Accidental Fudge

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Tag: genderqueer (page 1 of 2)

Dysphoria and Dysmorphia Monsters

I had a weird day yesterday. I had to get up early to go to PT before work, and that was fine, and then I missed the bus I was hoping to take to get to work on time, which wasn’t a huge deal – I knew I’d have to stay about half an hour later than usual, which is annoying, but not impossible.

But then I got to work, and little things seemed to throw me way off-kilter. (Like when I walked in and discovered that whatever facilities person was working the night before had left my trash can on my chair after emptying it. Who does that?) I was irritable, and easily flustered. And most of all, I felt really, really unsettled in my body.

It wasn’t until I got home and caught an unfortunate glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror in which I felt I looked like I still had breasts that I started realizing what the problem might be.

Dysphoria is a hard thing to explain, even to other people who experience it, sometimes – because while there are common threads of experience, everyone’s relationship with their body is different. A lot of people are familiar with the feeling of body dysmorphia, but dysphoria is…well, it’s different. Sometimes related, but different. It’s not so much having an objectively inaccurate perception of what your body looks or feels like as it is the knowing that some part of your anatomy or physiology is wrong, and feels like it doesn’t belong to you.

When I first came out as genderqueer, I didn’t really experience body-related dysphoria, but I hated my voice. It made me feel so utterly wrong in my body, like it wasn’t even my voice at all.

As time went on, I did start to experience body dysphoria, but I didn’t think I could call it that, because it looked different for me than it did for other trans folks I knew. It wasn’t so much that I hated my body as it was that parts of it (my chest in particular) felt like they weren’t mine, and I didn’t know what to do with them.

Things have been a lot better in general since I had top surgery, because that directly addressed the greatest source of my dysphoria. I think because I hadn’t had really intense feelings of wrongness in my body since then, I kind of let myself get lulled into this false sense of security, like it was over and I didn’t have to deal with it anymore.

But when I think about yesterday, and how uncomfortable I felt in my body, and how viscerally I reacted to seeing a reflection that didn’t feel accurate…well, I’m realizing now that it was a visit from the fraternal twin monsters of dysphoria and dysmorphia. Surgery wasn’t a magical fix for everything, which I knew, but kind of forgot. Same with hormones. Because of the person I am and the body I have, I will probably always struggle with these monsters from time to time. Which is…not fun.

I debated back and forth about whether I wanted to write about this at all, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that it took me years to recognize what dysphoria looked like for me because everyone else’s story sounded different from mine, and I feel the need to remind folks that every trans person’s story is different (just like every cis person’s story is different). We all experience the world and ourselves in different ways, and we need to make space for that.

Feeling Spacey

I’m writing this on Wednesday night, approximately twenty minutes after I remembered it was Wednesday, which meant that tomorrow is Thursday, which meant I needed to write a blog. This is kind of how my week has been going, generally: I keep thinking it’s rather later in the week than it actually is, and I’m having a bit of trouble hanging onto coherent trains of thought long enough to be productive.

Still, despite feeling totally spaced out, it’s been a pretty good week all around:

  1. Last Thursday I made the last-minute decision to snag a ticket to the Welcome to Night Vale live show here in Chicago. It was absolutely incredible. The people involved in WTNV are so talented and engaging, and the musicians that accompanied them for the “weather” segment of the show were great, as well. Plus, I ran into friends while I was there, which was lovely.
  2. Thanks to the WTNV show, I’ve had some new music in my rotation this week, from artist Danny Schmidt. Mostly, I’ve had his song This Too Shall Pass on repeat for days.
  3. I really struggled to write a song for my songwriting class this week, and I really wanted to have something, because Tuesday was the last class of this session. I ended up abandoning the assignment entirely and chasing a concept that had been knocking about in my head for a couple of days. Turned out that was the right decision, because I really like the song I came up with (and it earned me a glitter unicorn sticker in class – the highest honor).
  4. While I’ve been anything but grounded this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about ways I can keep myself from flying too far off in whatever direction my brain is taking me. So far I’ve been pretty good at curbing impulses that will get me into trouble (mostly in regards to spending money), so that’s something, at least.
  5. Today I finally started reading Gender Failure by Rae Spoon and Ivan Coyote, which I picked up several months ago and hadn’t touched since. It’s SO GOOD. Highly recommend.

