Revision

Last week, PurpleSageFem posted about the (highly recommended and free to view for the next two weeks) butch lesbian short film Gender Troubles. Before I even watched the film, I was struck by part of a comment left by atryingthing:

It would be helpful to have an entire Youtube filled with the lives of butches just like the FtM channels. “Week 73 as a Butch” or “Going to work as a gender noncompliant woman.” We don’t really have much visibility. I think for a lot of us, it’s hard to imagine ourselves really going through the little details of our often challenging and unique lives for decades just the way we are, especially when the dysphoria is out of control. Many of us are just internally in crisis mode all the time, especially before we find any kind of therapeutic help. More visibility would have helped me to at least know there was another option for how to exist in the world as this kind of person when I was bingeing on post-testosterone and post-top surgery videos.

Over the past year or so I’ve heard so many variations of this sentiment. We have all, at times, bemoaned the lack of butch lesbian or gender-defying female representation. Now and then something pops up like the Gender Troubles film, Peachyogurt’s videos or the Wanted Project podcast. We’ve seen videos appear from various bloggers and detransitioners talking about their experiences, which has been incredibly inspiring. In fact, after that surge, I spent weeks berating myself for not stepping up as well. I planned videos in my head, down to where I would shoot them. I wanted to contribute somehow. I wanted to do something.

But there are a million buts. But my age. But my lack of common experiences. But my boring, reclusive lifestyle. But my name and face that has been floating around the Internet in various communities for close to two decades. But I am so off-the-beaten path and so irrelevant. But my old friends and family might see. I wrote myself off, despite the fact that after rediscovering Hannah Hart and the YouTube vlogging community last summer, the first thing I wanted to do was make videos.

Way back in the mists of time, you see, I was a broadcast communications major for a year and a half, and I took Video Production I & II, editing from VHS tape to VHS tape. Farther back in the mists of time, I made movies with my high school gifted group. We remade The Nutcracker in my living room (I was the Mouse King). We made a continuation of The Little Prince in which the Little Prince is murdered by the Mouse King at the end then resurrected to dance something we called The Seductive Cello Dance. I shot and produced a strange and awkward rendition of “Medieval Family Feud” for an English class.

Ah, high school. Fun times.

I did all the editing, tape to tape, with two VHS machines and good reflexes. I enjoyed it and I was proud of it and I was never embarrassed to be on camera. For some reason, in high school, I knew who I was and thought I had value. (Actually, there is a reason I will get to in a moment.)

It’s funny what we convince ourselves we can and can’t do. One of the hallmarks of trauma is a dissolution of personal identity, caused in part by disassociation, a lack of self-awareness in the brain. The more we disassociate the more we forget we are here, that we have bodies, that we can interact positively with others. I’ve noticed lately what a strange and wonderful sensation it is to have a positive interaction with another human being. There is something good there, something worthwhile. If only I could figure out who I am supposed to be to keep that happening.

I went into high school as a really weird 8th grader. I didn’t have any close friends. There’d been the “You aren’t gay, are you?” comments. I had weird short hair and braces and listened to a lot of classical and folk music and was obsessed with tall ships and various historical periods. But in the summer between 8th grade and my freshman year, I joined the marching band, which ended up being rather full of a lot of oddballs like myself (only much later did I find out who else was gay.)

Presiding over the education of the freshmen in marching and other band skills, as well as conducting the band on and off the field, were two drum majors. I made up my mind before the football season ended that I was going to be the next drum major, a rather mad vision for a socially-awkward kid who had never held a leadership position. But I was all-in and 100% determined to do whatever it took to be selected the new recruit and take over after the senior drum major graduated.

This is the key: The drum majors were charged not only with directing the music, but also being sort of the social glue of the entire group, at least in my band. Because they were doing all the steering of the marching columns through parade streets, all the starting and stopping of songs in front of thousands on the football field, there had to be a close, trusting relationship between them and the band members. So more than anything else, they fostered a sense of welcome and belonging, especially for the freshmen just coming in. They wanted to make everyone feel safe, important, and part of a cohesive unit.

