Top Surgery Reflections

A year ago I had top surgery.

Honestly, I don’t know what I thought my life would be like a whole year later. I’m a published author. I’m about to graduate from college. I have a great group of friends and I really don’t have anything to feel bad about.

My depression is still kicking, but that’s never going away.

My anxieties are still there, but I’m learning how to cope with them.

I don’t really have the energy to write something long and well-thought out, but I guess what I want to say is that it was more than worth it. Top surgery was a terrifying concept — something I’ve wanted for so long and never thought as attainable until it was only a few days away. Even then, I was convinced something would happen and it would stop me from surgery.

But that didn’t happen. I got what I needed — because yes, I did need it — and now I’m in a much better place.

Top surgery was lifesaving for me.

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Family Day

Twenty years ago, in a city in China, a little baby was handed to his new parents. He was wearing a pale yellow onesie and had the most confused expression on his face. The people who had been taking care of him for the past nine months were no doubt sad, but happy because this was going to be a new life with new opportunities for the child. Then, with the last few goodbyes traded and assurances given, the baby was taken away.

As you might have guessed, that baby was me and I have no recollection of what happened. I’ve seen the little home video that my parents took — thank god for their obsession with filming me as a child — and it’s always been a question in my mind: what was I thinking? I was certainly confused. I doubt I had seen a white person before, let alone two — and one with red hair!

Adoption is complicated. My family has always been very upfront with me about it — not like they could hide it (though they were told to by several people) — and I appreciate that greatly. It’s never been difficult for me to talk about being adopted, even though I think that I didn’t quite know what to talk about for the longest time.

But today is happy. Today is Family Day.

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I’m in the process of writing a piece for Dear Adoption, a site where adoptees — surprise, surprise — write about some part of their experiences and submit them. Mine is focused on how being adopted has really effected my transition. It’s really hard to explain to people who aren’t adopted and when I can share links to it, I will. I’m excited to have the chance to put my feelings on paper, albeit digital paper.

I think to a certain extent, all trans people feel a bit of guilt at some point in their transition — then again, I really shouldn’t claim I speak for all trans people. I don’t and I never will.

But there’s such a persistent narrative of parents “losing” a child who transitions, or of people suddenly feeling like they have to deal with a whole “new” person. A lot of media seems to perpetuate this idea. And I think it’s further complicated by the fact that — personally, at least — there is the sense of having to kill off your old self. At the very least, you’re becoming someone new.

And while this new person isn’t a lie — they are, in fact, your authentic self — that doesn’t stop outsiders from feeling like you’re suddenly someone new.

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Back Home

I drove back to Arizona with my parents the other night; the school year over, I returned to Arizona and am currently enjoying my month off before launching forward into an exciting internship with East West Players later this summer. The last time I was in Arizona was in early January this year. I was very much ready to return to school but also anxious because I had a lot up ahead. Including, but not limited to, fundraising and scheduling my life around my upcoming top surgery appointment.

Getting ready for top surgery is probably one of the strangest experiences of my life. I spent the entirety of the weeks leading up to it convinced it was a dream, that something would happen and stop me from getting it. The night before, my parents and I had to rush to the only open pharmacy to fill a prescription that I had forgotten about. Yes, I forgot about a prescription. No, it wasn’t on purpose. Yes, that’s how bad my memory is.

I’ll probably write about the time immediately after surgery another day. But today I looked in the mirror as I got ready for bed and I realized — this is the first time I’ve been in Arizona since I got top surgery. Later this month, I’ll be spending time with people who haven’t seen me since I was on T let alone surgery. To be specific, I’m going to my high school’s graduation ceremony since I have friends who are seniors. I’ll see them, fellow alumni, and old teachers. It’s a weird thought.

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Let’s Talk Fanfiction

Now, on the off-chance you don’t know what I’m talking about, let me provide a brief explanation. Fanfiction is the general term for any written work by someone who is a fan of another work. What makes fanfiction interesting is that, while it generally uses characters and settings from an existing work (let’s say, a television show like Doctor Who or a book like Harry Potter), there’s the implicit understanding that the fanfiction isn’t canon. That is, it isn’t official. People who read fanfiction know that this isn’t written by the official authors — in fact, that’s the whole point. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

Fanfiction is part of fan culture and it has a long and rather interesting history, not just with how fan culture has developed over the years (Star Trek being one of the first big fandoms) but also with how authors have treated fanfiction. That being said, I could go on for much longer about the history but I would do a poor job of it. The resources are out there; use Google or your favorite search engine if you really want to learn more.

But as the title of this post suggests, let’s talk about fanfiction and why exactly it’s so important to me and to millions of other people out there. Not just because it provides a good escape from reality, like any half decent work of fiction, but because it allows us to change what really happens. Not literally, of course. But it lets a group of dedicated fans come up with more.

And often times, it’s the more that gets people to read.

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The Grey Teacup Cafe

17888540_1152620584846542_1409853616_nWhen I was in high school, I wrote a few plays. Now, for the most part they weren’t very good. Ok, in all honesty none of them were that good. The ideas were there and there were a few witty one-liners, but overall the plots were rather rote and the characters altogether fell flat. But I had a lot of fun writing and it was good experience. Most important to my future writing career, however, was that I was encouraged by my high school theater teacher. She advocated for me to be allowed to put on one of my plays senior year, with progress going as far as to have me organize a staged reading before school politics stopped it from happening. The name of that show was The Grey Teacup Cafe and this Friday and Saturday I have the honor of directing the first ever production of the play at my college.

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Regarding Survivor

Recently, a transgender competitor on Survivor was outed by his competitor during the process by which the contestants pick who goes home. The competitor, a gay man, was quickly shouted down and called out by the other members of the show and the host of Survivor, with the man who outed the transgender man being voted off. I’ve watched the clip and I read the official response by the transgender man, Zeke Smith.

My post isn’t going to talk about the event in detail, but this is the full text of the response and includes the clip at the bottom. I definitely encourage you to read it and watch the video if you haven’t already or aren’t already familiar with the event.

Now, I’ve got a lot to talk about because this is a deeply personal issue for me. In fact, my first reaction to hearing about this was horror. For a few years, there was nothing more terrifying than the idea of being outed to my family. Even today, hearing about stories like this (such as the outing of athletes at the 2016 Olympics, Lily Wachowski in 2016, and so on) makes my heart race, my head woozy, all of my worst nightmares come to life again. It’s so bad, that even now, a more or less out and proud queer person, the idea of having to disclose my status as trans to strangers is… not my idea of a picnic.

So yes, when I first heard that another LGBTQ person had been outed in a wildly public setting, I couldn’t bring myself to open the article. But then I started to read about how Smith reacted, how his fellow cast mates supported him including the usually-neutral host. And that convinced me to give the article a chance. I’m glad I did.

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