In the 1.5 years since my last post…

Many things have changed and some things haven’t.

I stopped posting deliberately because my mom found out about this blog and I felt awkward. (Hi mom!) Not that I didn’t want her to read what I’ve posted, but more that I felt safe to be absolutely honest under the guise of anonymity. With my cover blown, every new essay I attempted to write was done so knowing that some people who I value highly and relationships that I didn’t want to hurt might be reading my honest airings. My desire for raw honesty lost this battle, and thus my posting stopped abruptly with 10 drafts in various states of refinement just waiting for me to push the ‘publish’ button.

My silence here was further complicated by a very unexpected (and wonderful) career opportunity that presented itself about a year ago and took a lot of time and attention. This has been a major life change for the better for me and my family, and has allowed us to embark on new adventures of restoring a beautiful old home and other completely unexpected opportunities for personal learning and growth.

My relationship with Andromeda has become much healthier with its foundation on honesty and respect, and I am happy that we made it through the dark times a few years ago and I feel privileged to have her at my side. Our family has drawn closer and I took the scary step and came out to my children, explaining my wishes to be female and disconnect I felt with my body’s masculinity.

The other big life change happened about half a year ago when I carefully and deliberately decided to stop attending and supporting the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints with my time, attention, and money. I am anything if not planned and deliberate, and I treated this choice with the same level of conscientious thought as I have any other important choice. I was getting nowhere with the church but frustrated in spite of my efforts to be the best Mormon possible (warning, incoming Mormon-ese): fulfilling all my duties as well as I could, serving in multiple callings simultaneously including an Elder’s Quorum presidency (the men’s organization, of all things!), and regularly attending the temple, studying my scriptures, praying, and holding family home evening. I was the best home teacher I could be and gave a lot in terms of time and attention to my ward and stake.

In return, I felt happy for succeeding in my goal to be as good as I could and I also was happy to give to others. Some of the ways I was able to serve were particularly meaningful and I’m grateful that I’ve seen the good that comes from being giving and selfless. With these good things I also received shock after shock over what was said in General Conferences, the way that the Ordain Women events were handled (as an unaffiliated observer), and ridiculous PR statements from the church on a number of topics. I saw move after move made by a church in a reactionary, self-focused, and defensive pose – not characteristics of an organization led by God’s omnipotent omniscience. And there was still no place for me in the doctrine; no sanctioned hope.

And when I was absolutely honest with myself, I didn’t know that this church was true. I didn’t know that the leaders were men specially called by God, and there was no confirming sense that they were when I sought divine guidance on the topic. My attendance at and involvement with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints had become increasingly negative and the costs outweighed the benefits and this became increasingly apparent.

This post is not about why I no longer associate myself with the church so I’ll leave the amount of detail in this matter at that. Soon enough I realized that I didn’t need the church to have my own personal standards, be a moral person, or to serve and be giving to others. I didn’t need the church to (mis)teach my children about principles of moral, mindful living either. So I quietly slipped away after we moved out of the ward and I haven’t gone back. I don’t expect that I will.

What hasn’t changed is that I still am reminded on a daily basis how my body’s sex disheartens me. I don’t expect that this will change as long as I draw breath either. While I think that someday I might share this personally with my colleagues and acquaintances, it is still only my family and family of origin that knows this about me. I fear that the potential costs of this sort of authenticity to me and my family would be too steep. Thus I still express masculinity and have no plans to do otherwise for the foreseeable future.

In spite of this, however, I’m okay. I have many happy and positive things in my life now, ranging from my job, to good friends, colleagues, and family, to exciting and engaging projects. I am healthy and have hope for the future. Hope, of all things!

I have hope that I’ll be able to continue to learn and increase in ability. I have hope that I’ll be able to meet my familial responsibilities and teach my children about what’s most important in life. I have hope that God is pleased with my bravery and willingness to live according to my conscience and truth-seeking rationale. I have hope that I’ll be able to continue to be with Andromeda my love and that someday, even if it’s after my body has died, I’ll feel right and beautiful and capable of authentically expressing to her my love and gratitude for her. I have hope that constant peace and perfection can be in my future.

Though I haven’t always wanted to live, I want to now – there are unfinished tasks I need to accomplish and important things to do. There are lives to touch and beauty to create. My existence is far from ideal and although there are a few major things I wish I could change – my body’s masculinity and a few extra hours in the day would be a great start – I’m grateful for what I do have and I’m hopeful for what’s to come. I can do hard things and I can be patient.