I was so incredibly grateful for that feeling they gave me that I wanted desperately to give it to others. I didn’t care so much about wearing a special hat or marching out front or having my name announced; I just wanted to help others become a part of something the way I had been taken in and nurtured myself.

It was one of the most revolutionary experiences of my life, both that first year and then the next three years of actually doing the job. I had freshmen say to me, “I would have left band if it wasn’t for you.” I had underclassmen try out for the position “because you helped me so I want to help others.” It was one of the rare times in my life when my social relationship to others and to myself seemed … remarkably right.

And I never had to give up the obsession I had with tall ships. Or the weird haircut. Or, for that matter, quietly, secretly being gay.

Atryingthing’s comment above was like a clarion call to me. Especially in the words, “going through the little details of our often challenging and unique lives”. I don’t feel enough of an authority on anything that I would sit and talk about it and feel my contribution is worthwhile, but I could create a window into the daily life of a GNC woman, six-minute snippets of cooking or picking out clothes or not putting on makeup — all those trivial details that fill Youtube with morning routines and cinnamon-eating challenges, book recommendations and monthly favorites. Butches and GNC women have all these things, too.

And maybe if I did it – old and irrelevant as I am – maybe others would, too. Maybe they are already out there. Maybe we just need to pull together some kind of cohesive presence to make other women feel welcome and accepted and nurtured, too, just as who they are.

I saw the most beautiful quote the other day, from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who has been so much in the news lately:

 

It’s not your job to be likable. It’s your job to be yourself. Someone will like you anyway.

Women, stop worrying about being liked — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s advice for living boldly (via washingtonpost)

 

I fear being disliked; I fear rejection and irrelevance because that’s what I’ve known, for a long time, ever since high school ended. But the people I’ve been rejected by are the people I am irrelevant to, which is the natural state of things, really. It does leave a person feeling “internally in crisis” all the time, as atryingthing said. But on the other hand, if we never step out as ourselves, if we never offer our authentic selves to others, we’ll never know if we could be truly liked for who we are. I have a feeling that if I do this, it would be good for me just to try.

I think, what I would like to do, what would be more helpful for everyone, is creating a YouTube channel that is just about existing as a GNC woman and doing things that other living human beings do. Whatever else is out there, it would be a positive contribution, and maybe another point in the extended and often strained web of our community. It would be something bigger than myself, at least, hopefully more helpful, something visible to make others visible, and to let others know that they are seen.

 

Coming This Spring™

Our Selves

Late blooming flowers
beneath spreading trees
dipping virgin roots into the river
Warm waters, softened by sunlight –
She sits and dreams.

Deep in the green
Wild things, heavy with Life
Freedom as much as blood
empowering them –
They dance around her
under the shade of the canopy
watching with eyes on other things.
She reaches, but they are as untouchable
as the sunlight.

“But I feel you,”
she says to the sky,
to the golden shafts which blanket her in warmth.
“I feel you – as I feel them –
somewhere deeper than the soul –
If an eagle could fly from me
it would stir me no less than this.
Why was I brought here?
A witness – never to touch the evidence?
Is it a crime to love?
A child’s wanderings – or not?
Why was I brought here
to this that I love
only to reach, and face denial…”

The wind blows,
and in it, softly singing,
she hears her love and weeps.
“A world of beauty wasted,”
she sighs, and closes tired eyes.
She sits and dreams,
and her soul dies.

I wrote this poem twenty years ago, when I was on the cusp of twenty and trying very hard to find my place at a local liberal arts college. I lived off-campus, so would arrive for my morning classes then spend the day at the school, passing a great deal of time between classes in the main building’s rotunda, sitting on a particular bench, watching the other students cross the space as they moved from room to room. It was there I jot down the basic words to this poem.

In those days I couldn’t allow myself to be a lesbian. Sure, a certain girl kept piquing my interest in English, but I was not going to be gay. Besides, I was having a lot more feelings for a lot of other things, for stories and characters spinning in my head, and deep-seated reactions to particular faces, particular eyes. The woods were still my most sacred space. I still tingled – and wrote even more poetry – when gazing up at the Dipper and Orion.

