“I want you to know who I really am.”

Twitter is one of my main forms of social media lately. I have many great friends there. I also really enjoy twitter games, things like the following where for each like on the tweet you share something. This one in particular I really related to:

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as of the time of this writing, I have 26 likes on the tweet. So I’ve shared 26 photos of characters I identify with. A big thing for me is relating myself and my experience to the stories of others, be they real or fictional. So this was interesting and fun for me. I decided I wanted to write a little about each of the ones I’ve shared. I figured this would be a better medium for the long form parts. There will be SPOILERS for each character and their story. You are warned.

  1. Tali’Zorah – Mass Effect

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In the Mass Effect games Tali starts out on a pilgrimage to find something of value to bring back to her people. Through the course of the games she is always looking for something. I relate to this, as most of my own life has been spent searching for many things, often without even knowing exactly what I am seeking. Seeking a home she’s never known is something I too feel.

2. Elsa – Frozen

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Elsa spent her childhood being told to hold her true self back, locked inside and trapped. When she finally lets herself just be herself, while she does face some hardships, she is much happier. I definitely felt this myself.

3. Celes Chere – Final Fantasy VI

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Celes starts a series of characters who believed they were with the good but really were being lied to. She was a general in an empire, a loyal soldier. When she resisted the actions of the empire she objected to, she was locked up to be executed. With help she escaped and fought back against the true evil inside those she had been loyal to. I relate strongly to this as my experience with religion.

4. Mona – Shovel Knight

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Mona is mostly a shared aesthetic and a love to dance in private. She’s also smart and wants to help those she cares about. This is very me.

5. Nonon Jakuzure – Kill la Kill

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Nonon is eternally loyal to the woman she loves, willing to fight and die for her. She also has a deep, passionate love for music. These are traits I share on a fundamental level.

6. Nina Windia – Breath of Fire II

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Nina is in exile from her home because she was born with black wings, while everyone else in her home has white wings. This difference has caused her to be hated and ostracized from of her home and family. The only one who is still close to her is her sister. This mirrors a lot my own family and home life.

7. Marin – Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

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Marin cares deeply for everyone on her island, loves to sing, and dreams of a life spent free.

8. Finn – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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I described Finn like this to a friend once: Raised from childhood to believe something that was a lie, only just starting to take control of his life, only just starting to find people he can trust, and wanting a home. Also gay as fuck. So… me.

9. Vala Mal Doran – Stargate SG-1

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Much like Celes and Finn, Vala lived a life that actually caused her a lot of pain, and spends a lot of time trying to take care of herself in the wake of what was done to her against her will.

10. Elizabeth – Bioshock Infinite

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Elizabeth spent her life trapped against her will, and has the power to see into other worlds. I relate that to my stories and poetry.

11. Hinata Hyuuga – Naruto

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Inspired by her love, Hinata, a shy and timid girl, starts to fight against her fate. Her two main fights I connect with deeply. The first is against her cousin Neji, who’s much more skilled and talented, but hates her, she fights back against her family for her own sake. In the second she fights against an overwhelmingly powerful person to defend her love. She stood in the way and would give her life to protect that which is precious to her.

12. Fuu Hououji – Magic Knight Rayearth

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Fuu is a caring, devoted friend who wants to support and protect those important to her, and has healing powers.

13. Makoto Kino (Sailor Jupiter) – Sailor Moon

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Tall, kinda clumsy, lots of exes, looking for where she belongs. Defender of those important. And headcanon in love with an Ami (much like me and an Amy).

14. Hitomi Kanzaki – the Vision of Escaflowne

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Hitomi is a girl out of her element, trying her hardest to figure out what she wants. She’s often confused, but she supports those important to her, and tries her hardest, no matter what.

15. Elspeth Tirel – Magic: the Gathering

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Elspeth is someone who just wants to find peace and calm, but is always drawn into chaos and conflict. Another defender, ready to do what’s right, even when it endangers her peace.

16. Hanako Ikezawa – Katawa Shoujo

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Hanako is a girl who is scarred down her entire side by a fire as a child. She’s extremely shy and has issue with how she looks. I relate strongly to the kind of shame she’s lived with just for her body.

17. Kyoko Tokiwa – Full Metal Panic

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Kyoko is mostly the supportive best friend who’s always there for the main character, upbeat and happy.

