Old Habits

When I was about 12 or 13 years old, I began to have strange dreams. Many had occult symbolism; others showed me a figure I associated with Death. Between the dreams and traumas I had already survived, I had issues relating to my peers. One of my dreams set me off in search of a local cemetery. I found a sense of calm there that seemed to be lackingCemetery1 in my turbulent life as an adolescent. I tried explaining to my parents the dreams and the cemetery, but it only served to make my existence even more difficult. I found it easier not to inform them of the frequency of my visits to the cemetery or the durations.

As time went on, I would adopt many of the trappings of those who typically hang out in cemeteries. I began wearing more and more black, which was another source of contention with my parents. Eventually, my parents accepted the black clothing, but it reinforced the idea that it was far more burdensome to fight for the acceptance of my truth than merely conceal it. By 15, I had bought my first spiked leather collar. We didn’t exactly have a shop for gothic fashion in our area, so it was purchased at a pet store. I began wearing black lipstick and matching eye make up soon after. My sophomore year of high school, my parents were my transportation back and forth to school. I used the time in the morning to switch into black clothing and put on makeup. After school let out, I would switch back into more “acceptable” attire.

So many years later, I was finally able to begin my transition. It’s a reality my teenage self never considered possible. Now I work to reclaim those other forgotten parts of my soul, those bits I found that resonated but surrendered along the way. GroCemetery3wing up is hard, and we often sacrifice far more of ourselves than necessary in pursuit of the “rat race.” Paying the bills can be done in so many ways, and fitting in is often a matter of finding one’s place in the world. Why is it that we tend to be open-minded toward others, yet we become so unimaginative and judgmental when it comes to our own lives? After many realizations and epiphanies,  I’m back to wearing studded collars and dark makeup. And like an echo that returns to the source, I’ve come home to a cemetery. There is a local cemetery where I meditate, read, and journal. I also work to clear some old paths and debris. If we all do a little, no one must do a lot. And for me, it is a labor of love.

I’ve grown up as a restless individual. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini rising. Perhaps it’s because I felt alone for so long. It’s possible that the trauma and years of distrust has been sown into my very being. Whatever the cause, my longing for tranquility is so strong, it can onlyCemetery4 be found in a cemetery. While other company brings politics, gossip, and small talk, the dead offer no trivial prattle or idle words. They are silent reminders that are time is finite and must be used wisely. It is easy to see which stones are for those who accomplished great wealth in their lifetime. It is even easier to see who was actually well loved. Their graves have fresh flowers and other offerings long after the date of passing. I am always moved by flowers or some other token left at an older grave, still remembered. To me, that is love. Love is facing the pain and discomfort associated with loss and death just to honor how someone impacted your life. So if you wish to connect with your past, see your future, or simply get your priorities in order, stop by your local graveyard. Just prepare for your world to come to a complete halt as you face the most grounding encounter in all of human experience: your own mortality.

Love and blessings from the Beach Gothme-10months2,
River Sunfeather


The Fight Continues. . .

In my last post, I wrote about the DMV refusing to change my gender marker. Much has happened since. I had contacted them two more times and wrote to the NC DMV Commissioner as a last resort. About a week later, I received a phone call from someone from his office. They had to consult with the Attorney General’s office. Not only am I still being denied, but now they are saying I have to take a new picture, as my “religious head covering” is no longer approved. According to them, “The NCDMV does not recognize the Wiccan Movement.” I was informed that any further objections would have to be taken up with the Attorney General’s office.

Being the only trans woman on a small island is difficult. But now the NC DMV and Attorney General’s office are aiming for my license unless I comply and retake my photo without the covering. All because I asked them to change the gender on my driver’s license and disputed them when they said no. If I was to move to NC and ask for a new license today, I have all of the necessary documents for a female license.

Because of the sensitive and legal natures of the topic, I will not be writing much more on it until I speak with an attorney. The blog and the fight will continue. At this point I’m not looking for advice, but prayers and support are welcome.

