How to Be an All-Inclusive Gender Thread

A million times, what SillyRabbit said.

Yeah. Mostly, I hate that I feel like I'm hurting the people I love. I know this is hard and confusing, and that I have to accept that and do what I can to help... But I still can't help wishing I could do some sort of Vulcan mind meld with them so that they could understand where I am, and what I imagine the future being like.

Everything from just understanding that yes, this is a real thing, and that I'm pretty sure I'm about as sane as any human being can be (and I'm pretty sure my therapist would back me up on that), to how much I love them and care about them and want them to know the [em]real[/em] me and not the mask I've made (and how much [em]I[/em] want to know that me), to how hard I'm working to be careful to test all of my assumptions all the time and doing everything in the right order to be safe and sure...

And most importantly, how while I'm moving forward and changing, I'm not [em]changing[/em]. I'm the same person every day, every step I take, and I always will be. Because we are the sum of our experiences, not just the end-point. I'll be traveling on this road for years, and I don't know where I'll be at the end of it--but I wouldn't know that even without all of this. Because... That's just how life is. But no matter what, I'll still be me, just like I always have been.

And these things are just hard to share. Hard to explain. Complicated by all of the emotions that swirl around this sort of thing. Complicated by the way our minds try to jump straight to the conclusion, rather than thinking of the whole path, and then stumble on a wall of preconceptions about what things about a person we expect to be set in stone.

But... yeah, I'm doing my best to explain where I am and where I'm going and to hear what those I love have to say. I find myself working hard to make myself listen, and try to find the best things to say to help them understand, rather than addressing each point separately--because I know it's not the separate things, it's not about the individual points, it's about all of those feelings together as a whole.

--

In dad news... I went upstairs after that and just lay in bed for a while thinking. When I came down, we talked more, about a lot of things, and a little about these issues. And it was better. Still hard, but better. I have to remember that I've had decades to think about these things, and my other family members have had months, but dad has only had two days now.

It doesn't make it not hurt when he says some things, but I'm strong enough for that. I can be patient, and I need to be.

--

In non-dad news, I kind of want to ask my sister if she'd take me to get my ears pierced. I've wanted to have pierced ears since I was like 12, and it went from something that boys just didn't do to something later that was acceptable, but would have too much significance to me, so I didn't feel like I could let myself do it. And now, well, I really want to do it, and it would mean a lot to me if my sister would be there with me. But, I don't know if she's ready to deal with it, because she would know exactly what it means to me, and she's still uncomfortable with that.

She did give me some skin-care advice last week, though, which I thought was tremendously sweet. I sent email thanking her later, because I didn't think it had really been apparent how much it meant to me, and she seemed pleased.

So... Hope, progress... hope.

Hyp, I read this on occasion but tend not to post as I really don't know how to add anything meaningful, but count me in with the crowd that's rooting for you.

Maybe ask your Sister if the ear piercing could be an experience you could share?

Then you can set the timetable after that. If she's keen, she might suggest you do it 'now' as a holiday thing. If she's still a little hesitant to move forward she might just respond with 'I'd love too, let's make a day of it once this dust has settled with dad' kind of thing.

Either way, sounds like she'd be open to the idea given the skin care advice. Maybe open with that, letting her know how much that simple gesture meant to you.

Also, what SillyRabbit said.

If anyone lives in san fran do you know a therapist in this city?

Therapists tend to be interconnected, so if Hyp likes her therapist, then she may be able to get a recommendation.

hyp? im kinda in need of one badly

RyokoKleiger wrote:

hyp? im kinda in need of one badly

Maybe send Hyp a PM (to do that, click here to go to Hyp's personal page, then scroll down to 'send private message' at the bottom). I don't know how Hyp has her notifications setup, but I think she might get an alert from receiving one if that's how she has her profile setup. She might also be AFK while she's visiting family, so don't feel despondent if she doesn't get back to you straight away. Feel free to vent here if you need it though. We're not professionals, but we can listen if you need us too.

May seem like a daunting prospect, but we're a good bunch here, and we never ridicule or disrespect when people genuinely need a shoulder to cry on, or a space to vent/rant/dump.

Sorry, I'm not in Pittsburgh right now, so I can't ask my therapist. And I don't know any trans folk in the SF area.