18. Shinji Ikari – Neon Genesis Evangelion

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Shinji clearly has some serious depression, has a long history of abuse from the people who were supposed to love him, and gets hated just for existing. Literally me.

19. Wakaba Shinohara – Revolutionary Girl Utena

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Another supportive, best friend, but with her own deep story of hurt, love and friendship. I am forever touched that Utena could not draw a sword against her best friend, even at the begging of Anthy. Their friendship is that strong.

20. Laura Kinney/X-23/Wolverine – Mavel’s X-Men

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Laura is another who was raised in lies, used and hurt by those with power over her, and spends most of her time now finding her own way in the world.

21. Mia Ausa – Lunar Silver Star Story

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A kinda shy, but devoted mage, who supports her friends. Also love her look.

22. Tish Katsufrakis – The Weekenders

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Tish has esoteric tastes, loves learning, old media, and is just kinda strange. I relate strongly to that.

23. Wanda Maximoff – Marvel Cinematic Universe

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Wanda is another person mislead and hurt by those with power over her, and made mistakes. She seeks to do better, and wants to make up for her mistakes. She also is hated by many and just wants to be herself. Plus great aesthetics I love.

24. Stomer – Jem and the Holograms (Comic)

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Stomer is the one who is always trying to make sure everyone gets along and things get done. She’s always there to help her bandmates and friends. Also super gay for her love (like me!)

25. Ruka Urushibara – Steins;Gate

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Another character who supports those she cares about, even to her own sacrifice. She finally had a chance at what she wanted, and gave it up for the people she loves. (Also canonically transgender.)

26. Penny Polendina – RWBY

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Penny isn’t like most girls. The way she was born is different. She also wants to protect and care for everyone, while also enjoying the world and her time with the people she loves. She has lots of doubts, but she still makes her way forward. I am Penny.

— This is the list as it currently stands. I believe I have some new likes and if I add more characters, I will be sure to add them to this list and update it. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little look into the mind of Rachel. —

On Slurs and Problematic Labels: Part 1 – Slurs

[CW//Discussion of slurs]

[These are my personal thoughts and ideas on the topic. Anyone who wishes to have discussions on these thoughts are welcome to when I feel able, but attacks at me will simply get you blocked and removed from my life.]

There’s a continuous topic always just below the surface (or often above) of trans* discourse, brought right back to the forefront by the announcement of Laura Jane Grace’s new memoir. Ms. Grace, ever the punk rock artist, chose a highly divisive title for this: Tranny. Those 6 little letters have caused hours of yelling, dissolution of friendships, and a lot of hurt for me, people I love, and a lot of others. There are a lot of really good, powerful arguments for why trans women should reclaim this label. I’ve heard many, and I understand those view points pretty well. From the usefulness of trans sex workers for label, to using it as a tool to fight back against those who will throw it as a weapon as us, to blunting the edge of the knife that is used to stab us. These are all reasons that make sense on some level.

But I also understand that often those who feel that way have different levels of privilege. Amy Boyer has a pretty well thought out piece on the ideas of privilege and it’s place in the reclamation of these slurs: https://medium.com/@amytranscend/reclaiming-slurs-not-for-the-privileged-d0cd06286c4e#.v32fq4rhq
I agree with a lot of her intent in this piece, or at least my reading of it. I think anyone who wishes to reclaim slurs that aren’t simply addressed at you individually, but at part of a group you belong to, should always consider how the most at risk, the most marginalized are going to be affected by those actions.

Does this mean only the most affluent, well off trans women are the ones reclaiming these slurs? Definitely not. I’ve seen poor, disabled, trans women of color who have all been very vocal in their reclamation of these slurs. So what I feel on this subject is this:

  •  I don’t give a shit what a transgender woman, or transfeminine person calls themself to refer to themself, be it something that’s a slur, a very specific trans label, whatever. The right to self identify is extremely important. I may have trouble wanting to associate with someone who wants to openly label themself as such, but I definitely respect their personal choices.
  • if someone is explicitly open to being called those labels, then others who are comfortable can call them that if they wish, just so long as the person in question is perfectly fine with that. Then those things are absolutely fine in my book.
  • But you definitely should understand why you feel so safe to reclaim those things, never, ever refer to people who aren’t explicitly okay with those labels, and respect the fuck out of the many, many reasons a lot of us don’t feel safe enough to do so.