But day to day, I sat in the rotunda and watched the other students cross the space. Teachers, too. It’s a strange kind of isolation that comes with never seeing yourself reflected in the world around you. In high school, I had been an oddball but had made friends; in college, I could not locate anyone like me, and more than ever I was drowning in the images that told me I was wrong: the petite, pretty girls with their short skirts and makeup, the loud, crass boys who wore the same clothing I did. There was one girl who always wore a ponytail and jeans, who shouted across rooms and loved to party. She was openly gay, but she still wasn’t anything like me.

I did well enough in classes but I couldn’t stay. I just couldn’t stay, and after two years of trying I let go of a full scholarship and left college. I don’t recommend this to anyone. Please stay in school and get that degree if possible. It’s very hard to go back and finish later. It’s something I deeply regret, that English Lit degree that slipped through my fingers because my soul was just dying, just dying in that place.

We are told throughout our lives to “Be Yourself!” It sings out in children’s songs and is gently spoken by Mr. Rogers. It decorates posters and Tumblr posts. Electric guitars blare the message in Coca-Cola commercials. We’re inundated with images of hip young people of various colors, their dancing elders joining in, a world of diversity and inclusion distributed to every speaker and screen. But that isn’t the real world. All that well-meaning wishing isn’t the real world.

Being yourself isn’t always possible. Being yourself isn’t possible when being gay isn’t safe. Being yourself isn’t possible when wearing men’s clothes or finding women attractive isn’t accepted. Being yourself isn’t possible when a Christian will take you by the collar and demand you read the Bible when you say you don’t go to church. Being yourself isn’t possible when you see no one around you existing the way you do – the way you want to – and living a free and happy life.

So we get used to being afraid and we call it anxiety. We get used to being sad and we call it depression. We get used to hiding and we call it introversion. We come to hate all the things we loved because those things hold us back from ever being ourselves the way so many seem to be themselves, dancing on TV, walking through the rotunda from class to class.

We are left sitting and dreaming and dying inside.

I tried very hard to be myself, as so many well-meaning people told me to be. But I was convinced it wasn’t possible, it wasn’t safe, and so I decided I would be something other. I would be helpful, first and foremost; I would be funny. I would be talented, generous, and accepting of everyone. I would tolerate the jokes. I would be cool. I would be an atheist. I would be an easy-going dyke, lol. I would be masculine; I would be rational. I would be no problem for anyone at all.

I would make a self that was safe to be.

Somewhere, deep in the green, she sits and dreams.

It was only when I was faced with idea of having to alter my physical body to sustain this false self that I realized how much harm had been done internally, how far I had traveled from who and what I really was. I sat for days in grief acknowledging that yes, it is fucking hard to be a lesbian. It is fucking hard to live in defiance of femininity and patriarchy. It is fucking hard to feel and love and experience the world so differently than the vast majority of people out there who want everything to be so inclusive and positive and easy. It is fucking hard to be myself.

I started this blog in January of this year, settling into this soft space to explore the lost pieces of myself and figure out how I could fit in this world. I have been so blessed to have learned and read and interacted with so many brave, insightful, inspiring people through this space, to have found acceptance and friendship and so many deep thoughts to consider, so many journeys to honor. All of this strengthened me to step more and more into myself in my daily life, and watch all the facades from the last twenty years crumble around me. Difficult, but an unavoidable result of living as someone other than who I am. Somewhere in all the rubble and reconstruction I found myself. Then a book opened and finally – finally – had words for what I was:

A woman’s whose occupation it is to spin participates in the whirling movement of creation. She who has chosen her Self, who defines her Self, by choice, nether in relation to children nor to men, who is Self-identified, is a Spinster, a whirling dervish, spinning in a new time/space.

Spinster, Hag, Fury or Chrone as Mary Daly defines them in Gyn/Ecology, but I will tend always towards “a woman who has chosen her Self, who defines her Self, by choice, neither in relation to children nor to men.” At those words, deep in the green, she raises her head and stops dreaming. At those words, she rises to create again.