On Visibility and Being Seen

This past Tuesday, March 31, was Trans Day of Visibility. I posted this on my Facebook Tuesday evening:

I have mixed feelings about Trans Day of Visibility: mostly, I think safety should come first and no one should feel pressure to be more out than they want to/can safely be. I am a white trans man; this means that it is safer for me to be visibly trans than it is for my trans sisters, and particularly for my trans sisters of color.

I also believe that it is important for those of us who can make the choice to safely be visible to do so, though: to show the world that we exist, but more specifically to show the ones who are still hiding that they’re not alone. I feel particularly driven to be visibly trans as a trans adult: trans kids need to know there’s a future out there for them. So often our stories end in tragedy. We need more examples of trans folks who are not only surviving (which is super important on its own), but also thriving.

Besides this, as a white trans man, I have found myself landing in a world of privilege. The way the world works, white male voices are heard when many others aren’t. It is my responsibility to speak up and clear the stage for those whose voices are too often shouted down, and to use my voice for good when it’s the only one someone will listen to.

I didn’t fit it into the Facebook post, but something I’ve been thinking a lot about since then is the importance, not necessarily of visibility, but of being seen.

I remember the first time a stranger read me as male. I was picking up lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings with my then-roommate. She finished relaying her order to the man behind the counter, and he turned to me and said, “And for you, sir?” I felt my chest swell involuntarily; I squared my shoulders and widened my stance.

I did not identify as a man then, or even as genderqueer. I identified as queer and as “a gentleman, just maybe not so much the man part,” but that was as far as I’d gotten in exploring my gender identity. And I’m certain that the man behind the counter was simply responding to the contrast between my femme roommate and me, in my baggy sweatshirt with the hood up. But that “sir” called out to a part of me that hadn’t yet been recognized elsewhere.

About a year later, two months into my relationship with my partner and a few months away from coming out as genderqueer, I was in Costa Rica visiting my aunt and uncle. My aunt took me along on one of her regular visits to a local nursing home. When she introduced me to one of the residents, the conversation went something like this:

Es su nieto? (Is this your grandson?)

No, es mi sobrina. (No, this is my niece.)

Ah, su sobrino! (Oh, your nephew!)

I just smiled and nodded.

Now, nearly sixteen months into testosterone therapy, I am read as male quite consistently (the sideburns are likely a major contributing factor to this). It’s not a given, though I sometimes forget this – just this week someone called me “she” out of the blue (and somehow, the less frequently it happens, the more it stings when it does) – and I still find that being called “sir” causes that unconscious squaring of shoulders. Because being seen for what we really are is empowering, particularly in a world where people (sometimes even people who are supposed to be on our side) insist that we do not exist.

As a dude who knits and wears a lot of purple, I would likely be read as queer by the world at large even if I wasn’t. And I’m out and proud in many areas of my life – I was so visibly “other” for a while that I reached a point where I could either live in constant shame or be loud and proud, and I went with the latter. But being visible so often amounts to being seen as “other,” as some sort of departure from the “acceptable” norms of society. And while it’s true that I do live outside those boundaries, and that I like it better out here anyway, being regarded by the world at large as a freak is tiring.

Being seen, on the other hand…validation is so important. It’s not that I need the validation of others to know who I am – I get to define that for myself and ultimately my validation of myself is what matters most. But where the pressure of visibility is exhausting, being seen is a relief from that pressure. It’s energizing and empowering and encouraging. And that’s something that we could all use more of, particularly those of us who belong to marginalized groups – and if this is true for me, who experiences oppression on a very small scale that is counterbalanced by a whole lot of privilege, it is even more true for those who don’t have those oft-unrecognized free passes that privilege offers.

Being told you don’t exist is an incredibly painful experience. Having your existence recognized and validated doesn’t make the pain go away, but the more frequently it happens, the easier it becomes to let go of those painful moments. If we started treating each person as the expert on their own identity, this world would be a much gentler place.

March Mayhem

I am, at the core, a homebody. Given the choice, I could spend days on end in my house, curled up with books, movies, and knitting (although if I’m forced to stay in my house due to illness, injury, or inclement weather, I do go a little stir crazy). There are a number of other personality traits at play here – I am an introvert, and have a tendency toward laziness. But mostly, I just really love being in my own space.

This aspect of who I am is often at war with another part of me – the one that wants to do ALL THE THINGS. This month, this latter part appears to be winning.

