Having an internet presence is a constant balancing act.

I love having this blog. I love that it makes me slow down long enough to write every week, often about things I might not otherwise take the time to think about.

But it’s always a balancing act. How much do I put out into the vast expanse of the internet? How much of my life am I willing to share with friends and strangers? When can I let myself vent about specific people or situations, and to what extent, and when do I need to just keep quiet?

I’ve been dealing with some pretty major emotional stuff lately, and I haven’t known how much to share here. But I think I need to say something, because I have a feeling it’ll come up on its own sooner rather than later, and I want to give some context before it does.

I haven’t spoken to my family of origin since March.

I just wrote 1000 words of explanation, but I am not going to post them, because this is part of the balancing act: I do not want to contribute to further drama. Suffice it to say that right when things seemed to be getting a little better, they turned around and got a whole lot worse, and I had to cut ties in order to maintain my sanity.

I don’t regret the decision to establish some distance. (Boundaries are a thing I’ve always struggled with, and it’s become very clear that I came by that honestly.) But it hasn’t been easy.

I’ve also recently realized that I’ve been avoiding dealing with how I relate to my body. Dysphoria, for me, has mostly manifested in me being very detached from my body…of course, once I realized this, remaining detached got harder, and now I’m painfully aware of my discomfort with my body.

Starting next month, I’ll be on an insurance plan that will make it a lot easier for me to see a therapist, so that’s my plan at this point, because I have a lot of feelings about family and about my body that I need to process, and my partner shouldn’t have to be the only person in the world to listen to me blather as I try to work through those things.

So that’s where I’m at: seeking balance. Whether I achieve it is still hit or miss, but I think I’m getting there. Thanks for coming along for the ride.



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!

Happy Anyway

I’m sick. I tried for a while to convince myself it was just fall allergies, and maybe it started that way. But it’s become evident in the last few days that I do, in fact, have a cold (which may turn into something even less fun today, since I got my flu shot yesterday).

On top of that, it’s been pretty overcast the past few days. Yesterday’s dreariness in particular made me acutely aware of how much my mood and general ability to be an adult are influenced by the weather. When it’s cloudy for more than about 24 hours, all I want to do is hide in a giant blanket nest and not come out again until it’s sunny.

But you know what?

I’m still pretty happy.

Because, really, life is pretty good. I might be feeling under the weather, but there are still reasons to smile:

Tomorrow is Halloween. It also marks three years since I first tried on the name Alyx and found that it fit. It fit so well that it was briefly terrifying, because I knew exactly what sort of precipice I was stepping over. But the terror quickly gave way, because it felt so…easy. Comfortable. Right. Pronouns may still be a weird thing for me to navigate, and I’m not always sure exactly what is going on with my relationship to my body, but my name? That’s mine. There are no questions there.

In a few weeks, I will legally become Alyxander. I will have an ID card that matches my actual identity. And HR now knows and has told me what they need from me to change things over in their systems. I have all of the prerequisite paperwork together; it’s just a matter of waiting, now. I’m nervous, but mostly, I’m excited.

And, though it’s an exceedingly silly thing, I bought aftershave for the first time this week. It smells kind of like it belongs to a curmudgeonly old man, and I love it. This may be the thing that pushes me into shaving more than once a week. (Not that I don’t like shaving, because I actually do: I have a wonderful double-edged safety razor that I bought myself as a “yay, I started testosterone” present, and a brush and some great soap that I got from my partner as a Christmas gift last year, and I find the whole ritual kind of soothing. I’m just lazy. Not so lazy that I won’t link to all of my shaving gear in a blog post, apparently, but lazy enough that I only end up shaving when I look really scruffy, which takes about a week these days.)

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.