Sunday, September 5, 2010

Kingdom Hearts and My Gender Identity

I was a sophomore in high school when I heard rumors and started reading articles about a video game collaboration between Disney and Square Enix. The initial reaction amongst gamers were typical: What kind of love-child will such a union make? Will it be good? How could Square allow itself to align with something as "family-friendly" (minus the hidden sexual innuendos found in various Disney films and VHS covers) as Disney?

Kingdom Hearts logo

After a year of hype, skepticism, and curiousity, Kingdom Hearts was released in late 2002 and went on to becoming a huge commercial success. The cheerfulness and light-hearted nature of the Disney worlds and characters balanced nicely with Square Enix's depth of storytelling and plot, bringing together a game that was enjoyable on many different levels.

Shadow, the lowest form of Heartless

The story of Kingdom Hearts revolved around the concept of darkness residing within the hearts of people. If someone allows their inner darkness to consume them, they become creatures called Heartless, entities devoid of emotion. They become purely instinctual beings bent on seeking other hearts to corrupt and turn into Heartless. Think of it as the Disney version of the zombie plague, a bit violent in nature but not nearly as gory or grotesque in appearance.

Kingdom Hearts II took the concept even further by introducing creatures called Nobodies. As darkness turns a person's heart into a Heartless, another process occurs simultaneously that turns the remaining body and soul into a Nobody. While the strength of a Heartless is determined by how much darkness is within the heart, a Nobody's strength is determined by its will. If the will is strong enough, a Nobody can retain an appearance strikingly similar to their former self. Strong-willed Nobodies appear human, are able to think and make decisions, and even have memories of their former selves. Nobodies in general, however, do not have emotions because they are without hearts. They often will use their memories as a way of pretending that they still have emotions. And yet, without hearts, Nobodies know that they are not meant to exist.

Dusk, lowest form of Nobody

As a transgendered person, I know what it's like to be both a Heartless and a Nobody. All the light and hope that was given to me in the first four or five years of my life began to dim as I got older and became painfully aware that I was different. I hated wearing dresses for as long as I could remember, had no desire to play with Barbie dolls or wear makeup, and I was more interested in playing sports and games than being attracted to boys. While many girls enter a "tomboy" phase in their early childhood, most of them outgrow it once puberty hits or by early adulthood. I, on the other hand, despised my body as it started taking on a more female appearance. For me, puberty was the beginning of my inner darkness.

What kept the darkness from possessing my heart was my imagination. In my heart, I was Aladdin singing 'A Whole New World' to Jasmine. I was young Arthur pulling the sword out of the stone to become King of Britain. I was the hero rescuing the damsel in distress from out of the hightower. In my heart, mind, and soul, I was everything that my body could not be. Instead, my body had to adhere to the expectations of society and culture. People tried to make a Princess Aurora out of a Prince Phillip and being a child who longed to be accepted and loved by others, I did the best I could to be that princess.

However, the darkness weighed heavily on me again sometime around high school when I realized that I was not a princess but I could not be a prince either. After being told for so long that having a female body disqualified me from "Prince" status, the imaginary world that kept my heart full of light began to crack. And thus was born my Nobody, the female body that was able to interact with people and the world around me but lacked a heart. She was able to trick herself into being in love, forming relationships with family, friends, and coworkers, all the while aware of the emptiness inside her.

My Heartless, on the other hand, was what many would call a "man-hating lesbian". I figured that if I couldn't be a man, then I might as well call them out on all of their nonsense and emasculate them to the fullest extent without risking getting knocked in the face. I grew up in a perspective where so many guys were breaking girls' hearts, so it pained me to be the shoulder they cried on while I yearned to say, "If I was him, I'd never make you cry."

Roxas (left) and Sora (right), one incomplete without the other.

As the player progresses through Kingdom Hearts II, they come to realize that Roxas is Sora's Nobody, created from when Sora sacrificed his heart for Kairi's back in the first game. Even though Sora escaped his brief life as a Heartless and returned as his former self, Roxas was already born and completely oblivious to his prior existance. Unlike normal Nobodies, Roxas contained some essence of Sora, thus allowing him to feel emotions.

