It starts with my lower jaw, neck, shoulders, back, and chest feeling tight like someone squeezing me, a numb tingling sensation rushes from the base of my spine down to my left arms. I'm gasping for air out of my will and trying to draw breathe feeling like I'm not getting enough oxygen while my chest feels heavy. My vision is blurred, experiencing vertigo because of dizziness, and very fatigued. I'm disoriented or I'm not altogether there in the present moment while feeling confused and anxious as to why my chest feels tight while my heart palpates harder than usual and there's a throbbing sensation on my lower left side of my rib cage and my back. It feels like my heart is about to burst out of my chest.
What is this feeling?
I'll tell you one thing, it can't be indigestion or IBS, I didn't eat anything and all I had was a cup of coffee that morning.
It was March 19th on a Sunday morning at about 7:30am-8:00am, when I experienced these symptoms again and it was in a moment where I was about to collapse, that I went up to my supervisor on shift and requested for an ambulance to get me to a nearby hospital to evaluate my symptoms. I have had these symptoms before, the first time was a few weeks back, where I had to request a sick day so my boyfriend can take me to the ER at Zuckerberg SF General Hospital. The first visit was inconclusive, they ran bloodwork, EKG, and didn't do much for me but one male doctor insisted that I undergo surgery due to a blockage. All the nurses and the doctors were very vague, non specific, as to the diagnosis. The speculation at the time that we did as far as any piece of information was that my symptoms were probable cause of chest wall inflammation (musculoskeletal), strained chest muscle (left pectoral), or panic attack where the male doctor advised that I seek a primary health care provider to further get evaluated for my symptoms. The doctor and nurses that day, decided to turn me away and overlook my systems. They only suggested that I stop smoking and drinking alcohol. My partner convinced me to refuse the suggestion of surgery because they weren't giving me any or enough information as to WHY surgery of any kind was suggested that day. That was the first occurrence. However, I had to admit that due to being in and out of consciousness or not altogether alert while experiencing chest pains, I didn't understand the full scope of what was going on then and didn't take any advise or suggestion from the doctor's seriously because the diagnosis were very vague.
This time around was very different. It was a bit more serious than the last.
While I was in the ambulance, my EKG blood pressure was really low which was unusual. According to my boyfriend, low blood pressure is when your blood pressure level falls under 90/60mmHg reading, mine was 90/50mmHg, and it can cause dizziness, fatigue, confusion, disorientation, faint spells, and black outs due to lack of blood cells flowing through the heart to release oxygen to the brain. I also got to see it on the monitor while I was placed in the Emergency Department, Room 10, when I passed out a few times and the monitor started to beep slowly like I was dying or about to go dead. I looked at it and it was 97/56. I could be reading it all wrong but the digit that read 56 was the one on the left side, the green one, and the one on the right was 97, the red one. I honestly don't know what this means for me at Zuckerberg SF General Hospital or how they read their heart beat monitors. However, my partner was saying that he did saw my heart rate go up and down a few times, so when he saw that, he immediately requested the doctor to run a CT/MRI on my heart and lungs. To him, it was considered abnormal especially when I would pass out when my heart rate fluctuated and would dropped from 70 down to 50 and the monitor would start beeping softly and flashing red lights. He was watching the heart beat monitor the whole time while he was with me and I heard him say out loud to me that I had signs of arrhythmia. I'm obviously not a doctor and don't know any terminology so I had no clue what he was talking about.
So what happened to me that Sunday morning?
Well, it felt like a typical Sunday morning that day despite experiencing neck, back, and chest pains in the past two weeks since the first hospital visitations at the same facility. I had enough sleep but that morning when I woke up, my chest felt unusually heavy but I proceeded to head to work anyway assuming that whatever this ailment was that it would pass like always and that I would be fine if I just keep pushing through it. I was wrong! My body was telling me something and it was a warning sign. I noticed my energy started to fade after the second hour of my shift and suddenly my chest was feeling tighter and tighter that I find myself massaging it, my movements were slower and slower, and time was shifting left and right, and I was sucking air into my lungs while also letting out deep breaths. I wasn't understanding what was going on with me or what was wrong with me but I knew that I didn't feel right. When I was admitted to the Emergency Department, there was a male nurse after asking several questions in regards to my medical history, he was unkind and said, "If you're having a panic attack due to your stress or anxiety then you shouldn't be here, you should be making an appointment with your primary health care provider..." And he said this to me because I explained to him the first time I was admitted here for the same symptoms in regards of the results of the previous male doctor who had sent me off with no care or a lick of concern. He asked me where my pains were. I told him that I had a migraine in which he gave a smart ass comment in return, snidely saying to me, "You know migraines are tension headaches right?" As if whatever pains or symptoms I was telling him was all irrelevant. They only took an EKG screening of my chest, which they told me that it was normal.
For the next three hours, they kept me unattended in the room and I was alone.
Adam J. Adler, my boyfriend, of 10 years, he's been with me since before and after my gender transition, who is also an M.D. in Pediatrics and has a Ph.D. degree as a doctor in psychology via Dr. Adam J. Adler, M.D., arrived to my room at about 11:00am, where he found me neglected by the staff. Adam asked me what had they done for me so far. I told him everything. He wasn't too happy about it. A lady nurse then came in to get my paperwork in order, asked about my health insurance coverage, etc. Adam asked her where the doctor was and when will they run more screenings and tests on me to find out what my diagnosis were. She was a bit sassy with him and well, knowing my Swedish boyfriend, who behaves like a mad Englishman sometimes when he gets upset, he gave her sass right back. Eventually, after he had waited for a doctor to check up on me further, what seemed like 30 minutes to an hour, he noticed my heart beat monitor was reading abnormally while I had passed out and eventually had to sleep off some of the pain. I told Adam that there was a male nurse before who said he would get me some Tylenol for my migraine, but I never got any, and of course all the mean things he had said to me when I was alone. That infuriated Adam even more. At that point, I was feeling very weak and had to sleep off the pain that was floating in and out below my rib cage. I heard Adam talking a lot with a female doctor, who sounded like a total valley girl, you know like girls who say, "totally", and used words, "like-and-like" in almost every sentence. I also noticed by the sound that she was also flirting with my boyfriend but that's expected from both other men and women, gay or straight.
Adam is handsome and he is charming but if you cross him, he could almost be Gordan Ramsay's twin but he's not angry and shouting to an extreme like Ramsay, because Adam gets verbally combative with poise and grace.
The female nurse, whom I don't even remember her name, she's Hindu descent, via her name was really long and it was a Hindi last name. She woke me up to let me know that she will have my blood drawn and scheduled a CT/MRI and will give me Tylenol after my blood was drawn. They took 6 vials of blood from me. Sad face. While I was still awake and somewhat conscious, Adam was telling me what the female nurse had told him and that this time around, he would make sure that they get a proper diagnosis and not some whack ass guesses as to what's going on with me then send me off. The CT/MRI scan occurred at around 12 noon and the results didn't come out till about 2:00pm. This time the results were conclusive. I was asleep, actually I knocked out after they ran the CT/MRI scan and was asleep throughout after. I didn't hear anything discussed between my boyfriend and the flirty female doctor. I did hear a few conversations that went off tangent because he disclosed he had worked at UCSF as a pediatrician and would deliver babies prior to becoming a law enforcement officer. It was a short 5-10 min conversation about that since Adam wasn't there to befriend a female doctor who was clearly trying to hook up with him. Adam woke me up and I find him and the female doctor by the gurney. She begun to explain to me what was going on and what the diagnosis were as well as treatment. I wasn't freaking out. Adam was freaking out for me.
Due to a poor diet, smoking and drinking habit, being on hormones, long-term emotional stress, anxiety, and lack of proper trans healthcare to monitor my blood levels, unbeknownst to me, the symptoms that I have had were a combination of angina, musculoskeletal, a swollen diaphragm due to prolonged and major stress/anxiety that contributed to angina.
I'm going to break this down as to what this means for me and the overall bigger picture of my current health condition. First off, I'm 38 years old, and I never thought that I would have any major health problems so therefore I had an all American diet where I eat anything and I ate big because testosterone makes me hungry. My cholesterol levels are a bit high, I've been eating too much fried foods saturated in fat, junk food, and I eat a lot of fish and meat, but not enough fruits or vegetables. I don't have diabetes but due to genetics, I can be diabetic. I drink soda a lot, specifically root beer and red wine, not enough water, so I do get dehydrated. I would also drink a glass a red wine almost everyday until about 2-3 weeks ago, my boyfriend took me off it because of my current health symptoms. I also smoke, just cigarettes but it's four sticks a day so not too avid or a heavy smoker. I am on a .5cc testosterone injection every week, I schedule my injections on Tuesday. I am aware that being on synthetic hormones may cause health problems such as cardiovascular risks were the blood can thicken and can clot if my dosage is not monitored to my current health conditions. I never had a healthy, happy, or productive childhood growing up and up to my adult hood, I have always had to deal and cope with mental and emotional form of abuse from my biological family members and their in-laws. This contributes to emotional stress and sometimes, anxiety.
What is angina?
Angina is a build-up in one or more arteries called plague. Not sure what the substance is made up of but it's fatty buildup either from diet with high cholesterol or other factors like genetics. The plague either blocks or restricts blood vessels traveling through the arteries to the heart that allows blood flow and oxygen. What I have is stable angina which means it can be treated with medicine and a few lifestyle health and dietary changes. I am being told by the female doctor and my caring loving boyfriend who is worried the fuck out of me at this point that, if I do not make changes to my health or diet or follow treatment, my angina can turn into a heart attack or stroke, risk cardiovascular failure, and if my heart fails, it will require a bypass surgery where they will cut me up, open the affected artery, place a wire mesh in the affected artery in order to assist in keeping the artery open so blood can pass through. It's considered a life threatening and major surgery and it would put me out for more than a month because the heart is the main body's organ that allows humans to function second major organ to that of the brain.
What triggers my angina?
Major sudden shift in weathers especially cold weathers. It has been cold and the cold gives me pain because my muscles contract to keep warm and regulate temperature due to previous traumatic injuries inflicted on my body from a car and a motorcycle accident with a metal rod in my right hip to a left rotator cuff injury to a slip upper and lower disc. I also experience residual phantom pains from my top surgery. Another trigger is physical over-exertion and emotional stress and anxiety (panic attacks). I'm taking too much on with pastry class, violin class, fencing class, and being physical at work. Every end of my day, my physical commute also requires me to walk uphill from the Daly City Bart Station. I would be completely almost out of breath by the time I step inside my home. Smoking cigarettes is a number one contributing factor. Unbeknownst to me, all of these attributes triggers angina.
At this point, I knew this was something I couldn't take lightly. I took it seriously this time, now knowing that the results and diagnosis is officially conclusive and confirmed. Upon my release, the female doctor gave me Tylenol and suggested that I take an OTC aspirin specifically Bayer to combat angina. She then put in a prescription for Beta-Blockers to counteract the hormone level that causes anxiety that can aggravate my angina. She suggested that I seek a primary healthcare provider and scheduled a follow-up appointment for further screening the next day.
