these stories before. Mine were giant as well, because this was the first time I had recalled these memories in almost 30 years. Seconds later, more came: memories, feelings, understandings. Even strange old childhood nightmares finally had a tether to explanation. I was amazed, flabbergasted, and other fancy circus words that explain what an utter bombshell this was: my female feelings weren't weird habits that took root over time or a strange mental breakdown; I am and have always been a woman. 

For days after, positive feelings poured from this breakthrough; my heart swells with pride for that little 4-year-old girl who held tight to herself as best she could. Confused but diligent, she consistently embraced her vibrant soul, until she met the immovable object of ignorance.  And so she hid away, creating the camouflage of a boy named Matthew in order to survive. But along the way, she forgot herself and the costume she crafted took on a life of its own. 


And while I'm ecstatic and eternally grateful for being able to recall these moments from my life, I'm also crumbling at the staggering amount of time lost. That little girl existed just as Jasmine exists: for a combined total of only 7 years. The miracle of finding myself can never be forgotten- but the realization that the last 26 years of my life have been built on an unacknowledged lie might literally be more than I can bear. I haven't been consciously myself for 80% of my entire existence on Earth. At 33, I've buried my entire family, moved from everything I've known, and transitioned to a whole new life...and still been around less consecutive time than a 3rd grader. The saddest reality of all is, by the time that little girl finally had the courage to figuratively and literally come out of the closet, she was the only thing left from her old home on Cleveland Avenue.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Episode 008: "The Unbearable Burden of Being"

Goddess, help me. I'm so upset about the asinine post made by 45 that I'm losing my mind. Tiny, waves of anger have been crashing into my mind since reading it. And I feel like I'm taking it personally. It was the wording about being a "burden", which is a pretty triggering word for me. 

My journey to womanhood included unlocking hundreds of bolted memories in my subconscious. Focusing on images, being critical about thoughts I assumed were unimportant. The biggest one for me was coming across some old photos and remembering a 4th birthday spent at Disneyland. It was there that I wore a pair of girl's sandals which I loved very much, only to have them balanced out with my dad's expressions of shame and embarrassment (I had to wear similar-colored socks to hide the footwear). And after a very traumatic incident (that I'll keep to myself) learned to forget the person I was by listening to what the world wanted of me. 

Since that time in my life, I put all other feelings and needs first: friends, jobs, even inanimate objects. Since I wasn't allowed to focus on myself (because I was told those feelings were wrong) I unhealthily transferred that energy into the world around me. I became a dutiful caretaker and servant. I could plan the perfect party but receiving a gift would make me cringe. Saying "yes" was my immediate instinct.  Seeing other people happy made me happy- I existed to serve. 

Because of this, I have a major guilt complex when it comes to self-care. My personal needs have always been perceived by my brain as "unnecessary", "optional", and "inconvenient". Calling out sick due to actual illness takes an hour of motivational prep time- all I can do is obsess over my impact on their lives.

"I don't want to make anyone worry."

"I shouldn't let anyone worry."

"No one needs to know."

The hardest struggle of transitioning wasn't the Catholic guilt (which came in a very heavy second place), but accepting that my existence was valid. And not one of living for others- but to be a priority all on its own. I had values, feelings, thought, needs, and cravings never explored-wants and opinions burred away for 30 years. I am a human being who DESERVES to be listened to and understood. I SHOULD allow some moments to just be about me. The ideas of focused being "selfish" had to be translated into "self-focused".

Finally, I can say no. The girl growing and developing is starting to understand that she doesn't have to take on the world, just because it exists. She doesn't need approval from others for every tiny thought she keeps to herself. She doesn't need to find proof of her worth- she just has to accept it. 

She can live without endlessly apologizing for her existence. 

