A. Russo – More than the sum of my parts.



Stupid Shit I Have Done

So, no, really – that’s the title of this post. Because here’s the thing. I was sitting, wait no I was standing in the shower the other night and I saw, on the shower wall, A SPIDER.

It was terrifying. At least ten inches wide not counting the legs, with red eyes and dripping fangs and…

All right, fine. It was smaller than my pinky fingernail. I have issues with things that have more than 4 legs, okay? I definitely have a 4 leg hard limit. And NO, you cannot pull 4 legs off a spider and expect me to be okay with it. It doesn’t work that way.


Here I am in the shower, faced with a spider, and I really dislike killing things in general but this one was WAY too close to my personal parts and it had to go. So I bravely picked up the shampoo bottle and clubbed it to death.

Which left me with a shampoo bottle with spider guts on it. Ergh.

Ok, so now I’m standing in the shower with a shampoo bottle covered in spider and NOWHERE TO PUT THE SPIDER GUTS.

What do I do with them? I’m certainly not going to touch them. I can’t grab toilet paper because it’ll get wet in ALL THIS WATER. And it might clog the DRAIN.

(See where I’m going with this?)

I’m pretty sure I stood there with that bottle going ‘ew, ew, ew’ for at least two minutes before it occurred to me to, oh, I dunno, just wash the spider down the DRAIN with ALL THIS WATER.

That got me thinking about all the ‘oh, DUH’ moment’s I’ve had in my life, or just other plain ‘duh’ moments I’ve witnessed happening to other people. But of course, I’ll talk about my own first.

There was the time I went to the barn, grabbed babyhorse’s halter off her stall, slung it over my shoulder, and went to get her brushes. Then I went to go get her and spent five minutes wandering around looking for her halter.

Mmm-hmm. I even asked a few people if they’d seen it, because I ALWAYS hang it on her stall at night.

*pinches bridge of nose* They all laughed at me.

Then there was the time when I was MUCH younger (Not THAT much. At least in my teens, so I can’t even claim extreme youth for this one) when my mom and I went to the library. It had two sets of double doors to get in, and I thought I’d be a smartass. I ran to the first set of doors, zipped inside, and pushed against the one I’d walked through so she couldn’t enter.

She gave me a funny look and just walked in through the other side.

Sad thing was, I didn’t catch on. I ran through the second set of double doors and pushed on the one I’d gone through.

My mom made that weird face and walked through the other one. And past me. And THEN it hit me. Priceless. She just patted me on the head and told me she was so proud of how smart I am. And no, she hasn’t stopped making fun of me about it.

So those three, right off the top of my head. I suppose the next one isn’t a ‘duh’ moment so much as a pretty typical Arin-ism. The roommate (the Great Navy Blue Monster) and I were heading to Austin for a concert. I was driving. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something scuttle up onto the center console between the seats. I glanced at it, and my spider alert went off. OMG, death, death, warning! Kill, kill! destroy!

But I don’t touch spiders. So, without thinking, I picked up my roommate’s hand and used THAT to hit the spider with (this all happened fast enough so he was caught off guard and didn’t resist).

So yeah that was me doing 85 mph down I-35 while using my roommate’s hand to commit spidercide. Not my best moment. But no one got hurt.

Seriously, no one got hurt. After all that, I missed the spider.

Roommate teased me for months. I got payback though when, on another trip down to Austin, he was driving his new car and stopped to get fuel. He pulled up with the driver’s side at the pump, where his fuel tank had been in his old car (the new one was on the passenger side), and got out. I waited and didn’t say anything until he realized what he’d done. We laughed, he got into the car and pulled around to the next pump.

And stopped with the driver’s side at the pump.

I might stop making fun of him for that this century. Not sure. Check back in 75 years or so.

Anyhow, I know for a fact there will be more Stupid Stuff to write about, but as I’ve been editing for several hours I thought it might just be fun to write about something goofy and mildly amusing. We all have our moments, yeah? You are more than welcome to laugh at mine. I still do. 😉


Moving Forward

I have been meaning to put these thoughts down for a while. I don’t know if they’ll help anyone, but when I blog about gender identity it’s mostly for one of two purposes. Firstly, that maybe someone who doesn’t ‘get’ it might read this and start to understand. Secondly, because when I was learning about myself I felt incredibly alone, terrified and isolated, until I read blogs written by people like me which actually saved my life.  I’ve had a lot of time to ponder my identity, and even though I’m late to the party (in my mid-30’s), I know that while I’m genderfluid or non-binary, I’m also transmasculine.

