Reflections and Resolutions

This post will go live on January 1, 2015. As I’m writing this (on December 31, 2014) and reflecting back on the past twelve months, I am a little overwhelmed. On the one hand, 2014 was a year of many personal joys and triumphs – it was my first full year on testosterone, I feel more at home in my body than I ever really have, it’s been a great year at work, I got to be an Uncle Ommer, I managed to write a blog post every single week for a whole year, and I legally changed my name last month. But it’s been a hard year, too. The chronic back pain I’ve dealt with since middle school is becoming a more persistent problem. It’s become evident that my biological family on the whole has no real intention of affirming (or even acknowledging) the fact that I’m transitioning, even if I give them explicit examples of how they can do this. Many people dear to me have experienced loss of many kinds and wrestled (or are wrestling) with particularly dark periods of depression and anxiety.

From a national standpoint, it’s been a year marked by racist police violence and the murders of young black men at the hands of cops, which has shed much (but, as always, not enough) light on how systemically ingrained racism is in the world, and how determined so many white people are to be oblivious to it. As is sadly the case every year, trans people all over the world suffered unspeakable violence and hatred; just this past week, a young trans woman named Leelah Alcorn took her life because she felt she had no future, because her Christian parents forced her into “reparative” therapy, isolated her, and took away any hope she might have had. We need to do better. I want so desperately to believe that we can.

There’s still much to be learned from 2014, but it’s also definitely time to start moving forward and learning what 2015 will bring. I’m not usually one for resolutions, but there are a handful of things I want to work on this year:

  1. I want to take better care of my body. I am less concerned with weight loss (I’ve been at a stable weight for a whole year for the first time in my life, and that is more important to me that whatever else that number is or is not), but I’ve had chronic pain issues I’ve been pretty much ignoring for a long time now, and it’s time I dealt with that. Testosterone has reshaped my body into something I actually appreciate, and both for my own sake and the sake of my loved ones (who take such wonderful care of me when I’m in too much pain to effectively take care of myself), I need to start treating it with more respect.
  2. I want to de-clutter and take better care of my living and working spaces. I have way, way too much stuff. My partner and I have plans to go through everything in our apartment over the next six months or so and discard or donate all of the things we’re not using, don’t need, and just aren’t excited about anymore. It’s an overwhelming prospect, but I think we’ll both be happier for it in the end. (I undertook the process of cleaning off my desk at work last week, and discovered I actually do like having an orderly workspace, despite my tendency toward clutter. I think it was the encouragement I needed to get started.)
  3. I want to do a better job of taking care of my loved ones. I have always been very good at being there when people reach out for help, but I have a long way to go in remembering to reach out to people who can’t do that for themselves. It’s been my goal each of the past few years to get better at creating safe spaces for the people who walk in and out of my life. I think I’ve succeeded in that, but there’s always room for improvement.

It feels weird to put myself first on that list, but one of the things I’ve had to relearn (and relearn, and relearn) over the past handful of years is that if I’m not taking care of myself, I really can’t take care of anything or anyone else. I’ve gained a more concrete understanding of what that means this year, and particularly related to the goals above: If I don’t take better care of my body, I physically can’t help my partner clean and de-clutter the apartment. I can’t pick things up off the floor right now. It’s a problem. I want to help, so I need to get my body back into reasonably working order. Additionally, when I’m in pain all the time, that decreases the amount of mental energy I have to take care of other people. Bipolar cycles can greatly affect how much space I have in my head and heart for other people’s problems, no matter how well I manage that, so I need to be extra certain that I’m regulating how much energy my body is taking away from that store, too.

2014 was a big year, but I’m ready to part ways with it. Here’s to a brighter 2015!


I’m not big on this holiday that’s mostly all about making colonialism look heroic. However, there’s certainly something to be said for taking the time to be grateful, and I have a lot to be grateful for this week.

