Of Warriors and Faeries

Bravery does not feel like being courageous. It feels like being terrified.

I have reached that awkward stage in my transition. I am doing things that are “traditionally” female, yet I have a body that is still recognizably male. This makes many of those around me, especially those with traditional values, uncomfortable. By being open about my transition and talking about transgender issues, I can alleviate some of their fears and worries. I will not lie. Every time I speak on the issue, I feel a tinge of my own fear rise up.

When I first came out to my closest friends, I was terrified. I expected to lose them. I expected to be judged and ridiculed. When I told my family, I expected the same. Though there was some pushback from family members, my being transgender has not cost me friends or family members. I have been lucky. Though it has put some distance in certain relationships, it has brought others closer. I am aware that many trans individuals are mistreated and many have sacrificed to get us to this point. I am under no illusions I also take a certain amount of risk, and I am grateful for everything I have. But it was not my awareness of other trans folks and their sacrifices that made me afraid but my awareness of gender constructs. It was the social programming from friends, family members, and even complete strangers. All my life, I had been told, “be a man” and been made keenly aware of the consequences of letting people down in that regard.

To me, one of the greatest battles we fight is not the one where we fight for our rights or even the one for normalcy. Though those battles are important and must be fought, it is in my opinion, a far more important battle that is waged in the mind of a trans individual. For us, one of the greatest trials is overcome simply anytime we tell someone. It is the battle we win every time we explain what we do and the details of our transition and our life. If someone comes out to you, they just won a major conflict. Be supportive. Show encouragement. Thank them for sharing this part of themselves with you. And if you know someone who isn’t out yet, do not shame that person. You have no idea what kind of demons that person may face every day of their life.

I believe the ultimate battle that anyone must face is for self-acceptance. That initial knowing and accepting of oneself is crucial. One must face their darkest fears and find self-love deep inside. Either one accepts themselves for who they are, and they are willing to fight, OR they give up, saying something or someone else is in the way. But contrary to what we learned in English, “accountability” begins with the letter “I” and accepts no excuses. This life is about you and no one else. Are you and your dream worth it? Are you willing to fight to make your own wishes come true? It is never too late.

Blessings,
River ♥
May all your wishes come true.

blue-fairy

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Coming Out

Just to let you all know, I am a trans woman. I know many of you are family and friends with questions about this journey. So I have put together this FAQ, based upon questions I have been receiving from you, the family and friends. I understand that this is not just a transition for me, but for everyone in my life as well. Please, remember I write this with all the love in my heart. ♥

Q. Are you and Laura staying together?
A. Absolutely! Laura has been supportive as I have gone through this exploration of self. As it turns out, she has done some self-exploration as well, and I have been supportive of her changes. We believe people evolve and change, and that it’s what it means to be human. We are still very much in love and still hope to grow old together.

Q. What about your daughters, Lilly and Aiyana?
A. We have taken steps to ensure they have support as they adjust to the changes. So far, they seem to be doing just fine. In fact, they both seem happier with the new me.

Q. Does that make Laura a lesbian?
A. Yes. Though according to this article, most women have been attracted to the same sex. It’s really nothing new.

Q. What do I call you? What pronouns should I use?
A. Thank you for asking. I prefer to be addressed as “River” and the pronouns “her” and “she.” I am going to work on changing my legal name at some point, but it is a process for many trans folk. Perhaps we can make a deal. How about I practice patience while you adjust to my new name and pronouns, and you practice patience while I go through the process of changing my legal name?
Name change and pronouns can be important for some trans individuals, as it helps them adjust and become comfortable, as they transition into their new lives. Little things like this also help them to see that they are supported by the people around them.

Q. What steps are you taking?
A. Transition is not a straight line, but rather a long check list of gender-affirming activities and actions. Some of these things one individual might deem necessary while another does not. And a few of these things may be easily attainable for some, while out of reach for others. “Transition” is the process of going through one’s personal list and getting all the things they feel necessary for them to fit their target gender. It is a process that usually lasts years, if not a lifetime for some. It can include hormones, voice training, electrolysis, relearning social queues, counseling, name changes, surgeries, and much more.
I began with meditation, counseling, and then electrolysis. I try not to think of what has to be done, but rather what is being accomplished. Otherwise, it can be rather intimidating. For instance, the electrolysis will take 18 months or more. If you wish to stay updated on my transformation, simply subscribe to this blog.

Q. Have you always felt like this?
A. Answering this is not simple. When I was younger, I knew that this was who I was and what I wanted. For years, I longed for it. But because of certain circumstances, I felt that I had to take this part of myself and bury it. I did not feel I could survive and still honor my female self. All I can say is that I grew up in a harsh environment. Many years later, I began meditating and these feelings came bubbling back to the surface. So for about two years, I have explored various gender energies in meditation. At the same time, I have reconnected with those old parts of myself that were buried so deep inside. Meditation is a wonderful way to heal old wounds. Now in order to continue, I must live authentically and be who I was always meant to be, instead of what was wanted for me.