I will leave this space for those who seek it, and I hope it engenders softness around them, the same kind of comfort and safety to explore themselves as I have needed. At very least it’s another story for those who like stories, and another experience that will hopefully make someone feel a little less alone. I will always keep tabs on new comments and any searchers who find themselves here looking for guidance.

It’s time for me now to create a new space, to fill not with the restrictions I’m casting off or the identities I’m trying on, but with the simplicity of my Self just as it is, at last recovered. I will let you know where that space is once I create it.

But I leave any readers of these writings with this message: Your self, your true self, your sacred self held in the innermost parts of you, that sings when you love and weeps for the beauty of the world, can be revealed and embraced and recovered. Even if it isn’t safe to be yourself. Even if it seems impossible. You can wipe away the dust and debris and hold that jewel, every beautiful facet, and know without doubt that no one, nothing, will ever make you abandon it again.

Environmental

My heart breaking, I read about Alan L. Hart.

Alan L. Hart was born Alberta Lucille Hart in Kansas, on October 4th, 1890. Growing up, she spent time on her grandparent’s farm, playing in boy’s clothes with boy’s toys. It is a now familiar story of a girl breaking free of gender roles: “[He] hated traditional girl tasks, preferring farm work with the menfolk instead. The self reliance that became a lifelong trait was evident early: once when [he] accidentally chopped off [his] fingertip with an axe, [Alan] dressed it [him]self, saying nothing about it to the family.”1

Although often writing under a male name, Hart graduated from college as a woman and obtained a Doctor of Medicine degree as a woman – with top honors – the only woman in the class.2 She was attracted to women, despite confessing to “a loathing of the female type of mind.” Under a false male name, she married a woman. Later that year, 1917, she sought a hysterectomy from a psychiatrist, who described her as “extremely intelligent and not mentally ill, but afflicted with a mysterious disorder for which I have no explanation.” Again, a familiar story.

What is not so familiar is a facet of Hart’s personal position in requesting the hysterectomy, a radical surgery for a healthy young woman in 1917. Hart invoked a eugenic argument, insisting she was a person with an “abnormal inversion” who should be sterilized. At the turn of the century, homosexuals were thought to be “sexual inverts.” Many women who were sexually attracted to women and defied gender norms were subjected to inhumane treatment, and some instead chose to live, as best they could, as men. Apparently, some, like Hart, retained the belief they were indeed abnormal specimens of humanity.

It is one thing to want to live as a man out of necessity and wish to be free of the hassles of menstruation. It is one thing to know you do not wish to have children. But it is another thing, entirely, to believe you are such an aberration your genetic material has no place among your fellow human beings.

Alan L. Hart was an intelligent, learned Doctor of Medicine, a woman living her life as a man, and believed she should be sterilized.

My heart breaks for Alan L. Hart. My heart breaks for Alberta Lucille.

After a successful career as both a doctor and novelist, after a long and happy marriage to a woman, Alan L. Hart died in 1962. Eight years before, Alan Turing had committed suicide after enforced chemical castration. Forty-five years before, Alberta Lucille Hart had convinced her doctor she should be sterilized.

This was the environment for so much of the 20th century. Homosexuals were not supposed to exist: they were to be corrected; they were to be assimilated; they were to be erased. For the past 100 years, this has been the environment we have been trying so hard to change.

Thankfully, our environment has been changing. Today we are surrounded with examples of women living lives that for all intents and purposes look like the lives of men – the careers they pursue, the fashion they wear, the women they marry. Likewise, we see around us men who live lives resembling those of women. This is our reality, an observable fact. We know now, as a society, that in their personalities and expressions of themselves, women can be just like men, and men can be just like women.

We remain, however, still a little confused. We still fall back on familiar words, familiar stories. If a girl plays with boy things, she must be a boy, right? So confusing. If a man wears a wig and makeup and a dress, he must be a woman, right? Our little human brains keep ticking over the new information, trying to categorize and make sense of it all with new words, just as we did a hundred years ago. But today, many of those who defy their gender roles don’t see themselves as abnormal aberrations who must be sterilized.* They’re out and proud. There’s a whole movement behind them.

