feature image via mooncandy5.tumblr.com
trans*scribe illustration © rosa middleton, 2013
This is about cisgender people, and men, and the person I love the most, and myself, and how they’re all going to hurt me. They’re going to hurt me so bad that I might confuse my life with a nightmare sometimes. This is about the first time I ever did mushrooms, and it’s about how being trans* affects everything, even bullshit bourgeoise attempts at pharmacological liberation.
We drove out to the mountains for my first trip, because Bobby and Willow insisted that nature was the only appropriate place to eat mushrooms. It’s the middle of February though, and we’re out in the woods for less than an hour before the cold drives Willow and I shivering back to the car while stout, stoic Bobby quietly accompanies us. He loans Willow his jacket and she immediately disappears inside it. He doesn’t feel the cold, or if he does he won’t ever show it.
The drugs had already started their work on Willow before we started walking, and the exertion metabolizes them faster. She stumbles frequently, and looks at me like she hasn’t seen me before, and apologizes to the stones when she scuffs her feet on them. I fall into the trap of the newbie, imagining myself immune to the experience, with little more to look forward to than a slightly different kind of being stoned, when my stomach turns and the forest ripples around me. Willow turns to me, her face glowing like a pagan sun.
“Do you see it?”
One time, in kindergarten, I went to the bathroom and regarded my genitals. They seemed hollow, like a rubber prosthesis, and I killed time while my little bladder evacuated by searching for the seam where the doctor had sewn this strange business over my vagina. This occupied my thoughts for a little while, well into recess, and then someone asked if I wanted to pretend to be Power Rangers. It’s important to keep a sense of perspective. Decades later I will trot out this memory like a show pony and present it to therapists and dubious peers in an effort to prove the validity of my own lived experience, leaving out the part where I was distracted by pop culture. So far none of them have related the moment they knew they weren’t trans, so I still feel I have the edge in these exchanges.
The dashboard of Bobby’s Subaru is turning into a spider’s face, but that’s okay because the spider seems pretty chill. Like it’s doing an impression of Marmaduke. I look over slowly, to ask Bobby why he would buy a car made out of spiders, but his big hound dog gaze is locked on the steering wheel like love at first sight. Whatever he’s seeing I don’t want to interrupt it.
Willow leans past us, points out the windshield and asks if we see Them. I follow her finger and watch as the mushrooms show me the Appalachian mountains the way Van Gogh would have seen them, all flowing colors and rivers of infinite fractal motion. Bobby and Willow insist they see faces in the trees, but atheism is coded too deep in me. If there are faces out there they know I’m not worth the time.
A rough morning is blossoming into a wonderful afternoon. The car’s heaters have chased away the sudden cold snap. Warmth and laughter fill my chest. Willow laughs with me, and I notice for the first time that when she really laughs, in that way that almost feels like a crying jag, her voice catches and sounds like a velociraptor. It reminds me of an old friend from Boston. I tell Willow this, and that the reminder makes me happy because my friend was very nice sometimes.
“You know,” Willow says, “I think that’s the first positive thing you ever said about her.”
Our time together didn’t end well.
“I’d never thought of her as a full person before,” Willow continues. “She was always just the cliche of the tragic tranny.”
I am looking in the passenger mirror when she says this. The last two words slide into my already stuttering forebrain. The woman in the mirror melts and shifts, her brow thickening, her jaw jutting out, her cheeks darkening. My throat catches, and I start weeping.
I am dressed as Thomas, now. The only times I get to be Meredith are when I travel the ether. I sit on one end of a ratty old sofa, my hands clasped in my lap, while Dan sits on the other end. We watch America’s Got Talent in almost total silence. His wife is at work.
Donny was the first person I ever had sex with. Or should I say he was the first person to have sex with me? I hadn’t really wanted it but I’d wanted to want it, and I hadn’t felt like saying no, and I’d climaxed anyway, and he’d violated my already-fragile trust in a way I wouldn’t discover until after. Complicated has always been easier than tragic, for me. That was nearly a decade before, though, and it never stopped me from coming over whenever he asked. Even when puberty dug in its claws, twisting me into a hairy, broad-shouldered monster, and he stopped wanting me unless he was drunk or couldn’t find somebody better, I came over. I even came to his wedding.
He starts fidgeting. I look away from the show to find him rubbing himself through his jeans. I pretend not to notice.
