Coming Out To My Past Self: A Letter To Me

Dear past self:

We need to chat. I’m re-reading Out of the Closet and Into the Meme War, and I just have one question. What were you thinking?

Okay, let’s back up and handle this point by point, like adults. First, a fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality. Yes, that’s the fifth definition. Still, every definition involves the idea of objective existence. That means separate from perception.

So no, R. T., it’s not a fact that you’re a transman. It’s a fact that you’re female. Self-identity is almost entirely subjective.

Even as I type, I can feel you reacting somewhere in the depths of my subconscious. How can I say such things about my own self? Am I a masochist?

Maybe. Or maybe I’ve learned a thing or two in this last year. The first is you were right on some points. First, yes, women are quite attractive. Men? Eh. Except Jacob. 🙂 Second, Yes, we did marry him, and we’re quite happy we did. But women are still sexy.

In fact, most of what you wrote is pretty accurate. Life before the wedding was straight up madness.

Really, I just wanted to chat about two points you didn’t really understand.

  1. We got sick during massage school. It wasn’t “just stress”. Something broke, and I still don’t know what, but I’m working on it, for both our sakes.
  2. You have no idea what it means to be a Daughter of God. Truth be told, I don’t either, but I finally started learning.

The mystery illness that walloped you upside the brain and ground any plans to a halt? Lab work is happening, and I’ve got the process as under control as it’s possible to have such trouble.

The Daughter of God thing? Well, that’s bigger. See, when you wrote your post, you wanted so badly to be visible. You wanted people to see and understand all the parts and pieces of you. Even followed it up with Realizing I’m Not Invisible a few months later.

Yesterday, I learned that no matter how badly you or I want it, parts of us will always be invisible in some situations. You can’t fight a crusade against the world. And the world will make its assumptions. I know, it can be frustrating.

Just remember, those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.

Really, though, the reason I say you didn’t understand then what it means to be a Daughter of God is this. You still clung to your identity as a transman. You clung to your identity as ONLY Raidon T. Phoenix. You tried to forget Tanith Rose.

When I moved to California, I still carried your idea of identity. Except that idea hurt. Every day, it hurt. So I gave it up.

In fact, I gave up the idea of identity entirely. And in doing so, I found the freedom to be ME. Not you. Not Tanith.

I found the freedom to be Raidon Tanith Rose Phoenix Taylor.

I still use masculine pronouns on social media. I strongly dislike the inundation with ads directed at women. I live in California and see enough bikinis to last a lifetime in the summer.

Not to mention the makeup ads are way too trippy.

I’m still getting our name legally changed. After all, we chose it together, and it’s part of us now.

Thanks for everything you taught me, R. T.




National Coming Out Day: Realizing I’m Not Invisible

Lit up Facebook this morning and realized yesterday was apparently National Coming Out Day.  The biggest irony is that I was born the year this day was founded.  Interesting timing, considering last week I took a trip out to Arizona to see my father’s family, and reunite with my father in longer than I care to think about.  I’d come out to Facebook, I’d come out to my blog followers (some of which are my cousins, apparently, so shout out!) but I never came out to him.  He doesn’t use Facebook, and our subconscious does silly things when trying to gauge others’reactions to something as deeply ingrained as the fact that you’re transgender.

So, when you’ve got two parents, and one doesn’t take it well, you assume the other won’t either.

That didn’t happen.  In fact, the opposite did.

First, a bit of background.  My parents are divorced, and it wasn’t one of those “nice” divorces where the parents get along for the sake of the children after the fact.  I don’t have all the details, and won’t bore you with the ones I do have.  Suffice it to say, Dad ended up moving back to Arizona (we were in Michigan) and I pulled away from both my parents at different points.

Lately I’ve been attempting to reconnect with both myself as a person, and with them.  As happens, it doesn’t always go as well as I imagine, but this time, it went better than my imagination could have conjured.  So here it is.

Coming Out to My Dad

In the first place, I didn’t have to force the conversation.  It just happened at some point about halfway through last week.  And he listened.  Just listened.  Just like I’d nearly forgotten he always did.  He looked stunned, but who wouldn’t in his position, really?  Then Friday night after dinner we were talking again, Dad, me, my sister, and he asked how I was doing.

I finally told him I’d been burying anxiety all week.