It is a wild, wild time, this reality, this confusion.

I look forward to the day when the reality, the fact, of sexual orientation clarifies the confusion for everyone. Apparently, human beings want to have sex with each other. In order to do so, they need to know who is male and who is female so they can hook up with the bodies they naturally desire. For some strange reason,** this is a matter of contention in all the confusion right now, but it simplifies everything beautifully: Change your lifestyle. Change your name. Change your clothing. Change your body however you wish. But don’t change that biological sex marker. That is important for finding the loves – or good times – of your life. Let people know if you are homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual, and whether you are male or female. It’s that simple. Then we can all respect one another, express ourselves fully and freely, and get along.

Our environment, right now, is fighting for that respect and freedom. We need to listen to one another, we need to be patient, we need to understand. We need to protect one another from violence. But we are talking, and we are acknowledging reality, and we are nurturing an environment based on respect and authenticity and expression. There is a lot to work against, but so much that has already changed for the better.

I don’t feel like I need to be a man anymore. Not in the slightest. It never even crosses my mind. My environment has changed drastically from where I was when I thought that was the answer to all my problems. I haven’t moved (though I painted a room yellow) but I’ve changed who I spend time with, what media I put in my head, my political views. I’ve learned so much, and I’ve acknowledged so much trauma, so much history, both personal and shared with other lesbians. I’ve come to love my woman’s body because I’ve come to see myself in other women. The face I once never wanted to look at I realize now can connect with others who see themselves in someone similar, as I’ve seen myself in other’s faces. But I had to find those other women and construct my environment around them.

They are out there, for everyone. We just have to find them.

A remarkable thing happened the other night. I settled on my bed and turned on my iPad to watch some videos before I went to sleep. First I watched an episode of The Supersizers with Sue Perkins. Then I caught up with Hannah Hart’s My Drunk Kitchen. Then I turned on Saturday Night Live to catch the newest bit about the Presidential debates, with Kate McKinnon’s brilliant Hillary Clinton. And as I turned over to go to sleep, I realized I had just spent my evening watching three lesbians in a row, who I relate to in one way or another. I realized I no longer felt so strange and alone. I no longer felt abnormal, an aberration.

But it has taken me almost forty years to change my immediate – and internal – environment. It has taken me almost forty years to leave behind the homophobia of a conservative, sheltered upbringing and to create space amid my doubts and my fears for women I admire, women I’m attracted to, women I love – including myself. The clothes hangers full of men’s shirts in my closet and the big leather boots beneath. This haircut. The books on my bookshelves, the movies and TV shows, the websites, the pictures, and most of all, these thousands of words I’ve written that hopefully make some space for someone else.

Sometimes, we have to give ourselves a soft space in which to heal. We have to create a nursery in which to grow, a hearth in which to burn bright.

We change as our environment changes. There is a natural transition. It may occur half despite our actions and half because of them, but it will happen nevertheless. It is sometimes slow and often painful, but it is happening before our eyes, in ourselves and in the culture around us. We have to trust in that forward motion, and adapt our environment for the betterment of ourselves, for those we love, and for the evolution of our human society.

No more aberrations. No more “abnormal inversions.” No more erasure of any part of anyone, not anymore.

A small thing I have added to my environment in the past months are the words of lesbian poet Mary Oliver.3 I share a few of them here, in the hopes for positive change in everyone’s environment, and in everyone’s life:

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.

 

 

 

1 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_L._Hart

2 – https://web.archive.org/web/20081023061151/http://www.ochcom.org/hart/

3 – Oliver, Mary, Dream Work, Boston: Atlantic Monthly, 1986. p.38-39

*  save for the children being sterilized by their homophobic parents

** lesbian fetishization, autogynephilia, patriarchy

male violence

Beauty and the Butch—A lesbian fairy tale — Purple Sage

Guess what—I wrote a fairy tale! The reason I wrote this is because I was thinking one day about superheroes and princesses, and how kids are being expected to identify with the characters that are marketed to them based on their sex, and how identifying with characters of the opposite sex is taken as a […]

via Beauty and the Butch—A lesbian fairy tale — Purple Sage

Back in high school, I just loved Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. We played the music for marching band one year and I had a bunch of the songs on a mixtape I listened to constantly (oh, the ’90’s) and I will freely admit the feelings it stirred up had a lot to do with the plot of my book, that “unexpectedly falling in love with someone you shouldn’t” thing – which, yes, I think a lot of lesbians, no matter how deep in the closet they are, identify with.

