I wouldn’t allow myself to accept, but I always knew there was something I didn’t have words for. I knew there was something about me that was transgender, but I felt more comfortable in queer environments. I was always told that being gay was something to make fun of.
I always say. I used to say. What am I going to do? I’ll never be a woman. I was never a girl.
I came out publicly almost four years ago. There was speculation about my identity around my 30th birthday, but I properly acknowledged and embraced my true self at that time.
It was a shining light that I could see through from under the door. “I,” they said quietly, looking at me with quiet recognition, but hesitantly answered, knowing that one can come to no conclusion for someone else. “Do you think I’m trans? I’m a close friend,” I asked.
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When we were making the first season of Gaycation, I met Star, who worked at a LGBTQ+ community clinic in San Francisco that provided support and healthcare for women and transgender individuals. My friend Star and I sat alone on the patio, catching up. We huddled together on the outdoor furniture and jumped into the pool. I was having a small party where people were gathered. There was a time when I couldn’t bring anyone up.
Following several weeks, the lyrics of her track “Heartbreaker” kept replaying in my mind. I initially heard her collection, Star, and was captivated by her vocal abilities. She is a vocalist who not only provides me with emotional support but also acknowledges and understands me, despite facing more challenges and hindrances than I have. We developed a strong friendship and maintained communication. A promising start unfolded when Star and I connected in a manner that hinted at a bright future.
I escape from the sensation of excessive well-being.
I’m terrified you’d abandon me if you discovered I escape from experiencing excessive pleasure.
I’m terrified as heck you’d abandon me if you found out.
I wanted to be lifted out of the slowly crushing dysphoria that was making me sick. I didn’t want to be here. I tried to avoid looking at pictures because I never saw myself in them. In the store window, I would glance at my profile in my folded posture and pull my shirt down. I would sneak quick peeks, constantly craning my neck to see the presence of my breasts under my T-shirt when I didn’t have the option of wearing layers in the summer. I shared the degree of discomfort I felt, not being able to wear feminine clothes anymore. We spoke about gender. We sat together on an oversized chair at my party, blending into the background with music and splashes.
“Why are you complaining?” Asked the actor. “If I were a straight cisgender man, I would wear a skirt,” said the devil’s advocate.
How deeply triggered his words made me feel ashamed. I was too puzzled by my own invalidating experience. Was I in so much pain? Why did even slightly feminine clothing make me want to die? Being an actor shouldn’t be a problem. I’m surprised at how ungrateful I could be.
You are not real. You are an abomination. The voice says you deserve humiliation. The shame will come flooding out too much. If people learn what is underneath, they will realize you are without pain. You want to tear your body off but you can’t hold it back, and you squirm in your tight skin. Imagine the most uncomfortable and mortifying thing you could wear.
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“Are you considering yourself as transgender?” Star inquired, making eye contact with me.
The culture in this community is so rife with transphobia that it actively attacks platforms and people with enormous power. It felt too big of a thought to publicly go through, like an old roach left to rot in a forgotten ashtray. I panicked and burned the joint away, smoking it. But it was almost touching, we exchanged a soft smile. Yeah, I think so. Maybe, well, yes.
Richards, in her capacity as an actress and writer, expressed the following sentiment: “I believe that society promotes hatred towards individuals who do not conform to societal norms. People who are transgender suffer from a sickness, but it is not the same as the sickness experienced by individuals who underwent Nazi experiments. I will always feel like a woman even if my body is mutilated, and I am ashamed to admit that I am also a lesbian. The world tells us that we are mentally ill, but the truth is that being transgender does not equate to being mentally unwell.”
How does anyone else get hurt? Except for the fact that it has had relatively little bearing on my present, it has made me more engaged in social justice than in the past. My experience of being transgender almost never comes up. Then, when strangers pathologize that choice and see me as something other than who I am, it becomes even more frustrating. But despite all of this, transitioning ten years ago has made me a more productive and engaged citizen, improved my relationships with family and friends, and made me happier than ever. It’s an exceedingly surreal experience.
How can I experience such pain and despair in this life? Why do I feel this way, pleading for any words to come out when I finally opened up during therapy? It took a long time to allow myself to express my emotions. It was a step that I needed to take. I could discuss my gender without breaking down, but I couldn’t fully address the truth while sitting by the Star pool.
I closed my eyes and it disappeared. It disappeared and I stopped talking – I bailed. I did a U-turn, not long after my 30th birthday.
I quickly got married and threw myself into it. It was undeniable that hugging and shaking my body would generate energy. Meeting Emma left me with a hazy memory. During that time, I met my ex-spouse around Emma.
If you have numbed yourself to the truth about who you really are, I often wonder if I truly have experienced deep love. Love is an indescribable sensation that writers, scientists, and philosophers can’t seem to agree on or fully comprehend. It is an irresistible, transcendent feeling that defies explanation. If love feels unbearable and as if it exists as a separate part of your body, then you are always a part of it.
Unraveling is painful, but it leads you to it. We spend eternity trying to break free from the narratives we were indoctrinated with, erasing options from our imagination: the lack of representation when we lose the sense of possibility is one of the main components of a lost life. I want to exist in my body with these new possibilities. I don’t want to disappear. I’m working on it. Love was an emotional disguise and my relationship with it is another muscle to be transformed unwittingly.
I was prepared to have a conversation. I searched for a person in the urban area. My distress caused by my gender identity was so intense that our connection was deteriorating two years later, and it was only at that point that I practically ceased attending therapy completely when we relocated from Los Angeles to New York City in late 2018. Throughout my marital union, I disregarded therapy.
Whether it was alive or not, I couldn’t determine. It was never like this before, but now it is. Something had changed and I had a deep understanding of it. As they moved on their own, my body poured out and wriggled through. However, I could barely find the right words to express it.