I remember lying on my couch in the dark before I truly understood this, in a house far away from my family and my home state. I remember my thoughts spiraling down into a pit of depression I’d never experienced before, one that scared me so much I knew I had to examine it, dissect it, and figure it out, or there wouldn’t be anything left of me. I just lay there, my mind spinning, wondering why I couldn’t feel okay. Wondering why nothing in my life felt right.

When I first started exploring my own identity I didn’t know what labels were open to me. I didn’t know I could be one or many things. I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, and gender identity was rarely discussed. I had no role model. I had no guide. I didn’t know what options were on the menu. I had this idea of where I thought I should be based on what my society and culture told me I and based on my very best role models – my parents. By their mid-20’s they had everything I thought I should want to have. Great jobs, a home, two kids.

Took me forever to learn that I’m NOT them. Hell, I’m still figuring that out.

This isn’t meant to slight my parents. They’re actually the coolest parents. I never explored my gender identity as a child because they never enforced uncomfortable gender roles on their kids. I climbed trees, wore dirty jeans, played in the mud, and hated dolls. And all that was fine with them. I never felt forced into a box because there was no box.

This was both good and bad, in hindsight. Good because I had total freedom to be myself. Bad, because I never actually had any cause to question my identity until I got older and realized the things I had thought I wanted, weren’t. The role I tried to fit myself into was all wrong. I tried so hard to not stand out in a crowd that in doing so, I never questioned myself, my identity, who I was. Let me reiterate – I did it to myself.

I learned that much later.

The cool thing is, you’re never too old to learn about yourself. I had to learn that too. You’re never too old to look into your heart and see what or who it beats for. I wish I’d understood these things earlier, because it would have made my younger life a little easier in some respects, but I know them now. I know who I am and where I need to go.

Some days I still feel like I did this too late and I spent a decade and a half being totally the wrong person. Some days I feel way too old to change. Some days it’s so hard to put forth the effort to dress a certain way, style my hair just right, and present to the world the person I want them to see. I look in the mirror and catch a glimpse of that guy and I want to smash my fist into it because why can’t that guy be me every day, without this much effort?

And then I stop and I breathe and I look again, and I’m happy because at least I saw that guy. At least he was there. At least I know what I need, and where I have to go. Who I have to be.

The road is long; the road is hard. The road is paved with both successes and failures, with danger and fear. But it’s also paved with surprises, kindness, and love where I didn’t expect any. I can walk it, maybe slower than some, maybe later than some, but I can travel on it because that road isn’t exclusive.

There’s lots more that can be written on this topic, and lots I hope to eventually write. What I wanted to say, though, is that we all experience different travels, different journeys in life. We learn things about ourselves and if we keep our minds open, we won’t stop learning. We should listen to ourselves and listen to each other.

I came out to my parents, officially, two weeks ago, after about 5 years of self-exploration. I am 36.

I still have parents. They still love me. There’s confusion, and there’s difficulty. There’s misunderstanding and there are a lot of questions. In the end, though, when I told my dad I could handle pretty much anything but losing his love, he just looked at me with a stern expression on his face, the one he gets when he’s about to lay down the law, and said five words:

“That’s never going to happen.”

I’m sure there will be plenty of speedbumps in the road. We’ve already learned that acceptance doesn’t mean ready understanding. Unconditional love doesn’t mean unconditional acceptance. But for the moment, I took a risk and it paid off.

I’ve learned since that coming out isn’t a one-and-done deal. Every friendship I’ve had has been tested. Some have flourished. Some have died. I’ve found new ones I didn’t ever expect.

I’m currently on vacation, and it’s given me a lot of opportunity to re-evaluate what I’ve done with my life so far. I’ve been reflecting on where I am now and where I want to be in five years. I’ve been thinking about what I want, what I need to do with my life, how to make a difference. Change is coming, and I’m not afraid.

Oh, the places I’m going to go.