  1. Last Thursday, I went to bed feeling a little stiff. Friday I woke up in pain. I tried to push through it, but when I realized I could barely make it down the stairs let alone to the bus stop, I decided to call in to the office and work from home. The pain got worse as the day went on, and my ability to move decreased drastically, to the point that I asked my partner to pick up a cane for me on his way home. I ended up needing the cane to get around all weekend long. This might seem like an odd story to start a list of points of gratitude, but there are two big things I’m thankful for in retrospect: first, that I have a partner who is super supportive and willing to adjust plans when my body won’t cooperate, and second, that even though I deal with chronic back issues, they rarely get that bad and the intense pain has so far been limited to a few days at a time.
  2. My name change hearing was Monday. I was joined by a volunteer from TJLP (the organization that helped me the day I filed for the change), and a friend who happens to be a minister (and who wore his clergy collar, just in case). The hearing lasted all of five minutes; the judge was kind. I have multiple friends whose name change hearings were before judges who were not at all understanding, asked invasive and unnecessary questions, and only granted the name change after making it very clear that they did not at all affirm my friends’ identities. I am grateful that this was not my experience; I am well aware just how lucky I am. I was also able to get my new driver’s license right after the hearing, and because Illinois prints their IDs while you wait, I walked away with my first form of ID bearing my chosen name (and a much better picture than my old ID, which was the thing that taught me that I have “resting angry face”).
  3. I changed my name with the social security office on Tuesday. I am thankful that the process was quick and (relatively) painless, that the clerk was helpful, and that I heeded my boss’s advice to go to the office in Evanston rather than the one downtown: I was in and out in 20 minutes.
  4. Both my direct supervisor and my department manager checked in when I got to work on Tuesday to ask how the hearing went. My manager said that he was glad they’d been calling me by the correct name all along, and glad that the government was on the same page now. The HR contact for our department has been helpful in letting me know what I need to send them to change my name in their systems. I am beyond grateful (particularly in light of the experiences that I have seen more than one friend go through after coming out at work) that my workplace has been supportive throughout the time I have been here. I am inclined to say that I do not deserve this kind of luck, but I think a more accurate statement would be that everyone in this situation deserves this kind of luck, and too few people have it.
  5. I’ve received many words of encouragement from many people this week, whether via text messages leading up to the hearing or via Facebook comments or a stop by my office to offer congratulations in person. Every kind thought has reminded me that I am surrounded by incredible communities of people who support me, and I am humbled by and grateful for every one of you. I’m a seriously lucky human.

Important Days

The second half of November is full of important days.

I can now count on one hand the number of days until I am legally Alyx.

I’m nervous. I’ve bought a new outfit and started making lists of what I need to bring with me (and what I need to leave at home – evidently, knitting needles are contraband at the Daley Center). I’m a little overwhelmed thinking about the number of agencies I’ll need to alert to the change when it’s done.

But I’m excited. The actual process itself might be a bit of a headache, but it’ll be worthwhile and make for fewer headaches in the future. I can’t wait to have ID with a name that matches my presentation…a name that fits me.

That’s not the only big day in this half of the month, though.

This past Monday marked four years since my partner and I went on our first date. (Next Wednesday marks four years since we figured out that we were both on the same page in terms of wanting to take a stab at this whole romance thing.) It’s been quite the journey, from several months thousands of miles apart to moving in together several states from where we met, through changing identities on both our parts. I have never known anyone who has made me feel so safe and comfortable, and around whom I can be so totally myself. It hasn’t all been sunshine and flowers, but I wouldn’t trade a single moment – all of them, even the hard ones, have been worth it. I will never understand how I got so lucky, but I hope I’m always grateful.

On a rather less sappy note – also coming up at the end of this month is the first birthday of this blog! I wrote my first Accidental Fudge post on November 30, 2013, and have managed to post something every single week for almost a whole year now. (In honor of the impending birthday, I’m giving the site a bit of a makeover; please bear with me, as things will probably change a few times before I’ve really settled on something.) I had no idea when I started whether I’d be able to come up with words every week (and I still rarely know until Wednesday evening what I’m going to be writing about), but I’ve done it anyway, and that’s pretty exciting. It’s the most consistent and dedicated I’ve ever been with any creative effort, and while I may not have gained a cult following, I’m still pretty damn proud of this little corner of the internet that I’ve claimed as mine.

Some Things Change; Some Stay the Same

It’s the first Thursday of November.

The first Thursday of November last year, I learned how to self-administer testosterone injections, and gave myself my first shot.

It’s been a year.

A year ago, I wasn’t entirely convinced that I was making the right choice. I was convinced, however, that I had to do something, and since starting HRT was suddenly an option that was open to me, I went for it.

And after a year, I have to say…I haven’t regretted it for an instant.

It’s not that I hated being a woman. I just…wasn’t particularly good at it. This body that I recreated with the help of hormones fits my soul in ways it never did before.

I am infinitely more comfortable and confident now. This doesn’t mean that I am comfortable and confident 100% of the time, but I waste much less energy on self-loathing than I used to.

The sound of my own voice rarely causes me to cringe anymore. On the best days, I love it. On the worst, I just realize that old speech patterns, just like any other habits, sometimes die hard.