As of this week, aside from my usual 37.5 hours of work, I will have, on a weekly basis:

  • Guitar classes Monday evenings, and an approximate 10:45pm return home,
  • Songwriting classes Tuesday evenings, arriving home around 11pm,
  • My volunteer gig at the Old Town School of Folk Music‘s Resource Center Wednesday evenings, arriving home around 10:30pm, and
  • Knit Night at Windy Knitty Thursday evenings, arriving home anywhere between 9:15 and 10pm.

On top of all of this, I decided this week to start getting up at 5:30am each morning and attempt to do some sort of home workout – Pilates, weights, stretches, that sort of thing. I fully believe that “health” is a pretty nebulous concept, and it’s absolutely not my goal to hit some arbitrary numeric value that a doctor will deem “healthy”. However, I am increasingly frustrated with how quickly I tire out, how hard it is for me to keep up with people, and how frequently my back goes out due to a lack of core strength. I also know from past experience that being more physically active is better for my mental health. So, I’m easing into increased activity.

I also need to work practicing guitar and writing a song into each week. Plus the things that need to get done around the house.

I will be honest: last week I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it, in light of the battle I was having with DepressedBrain. I ended up needing to leave the office early on Friday to avoid having a total meltdown at work. Thankfully, Friday evening brought with it the arrival of a new binder, which helped to mitigate some of the dysphoria that was making a significant contribution to DepressedBrain. (The binder, by the way, was ordered from these guys and is amazing – equivalent binding power to an Underworks 997, but replacing the fear of permanent ribcage damage (which was the reason I had to switch to the much less effective 982 a while back) with something so comfortable I almost forget I’m wearing it – and may warrant an extra blog post for a review at some point in the near future.)

I was feeling rather better Monday morning, but I have to admit, I still didn’t really believe I was going to be able to handle this schedule until shortly before I started writing this post yesterday afternoon. I was absolutely exhausted by the time I got home Monday and Tuesday, and yesterday I had a hell of a time getting myself out of bed. As the day wore on, I was pretty sleepy, but I think I hit the point where I started to remember how to work through the fatigue. I am convinced that, eventually, being more active will mean that I will have more energy. I just need to stick with it long enough.

Part of me continues to wonder what on earth I’ve gotten myself into. But mostly, I’m feeling optimistic. And that’s a nice change from the past few weeks.

Confessions of a Storyteller

I’ve always loved books.

There is a video, somewhere, of me at age two, sitting on the floor, surrounded by what was probably the majority of the books that usually lived on my bookshelf, holding one upside down in my chubby little hands as I looked at the camera and declared (in the present tense), “I read!” several times before launching into a story that I’m certain made sense in my head but was entirely incomprehensible out of it.

I still remember the moment when I actually did read for the first time. I was three years old, in my parents’ bathroom, studying the pages of Green Eggs and Ham, and as I looked at the book, suddenly the sound of the word in my head (I had the book memorized) connected with the letters on the page, and I realized I was reading. It was magic, and I was hooked.

I was the child who broke the heart of more than one teacher who was forced to tell me to stop reading, because I was also the child who would inexpertly try to hide whatever book I was currently reading behind the textbook I was supposed to be studying in an effort to get through a few more pages during class. I never had a huge number of friends at school, but that rarely bothered me. I had a huge, active imagination, and books were the catalyst through which I could visit exciting new worlds.

Really, I’ve just always loved stories.

I knew, even as a child, that stories had the power to make otherwise inscrutable concepts accessible, to create a shift in perspective, to bring laughter into dark and dismal places. As an adult, I am even more impressed by the power that stories have to effect change. Particularly as a queer, transgender adult whose life doesn’t fit nicely into the generally accepted queer, transgender narratives (“I knew I was gay in kindergarten!” or “I knew I was trans when I was three years old!” – not to say that there is anything inherently wrong with these narratives)…I am increasingly convinced that it is imperative that those of us whose stories differ from the “mainstream” of queer culture tell those stories, because as more of us claim our own narratives, fewer of us feel alone.

I’ve been telling my story in bits and pieces for years – I took my first fumbling steps out of the closet almost six years ago, and have used storytelling as a means to process my personal evolution. However, last week I received a request from a family member for a narrative of my journey from straight, cisgender woman to queer, transgender man, and I realized for the first time that I have never actually written it all down in one place. (Granted, the story is ever-changing, and there will never be one complete account. But it had never crossed my mind that I’ve been working exclusively in vignettes, capturing a moment here and there, and never a longer story arc.)