But you know what I just realized reading this version? Listen to how cool this is: Where the movie always lost me was when the Beast turns into the Prince. Like I am no furry, hear me out, but when kind-of-gender-neutral Beastie floated up and turned into weirdly-chinny, floppy-haired, absolutely-male Prince-Dude, I was just like, “Eh, ok, whatever.” Like it weirded me out and made me so uncomfortable, even though I was crying at the falling of the rose petals just before.

BUT! BUT!! This is the cool bit: reading Beauty and the Butch here, I realized something: In this version, the “beast” character NEVER CHANGES INTO ANYTHING ELSE. Yes, her true nature is revealed, but that’s different than a physical change from Beast into Prince. She’s physically and emotionally and everything else exactly the same from the time she meets Beauty until the end. NO CHANGE IS REQUIRED TO MAKE HER AN ACCEPTABLE MATE.

And what a remarkable and splendid message that is for all lesbians.

Chrysalis

emerge6

On very rare and special occasions in the middle of summer, I’ll come across a butterfly or moth emerging from its chrysalis or cocoon. They are such strange creatures in those moments, their wrinkled wings still folded close to their bodies, their bodies distended with the blood that will fill their wings. As full of life as they are, expanding with every passing second, it seems a wonder that they ever fit into the cracked shell beside them. It must simply be too small to hold all of that color and pattern and complexity unfolding nearby.

But the chrysalis did hold the butterfly for a time, and allowed it to become what it was to become.

Over the past few months I have been feeling more and more constrained by this blog, by the accompanying tumblr, by being ThisSoftSpace in this Discourse on the Internet. This blog has been a chrysalis of sorts for me; it was a place to crawl into when I was needing a sheltered spot to process my shit, to see if I could figure out what I was supposed to become. A part of me hoped that by putting it on the Internet, other women who needed to process their shit would see that they were not alone. Another part of me just appreciated my story being witnessed by others. There’s a lot of validation in that. A part of me learned I have the right to my story and the right to tell it and that is very empowering to someone who has spent a great amount of time alone in the closet.

All along, I was still inside the chrysalis. Others have come by and measured and eyeballed and printed up labels for What Sort of Creature This Is. A lot of words get thrown around. Female. Woman. Lesbian. Amazon. Detransitioned. Gender Non-Conforming. Gender Defiant. Maybe Butch? Maybe not. Maybe “Straightbian” because I got some words wrong. TERF, certainly. Radical Feminist, maybe. White Colonialist Imperialist Predator. That last one was one of my favorites.

As personal as this blog has been, none of its readers really knows who or what I am. There are a handful of women who have been in contact with me off these pages and I have appreciated the relief that comes with being more of a real person with them. It is very, very difficult to try to deal with these issues interpersonally while behind a pseudonym – very difficult to reconcile who you really are with who others want you to be when you are just a handful of letters on a screen to them. When Maria Catt began making videos of her real self under her real name, I was floored by her bravery – and her sincere, authentic dedication that unfurled in her voice, in her physical presence. It shows so clearly what sort of butterfly she’s become, what flowers she’s going to pollinate, what sort of beauty she’s going to bring to the world. We have all been watching her metamorphosis, too, after all.

When I first began reaching out to detransitioners last summer, one of the first I emailed was 23xx, who had written a raw and moving account on tumblr and had helped create the private forum for those seeking support. Around the same time I joined that forum and began my own process through it all, she announced that she had to be moving on to her real life away from her accounts online. I was rather taken aback – here was one of the strongest, most compassionate voices around stepping away from it all. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t want to stay involved, if this was her story, if these were her people. But I was very new to it all, too.