Adam was doing way too much when he demanded for a wheelchair so he could wheel me out of there. I had to chuckle. Amusing enough. They did acquiesce his request (probably because his looks and English accent was too handsome to resist lol) and let me in a wheelchair where he wheeled me all the way to the member services department to make sure that I had access to a primary health care provider or doctor there, name of doctor, time, appointment date, etc. and so forth. He's all about legit details. After that, my boyfriend took me home and picked up the OTC and Beta-Blockers at the pharmacy. Realizing we both hadn't eaten, he got me a vegan food at Whole Foods, and I ate it because I was hungry and couldn't run on an empty stomach with aspirin and Tylenol in my system.
The next day, we had to wake up early at 7:00am to be at the follow-up appointment at the cardiology screening department at 8:00am but knowing public hospitals like Zuckerberg SF General Hospital, they make you wait for max 2-3 hours before you're called in but it went rather faster than I expected. They took me in about 35 minutes after checking in. First, they ran a stress test where they put stickers all over my chest and made me walk on a tread mill. Second, they ran an ultrasound on my chest. Third, they took more blood, 4 vials this time, urine test, throat, and nasal swab. At that point, I was like, wow, this is the first time General Hospital ran thorough tests on me but that's all thanks to my boyfriend, Adam, who simply loves to advocate for me. After they ran all the tests, it was a brief discussion of some of the results and once again, confirmed, that I do have angina. They gave me paperwork on, "What is angina?" The causes, the treatment, and other information related to it. Basically information that my boyfriend already doesn't know. Adam likes to call it your "medical headline", the "this just in, you have fucking angina" and typical medical news anchor of what you're diagnosed with because these nurses and doctors don't want to have an open conversation to explain it you as a patient. Adam and I made a joke about what we are to do with the paperwork of the diagnosis that doctors give you once they confirm what's wrong with you and Adam chuckled when he was reading it saying to me, "Looks like they Googled it, copied, pasted, and then printed a hardcopy for you to collect...Lucky you babe!", and then just gave me a hearty smile which made me laugh because it was true. Since I didn't have a legit primary healthcare provider, they kept suggesting that I seek one and follow further treatment with my assigned primary health care provider. At this point, on the way home, my boyfriend, Adam, went through my health insurance papers from the mail, and only found one letter from Aetna, where a primary health care provider was indeed assigned for me but it was at another facility located on Valencia.
On Tuesday, I skipped my weekly testosterone shot to give my body a bit of break due to all the medical and physical stresses that my body was going through. Adam already contacted the number to the facility of my assigned primary health care doctor on Valencia, managed to book an appointment for the afternoon. At the facility, I only disclosed my transgender status, briefly told him of my experience on Sunday with my angina symptoms, however, the doctor seemed to ignore that and was more focused on mental therapy and prescribing Xanax and Nicotine patches to assist with my smoking cessation. Adam was expressing how he felt it was going to be a challenge for me all over again with the battle for my transgender health care and just health care in general because truthfully, none of these doctors or facilities were adequate and only write things on paper then write me off to send me away. Adam felt that none of these nurses or doctors truly cared and that I was constantly going to get treated as a patient that they can milk health insurance from. This is why I said to him weeks ago and didn't care to make any changes to my health and diet because I felt that my life was already short from the moment I was born. I was meant to die early. This life of mine, it's a tragedy, sure, but I told my boyfriend that regardless, I would be ready to die if that time came and if that time came, today, tomorrow, next day, next month, or next year, etc. That I only wanted him to promise me one thing, that I would be buried or cremated as a man!
My boyfriend, Adam, still feels overly emotional about this and me saying this to him but the truth is, although I may be in pain, I may be visibly or invisibly ill, I already knew all the risks upon transitioning and genetics of my family's medical health and history, that I would die young but to me, as long as I lived a good life, as long as I lived a life that was well-lived regardless of the tragedies or traumas in my life, I have lived knowing that I was true and had loved being me. That's all that matters! It's the lives that I've left an imprint on and the lives that I've touched, the memories that I have had, the foundation and relationships that I have built, those are the everlasting moments where I know I have been survived, in the memories of other people, and if death comes at me and grips me in to its vices, its the memories of me and the imprint I leave behind that makes me invincible and alive. Remember, in my previous post expression, nothing can kill me, nothing can really kill me, my spirit will always linger on. It's life. Death is life too. I know this and therefore is unafraid. My boyfriend may not understand my sentiment around death but whatever time that there is now, we're going to spend it each moment together while I'm still around.
What is the other thing that others don't know about me? Other than being transgender right?
Well, it's that I can read, write, understand, and speak French! I'm currently learning Swedish and Italian from my boyfriend who is ethnically Swedish but was raised in London.
I used to teach Khmer-French to people who were interested in learning but the only thing is that my accents are multiple due to the ability to speak multiple languages like Cambodian, Japanese, French, and English so there is a Khmer-French accent which is typically not the standard for French in France. It can be said the same for those who are Canadian-French, Indian-French, etc.
The following are uploaded to my Youtube but they are from older recordings from when I had taught Khmer-French to others. The lessons were generated for basic beginners. Naturally, I am very shy when I speak French because I don't often openly speak French publicly and only speak French among close family and friends who speak it fluently.
Here are the videos and hope I can teach some basic French:
Tell Me Why DontNod Entertainment
First of all, I just want to say how proud I am of this game and the representation of transmen. I can widely relate to the backstory and storyline of this game. It may have some triggers but those triggers can be overcome with the fact that you finally get to see a portrayal of transgender people in the gaming industry, specifically transgender men. My partner was telling me about this game and we watched the gameplay walkthrough with no commentary on Youtube before I actually played it after the full release.
Here is the full gameplay walkthrough no commentary Chapter 1, 2, and 3:
Being Transgender In Japan
On this blog segment of my trans life, I want to get into transgender spectrums. There is a vast groups and sub-groups under the widely used umbrella term "transgender" so in order for me to move forward with sharing some of the variants of transgender people and how each one identifies, let me break it down to these terms so that there is clear context and understanding of the spectrums.
Think of gender spectrums like a category under race, religion, or creed that is classified under the main umbrella term. For example, in China, they are what we know as Chinese people, then there are the groups of Chinese that they fall under. For example, there are the Chinese from the north which is different from the Chinese from the south, in the other Northern provinces they may speak a different sub-group dialect, express a different cultural appearance or tradition of their region, and so forth, nevertheless, they are still Chinese people. This can be viewed in the same way a transgender person is identified and classified.
I will utilize myself as an example of one of these sex and gender diverse spectrums. As shown in the image above to compare my two gender fluid gender expressions, it reads:
"Transgender is an umbrella term to categorize all gender spectrums:
My gender identity are one of the many gender spectrums that exist among a sex and gender diverse community. I will utilize Japan as one of the countries with a very open expression of groups and sub-groups especially among the J-anime and J-pop scenes. Japan has one of the most genderfluid, gender non-binary, and genderless individuals that exist and co-exist among Japan's past, present to modern day, and futuristic society. No one is judged, shamed, or condemned from any form of expression. Japan is such a carefree and fun country. While the gender spectrum is an open and accepting topic for the Japanese, the sexual identities for Japan is still somewhat considered taboo. This is quite an opposite perspective for Japan compared to the United States.
In the United States, the gay and lesbian communities are somewhat widely more accepted and normalized and not really seen as taboo. However, anyone being transgender is still shamed, stigmatized, and dehumanized in the United States, hence transgender people are treated or seen as a taboo in America. Japan is quite the opposite of this, transgender people are widely accepted, honored, and even revered whereas if one is openly lesbian or gay, that can be frowned upon but Japan is otherwise a very safe place to be if one identifies as lesbian, gay, or transgender. You don't ever hear about any type of LGBTQIA+ violence in Japan. Japan is a country that allows and encourages expressions of the humanity in all forms rather than oppression. However, transgender rights are still somewhat of a challenge in Japan when it comes to Japan's sterilization laws and documentations to reflect their current identities.
The other thing about Japan is that the Japanese reflects their diversity in J-anime and J-pop culture. It isn't the other way around where an androgynous character in J-anime comes to life in human form, rather it's the existence of the Japanese human expression and gender representation that is drawn into life into J-anime to reflect it's societies diversity. This has been a long reflection in Japanese culture. In the days of the shogun to the days of the bushido, the paintings in scrolls has reflected the sex and gender diversity, forms, and practices for ages and ages. It is even common for a shogun or samurai men to be sexually attracted to the same sex and engage in MSM.
It also common for Japanese men to practice being an onnagata in kabuki theatre while also being androgynous. Transgender was not a term used in the ancient times but the expression has always existed. In Japan, there were noblemen and monks that were considered genderless and genderfluid, as genderfluidity was seen as godly. I believe ancient Egypt also revered genderfluid beings also as the belief of angelic beings were genderless in Agnostism.
Focusing back onto present day, I have known my friends from Japan to be genderless where they are seen as neither a boy or a girl. Some of my friends are born intersex, meaning they both have a male and female reproductive parts. My genderfluid friends who are androgynous were just born with neither masculine or feminine traits but they had both of those traits and their gender expression are in between. They were often called gender benders in Japan, because of the spike in genderfluid youths in Japan, Japan has created genderless fashion to accommodate the gender expression of genderfluid individuals.
Here is the documentary of what it is like to be transmen in Japan (first top video) and what genderless means in Japan's genderfluid society (second bottom video):
In 1682, in the Palace of Versailles of France, King Louis XIV and his royal court wore a specific fashion consisting of the men wearing high heel shoes, frill laces, tights, corsets, skirts, sporting long hair, and makeup. The men were still men, the women were still women, and the children were just called children instead of being called boys and girls, regardless of the court's fashion or the fashion expressed in both genders during that time period as there were no sex and gender-bias belief systems being strictly practiced. No men of France in the Palace of Versailles were ever shamed for sporting such trends and some of the men of France who practiced homosexuality were not shamed for bedding with the same sex. Anti-sex and anti-gender identity rhetoric were neither learned or taught in those time periods. Proving that the idea of a binary system where in today's society that there are only two gender is a structurally fabricated and taught since the early 1900's but times before that, the notions and laws of a binary system was not known or practiced. Not to mention, during those time periods predating back to the early 1600's, transmen and transwomen still existed nevertheless but was kept under the radar because they were stealth.
Not to mention, in Scottish culture, the men wore skirts. So why are skirts just defined to the categories of fashion as one belonging to just for women? Who came up with this gender role theory?
Anyway, here is a video of Addison advocating for genderfluid and gender non-binary individuals on the Dr. Phil show to educate others on it. The reality of why this is happening today in our society is because cisgender straight people who are anti-LGBTQIA+ has spent years oppressing, denying, erasing, and eradicating the existence of transgender and intersex people since the early 1900's by imposing their bias-beliefs. Since the existence and now the visibility of transgender and intersex people are now being shed to light, transgender and intersex people constantly have to defend themselves, so these terms by giving each spectrum a definition gives context to identify each individual and to show how various gender identities do exist. In this video, Matt Welsh, completely denies, stigmatizes, and erases the existence of intersex people which is such a huge disrespect out of sheer ignorance based on a gender bias-belief system. I can guarantee you that none of the people who are anti-LGBTQIA+ have ever met an intersex person.