Roxas and Sora becoming whole

After countless battles and struggles, Sora is not only reunited with his long-lost friends Riku and Kairi, but he at last meets Roxas and becomes whole again. In learning to accept and embrace myself as the prince that lived in my heart for so long, I too am finally whole. Although the darkness remains ever present in the world today, the light in my heart will continue to endure and shine on for the world to see.

Whoever said that you can't learn about life through video games clearly has no clue on the subject at all! 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Email from Thomas Beatie!

A couple weeks ago I emailed Mr. Beatie because I was curious as to where he got his top surgery. He was born, raised, and transitioned in Hawaii and so he's very much a local island boy like myself. He didn't tell me exactly where he got his top surgery done, but by his reply I realized that I'm better off planning a trip to the mainland for my top surgery instead of hoping for a local plastic surgeon to do the procedure.

Oh well. I love traveling!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Knowledge is Powerless if you Don't use it!

So I've been pouring through YouTube a lot lately, learning from other guys and their experiences. I've been getting ideas on how I want to work out, get in shape, eat right, etc...but I'm so busy studying and researching that I don't make time to actually DO something with the things I'm learning.

For starters, I want to learn how to dance hip hop pop/lock, tutting, etc. I've been on a K-pop kick lately, well, with only one particular group (SHINee and their song "Lucifer") and it's motivating me to finally learn how to dance. I'm just nervous about being able to afford classes or having the proper place to practice at home. I'm pretty good about thinking, but not so much on doing. I gotta keep working on making the two things more balanced in my life.

In other news, my voice has dropped more lately. Yay! And my Dad loves me no matter what, yay! Life is good. W00T!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Eye of the Storm

Not even two months into transition and I'm already praying for the day when this is all over. The day when I'll be able to look at myself in the mirror and smile from ear to ear no matter what part of myself I see. The day when I join my brothers in the "100% passing" club. Actually, it should be called the "No Longer Misread" club only because I am at odds with the term 'passing' right now. For me it implies posing and I for one am not a poser. Not since coming to terms with my male identity anyway.

What really sucks is that my first 6 months on T coincides with how long I'll be without a driver's license. I wish I could take that night back...I wish I could take back all the stupidity that occurred before, during, and after that.

And dumbass has lost my State ID, the only other source of legal identification when using my credit or debit card. Granted I can go to the state office and get a new one, but I haven't even had it long and I've already misplaced it. To top it off, my car battery died earlier in the day. Thankfully I was able to get a jump and make it home safely, but now I can't get it start up again. Mom was being a grouch about it earlier today and I haven't had a physical conversation with my Dad since getting my new phone on I'm lost and thinking I just need to find my own way to get the battery and install the thing myself. Or tell my dad about it in the morning. He'll be at work, but at least having another conversation with him via text messaging will mean another step towards having a civil personal conversation later.

In the mean time, I have two legs, money for bus rides, and an mp3 player. I'm not worried about getting around, but I'm going to miss the convenience of having a car taking me hither and thither about.

There are so many thoughts running in my mind. It's so weird to watch life move in such a crazy, fanatic fashion all around me and yet in my heart I am calm. Depressed and lonely at times, but generally calm. My own little eye of the proverbial storm of life. Life is hectic as it is, but adding on the extra steps of transitioning just makes the equation even more complex.

No one else that I know of personally has ever had to deal with the negative effects of being misread or mislabeled. Most open-minded folk (such as my friends and a few of my coworkers) would just laugh and shrug if some cashier called them the wrong gender pronoun. If they do react, it would probably be because they feel offended and not heartbroken. For me, every time someone uses the world "girl" or "she" when referring to me my heart sinks and I feel a part of me just shrivel up inside. This occurrence ebbs and flows throughout any given day to the point where I come home feeling like an overused accordion.

Then I've got the people who are gracious enough to listen to me rant and rave about the goings on in my life, but later on they treat me like I'm being melodramatic and overly-sensitive. Seriously, can anyone really blame me for being sensitive about my life right now? I'm caught between two worlds, the one occupied solely by me and the one I'm forced to share with others. I'm trying to open my world up to everyone else by way of transition, but others don't seem to care about my world.