I have an ever-increasing volume and distribution of facial hair. I realized this week that I have actually reached the point where I can shave in the morning and have stubble by the end of the work day. I’m sure there are men who find this annoying. I think it’s wonderful. And I’m learning to feel a sort of benevolence toward the hair sprouting pretty much everywhere else on my body. The hair on the top of my head may not be growing as quickly as it was…and it’s possible that I’m losing it more quickly than I used to. But I’m not any more afraid of balding than I ever was of going grey (which is to say, I’m pretty sure I can rock it however it plays out).

I’m still soft, and I have curves, but they’re distributed in some different places. My lower body is much more compact, where my upper body feels more solidly built. And for the first time since, well, the onset of my first round of puberty, really, my weight hasn’t fluctuated more than five pounds in the past year.

My Bipolar cycles have evened out to some extent. They’re still there, and still noticeable, certainly…but I have fewer days lost to feelings of madness, and it’s much rarer for me to feel like I’m out of control.

In a couple of weeks, I have a court hearing scheduled to legally change my name. I still have a few loose ends to figure out, but everything feels like it’s clicking into place.

I’ve been unspeakably lucky. I have a supportive partner, supportive friends and chosen family, and even a largely supportive work environment. I have dear friends on their own similar journeys who have not always been so fortunate, and I hope I never lose sight of how much of a privileged life I lead.

It’s been quite the ride, but I wouldn’t give it up for the world. Here’s to a year of adventure ahead!

The Obligatory New Year’s Post

It’s official: 2013 is over. It’s been a big year for a lot of reasons, and while it may be cliche, I think there is some value in looking back and looking ahead, and the start of a new year feels like a good/convenient/why not time to do that.

So for starters, let’s look back on 2013, shall we?

  • Sometime around the beginning of the year, I decided I needed to get back to job hunting, because eight unpaid days off over the holidays (and more unpaid days off after I threw out my back in the first week back) forced me to acknowledge that my job was neither what I wanted nor what I needed.
  • In January, I threw out my back. My partner was taking a nap on the futon, and I bent down to pat hir on the head, and couldn’t stand back up. I missed three-and-a-half days of work. I probably should have gone to the doctor, but I couldn’t handle the thought.
  • April was marked by another instance I shall not recount here when I should have gone to the doctor, but couldn’t handle the thought. I was too afraid of going in and being constantly misgendered by medical professionals.
  • In June, I hit my first quarter century.
  • At the end of July, I FINALLY got a new job, one that was full time and gave me my own health insurance plan. Suddenly I was in a work environment where I could be out, where I could be assertive about pronouns. It was a huge shift, and got my mind whirling out of control about the issue of physical transition, which had previously been nothing more than a very shadowy dream.
  • By the end of August, I was having pretty terrible panic attacks at the idea of social interaction anywhere that I wasn’t out and knew I would be read as female the majority of the time.
  • September 1, my health insurance kicked in. I had my very own plan for the first time, and a good one at that. I scheduled a doctor’s visit at Howard Brown Health Center for mid-September, thinking initially that I would just go in for a routine check-up, but realizing by the time the day arrived that I was going to ask about starting on testosterone.
  • When I called the clinic to schedule my other two appointments in the Informed Consent process, I found out I would have to wait until Halloween to continue the process. I grabbed the appointment, and told myself it would be okay, because it would give my partner and me time to discuss what I was doing.
  • It was okay. I have the best, most supportive partner ever.
  • November 7, 2013, I had my first injection of testosterone cypionate. I have never been so calm about a decision in my life as I was in that waiting room, even though my appointment wound up starting an hour after it was supposed to.

2013 has been quite the ride. Here are some things I’m looking forward to in 2014:

  • A shaving supply shopping date with my partner. (The peach fuzz is coming in!)
  • The facial hair that will necessitate the above. (I’m aware that this is going to take a couple of years, probably, before it’s really all there. But whatever.)
  • A trip back to Minnesota in February to watch one of my pieces (and the pieces of several other writers) be performed in The Naked I: Insides Out.
  • A deeper voice. (I’ve already noticed that I can hit more low notes with more volume when I’m singing.)
  • Learning new things at work.
  • Learning new things at home (about me, about my partner, about whatever manic obsessions I develop as time progresses).
  • The birth of my first nephew, and learning what it means to be Ommer Alyx.
  • Knitting more.
  • Writing more.
  • Reading more.
  • Expanding this blog.

It’s an incomplete list, to be sure. But I’m very excited to see what this new year brings!