And now today, the word "burden" is used to describe myself and my trans community.  A word I would promptly heap onto myself whenever my spirit begged for some relief. A word I have been desperately trying to escape from. At this moment, all I feel is rage. I've been close to tears all day, too. But this is an incurable anger I haven't felt since my testosterone blockers kicked in. I think with a seed of self-esteem and internalized love blossoming in my heart, I'm no longer OK with being dismissed into the mists of doubt. I feel protective of myself and proactive in my own growth. I understand I have a voice, it MUST be heard, and I shouldn't feel guilty about that. How dare you come for us? How dare you so flippantly disregard out centuries of collective pain and suffering! Saying we can't exist in one location is a slippery slope to creating reasoning that we shouldn't exist anywhere. 

I am not wrong. I am not a mistake. I am not a sin. I am not misguided. I am not a burden. 

I am real. I am genuine. I am true. I am fact. I am science. I am a miracle. I am a joy. I am a woman. 

I exist. 



Monday, July 10, 2017

Dysphoria Interlude 2: The Serpent

Before socially transitioning, the dysphoria bug would bite hard; consistently and feverishly. Annoyingly so, without any real warning. I could be whistling a tune down the hallway, see something out of my eye's corner, and fall into it. Sometimes large triggers don't affect me (surprisingly); other times, minor thoughts cascade into a total shut-down.

-Woman with cute tights who doesn't have to worry about a bulge? Dysphoria.

-Remembering that Target carries women's shoes that are 1 size short of fitting me? Dysphoria. 

-Scratching an itch on my face and feeling the incoming beard hair? Dysphoria. 

Any time, any day. Awake or in dreams. Even in the wide and imaginative world of sleep, my dream-self gets upset that her feet look too big and that she can't find a bra that fits. Transgenderism isn't a mental illness, but the dysphoria that afflicts us is.  Dysphoria isn't curable or fixable.  Taking the proper transitional steps for yourself can help alleviate it;  but much like depression and anxiety, it is a condition you will struggle with until you die. Sometimes it flairs up, just by the realization that you are a host to this curse; that a disease which has already ravaged your body has also burrowed a hole in your heart. Sitting, throbbing, eager to attack. A filthy mental snake of self-hate. 

It constricts your strength, it slithers through your optimism, it poisons your self-esteem.  Because of my shitty body, I'm pretty much always in a general cloud of malaise.  I'm so glad I've taken so many steps to live more authentically, which helps make my life more enjoyable.  But at the end of the day, the incurable is just the incurable.  There are only so many times one can "look on the bright side" or "cheer up" or "be happy that it isn't worse". My least favorite argument is that "there are lots of larger women out there!".  That's true; there are. There are millions of women with deeper voices, or longer features, or bulkier frames.  Many women have more masculine features... but not actual masculine bodies. Wide female shoulders are not wide male shoulders. A raspier female voice does not equal a booming male one.  The wrong hormones destroyed my body decades ago and now I am forced to call a twisted, nightmarish, and grotesque pile of flesh my home. 

I haven't had a disabling attack since moving to full-time female (thank Goddess).  The daily ebb and flow is still there...but nothing earth-shattering. I haven't been forced to take a mental health day from work, either.  But I can feel it stirring; that sinister gender snake squirming through my organs, making my skin crawl. And while it has been rather dormant lately, I can feel it growing: larger and thicker. The monster is taking up more space in my already fragile state of mind.  And at night when I wipe away the caked and faded makeup in front of the mirror, a face is revealed that's full of fear. 

Not a fear of when the snake will take me, but if I'll survive...and what will be left of me. 


Monday, June 26, 2017

Episode 007: "The Weakened Sex" or "A Woman's Place"


Hi internet! It's been a while. That's what happens when your laptop breaks down and you're too stubborn to use the iPad (leave me alone, I have my reasons).

A while back, I finally took the plunge to live full time as female. 24 hours of only (and finally) Jasmine Diana Luna. Thousands of hours dealing with new scenarios; millions of seconds spent fretting over new possibilities not considered. Seems like years now, feels like decades.