I can answer why Matt Welsh cares so much and why he, like Ben Shapiro, Dinesh D'Souza, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, etc. and many other non-LGBTQIA+ politicians and commentators, share the same bias-beliefs against transgender and intersex people. They are scared of us. They don't like that a binary society get challenged or that the existence of a transgender or intersex person can change its views or beliefs or that there are those like us who live, breathe, and walk on this earth alongside them. They don't want us to share or co-exist in that same space. So the segregation, shaming, erasure, oppression, and censorship continues to bang on. They view our existence as such a threat because they spent all their lives being taught, told, and programmed to live in a binary gender role world, that if this piece of existence in fact exists on earth or in the face of humanity, then everything they were taught flies out the window. Most of these people have are what I call the, "addicted to the need to know", which is a concept that defines those who think they know it all and when they don't know something that is new to them, they will debate away it's existence, as they spend most of their lifetime controlling what they can't control by labeling and you know what I say, "labels are limitations" because labels keep the human expression defined into one thing but does not give room for the expression of others outside of itself. The fact that transgender and intersex beings scares them, they create exaggerated fictional scenarios or statistics against transgender people, and contribute 100% to the fear mongering in society against transgender people. In the end, the choice to oppress another human being from having their own human experience to be able to express that doesn't bear weight to the purpose of those who wishes to shame and censor out those who do take a different and unique walk in life.
Being transgender in Japan is a lot easier than being transgender in America. The Japanese people understand that it is very important for a human being to express themselves, that oppression is hardly the focus of the modern day society of Japan.
Glares. Whispers. Double-takes. Negative and discriminating remarks such as, "Gender neutral restrooms are so stupid." "Oh, that person is a tranny over there...?" Are all tell-tale signs of an anti-transgender, transphobic, transmisia, and a makeup of a hostile environment.
For me, society and the perception of transgender people is a constant challenge. You don't realize how privilege cisgender people are or how ignorant they can be towards a transgender person. There is a vast world of so many different people from all walks of life, culture, background, religion, class, sex, gender, color, cast, creed, etc. and they may not realize that when it comes to including others, that it's not just always going to be about them and their comfortability. Cisgender people have it so easy. They really don't have to worry about anything, period! Most of their fears about a transgender person are also fictional which feeds to the stigmas of transgender people being a threat. It's never going to be easy for a transgender person who has a body that doesn't match their assigned sex at birth and a biologically anatomy that doesn't match with their current gender identity. This brings on more of a challenge for transgender people who have not undergone gender-reaffirming surgery (otherwise known as bottom surgery) who struggle to access and utilize binary toilets in public restroom spaces because it public restroom simply "outs" them.
So what is a transgender person, like myself, to do? Is it right to be denied to use a restroom, any restroom? I have people tell me that I should conform to society as a way to fit in the gender norms. I tell those people they need to change their perception and educate themselves on diversity of sex and gender in this world. Why do I have to oppress or censor myself to comfort someone elses' ignorance? You simply don't tell a male lady bug to stop being a lady bug, besides male lady bugs get misgendered all the time but guess who made them? God, and yes, they do exist! Same with male sea horses, they get pregnant my female sea horses and give birth. I can't imagine anyone trying to argue against that one but guess who made them? God, and yes, they do exist! Get my point?
My dilemma was like this: I identify as a transgender man. I have transitioned from female-to-male. My gender pronouns are he/him/his. I have had my top surgery but I have not had my bottom surgery, therefore, my biological anatomy is still intact. I can still bleed when I'm off my hormone replacement therapy and I can still get pregnant without using condoms or birth control contraceptive if I have sex with a cisgender man (like any other woman). However, with that being said, it doesn't make me less of a man to still have my biological genitalia at birth after I have hormonally transitioned. When it comes to public binary restrooms, I can't use the mens urinals because my biological anatomy has not changed. I also can't access the men's stalls if fully occuppied to pee. I can't use the women's restroom because my gender identity as a transman no longer matches my gender identity to that of a women. So where do I go to utilize a restroom?
Another thing to point out, it's a transgender persons choice if they choose to under-go bottom surgery or not. I have had many binary-minded socially conformist people who suggests that I get my bottom surgery in order to be literally acknowledged as a man or in other terms be considered a man but for some transmen, like myself, are perfectly fine with having a vagina because the options for transmen when it comes to bottom surgery is for one, permanent, and that there aren't guaranteed options that will:
Allow a transman to have feelings of pleasure when it comes to enjoying sex.
Allow transmen to get pregnant, carry, and birth their own biological offspring as an option to adoption whether through IVF or with a male cisgender partner.
Transmen are aware that there are risks of other complications after having bottom surgery and for me, I feel that there aren't better operating procedures for me to under-go a full bottom surgery but say, if I want to avoid monthly bleedings or pregnancy, I can always under-go a hysterectomy but still keep my vagina intact for penetrative vaginal sex. It's also a very personal, private, sensitive, and emotional decision for a transman to decide whether they wish to undergo bottom surgery or not. The choice should be up to transgender men without shame for choosing to keep their biological anatomy at birth intact, having their monthly bleedings, getting pregnant, etc.
In regards to public restrooms, literally, all I need is to use the restroom, that's all I want! I don't care about anyone or anything else. I'm not interested in looking at or interacting with anyone in the same restroom space. Ironically, other cisgender people worry that I will harass them when I'm also worried about being harassed and discriminated by cisgender people just for being transgender. I already have bladder problems from holding my pee for too long in public spaces and my doctors have already warned me against holding my pee because public restroom spaces are sometimes either inaccessible or I get denied from using them because people make complaints or call security or the cops on me to get me arrested because they think I'm a sex-offender, a pervert, or some freak of nature. Not to mention, holding your pee for long periods of time, overtime, causes health issues which has been the main reason for all my abdominal pains.
Instead of having a binary restroom, most public spaces need to create a safer space for transgender (transmasculine non-conforming), like myself, by making both restrooms an all-gender one where I wouldn't have to worry about which restroom to use if either stall is occupied and so that I don't get attacked by a cisgender female or a cisgender male staff member or customer making complaints about me using either restrooms due to max occupancy in the men's stall while the women's stall are clearly vacant and accessible. To me, a restroom is just a restroom so just let me go pee or poop in peace!
As of December of 2003, the State of California issued this ordinance for restrooms in most public facilities and workplaces. It was an option for most institutions but when you have a transgender employee in your work force or even potential transgender customers, the company that claims to be true to its work culture when it comes to advocating for diversity and inclusion must follow this ordinance to accommodate their transgender employee and/or potential customers. This is more of a health and safety matter than anything else for both transgender employees and transgender customers alike. Imagine having to hold your pee for hours. Now, imagine transgender children or transgender students in those 8 "Unacceptable States" being denied rights to use the public restrooms and having to hold their pee for hours. That's not okay! You may not die holding your pee for too long but being forced to hold your pee because you were denied access to a restroom regardless of it being a men's or women's restroom is just inhumane. Nevertheless, if a cisgender senior with health disabilities who really needed to go pee, urgently, and let's say, the assigned restroom that they needed to utilize is fully occupied, one would not object or discriminate against this senior citizen for having to utilize the opposite binary assigned restroom because this senior may have health related issues with their kidney or bladder so you wouldn't deny this senior access or discriminate against this senior so then why would you discriminate against a transgender one? By this, I mean a senior who could also be transgender.
Reasonable access to a restroom is a workplace safety and health concern. Transgender employees must have access to restrooms that correspond to their gender identity, in compliance with OSHA guidelines.
It's crazy how we're still dealing with civil rights in 2023 huh? Regardless of what form the fight for civil rights may be. At my previous job, they didn't just preach about equality, diversity, and inclusion, they took action and made sure that they were the most accommodating to the needs of their transgender employee(s). When I was employed there, the store manager immediately followed the State of California San Francisco's city ordinance in regards to Transgender Rights In The Workplace to create both restrooms an all-gender neutral restroom so that their transgender employees(s) are not discriminated against and to keep them protected from being shamed, outed, or targeted for who they are.
I know there are people who celebrate transgender people and acknowledge that in this day and age, what we go through on a day to day is a "civil rights" issue. Then there are people who spend all their energy on dehumanizing transgender people, mocking, and challenging the rights that transgender people are entitled to, these rights are much the same as a cisgender person and yes, transgender people are a bit more complex but so is all of life's secrets and wonders. Then there are those people who do both, they would praise a transgender person then suddenly turn their backs and dehumanize them while claiming to support them all at the same time.
In Arizona, one of the schooling systems enforced security on the restrooms inquiring for all students, specifically targeting transgender students, by asking for some form of documentation proving their assigned gender at birth before utilizing the binary restrooms. In Arizona, if a transgender person uses the binary restroom that does match with their current gender identity, they would get slapped with a $2500 dollar fine, because they would be considered using the "wrong" restroom because of their biological genitalia at birth. How ridiculous is that?
What are my transgender rights in the workplace? And is the right to utilize public restroom facilities regardless of which public toilet one of those rights? The answer is YES! There is a term that I want to share, it's called, "Binarism". This is the breakdown of it. Binarism is the belief that there are only two genders. Binarist attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, and policies exclude or harm nonbinary and gender non-conforming people.
Binarism often overlaps with transmisia, but it's also harmful on its own. For example, trans people may be protected by law to use the restroom they're most comfortable using. But it's binarist to force everyone to choose between either men's room or a women's room and not have a gender inclusive restroom.
Because of binarism in society, non-binary people may have to make hard, unfair choices around restrooms, which sports team to play on, what kinds of gender-affirming care they need, where to get their haircut, and much more. Binarism in the community can make coming out more challenging.
To end it on this note, I am proud of addressing my concerns in regards to binary restrooms in any institution or facility, despite witnessing some negative remarks made against transgender people by making accommodations to create a gender-neutral restroom. My perspective on the needs of making public restrooms all-gender or all-inclusive benefits those who identify as transgender, gender-fluid, gender non-conforming, genderless, or gender non-binary, for family for those with disabilities that require assistance, mothers and fathers with infants, women and children especially regardless of how their children identifies, and it just makes it inclusive for both staff members and customers to utilize the restroom without having to choose and therefore ends any form of discrimination or discomfort that revolves around it.
One of the worse cases that I have considered in binary restrooms spaces is a transgender woman using the women's restroom and being outed, harassed, violated, and banned for using the restroom that she identifies because as a trans brother, I am also very protective and vocal for my trans sisters. Even though I have been transitioning hormonally for 8 years, I know I've come to the point of passing and therefore have been stealth in most public spaces, but I am also very well aware that there are transwomen and some transmen who identify as genderless, gender non-binary, gender fluid, gender non-conforming (like myself) or agender, that struggle with utilizing binary restrooms and face the adversity that follows as well as the dysphoria, anxiety, triggers, and fears around it.