I'd consider trying to ask in the asktransgender reddit, maybe? That's the first place I can think of that might get you an answer quickly. Questions from throwaway accounts are pretty common there if you need to maintain anonymity.

Edit: Just saw this go past, so in case it wasn't you asking: Bay Area help?

And big hugs your way. I hope you find someone who can help and are doing better soon.

Hypatian, I haven't posted in this thread before because I never know what to say, but I'm rooting for you.

To Ryoko, Hyp and Clocky: the new year is a time of change. May you all get the best of changes, and me we (the mundanes living in your wake) learn from you all.

Ryoko, I'm sending out an "all hands on deck" to my LGBT friends who live up there to see if they can give me some names. Whatever I find out, if anything, I'll send you.

Having a New Year's resolution seems kind of anticlimactic at this point. But still: this year, I hope to be more good to people, more true to myself, and as happy as possible just putting one foot in front of the other.*

Thank you all for being so wonderful and supportive. It helps more than I can really express, when things get rough. Things would be a lot harder without your good wishes.

And my best wishes to everybody, but especially to Clocky and Ryoko. I hope the next year goes as well for you as I hope it's going to go for me.

[size=6]* also, I hope to gain some padding in the right places. :>[/size]

Heya Hypatian - hope the dialogue with your dad swiftly turns into understanding and support.

Ryoko, I'm sending you a PM with someone out in the Bay Area that may be helpful; a contact, if nothing else.

Just saw this piece by John Scalzi, and thought it might be relevant - hopefully I'm not filthy skimming:
http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/12/2...

I saw the Scalzi thing on reddit. Not very in-depth, but yet another "it's really great to see this being talked about more" thing.

I ended up not asking my sister about ear-piercing. It felt too awkward, and on top of that, she and her husband and my nephew all came down with colds, so I figure I'll just do that on my own. On that subject: what's the best no-fuss way to get your ears pierced? Whenever I see Internet advice on the subject, somebody always comes in shouting "OMG, go to a real piercing/tattoo place!!!11!1", but I don't imagine that's what most people do.

Other things: tomorrow's my last full day here, I'll be flying out the morning of the day after. I'm planning on trying to sit down with both of my folks to talk seriously about things. Where I've been, where I am, where I'm going. I think my dad has had enough time to absorb things a bit more, but we haven't talked much more.

We were talking about health care stuff the other day and he popped out with "so, this procedure you're going to have done, where would you be having it?", more or less in the context of the quality of U.S. care. I tried to get across that bottom surgery is something I haven't thought a lot about, since it would be years before I'd anticipate having it done, and I'm not even sure I want to go that route, yet, and then I said that I wasn't particularly interested in having it done in Thailand, although they do have some of the most experienced surgeons there for that sort of thing, and that I know there are several really good doctors in the U.S. and Canada.

Anyway, the fact that he could ask that and hear my answer without freaking out is a good thing. On the other hand, the question itself makes it clear just how many misconceptions he has about this stuff, which is hardly unexpected. I hope that his asking means he's ready for me to start clearing up those misconceptions. Guess I'll find out, anyway.

I'll probably print out the booklet on Trans stuff from PFLAG to give to him and mom, and then try to lay out what my plans are and what kind of time-frame I'm looking at. (i.e. there are almost certainly going to be noticeable changes in me the next time I see them, but the long term picture is still one of years.) I'll also talk about what I've been doing, and why, and how it has resulted in my becoming more certain that I'm doing the right thing for my future happiness, but that I'm certainly not going to stop evaluating my feelings as I go. Sure, I'm pretty darned sure I'm not making a mistake, but this is still an enormous thing, and I have the time to keep checking and double-checking.

In plans news: back home soon, and I can find out what damage the holiday has done to my diet. I doubt I've been losing weight effectively while I'm here, but I think I've probably avoided putting too much weight on. Once I'm home, I'm planning to try to go to a lower protein intake and get back into the habit of walking or running an hour or more every day--both in the hope of losing some muscle mass. I'll see what kind of effects that has and how it makes me feel. That's specifically in the interest of figuring out what it takes to lose overall muscle bulk and then gain definition in specific areas I want to focus on.

