I’ve not been around much the past few months. Some of you read what was effectively my “goodbye, at least for now” post and commented very nice things. I read and cherished every comment.
One of the most prescient statements was made by Elizabeth Merry:
Take your time and get to know yourself better. I think that’s what you are doing.— Elizabeth Merry, as seen in her comment
You’re pretty much right on the money, Elizabeth.
Though much of what I’ve thought about these past few months is personal, I want to share a few things with you. This post doesn’t represent a “return” to full blast blogging, but I hope it’ll at least explain a bit of what I’m doing instead. As a warning, some parts of this post may get darker than you may be interested in right now and all parts will be more political than you probably want. (Heck, it’s more political than I’d want!) I’ll mark the section that is dark, but suffice to say much of this will be distasteful to some readers.
Also, I apologize for two years of bold faced lying to everyone (and years before that of halfhearted lying), but I hope you will soon understand that I’d lied to myself for much, much longer.
My Conservative Upbringing
I know what you’re thinking: H.R.R. Gorman had Reagan Republican parents who were part of the moral majority.
No, I am the descendant of Dixiecrats (yes, they’re still real) who believe Jefferson Davis was a legitimate president. I grew up in a church that taught listening to your secular school teachers talk about evolution or Greek mythology would lead you to communism and Hell. THAT’S the level of conservative I’m talking about.
Because of just how far down the one-sided-thinking train my world existed, there are many things that I wouldn’t – possibly even couldn’t – question. We were far enough into the backwoods that there wasn’t anywhere to go if we weren’t safe at home. You either struggled to make it work, or… well, what happened to those other people wasn’t good either. Usually some combination of teenage pregnancy, death, jail, and/or drugs.
As a goody-two-shoes, I did what I thought I was supposed to. I shut up and didn’t question anything lest I be sent away somewhere. Perhaps because my mom was/is extraordinarily prudish, or perhaps because it was so very, very much a taboo subject, I was not allowed to ask my parents or any adult anything about sex or remotely related subjects. I knew that gay kids went to conversion therapy, but I didn’t really know what that was beyond “where bad kids go.”
I just knew something bad would happen to me if I ever told anyone about crying in the bathroom and praying that God turn me into a boy. That was, of course, assuming he didn’t answer me.
(He did answer – it just took a longer time than I’d planned, and it’s going to demand a lot more work from me than I’d expected at the time).
I have battled with the fear that God doesn’t want me for a very long time. Before I knew I was transgender (or, at least, before I knew the term and how to deal with the fact), I feared God had cursed me in such a way that I’d never make it to heaven. I supposed that I needed to be feminine because everyone told me to, because everyone told me it was my body and not my soul that mattered, but I resolved to be as masculine as I could get away with. When I left for college, for instance, I resolved not to date or get married because that would drag me down and I’d just be a problem.
While that last resolution lasted, oh, about one week into college as I began dating the man I’m now married to, that fear continued. Through pre-marriage counseling, in which my husband’s then-priest tried to convince me that I was deontologically doomed by the circumstances of my birth, and through a fight with my own church on the ability of deacons to be born female, I continued to fear that God didn’t want me. I’ve had spurts of intense devotion, and I’ve had spurts in which I felt so unwanted by the deity that I couldn’t stand to look at His book. I sometimes had this fear that I didn’t even have a soul, or this fear that women didn’t have souls and I was an unlucky man who was “born wrong.” From when I was 16 to when I was 26, I refused to sign up as an organ donor on my driver’s license because I was convinced God wanted to kill me for my organs. At 26 I gave in and became a donor because I was very depressed and tired of waiting for Him to pull the trigger. That fear ended only after The Lake.
At this point, I’ve reached a new view on myself, God, and our relationship. Somehow, coming out to myself allowed me to see that God had more of a plan for me, and that I’m not just here for my organs. My body became less of a horrible place, and God made more sense. I was here not because of a mistake, but because I was who He wanted me to be. I’m not “a man’s soul in a woman’s body”, but instead am a whole package that would not be me without being transgender. I feel more complete than I ever have in the past.