The only one that has cared and been as committed to this transition as I am is the woman who helped me start my transition in the first place. While I don't feel safe being her boyfriend while we have a long-distance gap between us, I do feel safe knowing she sees me for who I am. She was there when I (as "she") died and I (as Cyrus) stood in "her" place. She understands the disconnect that I see and feel between who I am in my heart and who the rest of the world thinks I am. She is everything I could ever ask for in the way of moral support even though we are separated by half an ocean and three quarters of a continent.

Despite her love and support, I know I have a lot to work on within myself. Not just with me dealing with transitioning and having to deal with people dealing with my transition, but the normal day-to-day things as well. Things that I fear might get loss if I focus too much on my transition. Things like college and saving up money for things like traveling and buying a new car audio system. I don't want transition to run my life, but right now in these early stages I can't help but be caught up in it.

Needless to say, sitting in the eye is just a sad consolation prize. All I want is this storm to be over.

Friday, July 23, 2010

I Came Out to My Father

So...on Wednesday I sent an email to my father. I'll post it as a separate page. I decided to hang out at a friend's house thinking that I might need some solace while I read my father's return email (I emailed it to him while he was at work). Unfortunately, I did not get a return email. The only sign that I got that he might've even read my email was the long look he gave me as he pulled into the parking stall as I was ready to leave. I've been panicking, going over every harsh scenario in my mind.

I mean, my own mother said to me, "How do you expect a woman to love you if you're like that?" and "Why would you go against God's way". She even tried to force me to say that I'm a girl and the only sign of acquiescence I gave was when I reluctantly said, "Yes, I was born a girl."

So if the parent who hardly had any positive say in my childhood could have the nerve to say something like that to me, imagine the things the parent who worked three jobs to raise my three siblings and me could say...

I've been scared to be home when he is. I haven't been able to sleep or eat well and I'm an overall mess..

All my friends have been trying to support me as best as they can and I love them dearly for it. And yet...I feel so damn only solace is reading the transitions of other men or watching YouTube videos. I'm really wanting a hug right now...a touch from some other human being telling me that I'm okay and that I'm loved. I know these things, but it's been so long since I've actually physically felt that kind of comfort.

Sometimes, actually....a lot of times...knowing that you're not lost and alone doesn't stop the feelings from hurting.

Friday, July 16, 2010

When Romance Comes to Terms With Reality

I have spent my entire life being one of those hopeless romantic types. My very first crush happened in the first grade with a girl named Tara. We spent many good times together, both by ourselves and amongst friends. One memory that stands out in particular is when she and I were hanging out around the jungle gym singing "A Whole New World" together after school. Naturally, I was Aladdin and she was Jasmine. I'll never know how she felt about that moment, but it was incredibly significant and romantic to me. That memory is probably the beginning of why I am a sucker for girls who sing and love music.

I also have my father to thank for my musical romanticism. My parents divorced when I was about five years old and the years that followed were filled with listening to him sing songs like Toto's "I'll Be Over You" or The Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody". Every time I heard him sing, I felt the power of his emotions through his voice. All the joy, heartbreak, passion, and sorrow he ever experienced he put into whatever song he sang. And not just at karaoke outings either. He and a few of his high school pals put a band together and they performed at local gigs all over the island. I don't quite remember going to their performances (probably because I was way too young), but I do remember the practice jam sessions. It made me want to learn music so badly.

Well, music has been a strong interest of mines but I never got serious with it. I love to sing, but I know I'm an amateur. That never stopped me from trying to recreate the magic of a nice, cheesy duet though.

The only difference is that this Aladdin never found his Jasmine. Or maybe I did, but lost her somehow. No idea either way. What I do know, however, is that I want to create more than just a sweet-sounding tune with someone. I want to create a lifetime symphony of highs and lows, melody and cacophony. And that is not something I can do alone.

