negative space

Dear Sis,

Do you ever feel like, too qualified and too female?  Because I get that feeling a lot.  Not to complain, I have a perfectly comfortable existence.  But I’m definitely not living up to my potential.  I can’t remember the last time anybody even asked me about my potential – this coming from someone who wanted to be a chef and cook food for people but was scathingly discouraged because I wouldn’t be living up to my potential.  Who’s laughing now?  No one.  Okay, maybe I just laughed a little.

So I’m basically freelancing in NYC, which is interesting.  And totally analogous to funding and executing a science research pipeline, without the science.  It’s slow-going because there’s a lot of setup involved, including getting an ergonomic keyboard.  I’m going to be splitting my time between that and the usual graduate school wrap-up activities.

There’s not very much else going on.  I need to go book-diving at Strand, which I’m looking forward to.





untitled day 362




When you close your eyes on the subway.  Because you don’t want them to look into your eyes.  To see what you’ve become last night – and cast off yet again.  That your only hope and desire is for your next hit of unconditional acceptance.


As the world speeds around you.  Your saving grace, these others.  The people and their smells and ways, their clothing and polite attitudes.  An occasional smile, or moment of understanding.  Chaos of thoughtless purpose.  Save my soul.


I try, desperately to forget who I was.  The information in my head, steampunk equations of science.  Things, which in wartimes would have me working in a national laboratory.  I should hate myself for succeeding, but no one believes me.


Thank you to GoodnightNina for the pic from her blog and constant inspiration.


no honor among thieves

I sit in my room.  It’s a nice room but a bit dusty, and I’m allergic to dust.  So I’ve been struggling to breathe since I moved here.


My trans friend sleeps across the room, on the small mattress we found on the street.  She’s been transitioning for 10 years, though she’s much younger than I am.  She used to update her video blog.  She’s always telling me to get some real problems.  Every day we wake up head-to-toe in that tiny bed.  Would we have it any other way?


She insists she isn’t my girlfriend.  She doesn’t like to be touched.  I remember what that was like.

We share food, share our lives.  Thick as thieves, I wear the ring her boyfriend gave her.


And something interesting has happened.  She walked the path I started upon, took it to the extreme.  Gave herself nothing and no one to lose, but it ends nowhere.  So I found something to care about.  It’s obvious.  It’s inevitable.  As sure as I would die without her, I need to complete my science work.  It’s not a question of discrimination or profit, I need to be what I’ve become.



I don’t understand.  I was plagued by an overwhelming desire to escape from myself, then I discovered my gender dysphoria and transitioned.

Now I don’t know what it means to be a woman, but it’s how others see me, and it’s accurate.

I feel better.  I don’t want to drown my consciousness in science and software; I’m not desperate to lose myself in marijuana smoke and virtual worlds.

I can breathe and be okay with it, I’m okay with my body.  I can live behind my eyes.  I can stand still.


My old journals ask the same questions:

What will make me happy?

What is my problem?!

It seemed normal, to be not okay with life.  I didn’t notice I was repeating myself.

Then I wrote this blog, and every couple of weeks I put the past further behind me.


I can write clearly.  Not only about myself, but about the science I experienced under semi-consciousness; file boxes of notes, notebooks, calculations, programs, diagrams, data.  Records of data, a life’s work on disconnected servers.

I wonder if the cable company sent my account to collections yet.


They don’t recognize me, and I don’t know how I’d explain what happened to me if I had to.  My old name is legally erased, just another word.


I’m trying to trust, and my gut is telling me it’s implausible that any harm will come to me now, somehow.


But again, there’s this – these words, this blog.  A search-indexed transcript of many of my innermost thoughts.  What was I thinking?  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Then I promised myself that I would continue writing it; my liability, this unique record.

When I’m done thinking about it, I’m certain that perception of transgender people is so bad, so hysterically misguided, that publishing my diary can’t actually make matters worse for me.


lit review of the damned

The sun doesn’t come up for a couple of hours now.

