I should probably start this post off by saying that every post on this blog is a thought dump. I don't write these then go back and edit to make sure that my word choice is precise. I decide on the angle that I will take, then I just write. So...
I was recently thinking about the role that shame plays in my life. I personally allow shame to have too much of an influence on what I do and don't do. As it pertains to being a trans individual, I don't live as openly as I would like because of the shame that I feel from breaking societal norms, living outside the boundaries of my parents' approval, and internalized ideas of what gender is.
Coming to terms with breaking the societal norm of not challenging the gender imposed on yourself is something that I think most trans individuals must do. That was really tough for me. I grew up in a religious household in the south. Arkansas to be exact. So I am used to a conservative environment that gives no wiggle room for going against social norms. That social norm is White cis-hetero. Being Black was already something that took courage, and there were many times growing up that I wanted to change that. Of course, now I would never. However, doing things like changing my name or pronouns is something that was really tough for me to do. I am still struggling with it. Certain people know me as one person and others, another. I have not told my parents that I would like to be referred to by a different name or set of pronouns. I don't think that would go over very well. They know that I'm trans and that is really it. I try not to get into too much because it really hurts. I know they love me, but they don't approve so it is what it is. With that I had to tell myself, the likelihood of me being able to do something to receive approval from them or anyone is slim. I'm already too far in. So I may as well just live authentically and they can catch up if they want.
I am so tired of allowing shame to dictate what I do. I'm not ashamed of who I am, however, I internalized these feelings from my environment and they begin to control me. I can't do that anymore. The amount of times that I have lied in bed and cried because it hurt so much to feel all of this is ridiculous. The worst part is that it is all forms of shame that have no merit. There is no reason to feel shame for being authentic and striving for happiness. It is not like the shame that should be associated with hurting another person. This is all because people feel the need to control how others live their lives. I can't go for that any longer. I am me and I have to be me. It is so interesting that I just thought about something that my new boss said to me. He made it a point to tell me that he wanted me to be myself at work. He didn't want me to feel like I had to change or anything. It was really refreshing to be an outwardly queer person and have someone tell me that they want me to be myself and the reason they gave me an opportunity was because of who I was. I wish it were like that in every situation.
My own internalized idea of gender often times will sneak up on me. I will start to be critical of myself for a number of reasons and I have to take a step back and realize that those criticisms are based on internalized social beliefs. Not looking feminine enough and the sound of my voice are big issues for me. Luckily I am decent with makeup so I am able to look feminine when I want to, but without it, I can sometimes start to feel down...especially if the facial hair starts to come in. My voice is a huge reason that I stopped doing the YouTube stuff. I was just scared that no matter how I presented myself, talking and using my voice would almost out me. Which...we aren't going to unpack that right now. It's just a thought that I have. It got to the point that I was really looking into the process of vocal surgery. Not like I could afford it. I just did it because it was always on my mind. However, I am trying to tell myself that it is okay to have my voice. It does not invalidate my identity. There are plenty of cis women with deeper voices and cis men with higher voices. That does not dictate their gender. It is interesting that going through this transition is like embracing once again all of the features that you had to embrace in your initial puberty. While yes there are surgeries that I would like to have, I am trying to not let them come from a place of shame. I don't want to go under the knife because society makes me feel like I need to be more passable. I want to do it because I believe that it will improve the quality of my life and how I see myself.
Though I am working to remove shame's influence over my life, it still takes hold sometimes. Even right now, because I am thinking of all of this, I can feel myself slipping into that dark place. However, I have to pull myself out of it. I have too much that I want to accomplish for me to allow the thoughts of others to dictate who I am and how I present myself. No more.
I also will strive to post regularly on this blog.