I always say this to people, "If you are not part of the solution to better humanity, then YOU are part of the huge problem in society." If you are not on the side of today's human rights movement in supporting transgenders on the fights for their civil rights, then believe me when I say that the side you choose to oppose and oppress, that part in history will bite you back! You will become that person who tried to stop and shame transgender people from peeing in a toilet or simply being human!
Yeah, you don't want to be that person! People will remember you for it.
The Unacceptable States
It has been quite a long while since I have blogged about my trans life. I want to change the topic just a bit instead of putting full focus on my personal life, I want to bring up some ongoing and yet never ending issues that transgender people, like myself, still face today in 2023 among our society. Consider this my way of educating and raising awareness on a personal perspective.
First off, I want to say that I am very fortunate to be living in the State of California. The main reason being is that California is the number one state that widely supports transgender individuals and made sure that the transgender community stay as a protected class against discrimination, harassment, violence, unfair treatment, and inequality among today's current society. The State of California ensures that transgender citizens are receiving proper transgender-related healthcare, medical care, employment opportunities, and that they have their basic human rights, otherwise known as transgender rights, to be honored, preserved, supported, and protected equally as any other non-transgender law-abiding human being and citizen. It is a huge win through the results of the collective act of human kindness and effort to make sure that transgender people have a chance in life to live their authentic lives as themselves and thrive since the statistics for transgender people committing suicide here is the highest than any other country in the nation and worldwide.
The United States of America in general is one of the most diverse country worldwide yet we don't acknowledge the diversity in each other which is very ironic and quite an oxy-moron in my book. In my perspective, debates against diversity occurs due to the desire to control, invoke a sense of insecurity or fear among the masses, by enforcing a socially structured system to maintain the level of classes between each category that labels its society. Those who looses control and knows that if they allow the abolition of a socially structured society knows that they can no longer hold power over those who can be truly free from a bias-system and therefore the United States of America is born on a democracy. In other words, politicians spend most of their time debating about, excuse my language, the same dumb shit over and over again, to create the class of who is superior and who is inferior which contributes to the inequality and injustices in our system.
I have been discretely in tuned with the world news and what goes on around the world, specifically what goes on across the 50 states, what anti-transgender legislative bills (laws) are coming up and being heavily involved in the petition and campaign efforts to fight against or push back and even encourage senators and assembly officials to fight for transgender rights by requesting an enactment to propose a counter legislative bill to reverse those anti-transgender bills (laws). When it comes to transgender individuals facing adversity against the anti-transgender rhetoric from influential and powerful homo/transphobic politicians that consistently target transgender people, in this case, the new target has been transgender youths (and their families) since the transgender bathroom bill came about with brave young Gavin, who stood up alone against his school and his state creating the perfect avenue for others to have a voice and come out from the shadows, letting the whole world know that yes, we do exist!
Following suit, the transgender community backed Gavin in that fight and we all rose up from our safe zones to face this civil threat. Together, we all stood up against the anti-transgender bathroom bill, enlisting aid from our allies, and making sure that all our lobbying efforts to push back the anti-transgender bathroom bill from passing in some states. In Clark County, we have pushed SB-280 to pass and it was a huge win for us considering like California, a blue state, Nevada is a silver state, but had the potential to follow suit with the State of California in preserving transgender rights and treating transgender people as a protected class. SB-280 passed in March of 2021 with an Assembly Vote of 20-22. In Clark County, the all-gender placard is now affixed in most restrooms, following the lead of it's big sister state, California, making it safer for transgender people to do the most basic human needs which was to just release our bodies excrements, human waste, you know, simply to go pee or poo. This is a huge win compared to my experience when transitioning in Clark County where me and my fellow transgender kin were challenged harassed, bullied, and discriminated against or seen as evil, demons, or freaks of nature for using either sex/gender-assigned restrooms in public spaces because we were constantly being removed or banned by the cisgender community ruling what is cultured according to their belief systems.
For us transgender adults, in this day and age, we now have been standing up to fight for and protect our transgender youths because these anti-transgender politicians know that although they may not attack transgender adults and can't stand us transgender adults winning the battles, they know they can attack transgender youth and control them as an act of erasure and the mere eradication for the future growth of children identifying as transgender or being born transgender. Some of these states still practice a form of savage old school conversion therapy in secrecy and discretion. I have heard of horror and traumatic stories of this from my fellow transgender youths who desperately sought refuge from such barbaric treatments supported and enforced by their own family members who have rejected them and backed by anti-LGBTQIA+ commentators, politicians, and religious groups. Although, these conversion doctors and therapists love to flip the switch by imposing their religious beliefs to uphold their conditioned social customs by reversing the idea of our own community giving transgender youth the trans healthcare that they need to be deemed as "barbaric" and "unconventional" as spoken by the governor like the State of Texas, but what would a non-trans identified person know of the DNA around what makes up a transgender brain and how a transgender born person functions or is hard wired or structured? These statements and opinions, not facts, are being said by a non-transgender individual who lacks the profession, knowledge, and experience, who are less than qualified to treat transgender youths or determine the needs as a transgender identified human being.
Other than the anti-transgender bathroom bill, there were many other bills we fought against. Another bill was under way back in 2017 as an act to deny transgender people from partaking in the military even as a United States born citizen. I have supported our transgender troops on the frontlines facing the anti-transgender military ban where the law would prevent transgender individuals from joining and continue serving in the military whilst under the Trump administration. On both battles and accounts, with bathrooms and military matters relating to transgender individuals, what became a solemn threat became a BIG WIN to some of us transgender folx pushing against those anti-transgender bills (laws) and enforcing transgender rights on a both a county, state, and federal level. However, for some states, this threat and those fights are not yet over! When I speak of the Unacceptable States, I speak of the number one worse state for transgender people to live in, that state is the state of New York. New York has a long standing history of homo/transphobic violence. It was also where the Stonewall Riots began and the birth of LGBTQIA+ rights gave rise. The murder of transgender people is still very high in New York and those who govern New York have no laws to acknowledge or protect transgender people from such inequality and discrimination. I also can't stop there and say that is is just transgender people facing such adversity in New York but I am also very aware that LGBTQIA+ individuals face such heinous violence and threat just as equally as a transgender person would.
How many times have we all heard in the news that a transwoman has been murdered in broad daylight in New York? Or a gay couple taking the subway in New York getting attacked? TOO MANY! To me, this means, that in some of our 50 states, the fight for LGBTQIA+ rights is NOT YET OVER! However, the main target in our time are transgender people because it is among transgender people who present the challenge to break social gender norms, gender and the expression of our gender identity through physical form of gender representation that easily triggers more of the bashing, the hate, violence, and discrimination towards transgender and LGBTQIA+ people alike.
President Biden once said that, "Transgender discrimination is the civil rights issue of our time.", and I could not disagree more because I have experienced discrimination as a transman in 2022 and I still face it into present day 2023. Even though transgender people are considered a protected class in the gender-friendly states, even in those gender-friendly states, we still face major homo/transphobia and our rights are constantly being mocked and challenged.
So in what ways are our trans rights in gender-friendly states being challenged? Even though trans rights are enforced in these gender-friendly states, why is it still problematic? Well, in my experience, even though I have been transitioning for years and I am considered stealth in certain environments in my personal life, I still face the challenges of being visible with my gender expression and utilizing public restrooms in public spaces and the workplace because even though California does very well with offering all-gender restrooms to be more inclusive, there are only a few places that conform to the restriction of categorizing a Men's only restroom and a Women's only restroom. If you were to ask me what is my most deepest gender dysphoria and what triggers it? It would be the whole public restroom dilemma. Unless it is a family or all-gender restroom, I feel nervousness and fear using both restrooms, yes, both the men's and/or the women's, because as a trans guy who only have begun their surgical transition, I have only had my top-surgery but have not had my bottom-surgery because I'm still learning my options and not rushing into it, which means I still have my biological anatomy intact, so the reality is that I still pee like a woman and I can still bleed like a woman when I am not on my hormone medication which requires an injection dosage either weekly or biweekly depending on my blood pressure levels to lessen any health risks.
The structure of the men's restroom mostly have urinals, typical from 1-6 urinals, depending on how small or large the institutional structure, and only 1-2 stalls. There is obviously no disposable bins for used tampons or pads in the stalls or any tampon machine in the mens restroom which makes this a huge challenge and trigger for dysphoria for transmen. I've only seen a condom machine in the men's restroom a few times which I was against because condoms should be free of charge. The women's restroom may have 2-4 stalls, disposable bins in each stall, and of course, a tampon machine. The challenge is that regardless, transmen who need to utilize the restroom get the risk of being outed, bullied, raped, harassed, condemned, or banned, and the outcome can get quite violent so most trans people, both for trans men and especially for trans women, fear this so they hold their pee which can cause health problems.
There were a few occasions at my current workplace where out of respect for not scaring women during business hours and knowing the men's bathroom stall was being occuppied, I held my pee for hours till my bladder begun to hurt to avoid making others uncomfortable. When I finally was able to pee using the men's stall, peeing became excruciating because I end up relapsing my bladder and developing bladder atrophy which hurts and I have trouble relaxing and releasing because I've held it for too long. I couldn't do that to myself anymore so I had no other choice but to enter the women's restroom which I don't ever do this often in public because most public restrooms are all-gender inclusive. I normally wait for the men's stall to free up but regardless, my point is, this is why gender-assigned restrooms become both a social challenge and health problem for transgender people.
Never hold your pee!
So imagine this, if transgender-friendly states are dealing with a homo/transphobic or anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric with other low-minded Samaritans, realize that the level of animosity and ill-will be ten times magnified in the non-transgender-friendly states like Texas, New York, Mississippi, etc. where a sex and/or gender diverse individual is not protected in any way shape or form by its own councilman or governing state. Can I sit comfortably as I see the oppression occurring in 2023? No, I can not sit at home and be so comfortable. What I advocate is for allies and the LGBTQIA+ community continue to stand up for what is clearly so wrong in our programmed and conditioned society today. Transgender beings have always existed. One can't argue or debate away the folklore that exists on transgender beings who walked among gods and men for eons and I am sure the more godly countries that revere transgender individuals look at our society today and frown upon capital hill and the destruction of what was once revered once upon a time and to witness the censorship of transgender people.
In Hawaii, a legislation was passed to honor the māhū kāne (transgender man) and the māhū wahine (transgender women) because in ancient traditions, the māhū have always existed and the people have always recognized a third gender.
"Since the term māhū can have multiple spaces and experiences, Kumu Hina originally coined the terms: māhū kāne (transgender man) and māhū wahine (transgender woman). However, Kumu Hina believes that those terms should be revised due to scientific advancement and so she coined four new terms. Māhū who feel internally wahine (female) — emotionally, spiritually, psychologically and culturally — could use the term haʻawahine. If they feel more internally that they are kāne (men), they are haʻakāne. When they have taken on externally what they feel internally i.e. dressing as a female, have began to or had undergone hormone therapy and other forms of medical transitioning (including cosmetic surgery), then the term hoʻowahine would be used. Likewise, for māhū who feel that they are internally male and taking that form externally, then hoʻokāne. ..."
