The Root of Happiness

  • Reading time:5 mins read

The first thing that ever made me happy was me. It was recognizing myself, realizing that I was an actual person—that I had always been me, I’d always been in there. That my own ideas about myself were clearly the truth. All that other happiness that I’ve felt since has built on that basic core. Which isn’t to say all the happiness I feel is about me, exactly. It’s that I didn’t have access to that emotion at all until I felt that way about myself—and now that I can, I can extend that love to other things.

Tonight I stumbled on a dumb thread from an artist who didn’t seem to have met a real girl in his life and had no idea how bodies work. In particular he focused on “W-sitting,” which is that whole thing that kids often do where they turn their hips sideways about 90 degrees and sit with their legs splayed out sideways in front of them. He described it as this innately feminine posture that the male body was unable to reproduce due to the differences in the female skeleton. Which is uh, of course complete nonsense on so many levels. But also, this has for 40 years basically been my go-to whenever I sit on the floor. I had to check many times to make sure I understood correctly, and yeah W- and even T-sitting (where the calves are straight out to the sides) have always been natural to me.

And… yes I am of course a girl, but I have a feeling he wasn’t thinking of a girl quite like me here.

What strikes me though, out of this ignorance is, how angry my ex used to be with me when they saw me sit like that—or squat. Or… really do much of anything with my body. This whole time I’ve been like, well, it’s comfortable? And what’s it to you? I didn’t understand what their problem was. Now, though—in mind of so many other complaints, I wonder if their brain was in the same place as this guy, and they were uncomfortable with the implications of this body language.

I often think about how when I finally worked out I was trans, everyone who knew me pretty much shrugged. “Oh, yeah,” they replied, “That makes sense.” Of the people I talk to regularly, I don’t think one of them expressed anything approaching surprise. It was more like, “Ah, that would be it. Okay.”

So what strikes me here is, all these leg motions and positions that come naturally to me, that have historically made other people uncomfortable or angry—a lot of that is probably kinda gender-coded, right? Just like everything else in my body language that kept getting me into trouble, sheesh.

Basically my whole life the people around me encouraged me to stop moving or holding my body in ways that were easy or natural or comfortable to me—without explaining to me why exactly—in order to prevent others feeling uncomfortable.

I have so much to unlearn. Like, the emotional state that I get in, the way I move and behave when I am chilled out and comfortable and yes on some level happy? With what I now understand, it seems that most of that default is uh super-duper feminine-coded.

To be happy, to be myself, to me is feminine-coded.

Which says a hell of a lot about my first 40 years—the persistent message that for me to be calm and comfortable and happy was wrong and disgusting and disruptive, and that I had to contain it at any cost lest I bother someone or invite some kind of punishment.

This all brings a certain light to our now-common term for same-sex attraction. To be allowed to simply be one’s self, to do what comes naturally, to be comfortable in one’s skin, is to feel gay. This isn’t quite about that, but, well, all queerness is related, right.

It is another level of galaxy-brain to understand at last that the people I relied on, who controlled my life for four decades, literally wanted nothing more from me than for me to be unhappy. To be uncomfortable, stressed. To understand how worse-than-worthless my humanity was. I’m just following the logic here, right? If to know happiness is to feel comfortable with who I am, and if every behavior that comes naturally to me is considered wrong and off-limits, then the last thing that anyone central to my life has ever wanted was for me to be happy.

And so, I wasn’t.

To be happy was wrong. It bothered others. It was dangerous. So, fine, I wasn’t happy.


For 41 years. And about two weeks.

Anyway, it’s astonishing how things can shift for me now. When I calm down, I feel so, well, girly. I feel so myself. Just being able to chill can bring on this kind of a euphoria, as I lock into who I actually am as a person. Then when I freak out and tense up, I feel like I am regressing into that other person; I feel so much less charitable toward myself, I like myself so much less, down to what I look like. How I hold myself, navigate space.

Then I look at Azure in a good moment, and I think, this is what those dummies were afraid of? Seriously, her? And it just underlines even further how pathetic all those people were. How deranged their sense of good must have been.

Just look at this chick. Who wouldn’t want her?

The Neverending Suck

  • Reading time:12 mins read

I find it increasingly unavoidable that much of the trauma that I have such trouble detaching from sex as an act of communication is based in my relationship to gender—specifically in the expectations that it sets me up for when engaging with a person in this way.

So I’m a girl, right. Non-binary, but still. Obvious as my gender may be to me now—and to anyone else, it would seem—I didn’t always know it. I had no sense for what I was, beyond what people told me. The things they told me… didn’t seem quite right, and made me deeply uncomfortable, but as with so many things I didn’t want to argue so I shrugged and tried to play along.

Like the act of sex—like most of the things we do with our lives—gender is a conversation. The way that you frame it defines a role, and the role suggests a kind of a relationship. Much like art, when we define ourselves by our actions, we unavoidably embody a certain philosophy or ideology within our identity.

At the risk of getting reductive, every role that we embody serves to signal a set of expectations for how we mean to behave toward others and how we expect them to behave toward us. The coding can get complicated and conditional. But it’s there. A big part of understanding one’s relationship to gender, at least to my mind, is in coming to grips with how one wants to relate to one’s self and others; how one feels about the world; what behavior one considers constructive and important, and makes one feel good to perform. The identities we build through our actions represent a set of apprehensions about how the world works, or how we want it to.

To that end, when one is compelled to behave as someone other than who one genuinely is, that is on some level a breach of principle. You know that you’re doing something wrong, that you’re betraying something important, even if you can’t quite articulate how or why. For me, constitutionally the expectations put on me most of my life made me feel ill, and wrong, and like a horrible human being. Which isn’t to say those roles are awful in and of themselves—there are people who can rock them and make good out of them—but they did not fit my view or ideals, and just made me more and more upset and disgusted with myself. To project them onto me in particular, and expect me to follow them, was harmful.

This definition could be a discussion in its own right, but where I’m going with it here is that, to maybe even a greater extent than my sexuality, these sorts of gender issues may be the source of my biggest problems with sex.

I say, with good reason, that my asexuality is key to understanding everything else about me. This is absolutely true. It also is complicated to understand, and a little misleading until you get there. After, all aces can and will and do fuck—some of them—without it necessarily being this big traumatic ordeal for them. So my asexuality isn’t in and of itself the answer here, though it is of course relevant.

Where trauma comes in with a thing like this, it’s not really to do with attraction or orientation. It’s from how you’re treated, what happens, and how it makes you feel. It’s a matter of the individual relationships that you form, and the patterns and associations and expectations that you take from your experiences. And those specific dynamics—about what feels right and wrong and good and bad and healthy and harmful and how it affects you and changes your ideas about yourself and others and the world that you live in—those are based in that ideological coding that you carry around with you, that gender in part serves to express.

With that ideology of self in mind, when you’re expected to act in ways that feel wrong to you, and due to whatever power dynamics you feel no real option to refuse or negotiate, that constitutes a violation. Whether by direct threat or unspecific fear, consent can’t be compelled. And for me—from the gender dynamics at play, the expectations put on me, the threat of punishment either expressed or implied or readily tacitly understood—sex was a horror show. Because I was not who I was told. And the person who I wasn’t, carried certain narrow expectations, for how they should act, what they should want, none of which were negotiable. If I didn’t want those things, I was lying or I had some other agenda, and it didn’t matter because that was my responsibility.

More and more I understand how my evidently hard-coded sexual roles and interests are interwoven with my gender—with my femininity, my sense of myself as a girl; with my relationship with myself; with what kind of a person I want to be, with how I want to relate to other people. As far as roles go, how much of my being 100% bottom can be triangulated with my asexuality and how much to my ideas about power and fairness and truth and sincerity and trust and openness, I don’t know. I just know I hate to impose myself onto others, and that I spend all of my time taking in others’ worlds. In essence I am made not to assert but to receive.

For me there is a natural and kind of obvious line between the way I feel comfortable communicating sexually to the way I feel comfortable communicating in any other way. All of this is an expression of my sense of self—which by that definition above is an active process, tied to my ideals.

Which is not to say that for another person femininity or being some kind of female is this deferential mode of being. I’m just talking about Azure here. My gender is my own. My ideals are a part of me in particular. This is how all of this ties together for me, as this coherent whole.