Hypatian wrote:

Whenever I see Internet advice on the subject, somebody always comes in shouting "OMG, go to a real piercing/tattoo place!!!11!1", but I don't imagine that's what most people do. :)

I'm with the internet on this one. At the very least, you want a piercer that uses needles. A piercing gun is super painful when there's no reason for it to be.

Hypatian wrote:

We were talking about health care stuff the other day and he popped out with "so, this procedure you're going to have done, where would you be having it?", more or less in the context of the quality of U.S. care. I tried to get across that bottom surgery is something I haven't thought a lot about, since it would be years before I'd anticipate having it done, and I'm not even sure I want to go that route, yet, and then I said that I wasn't particularly interested in having it done in Thailand, although they do have some of the most experienced surgeons there for that sort of thing, and that I know there are several really good doctors in the U.S. and Canada.

Anyway, the fact that he could ask that and hear my answer without freaking out is a good thing. On the other hand, the question itself makes it clear just how many misconceptions he has about this stuff, which is hardly unexpected. I hope that his asking means he's ready for me to start clearing up those misconceptions. Guess I'll find out, anyway. :)

The misconception that the transition IS the surgery is unfortunately common. I know if I were in your heels, I'd be elated that he's asking questions. It took my parents years before they were ready to talk and undo some of their misconceptions over me being gay. Still not a walk in the park, I know, but encouraging.

RoughneckGeek wrote:
Hypatian wrote:

Whenever I see Internet advice on the subject, somebody always comes in shouting "OMG, go to a real piercing/tattoo place!!!11!1", but I don't imagine that's what most people do. :)

I'm with the internet on this one. At the very least, you want a piercer that uses needles. A piercing gun is super painful when there's no reason for it to be.

I'm with the Internet on this one too - I had mine done with the piercing gun and not only did it hurt like hell, the first holes I had done were done wrong and I ended up with a crooked piercing. Getting earrings in there was awful, and the holes got infected all the damn time because it's really hard to clean a piercing that didn't go through straight.

Go to a tattoo/piercing place, but check them out first. If there are a lot of underage kids just hanging out in there, or you see people getting work done sans gloves, or they won't explain the procedure properly, or don't offer aftercare for keeping the piercing clean etc., find a new place. Standards matter for this, as does cleanliness.

RoughneckGeek wrote:
Hypatian wrote:

We were talking about health care stuff the other day and he popped out with "so, this procedure you're going to have done, where would you be having it?", more or less in the context of the quality of U.S. care. I tried to get across that bottom surgery is something I haven't thought a lot about, since it would be years before I'd anticipate having it done, and I'm not even sure I want to go that route, yet, and then I said that I wasn't particularly interested in having it done in Thailand, although they do have some of the most experienced surgeons there for that sort of thing, and that I know there are several really good doctors in the U.S. and Canada.

Anyway, the fact that he could ask that and hear my answer without freaking out is a good thing. On the other hand, the question itself makes it clear just how many misconceptions he has about this stuff, which is hardly unexpected. I hope that his asking means he's ready for me to start clearing up those misconceptions. Guess I'll find out, anyway. :)

The misconception that the transition IS the surgery is unfortunately common. I know if I were in your heels, I'd be elated that he's asking questions. It took my parents years before they were ready to talk and undo some of their misconceptions over me being gay. Still not a walk in the park, I know, but encouraging. :)

This. I'm so glad that your Dad/family are asking questions - that's a start and as you pointed out, it gives you the chance to set some things straights regarding any misconceptions he/they have.

I'm feeling excited for you that things are moving forward in a positive way.

Another one for the piercing parlour. Less painful, quicker healing, more skilled. They know how to place them evenly. I recommend hoops to start as their easier to keep clean.

The girl at Claire's with the sh*tty little plastic gun isn't going to be as practiced at dealing with people who faint or spook as the tattooed and pierced girl at the parlour, either. Parlour all the way. They're pros, and worth the money.

Thanks for the piercing advice. I guess I'll do some looking around. This is one of those places where "I don't drive" translates to having to do a lot of homework before going and looking around, since visiting any one place is likely to take me an hour or more just to get there and back.

