Transgender people come from all walks of life and may transition at many different stages of life. This is not a new trend or simply a fad, even though your personal knowledge or experience of this may seem new thanks to it being a hot topic in the media. What is happening is that more and more transgender people are daring to come out and are fighting to be treated equally. We are not asking for special rights. We are asking to be treated with respect and dignity just like our fellow non-transgender family members and friends. We are fighting against stereotypes and being branded as threats by politicians and clueless organizations that claim they want to protect women and children from us. Being transgender is not a mental illness, despite that lie being repeated over and over again by those who hate their own concept of what a transgender person is. If they knew us personally, they would find there is nothing to hate. We are not deviants, we are not immoral, we are not the spawn of any religious figure of evil. We are human beings who know very succinctly who we are.

When a transgender person is allowed to live as the person they were created to be.. then a happy, healthy and amazing person emerges. If the opposite occurs.. repression of oneself, forced conversion therapy, denial of humane medical care, acts of hatred and violence.. that is when transgender people develop actual mental illnesses (depression, suicidal thoughts, drug abuse and addiction, self-harm, isolationism)  due to constant stress from being treated as other than human. We do not deserve this. We are a valid and wonderful variation on the human condition. As Katie Couric’s recent documentary The Gender Revolution points out, there are many new studies that have shown this is not an imagined condition and that it is not a mental illness. Transgender people have walked this earth for as long as our cisgender brothers and sisters. Please stop listening to hateful rhetoric about us and if you meet a transgender person, then make the effort to get to know them. You won’t be sorry that you did.

I spend the time needed to maintain this website, my tumblr blog, and my twitter feed in order to be of help to other transgender people. In particular, I receive messages from other transgender people who have been fearful that they waited too long to transition. Increased representation in all forms of media is resulting in many more transgender people taking those first crucial steps of accepting themselves and beginning to heal, regardless of their age. I want to thank the many people who have written to me providing feedback and encouragement. I think I get as much out of sharing my story as you say you get from reading it. Your positive feedback helps me more than you know.

Here are just a few of the kind messages that I received on days when I needed a boost…


Inspired

I have been following your blog on occasion for nearly 1.5 years at least but much more so recently. My entire life I have known that I was trans but it was only about 5 years ago I understood what was going on and about 2 years ago I totally accepted and started therapy.

Your transition is probably one of my top 3 favorites I have been following and also one of the most inspiring. Your abundance of selfies is exactly the type of thing I need on super dysphoric days. Without doubt you have had your struggles but you make it look so flawless and seeing how happy you are is so uplifting.

The results of your  transition gives me hope for myself and I am quite certain many others who are experiencing the same struggle that you have gone through and one that I will be starting at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later. I have seen an endo twice this year who specializes in trans issues and both times I have chickened out for family reasons when it comes time to take that prescription from him.

I just want to say thank you so much for sharing this intimate part of your life with the world. Thank you for being so awesome and inspiring for all us out there too scared to make the leap but knowing that one day we will finally find the courage to do so. It is in part because of people like you who have helped break those barriers for everyone.

Sincerely,

Amelia T


You are such an inspiring woman, even though I happen not to be trans. I see the courage you have and it inspires me to always know that I have what it takes to make my dreams a reality! I wish nothing but the very best for you. You have truly made me a better person, and I will always look up to strong and powerful women like yourself 🙂


Being from conservative Arkansas you give me hope that as I make my journey I will be accepted 🙂 thanks for sharing


Thank you, for every thing you do. You are a beautiful and inspiring woman and you help keep me sane


-Ari

Warning! I am about to try to catch up on blog posts. I have been preparing many posts with quick notes and pics when I had the chance or I have been posting shorter versions on other social media. I have had a crazy couple of months and editing this website takes a little more effort than a quick post from my phone on tumblr or twitter 🙂

Over the next few days, I will be flooding this site to bring my timeline back up to speed and will once again be actively posting here.

-Ari

Here is the best way I can think of to help a non-transgender person understand gender dysphoria and transitioning.

I am going to challenge you to use your imagination for a few moments. Picture in your mind an alternate version of our world where people are born without any outward signs of anatomical differences in sex. In this world, as a baby is delivered the doctor gently lifts the child up and declares “Your child is a healthy newborn!”