Likewise my whole overwhelming, if you will pardon me, thirst for cock—it’s always been there, basically since I became aware of sex at all. It’s a part of me, whether I’ve acknowledged it or not. And—well, it’s both complicated and not at all really. Sometimes one just has a special craving. But a big part of that craving is again just my whole concept of myself, in relation to myself and in relation to others and in relation to the world. It’s rooted in my mode of interacting with things, in how I am inclined to interface. To be receptive is, like, the basic thing about me. If we’re talking sex, then I’m gonna want to take things in, accept them. So to me a fascination with this particular structure… well, it just naturally feels like it follows everything else that makes Azure Azure.

So to the extent that sex interests me at all, I have… favorites. And it’s all part of this same system, the best I can tell—this “correct” way of relating to others. A monkey wrench in all this is my equally ideological tendency toward panness, for most of the exact same reasons, and all the tricky business with gender and anatomy and so on. (I mean, genitals aren’t gendered. As a girl with a dick of her own, it’s difficult not to be sensitive to the complications here.)

Of course in practical terms I’m aroace and I’m never gonna actually pursue a sexual relationship with anyone in real life. All this is a thought experiment more than anything; it’ll never affect anyone outside of my head. And yet it all does lean into some of the historical trauma that I associate with sex—with the dynamics that have felt so wrong, and how they relate to my concept of who I am as a person. And so, abstract as it may be, this business can’t help getting a little messy as a result.

I’ve only had two actual sexual partners. Depending on how we define things, I might have had… I don’t know, a few more romantic partners beyond them. Things were often weird, what with that ace/allo misalignment. Their ideas and mine never quite lined up. However you count, one common factor is that they were all cis women—which, you know, sure. Fine. Cool. Though that homogeneity feels a bit… off, considering all the things about me.

The other common factor is that I never went looking for any of this. Generally they all pursed me, and normalized themselves as a part of my life until I started to think of them as friends, then intensely close friends. From there, any romantic or sexual development was always a change of terms. Suddenly I’d have this choice: either to lose this friend I was getting to rely on so much emotionally, or to make this compromise, step outside of my comfort zone, and accommodate these new expectations. And then, to keep accommodating. Keep playing along, to make them happy.

An ultimatum is not a good start for any stable relationship, but that’s the only experience I’ve known. Sometimes it was more pointed than others. Sometimes more was at stake. It’s always been coercion, though. And built into that coercion was this demand that I perform this alien role.

And, I was awful at it. I didn’t want to do it. I felt miserable. I felt like I was betraying myself. I felt like I was doing something ethically wrong somehow.

This is a little hard to find the right words to express the way that I mean to. My experience has been narrow, and it’s been entirely focused on my sorest pressure point, and it has really really sucked. As a girl, 100% of my association with sex and romance has been of other girls pressuring me to pretend I was a boy and punishing me when I failed to do it correctly. And that’s just. Uh. There is nothing good about any of that. Beyond girls generally being awesome of course. And it creates these unfortunate associations for me.

It’s like. In a scenario where in fact I were not aroace down to my teeth, I would say, yeah, great, let’s have a balance of everybody. Keeping in mind who I am and the dynamics that I need to be healthy, let’s get in some men, some women, some enbies, cis, trans, whatever. Anyone who’s cool and kind. I’m polyam, even. Party on. Then with that kind of a broad net established, one can narrow down special interests and favorite parts and dynamics, and it doesn’t really matter because everyone is different and people are just people and one will appreciate something new with every individual.

But like. I never got a cock in there, y’know.

Not only did I never actually get the kind of dynamic that I’m most specifically—though not exclusively!—wired to favor. Every relationship was also another riff on the same sucky dynamic that served to deny my humanity, to work against my sense of self, in service of someone else’s whim.

It’s frustrating on a certain level, as I’m never going back to that well again. I know myself well enough now that I’m not going to be in another sexual or romantic situation. I know this isn’t for me. So what I’m left with is that the entirety of my experience is defined by this trauma—and by never once getting what means the most to me. Like, the energy balance I need to feel well, I never got it and I never will. That’s not an experience I’m going to ever have.

And, you know. That’s fine, in the sense that I know this isn’t a part of my life. The future is more important than the past, and I have a good handle on that. It’s just that on some level it seems like a shame, and to be real it’s kind of annoying, that in that whole… er, brief novella that is now closed, I never got a chance to relate to anyone on my own terms, as a girl, in a way that felt healthy and enriching to me.

No one has ever treated me like me. And what they wanted from me, I couldn’t give them. Because I wasn’t that person. And it hurt. And made me frankly want to die.

Most of that is just, yeah, the people who’ve macked on me against my wishes have, surprise surprise, been awful people. But gender, it’s not an insignificant part of that.

I’m a girl, dammit. Of some kind, anyway.

And you know. Hypothetically I like girls too, it’s fine. But, just—even then it would be different if they’d allowed me to be myself. But they didn’t. They made up their own minds.

I was only ever a toy. And a broken one, because I never worked the way they assumed I was meant to. And it was always my fault, for failing to fit that mold.

And it sucked.

It just sucked.

And it’s over now. And I won’t have to worry about it again.

But the suck stays with me.

The Voice Inside My Head

  • Reading time:11 mins read

Though all of NIN kind of exists on a different level from other pop music, one could make a life’s work of studying The Downward Spiral and never come to a point where it feels like one has run dry of revelations.

To my concern, I often comment on the distinct transiness of Reznor’s music. There are really obvious moments like “The Becoming,” but there’s just this tone and perspective to so much of the emotional journey. This is extremely 2019 for Azure, for instance:

I guess there’s a certain universality in the infamous vagueness of his lyrics. You can project anything into Trent’s little trauma boxes. But through all his work there’s this regular sense of transition, of fear of one’s identity, of numbness and desperation, of one’s false persona eating one alive.

“Help me understand myself,” his music pleads. “Nothing that anyone has told me seems to fit, or make sense to me. I don’t have the tools. But—don’t look too closely, because whatever’s in there, I just know it’s horrible, it’s irredeemable. It scares me. And if you see it, then I’ll have nothing. I’ll be helpless again, and then even hope will be tarnished.”

All that’s interspersed with these moments of just, fuck it: I have nothing left to lose. I’m going to go down this rabbit hole, guide or no guide. Lifeline or not. I don’t care anymore. God help me. Whatever I truly am, I might as well find it and face up to it, even if it kills me.

There’s just this constant sense of grief and loss and despair, and disgust and horror with one’s self—of searching for any kind of a frame that makes the pieces add up in a positive way, and finding nothing but pain in the models pushed onto you by every controlling force in your life.

Again it’s all so vague, which is why he’s a successful artist. All this sounds a heck of a lot like adolescence. You get this with a general sort of heartbreak. With disability or neurodivergence-related traumas. With any sort of existential anxiety that we all experience at one time or another; any time when our ideas of ourselves don’t match up with the story that we’re fed by the world that we live in.

But like. In practice and in totality, this is such a deep, distilled, rich kind of a trauma that Reznor depicts. And it’s so thoroughly infused with these questions of identity—of reaching the end of the usefulness of the self you were handed, and of embracing the part of you that has caused you too much distress to acknowledge. It’s all about metamorphosis, of casting off the last vestiges of a humanity that does not fit and just going with whatever horrors you’ve failed to keep inside all this time. Time after time he hammers on this inability to keep masking any longer, and the death of one’s connection to an abusive world.

Nothing can stop me now
I don’t care anymore

There’s a fatalist spin here, and there’s a determined one. It’s kind of the same agency you get with body modification; that in a less healthy outlet may lead to, say, cutting behaviors (and, well, potential hesitation marks).

The Alice Glass song “Mine” angles at a similar kind of space:

Here I go again, it’s all I can do
(Let go)
So tonight I’ll take my own body
I’ll take my own, take my own mind
Abuse myself till I’m finally mine again
Finally mine again
I will go and use a ninety nine cent
Razor drawn, razor drawn line
Leave a trace till I’m finally mine again
Finally mine again

It’s not a healthy trauma response, but it’s just—claiming some kind of autonomy. Over one’s body, one’s emotions, over one’s sense of self. Even if it’s a destructive one. If you’re going to survive after everything, you need to be your own person, set your own terms.

Azure ain’t the same person who looked after her body those forty-some years before she woke up. A lot of things happened last August, all at once—but the breasts are not an insignificant one. They quickly became an anchor for my identity: this permanent, physical, obvious affirmation of who and what I am, that no one can ever take away. They became this cornerstone of body autonomy, of this general sense of self-possession that I’ve never enjoyed before.