“Being married and bi sucks,” he says. “You’ve got needs that your partner just can’t satisfy.”
I could satisfy them though, right? I think. Because I’m a man, right? The thought is like a punch in the stomach, but I learned not to flinch a long time ago.
He keeps rubbing. I agree that that seems rough and focus on Howie as he says something criminally unfunny. Donny eventually stops rubbing himself. I wonder if he feels ashamed, but he married a woman with an erotic furry tattoo on her back who wore a backless dress on her wedding night, so who knows if he’s even capable of shame.
The next act on the show is a troupe of dancers who are clearly male-bodied, but might as easily be drag queens as trans women. I dig my fingers into my thighs. He makes a crack about the ‘men’ on stage, and I suggest that they might consider themselves women.
“Not until they get the surgery,” he says. “If it’s got a dick, it’s still a man.”
I say nothing. I leave when his wife gets home, and I never speak to him again.
My trip is threatening to turn bad. I want to talk about death, and I can’t help but imagine people I see as corpses waiting to be unborn. Willow knows I shouldn’t indulge it, but I can’t let it go.
“I don’t just want the dark stuff,” I say, rubbing my cheek against the cold curve of the car window. “I also want the sun, and these colors, and…like, to touch a baby.”
“You want a baby?” Willow says, in a whisper.
“Of course I do.”
I rub my stomach absent-mindedly. We both look at my midsection and, for a moment, share a vision of my stomach and breasts swelling. We see a child growing in the womb I won’t ever have. We blink and it’s gone, and the tears come again.
There is more snow in Kevin’s yard than I saw in two decades in Tennessee. I trudge through the stuff, my legs going numb, toward a door I’ve never seen before. I knock, and wait, and melting snow seeps through my waterproof boots, and finally a tired-looking man in his late 30s answers in a bathrobe and a day’s beard growth.
I nod and adjust my bag, trying to ease the ache in my shoulder.
“Come inside,” he says.
“Thanks.” I cross the border and immediately tense up as the sour, bachelor smell of Kevin’s condo hits me. I put my bag down in the hall and take off my boots while he watches.
“You really don’t mind me staying?” I say. “Just until my friend and I find an apartment.”
“Ben said you’re cool.” He shrugs and wipes his nose. “Besides, it’s been too quiet since my girlfriend left.” He gestures up a narrow stair and walks off. “Your room’s up there. There’s an air mattress in the closet.”
I hop up the stairs and find myself on a partial loft looking out over the condo’s living room. The man is directly below, sprawled
out on his couch, turning the tv’s volume back up.
“Thanks again!” I say, leaning out and over him. He looks up and half-smiles. I hesitate before continuing. “You might…I wanted to give you a heads-up, you might see me wearing some weird stuff. Like, women’s clothes, and stuff. I’m transgender? And I moved up here so I could-”
“Don’t worry about it,” he says, yawning. “I’m in the fetish scene too.”
We make it home somehow. One minute we’re on the mountain, and then I’m running around my building’s parking lot licking trees and being glad I’m not a dog, and then, somehow, I’m in bed with Willow and we’re taking our clothes off. Most of what happens next I learn from her later. Bobby comes to check on us, or stare at us, or try to join us. I don’t know. I can’t look at him. His beard scares me, and his heavy eyes, and everything male about him terrifies me.
The trip finally turns bad. Willow wants to have sex but I keep finding a penis where my vagina should be, and I know if I go inside her I’ll be gone forever. Each time she kisses me I shove her away, telling her not to eat me. I kick and push and moan. I grab her face and hold it inches from mine, and her beautiful, beautiful face becomes a mirror. I know the mirror is a liar, though, because I could never be gorgeous and normal like this image. Willow leaves me alone on the bed. I will feel very guilty later, but for now I come completely unmoored.
I chew my lip as my inbox loads. Have my editors responded yet? I picture them, in their Manhattan stylishness, laughing and rolling their eyes as they read my message out loud for the entire office.
“What a freak!” they must be saying.
“He was already ugly and fat, but a tranny to boot? How tragic.”
“A talentless hick and a pervert!”
“He can’t even write convincing female characters!”
“Is this a good enough excuse to cancel his contract?”
The screen finishes loading and there it is, at the top of my messages. My mouse hovers over the title, I’m not sure for how long. Finally, bracing like a woman before a firing squad, I click it.