I'm home now. I didn't lose weight during my trip, but I didn't really gain weight either (+1 pound from when I weighed right before leaving). So that's good. It's nice to have my soap etc. again (I took face cream with me, but didn't bring cleanser along. I think the change in regime made me break out a little bit. Either that or the chocolates. >_>)

Ended up talking with my mom and sister the other night, but not my dad, who was asleep early. They got some more things off of their chests, and my sister at least felt better afterwards. I guess the best way to sum up what they feel is "We want to be supportive, we know that's what good people ought to do... but we just don't know if we can feel that way, and that makes us feel bad." Personally, I kind of think that the "we know that's what good people ought to do" will eventually outweigh any gut reactions. But... it takes time. Still, there's plenty of time to have. Even assuming I don't see them again until next year, I don't think my appearance will have changed that dramatically yet. We'll see.

I re-emphasized that I really would like them to tell me about what they feel about stuff, and don't hold it back. I guess my sister was holding back for a while because of something she said early on that I replied to in a way that made her feel that she'd hurt me... But, really, I was just trying to explain my dysphoria to her, which is hard. Because, yeah, what she said did hurt--but it wasn't a deep hurt. It was just one of those achey hurts that I've been dealing with since forever. So I tried to explain that, how that little achey hurt was the kind of thing I've been dealing with, just building up over time. And it was such a little thing, but it still affected me. And she took it to be a much bigger thing when I was just trying to illustrate an example. Anyway, I think that's cleared up now. And I think talking to me in person and saying things that they were feeling and trying not to hold back and actually seeing how I responded made it more obvious that I really mean it when I ask them to be honest with me.

I'm going to send links to the PFLAG pamphlet to everybody in a day or two, and then clam up for a while. I'd really like it if they would do some reading into trans things on their own, but I don't think that's likely to happen yet. They've said that they're okay hearing about how things are going with me with regard to trans stuff, but they don't want to be hearing about it all the time. I totally understand that, and I think it will be easier for me to talk about other stuff and stress less now that I've talked to them in person and seen how they react to things.

Short form: I think my mom and my sister are in a pretty good place, and I hope that we'll all end up in a better place together. I'm not so worried any more about family in general. I know dad's going to need some time to absorb this stuff, but I hope he ends up in a similar spot. Now that everybody except the kids know (and I wish my sister would tell her daughter, but... that's one place I don't feel right applying any pressure at all--I sent her the fairy tale, and it's up to her how she wants to deal with things), it should be easier for them to talk to each other about their feelings and work through stuff. No more secrets. That's a good thing.

(Also, my niece knows that [em]something[/em] is going on, and I think she might even have an inkling of what it is. She's pretty amazingly sharp for someone who's just about to turn 8. My 3-year-old nephew, on the other hand, would probably only notice something if I was turning into a train. Interestingly, it seems that he has just started to develop a sense of gender identity. He recently complained that he'd rather have a boy character in Pixie Hollow, although he never had a problem with "his girl" before. He also wondered why my GW2 character was female. "Why are you a girl?" "I just am." Oh, the freight on that little exchange. And he tried to convince my mom and sister while they were playing Lego LotR that they should let him play because he needed to play the boy characters.)

Anyway... I haven't been told to leave and not come back by anyone, which... is a really good thing. Because I really really love my family. And, while it's not exactly an easy situation, I think it will get better over time. More time, just like everything else.

Hypatian wrote:

My 3-year-old nephew, on the other hand, would probably only notice something if I was turning into a train. :D

Wait you're not turning into a train? HOW COULD I MISREAD THAT

Woo! My new forum icon is active. Elysia is awesome.

Hypatian wrote:

Woo! My new forum icon is active. Elysia is awesome.

Mine too, and yes she is

Ok, that's awesome.

Very nice indeed.

Walking 4-5 miles in the morning makes me feel pretty good. I need to figure out how to make myself get up earlier so I can do this every day.

Amateur physiology time:

I decided this morning that I was wearing enough layers bundled up that I could probably wear my breast forms under it all without getting too many odd looks. I think I may have gotten a few, though... which I proceeded to not worry about for more than a few seconds. Anyway, the point of the exercise was just to see how differently I moved with the different weight distribution. It makes a real difference in terms of what gaits are natural-feeling, how you move your arms, the ways your upper and lower body move.