If you, dear reader, now think that I’m going to Hell, that’s your prerogative. It’s ok. I completely understand the belief and the concern.
NC House Bill 2
It was March 2016. I was slated to graduate with my master’s in May, then come back to North Carolina and seek my PhD.
And North Carolina’s General Assembly, gerrymandered as hell and as they are wont to do, passed a dumb bill that month. It shouldn’t have really come as a surprise to anyone, and I personally suspect that several – but I doubt it was all – proponents of the bill genuinely believed in their cause.
It was, as you may already suspect, the greatest of all North Carolina law-writing blunders (unless you count the gerrymandering): the infamous Bathroom Bill.
Before the Bathroom Bill was passed, I actually didn’t know what the term transgender meant. Banned from knowing a lot of information growing up and uninterested in learning during college, I had somehow made it to that point believing that people who got gender-confirming surgery were thrill seekers and short-sighted. I somehow was unaware you could go from female to male at all. When North Carolina’s House Bill 2 came out, I looked up more about this “transgender” thing and what it really meant.
The more I read, the more I thought to myself that these stories described much of my feelings for as long as I could remember. The more I read, the more I realized that “being female” doesn’t equal “suffering” as I had been taught. I learned that the type of suffering I endured, the suffering of not feeling like my body is me, of feeling like being female is the worst thing that could have ever happened, probably wasn’t even the same kind of suffering that my parents told me would be my lot.
I realized then that I was transgender. I realized that I wanted to have testosterone, and that there were good reasons I’d tried to push my hips inward during puberty with efforts to prevent their widening. There’s a reason I cried when I realized my voice wouldn’t drop, and there’s a reason I’ve tried to make my tits look as small as possible for as long as I can remember.
But I didn’t believe it, mostly because I was afraid. I now thought I knew why God hated me, and I worried that no one would want me anymore. I remained in denial and hid behind the specters of “statistics” and “trans isn’t real” for three more years.
I just couldn’t bring my lips to say it aloud, couldn’t bring my fingers to type it straightforwardly. It’s why, when I first got online with the blog, I hid my biological sex until I published my first short:
And it’s why, even then, I chose to lie to you. By the time I published the January News post linked above, I had decided to announce to my husband that I was trans and wanted to transition. I failed to do that, so I gave my bio to the Dark Divinations team with feminine pronouns and announced myself as female in the Late May Newsletter, also linked above.
But yes, by the time I wrote both of the above posts: I knew. I was sure. And I was a fucking liar.
A Drive By the Lake (it gets dark and a wee bit sexy)
One day in 2019, I was driving home from my job as a research assistant – a job which paid for my graduate studies. In and of itself, grad school was very stressful and horribly depressing.
But it wasn’t the only – or even core – thing that kept me down.
Many times on the drive home, I’d gotten horribly sad and had to pull over at the Food Lion grocery store or a church while I just thought about how much I hated myself. Most of the time it would be about how dumb I’d been at work, but sometimes it’d be about how I felt uncomfortable in my body. Those old prayers in middle school and high school would pop into my head, and I’d wonder and pray, “Why did God curse me?”
Those were the good days.
There were much, much worse days.
As I was driving by the lake on the way home, my long-term fear and belief that God had purposefully cursed me by placing me in a body with internal genitalia and horrifying weakness became too intense. I’d considered it before, but on this day the sadness was overwhelming: I decided to drive into the lake and die.
“God doesn’t want me – He just wants my organs. He wants me to die so someone better might live,” I thought. “I hate myself – I’m cursed. I don’t want to be a woman, and I can’t believe he did this to me!”
I screamed at this point, my hands stuck to the wheel and knuckles whitening. A calmer side of me thought, “Maybe you don’t have to be a woman. Just believe you are a man, when it comes to it. Let it happen.”
“No!” another part of me screeched. “That’s just the devil tempting me!”
“Is the devil tempting you to be a man, or is he tempting you to run your car into the lake and die?”
I realized there that I had a real choice: accept that I am a man or die. One of those options seemed a lot easier to back out of if it turned out to be a mistake. I’d been considering that I was trans for a while, and accepting it to myself and telling no one seemed a reasonable course of action.