As the healthy child begins to happily grow, they soon reach the stage in life where they will be “processed.” The process involves receiving an advanced biochemical suit that permanently molds to the body of the wearer. Each child approaches the massive Forcefully Regulated Characteristics machine and is told to either enter the blue door or the pink door. Upon entering the door, the child is fitted with their new suit. This suit, if left on the wearer long enough, will produce differentiated anatomical body parts and eventually sprout pre-programmed clothing to match the new body parts. Somehow, the Forcefully Regulated Characteristics machine always applies the right suit to the right child. At least, that is what everyone is taught while they are growing up.

The cold, hard truth of this alternate world is that the Forcefully Relegated Characteristics machine often makes horrible mistakes. Children are given the wrong suits and are forced into owning both the wrong body and the societal roles that supposedly fit that body. The minds of these children are not wrong because they conflict with the will of the Forcefully Relegated Characteristics machine. The FRC machine was incorrectly designed from the start to not take into account the brain’s far superior function and design, specifically the micro-structures that contribute to a persons gender identity (x). The designers know this now, it has been proven by even their own scientists. However, the system that has been established “works well enough” in their opinion and it “would be too difficult to change it.” Others on the governing panel of the FRC are prepared to go to any lengths to make sure their system stays in place.

In this world, however, there is one amazing child with a fiery bow and arrow that will lead a revolution; they have discovered a way to remove or even alter their suit and they will show the whole world how to do the same. They befriend a child who managed to avoid the FRC machine and never had to enter the blue or pink door. Together they will change the world! Later, there will also be a love triangle!

I would watch that movie. Wachowski sisters — let’s talk screenplay!

Wasn’t that fun? Does it sound like a scary world? Indeed, it does.

If you were able to imagine what it would feel like to be fitted with the incorrect suit, then you may have captured a glimpse of what gender dysphoria feels like in this world. You see, for a transgender person who suffers from gender dysphoria.. our very body is like that incorrect biochemical suit forced on the children by the FRC. Along with that out-of-place body, we get a bonus prize of built-in expectations and roles that society and our families expect us to fill. However, the imprint we have of our very sense of self contains the opposite gender of the one we were assigned at birth. It feels intensely awkward and wrong to be in our own skin. We know it from a very young age too. For some, this does not become a noticeable issue until puberty, and we may or may not share our struggle with anyone because of fear.

Imagine feeling that way every moment of your life. I intentionally said “every” moment there, because it even affects our dreams as we sleep. We may see ourselves as our true gender in our dreams, but others around us in our dreams still tell us “no, you are wrong.” Imagine never feeling at peace, even when you dream.

Enter hormone therapy and the act of transitioning…

With hormone replacement therapy (HRT), our shell starts to change and begins to fit nearly perfectly with the person. The awkwardness begins to fade. Finally we start to find peace, at least within ourselves. The medical community has it right. Providing transgender healthcare and the opportunity to transition is not some left-wing agenda. It is a medically necessary, life giving treatment and is seen as such by the medical, mental health, and legal communities.

When a person transitions, it can be disruptive to families. It definitely can. Guess what, though — so is the death of a family member. I am not just talking about suicide, although the number of transgender people that attempt suicide due to familial rejection and quality of life is terrifying. I am also talking about the degradation of the health of transgender people over time if they are not able to obtain proper care or do not feel safe seeking that care due to societal and familial pressure. The degradation of their health can lead to life-threatening health conditions. Meanwhile, the downward spiral of their health drastically affects those around them and most importantly, the people who love them.

Non-transgender people who are trying to understand this, please just shift your thinking a little. Try to realize that as we transition and finally present to the world as our true selves, you are seeing a whole person with the right covering to match. We are not “starting to publicly cross-dress.” We were in fact stuck “cross-dressing” as the wrong gender our whole lives until we were able to break free of the societal and familial pressure to conform to a gender that was inaccurately assigned to us, even with the best of intentions. Gender is not simply a synonym for biological sex.

We are not confused, we are not being misled, and we are not trying to mislead you. When a person transitions and comes out to you and shares that with you, what you are seeing is a person being absolutely and painfully truthful with you. If you reject them, you are simply rejecting truth.

Be better than that.

-Ariana Danielle Wojcik

This post has also been published at The Huffington Post in the Transgender Voices section.