Love and blessings to all,

Discrimination and Motor Vehicles

On Friday, December 15, I went to update my driver’s license. I had my legal name change. I had a physician’s letter, stating I was in transition. Unfortunately, North Carolina only accepts letters stating surgery has taken place, but I had a trump card: a corrected and valid birth certificate. Because of a lot of transphobic policy-making and legislation, the law of the land in North Carolina has become “one’s gender is what is on their birth certificate.” According to HB2, we were to use the bathroom and locker facilities associated with our birth certificate. Now, I got to use it to my advantage. I had also updated my name and gender with social security, which means the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services would soon be listing me as female if not already. With the new SS card in hand, I had all the necessary documents and walked in for a new license.

There was only one teller at the driver’s licensing office that day. He immediately made it clear he was not going to change the gender on my license. As soon as I sat down and informed him why I was there, the reply was “I can change your name without a problem, but…” He said this before even looking over the details of the documents. He combed over the legal name change as if he were a lawyer. I was then informed I would need a court order that stated surgery had taken place. He phoned his boss and mentioned the name change and letter. He omitted social security and the birth certificate. He then repeated what he had told me before. We had a lengthy conversation, but it was if I was speaking to a brick wall. He was probably used to being debated by student driver’s and learned to tone people out.

I am not sure if this an actual policy or because we are in the middle of nowhere. I am not sure if it is just Pennsylvania birth certificates or just Pennsylvania birth certificates of trans folk. I have no idea why I am female with the part of the state that deals with human bodies but listed as male with the part of the state that deals with cars. There seems to be a rather large discrepancy. I have no idea where this will end up. It could end this week when I call customer service. It could end in several years with litigation and national press coverage. By the gods, I hope not. I’m not looking for a fight. I’m tired. The discrimination, the fighting, being treated like a second-class citizen wears on you. I’m tired from jumping through hurdles and everything being a struggle. The last thing I want is a fight. But NCDOT, what the actual eff??

Love and blessing,

Radio Interview On Warrior Within Release

Just a quick blurb. I was recently honored with an interview on the radio show Warrior Within Release with Alfred Willowhawk. Kyndyl Morgensraven and I appeared as guests, being two transgender individuals who have been through the Warrior Within Release program. Kyndyl is an amazing person and good friend. They were AFAB, transitioned to male, and now identify as third gender. Perhaps I should get them for an interview and do a piece on their gender. Alfred Willowhawk is, of course, also a dear friend, mentor, and amazing human being.

Catch the radio show on thecauldron.net this Friday at 9 pm EST. If you would like to learn more about becoming a spiritual warrior, tune in every Friday and sign up for the mailing list. Alfred has a number of books, all of which good. But if you are looking for the book, get the newest one, Warriors of the Millenium.

Love and blessings,
River Sunfeather
PS Thanks again to Kyndyl and Alfred for the wonderful time!

I am a Survivor

As I do every morning now, I tie a black cloth to my wrist. I repeat my daily mantra,
BlackWristtaking deep breaths between each sentence, “I am a Survivor. It’s over now. My abusers can no longer hurt me.” I close my eyes and try to let it sink in before starting my day. I am coping with PTSD from childhood abuse and bullying, and this routine helps to keep my demons at bay. Throughout the day, as things get too heavy or I realize that I am taking life too seriously, I try to consciously look at my wrist. I walk away and repeat my mantra. I’ve left many conversations open-ended, projects unfinished, and chores incomplete.

I will not go into the details of the abuse in this post, but would rather prefer to share with you some of my experiences with PTSD. Maybe you are suffering or know someone who is. If nothing else, I hope to help remove the stigma around mental illness.