“You know you never have to do that around me.”

I nodded, and then explained how being referred to in the feminine all week had been difficult.  To those reading this who would cry micro-aggression, I hadn’t seen most of these folks in 20+ years.  They remembered a six-year-old who was still trying to figure out how to express it without getting in trouble from other forces in life.  I wasn’t going to spend all week being a twit about pronouns, I was determined to enjoy time with my family.

And for the record, one of my cousins greeted me as Raidon the first time she saw me – Thanks, Cuz! – and completely caught me off guard with it.

So I swallowed as much discomfort as I could, and most of the time, it was alright, because one thing that side of the family has down is a large measure of unconditional love.  In fact, I told both my aunts and one of my uncles about my situation as well, and the conversations went exceedingly well.

Back to Dad, though, Friday night, he asked for some further clarification on what goes on in my head, and I explained it to him in what’s become my standard.  My body is female.  As far as I can tell, my spirit is as well.  And my brain doesn’t care to hear it.  I’m a guy.  So, I’m a transman.  He told me he can’t promise consistency, especially at first, because after all, I’m his daughter, and that’s how he’s seen me for 28 years, but five minutes later, he said something to my sister about me.

“You’ll always be HIS sister.”

Yeah, I teared up, and also launched out of the chair to hug him.

Taking Off the Invisibility Cloak

Even if you’ve not read Harry Potter, invisibility is a familiar concept, I’m sure.  Sometimes, it’s quite handy.  Let’s face it, if you’re a secret agent and need to infiltrate a place, doing so invisible may be a lot easier.  Sometimes, though, invisibility is a curse.  Imagine Harry Potter trying to save the world with the Invisibility Cloak glued on.

People would think they were crazy, or he was a ghost, and thus not the Boy Who Lived.  In my experience, it’s similar for trans* and gender-nonconforming people.  We disappear.  I don’t particularly blame anyone for this.  After all, when you’ve only ever known the idea of men and women and that’s based on a cursory visual examination at birth, such concepts are completely foreign.  They were to me, especially when I first came out to myself and started to unbury the transman under the woman’s mask.

Yet I’m still seeing that nudge towards invisibility in society at large.  It’s a cloak I’ve done my best to shed, since it helps no one.  To present as someone I’m not and have never perceived myself as is dishonest and lacking in integrity, at least in my own personal code.

Coming out and transitioning socially was my way of shedding the Invisibility Cloak of gender, but I’ve realized there’s more to it.  Since this post is creeping up on 900 words, I’ll save the more for tomorrow.

Lastly, any of my readers with questions for me, about anything, leave them in the comments.  After all, we never learn if we never question.

The Non-Binary Dilemma: Self-Judgment and Freedom From It

The difference between a flower and a weed is a judgement. ~Unknown

Fascinating how the smallest piece of a morning ritual can actually start a blog post.  I found that quote on the tag of my herbal tea bag this morning.  I now drink several varieties in an attempt to convince my mind I don’t need my former cola of choice, since, thanks to my unique biochemistry and brain composition, three cans of that cola is equivalent to a regular person consuming about five cups of coffee a day.  Not really a fact I enjoy, but I digress.  I’ve also been fighting the topic of non-binary that’s been stuck in my head since I put fingertips to keyboard last week, and so no post has occurred.  Not the best plan, I know, but c’est la vie.

And my goodness, I need to clean my desk.


Right now, let’s think about that quote.  The difference between a flower

and a weed.

Both plants full of vibrant color.  Both come into bloom and feed creatures like bees.  Both dazzle children with their brilliance.

Yet one we nurture, care for, maintain, and try to keep the kids from plucking the buds off the bush.  The other, we encourage them to pick or run over with a lawn mower, because well, it’s a weed.  Odd that before we became obsessed with grass, gardeners would weed out grass to make room for the dandelions.  They’d do this because nearly every part of a dandelion can be used for food at various stages of growth, down to the tube-like root.

I find it’s often the same with the people in our lives.  We like our judgments, whether we made them yesterday or last decade, and we tend to stick to them, even when challenged by the coming along of something different.  Even tougher to root out are the judgments we put on ourselves when we realize we are that “something different.”

In fact, take a look at this thistle.

Weed? Or flower?
Weed? Or flower?