“It’s cute you didn’t think we suspected,” they wrote.
“We absolutely support you.”
“We love your writing.”
I take a few minutes to cry before I notice the attachment at the bottom. An image pops up. It’s a book cover, MY book cover, and, “Meredith Lee” is printed across the top. The tears keep coming.
I have lost myself. Space, time and memory blend and fracture. I dip into the void and pull back up, obsessing with angles, curves, and echoes. One coherent thought stays in the foreground: that I must find the correct reality.
I crawl up from the darkness and look down. My eyes graze the obscenity between my legs. I shut down. Wake up. See a day’s hair growth on my hand. Shut down. Wake up. Feel a patch of stubble on my chin. Shut down.
The actresses are about to come out. The audience rutsles. Willow and our friend Amy discuss what they know about the Vagina Monologues while I think back to the last production I saw, before I was living even part time as a woman. An interesting piece of trivia comes to me.
“I think they did an all-trans woman production of this a while back,” I whisper to Willow.
She frowns. “I’m not sure how I feel about that,” she says. “The show’s about growing up without male privilege and the difficulties of being female-bodied, isn’t it?”
I swallow and try to sink into my chair. A moment before I’d felt like a woman among women, invisible through belonging rather than erasure for once. The feeling evaporates, and I see myself from outside, and I remember how belonging and normalcy are for other people.
“Are you mad at me?” Willow says. I don’t know how to tell her what I feel in this moment, so I tell her I’m only a little hurt instead.
It feels real when I wake up, but I still have a male body. It must be another dream. I shakily walk over to a bookshelf and pick a book at random — Orlando, funnily enough. The pages remain the same no matter how many times I look away and back again, almost like I’m awake. I must be dreaming though, if only because it would be too unfair for this to be my real body again.
Willow’s voice drifts into the bedroom, and Bobby’s answers. I shuffle toward the living room without putting on panties as a final test. I would never go bottomless in front of anyone but Willow in real life, so if nothing stops me from doing it now I must be dreaming.
It turns out I’m not dreaming, and I absolutely would go bottomless.
Willow sits me on the bed and tells me to close my eyes. She clumsily pulls something from the closet and spends a moment rummaging through one of her drawers. Her daughter Vanessa — our daughter more and more each day — bounces excitedly behind me.
“Can I look yet?”
“Y-yes,” Willow says. She is shaking so much that she could power our entire building. I move to comfort her, but she directs my attention to an oil painting leaning against the wall.
The painting is a mermaid reclining on a rock in the middle of the ocean. Her upper-half is a little chubby — fluffy, Willow calls it — with pale, pillow breasts sagging the tiniest bit. She has a little bit of an underbite, which only serves to make her smile a little lopsided and sarcastic. her long, black hair falls over one eye, but the other is large and brown and full of laughter.
“This is how I see you, Mermaid,” Willow says.
I look at the painting’s left hand and see a gold band around her ring finger. Willow sees me look and pulls a white box from behind her back, almost dropping it because of her tremors. She looks at me, eyes painfully wide. She is paralyzed by her anxiety.
“Do you need to ask me something?” I say, a smile and a blush spreading across my face.
“Do…do you want…?” Willow squeaks.
“Yes,” I say, and the three of us fall into a desperate, crushing, bonfire of a hug.
“Our Mermaid!” Vanessa squeals.
“I was hoping your trip wouldn’t be as gender-centric as it was,” Willow says, opening another berry smoothie.
“Me too,” I say, trying to decide if I want to eat anything. My stomach is tying itself in knots at the thought of how mean I was to her on the bed.
“Did you learn anything, at least?”
I unwrap a cheese stick and shrug. We watch the snow fall for a few minutes, before deciding to play Super Mario World while we’re still tripping a little bit.
Special Note: Autostraddle’s “First Person” personal essays do not necessarily reflect the ideals of Autostraddle or its editors, nor do any First Person writers intend to speak on behalf of anyone other than themselves. First Person writers are simply speaking honestly from their own hearts.
I almost don’t want to be the first person to comment on this piece, and hopefully I won’t be by the time I finish writing this. It’s the same way I don’t want to be the first person to clap after a powerful, amazing reading. I don’t want to break the moment of silence and reflection that must come after an important piece is put into the world. You know, that period of time where you can hear everyone breathing and thinking. But I also want to show my appreciation for the writing and for your story. This was breathtaking. Thank you.