My day begins at around 1 am. I wake up once, sometimes twice a night with feelings of extreme Guilt, as if I have done something horrible. I have been moved to write apology emails, text messages, and many letters at this time of night. I have apologized for not greeting someone at a restaurant. I wake up with intense Fear, believing I would be evicted, the utilities would be turned off, we would run out of food, or that I would be run out of my neighborhood or killed. I also wake up with inexplicable Sadness and Pain. Waking up in tears or screaming and having no idea why, I have been moved to believe that everyone hated me and was going to leave me. For much of my life, this was normalized to such a degree, I had no idea why it was happening. Now when I wake up with these feelings, I journal about them and return to bed. It is still almost every night.

I tie a piece of black fabric to my wrist and remind myself that the bad times are over, that I’m a survivor. I continue on with my day. I am a perfectionist and have dealt with high anxiety. I believed the excuses and blamed myself rather then accept the fact that those who sought to break me were doing just that. As a result, I served impossible standards. It was my fault for being weak, being emotional, being frail, being different, etc. Years later, I’m still chasing the same demons. I’m still hunting myself down for being too weak, not good enough, not going the extra mile. Even when I deliver a perfect product and a customer is thrilled, it is a hollow victory. All I worry about is how could I have done better.

Like Pavlov’s bitch, I still react long after the stimulus has been removed. I flinch when telling people I’m trans or in crowded rooms. My social anxiety is off the charts. I repeatedly ask how I look before leaving the house, because I believe I am unable to dress appropriately. In certain circumstances, I seek approval. In other circumstances, I lash out knowing that if it is not good enough, we will all be found unworthy, be beaten, and/or deserted. I believe that at any moment, my family will walk out the door and leave me. I believe that if we become friends, you will abandon me. I believe I am completely unworthy of the people that surround me. I know how it all sounds.

I meditate. I have meditated for years. I make art, write, listen to music, do yoga, and drink tea. I have days where life is fine, and I go about things as normal as anyone else, I imagine. Then I have a day where I sit on the couch, cry, and journal all day long. The memories come flooding back, so I write them. I am overwhelmed by emotions. I cry, I laugh, I cry some more, and I write. Sometimes, a conversation brings back a memory, a television show, a commercial. I hear song lyrics and am reminded of something a bully once said or father’s words. The emotions are a tidal wave in my brain, and I am there, running for my life, alone, waiting for it to be over.

I now face an uncertain future as I cope with PTSD as a trans woman. I now take everything one day at a time, sometimes one moment at a time. I am receiving help in the form of a therapist, family, and friends. My transition has helped immensely. It has allowed me to deal with things, to move forward, and to finally begin the process of discarding my abusers’ truths so I could live as my own authentic self. My truth is that this bitch is a wolf, and that I’m a survivor. And that means learning to accept that it’s over, and it’s time to let go.

Wolf by Teo

Love to you all,
River Sunfeather

If you know someone with depression, PTSD, or mental illness and is having a hard time, talk to them without judgment. Listen to their feelings. Ask them why they feel this way, and hear their story. If it is serious, get them help. Don’t ignore it. People with mental illness don’t need prayers and memes. They need the support of those around them without judgement. As a good friend put it, “Judge others less, love them more.”

Trans Lifeline – 877-565-8860
Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 800-273-8255
Further Reading: Book on Shadow Relationships

Throwing Out Expectations

It’s now been over a month and a half on HRT(hormone-replacement therapy). Many mundane, yet miraculous things have changed. My face has feminized so much, I am called “ma’am” at stores. My body shape has changed so much, I no longer fit into men’s clothing. My mood swings are mood roller-coasters. My breast development now requires the wearing of a bra. But something far deeper and more important happened. I let go of my expectations.

I had all of these grand ideas about how transition would go, what kind of woman I would be, and what I would look like. Not watching reality television, I was not lured by glamor or beauty. Instead, I had done a lot of research into feminism, women’s rights, and gender constructs. I would not be the stereotypical woman, overly emotional and concerned with fashion. I would not give into the pressure to “look good.” I would be conscientious to prove I was hardworking and concerned with the things that matter most: the environment, helping others, and of course, women’s rights. I would refuse to be oversexualized, put people with male privilege in their place, and would never settle for anything less than equality.