To that end, I’m going to get my ears pierced. Sooner than later. This summer, probably. I never understood the appeal before my tits came in. Tattoos, piercings, any kind of body modification, it just—my head, it was locked in this deferential mode. “My body doesn’t belong to me,” I felt. “I don’t belong to myself. I’m not a real person.” Like, it wasn’t my right to do anything with the body, the name, the identity, the character sheet I was given. I would get in trouble. I would ruin this thing that I was handed responsibility to maintain, for someone else’s benefit. For me to tamper with it would be this inexcusable critical failure.

But it turns out that I am a real person, with all the same rights, worthy of exactly the same consideration, as anyone else. No one gets to control my body but me, and I get to make choices on what to do with it. I get to assert that control as I see fit—including decoration. Including things that serve no function beyond making me feel good. Which is an important end on its own, as it turns out.

I’m fortunate to have (rather late in life) found the tools to understand myself and to work out what I need in a reasonably healthy way. I’ve still got all this business to do, to strip out all the wrong wires and set myself right. But I’m on the path now. I think I’m going to be okay. But to have this support, to be able to interpret what’s going on inside me independent of the judgment and expectation of the world that I’m living in—that’s not a given. And it took me four decades. And not everyone has the fortune to stumble on those resources.

Heck, that neglect is mostly by design. We’re not meant to find the tools that will help us, because then we’ll no longer be prey to the system that feeds off of us and depends on our unquestioning obedience to generate all of the wealth that we’ll never ourselves see in our lifetimes. We’re not meant to have that agency, none of us—which again speaks to the universality of the sentiment in Reznor’s music. But there are degrees and nuances, right? There are colors and shades. And existential horror is one of the biggest drivers here.

Nine Inch Nails is substantially about horror, specifically through the lens of what we are presented as pure and correct and acceptable, and that is impossible to ever actually live up to. Combine that with all the sexuality and the imagery around changing bodies, and, well. It’s fucking queer, right. It’s unavoidable. Not exclusively, and I expect not deliberately, but distinctly and clearly. The queer-coding is just about blinding, and once you’re in a place to notice, you’ll never ever unsee it. You’ll only ever find further confirmation.

And among all its other strengths, The Downward Spiral is such a centerpiece for this energy. It’s all throughout Reznor’s work. From track one there’s this association between the perceived wrongness of self with monstrosity, with evil, with internalized fear on the basis of what one is told. It’s like, my very essence is an offense to all that is pure. I am an abomination by virtue of these facts of me that I have no control over but I am assured are objectively, unavoidably dangerous. This is the kind of logic that fuels anti-trans bills, that fuels hate crimes and lets them off with “gay panic” or “trans panic” defenses. It’s all about fear and hatred and disgust for the intrinsic evil that lurks inside.

Then underlying that notion of casting off ties to other people’s notions of humanity and embracing the horrors within one’s self, after the catharsis there’s this constant theme of being ruined. It’s angled against a vague religious context, but more broadly against “reality”—like, the surface of the social framework one is handed. It’s this all-or-nothing thinking where taking one step away from some hypothetical light will tarnish a person forever on some fundamental level, and there is no getting that purity back. From that moment, one will never not be tainted.

That’s a damaging sort of narrative to buy into, in regard to anything. It informs stuff like the AA model to addiction therapy, to our criminal justice system, to sex, to any kind of exposure to “dangerous” ideas. It’s a social control device, that serves to tell people they are essentially bad and owe their lives to the system. It serves to demonize and scapegoat the vulnerable as symbols to other members of society rather to than actively provide the support they need to live healthy lives. And it’s what we do all the time, to basically everyone who steps over an ever-shifting imaginary line.

Again though for all its ubiquity, when you combine this dynamic with all the body horror and identity and sexual stuff, well—the overall impression is profoundly relatable to someone whose body and identity and ideas about sex are considered essentially “other,” and threatening and diseased, and horrifying and wrong.

I was never not afraid of public toilets—they’re gross and psychologically strange, and leave one feeling vulnerable in all these different ways at once—but as a transfeminine person, I’m sure as hell going to avoid them forever, to the extent I am able. I will plan around them.

Because of unavoidable elements of who and what I am, to some people I will never not be considered an existential threat. And they will use that as an excuse to hurt me, to take out all of their other unresolved traumas and resentments on a person whom they can tell themselves deserves it.

I’ve gone through most of my life knowing I was broken and disgusting and wrong, and I’m used to having that affirmed by anyone who has gotten close enough to see beyond the flimsy mask I had propped up to keep me safe from those who would call out a mob if they recognized me. I know now that this garbage doesn’t apply to me, and I know it’s all somebody else’s problem, but it still leaves me vulnerable in a lot of situations. The street harassment is bad enough, but what if I don’t brush them off before they clock that I’m transgender?

There is something about queerness that presents as a fundamental threat. Fundamentally devious. Conniving, perverse, manipulative. Decayed, revolting, evil. This narrative is so central to our experience, in relation to the world and the stories we’re told about ourselves. So for Reznor’s music explore this precise conflict, much to most of the time, it’s—it just really feels familiar, you know? Hauntingly so. This trauma isn’t a passing thing for me, just as it’s no incidental topic for Reznor. It’s not a bad year, or a bad event, or a stray misunderstanding. This is life. This is what it means to exist in the world I was handed.

I am so fortunate to now be in a place where I can love myself the way that I do. This is so miraculous to feel, and I appreciate it every single day. It was so hard to find my way here, and I’m never going to let go again. And that catharsis from Reznor’s music, over so many years, is part of how I made it here alive. Intentionally or (more likely) not, that deep and overwhelming queer coding, it helped to underline that this struggle could be in some way articulated. That it wasn’t just me who felt this way, even if I didn’t know where it was coming from. It helped to validate the pain I felt, even without any answers.

I really owe this music a lot for keeping me going, keeping me on some level sane enough, until I could find the resources I needed. And even as I heal and build a healthy relationship with and toward myself, I can’t imagine a time when the sentiments here will fail to be relevant to the basic conflicts of this identity, in this world that blames us for its own sin.


  • Reading time:6 mins read

Well gee whiz, I sure did have horny dreams last night. And they sure did reflect my last couple years of firmware upgrades. I have had sexual dreams before, and I have increasingly been myself in my dreams. This whole situation was a bit, uh, new though.

So much cock. Gee willickers.

When I said I was doing progesterone mostly for the brain stuff, this isn’t exactly what I meant.

Is is kind of getting ridiculous at this point. If you will pardon me in my own space here, since starting progesterone I basically just want to suck all the cocks all the time. For weeks now it’s never not on my mind. And it’s so present and palpable in the way my senses and my headspace work—every bit of it. Taste, smell, warmth, texture, pressure. It’s so real. And it’s like a gum-chewing habit. It’s always there. Always on the verge. Like I am continuously primed.

There are other places to put a penis, yes, and those are all engrossing as well—but those moments come and go. This specific buzz never seems to dim, whether awake or asleep. In my actual literal dreams now, there they all are. And there I am, as me. And just one offering after the other, almost nonchalantly, almost inevitably, it’s just what I do. Almost like a handshake.

I kind of feel like my brain is melting a little. I’ve never felt a thing like this, and it just never seems to turn off anymore. If I didn’t know myself as well as I do, if I had an ounce of impulsivity, this could be a real problem. It’s like, beyond an urge. More of a mania.

There are worse things to drive a girl insane. This is basically positive I guess. It’s a good feeling. But god is it distracting. It’s just—God, I, uh. Again I guess it’s good that I understand myself fairly well now, and that I am almost a complete shut-in. Like, if I had an impulsive synapse in my brain, and were even a little more confused than I am about what I really wanted, I might be making some bad decisions these days. There is a part of me that is a little permanently insane here, it seems.

I mean, I guess I might as well bask. No shame in being who I am. No good in denying. It’s just, this has become constant and overwhelming. Not entirely sure what to do with all this energy. But I guess it will find its outlet somewhere. There is certainly some creative work I could undertake here.

Of course the feelings behind the urge are nothing new, really. What’s new is them making sense to me, and my choosing not to push them down into the unthinkable zone. As I understand me now, shame does me no favors. I’m just me. I’m wired the way I’m wired.

I remember feeling like this as far back as maybe 13, 14. As soon as I could entertain any detailed thought of sex. I just couldn’t cope with the things my brain dealt me. People were already accusing me of stuff, in confused bits and pieces—of being some funhouse mirror of who it turns out I am. The thoughts gave me a kind of panic, a sense my brain was terrifyingly out of control. I was like, “This is not helping me here. Can we just not, please?”