In reality: 2 months.

In those 60 days, I've relieved myself of all male clothing, increased hormone dosage to the complete amounts, and removed my old name from my mental lexicon. I've also started the process of changing my name and gender legally, shifted from relying on a wig to using my natural hair, and even moved to a new office with co-workers who have zero semblance of my life in any previous form. I've been mansplained to, hit on, been made fun of, had doors held open for me, been too anxious to exit a women's restroom stall, and generally accepted into the beautiful and complex female sisterhood as a peer.

I am elated, I am terrified, I am excited, I am nervous, I am scared, I am happy, I am lonely.

I am tired.

While I'm definitely not stealth (undetectable as trans) or really passing as female (let's be honest), I'm no longer treated as a male. Some people deal with me as a regular woman, others aren't sure what box to shove me in; either way, my male privilege is finished. The ideas of "strong power" and "simplicity" are replaced with different stereotypes. People now volunteer to do things for me, I am asked questions about style and design. My girlfriend and I are automatically treated as "just friends" in restaurants, always being given separate checks (even if the server sees us kissing or holding hands). My identity as a lesbian is constantly undermined through heteronormative assumptions that sweaty, beefy men turn me on (they 10000% do not).

Besides the transphobia and confusion, it's the life I want - one where EVEN the sexist assumptions feel better to hate than my old ones. It's just a lot...all the time. I also seem to be stuck in a transitioning middle ground. Hormones have barely begun to do their thing and I find myself raging against incurable trans problems. Without the proper funds for laser/electrolysis, I am a dependent slave to daily make up routines (even freshly shaved, I have a 5 o'clock shadow). The deep throbs and tones of my masculine voice will forever stir up responses of "sir" and "mister" over phones and drive-thrus, despite my introduction as MISS Jasmine Luna.

At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is what sort of life I've cobbled together for myself. My dresser is full of the cutest pairs of tights; my curly hair bounces over my rouged cheeks; my female shadow always casts a spring in my step- and I have begun to live as a beautiful and bold woman who finally feels worthy of existing and chasing dreams she creates on her own. But Goddess damn it, is it a mind-numbing experience.

With love and fatigue,
Miss Jasmine


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Episode 006: Memoirs of a (Formerly) Invisible Woman

There's a spring in my step and more of a smile on my face since

I FINALLY CAME OUT PUBLICLY!

* applause*
Oh, gosh- thank you. I'm just glad I finally worked up the courage to-
*applause increases*
Wow, this means so much! Please, I'm not a hero!
*standing ovation*


Ok- so that's not quite what happened (but it really felt that way.) After several years of self-induced exile, I made it to the finish line I had been yearning for.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want the acceptance and approval of my loved ones- who doesn’t? But for Jasmine Luna, there was one main reason to come out- to reclaim her truth. Being locked in the closet meant I put my life on hold and opportunities and relationships were the first to suffer. I wanted to get back to the world I enjoyed and how I preferred to live it.  When growing up, it was always strongly stressed that honesty was the best policy, yet I had been leading my feelings into stark exile. My journey had forced me to be the truest to myself I could be (whatever that is) but that didn't mean I had to shout every minute-by-minute discovery from the rooftops. And when you aren't sure where this gender adventure is taking you, you reaaaally don't want to spill every single moment of exploration to the general populous:

“Hi, (OLD NAME)! How are you?”

"Doing all right, I guess. Last weekend was the first time I put on women's underwear and my brain was flooded with the sensations of extreme familiarity and lost memories. The feeling's been haunting me since. I also tried that new breakfast place on Sunset."

*scared doe eyes*

Learning to avoid people is pretty easy, even in the age of absolute monstrous technology. All you have to do is to play sick or forgetful and after a while, real sadness takes the reigns over. Espionage evolves into a type of second nature. Looking over your shoulder becomes as automatic as breathing.  Perfecting the art of rewording your reality follows next.  Everyone knows something is up, yet no one can pry anything from you. 
Alas…you can run and cower all you want, but at some point, the unavoidable happens: you unexpectedly run into someone or are obligated to send birthday wishes and the fearful, inevitable question appears:

"So stranger, what have YOU been up to!?"