Label Away…

Ok. It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post. Why? Because I suck at writing blog posts. I think lots of things throughout the course of the day, very few of which make it to this point.  Some of it is that I don’t always know how to say what I want to say properly. Tough situation for someone who writes, right? Part of it, though, is because sometimes I forget I have a voice and I can use it.

So anyhow – I read a post last week that said something that struck a note with me. It wasn’t immediately good or bad, but it resonated and it made me think a lot. It was the generic, highly assumptive statement that ‘we all hate labels.’

Do we?

I used to. When I was confused and struggling to self-identify I think I spent about a week going through a very brief ‘OMG don’t you label me’ phase. Maybe it was, like, two weeks. I didn’t like the idea of someone else looking at me and immediately assuming they KNEW me just because they’d filed me safely in their little box under a certain label of their choosing.

Bad label.

Then, months later, after wallowing through a mire of self-doubt and fear and completely uncertain territory, I began to accept myself. I found a label. And the relief I felt over it made me cry, because for so long I had been feeling completely alone. I was worried that no one was made like me and I would be by myself forever, having to hide and never allowed to say the things about myself I wanted to say.

Good label.

That label gave me freedom. It gave me relief. It made me feel slightly less alone. It didn’t feel entirely right, though, which led to more self-doubt. More questions. More worry that I had it wrong, that I was maybe crazy, a whole slew of nightmares I hadn’t even opened up yet.

I read more. I researched more. I opened myself up to learning about more and more people. Yeah, I found some haters. I found some people that wouldn’t accept me because of the label I chose for myself, but I found some who did. And, eureka, I found some people who used more than one label. I wasn’t stuck with one? OMG I can have ALL THE LABELS.

It was a ‘light bulb’ moment for me, realizing that labels aren’t always good or always bad. Some people might hate applying labels, period. But don’t tell me ‘don’t we just all hate labels’ when those labels I chose for myself helped keep my ass alive. When I sat in the dark wondering if I should bother living because I was never going to fit in anywhere, those labels I chose for myself made me feel like I fit in with someone, somewhere. When someone shyly said to me, “Do you feel like this too?” Well, I was able to nod, and say yes, and maybe there were only two of us. Maybe in the whole world full of round people we were the only two triangle people – but I wasn’t the only triangle person and that was the whole point!

So gimme the labels. I’ll take ’em. I’m not handing them out because I don’t think that’s anyone’s business but their own. It’s not my job to label you, but it’s also not yours to label me. If you ask me who I am and I reply with a laundry list of labels that makes your head spin, you don’t have to do anything but nod and smile.

My labels might not even mean the same thing to me that they mean to you. And that’s okay too. Talk to me about them. Have a discussion about what they mean to us both. That’s cool; we can discuss our labels like rational adults and then settle our disagreements like rational adults – with water guns and nerf battle gear.

Just don’t tell me to hate labels when they gave me nothing but relief from all the fear I felt. I’m going to wear my labels with pride, because for a while there I was floating in no-label-land and it was a pretty scary place. When it comes down to it, knowing I had a label at all was what saved me.

~Arin, the Labeled.

Fly, My Pretty, Fly…

It’s always a little nerve-wracking to publish a story. Even if it’s a short story, even if it’s a freebie, it doesn’t matter. Every time I write, there’s a little piece of me that goes into every character and their world. Putting it out there is a lot like exposing a cut that’s been covered up with a Band-Aid; it’s sort of ultra-sensitive and raw and it feels like it could get hurt again pretty easily. It’s natural to want to shield it and protect it, but what would be the point if I did that?

So off it goes. Wings of Love is my contribution to Valentine Delights, and I had a lot of fun writing it. It was really nice of RJ Scott (and her team) to organize this, and spend time and resources giving a helping hand to new authors like myself who don’t always have the resources or the knowledge to get themselves going. I also have to thank May Peterson, who did the initial edit on my story for me. I’ve never worked with an editor before, and she made the process incredibly enjoyable with her insight and patience. I am now slightly less terrified of editors. 😉

Now it’s just up to you, the readers, to make what you will of it. Hopefully, the stories in this anthology bring a little enjoyment to your day. I’m happy to have had the opportunity to share one incredibly grumpy little angel with you all!