I’m a trans women of few privileges at this point in my life. I’m white, I’m able bodied. Those are my biggest two. But I’m poor, I’m neurodivergent with disabilities, I’m not cis-passing, and many other things. I’ve had tranny thrown at me more than I ever admit to, because I’m not comfortable talking about it, how it makes me feel, how unsafe it makes me feel.  Telling me that I need to reclaim the slur to remove it’s power is victim blaming. That’s no different than telling me I need to engage in activity that will remind me of my rape, or the physical abuses I’ve suffered in my life.

This is about compassion. About respecting my right  to not want to be triggered for the trauma myself, and many others have and still experience.

Thank you

I’ve got to break free, I want to break free

Today I had to go to court for something I’m not going to talk about.  The reason I bring up the court is the fact that going meant I wanted to dress in an appropriate manner.  Sure many people there were in jeans and tees and not really caring about appearance, but I’ve never been that kind of person.  So I dressed up.

Now I’m not public yet.  I’m not yet ready to walk outside as my true self.  I hope that might be different before this year is over, but for now, I’m not that brave.  I also had an ex-partner and still very close and dear friend with me.  She’s the first person to know about me, and to this day tries to be very supportive.  Some times we butt heads over things, but we can usually find a place of understanding.  Today there was a small thing I said which ended up as a more complex conversation than I had thought would be, and it was on the matter of clothes.

While killing some time, we wandered the dead husk of what was once a mall.  Strolling through the remains of a clothing store and its close out deals, she commented that I looked nicely dressed.  And for what I was trying to appear as I did.  The thing is it isn’t who I am really.  And that idea is what started the discussion.

I’ve always found men’s clothes to be extremely boring.  From a complete lack of a decent palate of colors, to having exactly 4 kinds of tops to wear realistically.  In my attempts to express myself I “dressing up” was one of the few ways I might connect with the idea of being a man.  Many button down shirts, slacks, ties and vests have been the clothes I would wear to “look good”.  Those clothes did their job, they brought me attention, and that attention made me feel good.  But those clothes never truly made me feel like I was expressing myself.  I was trying to “fake it until you make it.”  But some things will never be true, no matter how hard you fake it.

I said this to my friend and she said that I was happy in those clothes.  But they didn’t really make me happy.  Or at least, not in a real or healthy way.  Buying clothes made me happy, finding things that I wanted made me happy.  But it’s not real happiness, like accepting myself for who I really am, it’s not lasting happiness.  I tried but failed to express this idea fully to my friend.  She said she was worried about me losing the maleness that made me happy.

I wasn’t sure exactly how to respond to that.  The thing is any sense of “maleness” I have or had isn’t making me happy.  It’s a huge factor in making me unhappy in fact.  But that does’t mean my life hasn’t had happy things.  She’s one of the best things that ever happened to me, which is why we’re still such close friends.  All of my experience aren’t forgotten once I began my transition.  They are still here inside me, have shaped me and made me into the woman I am today.  The things that made me happy still do, the things that made me unhappy still do.

I think there were a couple things going through my friend’s mind about me when she expressed this concern.  First I think she wants me to be happy and accept myself.  And that’s something I both am and am not.  I’m working to change the parts that I’m not, and embracing the parts that I am.  But I also think she’s worried that it might in some way invalidate our shared experience.  If I wasn’t happy living as a man, was I really not happy in our time together?  But the truth is I loved her very deeply, and will always cherish our time together.  But I would have had to make this change even if we had stayed together.  It’s nothing on her part that caused me to feel this way.  Jennifer Finney Boylan describes it very well in her book “She’s Not There” about even with the love of your life, you’re still denying the truth of yourself.

This idea is why coming out to family is so hard.  They see it as a reflection upon them.  Parents and partners see it as a failing on the relationship, because that is a shared experience.  But they have to come to realize that it’s not an honest relationship while one person is pretending to be someone they’re not.  This doesn’t make them a failure.

I’ve heard a lot of trans women who get annoyed by the level at which some trans women, especially ones more recent into transition, get about clothes.  Sometimes we can go a bit overboard, but the thing is, it’s the easiest way to begin the self expression we’ve been denying ourselves for so long.  Sure some may need to work better at dressing for their body, but hell, many cis people have that exact same problem.  I’ve accepted my true self, now I can’t wait to express my true self publicly.