You will hear so many of this from other countries who honor a third gender including Argentina, Austria, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Pakistan, India and Nepal. One can argue and debate the science and facts away, like anti-LGBTQIA+ conservative commentor and film maker, Dinesh D'Souza, and many other cancel-culture idols, these constant attacks will not cease but it sure does give the father of fear confidence, the mother of insecurity a huge flattery, a sister of self-scrutiny piety, a brother of self-hate adrenaline towards acts of violence, with a false pretense of superior social justice righteousness but in a very wrong way as a gateway to inflict oppression and harm on those who are different to the eyes of the grinning grim reaper. It is a space where even god and angels wish to take no part of in such scripture that is written by the men and women who think they know above all.
What do we do now? We keep doing what we have always done. Don't stop! This year, one of my end goals is to come out and be more visible than I have ever been. Although I can't shut down a complete nuisance like Dinesh D'Souza, I can at least laugh at his blissful ignorance at his aka debate attack tactics on those who are further marginalized by him but then again, individuals like him are oxy-morons and are doing exactly what those other haters are doing which is damaging the heart of society by adding the fuel to the fire with their endless thirst for debates to create theses wars among children of men. We won't be at full equality nor peace while people like him runs a muck in our world. What we can do is continue to stand our ground, know that today's truth is not tomorrow's truth as truth is always changing, stay transparent, never loose sight of our truer purpose in life, and create the equality and diversity that fulfils our souls as it is our God-given right on Earth to do so and no man can take away that power from us! I consider myself a heralding of changes that need to come to pass.
You can stone me, burn me, stab me, shoot me, poke me, punch me, kick me, rape me, hurt me, deny me, condemn me, spit at me, defile me, or try to erase me, but you will never have power over me because I am ME and I will always be me in soul, in heart, in mind, and in spirit. You can destroy and kill this body of mine but you can never truly KILL me. I am a bisexual transgender human being who exist, I have always existed, and will continue to exist. My name is Kaneda Yoshida, remember me!
My Top Surgery
December 18, 2019 on a Wednesday at 7:30 am was the official appointment and arrival date for my top-surgery, which is basically the removal of all breast tissue, reconstruction, and masculinization of the chest for transmen. In medical terms the procedure is called a double mastectomy. If you have read My Transgender Story blog, which recounts my early years before coming out as transgender, you will learn that I have dealt with a rather traumatic sexual abuse revolved around being born AFAB (assigned female at birth) with breasts specifically with nipples. It was so traumatic for me that I have chosen to not have any nipples for my top surgery procedure. Although, that dark part of my life is forgiven, the memory of that is not forgotten.
Every trans guy most likely has had a different method of health insurance or funding to undergo top surgery, to their surgeon, to their own unique and personal experience, to their medical procedure, to their outcome of their healing results, and to their everlasting permanent physical appearances according to their preferences. When it comes to physical appearances, like figure, physique, body height, shape, and weight, even genetics, each trans guy undergoing top surgery will choose one of the various procedures to best fit their top surgery postoperative body goals which determines the ending results starting from their preface to post operation moments. Since there are various options to the surgery procedure which I will not discuss here because that's a whole other large topic. However, for some who are either just beginning their hormonal transition journey or for those who are getting ready to take the extra step into the medical part of their transition, it may take some time to contemplate and even do some careful research before giving it a go. Just a bit of fair warning, you will need a lot of strength, both, body and mind, and a lot of support from family and friends that of which you can fully trust. However, this will be my top surgery experience and therefore I must disclose that some other people’s experiences will be my inexperience and vice versa, which makes every top surgery procedure and experience rather unique to every individual who has undergone top surgery throughout their transgender lifetime. Lest not forget those who choose never to undergo top surgery which is completely fine. Surgical procedures are one of choice. However, being born transgender is not!
Who was my top surgeon of choice?
I've heard of so many top surgeons out there and very few stood out like Dr. Scott Mosser, who seems to be very popular and well-known around the San Francisco Bay Area for his surgical procedures and results but the reason why I didn't choose to go for him was because I didn't have the health insurance required for his clinic to accept my procedure. My health insurance was with Kaiser Permanente, so instead, I choose Dr. Roderick Simonds, and although unknown to the public, I like the fact that he keeps confidentiality with his patients and I only saw one review and results of a patient he had through Imgur. I know that photos of results speaks volumes but I like a bit of an enigma so Dr. Roderick Simonds was my plastic and reconstructive surgeon of choice through Kaiser Permanente. I had chosen him after finding him on a Reddit review, initially by the same transgender man on Imgur who had his top surgery done. After a few appointments discussing the top surgery procedure with him, I felt that he listened to what I needed and wanted. He has done several top surgery procedures before for transmen and he made me feel like he understood and cared about the preparing before, the recovery during, the aftercare, and the results afterwards.
I first requested to know more about top surgery at Kaiser Permanente by asking my healthcare physician Dr. Ian Matthew Fellows, MD. who first referred me to the Gender Pathway Clinic through their Transgender Services programs where I must first go through a psychiatric mental health screening evaluation with Carlos Morales, therapist. They then referred and booked me with Dr. Roderick Simonds and on the first day of meeting with him, he examined me at first to determine the size then discussed the surgical options of the procedure. I could have done keyhole, but the keyhole would not have guaranteed that all the breast tissue would be removed. Next option was a small double incision below the nipple. I firsthand told Dr. Simonds that I may not want to keep the nipple at all because I was thinking of getting a shoulder sleeve and chest body tattoo to cover up the scars after it fully heals anyway. On the first meeting, it was just a pre planning of my top surgery and then figuring out the actual date of the operation.
According to my health record history of anemia and low iron count, I was instructed to stop smoking preferably three months before, but since I only had less than month to quit because of the surgery date being moved up, I end up quitting cold turkey four weeks before the surgery. I also couldn’t drink orange juice or milk.
How did I prepared for my top-surgery?
Preparing for my surgery post operation was like evaluating everything by placing the most used daily essentials down to waist level. However, trying to get my mother to understand that I couldn’t reach the cups, dishes, condiments, etc. in the kitchen was not something I would be able to do. They didn’t take me seriously. I end up having to gather the essentials and store them at waist level in my own recovery area. Don’t buy anything you have to open with your two hands like bottled Gatorade or anything that is airtight sealed by a twist off cap because you will end up straining yourself, instead get canned drinks or drinks that contains a straw like juice boxes. Same when it comes to food. Unless you have a an able muscled person to open airtight sealed twist off caps or a four star Michelin chef that cook a meal for you every day, stock up on microwavable foods.
On the night before of the procedure, I had to use these medical wipes to wipe down my entire body and stop eating solid foods for 8 hours. When it came down to 2 hours before my arrival time for surgery, I had to drink a clear fast liquid and can only eat and drink clear liquids like water, coffee (no cream), and broth. This is important for the surgical procedure because I learned that if you eat solid food or drink any liquid 2 hours before you go into surgery, you could aspirate or choke which affects the breathing tube that goes down your throat to help you breathe while you are under anesthetic. Basically, when you are laying flat with your head tilted back due to a breathing tube down your throat, if there is any food or liquid in your stomach, that food or liquid can go back up to your esophagus like vomit creeping up in the back of your throat which is why you are advised to not eat solid foods or drink any liquids 2 hours before your actual surgery operation.
How was my top-surgery procedure and aftercare?
I was given some medication to help me relax a few hours before the actual surgery procedure. When it was time, the moment they placed the anesthesia gas over my face, I was out before I knew it. When I woke up, I felt really numb but very dizzy. It took me maybe between two to fours hour of rest at the recovery ward for me to be able to actually move about carefully and be discharged. Once I got home, I went to take a long nap after eating some ice cream to soothe my sore throat because of the tube being down my throat during the surgery. They have medical tape over my incision wound and a medical binder that I am to wear for 2 months to keep down both the swelling and compress the chest as it heals. I can only take it off for 15-20 minutes but no more than 30 minutes. I could also wear clothes underneath the binder so I could be more comfortable. I had to sleep with my chest and head a bit elevated and not to sleep on my side or back. I have been instructed not to reach above wait level at all. I can't shower for 2 days so I would have to do a dry shower which is basically body wipes. I was prepared for this so I bought myself a full case of Dude Wipes. After 2 days, I am to only shower, no bathes, and during the shower, I am to let the water hit my back instead of having it hit straight onto the wound soaking or getting it all soaking wet. I am to allow the water to roll behind my back down to the wound where the medical tape is protecting it. I'm to take a shower this way for 3 weeks and only use a mild soap to wash around the wound where the medical take is protecting it. After my showers, I am to pat dry with a clean towel and not to rub on and around the wound.
In the next few weeks to come during my three and a half week FMLA leave of absence from my job, it was more about getting around the house and taking care of myself. Not to mention, it was around the holidays and Christmas was around the corner which was a time well spent with family. The pain was very minimal due to the fact that the anesthesia was slowly wearing off and I was already taking pain killers in advance to manage any pain. I lost nerve feeling around the chest area for awhile and I was told that within 6 months to about a year, the nerves will grow and heal itself along with the tissue and the skin. I didn't get stitches, instead, there are layers of sutures inside in which I was told that my body will eventually absorb it. Although, I lost feeling, I was also told that I would get some feeling back. During the 3 weeks of my healing stages, these were the sensations that I have felt after the surgery. There was a whole lot of prickling, popping, clunking noises, and muscles spasms happening all within the chest area. There were moments when certain areas around the incision felt very stiff and tender which was normal because my body was healing itself up. I honestly do not know how to explain the stages of how large wounds heal itself up but I did see a video of one and it's amazing! My chest didn't begin to feel any soreness until after maybe 4-6 weeks. The harder part was being mindful that I could not reach upwards above waist level or lift anything beyond 10 lbs at all because this would tear the sutures inside or cause more damage to my chest wound.
After about half a week from my surgery, I did attend a follow-up visit care with the nurses and doctors at Kaiser Permanente to examine the surgical site to monitor any sign for infections and attain further aftercare instructions. Some of the questions I had was if I could ice or heat treat the wound. The nurse advised not to because ice or heat causes moisture and that builds bacteria and may create an infection. The wound must stay dry while the medical tape is in place. However, the medical tape will eventually peel away on it's on and loose its adhesiveness so when it does, she advised that I can carefully ship them away. She wanted me to heal really nicely and have a nice clean scar so she told me absolutely not to peel it off. She gave me some fresh dressings so I can undress the bandages and change new ones once the old ones are soiled and a sterile bandage roll instead of a binder so I can have a bit more flexibility and breathability around the chest. I can then alternate between the binder and the bandage roll. In the 2 weeks of rest and recovery, I was bored out of my mind and became restless and began doing stupid shit like dusting and dishes. If you ever get the urge to be active like this, just do yourself a favor. don't. Sit your butt back down, watch some Netflix, play some video games, or read a book because being too active with your arms might aggravate your chest and there will be sprinting pain.