Wow, Meredith. You are such a gifted writer. Thank you for this, the world is better because of people like you and your beautiful words.
i feel this really strongly and i just feel like today is the day when everything changes because this is brilliant writing.
Your writing is beautiful.
so brilliantly written. i would read an entire book of this; want to sit in the middle of it for days.
This is amazing. I now want to read everything you’ve ever written, Meredith.
I’m sitting in class reading this because I was bored, and it’s almost got me crying. It’s absolutely wonderful and painful and funny and sad at the same time. Alien in the experiences as a writer that you’ve had and I have not, and yet familiar in that crushing feeling of being a trans woman among largely cis women, not belonging but not altogether different. It’s a horrible kind of wonderful.
Great writing, Meredith. I look forward to reading more of your work!
This was incredible. One of the best things I’ve ever read on AS. I am totally crying in public (like at a children’s indoor playground surrounded by yelling children and moms) and I’m not even embarrassed. Beautiful story, Meredith.
This was so beautiful and moving. I want to dive into more of this and just take it all in.
Well… I don’t even know how to articulate how I feel about this…
I will read it over and over again. It’s just so well written and beautiful. I want to read everything you have ever written!
Thank you so much for sharing, you are an amazing writer.
… I feel shattered now… I just want to sit in silence and think about what Iv’e just read.
I’m crying. Thank you.
Stunning, gorgeous, raw…just brilliant. Thank you for letting us in to share this with you.
I loved this piece so so much. You really have a gift.
This was amazing and perfect. I really felt like I was inside your head. thank you.
Damn. You write beautifully. When will your book be out? I can’t wait to read it.
This is truthfully one of the most powerful things I’ve read in a really long time. You are truly talented.
Your writing is stunning. Thanks for sharing this.
Thank you for sharing this, really powerful stuff. Did you have to vomit when you took the mushroom?
No, but I couldn’t stop making weird chirpy noises.
I have no words. All I can say is that i’ll definitely be buying your book when it comes out.
how amazing. i can’t sit here and think of words to say how beautiful this was. thank you for sharing this with us! please please tell us when we can read your book. thank you.
this wasn’t what i expected this piece to be at all but i got stuck reading this back to front two or three times. this is lovely. please share more of your writing.
I don’t really know what to write here, I just feel like I need to write something, just to say that I read this and it was great. Just to say that I haven’t read anything like this before and it is really powerful and poetic and it made me think about stuff. Just to say… wow.
i don’t know what to say except to reiterate the comments above — this is incredible writing, and i thank you so much for sharing your experiences and your words with us. i’d like more info about when your book will be available and where we can purchase it — i can’t wait to read more from you.
I feel a little weird commenting critically in the middle of everyone processing a piece of writing that constructs such a masterful picture of an experience, but the title of the piece seems loosely problematic. Being trans certainly can present some issues, focuses and unique experiences around substance use and it’s wonderful to see someone writing about and around them, but the different way people experience different substances, and the people, scene and setting around each trip change so much about each experience that a blanket statement that trans people should or should engage in certain activities seems a bit disappointing. Even if perhaps it wasn’t intended. It also seems to feed in to a general societal structure where the narratives where people talk about bad drug experiences are socially viewed as important, real and rational while the narratives where people talk about good drug experiences are generally viewed as not rational, problematic and untrustworthy.
This is a great and important piece of writing and thanks so much for sharing an important and intimate experience, I just wanted to briefly point out that those who may not have had much exposure to how trans issues interact with substance use may assume this experience is more universal than it is. Yet for the most part experiences are unique, outcomes are diverse and many trans people have many different feelings about many different types of substances. And since few people want to be labelled publicly as someone who not just has done drugs, but continues to use and enjoy them, you won’t often hear a detailed narrative of how someone thinks a substance was a fantastic experience that lead to personal growth, provided an aid in perspective to help them see the world differently or helped with an issue. And it seems worth mentioning that a lot of trans people also have those narratives too.
I think there’s a great conversation to be had around substance use during times in life when stress is high, self-esteem and self-image have taken a beating and suicidality is a concern. And obviously a lot of that conversation involves a lot of caution, warnings and being careful, but I’m not convinced the problem can be neatly wrapped up into a general prohibition.