But, well, Well that’s the thing. Who I am isn’t a thing to be controlled. It’s not possible to do, and trying can only cause damage. So, one leans into the curve.

Like many people I am a girl who loves cock… at least in the abstract. Which makes sense, and is fine and normal and generally positive. And I guess there’s still this novelty in being open with myself and letting my feelings just do what they need to without judgment. But also, I am hormonal as shit here, and a little bit insane from the rush. And it’s kind of—

a lot

—to figure out what to do with.

Neutral and human and healthy as it may be, this thing that my head insists on doing these days, it is not a thing that most people want to hear about. Reasonably enough! When I do bring it up, it’s most often as a punchline, with mind to how inappropriate it is to spring without warning. Because this is my level of humor, somehow.


I’m not even sure what there is to say that’s constructive beyond a point. Beyond just acknowledging how I’m feeling, affirming that it’s cool, that this is just how I’m built and these things are a part of who I am. Which, yes, I feel does need a degree of ongoing reinforcement. The person I am is amazing, and I love her, but there’s gonna be some friction from the four decades of garbage I was fed.

I just want to assert the pieces of who I am, whenever they present themselves to me, whenever they hand me a challenge. Each one of these segments, it comes in all fragile and vulnerable, and there’s this implied question—I’m gonna accept this, right? I’m gonna embrace it. The more I acknowledge it, the more normal it becomes, letting that wound finally heal over. And I don’t want to hide it.

Inappropriate humor aside, I’m not in this to make people uncomfortable. But sometimes I just gotta stress a thing. When I really feel I shouldn’t be ashamed. When I want to be clear about who I am and what my own boundaries are.

Sexuality is a weird thing for Azure. I still don’t really understand what makes me tick, or why. I have been making a lot of progress, but there are these constant surprises. It’s an alien zone of my humanity, that I’m not used to giving any careful or enthusiastic thought. It’s this big weird void, that is kind of overwhelming me to acknowledge at all—to admit that as a real person I have this dimension, and that its dynamics are both natural and unique to me. And as a part of me, those dynamics are important to develop a functional relationship with, wherever they may carry me. I can’t force them. I can only listen and accept the reality.

So anyway. This is gonna be nuts for a while. It ain’t going away. It’s not going to be a primary topic, if for nothing other than my bafflement at finding words for any of this material, but I need to respect Azure here. And she is uh… well, this appears to be where she needs and happens to be right now.

If you’re here, you love me. You’ll be fine. We’re all learning to adapt.

The Tools to Tell

  • Reading time:4 mins read

So far as I know, there was never a time that I didn’t prefer to be a girl. I mean, who wouldn’t; it’s so obviously better. Yes, the world is shitty and horrible in reply. But existentially, it’s so absurdly stacked that it never seemed fair. Why couldn’t that be me? The gender I was given sucked so much. The mind reels at how life might have been for me, had I ever been given a choice—been told even in passing that gender was a thing that came from inside you, and no one had the right to say you were wrong. That other people didn’t get to tell you who you are, and anything they hand you is only a suggestion.

Like, just to have that concept of autonomy in my head, to understand I didn’t need to accept what I was told, that I was not obliged to play along. That there was no wrong answer, except what didn’t feel right to me. Just given that basic support, there wouldn’t ever have been a question. If who I am really is up to me, then oh my God. Well yeah, duh. How is this a question, then? No takeback. Forever. Get me out of this bullshit. Please.

I just—I never got that message. I never knew that I could just choose to be the person I wanted, and that by virtue of wanting that and making that choice, that person would then be who I was. That I wasn’t doomed by other people’s impossible expectations. That I could just say no. Set a boundary. That I didn’t need permission to be a human being.

Nobody ever once told me that, until right around when I turned 40. Nobody told me that if I wanted to be someone, I probably already was that person. And all I had to do was embrace it. That was the biggest, most alarming reality shift in my life. For four decades, I had never been permitted to be fully human. In consequence, I never was.

We really need to do better at giving people options when they’re young. Just letting them know what is possible, what is allowed without being bad or letting anyone down; give them choices for what they can be and do if they want, and for what no one else ever, under any circumstance, has the right to dictate to them.

Not letting people make up their own minds about themselves—it’s fucking abuse, is what it is.

You hear this canned story about trans people always knowing who they were even when people told them different, and though I’m sure it’s true for some—for those with a certain personality or a healthy home environment—it feels like inspiration porn for the cises, to me. Some kind of a bottled feel-good narrative about the human spirit that doesn’t force them to question their belief in the system. I’m shy and nervous and I want to be good. I’ll do almost anything to avoid causing problems. I never had the benefit of certainty, because I never got that message, that I even had the right to be myself. What I knew instead was unending melancholy and frustration and surprise every fucking day when I woke up and I somehow had not reached the end. I did not understand the point of it all. Why was I even alive?

If only someone had talked to me. If only they had asked. Ever, once. My entire fucking life.

I was never not trans. I just.

I didn’t know that I could be a real person.

Grace Notes

  • Reading time:6 mins read

So after a stuttering indecision as to whether we’d actually do spring this year, it seems we’ve gone straight to summer. And, well. Fuck. But okay, fine. Normally summer is a special kind of a hell for someone so wan and brittle and northerly inclined. But, we’ve now been on HRT for close to 16 months. All that dissociation I lived with for 40-years began to clear up last August. This is the first full summer in my life where I actually like my body.

If I have to take my clothes off to make it to fall, for once I think I can handle that.

Dumping a fuckin Mariana trench of shame from my checksum has all these unexpected perks. I got nothing to hide anymore. Certainly not from myself. Instead of suffering the heat, I get to just shrug off the shrouds and enjoy the minimalism in a way unavailable to me at any other time of year—not without getting me in a shiver.

I mean I absolutely cannot fucking tolerate hot weather. Even moderately warm makes my brain short circuit. Give me 65 degrees and I’m a peach. But until now, even the simplest and most obvious coping strategies were off the table. The dysphoria and the shame were that much worse than the heat stroke or whatever. Now that I’m awake, and I know who I am, and that who I am and I have this whole positive relationship here, suddenly I have these options for dealing with the most basic things.

I was unable to take care of myself when I was wired up so that acknowledging any part of me sent me into an anxiety attack. But now it’s kinda, you make your choices. It’s like how I can’t seem to leave the house without unwanted attention these days—which sucks, but you know what sucks more? Not being myself. Without me, I’ve got nothing. I’ll take the creepos if it means that life is worth living, and I’ll do what I need to cope with the heat now that perceiving myself is no longer the greater threat.

I mean, this is maybe good actually. A sort of a win-win at least within the scope of what I can control. I will never love summer, but the methods now available to handle it are—you know. I like me. So it’s just a prompt to engage myself in a different way. Which is fine.

So if it’s gotta be a tits-out summer, that’s what it is. We adapt to circumstance. Because we can do that now. And we know we’ll be gorgeous any way we approach it, haha

With all this flesh laid bare around me, I’m reminded of all these weird little issues with my body, that I guess most people have. There’s no such thing as a “normal” person, right? That ain’t how averages work. Every body is an individual, with its independent quirks, that just tend to fall along various kinds of patterns. Being the way we are, with the relationship we do to this gated culture with its extremely prescriptive sense of propriety over a sense of reality that does not fully apply to the observable world, we all have these little things we feel are wrong with us, that make us uneasy.

I think most of us cope with some kind of dysmorphia on some level, usually unprocessed. Even if we manage to ignore the wash of these broad cultural standards in regard to body and gender ideals and calls to be sexy, and appealing, and thin, and fit—whatever mythology might be in vogue right now, there’s always this little shit where we feel like we’re all alone. For me my toes are strange. I’ve got these birth marks that have always made me uneasy. There’s this odd cartilage bump on my sternum (now more than obscured by breast tissue, so hey!). You have your own stuff that feels wrong, or makes you uneasy to focus on. Everyone probably does.

Most of these features, I’m coming to accept. Enough of the broad sketch of me is starting to fill out and take a shape that no longer causes me anxiety and that I actively enjoy inhabiting—so the little quirks? They’re not so important, so long as that foundation is solid. They’re just accents.