About 2 and a half weeks from my surgery, I attended a follow-up care with Dr. Simonds where he was going to inspect the surgical site and give me further instructions for aftercare. This was a moment where he took off the medical tape that was slowly peeling away which I cuts parts off of already. He took it off with a snap of a finger and I saw the surgical incision for the first time. I was scared at first but after looking at it I was like huh, it's not so bad. He then took some wound safe medical tape adhesive remover with some sterile cotton balls and rubbed it across my incision site, it felt sensitive, tender, and sore. The left corner of the incision on my chest did bleed a bit so Dr. Simonds placed a band-aid on that. Dr. Simonds instructed me to get some Vaseline petroleum jelly in which once my medical tape gets removed, I am to apply and when I'm comfortable enough to give it a good rubbing to help reduce scarring and promote the wound to heal faster. He also told me that I don't need to cover up with the dressing anymore and I can just wear the binder or the bandage roll. Dr. Simonds also advised to not get a tattoo yet until after about a year. He also requested that I send him photos once I do get my tattoo done in which I look forward to doing so when that time comes.
So am I satisfied with my top-surgery results?
The answer is yes. It has been a dream of mine to be able to take my shirt off especially on hotter than normal weathers and this lessens my dysphoria by a long mile. It's also freedom and a more truer image of my trans male body so with this being said and done, I now consider myself to be a transexual man. Once I am all healed up, I know I am going to be one handsome guy. My body goals after my top-surgery is body building. Stay tuned till then. I know I have more transformation to work on and this is only the beginning of living in my new transexual male body.
A Journey In Transitioning
My left hands gripped steady on my thigh muscles as I carefully insert the tip of the sharp needle through my skin while grasping the bottom end of the syringe with my left fingers. I let out a quick breath, exhaling, and inhaling, then began to glide the rest of the oil into my thigh muscles using my right fingers. I’ve been injecting myself between .3/4cc to .5cc for the past year as instructed by my doctor. When it comes to doing my shots, I just don’t think about it anymore, the pain is just a slight pinch on the first sight of injection, while the rest of it is just anxiety of getting it over and done with. This is the regular routine for most transmen on testosterone hormone replacement therapy. No one really tells you the side effects or the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual changes that will take place as months go by being on T(HRT), the short abbreviation for the word.
It’s been a whole full year since I’ve been on testosterone and I’ve gone through what most transmen have gone through, some experiences are slightly different than others, however, not all changes are the same depending on your DNA, but similar in transitioning. I’ve slowly seen my facial structure go from heart-shaped smooth hairless delicate feminine face to a more raunchy higher cheekbone structured with fine lines and facial hair growth. I have a mustache, lip, and chin beard now. Granted within the next year, I expect to have full sideburns, mustache, and beard, enough to rock a goatee. My voice went from a very feminine high pitch girly tone to a raspy grumble guy of a voice as it drops month after month. For some of us, the symptoms of a voice drop is as if you swallowed something that just stayed there and tickled your throat for days.
I remembered shopping for men’s clothes a few months earlier in my transition was a bit difficult as I’ve seen my entire wardrobe transition along with me. My waist use to be so much wider and I had an ass. Yes, I had a woman’s butt. I had curves but my shoulders were always broad even when I was in a woman’s body. I’ve seen my waist go from wide to thin as all the fat moved up to my back and I gained more muscle mass on my pecs, abs, shoulders, neck, back, arms, and forearms. I even have throat muscles, a small adam’s apple, and veins that pop every now and then when I get too hot or after a hard body building workout. Since I am petite and always will be small in my stature, everything about me is short and lean. I prefer my transexual male body to be healthy crossfit if I stay away from the binge drinking or smoking now and then.
I remembered the day when I could no longer utilize the women’s public restroom anymore because other cisgender women thought or assumed that I was this small Asian boy going through puberty. During that time, I was about 3 months on testosterone where my voice was dropping. I remembered when I first went into the men’s restroom and got a couple stares at first but I didn’t care because I went in there like a thug. It was around the same time that I decided to cut my hair short and the couple more times I went into the men’s restroom, my first encounter of anyone saying anything to me was a cisgender gay man telling me that he thought I was cute.
I met my first cisgender gay male partner through Skype by a friend of a friend, it was he who in some ways I guess taught me to find my own men’s style and helped me discover the masculine parts of me that I had been oppressing all these years. Now I’ve never been in a gay relationship, by this, I mean, I’ve never been with a gay man so this was very new to me. It wouldn’t make sense for it to be a straight relationship. I didn’t like it being labeled or seen as a queer relationship. Simply because we were both seen as men. Cis and trans. Gay sex was amazing! Definitely different than when I was in the body or mind set of a woman. Not to mention, testosterone boost sex drive. Yay for that!
My parts that I was born with, well, I’m not comfortable with my boobies but thankfully I was born with rather very small breasts so I have two options as a pre-op, one, I can choose not to undergo top surgery (be non-op for top) and just let my pec muscles blend with my breast tissue and save me the medical expense, or, get the loan or funding to receive top surgery, most doctors have said that I would be estimated to have keyhole surgery (be post-op for top). My bottom? Well, I’ve always been comfortable with them because I enjoy penetration but I’m dysphoric about the bleeding days because having to deal with that as a transman can be very uncomfortable. I know for sure that I do want to have biological children of my own before I get my eggs completely removed and undergo a full hysterectomy. Other parts of playing in on the dysphoria was having to go to a OBGYN clinic to get my annual checkup and my partner went with me for support.
Well, you could imagine the reactions or comments, the misgendering, etc. Someone should write a short TV skit about that because my partner was mansplaining to most of the doctors and nurses at that facility clinic about the whole reason why we were there was because we were in a gay relationship, and oh, all of the dynamics of that were like, “...yes, he’s taking a pregnancy test and wants to get on birth control as preventative measures because testosterone doesn’t....oh btw, he’s transgender, female-to-male...” Yeah, that type of stuff...I don’t get bleedings anymore as being boosted on a .5cc dose every week has stopped it, thank goodness!
Anyway, not sure if anyone mentions this but there is growth done there too. The clitoris grows and becomes a mini micro-p. It’s sensitive at first but eventually it doesn’t really bother me. Before I went on hormones though, I did learn about binders, packers, and STP devices and already equipped myself with the proper gear. Luckily for me since I am super small, getting myself a binder from Japan or Taiwan was not that hard as it fits my chest just fine. I never felt comfortable using an STP device so I never packed an STP device in public. I didn’t bother to train myself because the STP product that I have is really cheap and low end. I don’t trust it enough to use it at all, not even to train myself to pee in it so I go to the bathroom the old school way and “pee like a girl”. What choice do I have? Just don’t ever say that to me though.
Along with being on hormones, everything else about you changes. Things you thought you knew about yourself changes too. For a long while, I came out as bisexual and I still am in some ways bisexual but being on testosterone, seeing myself transition into the handsome rare Asian transexual man I’ve become, I’ve learned that I am more sexually attracted to men so therefore I had been more gay than I thought but I still enjoy spending time with woman, however, the thoughts are more mutually intimate. At this point, after being a full year on testosterone, I am revisiting my sexuality and questioning myself all over again.
I counted the needles in my hazardous waste bin. For one full year, I have injected myself 40 times! I could say, “I have shot myself 40 times...” Just to live my life the way I want now as the man I always knew, envisioned, and felt myself to be. I look beyond the timeline photos and voice captures from when I was pre-T to post-T, one year, and my oh my, I have changed so much. There are more changes to come for me as I’m starting the next chapter of my transitioning. For my first year, I have accomplished goals as, starting testosterone, transitioning my mind, body, soul, my clothes, my appearance, my behavior, my environment, my family, my friends, my workplace, and got my gender marker legally changed in due time all by myself. I’ve accomplished quite a lot in a year. I want to stick around and see what more I can accomplish in my second year and the years to come with the changes that comes along with it.
My Transgender Story
Since I was a child, I always knew myself to be more different than the rest of my biological siblings. Between the ages of about 2-8 years of age, I find myself feeling sad most of the time, and harboring feelings like, “Who am I...? What am I doing here?” I always felt like I never really belonged here, both in this physical material world but also in this assigned female body (aka assigned-female-at-birth, abbreviation is AFAB). I was born a sensitive, not because I was scared, a cry baby, or that I was weak, it was because I sensed things more than other people normally would, things that were otherworldly and hard to explain as a child, like ghosts, UFOs, and the paranormal. I was undergoing early identity crisis while finding it difficult to keep myself grounded onto this world. I couldn't tell others that I can see or hear spirits, ghosts, angels, etc. because my older sister would be cruel to me and treat me like I was crazy then do or say mean things to make me cry on purpose, and told me that no one would believe a babbling crybaby. I was just a toddler who constantly was crying because I would freak out seeing entities that I knew was not among the living who would either keep following or looming over me or others around me that would simply just frightened me because their otherworldly energies were different from those who were alive and I couldn't explain it as an infant toddler to anyone. Other than that enigma of my infancy. It wasn't until about the age of eight, that I find myself disliking my being born into the female body. I remembered how I would take my shirt off, wore only pants, and pretended that a wide tooth comb was a sword while imagining I was a male samurai or a shinobi. I always imagined myself to be a boy or a man instead of a girl or a woman but back then, I didn’t know why I was feeling, expressing, or imagining myself in this way. I was told that it was not normal, uncultured, or weird, because I always played with the boys and did boy things, and therefore I was the most misunderstood, unaccepted, and have constantly been considered to be the different child in my family. As a child, my petty older sister, would bully and terrorize me, she verbally would abuse me by calling me, "The black sheep."
A back story.
Growing up was tough. My parents, specifically my father, were really strict and come from an Asian background, both with a Cambodian upbringing. My father wanted to raise us to be Khmer and would oppress all other ethnic origins that we were mixed with and often denied my mother's Japanese ways and would tease her often for nodding her head to how she sits or eats especially while utilizing the hashi (Japanese chopsticks) and often berated her for behaving too Japanese instead of being more Cambodian. He would say to her in Khmer that if it weren't for him to save her during the Khmer Rouge because of her Japanese ways, she would have been killed which was a very mean thing to say. Over the years, she gradually dropped all her Japanese demeanor. Yes, to be quite blunt, my father was an asshole! His tyranny comes from his reputation in serving the Royal Cambodian Army back in the early 1960's before the Khmer Rouge so he was very militant when raising me and my siblings. My father was into politics especially when it came to his country being a Protectorat français du Cambodge (French protectorate of Cambodia, circa 1940's), he was a member of the Khmer-French Liberal Party, he was highly educated, spoke fluent Khmer, French, and some English during his prime. He once had the French colonial flag alongside the Kampuchea national flag displayed side by side upon his estate in Phnom Pehn out on the upper verandas in his family's villa, and he even owned a French dictionary, but he was extremely traumatized by the Khmer Rouge regime that he has denied his French assuming that it triggered horrible memories of being different, non-homogenous, non-conformist, etc. He still smokes indoors, which was also a very French habit and upbringing for him.
Mixte ethnie et race!