But I think mostly what I wanted to say was portions of this writing were sharp and exceptional and I hope to find your book at some point. I hope to see a link to it or a review of it on autostraddle at some point. :)
I really appreciate this comment. I had a lot of reservations about reading the piece because of the title although I found the actual piece to be a beautiful rendition of a vulnerable experience rather than a generalization of trans substance use. So, I’m thankful you brought that up Altered View.
I agree with you. The irritating thing about journalism is that you have to come up with catchy titles even when they don’t accurately reflect the article’s content. “How I Had a Bad Trip on Mushrooms as a Trans Woman” wouldn’t have caught as much attention or been quite as gripping. I don’t think that the “warning” was mean by either the author or the editors to be taken entirely at face value.
That was such an incredible read, Meredith. You capture such complexity of seemingly contradictory emotions and experiences, but weave them together into something cohesive. This is beautiful, intense, heart-wrenching writing, and I feel like a slightly different person now that I’ve read it. I feel like I’ve lived your life for the ten minutes I spent reading this piece, but I’m also struck by just how distant your experiences are to me. Your writing is familiar and foreign at the same time.
Oh Lordy. I go into workshop-feedback mode when I’m struck with writing this moving. What I’m trying to say is this is beautiful, and wonderful, and thank you for writing it and sharing it and being such a brave and incredible person.
This is filling me up with feelings I wasn’t even aware of. That little part of me that feels like not a woman is all befuddled. I’m not transgender, I’m pretty sure of that, but sometimes there’s a part of me that feels like a man. Not as in, a little voice saying I’m male, but as in 95% of me is female, with this 5% male slipped in, mixed in, popping up sometimes but other times getting swirled into the gender goo. Your descriptions about wondering where your vagina went are the best descriptions I’ve ever heard about me wondering (not very often, but sometimes) where my penis disappeared to.
Wow. That was unexpected in the absolute best way possible. This punched me in the gut the way only the best writing can. I won’t be forgetting your name and something tells me many, many more people are yet to learn it.
i love this piece and love your words.
This piece is so poignant and moving. Thank you so much for sharing it. I’m a cis female, but I’ve started reading Trans* Scribe religiously, and I find pieces like these are really educating me and introducing me to perspectives that I didn’t have access to before, and I’m really grateful that it’s part of the regular autostraddle features.
I wrote this article after spending an evening exposing myself to Cathy Brennan’s weird brand of hate and then trolling the internet for trans* articles to make myself feel better, but I noticed that almost everything I found was either communities of JUST trans women talking and writing to one another, or trans* people writing articles for cis audiences where the basics were explained over and over without much more progress beyond that. Not that that kind of work and exposure isn’t super amazing and important — I haven’t been doing it — but what I’m always looking for when I do those searches is something that makes me feel less lonely, like maybe somebody out there feels a little bit of something like I feel, something WAY more complicated than the sensational narratives that cis people largely write for consumption by cis people. And I wanted to write that. I wanted to write a glimpse into what it feels like, for me, to be trans, not knowing that the other amazing writers who’ve submitted to trans*scribe would already have done such an amazing job! I just hope I’ve lived up to the standard they set.
I’m rambling. Thank you for your compliment!
“I noticed that almost everything I found was either communities of JUST trans women talking and writing to one another, or trans* people writing articles for cis audiences where the basics were explained over and over without much more progress beyond that.”
Yeah! I feel like a lot of our experiences aren’t really all that alien, they aren’t impenetrable, they’re just… not talked about, at least not in mixed company, either because it isn’t safe or there’s no real outlet for it. And it’s hard to go through so much when so much of it isn’t talked about like that. Thanks for helping to make a difference there :-)
We also underestimate cis people, I think! Like, I’ve noticed that the times being out in public go the smoothest (having a huge chin makes passing a distant concern, though looking hot and swag as fuck is still attainable) is when, in the event of someone giving me an odd look, I act natural and laugh it off. It’s scary and often very truly physically dangerous to make ourselves vulnerable to them, but sharing more of ourselves than the basics is kind of necessary if we ever want to be more than a sideshow attraction to them.
