Transgender Poetry

It has been far too long since I engaged in the creative endeavor of writing poetry, where "far too long" can be more precisely expressed as "almost two years". Given that my recently discovered transgender identity has been on my mind a lot these days, it made sense to use that topic as a springboard for a juicy new poetic concoction. So, without further ado, here is my latest creation:
In the most fleeting of moments, a hidden switch can flip,
And a journey of tremendous proportions can suddenly begin.
Masked by inertia and acidic apathy, concealed deep within,
A contrary identity lies dormant, but with a flippant quip
The visceral nature of the self quickly starts to emerge.
Rough razors remove unwelcome fibrous bodily protrusions,
And luscious lurid lacy garments dispel masculine illusions.
Naysayers swiftly relegate such exploration to an evil urge,
Something transient and perverted, to be kept in the dark
Gloomy confines of a closet. But when the truth comes out,
Even vigorous opposition can produce only temporary doubt.
Nefarious adversaries try to extinguish the joyful spark,
Decrying deviant gender expression as unnatural aberration,
Evincing prejudice and hatred in lieu of understanding.
Resisting the rigid confines of normativity can be demanding,
Whittling down our defenses and leading us to desperation.
Oppression and rejection cultivate shame and mental strife,
Making us question our human worth, piercing us to the core,
And yet we go on, reminding ourselves what we do this for.
Night gives way to daylight, and we resign ourselves to life.
Although this poem is partially inspired by my personal gender exploration, it intends to transcend my own experiences and seeks to speak to the struggles that the transgender community at large has faced and still has to deal with, particularly in the current political climate that threatens not just our civil rights but also our continued existence. The poetic medium is well-suited for dramatic embellishment for effect, but in this present iteration there really isn't a whole lot of embellishment because for many trans people the experience of discrimination and aggression by those who do not understand us is not only very real but also a daily occurrence.

I am privileged enough by my geographic vicinity and my status as an educated individual working in a generally open-minded industry (software development) to have had a relatively easy time thus far, but I am still fairly early in my transition and the new conservative government that was chosen by voters this past November is still in the process of ramping up to its full capacity of operation. Hence, there is plenty of time for bad things to happen and for my transgender journey to take a turn for the worse as a result of hateful acts of emboldened transphobic individuals and organizations. I obviously hope that such things won't come to pass, but I would be a fool not to prepare myself for such possibilities.



The 2017 Reboot

Yikes, it's been over a year since my last post, but now I'm back and hoping to stick around. As you may have noticed, I changed up the theme of the blog a little bit (and of course I changed my name on Google+) to better reflect the new and improved me (keep reading for the big but pretty obvious reveal). 2016 was an, ahem, interesting, year for me and many others, but I won't talk about all the crazy stuff that happened in the public sphere (read: the political circus of the primaries and general election) because others have done more than enough writing on that subject, and also because this blog is about me (hooray for millennial selfishness). Unfortunately, I'm not feeling particularly inspired to do any real writing at the present moment, so I'll go ahead and lazily repost some stuff I put up on my Facebook page. To start off, here's my transgender coming out post, cutting to the chase like a boss (as usual, links were added after the initial "publication"):
I was going to wait to do this until the inauguration because it would have had more impact as a defiant action/statement, but I don't want to wait any longer, so ... *takes breath* ... I am officially coming out as a transgender woman (a.k.a. Male to Female / MtF).
After considerable thought and reflection, I have determined that my decision to pursue transition, despite the concerns and pleas of my parents and other conservative family members, is the right thing for me, and in the last two months of hormone replacement therapy I have felt much more at peace and comfortable with myself than ever before.
I am aware that this decision is not to be taken lightly, and that especially with the incoming administration I am essentially painting a target on my back and placing myself into an at-risk minority group, not just as far as legal rights are concerned (see: "bathroom bills" like North Carolina's infamous HB2) but also personal safety (transgender people are routinely harassed, assaulted, and murdered by hateful individuals, just on the basis of their gender identity).
Despite these risks and also the potential health risks (although relatively minor), I am confident that I am making the right choice and I'm excited for what the future will bring.
The post was quite well-received, and in fact it is probably the most Liked post that I've ever had on Facebook. That said, there was a bit of negativity (unsurprisingly) from some of my family members, who do not understand how transition works and are worried that HRT (hormone replacement therapy) will either kill or seriously cripple me. Yes, there are some health risks associated with HRT, but honestly the likelihood of seriously bad stuff happening is pretty low, and regular blood tests and vital checkups should hopefully ensure that everything is progressing as expected and without complications. There are millions of other transgender people around the world who have gone through the process and have been just fine, so it can't be that dangerous to pursue medical transition. Surgery is a bit dicier, and there are definitely more risks associated with that, but I don't have to worry about making that decision just yet since 1) it's expensive and I'm not made of money, and 2) one can't even try to get it until undergoing at least one year of HRT and jumping through a bunch of gatekeeper hoops.