Nevertheless, I'm ethnically mixed with Khmer-French from my father's side who is 75% Khmer and 25% French (his surname is Allaire), and Japanese from my mother's side, who is 100% Ainu, her ancestral heritage and origins roots back to Hokkaido but my mother's side of the family is quite a mystery only because my father doesn't want to hear it or let us know about it (her maiden name is Yoshida). My parents are not legally married and they both never really had any proper wedding in either of their ethnic culture as it turns out, my mother is, in fact, my father's mistress, which is very common for French men to have mistresses even when they are already married. My father had two wives, both died during the Khmer Rouge regime. His first wife was French, her name was Sézanne, which sounded like Suzanne in his Khmer-French accent, and he still displays an old photo of her in a frame at his house till this day. His second wife is Thai, to whom he has two sons with, my survived older step-brothers that occupy the Allaire's French family villa in Phnom Pehn in which my father would send money to Cambodia to rebuild after the bombing in the capital during the Khmer Rouge regime. There is no word for mistress so the Khmer wording just translates to wife. I tend to say that I'm only half Cambodian and Japanese because the French side is hard to explain but like my father, it's also a way of keeping discretion with the French side.
My father's coping mechanism from the trauma surviving the Khmer Rouge was abusing alcohol and being violent.
As a child, I remember him being an abusive drunk to both my mother, severely physically violent towards my then adolescent older brother and me when I was a toddler (about 5-6 years old), he had drowned me once in the bath tub on accident while drunk, he also had mildly tortured my little sister when she too was a child (about 7-8 years of age). You see, my father was severely violent towards my older brother and me where we both have suffered a few permanent scars, fractures, and contusions on our bodies from his drunk violent episodes. When I was turning nine, it was my broken wrist, several bruises, and marks on my body that alerted my preschool teachers where CPS stepped in and the court took custody of us. This was where and how I ended up in the foothold of my mother's homeland, Japan, where under the courts protective ruling, I was allowed to home-stay on a visa and later, had obtained dual citizenship in Japan, to live with my mother's immediate relations from the age of nine to about fourteen because my mother's older sister, my Auntie Mariko, was the only immediate contact in the United States to take over guardianship of us, since she resided in Hilo, Hawaii with her husband, aka my living-on-the-wild-side-tsunami-surfer Uncle Kazuya (whom we just call Uncle Kaz/Kazu). My father does not like my mother's side of the family and vice-versa, the Cambodian and Japanese side always clashes and there was ever only one occasion where both sides have gathered for a family funeral but it's rare to see them all in one shared or closed space. The dispute is only between my father and my mother's older sister who strongly dislikes my father.
Living in Osaka, Japan was the happiest and most Golden Moment of my precious young life!
Now, I must say, the five years of living and being raised by my mother's relations in Osaka, Japan were the best and most golden moments of my young life. However, that is another story that I will not get too deep into but I mention those parts of me because it was the upbringing and social customs that comes from both my parents backgrounds which determined how they have raised me and my siblings, as well as how growing as an LGBTQ member in the family has effected me into my teenage years especially returning back home at the age of fifteen to estranged parents, it was going back into the household of my parents in America where suddenly I find that my young sprightful life suddenly became rather dark, once again.
This is my transgender story.
Ever since we were all very little, my parents have always programmed us. They taught us how girls should behave and how boys should behave but most of the strict rules were enforced on the girls in my family. My parents made sure that the girls were more controlled than the boys in my family. I felt because of these strict rules, social-programming, social-conditioning, and control, it made me hate my female body more and the coercion into taking on this gender role as a female. I didn’t know why I was feeling this way till I hit my adult years. My two sisters hated the rules that were enforced on the girls because the boys had more freedom. They could do whatever the fuck they wanted! While the girls were taught to cook, clean, and mostly stay at home. The girls were expected to do whatever the parents tell them. The girls could not have any girl friends, no boyfriends, basically no social life, whatsoever! Due to this, my siblings and I were late bloomers as Asian-Americans growing up in the United States and I was often at times, the reclused sibling in the family and had often barricaded myself in the room until I just couldn't anymore.
My parents made sure that the girls were held in this secured box that I was so eager to break out of. We were caged!
At the age of fifteen, I realized that there was more reason why I hated being a female and I developed anger problems because I was an empath. Empaths feel everything all at once and because negative emotions is hard to cope, I couldn’t cope with negativity very well. The anger rose to a boiling point and it wasn’t because my parents enforced the gender role on us as female but it had to do with how I think and feel inside as a person about my own body and identity. I was frustrated with myself and I hated everything about me as far as I was concern. I came to realize that I preferred wearing unisex clothes and expressing myself as freely as possible to be happy. However, I realized that I belonged to a very strict and conforming household. My parents did not approve my boy short haircut because I sported a mullet and had orange dyed spiky hair. I sported multiple ear piercings. I wore a lot of metal chains and rivets that expressed my cyber punk and street goth fashion style.
My clothes were as loud and wild as the way I wanted it.
My parents decided that it was in their duty to conform me to save face. I, refused! Living under my parent's household was like a battlefield every day. So much so that my High School grades dropped and I couldn’t concentrate on my studies. I slipped into somewhat of a depression because my father took to beating me up for the way I was carrying myself on a daily basis. He made it clear to tell me how much he was embarrassed of me, that no one would love me for it, and called me, “Kathoey.” (Gay in Khmer.) It was already bad enough that some of my siblings and my peers turned against me enabling me to get bullied for who I am. There were times where the beating at home and the bullying at school got so brutal that I submitted to this act of oppression as those around me, especially my parents, forced me into female clothes. My parents took it upon themselves several times to go through my entire bedroom and throw away all my unisex clothes, accessories, my journal, photos of me with my gay and lesbian friends in which we were all dressed like boys, oh and did I mention my journal? Because my journal was therapy to me. They tore down my wall posters of J-Visual Kei bands that I admired, poster of sport cars from JDM magazines, female models from Hot Import Nights, and even my artwork with a comic book drawing that I had discreetly worked on for two years. They threw out rare omiyage (Japanese gifts) that I’ve received from my pen pals in Japan because to my parents worldviews, most of the items in my possession were too boyish.
You could imagine coming home to everything that expressed who you are, what you are, what you like, and everything about that part of you just gets destroyed by your own parents in a single day.
I got so depressed that I couldn’t really function in school and started skipping class. My grades fell from an honor roll 3.0 GPA to a 1.0 GPA. Of course, I got a physical beating for this when the school called my father to report my absences and failing grades. I got so tired of all the verbal, mental, emotional, and physical abuse, the constant oppression, and being controlled that I decided enough was enough so I resorted to running away. I begun to join a small Asian gang to sell drugs so I can buy the clothes that I wanted to wear, get my haircut and dyed to my liking, and go back to the me that I knew and was comfortable being. I never understood why my parents or other people were telling me what to do, how to have my hair, what to wear, how to behave, etc. One of my concerned teachers referred me to teen counseling and therapy because I would have mental breakdowns. During my therapy sessions, I began to admit that I was depressed as I was coping with gender identity crisis and even questioned my own sexual orientation. Along this discovery, I remember sitting at my parent’s home in my bedroom on my bed, my head was down, I felt deeply unhappy, and I remember that my two sisters were in the room with me just having a conversation when I suddenly blurted out to them, “I think I am bisexual.” I paused for a moment feeling numb saying it but I remembered asking them warily, “Would you hate me if I was?” Their reaction and response was a mere revelation, “Oh, we always knew you were different but we don’t hate you.” I asked, “But would you accept me? Because mom and dad won’t. They hate me.” They assured me they wouldn’t judge me or saw me anything less. That day, I felt comforted by the fact that at least I have two of my siblings who accept me for....well, whatever the heck I was?
I wasn’t sure at that time and was trying to figure myself out.
Later along, after many fights and quarrels with my parents, siblings, teachers, peers, and even strangers about what they called ‘abnormal ways and behavior’, my own parents and peers in school took to spreading rumors about me. My parents were saying that I was acting this way because I was a bad seed while my peers in school were spreading rumors that I was a lesbian who needed to get banged by guys to be straight. My parents convinced the school that I was a bad kid who didn’t obey them, acted out, and therefore I should not be trusted. My peers in school would send others to fight me, beat me up, and get others guys to either try to rape me or save me by trying to convert me to be straight. It seems like everyone around me were knocking me down hard but I fought them all back. I got stabbed during a cross fire gang fight in the Fillmore district and since that day I stopped selling drugs and cut ties with gang affiliations. I considered that a close call and I covered it up so well that not even my parents knew about this incident ever till this day. Since it was Chinese Triad youth gang, it was easy to slip away from this small gang unlike colored gangs like the Bloods and Crypts. I decided to lay a low profile, gave myself a nickname for safety reasons so I called myself Nicky throughout the rest of my High School years. My family never knew why I called myself Nicky but the reason why was not because I was trying to present falsehood about my name but having an alias was the only way to cloak my whereabouts so that the gang affiliations would not follow me or bring me back to their world of death and destruction. Eventually, I got my grades back up to at least a 2.0 GPA. Still, it was hard studying at home because my drunken violent father would barge in my bedroom while I am studying and he would yank my hair, or grab something to hit me with while I was trying to study. And mind, all my siblings went through some form of dysfunction, oppression, and tyranny with my father growing up but my journey or rather experience was slightly different, so for the record, my scars from it will always be different than that of my siblings.
He blamed me for everything that went wrong in the family.
One day during my therapy session, my therapist realized that I was probably an LGBT identified youth who was in the need to reach out to the LGBT community for support because I was suicidal at that time and was then considered a high at-risk youth. So one day my therapist wanted to take me to a field trip to the Castro district to watch an independent film that may answer some questions about my own gender identity and sexual orientation but being underage in High School and having to ask for parents consent, it caused another road block at that point in my life. For some reason, I thought it was a good idea to come out to my parents as an LGBT youth to try to educate them on it in hopes they would better understand me. So I tried to explain to my parents about myself but it backfired. My father got furious, ripped up the consent forms, condemned me from going to any more therapy sessions, and placed me under house arrest. This part gets explicit so if you don’t want to read, than stop reading now.
Alright, well you are still reading so don’t say I didn’t warn you.
What happened at this point in my life scarred me and probably for the rest of my life because I have never felt so much animosity from my own father that I truly believed he didn’t love me at all and went on to believing that he hated me for the next five years of my life. That same night while I was sleeping and mind you, it was a school night, he violently woke me up, dragged me out of my bed holding a pair of scissors and a baseball bat. He told me that if I didn’t listen to him that he’ll send me away. He squeezed my nipples declaring that I was a female (and well, that was the part that scarred me the most). If I didn’t knew what gender dysphoria was back then, well, in that moment I was so aware of my own physical body that my male spirit was shaken to the core because then I was hurting in my mind, heart, and soul for it and I knew in that moment that my father would never carry any contrition for me naturally being born this way. He yanked my hair and began to cut it all off and I remembered I fought back. I pushed him away. He took strong hold of my left arm and twisted it so hard that my wrist bone slightly dislocated itself. He never used the bat but he did burn my chest with his cigarette butt which left two small scars. My mother stood by watching the horror of this attack, speechless, and I knew she was powerless to do or say anything because in Asian customs, the wife shuts up and listens to her husband obediently and submissively.