For any of you who asked me this, my immediate thought explosion always consisted of:

*ohgodohgodALONEfreakCREEPYCREEPjasmineVERONICAhateFETISH???embarassedembarassedembarssedaloneHATEMYSELFFOREVER*

And my go-to response was a weak smile and:
"Ah, you know me- same old, same old."

A little lie.  No-a big lie. And it hurt me every*single*time. Not that I didn't trust the character of you who asked me this...but I just didn't know; I worried it could have gone really wrong. And in the case of things going south, I needed a strong reserve of emotional strength to deal with that possibly embarrassing friendship loss or shattered ego. But the last several years of back-to-back torment, left that reservoir empty.  So if I brushed away your concern for me, I'm sorry. While you may have missed out on some of my earlier transitioning, there’s a lifetime's worth of it to still be a part of. Hopefully you can forgive me.

And if not, I'll throw a fit. :)

XOXO,

-Jasmine 


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Episode 005: Femme Fractal

Identity is a pretty flimsy topic: who are we and what we need to be are real ego deflators.  Thinking in terms of who we used to be and believing the past is the only valid version of yourself is too self-defeating.  To steal one of my favorite phrases from an amazing show:

We all change, when you think about it, we're all different people; all through our lives, and that's okay, that's good, you've gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be.


(That’s from Doctor Who but you probably already knew that; if you didn’t then you should watch some.  It has really good heart and is very imaginative.  OK, I’m stalling because sharing is a little painful tonight.  Sorry. No more stalling. Don’t judge me; my life is hard.) 

I suppose the idea that there is a core version of ourselves is true: a sphere made up of immobile  views that doesn’t change much.  While your favorite shows may differ and you may have a falling out with a friend you don’t talk to anymore, it’s a sure bet that you’ll always agree that murder is wrong and good food is great.  Tastes and interests change all the times, but values are more difficult to move.

Ever since I admitted I was transgender, I’ve had a something that wasn’t settling quite right; an emotional piece of popcorn stuck in the back of my proverbial throat. Sometimes I wondered if it was that I really wasn’t trans* and that I took a strange impulse out of context. When it comes to claiming my identity now, I bleed rainbow for being transgender, but after that point it gets hazy for me. The murkiness of it is that I’ve had a hard time calling myself a woman.  Because, for most technical reasons, I don’t feel like one.  Womanhood feels like an earned title.  A girl is a girl until she grows into a sense of maturity and is considered a woman.  And I’ve only been aware of my proper gender for 2 years now…I’m barely an infant.  What I finally understood is this thought is OK to have. I am not ready to call myself a woman but still proudly know myself to be female.  Because having femininity is something I DEFINITELY claim ownership of.  Making jewelry, always having a strong fashion eye (please forget my Hawaiian shirt phase), and a deep connection to being a motherly spirit have always existed in me. In my defense, it’s pretty hard to say you are a woman with a male driver’s license or man’s body. (Anyone wanna trade?)

But understanding my feelings on the different titles of WOMAN and FEMALE was a GIANT barrier to break down.  It allowed me to finally start taking ownership of all the pink threads that have run through my life.  Every female moment and inclination and want and need that I’ve had; that have ALWAYS been there.  This acceptance has allowed so much more of the old guilt to melt off. These aren’t new trends and themes that I’m falsely adopting, but ways of being that I really believe and feel make up the core of me.  Whether it was called by a male name or goes by the name of Jasmine (or sometimes wants to change her name to Veronica).  That being is those things and over the years, buried them away and is now getting back to them, so she can live a well-oiled life.


I know who I am…it’s just taking a little time to get used to. 



Love from behind the mirror, 
-Jazzy J