Like, medically I guess this is anything but uncommon, but I have a mild sort of supernumerary nipple thing going on. If you didn’t know what you were looking at, you probably wouldn’t think twice. At a glance it just kinda seems like, huh, got a few moles there, running down the “milk lines.” I guess this is a thing in like one out of a few hundred people. And it’s not super pronounced with me. But when you’re in a place where everything about you feels disgusting, the basic shape of you feels wrong and you can’t explain why, these eccentricities really leap out.

Now that I’ve got, let’s be honest, these pretty big tits here, and the general contour and topography of my torso are so different from that gaunt straight pasty flat plain of the past, this small stuff just won’t stick out the way that it used to. The eye will tend to be drawn elsewhere. And the overall shape of things is pleasing.

This kind of deemphasis, it’s happening all over. Wherever a strange little thing felt like this massive beacon, inviting active scrutiny, now it’s overshadowed by a much more interesting and welcome topography. With all the changes, it’s just becoming so much easier to accept the whole package, including the things that I can’t easily change.

I mean none of these features were ever really flaws, because a flaw implies a perfection that doesn’t actually exist. Bodies are just different. Every one of them. That doesn’t make them unhealthy or wrong; that’s how we work. Everyone’s got some kinda thing that sets them apart, because of course they do. The stray pieces are just accent marks of my individuality.

All this feels obvious to say, but the point is that it’s getting easier for me to accept these eccentricities. It’s easier when they’re not the only parts of my body that do any work speaking to me. It’s easier when I barely even remember they’re there most of the time, so they when I do clock them they become grace notes. Little hints of discord, adding interest to a beautiful harmony.

Everything about life is so much easier when you like yourself on a basic level. There’s always something to go back to. I’m always gonna be me. Azure ain’t going nowhere. From up here, everything else looks that much smaller.

Ginger Snap

  • Reading time:4 mins read

So I’m not sure what I’m going to do about this heat. I’m a northern girl. I got this critical melanin deficiency. On the plus side I’ve lost a big hunk of the shame and dysphoria I was carrying around until last August or so. But whee, it’s going to be a process for Azure to develop her own relationship to summer. At least we enjoy our body enough now that stripping down is an option. Where before it was trauma, now it’s just a chance to appreciate the way we are without catching a chill.

Of course it would leap up to 90 today of all days. Yesterday it was fine. But second vaccine dose? Perfect for a temperature spike that would make me feel like death all on its own.

On the return through the park, I chanced to take a selfie in the blinding sun and… uh, noticed something peculiar.

Given proper, strong lighting, it seems that my hair is red.


I… do not know what to make of this. How can my hair be red? I know when I was a kid it was blonde. Most of my life I’ve just thought it was brown. That’s how it has looked inside (usually with most of the lights off). That’s how people have described it to me. But with the sun, it’s really not ambiguous at all. My hair is red. A dark auburn.

I kind of feel like my brain is melting here. What is going on? How did I not know I had red hair?? How have I gone 42 years without knowing my hair color? I mean, I knew it was a little hard to describe. I kept thinking of it in terms of brown, and from that angle nothing quite fit properly…

Granted I never go outside (or with this photosensitivity even turn the lights on), but in hindsight the red is right there isn’t it. I can go back over old photos, and I see it now. Even with the terrible inside or artificial light, it’s right there. It’s so obvious now that i know to look for it.

And, well, between the complexion and the gray eyes, I guess a relative lack of melanin checks out for the hair as well.

So, basically: what the actual hell. Granted at this point I’m a little emotional and even a bit delirious from the injection. I feel so loopy and drunk. Like, as I force my fingers through apparent jello to write this, I can barely move my limbs. I literally feel like I have been sedated, like that time I broke my arm when I was maybe thirteen. But even given that, the hair thing is really bowling me over here.

Look when I said I wanted to be Agent Scully when I was younger—

How on earth did this escape me?

Forty goddamned years.

I guess the answer is, it really only does stand out as brilliantly as all that in direct sunlight. Otherwise it’s just this lingering undertone to what comes across as a dull brown, or at times even black. If anything the incandescent light I’ve been used to most of my life gives my hair almost a sickly green cast. And again, I never go out, in the daytime, on a sunny day—let alone am photographed under those conditions, in color. Also this is the longest I’ve had chance to grow my hair, which makes it all the easier to clock under prime conditions.

Then I suppose we have that thing where I was so unused to mirrors that I barely knew what i looked up until recently…

And, well. One carries these models in one’s mind, right. People told me I was a boy, so I fucking hated it and it never made sense because it was so obviously wrong, but that became my frame for understanding myself. And I guess I just always carried that image of my hair as brown, and never thought to question it until it chanced to scream at me just today.

So with this, and the gender, and the sexuality, and the neurology, and everything else we’ve been unpacking the last few years, what other very basic things about have I overlooked??

This is starting to feel ridiculous. Anyone can overlook gender, no matter how clearly it asserts itself. Without the right questions, sexuality can be hard to narrow down. But, uh. This is hair. That would seem kind of difficult to miss.

It turns out I’ve been in a relationship with a hot redheaded chick this gosh darned whole time.

And that chick is me.

The Potential to Jazz

  • Reading time:5 mins read

It’s just astounding how much more sense everything makes when I know who I am. Just the whole world. Every thought I have ever had. Every problem I’ve faced. The way I want to talk to people. The way I understand that things work. There’s this universal sort of clarity now.

These last few months I keep getting comments on this striking confidence that people see in me. And I don’t know about that, but there is a clarity that I’ve never known. I’m not even sure I know what confidence is, but so much uncertainty seems to have abruptly fallen away.

And where I’m no longer uncertain, things just are the way they are. I’m autistic, yo. If a thing is true, I accept it as true and it doesn’t occur to me to mess around. I’m not sure I even know the social codes around playing coy with stuff that’s evident to me. Why lie?

I’m still this dysfunctional bundle of nerves and everything scares me, and I don’t know how to do the most basic things—and even if I do know, I’m not well enough to do them most of the time. But, like. For once I know who I am. And I get why the problems I have are my problems. And there’s so much that now I know I don’t have to worry about anymore—like, it turns out that dynamic doesn’t actually apply to me. It’s someone else’s garbage; why should I care? Okay, call me a “little gothic steam-punk diva,” sure. But this isn’t a front. I’m not making some kind of a statement. This is just me being comfortable for once.

And yet, well, it seems like me no longer being terrified and confused, and just existing in a way that makes me feel like I’m finally alive, is seen as this audacious act. Is it really that astonishing for me not to hate myself? I mean, I’ve done that. It sucks. I didn’t deserve it. Moving on.

I just find it so amazing to be me. I’ve never known this kind of a feeling. I’ve never known the security of a love like this. I’ve never felt like anyone has cared about me in the way I’ve begun to discover in myself.

I’ve never been this grounded in a sense of truth. It all connects.

I don’t know how, but I want to share this. I think I always have, what fragments I’ve been able to scrape together despite the undertow I’ve been thrashing against most of my life. Truth and love are kind of the same thing to my mind. Intimacy and sincerity. All these fragments; all these dumb articles over all these years. Every little fascination in every work of expression. Every dumb little thread on social media. Every meaningful conversation. It’s all a piecework. Trying to condense, organize, pass on what love I can scavenge.

I feel like I’ve always kept so little of that for myself. Like I didn’t deserve any of it. The best I could do was filter it, annotate it, and hand it off to people who would likely still be alive tomorrow and maybe could use the love for something better than I would ever know.

And that’s always important. But, there’s also truth in me. I just never got to see it. And oh God, it just about overwhelms me. I not only deserve it; I’m a part of it. Like, the truth is the substance of my very being, and it’s so amazing. And it all ties in with all I’ve seen.

And I just.

I want other people to know this. Not necessarily to know me, because whatever. But to know this dynamic in themselves. To build their own relationships to the truth. To everything that ties us together. To know this kind of a love. And for them in turn to pass it on.

How else are we ever going to survive?

I feel like, it’s worth being alive if being alive means being honest. And I don’t know how to not do that, and also to keep going. And I feel like this is the most important thing in the world; the thing I’ve always been building toward.

Is that confidence? I don’t know. That word sounds like some kind of a social game. Some power thing. I don’t really get that nonsense. Truth is truth. It is what it is. The hard thing is just finding it. Once you do, it is a force of its own. I don’t see what my feelings have to do with it.

Anyway. Tomorrow I get to download some more alien proteins. Gimme a couple weeks and I’ll be ready to jazz.


Or more likely, to continue to sit in my apartment, doing next to nothing as usual. But, I will possess a renewed—and possibly newly informed—potential to jazz.