I forgive my mother though. I know that this wasn’t her fault.
I thought I was having a dream where I was experiencing a nightmare till I realized what was actually happening to me and when it dawned on me that my own father is probably trying to kill me, I broke from him, and I ran! So feeling attacked, feeling like my life is in danger, with no shoes, no jacket, just in my pajamas, my broken wrist, burned chest, my hair chopped up, and in tears, I ran outside the house through the backdoor in the middle of the night as I heard my mother’s distressed voice yell out my name in Khmer from the distant, “Kan!” All I knew was that I had to get away and find safety somewhere, anywhere! So I end up running all the way to the end of John McLaren park. While I ran, jogged, and half walked out of breath in the cold, so many things rushed through my mind but mostly the strong feeling of not turning back to that hell hole called home and also wanting to just die! I found a bench and I slept on that bench, cold, sobbing, feeling numb, hoping that I do freeze to death or wishing someone other than my father would actually murder me right then and there. The following morning, my wrist was bruised and swollen, my chest had a burned scar, both my feet bled from stepping on sharp items on the bare concrete. I don’t recall how I even survived because I was so catatonic that it was as if I was not in my own body. I made my way over to a friends house and told them what happened to me. They took me to the Larkin Street Youth Center for Homeless or Runaway teens where I stayed. I’ve never hated myself for being what and who I am than in that moment. I began to resent my own father and slowly, I became bitter towards my entire family, people, and all of society that would teach the strict gender roles between boys (men) and girls (women).
For the next six months at the shelter, I suffered alone.
During that time, my older sister was my only point of contact and in some ways, it was my only solace, and that maybe my life was still somewhat significant in this world. When my parents found out where I was through my High School counselor, they played nice to me after I have made them worry for six months and wanted me to come back home to their household. I couldn’t trust them for awhile as much as they couldn’t trust me. I remember asking my parents to stop calling me names and hitting me. I told them if they promised to stop all the abuse that I would agree to come home. My parents agreed. At that point my father had already plotted some sort of reform against me by sending my aunt, uncle, and their friends to gently coerce me into changing my ways by using scare tactics. The option was, (1) either I listen to them and do as they say, (2) they send me off to Cambodia to marry some random guy and be his servant wife, or (3) they will place me in the United States Army. Remember, President Bush was elected at that time and he had declared war in Iraq. I did not want to be sent to the U.S. Army Reserve to serve in Iraq plus I have a mental health record so I probably won’t even be allowed into the army. And on top of that, at sixteen, I was considered a juvenile delinquent because my father told lies about me to the police to put me under house arrest.
It was easier for him to control or scare me to succumb to his ways.
At this point, I gave up hope and enabled them to conform me. I hid away the true me and locked myself back in the closet even after graduating High School. I dated straight guys to prove to my parents that I was heterosexual or normal but all the straight guys that I have dated were no gentlemen! I would look at how they would treat me as a female and I would tell myself, if I were a man, I would not be this narcissistic, egotistical, sexist type of guy just because I have a male privilege. In my opinion, just because a guy is born with a penis, it doesn’t make him a man. The genital parts don't make you a man! Manhood is about your character and not about what parts you have. And the way I perceive these types of guys, they were considered little boys to me instead of a grown man because they didn't act like a gentleman. I went through dysfunctional domestic violent relationships with some of these straight dudes that I have dated because I would behave too masculine for them at times and they wanted to control me with their male ego, toxic masculinity, and assert their dominant male privilege. It also goes to show that I dislike being a female and somehow throughout my early to late twenties dating straight dudes, I realized that I seem to attract abusive guys which strongly reflects the same dysfunctional relationship that I have had with my own father.
In reality, it was a reflection of the things that I did not want in my life but I wasn’t seeing clearly yet and hadn't learned how to say, "No!"
Deep within, I knew none of those straight relationships would last because that was a phase. It was not meant to be and I also knew that I would not end up settling down with a straight guy. During my college years in San Francisco, I had dated a cowardly guy who was very controlling and abusive towards me. He knew about my past and history back in High School. He would try to blackmail me to keep me isolated if I tried to break up with him. One day he offended my entire family then had the audacity to called me, my mother, and my oldest sister a bitch when I finally dumped him, he then said, “You probably acted that way because you had daddy issues.” I didn't give him a reaction because I knew that would give him the satisfaction but for the record, I strongly disagree. No, I don’t have daddy issues. I don’t have any issues. People pick on me and make me their issue. The day I realized that toxicity was also the day I chose to stop giving anymore of my time and energy to them and just focus on what I want, what I need, and most of all what makes me happy. Although, I had not realized any of that in that moment, I had continued to live my life resentfully as a female for the next fifteen years after college.
Not because I wanted to...
...Not because I had to...
...It was because I was afraid and didn’t know how to be true to myself again.
And for a time, I felt lost.
So when did I realized that I was transgender? To be honest, the term transgender was never known to me till now. So all this coming out (again) is still pretty recent in my life right now because to this date, I am thirty-two years old. For fifteen years, I have lived my life in oppression and I was secretly depressed. I loathed it. I failed at being a female even though I tried so hard to cover up who I truly was but those memories, those haunting moments and experience during my teen years still leaves an imprint on my soul, and it comes back to resurface from time to time. It reminds me of what and who I really am, just like a birthmark that will always be there. It was the unpleasant haunting memories of how I was bullied by my family members, ex-friends, ex-lovers, and all of the general society for being brave and true for it. Back in 2003, I was labeled cross-dresser, gay. lesbian, and dyke. Those were the terms at that time. Although, I didn’t felt like I was gay or lesbian, and I didn’t see myself as a cross-dresser or a dyke. What was normal to me was seen as abnormal to others. What made me happy had made others unhappy. What made sense to me had confused others. So when did all this nonsense stopped? It was when I looked back at the pictures of me in that male image was when I realized that now as an adult, I needed to get real with myself again. This time, no one can stop me. Not even my family. I am older now. I am free to do what makes me happy so at this moment in my adult life, I was going to do everything in my will and power to pursue it.
Realizing that empowered me to officially and permanently make the transition from female-to-male.
I was always transgender even when I didn’t know it because I didn’t learn of the term till now. In Khmer, the umbrella term is called, “Kathoey”, which equivalently translates to gay, lesbian, queer, or those who even identify as transgender. There is no specific word for it in the Cambodian language. So how did I come to terms with identifying myself as a transgender individual? Well, I was talking to a friend over Skype back in early to mid-September 2016 discussing how I felt as a female in mind, body, and soul-wise. I always felt like I should have been born male. I didn’t feel like I was gay or lesbian. I already knew that I am bisexual because I find myself to be attracted to both men and women equally but gender identity-wise, I didn’t agree with being in a female image or taking on that gender role as it did not make me happy and I felt uncomfortable being in a female body. Therefore, I felt something was missing or I felt somewhat incomplete or not whole. My friend told me to look up the term transgender and so I did. It was like huge light bulb that knocked me in the frontal lobe lighting a path, like duh! That’s it! That is exactly how I feel, how I think, and how I behave. That is what I am. There is nothing wrong with me. I wish I was able to discover this sooner but remember, I was oppressed by family members, ex-friends, ex-lovers, and the general society for fifteen years of my life. I felt it was time I came out again but this time stronger, wiser, knowledgeable, transparent, and coherent. So much more so than I ever was before because it is like this; I seriously just did not undergo through all that abuse and LGBT-related bashing and bullying to live a life how others want me to live or feed onto their preconceived notions about me on what they think of me or that they know of me to be. I realized that from then on, I will live my life authentically and I will not censor myself for anyone's ignorance.
Only I know my truth.
In late-September 2016 to mid-October 2016, I came out as a transgender non-conforming or transmasculine identified individual. As I have stated, my sexual orientation has always been bisexual. My clothes have always been unisex because I have always dressed Gothic and Goth clothes tend to be androgynous or gender neutral anyway. So it was easy for me to transition my clothing from that starting point from androgynous to later along more masculine. From there onward, in early October 2016, I reached out to a gender friendly therapist about my gender identity then eventually began my testosterone (hormone replacement therapy) in late-October 2016. My older sister came out to visit me that month so I came out to her again but this time as a transgender non-conforming individual who have decided to transition from female-to-male. She said, “...Makes a whole lot of sense because how you were in High School...You are an adult now so do whatever you want as long as it is safe and you are happy.”
From there, the journey to my hormone testosterone replacement therapy and transitioning began.
The only thing I have to face now in my life is visiting back home and coming out again to my parents and the rest of my family. I know it would be different this time around. I am grown. I am an adult. It’s not like my father has the energy to beat me up anymore. I want my family to finally see me for what I am but most of all who I am. I feel that they never truly knew me or got to know me. I am different in my family because I feel as though I would be the one in my family to test the waves of change and show them that unconditional love is everlasting than a socially programming and conditioned one especially if we all want to survive, thrive, be happy, and live a full life. As a transgender non-conforming kin in my family, I feel that has and always been my life’s purpose. I would like to let my family know that whether they choose to accept me or not that I would love them anyway. If they were an LGBT identified person themselves, if they lost their arm or leg during the Khmer rouge or endured a tragic accident that caused loss of limbs or disfigurement, if they were wretched with a lifelong disease or illness that rendered them disabled or targeted as different in society, I would still love them anyway because that is the right God-given choice to choose and do as a human being.
Life is too short to hold grudges based on diversified indifferences, petty ignorance, hate, and judgements.
I want to let them know that whether they disown me or not, that in the end, I am still of their family blood and lineage. I believe that family is not everything, that loyalty is everything, and even though blood ties can hold grudges, be petty, hate, judge, or cast off one another, new families can be found elsewhere because in the end, loyalty defines my family circle. If you are not loyal to me then you should stay away from me and leave me alone. In life, what matters is that I am alive and I am living my life the way that I want to because this is my life so I am choosing to be loyal to me now. In the end, when we all die, we take all this human experience of love and hate right back to God.
Allow me to reintroduce myself, this is my rebirth. My name is Kaneda Yoshida. I am a bisexual transgender female-to-male gender non-conforming transman. I just want to be acknowledged as a man. My gender pronouns are male, address me as he/him/his, but mister and sir would be nice too!
Kaneda Yoshida (male pronouns: he/him/his) is a transgender activist, advocate, a trans brother to the Transgender Community and a fierce protector of trans youth. He is the original non-profit founder/leader of the Trans-Cis Alliance Coalition Organization (T.C.A.C, pronounced Tee-Kah). He actively and closely works with other LGBTQIA+ entities to bring about inclusion, intersectionality, diversity, justice, and equality for both the sex and gender diverse communities by campaigning, petitioning, and lobbying for individuals who face discrimination in schooling systems and in the workplace, rejection and abuse at home, as well as hate and violence in public spaces against LGBTQIA+ individuals. He has lobbied against anti-trans politicians, as well as capital institutions within the military, law enforcement, and city council government systems as well as took a stand against any entities that targets the health, livelihood, and well-being of LGBTQIA+ individuals.