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. 😉

17 thoughts on “Out of the closet (not that I was in one) and into the Meme War”

  1. Sydnee Flores

    I knew you as tanith and as tanith you were the most caring wonderful roommate I could have ever asked for you got me through so much and helped me grow knowing you changed my life. I have yet to meet you as Raidon and I hope too soon I have so much love and joy in my heart for you, it makes me happy that your willing to share your story and possibly help so many others going through your same struggles can’t wait to read more, love you ???

    1. Raidon T. Phoenix

      Thanks, Sydnee! I had no idea I had that much effect on you, and thanks for letting me know. You know where to find me on Facebook as far as meeting me now, lol. As for using my struggles to help others, well, it’s what I do. 😉

  2. A courageous post, but not for the usual reasons. I think to actually go right out there and share the fact that your faith has helped you when a lot of people would be reticent about that part of the story just goes to show how awesome you are. I love your sense of humor, and I respect the journey you’re on. Life is messy, sometimes awfully messy, sometimes gloriously messy, but it’s the only mess we have. Good on you for embracing the mess.

    1. Raidon T. Phoenix

      You’re absolutely right. Life is a tremendous, glorious, beautiful mess. Thing is, that’s exactly why I HAD to share that my faith got me through it. I’ve seen so few stories where it’s faith in something, anything, greater that gets a person through this particular trial, that I felt strongly to include it. I think I’ll write more about the subject, too. After all, now that I’m out, I’m out, right? 😉

  3. I feel very blessed to have met you through FB. I am proud of your strength to be who you are in a world that is often unkind. Happy to know the church has offered support when you needed it. I am so glad you have found someone who supports and respects who you are. I was always shy and afraid to share my thoughts with others. I did not fight for things until recently, I never wanted to upset anyone and I still don’t. My greatest joy and biggest heartache lies in being a foster parent and a mom, I love these kids and until they came into my life I had nothing that made me strong enough to stand up for someone that couldn’t defend themselves. Troy was always the one to step in and protect me. Bless you and may your journey get easier each day. I am sorry to know that you struggle with depression but hope with support and love that gets easier.

    1. Raidon T. Phoenix

      Sounds like those kids have found quite the unintentional warrior in your protection, and I’m glad for them. Know that it really does get easier by the day for me, and even with the struggles I have, I couldn’t wish for a better network of support. I love your feed on Facebook, as it’s got so much positive in it, and there are days when yours has been the only helpful post in a sea of annoyance. I’m glad you’ve found the courage to fight for yourself as well, and I imagine Troy is quite the help-meet in that endeavor.

  4. I don’t know you, but only saw a friend had commented on your FB post, and I was intrigued enough to check this out. Just wanted to say good for you for finding the strength to become your Self. I wish peace, (continued) strength, and love for you and yours!

  5. Jan Ullenius

    Oh Wow! White on black. Very impressive. About your Blog. As I read it, I felt like you were talking and not writing. In other words, you write the same way you talk. I think that is a good thing particularly on something so personal. My comment was about the help you got from your church. My nephew now niece is transgender. His brother is a bible totting individual that has said Kate (formerly John) is going straight to hell. Both are wonderful people, but this divide is growing deeper and I wish I could be more helpful. I do a lot of listening. I thought this Blog may be of some help.

    1. Raidon T. Phoenix

      Sounds like this brother has difficulty understanding what Christ is really about. Feel free to share a link with Kate. I’d love to connect with her, if she’s willing. We all need a listening ear.

  6. Jan Ullenius

    Sorry I did not respond before now. Got busy with my sewing. I will definitely give her this site. She is driving her mom from Florida up here. Am not sure if she will be staying the summer or not but will give her your info.

    1. Raidon T. Phoenix

      We all get busy, and I wish her a safe and pleasant journey. Happy sewing! 🙂

  7. Jacob Taylor

    Having heard this story many times now I still tear up. I love you so much. I look forward with anticipation to the eternities I will share with you.

    1. Raidon T. Phoenix

      Well, I did say yes, twice, so you’re stuck with me for exactly that long, darling. 😉 Love you!

  8. Jan Ullenius

    I’ll say it again…the two of you have found your soul mates. Your love for each other is truly an amazing, touching, wonderful thing.

  9. This really got to me. I think what we both craved was validation that ambiguity couldn’t provide. Now I’m happy despite some loose ends that will likely stay that way until the afterlife, trusting Pres. Uchtdorf’s assurance that someday this will all make sense and my Stake President pulling me close after I was ready for our “bro hug” to conclude, saying, “You’re going to be FINE.”

    I’m sorry that I wasted my time using my gender dysphoria to build walls instead of bridges. I’m grateful that you haven’t made that mistake. And I’m happy that you and Jacob found one another and take delight in each other. Best wishes to you both.

    1. RaidonTPhoenix

      You’re probably right. I have quite a few traits termed in societal context as masculine, and growing up, the term tomboy was okay. As I became an adult, that term seemed to vanish before my eyes. I felt I needed another one. Now I’ve learned I don’t. Pres. Uchtdorf is absolutely right. Someday this will all make sense. Perhaps in mortality, perhaps sometime later. For now, we learn as we go.

      Remember, what is past is past. Regret might help us craft a better future, but only if we use it to change ourselves for the better. It’s been an honor watching you do exactly that through our friendship online, Tam. And I am glad as well that we found one another. Thank you for your well-wishes. All good things to you, as well.

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