What a year! A year of transitions all around. Every day I look more like myself.
First picture: October 2015. Second picture: October 2016
Slideshow of my new emerging facial hair:
I can’t upload my first voice video but I just did this snippet this morning. I have a video being put together of my vocal changes that I will upload in the future.
This last weekend I went back to my old stomping grounds of MSUM to present a colloquium about my life. I was honored and humbled to be given space to share a very vulnerable part of my experience.
I had a nice visit in Moorhead. I stayed one night at my WGS Professor’s house, and then the rest of the weekend at a friends. I stayed the weekend because on Monday I had an appointment with my Endocrinologist–I can now get the letter to officially change my sex marker on my documents. I plan on doing so, but I feel a little uncomfortable about it at the same time. The reason why is because I don’t want a part of myself erased. For a lot of transmen, this isn’t a problem for them and that’s fine,(because they’re men and that’s how they identify) but for me it’s a bit different. Probably because I see myself more as two-spirit.
I went to the zoo in Fargo for the last day of Wolf Awareness Week. For the past year wolves have been a reoccurring motif. I see them everywhere. Whether it’s in my newsfeeds on social media, on t-shirts, on signs, dogs that look like wolves, in songs….I feel deeply connected to them lately. I see it as a synchronicity and I read up on the symbolism of wolves. I like things like this because it keeps my life interesting. At the zoo, the pack saw me and wandered over towards me making eye-contact. I got chills. I felt really happy seeing them. They were very active that afternoon. Beautiful grey wolves!
I also met a bull snake named “Jesse.” I thought that was a hoot.
I ‘pass’ 100% of the time now. My interactions with men and women have completely changed. When I am at work (when I sub teach) or out and about…..women just like to touch me. Women are very smiley at me and they just tend to touch my arm or shoulders or back or chest whenever interacting with me. That’s never happened before. My interactions with men have changed, too. I minored in Womens and Gender Studies in college, and much of my scholarly and intellectual interests in that pertained to masculinities—so some interaction changes were some I expected—but there were certain nuances that took me by surprise. Men tend to either be indifferent to me, or they scowl/glare/are suspicious of me. Granted, I am rather peculiar looking compared to the cowboy-farmer aesthetic of the town I live in, so there’s that I guess. And from what my cismale friends have said, that’s just how it is—and to me, that’s really kinda shitty—always sizing each other up, always having to peacock….always needing to defend their fragile masculinity and having a very confining and limiting box on ‘what it means to be a man’—for me? Nah. I’m just myself and have no need for validation from that kind of masculine performance. (Here is also an article by the TransAdvocate interviewing Butler and how her work has been misconstrued to support anti-trans theories and rhetoric, so I wanted to share this as well.) I am a liberated feminist man and I’m not ashamed of that. My identity is not threatened by anyone nor do I need an ‘other’ in order to affirm myself as a man (putting down women, homophobia, transphobia, etc). I do not need to display unhealthy detrimental behaviors to be seen and accepted as what a ‘man’ is in this society—I’m all about transgressing and subverting that—I am free to define myself without the harm of others or myself. My journey through transition is also part of transcending from just fitting in the man-box—my journey through this transition is to finally feel like a fully self-actualized and self-aware human being—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Speaking of spiritually….I’ve been doing meditation and some pagan practices. I made a make-shift alter and take time in the evenings to burn sage, light candles, and say some positive affirmations. I also really like crystals because of the sensory experience of holding them really helps my mindful practice(and keeps me from anxiously thinking of other things). I’ve been so drawn to this deity, Cernnunos the Horned God. I’m taking my rituals and readings through a queer/transgender lens and am researching more into androgynous gods/goddesses and transgender gods/goddessses. Pretty fascinating stuff.
It makes sense that I would feel drawn to this masculine symbol as I am coming aware of my own presence as a masculine entity. I’m exploring all the ways in which masculinity can be expressed in non-damaging ways and instead in more empowering/balancing ways. I’m learning to embrace my sexuality and spirituality again—-both of which had been dead for over 5 years and have re-awakened. It feels incredible to actually feel so alive and present.
On Saturday, I drew this card during my meditation. I’m pretty excited about it:
Every tarot deck is different with different kinds of symbolism to interpret and so I took some pictures of the books that go with my particular deck. I really enjoy tarot. It’s like a pocket therapist. I don’t believe it can read my future or give me answers or anything, but it makes me ask myself questions and self reflect. It’s a great meditation tool.
I’ve felt inspired creatively and have started making art again. I made this for my significant other:
I really like woodburning. It’s so soothing. I free-handed this.
I also made a pendulum for meditation.
I also made some digital art:
Because of this kind of deity work I decided to go on a philosophical camping retreat this weekend—I’m really looking forward to unplugging and being out in nature–to see the stars and smell bonfire smoke on a new-moon autumn night. I am seeing this as my own private initiation into my emerging self.
On another note, I know I said in previous posts that I am studying for my GRE and will be applying to graduate schools. I decided that due to my financial situation that it would be best to wait a year to save up some money and maybe even look into artist-in-residence options for more experience. I do still want to go to graduate school, but I need time to get my ducks in a row.
In closing, I want to add that my issues with bipolar disorder now have been so much more manageable. I would describe it as almost being in complete remission–but I’m still vigilant on my mood swings. They are few and far between. I honestly didn’t realize how much my dysphoria was triggering constant episodes. Now that I don’t have to use all my energy to constantly cope with a depressive or manic episode…..I can actually go on to do other things and actually start truly living an authentic and present life. If I could go back and do anything over, it would be starting T sooner. I feel so ‘home’ in myself now.
I’m exciting for what changes lie ahead in the next week, next month, and next year!
Jessy Ravn Thor