So over the weekend and into the beginning of this week I’ve been writing it all down. As I am writing this Wednesday morning, I have more than 3,200 words…and while I have the bulk of the major events of the past six years down, it is still far from complete. It doesn’t include many of the vignettes I’m sure I’ve written down before – like coming out to my best friend from college when I had the world’s biggest crush on her, or how I started identifying as a gentleman years before I ever identified as transgender or genderqueer, or what it felt like the first time a stranger called me “sir” (which also happened well before I identified as anything other than cisgender).

I’m an inveterate storyteller with a story so full of plot twists that I’m having trouble telling it in a way that is both coherent and complete. I suppose, if I have to pick one over the other, I’ll go with coherence. (Choosing coherence over completeness will also increase my chances of getting this sent out within the week, like I promised.) Still, now I feel like, at some point in the near future, I need to at least try to get a (mostly) complete narrative down as well, even if it’s only for me. Particularly as I move into the strange new world of male privilege, I don’t ever want to forget where I’ve come from.

Forward Motion

‘Tis the season for Jewish holidays, which means I get a bunch of paid days off in the next month, including today and tomorrow (for Rosh Hashanah). Since I am not Jewish, this gives me some free time to attend to various personal business matters I haven’t gotten around to taking time off for, but that really need to happen.

Today, I’m going to the doctor to get labs done and check in on my hormone levels.

Tomorrow, I’m heading downtown to file the paperwork for my name change.

It doesn’t feel real yet. It probably won’t feel real until a couple of months from now, after my court date, when I’m holding my new driver’s license with my name on it.

My name. The one I chose for myself. The one that fit so effortlessly the first time I tried it on that I thought it couldn’t possibly be real.

I’m not yet Alyx in legal terms, but I’m Alyx in my dreams. And in my social life. And at work.

I have been Alyx for nearly three years now.

I am not looking forward to the fiddly bits of legally changing my name – changing over bank accounts and credit cards and utilities and dealing with social security. But I am looking forward to the day when I can hand a bartender or TSA agent or car rental agency employee my ID and not need to spend all of my energy praying they don’t look too closely at the feminine name on the card in contrast with the sideburn-sporting dude in front of them.

Tomorrow, I take the next official step in being recognized for who I am. And while the part of me that resists going outside of my comfortable bubble of routine is terrified, mostly, I am excited.

It’s time for forward motion.

On the Validity of Self-Definition

A well-meaning coworker asked me several months ago if she could give my contact information to a young person she knew who had recently come out as transmasculine. I handed over my email, but I never heard anything from the kid. Yesterday, after coming into my office for a brief reprieve in the middle of her day, my coworker asked if I’d ever heard from them, and then proceeded to tell me,

She’s just confused. You know what she did for gay pride? She wore boxer shorts, and a…a…well, you know, a thing. But then she had no shirt, and suspenders and pasties. I mean, people who want to be boys, they’re not going to show their breasts! That’s the last thing they’d want to do. Right? She just doesn’t know what she wants.

She then emphasized her point by explaining that they all still called this kid by their given name, and they never said anything (though I can clearly recall her saying that they were really upset by the use of their given name over their taken name several months ago), so clearly, they’re not trans. They’re just confused.

And because it was in my workplace (which is not especially unsafe, but is still not a place I feel I can be particularly vocal about identity politics), I smiled a tight smile, and shrugged noncommittally, and muttered something about that being a hard age for everyone, and she finally left, with one last, “She’s just confused.”

Once it was over, my office, which I have worked so hard to turn into a place of calm and safety (for myself and for my coworkers), felt toxic. I felt physically sick. And I felt like a traitor, both to this kid that I don’t know, and to the trans community at large. Because implied in my coworker’s statement was the idea that I behave the way she thinks a trans person is supposed to act. And I hate that, because I feel like I’ve been assimilated into this toxic culture of gender essentialism that I don’t want to join, but to dismantle.

It’s probably true that the majority of transmasculine people aren’t super into showing their breasts off (in public or elsewhere). But though that may be the prevalent narrative of what transmasculinity looks like, it’s not the whole story (or even any of the story) for all transmasculine people. Who knows? For this kid, who probably can’t afford surgery and who maybe doesn’t have the strongest support system, walking around shirtless at pride might have been a way for them to feel empowered, to reclaim their body as their own. Or maybe they’re genderqueer or otherwise nonbinary, and wanted to express their own gender fluidity by contrasting boxers and a packer with pasties. The fact is that I don’t know what this kid’s motivations were, and neither does my coworker. But whatever the motivation, when it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter. Their body is their own, and no one else gets to decide for them what is or is not the “right” way to exist in that body.