I grew up with a bush of these in my grandfather’s flower garden.  I don’t know if they were intentionally planted or not, but I know he kept them there, and every year, they bloomed fuchsia and purple, and beautiful.  And they were different than every other flower in the garden, because those purple blossoms looked like a ball of spikes.  I loved that.  In Bumpa’s garden, the thistle was that something different.

This week, I realized that in this world, I am that something different as well.

Stop With the Labels!

Okay, hear me out.  I already came out to the world as a transman with Out of the Closet and Into the Meme War, and now I’ve come to another realization.  I do fit in that slim box that the “community” I’m defaulted into terms non-binary.  I didn’t start this post intending to talk about this, but here we are, because it ties into judgement.  See, I made one of those decades old judgments about myself.  I could manage one or the other.  I could manage to be just a woman.  Then I thought I could manage to be just a man.  Yet in the weeks since the move, and since my husband starting his new job, I’ve had many hours alone to reflect on my situation.

Part of the reason I didn’t want to claim the term?  Well, just Google the phrase “define non-binary gender” and the first hit is a fantastically negative article by a site I won’t link to.  Feel free to look it up if you’re curious, but get enough people angry, and then someone like me, who’s spent at least a decade learning not to be an angry person will avoid you and your site.  So, no link.

On the other hand, I realized this.  A question exists that no one has ever asked me, but I know the answer if I ever were to be asked.

Are you a boy or a girl?

Truthfully?  My answer is both.

Learn to Be
Learn to Be

I know.  That doesn’t even make sense to most trans-folk.  It’s simple, within my belief system.  I’ve got a physical body, a mind, and a spirit.  My body is female, and my spirit is a woman.  Mentally, I’m a man.  So, I can honestly say, I’m both.

So I suppose in a way, this is another coming out, both to myself, and to you.  Once I get this week’s Phoenix Unscripted up, I’ll add that to this post as well, since it’ll probably cover the same topic.

In the end, no matter what labels we use to make sense of the experiences we have here in mortal life, we’re all human beings, capable of incredible feats of love, compassion, and caring.  Let’s reach out to those in our lives who may need the love we have to offer, and see what we can do to help.

That’s the first step in moving from Tolerance to Unity.

What are your thoughts?  Ever realized something about yourself that you knew was unpopular in the grand scheme of current society?  If you’re comfortable, share your story in the comments.  After all, I love learning from the stories of others.

Out of the closet (not that I was in one) and into the Meme War

Before we start, remember a few facts about me. I’m a transman – a thing I didn’t feel like making a big deal of until people started asking. Well, an old friend asked the other day, so here it is. I’m LDS – Mormon, to most of the planet – and I’m married. Got married in an LDS temple, in fact. Best day of my life, and yes, I wore a dress. And fantastic jewelry (which I will have good pics of in the next few months some time.) Now that all that’s been said, come with me, and I’ll show you why I’m still alive right now. Much of it has to do with the Church, actually.

It all started when…

Once upon a time…

Back at the dawn of the Sega console, and long before X-box was a gleam in anyone’s eye, much less part of a shiny console collection, I was born on an Air Force base somewhere in the Arizona desert, and spent the first five years of my life playing in the sandbox that my mom tried to turn into a flower bed. Deserts don’t like flowerbeds, though, so it became my sand box. At five, we moved to Michigan, and I started school, and started to wonder what was wrong with me. After all, I was a boy, so why didn’t the boys want to play with me? The girls didn’t want to either, and our Church branch barely engaged fifty people a week – most of them not kids, and the ones that were? Well, we all have life problems. Mine just happened to be that no matter what I did, I could not understand why everyone called me a girl. I didn’t get it. Okay, so maybe whatever I had under my trousers made me different than most boys, but I was still a boy.