Exactly. It shouldn’t fall on us to do that, but it does seem like it can make a difference.
i have a giant chin. i got it from my father. everyone guesses that, so i lie and say my mother had it. is that weird? is it relevant? idk, but i love you for this article
my experience with shrooms was listening to my ex talk about how good i was to him and wishing i could say the same
mushrooms are weird
Thank you for sharing this with us/me.
I read this from that thumbtack lined easy chair behind your eyes. So much tart I relate to, but so much that’s new. I can’t wait to read your book!
I can’t even begin to come up with words to adequately express how much I loved this, so I’ll settle on “this is fucking incredible.” Thank you so much for writing it.
This is one of those posts that has me tear up over and over as I read the whole thing. And I don’t know what else to put in a comment other than that. I was overwhelmed and I wanted to reach out to you.
I think i was three lines into this when i wrote YES on our submissions spreadsheet. i must have read this 3 or 4 times by now and every time i’m blown away by how fucking good it is. i can’t wait to read your book.
Dude I remember flopping around on the floor for like days cringing over how embarrassing it was going to be when you guys rejected my dumb poopy article. Maybe I should work on my self esteem. :I
She was. For real. She kept saying that she didn’t want to send it to you guys because you were just going to laugh at her and then say, “WTF, NO.” I asked if she wanted me to proof it first and she said no because she thought I’d have the same reaction. She wouldn’t even let me read it at all until it was published today.
Thanks for helping my mermaid realize that she really does have talent. She needed the esteem boost more than you know. :)
you’re crazy! it was a unanimous and swift approval! also you guys are the cutest.
also i’ve long marveled at the fact that every shrooms experience i’ve had was totally weird and fucked up, almost like i had a knack for picking a really emotionally heightened or turbulent time to eat those things. so this was welcome & unexpected.
this was fantastic…beautiful and heart-wrenching, but it’s left a smile on my face for sure :) i can’t wait to read your book!
Loved reading this. Very, very excited to read your book. Thank you for putting your creation into the world.
Unbelievably, I’m jealous of your trip. I’m trans and I have tried mushrooms a few times and never gotten anything out of it (meanwhile my friends trip balls.)
Have you tried eating way, way, way too much after not eating for days?
This is phenomenal and evocative writing. Thank you.
What an amazing read. Thank you for sharing your story.
I’m Meredith’s partner and this is my first time reading this. I’m dumbstruck by two things simultaneously: one, that my partner is an amazingly talented writer (I knew that) and two, that even though I value myself as a trans* ally and as someone who knows Meredith intimately, there are still ways that I hurt her all the time without even realizing it.
The comment I made about the Vagina Monologues, for example… I’d said it in passing because I didn’t understand how something specifically written about vaginas, for people born with vaginas, could be reasonably performed by people who were all born without them. It was a comment that I made in passing and I noticed Meredith’s body language change (the reason I asked if she was upset with me)… But it hadn’t even occurred to me that these simple statements that I make without meaning any offense can still cause her so much hurt. And then I think that if I– the person who loves her more than anyone in the world– say things that hurt her, how much more pain is she carrying that I don’t even know about?
It breaks my heart for her but it’s one of those very real reminders of how easy it is for cis people to take our privilege for granted. I could just say this to Meredith privately but I wanted to throw in my comment as one of the many readers who was moved and touched by this beautiful piece of work.
Meredith, I’m sorry that the world hurts so much sometimes and I’m sorry that I’m sometimes part of that. I love you madly and I always will. Thank you for writing this for me (and for the rest of the world). It needed to be said.
Okay, NOW I’m crying. In conjunction with Meredith’s wonderful writing above, this is beautiful.
oh my dear baby jesus this is deeply moving
I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you. I love you when we’re fighting and when we’re rubbing our stuff together and when we’re being overwhelmed by how cute our daughter is and when we’re playing Super Smash Brothers and when you ramble about Doctor Who. I love you when you’re thin and when I’m fluffy and when our dog is difficult to potty train and our cat keeps knocking over cups of water. I love you when I’m trans and it’s okay that you don’t completely understand as long as you love me too. Our love makes everything okay.
Mermaid, quit making me cry!! ;_; I’m looking forward to spending the rest of forever with you. <3 Thank you for being you, baby.
Oops, and I posted that under my normal Autostraddle account because I forgot to change the name for consistency with the article. Hi, I’m Meredith’s partner and my name’s not really Willow but she changed the name just in case too much identifying information would out us to Bad People.