There is not one right way to be a trans person, no matter what the media tells us, no matter what cis- and heteronormative culture tells us…no matter what we tell each other. Each one of us is the sole expert on our own lives, on our own hearts and minds and motivations. Anyone else who tries to define those things for us is doing a disservice both to trans people in general and to themselves, because those of us who have learned to define our own lives have a lot to teach the rest of the world, if only they’d stop trying to categorize us into nonexistence long enough to listen.

Little Soul

This is a rough recording of the song I wrote for my songwriting class this past week. I’ve made a couple of minor changes since class on Tuesday, but it’s mostly here.

I am inordinately proud of this song. First of all, I did some cool things with chords, and I feel like I exercised a lot of what I’ve been learning in my songwriting classes. But aside from that…I love how my voice sounds. I have never, in all my life, been so pleased with a recording of my singing voice. My voice in this recording sounds like I want my voice to sound in my head. While I have dreams of being a baritone, I’m quite pleased with this solidly tenor sweet spot I’ve settled into for the moment. And so I’m sharing this sound clip with you, because while I’m not really using this blog to document my transition process anymore, this is a pretty big personal milestone.

(A funny story about this song: on Sunday, our neighbor’s cat escaped and wound up darting into our apartment as we were headed out the door. Since I hadn’t yet written my assignment for my Tuesday class, my partner jokingly suggested I write a song about the cat. So this song may sound like it has some depth, but really, it’s a pretty song about a cat who got loose.)

Weekend Reflections

One of the perks of working for a Jewish social service organization is that I wind up with extra paid days off for religious holidays that I don’t observe. This past week, we had Monday and Tuesday off for the last two days of Passover. I decided to take the opportunity afforded by a long weekend and take a little road trip up to Minnesota, mostly to meet my new nephew. My partner wasn’t able to join me for the trip, so I had a lot of hours of solo driving in the car to do some reflecting on what I was heading toward and, later, what I was coming home from.

The trip was full of excitement of varying sorts (my dad had an emergency appendectomy the evening I got into town, for one thing), but there are just a couple of things I really want to get into.

First, today (April 24, 2014) is the three-year anniversary of my grandfather’s death. He passed away Easter Sunday, ten days after his 90th birthday. Since his grave is in Rochester, MN (an under-two-hour drive from the Twin Cities) and I happened to be in town over Easter, I decided to get up early that morning and drive down to pay him a visit.

photo 4

I think a lot about my grandpa. He was a man of deep faith and quiet love, and to this day I respect him immensely. I found out five months after he died that my dad had told him that I was queer; I never knew that he knew, and it is one of my few major regrets in life that I never shared that part of myself with him. I was too afraid, and I thought I was doing what was expected of me.

I think because my grandpa never treated me any differently, I have sort of built him up in my head as being this paragon of tolerance, a rarity in my family. I’m not entirely sure that this is fair to his memory, though. I know that, ultimately, he loved me, and that was the most important thing. But I also know that he probably struggled with the idea of having a granddaughter who liked both boys and girls. About six months after he died, I adopted the name Alyx, and started walking a bit more boldly down the road of gender variant identity. As I stood by his grave (and in the car on my way back to St. Paul), I wondered how he would have handled the knowledge of my decision to start on testosterone.

I don’t have an answer. In the end, I don’t know that it matters. I have hope that the view from where he is now offers a greater sense of perspective, and that he’s able to be happy that I am happy. I hope that he is still proud of me, even though I know I am not the person he imagined his grandchild would be.

Being with my family this weekend was challenging. My mother very pointedly avoided using any names or pronouns in reference to me, though there were ample opportunities for both. My brother called me Alyx when talking to my nephew, but addressed me by my given name at dinner and apparently never gave it a second thought (he also called me “she” a lot). My dad is clearly trying, but it’s still hard.

But it was worth it for the handful of minutes I got to hold my nephew.

photo 3

I was crazy about this kid before he was born; I’m even crazier about him now. He is absolutely adorable, and I realized as I held him that there is nothing I wouldn’t do to keep this child safe. While it’s still frustrating that my brother has declared that I’m not allowed to be his child’s uncle (ommer is the title we’ve settled on for the time being), it’s something I’m willing to put up with if it means I get to be involved in the kid’s life in any way.