Q. What prompted this?
A. When I peeled back enough layers to see myself for who I really was, my dear friend and teacher, Alfred Willowhawk put a figurative mirror in front of me. It was then that I realized that I had been chasing everyone else’s dream for me. I had never truly pursued what I wanted for myself and had to become what he calls a “spiritual warrior.” We all have a tendency to do this, and this applies to things other than gender. To learn more about this kind of thing, please visit his website, Warrior. He has a radio show, devoted to such topics as becoming a spiritual warrior and your authentic self. It can be heard here, The Cauldron, Fridays at 9 pm eastern.

Q. Does this new life make you happy?
A. It feels like being home after a really really long grueling day. I am unsure of how else to phrase the feeling. It is similar to the feeling of wearing your favorite jacket on a chilly day, or one of those days that makes you realize how grateful you are just to be alive.

Q. I miss the old you and don’t want you to change. How can I express that?
A. By speaking with me. You can tell me exactly what you miss and why.

Q. Are you getting the surgery?
A. That is between my wife and myself. I love you, but I don’t ask you about your plumbing, as I see it as being irrelevant to my life.

Q. Is it true that once you join a pride movement, there’s a musical number?
A. LOL This is my choice. Here is Laura’s. Enjoy!

Q. I have more questions!
A. If you are curious, try googling it and doing some research. If you have personal questions or would like to know more, just ask or message me. If you are interested in seeing my transformation, please just follow the blog. I am also working on a resource page with a list of transgender internet resources. If anyone has more sites to add to the page, please let me know. Thank you!

Thank you and blessings to you all,
River and Laura

Early Electrolysis Results

If you are considering electrolysis, do your research. If you are considering doing electrolysis at home, do a lot of research. It cannot be said that my path is the best, good, or even decent. I will not say it is has been bad either. I can only vouch that my path has simply been mine. You need to find yours.

I’m not an expert, but I will share what I have learned. There are a few methods of “home electrolysis,” but only one is permanent. It is also dangerous. It involves inserting a needle-like probe into your pore, along the hair follicle. It passes a light electrical current through the root of the hair, killing or weakening it. It is like an electrified mosquito bite. You then tweeze the hair, plucking it from your skin. It is not a pleasant experience. Afterwards, your face looks like you were attacked by a swarm of mosquitoes. Then redness and swelling pass after a number of hours. Other people have reported a day. I am using the lightest settings on the electrolysis device. If you were to have a professional do it, it would be the same technique but more efficient and with better training. There would also be someone to be held accountable if/when there is a mistake.

There are many other details I am leaving out. One may have to retreat the same hair numerous times, due to it not being in the right growth stage. One has to make sure everything, including your skin is disinfected. It could take 18 months to clear a beard. The purpose of this post is not to inform you on how to do it, so much as to inform you of how I have handled it.

I am going to post a link for the device I use for those curious or interested. That said, I urge you to do research first. You are taking your own skin into your own hands. If you have the means, go see a professional. Here is the device on Amazon:  https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B00011JN5G Please read some of the reviews for tips and hints on using the product.

And this is the fantastic-feeling tea tree cream for applying afterwards: https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B000HZVS2M

Shaving is a rite of passage for many boys on their way to manhood. For me, it was an awkward moment. I’ve always hated shaving, not just because it was a chore but because it felt strange. I never did get used to it. But electrolysis can be just as bad if not. I will admit there were days I cried about it in the beginning. This is not just taking bad-tasting medicine. This is Harry forcing Dumbledore to drink water that tortures him in order to get to a horcrux. Many report taking tylenol before sessions to deal with the pain. I use meditation and deep breathing. It has now been a month’s worth of working, every three to four days for an hour at a time. Recently I stopped at a store with a friend and used the restroom. I looked in the mirror and noticed I appeared differently. It took a minute to figure out the difference. There are now small patches on my face that don’t fill in. When the changes become a little more noticeable, I will post pictures. Yep. Totally worth it.

There are really great resources out there on electrolysis. The following pages I found to be helpful starting places. I have also learned that some dermatologists offer electrolysis. If anyone has other resources, feel free to post them in the comments. I will post them on my resources page. Maybe I will give electrolysis and hair removal its own section in the future.

http://www.tsroadmap.com/physical/hair/index.html

http://www.electrology.com/

Ankle-deep in Transition

I saw the shores of transition and got my toes wet. We spoke. We spoke on the ramifications and my feelings. I thought long and hard about the impacts. I prepared to take this journey alone. I understood that the people around me will need space to get used to the changes I make. Others will not support the new version of me. I understood… And I waded in.

I’m now ankle-deep. I’m learning to self-administer electrolysis. I’m training neck muscles to feminize my voice. I’m waiting for a referral for an endocrinologist. And that’s just the physical. Certain people are now addressing me by new name and chosen pronouns. I’m going through my list and figuring out who should be informed before I go public. If you don’t get informed and think that you should have been, know that I’m going through a lot. It wasn’t personal.

I am the only transgender person on my island that I know of. When you live in a community this small, going “stealth” is pretty pointless. Everyone knows your business and your history. It becomes a matter of when I feel comfortable making the switch. When one is in ankle deep water, it is a little early to try swimming, but that does not mean one cannot drown. I need to take it slow. Things are already overwhelming. Family members are drawing lines. I have found love and support in unsuspecting places. It’s a crazy time and place to be a trans-woman.