Interview with Elin Gregory

So Elin Gregory has been kind enough to host some of the authors who wrote for the Valentine Delights anthology (out this Friday, 2/12). Here’s my short little interview:

Click here!

The anthology is free, and for lots of us it’s our first time being published, so I’m really excited about it. I’ve learned a lot about publishing, and RJ Scott and her team were really helpful and very kind. I got to work with an editor for the first time, which was terrifying at first but ultimately a great experience (thanks May!).

Hope you enjoy, and Happy Valentine’s Day!



Valentine Delights

This is a first for me, so I gotta share. Sharing is caring, right? 😀 A friend of mine pointed out to me back in December that Love Lane Books had an open call for new and aspiring authors to submit a short story for a Valentine’s Day anthology.

I’ve never written a short story.

I’m not particularly fond of Valentine’s Day.

It was due for submission in less than a month.

BUT, I really wanted to try. I’m usually keen to try anything that I haven’t done before. I’ve never written something so short. It had to be professionally edited before submission, and (*gulp*) I will admit, I’ve never worked with an editor before because they’re SCARY.

Could I do this? Could I write something short but poignant, let someone else mark it up with red and tell me how terrible I am at writing, then submit it and potentially have someone ELSE tell me how terrible I am at writing??


As it turns out, none of those things happened. The editor I worked with was incredibly kind, very professional, and she had lots of great pointers for me. I did get my story finished within the allotted word count. It was edited before the submission deadline. I sat on it for almost a week, thinking maybe I’d just be happy I wrote it and tuck it away nice and neat somewhere. Pretty sure I almost passed out when I hit the ‘send’ button on my email. And then I had to wait.

I know every author has probably gone through this at some point, and maybe it’s trivial now. To me, this is a BIG DEAL. They liked it, and it will be in the anthology! I’m so psyched about it, because the whole writing/editing/submission process is new to me, and this is the very first time in my (ridiculously short and not at all lucrative) writing career that someone ELSE has said ‘yes, publish this.’ That’s so fuckin’ cool!

It’s from Love Lane Books, and it’s called Valentine Delights. It’ll be out on February 12th, and, the best part, it’s FREE. It’ll be available on All Romance Ebooks (did I mention the FREE part?).

So excuse my blatant plug which will probably be repeated incessantly until February 12th (okay, yeah, probably after that too). I’m kinda over the moon about this, and really excited for you to read what I came up with. There’s quite a lot of ‘me’ in it, I think. It’s not exactly contemporary, but it’s also not exactly historical while not exactly being fantasy either. So I’ve narrowed it down for you, yes?

You’ll just have to read it and see. 😀


Holiday Spirit

Hold onto your horses – this is a LONG blog post.

I’ve really been super down in the dumps lately. Work sucks. Living here sucks. I’m far away from my family and I’m so homesick I’m gagging on it. The only place I’ve found any peace lately is at the barn.

Imagine my reaction, then, when I hear The Bitches talking badly about an eleven-year-old little girl behind her back. Yes, The Bitches.

Every barn has them. Hell, every sport or profession or hobby has them. Those men/women/kids who think they’re perfect, who run the place, and who judge the FUCK out of everyone. Does that make me judgmental too? Maybe. But I dealt with The Bitches when I was a kid, too, and I’m super-sensitive about them now. At our barn currently, The Bitches actually work as assistant trainers. And, sadly, they’re adults. One old enough to be my mother (and, coincidentally, the mother of the other one. Guess it runs in the family).

When I was little, The Bitches were other kids who called me stupid. They told me if my parents loved me they’d buy me my own horse and my own saddle and I wouldn’t have to use other peoples’. They organized things for the barn kids to do but only if you have your own horse. Which left out exactly one kid. Yup.

Now, I wasn’t a stupid kid. I knew they were just being jerks. That didn’t stop it from hurting like hell, though, and it shaped a lot of the adult I am now. Do I have my own horse? Hell yes. My own saddle? Two of them, thank you. I’m stupidly materialistic at the barn and I try not to let it show, but there’s always that inner mini-me saying, that one’s mine, I’m worth something.

Right. So onto The Bitches, adult version. We’re gonna call this little girl Jessie. Her grandma brings her to lessons, and because she has to get there from school they’re usually late. So, grandma and Jessie always arrive late and stressed out, and grandma helps Jessie get her pony tacked up because grandma (who also has a horse at our barn) rides too, and can do it a bit faster.