Right…. LOL!!!

While I believe we do get to choose our Path, I also believe our Path also chooses us. I have two daughters, who are probably more emotionally stable that I am right now. I am moved to tears by the word “kittens” and or even thinking “happy thoughts.” I’m also the most fashion-minded one in the house. I have heard the women in my life make terrible comments about their bodies. Body acceptance isn’t easy, but I feel it is crucial. Feeling comfortable and taking a little care in how you look is such a huge confidence booster. I’m still interested in things like the environment. Whether it’s making a purse out of an old jacket, a skirt from tattered bandannas, or a standing garden table out of an old box spring, I love to reuse things. It cuts down on waste.

I still do what I can do help others, but I’ve become so involved with transition that I honestly have become somewhat self-absorbed at times. I have found that it is typically better to wait until someone asks for help, and so that is what I do. I’m too busy trying to fix me. And though I still consider myself a feminist, it is for very different reasons than going in. I just want equality and realize I am now on the outside looking in, asking for/demanding it. I can now see male privilege in certain people. And when I try to point it out, I see male guilt. The situation is way more complex that I ever could have realized, and I am only just learning.

Things are so far different, I think I have become my own Shadow. The only emotion that has stuck with me, through it all is gratitude. I am grateful to be here. I am grateful for my supportive wife and her guidance. I am grateful for my bewilderment, for my disappointment, and for my letting go of who I was. I am grateful for the fact that I am still changing, and I have no idea who I will end up next. It’s time to throw out expectations like an old pair of ill-fitting jeans and embrace the new individual in the mirror.

Love and blessings,


HRT Begins…

I have known for a while that hormone-replacement therapy(HRT) is something that I wanted as part of my transition. The wait time to get see this particular endocrinologist was many months. After research, emotional and psychological work, I got myself into position to see her. She is one of the few endocrinologists who specializes in transgender hormone-replacement therapy in North Carolina. Finally on Monday, the 10th of April, I went to my first endo appointment.

My family and I drove several hours to her office. It was an emotional journey for everyone. I had a thorough discussion with the doctor about what the therapy entailed and the risks and benefits of the medications. I would be placed on a testosterone blocker as well as estrogen. Labs would be taken frequently and dosages would be adjusted until I was in the normal range for a typical female. I would also be tested for other things to ensure my safety.

What surprised was a comment about my life expectancy. She cited a few studies about introducing estrogen to post-menopausal women, but noted that there were no studies yet on trans women, as no one has really been doing this long enough or with enough numbers to know how it will impact life expectancy. Having a similar mentality to mine, she mentioned I “could be hit by a bus tomorrow. We just don’t know.” The quantity of life is completely irrelevant if the quality is crap. If you are depressed all the time and hate a major part of your life, good health is not something to be grateful for.

The hormones would slowly change certain aspects of my body. We went over what some of these changes would be. We also spent a good bit of time on what would not be changing. There are certain traits that I could eliminate through other options if I needed to pass or if those traits caused dysphoria. The entire appointment gave me a lot to think about and was quite a learning experience. It really gave me something to think over.

During the course of the conversation, she mention I would begin to see more colors as the shape of my eye changed. I decided to do some research into this and found the shape of the eye is different between men and women, allowing for a completely different perception of the world. If not only has my body been male, but an essential part of my nervous system, then perhaps being transgender is actually a miracle. All of the input I have been receiving about my body and even the world around me has been coming in through male filters, yet something deep within has still said, “No, I’m not listening. This is not who I am.” I feel like being trans is kind of like having evidence of the soul. And as I continue on my journey, I gain more confirmation…and acceptance of who I truly am.

Love and blessings to you all,