I wub you, fwuffy Mermaid. Sorry for making things awkward by forgetting to change my name that time. :X
this entire exchange is deeply moving
your love for one another is so palpable
thank you for letting us all into your lives for a brief moment
i really just don’t know what else to say, i may or may not be crying in bed right now (hint: i am)
i wish you both so much happiness and endless love together
I made it this far without, but now I’m crying. These comment sections are where everyone becomes more human rather than just a beautiful piece of artwork through the posted essay. I don’t even know if that makes sense, but I’m too emotional to try to be more coherent.
Do you think its possible for a cis person to ever completely understand?
Genevra, this is going to sound horrible and hurtful but understand me as a pessimistic (read: grasping for hope) trans* person: how did you come to terms with falling in love with a person who may, one day, want to take hormones or have surgery? Their face will be different than the one you fell in love with, your sex life would (probably, I’m guessing) be completely different, you’d present to other people differently… how do you prepare for that? How do you commit to that?
Hey Thaedin. For me it really wasn’t that difficult. The only hard part was what you said about having to present to other people differently. It’s uncomfortable right now with a few people thinking I have a husband and most knowing that I have a wife, but… honestly, if that’s the worst of our troubles as a couple, we’re doing pretty well.
As for transitioning-related stuff, none of that is hard for me. I knew pretty shortly after we started dating that she was trans, so it’s not like I’m in this soap-opera predicament of “Oh, no, I fell in love with a man and now he wants to be a woman!”
I love Meredith the way she is, but I’m actually looking forward to the changes. I’m not strictly gay but I strongly prefer female bodies, and if transitioning means less body hair, smoother skin, and a nice pair of boobs I can play with, I’m all for it. :) I’m attracted to her “male” body but I’m looking forward to her looking and feeling more like the lady she is, so it’s really not a big deal to me. I am concerned about the effects that it might have on our sex life, but her need to transition and my dedication to our relationship both supersede any concerns about our sex life.
teach me how to write like you for real though
I don’t really think of myself as a good role model! There are way better ones out there. But I could give you…advice? Like, keep a journal. But if you want to know how to write Like Me the best I can tell you is spend a lot of time watching reading Plath and old Dragon Ball comics in the same hour. I think that’s what got me where I am today.
Okay, wow! Whoa. So full disclosure, I graduated from college in December 2010 with an English degree, and since then I’ve worked menial jobs and lived on and off with my parents and only found the motivation (or the courage???) to work on a YA adventure/sci-fi novel that’s only just now about to see the light of day. I’ve had pieces in campus reviews before, but this is my first, like…article. My first piece of commercial writing that’s seen the light of day. I don’t think I could have picked a better place to start.
My birthday is actually tomorrow, and y’all’s responses are one of the best presents I’ve ever gotten. Things have been up for me in a lot of ways — transition’s going great, my book is really for reals about to come out and maybe even make money, I’m still engaged to basically the best woman who ever lived, I’m out to my entire social circle and family and living almost completely full time and working on getting hormones and all that’s going as smoothly as a person could reasonably expect — but the last few weeks have been super rough and this is so, completely, absolutely what I needed. I love you guys.
Also I guess you can read my book when it comes out but it isn’t anything like this! I don’t know. hhrrnnnngghhhfff
Aaaaand as of like a minute ago it is my birthday. Whee!
happy birthday! :)
happiest birthday and THANK YOU above all for sharing this with us. not just the story itself, but your amazing writing and your ability to convey so many incredibly subtle things that knocked me over a million times. this is so goddamned good and i feel so lucky to have been able to read it.
All together now… “Haaaappy birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Biiiirthday dear Meredith…. Haaaapppy Birthday to you… And many many moooooooooore”!
Also… lots of cries at the exchange between you and your gf. You two are too sweet.Standard.
Even if your book is nothing like this, I’d be so into reading it. (YA sci-fi! Yay!) Your writing and prose in this piece are just so, so good. It’s been a while since I’ve read something so honest, brazen, and well crafted. Thank you for sharing.
this was a fucking amazing piece of work. you go.
Oh crap, hi Meredith! This was tough to read but you write really well. Thanks for sharing it! I’m sorry you had such a rough experience :(
I’m sorry it was tough to read! D:
I think she meant “tough to read” as in “emotionally difficult,” which good artwork almost always is– not that it was badly written or cumbersome to work through. Your writing is amazing.
exactly :) please don’t apologize!