The Bitches have been riding Jessie’s ass about tacking up her own pony. They tell her she should do it on her own, and not depend on grandma. Hey, wait. Grandma’s only helping because they’re LATE and she’s trying to get Jessie to her lesson so she can RIDE with the other kids. WTF, Bitches? This has been going on for a few weeks. The Bitches have hand-picked the kids in this group and they don’t think Jessie is good enough anymore.

Couple nights ago, I overheard a conversation between The Bitches and someone else about how Jessie is a spoiled little brat and is dragging everyone else down and she should be busted down to a beginner class. This bothers me. Talking about children behind their backs bothers me. Calling them names, even if they aren’t intended to hear those names, bothers me. It doesn’t make it okay just because the child isn’t present. NOTHING about adults calling a child names is okay. Ever. For any reason.

Tonight, I really needed to go riding. I’ve been so down and depressed, missing home, feeling stuck, pretty much hating the world, but I can always ride and feel better. So I got to the barn and saddled up babyhorse, who was actually a doll tonight. But, as her name suggests, babyhorse is exactly that, and I keep her training sessions short and sweet because I don’t want her sour on learning. Baby horses are much like young humans – you get about 25 good minutes of solid attention span before ANYTHING ELSE looks AWESOME in comparison.

After putting babyhorse away, I wasn’t nearly done riding so I grabbed Jazzy, the horse of a friend of mine, probably the best horse at the barn and the one I ride in shows for said friend. He’s a fantastic horse. I haven’t ridden him a ton because, well, babyhorse plus short winter days. So I brushed Jazzy and in come grandma and Jessie. It was a blessing that The Bitches weren’t there for the day. Like a breath of fresh, un-Bitchy air.

Jessie gets Pokey, the pony, and grandma gets Bella, her horse. I listen to them as they brush and tack their horses, and NOTHING about Jessie’s behavior says ‘spoiled’ or ‘brat.’ In fact, she declines grandma’s help when it is offered, saying simply, “No, I think I can do it.” Is that what brats say? I dunno. Anyhow, they join me in the ring and we ride, and it’s quickly clear to me that Jessie is having trouble figuring out how to find the correct diagonal at a posting trot. For those of you who don’t know horses, this blog post is already stupid long without me trying to explain the posting (or rising, depending on where you learned) trot. Google it. Long story short, there’s a right way and a wrong way. As you become more experienced you will be able to feel the motion of the horse and know when to ‘rise’ or ‘post’ out of the saddle, but most beginners learn by looking at the motion of the horse’s outside shoulder, standing when it moves forward and sitting when it moves back.

Jessie ain’t gettin’ it. She obviously understands the theory behind it, and she can tell by looking at us if we are on the correct or incorrect diagonal, but she cannot see it herself. One of the barn helpers tries to give her advice. Our instructor, even though he’s running around doing chores, comes out and tries to help her ‘see’ the shoulder motion by applying a piece of tape to Pokey’s shoulder. Nothing’s working, and Jessie is visibly upset, frustrated with her lack of success.

Let me digress here. My mom is a retired high school math teacher. She was that teacher EVERYONE could talk to about their troubles. She was super-popular. She was funny, she was fair, she cared about her kids and you could always tell. She’s taught me many important things throughout my life, but on the subject of teaching itself she has always said, It isn’t the same for everyone. If your student isn’t understanding, it is up to you to find a way to explain it that makes sense to them. It is not up to them to find a better way to understand you. That isn’t teaching.

I wanted to help this kid, more than anything. Because I like her. Because I don’t think she’s spoiled or a brat, and because damn it, I don’t want The Bitches to dictate everything that happens to everyone at our barn. So I asked grandma if I could help and she said sure. Jessie said ok too.

First off – tell Jessie it’s okay. We ALL have trouble learning some things. I still get yelled at about my hands, and I’ve been riding since I was six.

Second – figure out what she doesn’t understand. She says she can’t see the way the horse is moving at a trot. She can see it when he walks. She’s riding a tiny, shaggy little pony. I’d be amazed if she could figure out where his muscles are under all that fluff.