And yet, I am alone. Recently single. Granted, part of the reason was self-inflicted. I left my girlfriend of a year and four months for my first girlfriend from 11 years ago. She made me believe that we had a chance at restarting a romance that began when we were both too young to know who we were. We wanted to believe in all that Hollywood BS about "love conquering all" and all that, but instead we learned about human nature and the reality of love. Back then we were separated by distance and finances. Back then we lacked maturity and the the freedom that age would've given us. Above all, we did not know who we were as individuals. If we lacked that important piece of knowledge, how the heck would we have survived as a long-distance teenage lesbian couple anyway?

Thankfully, time has allowed us both to grow and mature into our own. We grew apart, and yet we both held on to feelings of hope. And sometimes that little spark of hope is what it takes for love to grow. Sometimes hope is all we ever have against an uncertain future. But still, we grew apart. There were times when I was allowed to peek into her world to see what was going on and I found myself not liking what I saw. I'm sure she had seen some things about me she found displeasing as well. No matter what I didn't like, something told me that she was still the same girl I fell in love with all those years ago.

And now, here we are. Me, a quarter-century old transman in his early stages through the transition gauntlet. She once told me that she loved me for who I was and not for what I was. I believed her then and some part of me believes her still. But learning from past experience, when someone tells you that they still need to "figure themselves out", it usually means that they're just not that into you and would rather look for someone they're into but are too chicken to say so to your face. Or, maybe this time I could be actually wrong for a change and what she said should be taken at face value. As long as she decides not to talk to me, I'll never know.

I've learned the difference between loving someone and being in love with someone and trust me, I sometimes wish such a difference didn't exist. Having them be one and the same would've spared me a lot of drama and sadness.

But my life wasn't meant to be that easy was it?

I know that I'm not an easy person to be with. I'm stubborn, possessive, and I have an ego that likes to be stroked. I like having at least some notion of where my feet are going even if the entire itinerary isn't fully mapped out. I like knowing that I'm wanted and that I make a difference. I like knowing that I matter to someone. But then again...don't we all like knowing that?

The thing I value most in a relationship is honesty. Yes, the truth hurts. Yes, the truth is ugly, but lies, excuses, and deceit is even uglier. And I don't want that in my life. What I want is someone who can call me out on my on BS because rest assured I'll be more than happy to call them out on theirs if I have to. I want someone who isn't afraid to say exactly what they think or feel and doesn't bother wasting my time with pretty words and false hopes. I want someone who is aware that my heart is not some plaything that can be used and discarded at their leisure.

But when it comes to me being romantically involved with someone, it isn't all about me. And so I stepped back and gave her the space she wants to figure her life out. I find myself wondering exactly why am I still in love with her after all these years in spite of the fact that we've never met in person. I wanted to find out the answer to that very question, that's why I put down a relationship with the person that stood by me through all of my BS.

So here I am, alone and wondering when any of this going to make sense. While I'm definitely not putting my life on hold, my heart still waits for an answer. It still longs for a song the can only be sung with two voices. The song of Love.

Guess you can say that I'm still a romantic, but thankfully not as hopeless as I once was.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

2 Weeks 5 days on T

- Ingrown hairs on legs are becoming more inflamed and pronounced.

- First time experiencing "hell week" while on T and although the cramps were still annoying, I ended up not taking my usual amount of ibuprofen (not sure because of the T or pride or both). 2nd day is usually the heaviest/most painful and that is when I keep the generic meds handy, but I decided not to use them. The pain wasn't so bad that I needed to reach for the bottle in a manner of desparation, but it was present. Flow is slightly less than I've noticed in the past as well.

- Continued oiliness in face resulting in more breakouts, but daily facial washing is keeping it to a minimal.

- Trying to record more of my singing voice. While I might miss being able to hit higher notes later on, I don't like how I sound when I "sing like a girl".

- Not sure if I'm actually seeing an increase in arm hair or if I'm just waiting to see it.

- While I'm not sure if my muscle mass has changed much yet, I do somehow feel a little stronger and I am becoming more nervous about increasing abdominal fat. I really should try to work out.

- Leg hairs seem normal. Underarm hairs seem slightly thicker and also seem to grow back faster, but I'm not sure. Am still shaving in those places because it just looks better on me that way. If athletes and male models can shave their body hair, so can I.