Moving right along, the next thing from Facebook that is worth reposting here is my updated About section / bio, which duplicates some information about me that is already scattered throughout my blog but also adds some new details as well. Moreover, I think it does a fairly decent job of nicely packaging up various aspects of me that I consider important into a digestible and not excessively verbose format. Without further ado, here it is:
"What are the integral facets of your identity?" - Robin Alexander Wilke
I always struggle when faced with the task of describing myself, because the temptation is great to just furnish a laundry list of adjectives that neatly encapsulate some aspect of my personality. I'll refrain from doing that this time, and instead I'll focus and expand upon some of the most important aspects of my identity in its present state.
First and foremost, I am a creature endowed with the gift of cognition. I am most thankful for my capacity to think and reason and solve interesting problems. My predilection for logic and systematic thinking is conducive to pursing hobbies and a career in the world of information technology (IT), and indeed I am a web developer, a gadget freak, and a gamer. I am a child of the 90s, the era in which the Internet was starting to take off in a big way, and I am amazed at just how important a part it now plays in most people's lives. My interest in cognition has also led me to explore aspects of psychology, most saliently personality typing systems such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (along with its more jargon-laden peer, Socionics) and the Enneagram. I'm an INTP in MBTI-land and an Ennagram Five, for anyone who is curious. I wrote a blog post in November 2015 about the MBTI so I won't go any further in depth about it now.
More recently, I discovered that I really enjoy the sport of running, and nowadays cycling as well. There is a profoundly primal joy in the act of moving through the world, which is much stronger when that motion is a product of one's own musculature (i.e. self-powered vs. power-assisted locomotion). As a result of having been turned on to Christopher McDougall's Born to Run book, I am now a minimalist / barefoot enthusiast, and I've exclusively worn Vibram Five Fingers (and now Vibram Furoshiki shoes) as my footwear of choice since early 2013. My training has declined a bit lately from its 2014 peak, due to work and other life commitments, but I am stubbornly continuing to take my fitness very seriously, and I am currently in the midst of a running streak (defined by running at least one contiguous mile per day) that began on June 24th, 2016.
Even more recently, I figured out that I identify as female, contrary to my birth-assigned male biological sex. This has been a shocking revelation not just to me but also to those around me, and it definitely hasn't been easy pursuing the exploration of my gender identity because of fears about how others would perceive me. I don't fall into the typical transgender narrative in that my feelings of gender mismatch did not reach a conscious level until adult age, but in retrospect this revelation explains a lot of things about my past. It's difficult to convey in words the feeling of "rightness" that beginning to align my body with my true gender has brought me, because to most people gender isn't something that merits a second thought. I didn't realize that being "male" weighed heavily upon me until I started exploring what it feels like to be "female" through temporary and reversible changes like body hair removal, wardrobe choices, makeup, and painted nails. The more I continued along this path the more I noticed that I did in fact experience gender dysphoria, and now that I am in the midst of medical transition my dysphoria is steadily declining, leaving room for me to be able to cultivate a greater enjoyment of life and discover increased confidence in my body and my outer appearance.
There's a lot more to me than the above, but I think this was a good start, so thanks for reading.
One last thing that is worth mentioning in this life update post is that I am in an awesome and exciting new relationship as of August 16th with someone truly special (whose blog has been even less recently updated than mine). I'm hoping that as I get back into writing and content creation, I'll be able to convince him to do the same, in the capacity permitted by time constraints, of course.