Some problems arose with me being a boy, though. First, my mom insisted that not only was I a girl, but if I wasn’t a girly (in my opinion) girl, I’d never find a husband, or get married, or have kids. Which was a problem, because I desperately wanted to be a mother.  Weird, I know.  High school – and puberty – hit, and I started liking how girls looked. Definitely a boy, if I now liked girls, right? No. I was Mormon, and I was a good girl, and I didn’t like girls, I liked boys, and one day I would marry one, and be happy.
‘insert maniacal, amuse, cynical laughter here’

‘pulls self together and takes deep breath’ Now that that’s over, where was I? Oh, right. Happily ever after. I kept dreaming that one day, God would turn me into the princess everyone thought I was, and I would find my night in shining armor. In the meantime, if I could never be myself, I figured I may as well get paid for it (classic Slytherin, no?), so off I went to a public University in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and now, I’m the questionably proud holder of an Associates Degree in Theater. Yippee. ‘waves achievement flag half-heartedly’

Somewhere in all this, I came to grips, as much as possible, with the deaths of both my maternal grandparents, my parents divorce (I was 12 when it happened), and the fact that I had a raging crush on my college best friend. Thankfully, she’s completely straight, and never was interested in me like that. Went back home in 2012, and put on the professional woman college grad mask, got two jobs (neither with enough hours), and finally ran away to, of all places, Rexburg freaking Idaho, home of what most LDS people know as BYU-I do. Seriously, average engagement here lasts three months. Maybe four. Some last a matter of weeks. Or days. Yeah, it’s crazy.

Now, the irony here is that in High School, I dreamed of attending BYU, whether at Provo or Rexburg, I didn’t care at the time. When I actually moved to Rexburg? Last place on Earth I wanted to go. Really. Please, Father, anywhere but there? Anywhere but the pro-marriage mill? Nope. Rexburg. Fine. I moved with the help of a friend, and almost immediately found a job in a used book store. That November 2013, I attended a gathering of writers participating in NaNoWriMo [link it]. I walked in dressed in my favorite brown trench coat – sadly retired until I can repair it – and a fedora. Yes, a fedora. Apparently, a gentleman two years my junior decided I was interesting enough to bother talking to asked if he could sit next to me. I agreed, of course, and we spent the next five hours talking. About half way through, I told him I was attracted to women, and he told me he was attracted to men. After laughing for what felt like three minutes. Fast forward to September 2014, he took me back to those same chairs, and asked if he could sit next to me for time and all eternity. Keep in mind, to this point, I stayed in my role as professional college graduate, as much as possible.

I started a trade school for massage therapy the same week that I said yes, and this is where the story gets tough. I worked in sales calls at the time (a closer job than the book store) and I kept up with that and school until a particularly nasty client reamed me out over the phone. For an hour and a half, I couldn’t stop crying, and couldn’t work. My mood and emotions spiraled totally out of control. I went on leave for a few months. In those few months, I finally let myself look in the mirror again, at that little lost boy everyone kept forcing to be a girl. Somewhere in those months, I also encountered the term transgender. I finally came out to myself and then beloved fiance. He didn’t chide, scold, freak out or run. He simply listened. After that, I hit yet another streak of major depression – a regular occurrence throughout my life – and found myself with no job, in desperate need of a therapist. This is where the church comes in.

I went to my Bishop, as they are able to extend help with certain things when circumstance warrants and resources are available, and told him about my troubles. He arranged for a set number of appointments with a therapist in town, which seemed to help, until my fiance’s mother died at the end of last March. All other concerns ground to a halt. We got back, and immediately I was inundated with, “What do you want for your wedding?” Once again, the mess from the closet got half-shoved back in, and I faced the monumental task of planning a wedding with zero dollars, and not much of the help I knew I needed. (Note to self: Ask husband to plan the next thing. He’s better at it.)

The wedding went well, and all was happy, for about six hours. Which was when we learned just how obnoxious Gender Dysphoria can get when you’re married. However, we enjoyed our honeymoon for the most part, and headed home to build a life together. He worked full time, and I still had enough mental health troubles on my plate that getting a job was not in the cards at the time. I sunk so deeply into depression that I called him home from work one day because I dared not be alone with the knives in the kitchen. We went to the Bishop again. Again, he decided that circumstances warranted help from ward resources, and that the ward had the resources to help. Through another trans friend, I found my current therapist, Kevin Lindley, and worked through all the morass surrounding having a masculine mind in a female body. I spend my days working my tail off when not crashed with a migraine. Yes, I’m a transman, and that affects everything in my life. It also effects nothing.

I firmly believe we all have those pieces of ourselves that affect everything about us, yet nothing at all. What challenge inspired you to start living the way you wanted, instead of the way others saw you? Share your inspiration in the comments, and together, we can work to build something great. And no, I’m not talking about a meme war. 😉