This blog is going to document my transformation. It will also be a place for venting and occasionally for bragging. If any of you are worried about me or where I’m headed, I take leave of you with this quote.

“I am old now: gray, wrinkled, tired, bloated, and my joints ached, too. But I am ready to come into my full destiny, as my childhood dreams predicted, as a Neo-Amazonian Pirate Queen of my own vessel: firing cannonballs at the worldwide culture of patriarchy in the name of all that does not suck.” – Roseanne Barr

Good night and blessings to all,

River

A Day of Silence

Silence

I decided to give up speaking for a day. What I gained was acceptance.

It began with me noticing that we speak to change things. We only speak to change something in our external environment. Even when we only seek to inform, we are seeking to change the perspective of another, if only temporarily. It reminded me of cats. Adult cats never meow at other cats in the wild. They learn only to meow at humans, because it’s a language we understand. They learn to speak up when they are hungry, need attention, or something of the sort. Meowing gets the human to change the environment for them in a way that they cannot. We taught them the great language of complaining.

I speak the most in my house, so I decided I needed to give it a rest. I told my family what I was doing. It is not until you silence your voice that you realize its power. I made sure we didn’t have any big meetings that day. I hugged my wife and wrote one last note on the white board for our two girls. “You may speak. I will not. I love you, both.” Then, I began to listen. I contemplated what it really meant to listen versus to speak. What had I been missing? If I had been trying to change things, what if I spent more time just learning to accept? I carried a small notebook with me when I absolutely needed to communicate. I also stayed off of my phone and facebook. I spent a great part of the day in meditation. The meditation didn’t make it easier to stay silent. The silence made it easier to meditate.

A further experiment came out of this. It would become a game of shadow. Times when I would want to correct or change things in my environment, I would write it down in my book but not show it to the person. If one of them forgot their manners, I would write down “manners” instead of saying something to her. When they began arguing, I stayed out of it and allowed them to sort it out themselves. But I wrote it down. This is an excellent way to really get to know the true you. All the stuff we tell others not to do? We do it. At some point, we learned from someone that these behaviors were “bad,” “evil,” or “wrong.” And because we just can’t keep your personal expectations to yourself, we go around trying to fix everyone around us or complaining about what we think is wrong with them. Those horrible behaviors might make them happy, keep them sane, or might even do us some good, but we are too often on our high horse to think of this perspective.

To sum up, I’ve learned most communication is unnecessary. Most people are just looking for someone to listen, not someone to fix their problems. I vent from time to time when I’m stressed. It happens. More importantly, I learned every single thing you could possibly say to another person, you should say twice. Say it once to them and say it again while looking in a mirror. It will make you think twice before speaking too harshly or directing negative energy. Some people are difficult for a reason. Other people are nice for the same reason. Their methods get them what they want. Somewhere along the line they learned that their particular method worked best. Returning the favor reinforces the lesson. And yes, there is always a time to be difficult and a time to be nice. Balance is being flexible. But it is not our role to fix everybody else or their life. It’s our role to fix ourselves. Lend an ear when it’s needed, but your words have power. Use them sparingly and lovingly.

In the future, I will seek to use mine with more love. If there is a perspective I think people need to learn more about, it is one of gratitude. I am very happy with my life. I am glad that my throat chakra is catching up with my heart chakra. 😉
Thanks and blessings,
Waterfall Sunfeather

Listening

The Mirror Challenge

Everyone has insecurities about their body, and it is little wonder. With images of models and actors in their prime and who have been hand selected for their exquisite outer beauty, the ordinary person has not a chance when being compared to them. We also don’t have the money for the clothes, the make-up, the hair, the personal trainer, etc. But who is doing the comparing? How many times has our loved ones really told us we need to look like that? We do the comparing. We have been programmed to compare ourselves to everyone else. We do it out of nature and habit. It’s how we learn. If we cannot compare, we cannot see if we are doing something correctly. Unfortunately, we apply it to body image. And while we might not have all the money, we do have personal power. And we have the ability to shift our perspective. And now it’s time to our body back.

Some of us love the mirror. Some of us hate it. The challenge is to look in the mirror for 5-10 minutes every day. No make-up. No clothes. Hair down. Just you as you are. And tell yourself that you are beautiful. Tell yourself that you are ok with how you look. And tell yourself that you forgive yourself. 5 minutes a day, every day. Until you mean it. That is my challenge to all of you. If you don’t do this, then maybe nobody else will. And if you do this and mean it, it won’t matter what anybody says about your body. You will never compare or be compared again.

We know that society’s standards have been wrong, and they’re slowly changing. See the Ugly modeling agency here. Robyn Lawley, a plus-size model graced the inside of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue this year. Read about it here. Read about a beautiful ad campaign from ModCloth here. And when society(like Victoria’s Secret) does throw us a rotten fish, we fight back like this and this. The people in these articles had to come to terms with their bodies. Now, it’s your turn. Go out there give your body some love.

Waterfall