The two posts below were borne of that decision, even though I was still lying to you. To my husband. To everyone.
Telling the Husband
It was January 9th, 2021.
We’d just finished a Google call and session of D&D with my husband’s brothers. The session was good; we’d had a wild ride against a disease (too on the nose for January 2021, but whatever). Despite this, there was one, mere seconds-long set of frames during the chat that destroyed me.
My sister-in-law walked into view of the camera, and it reminded me she was pregnant.
That I could become pregnant, which I didn’t and don’t want, without my permission.
That I had these parts that could lead to this horrible fate.
That I was weak.
That I hated myself and feared the consequences of living in a female body. I didn’t want this fate, and being trapped in this fleshy, hormonal prison was almost more than I could bear. I managed to get myself to our bedroom, but all I could do was bury myself in dirty laundry. I paradoxically hoped to be ignored until my demise while still desiring comfort I could not achieve alone.
My husband came up and pulled me out of the dirty laundry. He calmed me as he could, but words poured from my lips that I couldn’t take back. I babbled out strong hints that I had decided on a drive about a year and a half ago that I was a man. I suggested that I couldn’t take this lying any longer. Yet, I had this conviction that as long as I didn’t say it aloud, as long as I could maintain the lie, the longer I could be with him.
I was worried that he wouldn’t love me. No, not “stop loving” as in no longer want to be my friend, but “stop loving” as in no longer share all of my life, my soul, and my bed. It’s a selfish fear, really, but my heart was breaking as he pulled me from the dirty laundry that night.
How do you tell your husband, “Hey, I think you accidentally married a man”? How do you say, “Hello, beloved, we’ve been married 8 1/2 years and boy do I have a surprise for you”? Until I’d started asking myself those questions, I didn’t understand how bad a slur “trap” was. When you start worrying that you trapped someone you loved, even if you didn’t mean it, it feels bad.
And yet here I was, crying in a bed with my husband after just being helped from the laundry and into the covers. I held him tight because I knew he needed to be told. I had been trying to tell him for so long, but I couldn’t figure out how. At last he asked, “Do you want me to tell you what I think this is about?”
“Sure,” I answered. I’m pretty sure we were both crying by then.
“I think you… I think your, uh,your gender identity is, uh… is…”
“Mega fucked,” I filled in during his hesitancy.
I cried harder, because I was being serious.
He just hugged me and said, “Oh, I love you!” in part because he knew I needed it and in part because he neither expected any response from me nor ever “mega fucked”. After a later conversation, I discovered he was afraid I didn’t know I was trans and that I would be insulted by his conclusion. He’d decided a long time ago that he would quietly help me no matter what, and he would help me figure it out if it ever came to it. He’d known for a while before I told him. We’re going to work through this as we can and take it at a pace both of us can handle.
There were many tears that night. Since then, I’ve told a few people in real life, and a few other people in online life. And now, my wide array of internet friends, I tell you.
Where I’m Going With This
Well, for now this post is about as comprehensive as I can get in any sort of compact space. There’s additional details, plans, and GENUINE MOTHER-OF-GOD-FEARS about having to tell mine and/or my husband’s blood relatives. Everyone so far has been pretty accepting and kind, though, so maybe (hopefully?) my terror is unwarranted.
As far as you people here on the internet go? Honestly, the reason I’m telling you at all is because I made that stupid decision to lie a long time ago. I wanted to get a nice, long article out concerning my transition, then shove it away to a corner. This is still a writing blog, not a blog about my personal life. Though, I suppose, I’d be willing to forsake that if the article miraculously goes viral and a strange demand for this sort of content surfaces. It won’t, though – look at how long this article is.
Last, I’m willing to talk with you about transitioning in the comments, though I probably won’t go into much (if any?) detail regarding physical metamorphosis or sexual activities. I understand some, or maybe many, of you don’t agree with my conclusion or “lifestyle decisions”, and you know what? That’s ok. That’s up to you entirely. I am not here to convince you to give up those ideals. I am just here telling you why I’ve been absent and, in a long-winded fashion, try to explain why transition wasn’t just “the best” choice for me: it was the only choice.