So hey.

Pushing Back

  • Reading time:3 mins read

When I smile now, I can feel all this meat on my face, resisting in an unfamiliar way. It’s not obvious to look at, but I can feel the change in soft tissue when I move it, same as I feel the friction with my butt and thighs when I walk. Like, it’s visceral.

Things have seemed… different for a while, but it’s been hard to narrow down until this moment. These nasolabial folds I got—laugh lines, or whatever you call them—they were absolutely not like this even a few weeks ago. Which is to say, they had grown pretty prominent with age, and now they’re filling back in—so they’re puffy, almost. Ergo, that resistance when I smile. The skin is soft and smooth, and the flesh is thick. The creases are still there, but way shallower than they were.

There’s zero question. It’s blatant. I know because I’ve been sighing about these creases constantly the last couple years, since I began to pay attention to myself.

So yeah, finally a data point. We absolutely are moving around some soft tissue up in here. This is the first concrete thing I can point at and say, bingo, yes, it is more than a vague feeling. We’re not making stuff up. We have empiricism. (I also sense that my jaw is softening, but in this case have no specific reference to back that up.)

I mean I guess you can see all this in recent pictures.

Like. Obviously I am not 24. Or, well, weirdly that’s around Azure’s age mentally, but her body sure ain’t 24. Gently used, perhaps. One anxiety-prone prior operator. But, well, it feels like this second puberty is having a pretty major effect here. Cycling us back to a prior save, right about where time stopped for us.

It’s strange. I mean, it’s really strange for me. That undoing all this damage seems to have these other effects as well—not just on my face, but on my whole body. All the rapid developments. The way everything just works properly for the first time. How all that pain is finally gone. It’s almost like it’s giving me my time back, now that I’ve finally woken up and claimed my humanity. It’s just so fucking eager to get what it’s been screaming for all these years, and it’s just like, phew. Okay. We ready to start now? Let’s go.

Still a work in progress, obviously. Girl gotta get some meat on her cheeks. All four of ’em. But it all is in fact happening. Tangibly now. It’s real. I’m real. I can hardly believe something finally makes sense, and is working the way it should.

Well, anyway. However one looks at her, it strikes me as increasingly undeniable that Azure is hot.

Never dared to dream we’d be where we are. Never dared to dream I’d be alive.

The Newest of Normals

  • Reading time:4 mins read

So these pills aren’t nearly as flashy as… practically any I’ve seen online, but hey, micronized progesterone is micronized progesterone, am I rite?

These are the first pills I’ve been prescribed that smell like a frickin’ apothecary. Or a GNC, circa 1988—roundabouts the last time I’ve entered one of those places.

Which is to say, a, er, GNC GNC. If you will.

Sadly they do not contain a core of malted milk.

It will be nice when I get my ID changed. I meant to do it a year ago, but, well. I meant to do a lot of things a year ago. It’s only recently that it’s really begun to give me problems, what with the insurance being all weird on me and the controlled substances I’ve been taking the last few months and various other hiccups. Otherwise, these little trips I take, to and fro, doing all my little things I need to do, I basically never get misgendered anymore. Not in person anyway. It’s so curious, but obviously I’ll take it.

There is the flip side of, uh unwanted attentions, but, well. One chooses one’s battles. Better to be alive and get creeped-on than to be a phantom and ignored. The life or the unlife, they continue regardless of input.

And as far as input goes, the question seems to continue ever the harder, how girl can we go? Well, let’s just find out, shall we. We’ve come this far. Might as well see where we can push it before we decide where to land.

Bodies are so weird. One day on, I can’t possibly know what affect a thing like this has on me, but if nothing else there’s already a delightful placebo effect. I find myself inordinately chill, despite all the garbage that’s going on that I am struggling so hard to deal with right now. I’m not usually anything like this calm, you know? Every moment of every day I’m always freaking out. But at the moment, not so much.

Frazzled and matted after a well-needed drug run.

God, I feel… interesting. It’s nice, whatever it is. Again I don’t know how much to lump on this random pill I’ve only just started to take, but I feel like it can’t entirely be in my head. It’s too… different. Strange, in a good way. Sort of, agreeably hyper-present. Like that jagged, hard-edged angularity of my experience with my emotions and my external experiences has been rounded off, blurred over somewhat.

That violent kind of overwhelm that I’m used to, it feels like it’s softened, padded—allowing me to ease off and cuddle up into reality, in a way that’s not typically available to me.

Granted a few things are going right for me today, and some looming shit is nowhere nearly as terrifying as it seemed just a few days ago. But I’ve felt relief before, and this is more than that.

Also yeah, as advertised, I did sleep pretty solidly for once. We can say that for various reasons my sleep has been… fraught, lately. So that alone is pretty helpful.

I don’t fully know what I’m talking about, and don’t want to over-egg the effect of this thing after, uh, one pill. But, this has been… new, whatever it is, wherever it’s coming from. I do not recognize feeling quite like this before. I don’t have a precise word for it.

I mean, I’ve had a lot of new feelings recently. Usually I can work them out pretty quickly. This one is harder to classify, beyond it being extremely nice and welcome. And if it is in any way associated with the progesterone… well, wow, okay. If this is going to be an everyday thing, then I could live like this. This would be an acceptable kind of new normal.

It would be so interesting to be stable for once.

Pivot Points

  • Reading time:9 mins read

On prior form it may take a couple weeks to see how the second laser session pans out, but even 48 hours later I can see some funny results like a clean circle in the midst of a darker area on my chin, leaving a sort of crust around the fringe. I can assemble the story easily here; where she put down the laser, lost her place, moved on.

The face thing, it’s striking for me. It’s not just the decades of intense dysphoria around the hair, or the general sense of moving on in the transition, though all of that is important. It’s that taking action to repair this damage also represents a sort of qualitative shift in my body autonomy. I have of course taken many steps for myself, most significantly getting on HRT some 15 months ago. But there’s a directness here that feels different.

HRT, I took mostly for the mental, emotional, health benefits. I knew that physical changes were possible, some were even probable, but I wasn’t planning that far ahead; didn’t dare to hope; didn’t fully know what to think, even. And I knew that I was old; knew not to expect anything. This whole process is one step at a time; focus on the moment, and accept what may come.

The intervention sure has brought some changes, gee whiz, but that’s been less an active process on my end than my body doing its thing, responding in the way it feels best to the basic attention that I’m finally giving it. The consequences to my just taking care of myself are removed enough to be almost incidental. Even the dramatic, permanent changes are just kinda things that happened on their own, because they wanted to inevitably happen. All I did was hold the door open.

Even my boobs, which are so very eager to exist, I didn’t know to anticipate or put any kind of thought into. They’ve now become so central to my identity—this sort of symbol of my freedom and awakening, this clear irreversible change that my body decided it wanted to make, when allowed to make that choice; this indicator of who I really am. But like everything else, they were just a side effect. I didn’t even know what to want, and my body made its own decisions. All these biological changes are just me, growing, healing. What happens is what must happen.

The face, though—yes it’s also a kind of medical care, also about repairing damage. But by comparison, this is a direct, conscious operation. I’ve made a choice to actively change my body. Superficial as it may be, this also is irreversible. That’s the point. There’s no undoing this action, no going back. And yet, here I am. Doing it.

When this procedure is done, no one will ever hold that control over me again. Already after two sessions I’ve ruined this unwanted part of me that I’d so long been told I had no right to touch—and the only way out is through. There’s no salvaging this. I might as well finish burning it off now. Finally I have taken control of my life, drawn my own boundaries. This body is my own. It’s a part of me. I’m a real person. I get to say what happens to me now, same as anyone else.

To that end, since last August, maybe September, I’ve been dancing around the question of piercings. We know this. I’ve talked about it. I never understood the practice before; why people would do such a thing. But as soon as I began to wake up, and realize that I was real, my head came full of all these questions, all this potential. Who was I? What was appropriate? What did I have the right to do with myself? And why would I want that?

Turns out it’s about making a claim on yourself. One of many ways, but an ancient, relatively harmless, and extremely normalized one. With that, suddenly it make a kind of sense—so I kind of put a pin in it (as it were), realizing that while I was doing this reclaiming, that was a sudden option. A novel one, possibly an exciting one. On the edge of becoming a fascination.

