My year began with an overwhelming sense of nausea and a frightening feeling of purposelessness as a result of the pressure from an absurd and amorphous, yet very tangible world. Instead of running away from it into the safety net of society’s roles and realities, I chose to justify my existence through finding meaning for myself. In a series of experiences in which I bared all, both figuratively and literally, I was able to overcome these feelings of disparity and discover a series of working truths that I hope to carry on through the new year.
CONNECT WITH EACH OTHER
Facebook showed me that my list of friends has more than doubled in the past year. Once I began to open myself up, I found myself drawing more people in to learn from and strengthening my own communication skills. Cooperation, not competition, sends a strong message of solidarity in dark times.
I organized the Mr. Trans Seattle pageant in February with my good friend Yani. It was an opportunity for me to bring together several different groups of people for a common cause: raising money for my top surgery and for Gender Justice League’s Trans* Pride celebration. The pageant was one of the most revolutionary displays of male beauty, talent, and personality. When I so proudly walked side by side with my trans* siblings and allies through Capitol Hill, I felt the freedom that comes when we open our hearts to get together and celebrate our differences.
Through working at Re-bar, I began to immerse myself in the underground culture of electronic dance music. In that community, we all develop a common cosmic connection through the constant beat. Seattle’s Decibel Festival captured everything that is so brilliant about this music and the power it has to connect us to our inner selves and as a collective force. Legendary Detroit DJ and producer Erika threw down an all-vinyl techno set at the High & Tight after hours party that took me so deep I can only describe it as transcendental psychoanalytic therapy. Everybody there felt it too, according to the writing on the wall.
THINK IT, BE IT
There is a theory that says if you think about something long and hard enough, you will get it. Whether or not you believe it, there is no denying that focusing your mind and committing your time to achieve what you want does bring out the best in you. Maybe not immediately, but every experience has value and adds up to the final answer.
My number one goal for this past year was to have my top surgery. Against all odds, financial and otherwise, I did it. I envisioned myself lying topless on the beach, free of any anxieties over my chest. My summer was spent mostly shirtless (despite my doctor telling me not to!), lazily floating rivers, jumping buck ass naked off my friend’s boat, and climbing high mountains to luscious waterfalls. All perfect metaphors for the meaningful life I am seeking.
An early status update of mine expressed frustration with the gay male community’s lack of respect and space for trans* folks. Although I had been sexually active with men in the past, I had yet to make myself a visible part of that community. The more I resisted it, the more it persisted. I let go of any ideas I had about what people might think about my body and place in the community and chose to be the change I wanted to see. I let myself have feelings for the first time ever over someone born male, I actively engaged gay men in discussions about trans*-inclusiveness, and took my leap of faith in a bathhouse. These things all taught me that I can define for myself what it means to be male and gay.
HAPPINESS IS OBTAINABLE
Scientists have determined that your happiness level is the result of a complex interaction of genes, life circumstances, and behaviors. While we may each have a specific genetic set point for happiness, a large part of how you feel is under your control. It may not always be easy, but seeking out positive experiences and taking action to change the way you feel can bring out the best in you from the absolute worst, regardless of your circumstances.
My lowest point of the year came shortly after having surgery, which I naively believed would grant me immediate relief from years of feeling awful. What I learned from this is to be patient with the process of life. In order to feel truly happy we have to accept that sometimes life just sucks. Nothing is permanent, however, including our feelings. It’s important to not let yourself get stuck in the misery of thinking the world is just out to get you because it doesn’t always make sense in the moment. I may not have it all completely figured out, but I can say that without a doubt I am happier than ever since having surgery and writing this OP.
All year, I had been working two jobs to support myself. I was feeling overworked, under appreciated, and completely apathetic. I risked losing everything and put myself in an incredibly stressful position. Three months later, I’m supporting myself solely through working at Re-bar. My flexible schedule also allowed me to pursue this writing position at Jetspace. I feel more alive than ever, and in tune with my comrades, since breaking those proletariat chains.
This year has shown me that a dynamic human spirit lives within all of us, able to see through the illusions of the world through presence and awareness. When we come together, it is an unstoppable force of higher consciousness. Hate, fear, and ignorance will fade away to make room for acceptance, infinite variance, and pure love. If my next year is anywhere near as chaotically wondrous as this past one was, I expect nothing more than experiencing that ultimate love. Perhaps with a spice of romance.
Oh, and I got some cool new tattoos. And ate A LOT OF PIZZA.