Finally, I sincerely apologize for having gone so long without posting here. If you’re one of the approximately 3 people that read this, let this post assuage your anxiety – I am well and in an overall better state than I’ve ever been. I can’t promise that I’ll continue to post more, particularly as this blog was primarily founded to explore how gender dysphoria and mormonism intersect. Now that I’ve left half of that equation behind, I’m not sure how much more I’ll have to say on the matter… suffice it to say that they don’t intersect very well.

Thanks for reading!

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My experience with Gender Dysphoria – Part VII

This is the seventh of a sequence of posts in which I describe my personal experience with concerns and confusion over my gender.  This was hard to write and even harder to put out in public.  Please be kind.  This part contains my the events from my wife’s plans to divorce to the present.  Part VI can be found here.

Though it was only a year and a half ago, I remember very well when my wife of over eight years informed me that she had started to file for divorce.  We were on our way out to a family Halloween party.  I spent the whole party going over the biting irony that my wife had taken the first steps to leave me unbeknownst to anyone else there.

I was heartbroken.  It had been four months since when she’d left for the week.  It had been nine months since I’d opened up myself and my long-held desires to her.  I had done my very best to be loving, kind, and respectful.  I had taken away all my expectations.  I was living for the family.  I was doing whatever I could to be good and to try and keep her from breaking our family apart.

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My experience with Gender Dysphoria – Part VI

This is the sixth of a sequence of posts in which I describe my personal experience with concerns and confusion over my gender.  This was hard to write and even harder to put out in public.  Please be kind.  This part contains my disclosure to my wife and the turbulent events over the next year.  Part V can be found here.

I had been silent for too long.  A few months after realizing that maybe I wasn’t consigned to the depths of hell after all for my constant desire to be female, I decided to tell Andromeda.  I had considered somewhat the ramifications of what I was about to tell her, but I hadn’t really put myself in her shoes completely.

I was also perhaps a little overconfident or at least unrealistic in my expectations of how she’d take it.  To begin with I was still completely overjoyed with this new understanding and insight I had gained.  A huge amount of guilt was suddenly lifted off my shoulders and I had more hope than I had ever had.  I also had felt like she might already suspect it, as in spite of my best efforts to appear normal, from my perspective little truths and evidences had started to slip out here and there over the past seven years.

I wasn’t confident to the point that I thought it wouldn’t matter at all, though.  I realized the gravity of this deceit, and I knew that she was under no obligation to stay with me if I wasn’t what she wanted.  I knew that by revealing this I could very well be initiating the beginning of the end of our relationship.  But I couldn’t go on any longer.  I had hope that things would work out alright.

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My experience with Gender Dysphoria – Part V

This is the fifth of a sequence of posts in which I describe my personal experience with concerns and confusion over my gender.  This was hard to write and even harder to put out in public.  Please be kind.  This part contains the process through which I ceased to view myself as damned for my desires to be female and my decision to tell my wife.  Part IV can be found here.

Andromeda and I had made some uneasy amends after our falling-out over the bedrest incident, but nothing was actually solved.  The pot had boiled over, but it was still simmering and our relationship was in no better of a place.  To add to this, life had suddenly become much busier and complicated with two more infants and many other unexpected life complications (traveling for work, unexpected financial troubles, vehicle accidents, etc.).

I had started to think a little more openly and rationally about my beliefs and feelings of dissatisfaction with my gender as well.  To start with, by living outside of Utah and Idaho I had met many non-members who had forced me to reconsider my previous world-view as Mormons being good and everyone else bad, dangerous, or at least untrustworthy.  (Note: this is not a doctrine of Mormonism!)  Many of these people had different standards than I.  Some of them had different sexual orientations.  I realized that when all was said and done, sexual preference wasn’t much different than any other preference, such as race or even hair color in terms of having any bearing on how good or trustworthy an individual was.

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My experience with Gender Dysphoria – Part IV

This is the fourth of a sequence of posts in which I describe my personal experience with concerns and confusion over my gender.  This was hard to write and even harder to put out in public.  Please be kind.  This part contains the experiences of the first 7 years of my marriage, up to the point that I told my wife about my wish to be female.  Part III can be found here.

Getting married was great, but had the opposite effect I had hoped with regards to my concerns over my gender.  In fact, if anything, it was harder because now I was now in the intimate presence of a woman and I was reminded on a regular basis what I lacked.

