Chapter 4: Reflections and Battling of Perceptions: A Climb Towards Truth

On Body Hair (Not Wanting to Be Like the “Other Girls;” Trying to be Like the “Other Girls”)

By Syd Germaine

All she said was, “the hair is thick,” and she began attempting to rip my soul out of my body, one strip, one rip, at a time.

I wanted to tell her to stop, because I’m serious, it was some of the most AWFUL DISGUSTING I SWEAR I’M GOING TO VOMIT I NEED CHOCOLATE CAKE pain IN THE ENTIRE FUCKING WORLD.

A little over 12 hours later, and my entire pubic area is sore.

But I decided to keep going, and why? Because I wanted the hair gone. Because I was tired of it. Because I thought it was thick and gross and you never know what’s going to happen when you’re in a new city, and you have a libido like the first time you had your testosterone shot.

After a certain point, my legs and my hands began shaking; I began to sweat; with each pull, I gripped the sides of the table-bed; I began swearing and yelling; I began to feel nauseous, and she began to apply a thick blue substance onto the thickest part of my pubic hair. “What’s that?” I managed to ask.

“Hard wax,” she answered, “a little less painful.”

Thank you, lady. Thank you.

I actually believe she only said that to attempt to calm me down. If someone ever says “hard wax,” I instruct you to do as follows: RUN FOR THE FUCKING HILLS. She used this type of wax twice; I felt myself inching up the table, shrinking away from her, as her painted nails dug under the almost-drywax, and she pulled.

I thought she was trying to kill me. She was out to kill me. I’m not sure how long this went on; at some point, she said she was finished, and I flipped over.

1, 2, 3

By Avi Roque

Do I want to:
fall into the binary
live in the binary
acknowledge the binary
CHOOSE. Choose.
Then I choose to be a man rather than a woman.
OR. Or. Can I confidently sit comfortably in neutrality
Accepting neither man nor woman.

In a sea of black and white
I am gray
Swimming upstream
Asking people to shift their whole paradigm
And when referring to me, not saying her and she
But using:
To see me and not assume
But in a binary attached society I am seen as a woman who is a bit masculine.
Which is FALSE.

3…ANSWERS… (Rapped to: Lymbyc Systym – Fall Bicycle (The Album Leaf Remix)?
And so, if there was anything I could change in the world world
It would be
It would be
Turn those frowns upside down, uncurl, open up, open up, unfurl
Take the time to see, see, see
Take the time to see, see, see
You for you
Me for me
You you you
Me me me
You you you
Me me me
But maybe I’m making this harder than it needs to be be be
Cuz a label is for you
Not for me me me
And so if there was anything I could change in the world world
It would be… It would be…


By Jake Smucker

That second summer, he began to settle in, he’d tasted the sky and wondered why.

He’d never been asked to wear a hat before, to cover up, that he wasn’t good enough.

And a team, a family, needs to know when to be quiet, and not sing too loud…

And he thought, “Thank God these clothes tell me who I am,” and he thought, “Maybe they’re right about long hair on men,” and he thought, “Do people find me offensive? Because I just want to belong.”

A Meditation on Transition, Wherein I Swear a Lot and Discuss Really Unpleasant Things

By Andrea Hawkins-Kamper

Tuesday night is therapy night, part of the ongoing care tied directly back to my transition. This particular session was incredibly difficult, and while I am not physically injured as a result of it, I am emotionally and mentally bruised, battered, and exhausted.

First, the backstory. Despite knowing who I was at seven years old, I did not start my transition until I was thirty-eight. As open as I am about my journey, there are certain aspects of my life which remain off-limits to outsiders, dysphoria being among them. I have a habit of responding with phrases like “shit isn’t/hasn’t been right” and “it’s a rough fucking day” and “I don’t want to fucking talk about it.” Those closest to me know what those phrases mean, and I don’t have to burn more spoons that I don’t have in explaining them. It’s lazy, and it’s not fair to those that would support me.

One thing I should never do is use these phrases with my therapist. Her office is safe space, and her skill is in helping me heal and live my life authentically. Notice I said “should”, because tonight she rightfully called me on my bullshit. We ended up spending the session discussing dysphoria and my long history with it. The shame and the pain that comes with opening and directly discussing the fact that your penis is a goddamn tumor growing from your crotch – an unwanted and unwelcome reminder of an eternally forbidden but desperately desired motherhood – is utterly exhausting.

Exhausting or not, those conversations are absolutely necessary. They are needed to decipher the puzzle of one’s self, to determine what – if any – medical interventions are needed to unite the body and the mind.

She and I talked about renewal, healing, hope, journeys, and next steps. We discussed the agony that arises when gender identity and genitalia do not match, and we discussed that essential Otherness that being in transition brings. For all the work we have done in that room together, this session was the most difficult.

So today, I am sitting here at my desk, drinking coffee and having the same conversations with myself that I did three years ago: Do I want to wake up and eat food? Or, would I rather wake up and eat poison pie, all the while praying for the sweet release of Death? Neither Death nor God gave me the desired outcome. What I knew when I was seven, when I was twelve, when I was twenty-three, when I was thirty-fucking-eight – it’s all the fucking same: Salvation for me ends in a recovery room.

That recovery room is still a bit away, but every day I remain on this side of the dirt is one day closer. Billy Shakespeare said, “To thy own self be true”. The decision to live authentically meant that my journey ended up being longer and more complex than I originally envisioned. Many more difficult conversations lie ahead of me, and I must continue to always be faithful to what I know. My truth is my truth, and my truth must never again be supplanted by another’s vision for me.

I should probably also apologize for the swearing, but fuck you.

Chapter 5

Celebrating the beauty and expressive power of the human form