Since then my mind has kept going back, so it feels less a possibility than an inevitability I’ll get at least my ears pierced, and probably sooner than later. It’s just a matter of when. The concept is starting to thrill me. This time, this choice, it’s not even about healing. I’m not doing necessary maintenance. There is no medical need to poke holes in my ears. For once, this claim is 100% elective. This time it’s about me. It’s about what I want for myself. About who I am. About being allowed, allowing myself, to make that kind of a decision. For maybe the first time in my life.

After that second laser session, this kind of euphoria swirled in my head for about 24 hours. The fact that I came back, that the first session wasn’t a fluke—I was committed to this thing. I was really doing it. I had this kind of a power over my life. Over my own body. On the evidence of this experience, I have the ability to enact change, to make decisions, to cause things happen to me. So the next day, I looked into that tattoo parlor that my therapist had recommended me.

From the look of things, this is actually one of the most renowned shops in the area; almost universal praise—and yes they do piercings, of course. She told me of their professionalism, how they’re the go-to for all the queers, etc., and from the look of things, yeah, on both counts. It’s always a kick when local places rock a big “LGBT+ Friendly” tag front and center. Which shouldn’t be a surprise here on the basis of what I was told. I just didn’t realize what a big deal this place seems to be, for its particular field.

No prices online, but how much can a simple piercing be? Nothing fancy. At least to start. I still need to resolve a few things in my brain, puzzle out a few weird angles that still bother me. But there it is, when I’m ready. Sometime this summer, maybe?

Step by step, it’s like—it’s not that I’m getting myself back. I never had myself before. I always existed for someone else’s benefit. (Or their burden, depending on how they felt at the time.) This whole concept of autonomy, I’m figuring it out from nothing. It’s so new to be, and so strange and kind of surreal. What kind of dream logic is this? How can this be possible? But I’m getting over this terror of failing to keep myself mint-in-box, at the risk of being discarded as worthless. Finally breaking that seal, you know.

Nobody owns me now. I’m all on my own. I guess I’m theoretically an adult, whatever that means. So this whole process, it’s not like it’s random rebellion or anything. I mean yeah I have the hormones of a teenage girl, and my body is going through all these wild changes. But this isn’t just a reaction against crappy circumstances. This is me, learning to make decisions about myself. And goddamn, such a simple thing is such a wild reorientation of my whole relationship to life. To start to accept that I can, and have the right to, make these decisions.

It’s almost too much, you know. This floodgate. This realization of what it means to be my own person, living for my own sake rather than exclusively for someone else. To choose who I want to be, what is right for my health, not for someone else’s comfort. To follow the things that I enjoy. To understand that I have the right to enjoy things, to want things for myself. That I can just do things that make me happy in some way. That happiness is a thing worth looking into at all. That I don’t have to apologize for any of this.

Each one of these decisions I make, to another person they might be mundane. But to me they’re these mind-shattering pivot points, that challenge every bit of toxic, abusive, neglectful garbage that’s been put on me for my entire life. And each one makes the next choice a little easier. If I want it, then yes, I can do that too.

Does Azure even want earrings? Well. Maybe. I mean. Yes? I think she might. They can be pretty. We are starting to enjoy our jewelry, and this is unexplored turf. Our ears are shaped a little strangely, and I’m still not sure the best way to handle things. There are some considerations, a few things that give me pause. But the point is, this is our decision to make. No one else gets a word in. Ever.

For all the seething and spittle I’ve absorbed about how stupid and irresponsible it is, that I have taken so unfortunately to heart, this is a perfectly normal thing, that people do all the time. And it’s not that big a deal, cosmically speaking. It will never make the world explode. It will never hurt another person. I am a real person. I get to make choices. And this is a choice.

We can explore things. We can figure out life. We can figure out us.

I just want to be me, whoever that is. I just want to be her. We just want to be alive. We’ve never been allowed that before. And now we’re starting to get it. It’s becoming clearer why people put so much value in living. It’s different when you actually want to be here.

So. One thing at a time. I’ve got so much garbage I’m dealing with, right now. And I’m not even fully vaxxed yet. And the year is still young.

But I’m starting to get a grip. Bit by bit.

Just let me be alive.

You Say Allo; I Say Goodbye

  • Reading time:4 mins read

My second face session went even better than the first. After all the new people at Planned Parenthood the other day, we got a new nurse here who kinda rocked to be honest; she seemed like a person it might be cool to know. She marveled at the confidence I had walking in, “this little gothic steam-punk diva.” Which was, uh, one way to put it I guess.

We’re making progress, but there’s not much to really talk about yet. At best we’re like a quarter or a third done. And it’s working! Just gotta keep on keeping on.

The return though, mask all full of the smell of burnt hair—I didn’t even make the bus before the misadventures began. First I swear to God I got a wolf whistle from a car as I crossed the street. Then while I sat at the stop, under the little bus-gazebo structure, whatever it is, there was the, uh, social interaction.

This guy ambled up from my right—and to his credit, he did keep his distance.

“Excuse me miss,” he said, “I wonder if I could have a word with you.”

I felt this boulder in my stomach. Here we go. What do we do here? “… Er, thank you so much for expressing an interest,” I said, “but no, I’m okay.”

He boggled at me. “You’re okay?”

“Yeah, I’m okay,” I nodded. After a beat I asked, “Are you okay?”

He was flustered but determined. “I just want to get to know you,” he said.

And well, fuck. There it was. “Well I’m very flattered,” I said, “but that’s all right. I’m not—I don’t do that sort of thing.” I tried so very hard to keep my calm, to get ahead of the situation, to use an affirming, if firm, tone. This is not a scenario where I want to mess with a male ego.

Even so, he was getting frustrated. “What sort of thing? All I want to do is get to know you,” he repeated.

“Yes, well, thank you for the gesture, seriously.” I made a point of looking right at him, leaning in. Acknowledging what he was doing, even as I refused to entertain it. “But right now I’d really prefer to just keep my space.”

Ultimately he did back off and leave me alone, though it took a few rounds to make myself clear—if the bus hadn’t arrived just then I’m not sure how long this would have continued to drag on. He boarded right after me, and sat behind somewhere, putting me on a sort mild alert the whole ride home. I wasn’t sure exactly where he was, or when he meant to get off. I continued to document things as I sat, just for… reasons.

And I made it home fine. There were no further events. I don’t want to make more of it than it was. I mean, he did keep several paces away. He did actually say hello and ask if we could talk. And in the end he did accept that I wasn’t having it. But gee was he assertive. I’m so bad at people stuff anyway—and I expect learning to navigate eager horny dudes is hard for anyone, never mind this timid autism space cadet girl here.

There’s this diplomatic balance. I feel a need to handle male pride very carefully, because—it’s probably fine, but, well, things have been known to happen at times. And being trans only heightens the danger. Socially I’m not good enough to really have a sense about any of this, so it’s just this blanket caution I’m trying to exercise. Not paranoia, but… one will be mindful.

Anyway. I guess this is my life now. These are the decisions one makes. I can’t control other people; I can only work on myself. So I’d better figure some shit out.

Which isn’t to suggest I never got this kind of thing before—just, uh, not from dudes, typically. Only very occasionally. But I didn’t know what to do about horny allos then, and it freaked me out even coming from women. The exact dynamics here are… perhaps a little more treacherous. And gee whiz are they continuous. Going outside is kind of this whole thing for me lately.

I don’t want people being horny on me. I don’t care who they are. I’m just Azure. There are, I am certain, plenty of other horny people toward whom you might better direct your energies. Nothing’s ever going to happen here. Allos go home.

Feminine Phase

  • Reading time:11 mins read

So we have now, at least in principle, completed our trifecta of girl pills. The insurance is another issue, but we’re working on that. In the moment, my latest follow-up went smoothly—if a little strangely. Everyone I met was different from before. New, kinda rad physician (don’t know offhand if she’s a doctor or NP or what), unfamiliar nurses. Different procedures, different room. But it was all straightforward and so supportive: just walk in, say that things are great, ask for what I want, and get it. No hitches at all! I brought it up to her and she nodded and was like, “Uh-huh! Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah, we usually want to wait until about where you are now. So, you know how this works? You do? Okay.”

The practitioner was complimenting me on how reliably boring my bloodwork is. It’s always the same, she said; nothing of any note with general body stuff. Hormones remain in ideal range. If I feel fine, then there’s nothing to talk about. The new pills complicate things a little, otherwise she wouldn’t even have me come back in person for a while. But with the change, we’re following up in another three months as usual.

August again, already. Cripes, 18 months!