Oh, wow. Thank you.
” I wonder if he feels ashamed, but he married a woman with an erotic furry tattoo on her back who wore a backless dress on her wedding night, so who knows if he’s even capable of shame.”
i love every word of this, thank you.
I can’t believe I waited until the end of the day to read this! such good writing, great story, very brave. thanks for sharing.
meredith, this is so, so lovely. i want to grab everyone sitting near me in this library and make them all read it so they can experience it too. like everyone else has said, i can’t wait to read more of your writing. thank you so much for sharing this.
I remember the moment I knew I wasn’t trans. It was at band camp. I was twelve. My parents had been hippies, and I followed my mom’s lead and didn’t shave or wear a bra. A girl who I had known since kindergarten knew I didn’t shave and asked me if it was because I wanted to be a boy. I remember thinking about it and knowing that I was a girl and happily so but I didn’t have the words to explain. Then she pushed me or maybe I pushed her.
So when my almost wife first messaged me on OKCupid and disclosed her trans history it made sense.
Thank you Meredith for this article and Autostraddle for creating a safe space for this discourse. I love my partner so incredibly much and do have the fear of saying something wrong or hurtful. So sometimes I fear things get left unsaid. Having this place for discussions and personal reflections is so helpful!
I stayed up late tonight to write my dissertation. Instead, i watched masterchef and then read this. This article was beautiful. And now I feel more inclined to work on my dissertation as well because it is about all about gender. So thank you. Thank you for a wonderful article, and for the inspiration to keep writing my dissertation. I only wish my writing could be as striking and brilliant as yours!
I almost never comment, but:
This is beautiful, and so incredibly *true*. Thank you so much for sharing it.
I have been curious about mushrooms for a long time, and this is a lot of what I’m scared of.
And I think the truth of this is so important – that, being trans, we almost never really get the luxury of not thinking about being trans. It’s something that scares me when I look into the future: this will always be who I am, and it will always be on my mind at least a little bit.
Meredith, thank you. This was an unapologetic and strong story to tell. It was sad and funny and fast and fucking beautiful.
Well done on all that talent you got. xxx
This is my favourite piece of writing here to date. I wish you the world. I’m not good with words like you are so I can’t even begin to express my thoughts or feelings, so all I will say is thank you for sharing this part of you with us.
YES YES YES YES YES YES YES damn girl, write your fucking fingers off. you got it.
you knocked the wind out of me. also the stuffing. shit-damn.
I actually love this so much I want to, like, bathe in it. Or something. Does that make sense?
You can WRITE.
When does your book come out?
This is among the best pieces I’ve read in recent memory. Stunning, Meredith. Thanks for this.
i finally read this last night, and i just wanted to say thank you for sharing this. seriously.
friggen awesome. even if it made me weep openly on my balcony, i needed that more than i knew.
(Cried. Thank you.)
(Me too :))
Hey! I’ve tried writing about both gender and drug trips before, but I feel I’ve never been very successful at it, and certainly not in the same piece. This is so well written I could yell.
Take care of yourself, Meredith. All the best to you.
Mushrooms make everything so significant. Although I can’t say I’ve had a truly negative experience because of any herb, they were involved in the men’s mysteries initiation that collapsed my mental health… I had gone because a girl I was seeing kept making everything about me being a man, even though I told her I wasn’t one. After feeling like I had been assaulted but managing not to kill anyone in the group, having been told by another initiate to cut my fingernails so I could “play sports like other men”, I decided to try to come out as transgender! It didn’t work out. This was already the third time I tried to come out. I’m on the fifth attempt now and it’s going better! I’ll use shrooms again someday, but I’m a witch. You’re writing was beautiful and my heart broke for you so many times. Maybe I’m a mermaid too? I like the metaphor, though I can’t stand the idea that I have a male body or that my childhood was privileged… I didn’t even have rights. I still don’t. <3
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Wow, thank you for sharing your story and your experience about this mushrooms. Indeed, you are a great writer because we were touch by your story. Looking forward to your next writings about your experiences.
It is a great journey indeed! Thank your for sharing your experience. You are a good writer, you touched our hearts. Mushroom keep everything significant. Keep posting!