Like we did in courting, we moved fast after being married also.  While I continued my studies (in an area I didn’t like but felt I had to pursue to support a family) Andromeda dropped out of school, got a job and soon got pregnant.  With that our ‘honeymoon phase’ ended quickly.  She was incredibly sick.  She was spending her time working and being sick for our child, and in return I was a beast.  I was unhappy and stressed about what I was doing in my studies, I was stressed over how sick she was and how rough it made my life, and on top of it all I was more stressed than ever over my unhappiness with my gender.  I tell you, I really was being a self-absorbed beast.  I look back on my selfishness and mistreatment of my wife with great regret.

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My experience with Gender Dysphoria – Part III

This is the third of a sequence of posts in which I describe my personal experience with concerns and confusion over my gender.  This was hard to write and even harder to put out in public.  Please be kind.  This part contains my college years from after my mission up to my marriage.  Part II can be found here.

Things had changed at home while I was on my mission.  My family had moved, my mom and stepdad were now married, and the family I returned to was very different.  I hated it, actually.  To make matters worse, I hadn’t planned ahead and was stuck with a nine month wait until I could go back to BYU-Idaho.  I disconnected from my painful reality and spent my time working, exploring the internet and studying languages, linguistics, and the guitar.  I didn’t do anything social since all my friends from high school were away at school, married, or on missions still.  I honestly don’t remember much from that time other than that I hated being at home but I had nowhere else to go.  This, together with the fact that I had failed in my mission to cease desiring to be female, increased my discouragement and isolation greatly.

One evening my mom confided to me how my stepdad had expressed to her his doubts over my sexual orientation.  He thought I was gay.  While she didn’t come out and say it, she was questioning it herself.  Panicked that I wasn’t keeping up the appearance that I was ‘normal’, I assured her that I was not attracted to men (the truth) and that I was just having a hard time transitioning from being a missionary (also somewhat true, but not the primary reason I wasn’t dating).  I felt even more pressure that I needed to date to do things the right way, still utterly confused about what I was feeling and what was stopping me as I had no trouble identifying girls I was interested in.

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My experience with Gender Dysphoria – Part II

This is the second of a sequence of posts in which I describe my personal experience with concerns and confusion over my gender.  This was hard to write and even harder to put out in public.  Please be kind.  This part contains my high school and mission experiences.  Part I can be found here.

My transition to high school was difficult, partly because my family had planned on moving that summer and had to postpone the move by four months.  So I had left 9th grade telling all my friends that I wouldn’t be back next year only to be there for the first semester of my 10th grade year.  This coupled with the hard transition from junior high to high school made for an awkward start to the school year.  Once we finally moved things didn’t get much better as I moved to a smaller high school that included 9th grade, so friendships and cliques there had already been established over the last year and a half.

Making friends at my new school was very rough and took a long time.  I was not at all outgoing so if I hadn’t been so successful academically and placed in positions of attention, I might not have ever been included in a group.  But thanks to the size of the high school, I ended up being in all the same advanced academic and arts classes with the same people.  I was also surrounded by the same people in my extra curricular endeavors and then as a senior I had the opportunity to be on the Seminary Council.  Fortunately, by my senior year I had a good group of decent friends and we hung out together on a pretty regular basis.  (On an interesting side-note, many of my friends from elementary school, junior high, and high school, have since turned out to be gay.  I’m not sure if this is a factor of my own gender issues or simply that most of my friends were also of the more creative and artsy sort.  A counselor once told me that people with ‘sexual issues’ tend to be drawn to one another, even unknowingly.  I don’t know if that’s true.)

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My experience with Gender Dysphoria – Part I

This is the first of a sequence of posts in which I describe my personal experience with concerns and confusion over my gender.  This was hard to write and even harder to put out in public.  Please be kind.  I’ll discuss my earliest childhood memories here up through junior high or around when I was 16 years old.

I cannot remember ever not wishing to be female.  My earliest memories involving gender revolve around my interactions in playing with my siblings.  I am the oldest of the children and my younger siblings are very close to me in age.  Growing up we were best friends, fought rarely, and played together all the time.  We’re all very creative and imaginative, so we’d often play pretend.  We’d be grown-ups, teenagers, dinosaurs (The Land Before Time influenced us greatly!), or other animals.  Almost invariably, I’d pretend to be a female animal, dinosaur, or human.  This cross-gender pretending wasn’t done by my brother or sisters, but none of them ever seemed bothered by it.

I played regularly with both ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ toys… I had some Transformers, My Little Ponies (Firefly and Magic Star were my favorites!), Glofriends, but most of all I loved Legos.  As I got older, my interests continued to straddle both stereotypes.  I was very interested in arts and crafts, computers, music, math and science, painting, video games, and crochet.

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