One of the beautiful things about the word “transition” is that it implies movement and change. “The process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.” It is synonymous with “metamorphosis”, in fact.

A week or so ago 23xx returned to tumblr with the post I’m not dysphoric anymore. It was inspiring, honest, and simply very clear. She, too, had transformed over time, healed and strengthened and spread her wings. A certain tone in that post differed greatly from the words I had read the year before, crouched over my copy of Blood & Visions, seeking comfort. She seemed so much more an independent person I hardly knew, and so much less the similar soul I had encountered during the most dramatic days, when everything was still so raw and processing our trauma was the thing to do. She was what I needed once upon a time but now we both have changed. There is another side to all of this, another transition to be made. We spread our wings and fly away from shattered pupae skins; they belonged to us at one time but are a part of us no more.

As the Buddhists say, once you use the boat to cross the river, you don’t keep carrying the boat with you.

I have been feeling constrained by this chrysalis, and the words written upon it by others. I have been feeling constrained by the arguments, the constant – so often petty – discourse. This morning I offered on tumblr that it’s okay if women want to shave their legs, and got a “No offense but… maybe think about a positive contribution next time,” from a 19-year-old lesbian feminist. I find myself often on the wrong side of lesbian and radical feminism, often still an outlier. I am tired of the black and white arguments from those trying to prove their points. I don’t have the energy to keep up with the ideological passions of the young. And I don’t have the constitution to argue with the irrational voices that keep trying to erase biological reality by claiming, “Transwomen are women!” Biological reality is going to win out on its own, I truly believe, in time. Our goal in the meantime is damage control. So I ask myself, how can I better support women and lesbians? How can I give them confidence to stand up for themselves and their love, their desires, the lives they want to live? How can I do this as what I am, as who I am, authentically?

The beautiful thing about being aware of detransitioned and reconciling women is seeing them pull themselves out of their cocoons and start pumping their wings full of blood. Seeing them going back to school, seeing them enjoying healthy relationships, seeing them building the authentic lives they want to live. Like 23xx, I wonder when the new will outweigh the old, when they will fly so far from their experiences of disidentification that it will seem far from them – perhaps always a pattern written into their wings but no longer a carapace they have to carry on their backs.

And I wonder, for myself, what it would be like to fly away from this chrysalis and rebuild my life as who and what I am, beyond these pages that have held so much of my processing, so many of my thoughts, and so much of my time this past year.

Mercury is in retrograde. It’s the week before my period. There’s a massive thunderstorm happening while I write this and I’ve been looking for omens. I may try taking a break from all of this for a while. I may try to see what lies beyond the constraints of the chrysalis.

I will let you know what happens.

The Little Lesbian Handbook is Live

With many thanks to PurpleSageFem for her edits, additions, and lovely formatting work, I’m pleased to present the Little Lesbian Handbook, available both as a downloadable PDF and at littlelesbianhandbook.wordpress.com.

Our goal with this project was to create a comprehensive booklet of information for lesbians who are beginning to explore their orientation and what it means to be a lesbian. My hope was to answer a lot of questions I had when I first realized I was a lesbian and a lot of questions I have seen in blog comments and tumblr asks over the past year. Although much of this information can be collected elsewhere, having it all in one place will hopefully give some women a source of comfort to fall back on when needed. It helps, I think, to have something so solid explaining so much.

Our wish is to disseminate this information as far and wide as possible. To help with Google search term ratings, please link to the wordpress site linked above – the more links  to that page the higher Google will place it among search results. Alternatively, feel free to link to the PDF or download the PDF to host at your own site. Print it out to distribute in person if you like. Don’t worry about crediting or linking back to this blog. It’s all about the Handbook getting around to as many women as possible.

Putting this together really means quite a lot to me, especially since I came to realizing I was a lesbian later in my life and had so much trouble figuring it all out. I hope perhaps this collection of words simplifies the journey for others, so that it doesn’t take them nine years to be able to speak the word “lesbian” or apply it to themselves with real joy and real pride.

Many thanks to all who contributed their thoughts and ideas. I do believe we’re open to making additions in the future, especially if there are personal quotes you wish to add, so feel free to comment!