My strongest enduring memory of my grandpa is of the fact that every time we said goodbye, he’d give me a hug and say, quietly and earnestly, “You’re special.” As I said goodbye to my nephew on Sunday, I found myself saying the same thing to him. I hope that if I have any influence in this child’s life, it’s to teach him that he’s special and loved, no matter who he grows up to be.

photo 1

My Brain in a Five-Item List

I promise there will be a longer, much more detailed blog next Thursday. In the meantime, here’s another five-item list of what’s been on my mind this week:

  1. My Grandpa. My grandfather’s birthday was Monday. He would have been 93 years old. He passed away on Easter Sunday three years ago (on the 24th, which is one of the reasons next Thursday’s blog will be bigger). I still think of my grandpa often, but his memory is particularly close at this time of year.
  2. My nephew. This weekend, I’m heading up to Minnesota all by myself (my partner has to work, sadly) to meet the tiniest member of my family. I am the proudest of uncles ommers (ah, the joys of language in relation to non-normative gender identity), and I’m so excited to meet the little one, and to deliver the sweater I finished knitting today, which I hope will fit for at least a little while.
  3. My biological family in general. I don’t have the very best relationship with my biological family, for a lot of reasons. Things have been improving with my parents, but they’re far from comfortable. My brother and I don’t really talk, except (in the last six weeks since the baby’s arrival) about his kid, and I have zero confidence that he will ever consistently call me Alyx. (My relationship with extended family is essentially nonexistent at this point: my grandparents have said they will never call me Alyx, “because Alyx is an imaginary person,” and to the best of my knowledge are completely in the dark about the fact that I’ve taken any steps by way of medical transition. One of my aunts congratulated me on new-aunthood on Facebook after my nephew was born, and when I corrected her language, thanked me for the correction and called me by my given name in the same sentence, despite the fact that I have been Alyx (on Facebook and elsewhere) for almost two-and-a-half years.) Needless to say, there’s a lot of anxiety that builds up anytime I am going to be seeing my family, and so I’m feeling pretty tense at the thought of multiple days in a row with them. I’ll be seeing other people while I’m in Minnesota (some chosen family and my partner’s family, who are also chosen family, now that I think of it), but there will be more time spent with my family than there has been in a long while.
  4. Knitting. I tend to come at knitting in spurts. I’ve been in a dry spell for a while, but the pressure of finishing the aforementioned baby sweater before this trip has gotten me working on things again. Aside from the sweater, I’ve recently cast on for the second of a pair of socks, the first of which I knit in about two weeks at the beginning of December. I forget, when I don’t work on them, how much I enjoy knitting socks. Once I finish this one (I’m just starting the heel, and because I have small feet, the end of the heel marks approximately halfway through the sock), I’ve got another pair I started ages ago that I need to pick back up, and I keep looking at patterns and getting excited about possibilities, which has been fun.
  5. Finding ways to feel healthier better in my body. “Health” is such a nebulous concept, and being built as I am (short and stocky and round), I have no expectation that I will ever achieve someone else’s standard of what “healthy” looks like. I’m generally relatively comfortable being the size that I am, but I’ve noticed lately that I’m feeling less okay being in my body (in ways completely separate from dysphoria, which is thankfully not something that haunts me too consistently). I’m increasingly aware that I’m slower on my feet than the people around me. It’s harder for me to keep up than I’d like. I worry a lot about loss of mobility, between some issues with chronic pain and a history of back and knee problems. So I’ve been thinking a bit about steps I can take to do better. I haven’t been back to the gym since the whole misgendering fiasco, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t make myself go back, and that maybe a traditional gym setting isn’t ideal for me. So I’ve started looking around at other options, and have come back to an idea that pops up now and again, which is taking up Aikido. There’s an Aikido center here in Chicago that has a four-week introductory course that they say is appropriate for all body types and fitness levels, and there’s a session starting in July that I think I can work into my schedule. I’ve wanted to take up some sort of martial art for a long time, and Aikido’s lack of competitive spirit and focus on the safety of both the self and one’s opponent is really appealing to me. I’ve also started walking home from work (about 2.25mi) on days when the weather isn’t awful, and I’m finding even the handful of times I’ve done that have made a big difference in how I feel in my body. Admittedly, a lot of this processing is still very much just that: processing and thinking about change, and not a lot of actively making changes. But it feels like it’s paving the way for movement in a positive direction, and for right now, that’s enough.
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