It’s 4 days into my SRS literature review.  I’ve looked at 1000s of scientific articles over the years and you just get a feel for them, you get a sense for what the scientists are feeling.  And at least a few of the sex change surgeons think sex changes are hilarious.  Cruelly, it’s the surgical pictures and diagrams that are most telling.

I’d never drooled on a paper before.  I won’t read too much into that.


Your heart surgeon thinks your condition is hilarious.

I’ve never felt so uniquely alone, so doomed.


Day 3, I start drinking, eating, binging, purging.  I’d never done that before.  Unsurprisingly – apparently unsurprisingly – I don’t think much of it.  Apparently, cramming the gender dysphoria literature causes this sense of bodily disintegrity.  I try to get some sleep.


It’s 3:30.  Today I’ll read those 3 articles that describe the finer points of why it’s a bad idea to do an orchiectomy (orchidectomy?) before the whole sex change business; 3 articles some literature review group felt were significant out of a vast and confused body of knowledge.  Then I’ll continue skimming the references cited by The Human Rights Campaign’s list of insurance policies that have transgender background sections.  There’s got to be some hope in there somewhere.


Spring break forever.


giving up

I stretch in a futile attempt to straighten my spine.  I try to touch the ground.

just give up

I stretch in a doorway.  Maybe my shoulders will get narrower.

you’ll never be more feminine than you already are

I stand on one leg like a dancer and stretch my leg behind me.  I knew all those years of ballet would come in handy.

give up


The dishes are always piled up.  The mail is always piled up.  Clothes, trash, scraps of to-do lists.

I’m always one laser treatment away from taking my drivers license photo.  One paycheck away from starvation.

And I don’t know what I’m doing, I don’t.

I can’t keep up, but I’m cutting it somehow.  And I need to cut it tomorrow and every day beyond tomorrow, if I have any chance at anything.


I stand in the flattering light of a women’s washroom.  In a science building, this is like an executive lounge – pristine and empty.

just give up already



I used to sleep well.

Tonight there’s this bespectacled teenage girl asking me why she can’t be a scientist.  Telling me what to do.

Is that what I’m like?  I’m annoying.


One thing about being a woman, being subconsciously perceived as a woman, is that every woman on the planet feels totally okay with telling me what to do.  From my mom to my trans mentor – if I’m not paying attention, it’s like I’m dead to them.  A kind of universal disappointment, a unilateral no confidence vote.

Femininity is a heavy, heavy thing.



I sobbed silently over a scone wrapper on Leia’s kitchen table, the day after her dinner party.  Her sister found me that way.

“How are you doing?”

“…Okay…  I was just getting ready to leave.”

I excused myself.  She wished me luck.  I set out on a walk of shame so epic that I had to buy sunglasses and froyo.  I have got to stop traveling without makeup.


I guess a lot of girl scientists cry about their research.

I’m still not used to it.


I’m not used to a lot of things – women are so easygoing around one another, it’s absurd.  Form-fitting clothes break my stride.  Shaving reveals scars on my legs from 20 years ago, and a nasty varicose vein from that time I played The Sims 2 for 27 hours straight.

I want to get upset about that.  Transition is making me look younger, but I don’t feel younger.  I worry about every blemish, all of my virilized features.


I remind myself that I’m lucky to even be a woman.


dreams or whatever

Dreaming; the hostage-takers throw me before a woman I’ve never met.  She asks, “How is trans adolescence treating you?” as she points a Kalashnikov rifle at my chest.

I breathe a silent, desperate reply – and find myself gasping in bed.


Then my life continues.  A pleasant clockwork, checklists and procedures, hypotheses at the forefront of my mind, crowding out anything else.  Any dreams or whatever.



I never used to think about the inhumanely petite women, flawlessly airbrushed across the media.  I wasn’t worried about gender bias in science, or the sexism of it all.

And once I joked to someone, “You know, if you find yourself in a support group, then you know you’re in trouble.”  It was really funny.


Now everyone’s put-off when I wear a necklace that shows under my collar.  I want to scream.

I’m not a freak and I seriously don’t care!

I wish it was true.