It only comes in 100mg or 200mg capsules, I’m told. The starting dose is 100; the max is 400. So on prior art, I’m guessing I’ll be gradually stepped up over the next year, such that on my second “birthday” I’m likely to land on 400mg. Yet another landmark for next February. This will be a big day.

On the way back I picked up some groceries across the way, then the bus driver took a second to say hi, and complimented me on my “chain”—he gestured to his neck. Which was nice. Some non-creepy random affirmation, for once. Dude seemed all right; I later saw him chatting to someone else. Just an amiable fella. However he also did not stop when requested, and drove like four blocks further. Which uh was less than wonderful. But still, girl got so much cheese. It’s nuts.

So things were at a high—and then next day, reality hit. The prescription was showing up strangely online, and I had to call and talk to the pharmacist. I did so (waiting on hold for 15 minutes), and the fella was like, “Um, I’ve never seen this before, but it says your insurance won’t cover this for males…” I told him that, erm, I was transgender actually and that this was kinda the whole point, and he was like, yeah, this was weird. It didn’t seem right. He said I should call my insurance and see if I could get an override or something, because this was super irregular as a policy.

So I called my insurance; after 10 minutes of infuriating menus, the rep I got was flabbergasted. She also had never seen such a thing—and there was nothing in the system to account for it, for her to know what to do. So she called her supervisor. Her supervisor was equally stunned. Maybe it’s a prior auth issue, he ventured; I should contact my provider and have them request a prior auth; see what happens with that.

So, fuck. Fine. Next I called Planned Parenthood—and, as it happened, got a trans on the other end! I explained the situation and she was all, WTF! She had just started progesterone herself, and also had never seen a thing like this. She said they’ll work on this for me, and call me when it’s sorted out.

In summary: health care. Even under the best conditions, we now must navigate health care while trans.

Anyway the pharmacy has the pills in stock. They’re perfectly ready to fill this. They just need the insurance to say okay—and it’s unclear why they’re not, because no one has ever seen them not, in regard to this medication, for this reason before. But Planned Parenthood is good, and is gearing to fight for me. So I just have to trust this will work out fine. It’s just weird, and may take an extra few days.

I am sure I will be alive in a few days. This will be the smallest of bumps. And I am encouraged by how very baffled and sort of upset everyone has been on my behalf.

I’ve said this before, but I feel like people have been a lot kinder to me since I’ve come out than they ever were to my precursor. I imagine that living in New York helps this a bit. But in general people do seem to genuinely want to help me now, to an extent that surprises me every time. Why this is, I don’t really know. But there’s this sort of a protective tone, in the space where I’m used to getting suspicion and scorn and dismissal. I’m used to being so alone, being brushed off no matter what I’m dealing with.

And, sure, okay. I will accept being treated like a person. This is good. Confusing, but I sure will not complain.

Anyway, this is just a nuisance. The progesterone is happening, and I’ll have it in a few days probably, and I am so excited. Like, I’ve got nothing left to do with my estrogen levels, and my T levels—which ideally I should be keeping under 100, are at uh, nine, last I saw. So this is the last thread. Supplemental girl juice, adding the art to the rough architecture hewn by the estrogen. We’ll see how this it goes, but transfeminine legends well precede it.

(Of its indicated effects, I sure could use some mood stabilization, cripes.)

The nature of progesterone speaks to what is I guess my year-two mission: refinement. Next February is gonna be so good. My face stuff should long be done. I’ll be up to final dose on everything. My ID issues will probably all be resolved. At least for the short term, there will be nothing really left to do except to keep going. Even as changes will likely keep on churning for a few years yet, the actual transitional phase of transition will be done. I’ll have the basic elements of me all checked off and can move on to figuring out how to just live.

I have so many frickin drugs now. Goddamn. Fixing me up. Making me who I need to be. It’s all good. I’m proud of myself, tending to my needs after a lifetime of neglect.

You know how when you meet someone special you’ll have this sense of, if only we could have met years back; we’ve missed so much time together? That is kinda what gender euphoria can be like sometimes—this sort of, gosh, what could have been, had I met myself 25 years ago? Appreciating the moment, looking forward to the future, while dreaming idly of the past you were denied. What would it have been like?

It’s not so much lament as it’s a matter of wanting more. It’s about having trouble quite believing that relationship wasn’t always there, because it’s so obviously right and true and natural that it’s hard accept a life without me. Wanting to fix the history I know, so that it makes a sense I can accept in light of the present.

I can hardly believe I’m on progesterone now. Two years ago I was like, clearly I’m not cis. I didn’t know what I was, beyond that I’ve never been what they tell me. That the gender I was handed had never worked, never fit; it grossed me out, made me not want to be alive. But I didn’t really get gender, had never had a chance to develop my own relationship to it, and was reluctant to commit to any conclusions.

I was so nervous. Clearly I was a kind of non-binary. Beyond that? Well. I had… thoughts, feelings. Were they real? Were they reasonable? Was I just confused? Did I dare own up to them? How much sense did any of this jumble really make? Did I even understand it properly? There was so much, I hardly knew how to chip away.

For an age it was just little, cautious gestures. One by one. Step by step. Stitch by stitch. Does this feel right? Does it hold together? Does it follow from what I know to be true? Is this leading in a direction that I like? Yes? To all of that? Is it secure? Is it gonna hold? Okay, then. What’s next?

And at the same time, every bit of femininity that I embraced, I had to reconcile it with this fundamental disagreement with the concept of a gender binary. What was I even doing? Why was I doing it? Was it for the right reasons? Was it truly coming from inside me? What did it all mean? I had no goddamned clue. Just grasping in the dark.

I had these idealized notions, but they were like some pipe dream, surely just beyond my grasp. Surely it was a folly. Surely that could never be me. Surely I wasn’t that much trans. Surely it was way too late. Surely I’d never have the support. Other people can do things. I’m not other people. I’m just me. I don’t have any options in life. I’m not allowed happiness. Whatever that even is. Anything good is a forever what-if.

But, well, I kept asking: okay, but, what if? Just, one small if at a time. Gnawing on the question. Refusing to move on until I got an answer that made sense. Take another bit. How did it feel? Did I die? Was it a mistake? No? So—one more nibble, then?

I mean, we make our own gender. We figure out our own ideas about ourselves. I kinda knew I was some kind of transfeminine, from the moment I realized I could be trans; that all I needed to be trans was to want it to be true. I just, I couldn’t allow myself to think more than a yard in front of me. It was too much. I had too many obstacles, and I cannot multitask.

Ultimately I am just Azure. I’m not quite a woman; that doesn’t seem to fit. Maybe someday it will. Maybe if I ever grow up? I can’t know yet. But I am exactly the kind of a girl that I want to be. On my own terms. A person I can love.

Damage aside, I am the person whom I was always so depressed that I couldn’t be, that I wasn’t allowed to be, that I was cursed not to be. The only thing I’m lacking is a past—all those years that I lost, when I was asleep. I mean I was always in there. I’ve always existed. I’ve always been me. But this other person was steering the ship. Badly.

And God, I genuinely am this much trans, huh. Specifically, this much transfeminine. We’re not even sticking with the basic HRT; we’re going for the good stuff. And it’s the correct thing to do. For a non-binary girl, there is a heck of a lot of girl going on in here, goddamn.

I mean, gee whiz, it just keeps going. More girl, you ask? Why certainly, yes. More? Absolutely. Bring it on. Keep bringing it. This is working. This is good. This feels good. This is what it’s like to actually feel good. This is what it means to be human.

And I am allowed. I get to define myself. I get to make the rules of me.

Two years ago I was aiming at androgynous. Now I have no clue where I’m going, but it’s making me so fucking giddy. I’m so deep into the forbidden zone now there’s no way to find my way back.

It’s just that every step I make is so right. I have never been so right about anything. It’s bewildering to me. I’ve never gotten so much out of trusting myself.

It seems though I’ve had little chance to articulate or explore or come to terms with it, deep down I have a very firm idea of who I am. Or at least, I know what’s right when I come to it—and I’m not prone to wild, incautious leaps. Everything true has to be based in something more basic, right. Piece by piece, there’s a logic to how it all fits together. I can extrapolate pieces by the empty spaces.

This is me, apparently. I am whoever Azure is. Quite reasonably I think, I am who makes me feel alive. And I’m nowhere near done with me. I’ve got half a lifetime to catch up on, and another half to enjoy.

What a goddamned thing, to be alive. I had no idea what it was like.

How alive will I be a year from now? How much love will I have in me then?