Thirdly – Jessie doesn’t understand what the ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ of a circle are. Seems pretty normal for an eleven-year-old. I probably didn’t know that either, but it’s critical for the posting trot.

We start riding in circles. I point out to her the inside of the circle (the hole in the donut), and the outside of the circle (the donut itself). We make LOTS of circles, until Jessie can tell me every time where the inside and outside are. Now she gets it, but she still can’t see the shoulders. I tell her not to worry. Just look how the pony moves. Feel it. Because really, looking at it is a beginner’s tool. What you really want to do is FEEL which leg the horse is moving and when, and then you’ll never have to guess again because you KNOW where it is.

She tries the pony. She tries it on Bella. Marginal success. She just cannot see the leg moving that everyone is telling her to see. It’s not her fault. People see things differently. It’s like trying to explain the color purple to someone who’s been blind from birth. Whatever she’s seeing is not what we’re trying to make her see. Not her fault.

Finally I think, well, let her ride Jazzy. He’s HUGE compared to Pokey, and he’s very smooth. His owner won’t mind; he’s not the sort of guy to go, ‘Oh no you can’t ride my horse.’ I toss her up in the saddle and she starts trotting around in a circle and BLAM, gets the correct diagonal. She stops, starts again, and BLAM, hits it right off the bat. Stops again, starts, gets it wrong, and fixes it IMMEDIATELY. There’s something about this that is completely clicking with her. When I ask her what, she says she can feel him moving and she knows when it’s wrong. Bigger horse, bigger movement. Easier to feel.

She proceeds to prove this in both directions. Maybe she can’t see his shoulder going back and forth but she can damn sure feel it because she gets it 8 times out of ten and, most importantly, CORRECTS HERSELF when she’s wrong without being told.

So there, I want to tell The Bitches. There’s nothing spoiled about this poor kid. She’s frustrated and she’s a bit of a perfectionist. And she sure doesn’t deserve to be ‘knocked down’ into another group just because you think she’s not worthy of you. She doesn’t need you.

Okay, maybe I’m telegraphing my own experiences onto her, but I’ll be damned if I see some kid get treated the way I was, by adults who should know better.

When we finished I asked her if she would like me to get permission from my friend to ride Jazzy a little more. She said, ‘Yes please,’ and gave me a high 5.

Spoiled brat, my ass.

I’m not an instructor at my barn, though I’ve been at other places in the past. If Jessie wants, I’ll teach her myself. I don’t see anything in her but a good kid who’s a little shy and trying to learn. I can dig that.

Most of all, the whole time we were doing this (it had to be at least an hour), I had no time to drown in self-pity. I wasn’t thinking about my shitty job, or my family a thousand miles away, or even what the hell I was going to have for dinner. My focus was totally on her, and I loved it. I’d do this all the time if I could.

Maybe I was trying to help her out, but she probably helped me a lot more than I helped her tonight. Maybe I’ll tell her that working with her was fun for me, and I really needed some fun tonight. I’m not really good at feelings, and emotions, and blah blah blah. But The Bitches definitely lit a fire under my ass when I heard them talking about this little girl.

Not sure that’s exactly the right ‘holiday spirit,’ but hey, it’s something. Happy holidays, whatever that means to you.


Need Some Holiday Reading?

Just a little post to let you know that all three of my novellas, Someone’s Favorite, Someone’s Hero, and Someone’s Secret, will be on sale for $0.99 each at starting Friday morning, 12/11, until 12 am on Monday morning, 12/14.

For absolutely no reason other than just ’cause. Links are below, although the sale won’t start until Friday.

Someone’s Favorite


Someone’s Hero


Someone’s Secret









For those who haven’t heard, I wrote Someone’s Favorite as a Christmas present for a friend of mine who then beat me on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper until I published it (that’s still a thing for me I guess – the rolled-up newspaper is here to stay!). Read all about that here, if you’re so inclined.

I’m new to this publishing thing and still finding my voice as an author, but writing is something I’ve been doing as a hobby for myself since I was old enough to pick up a crayon. It will probably come as no surprise to anyone who frequents this site that my first stories were about horses.

Actually, a lot of them still are. Hmm.

At any rate I’m working on several things at the moment and it may be a little bit before I have another one to publish, but honestly that’s because I’m doing my best to challenge myself and make everything I write as good as I think it can get before offering it up. I never thought a single person would buy the first one. Or the second. Or even the third. And yet people have, and they’ve enjoyed what I wrote. Even more miraculous, they’ve asked for more.

I’m humbled by that, and flattered by it. So I promise… it’s coming. And I’m going to put my heart and soul into every effort.


The Anti-rant…

I don’t really go on a lot of rants. Seriously, it’s not my thing. So I’m not going to. I will say, though, that sometimes people do and say things that are hurtful even if they don’t mean them to be. When that happens, it’s often the part of the injured party to ‘rise above it’ and ‘not let it hurt them.’

You know what? Bullshit. If someone hurts you, even inadvertently, it’s okay to feel that way. It’s even okay to (calmly) tell that person who said it that they hurt you and why. It’s even okay to expect an apology, although you may not get one.

So here, I’m going to go into some personal stuff. Not because I think I owe to anyone, but because if someone comes along and reads this and gains some insight from it, it might help someone else out in the future.

Someone I know, who I consider a friend, asked me the other day, “So have you talked to your therapist about your gender issue?”

At the time my response was vague and inarticulate, because while I might be coherent online, in person I tend to get very shy and self-conscious when attention is focused on me. I’m pretty anxious in social situations and don’t really do well formulating snap-answers. I’m always the one who has an epiphany five hours later – ‘Aha! THAT’S what I should have said.’

So hearing that question was actually a little hurtful, and a little annoying. But rather than be angry about it, I’m going to try to turn it into a learning opportunity.

For one – why must you automatically assume I see a therapist?

For another – I don’t actually have any issues with my gender. YOU seem to have issues with it. So, have you spoken to YOUR therapist about my gender issue? Because it seems like you might want to.

When I first realized I was different, I was maybe in my teens. I had no idea HOW I was different, though, because no one in our community or my family talked about things like gender and sexuality. I didn’t know anyone like me, and none of my friends in high school or college indicated they were anything but cisgender and either straight or gay. Had I know there were other options on the menu, I might have reached this epiphany earlier in life. I wish I had.

But as it happens, I got through all my schooling without having this super self-exploration. As a result I never really felt like I’d gone through whatever process it is young people go through to learn WHO they really are. My friends all seemed to have this idea of themselves as a whole person. I didn’t. Not for quite a while.

The revelation that I was, indeed, different didn’t come until I learned words like ‘transgender’ and ‘genderfluid.’ I started reading, and reading, and reading, while boxes were being checkmarked all over the map of my brain and lightbulbs were flipping on everywhere. And then – I cried. I cried my eyeballs out. With relief, because I had a name for what I felt inside and I wasn’t alone or crazy. With fear, because I didn’t know how to handle it and I wasn’t sure I’d ever find acceptance.

As I continue on this journey, I know I’m going to run into all kinds of hate (I have – but I expect more). I get all kinds of questions like the one from above, even from people who claim to want to be my friends.

So, folks, your take-away is this:

No person’s journey is the same as anyone else’s. My adventure in discovering and being comfortable in my skin will not be the same as the next person’s, even if we eventually fall under the same labels and feel comfortable there. We all get there by different roads. Some of us got there faster. Some of us got there slower. Some of us are still picking our way over potholes.

No matter the person, no matter the relationship, treat them with respect. Treat them the way you’d want to be treated yourself. Me, I’m still on my journey. I’m actually happy to talk about it – but when your conversation opener is the one above, you’re immediately coloring the exchange by placing the person you’re talking to in a position of assumed inferiority by implying there’s something wrong with them. Who would actually want to open up and discuss it in that situation? Not many.

If you have friends or family members and you want to support them, demonstrate that not by asking them invasive questions, but by making sure they are SAFE first and foremost and then educating yourself. Let them know you’d love to talk to them about it. Ask them if there’s a website you might be able to read to learn more about whatever it is they’re going through – a lot of sites I’ve seen out there have some very good tips on how to discuss these topics (I’ll try to come up with a list later, but work is calling).

Open a conversation politely and respectfully. If you don’t know how to do that, ask your therapist. Because that seems like a bigger issue, to me, than whether or not I’ve discussed my gender ‘issue.’


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