It gave me another data point (or anecdote, anyway) on my feeling that most of the obvious differences in the way men and women tend to move is down to fat distribution. There are differences in skeletal development, too, but it's felt to me since I started really examining the way I move that it's more about the body acting more as a set of pendulums cantilevered against each other for women, opposed to more of a set of levers centered around the fulcrum of the hips for men. (Specifically, I'm speaking of when at rest and while walking. As gaits become faster, I believe the differences tend to decrease as both configurations eventually transition into a more straightforward brute force approach.) It's not that simple, of course, but it makes a lot more sense as an explanation to me than some of the comments I've read in various places.

Specific thoughts: the weight of breasts (even small ones) is often counter-balanced by holding the shoulders lower and further back, moving the elbows further back and the forearms up to help balance it all out. All of that together balances against curving the lower spine more, shifting the entire upper body forward a bit to stay in balance, which leads to the hips settling a bit further back. In motion, the entire upper body tends to shift back and forth more, which also brings more motion into the lower body.

With a more masculine posture, the shoulders are a bit more forward, settling the entire upper body over the lower body in a straighter line. The arms still act as pendulums, but tend to stay lower and straighter to maintain the balance of the top-heavy upper body over the fulcrum of the lower body. There's less motion overall because more of the mass is solid.

I'm probably totally wrong about all of this, of course. But that's how it feels to me, both when I'm feeling out what's going on with my body when I try to emulate more stereotypically feminine patterns of movement, and when I do something crazy like going outside wearing breast forms for a long walk.

On the more emotional side, trying to move differently generally makes me feel good. In this specific case, feeling my body settle more naturally into it felt very nice. I doubt that I'll make a habit of doing things quite this way, but the idea of someday not feeling like I'm fighting my body is something I can look forward to.

I came across this paper the other day. It's a great summary of the current and historic understanding of the biology and interpretation of intersex, sexual orientation, and transgender conditions.

Clinical implications of the organizational and activational effects of hormones (Milton Diamond) (PDF)

Avoid reading this if you don't want to be depressed: #transdocfail

More positively, about that: #TransDocFail: the trans community rises. And this is one thing about which I'm really really glad I don't live in the UK. Not that things are all roses in the US, but...

This evening, I've been meditating on the ideas of the feeling of shame and self-acceptance, and the feeling of distress and acceptance by others.

I've been feeling a bit down lately, about where I am and where I'm going to be in a year. I've previously been pretty good at not seriously thinking about that far ahead, but with the new year and with thoughts of where I'll be next time I visit my family over the holidays, it's kind of natural to think in terms of a year.

The problem, of course, is that in a year... I'm not going to be done changing, not by a long shot. If hormones, my control of my diet, and genetics are good to me, I'll have a decent start on having oogaba and hips. My skin will be softer and clearer. My body will feel a lot more comfortable to me. But I'll probably still be shaving my face. I'll certainly still have things that make me acutely uncomfortable with myself at times. I may be able to pass as a woman in some situations, but I don't know whether I'll be comfortable full time or not. I'll almost certainly be able to pass as a guy if I need to--a bald head and a lifetime of experience can get you a long way.

I started thinking about this in the context of my family: I'd probably be willing to visit them next year in full "guy mode". I think that by that time I'll want to share "girl mode" with them, too, but I think I'd be willing to not hit them with it at the airport.

But that, of course, brings up the question of: Do I expect to be "full time" in the rest of my life by that point? And that raises all sorts of fears and doubts. I started thinking about work, and questioning when I want to come out at work. How do I know, after all, when I'll be ready to present as female? Maybe I should wait until I start feeling more comfortable doing that. Maybe it would be easier to wait until I'm really ready to go all the way.

So anyway, tonight I've been thinking about that more seriously. I was sitting here, wearing my wig and breast forms, feeling comfortably androgynous. And then I decided to go out for my exercise (because I didn't have time for it this morning) with both. And as I walked, I thought, and I thought.

What, then, is being "comfortable"? In the end, it's about shame. In truth, I feel ashamed of being who I am. I still worry that people will notice that I'm acting differently at work and get kind of a weird vibe and start wondering what's going on with me. And I feel ashamed. But... why? What do I have to be ashamed of? Of being who I am? Because I [em]am[/em] somewhere in between. I may not be on hormones yet, but I've been exploring my feelings and changing how I dress and how I move and how I talk and how I act.

Why should I be ashamed of that? Wasn't the whole point of what I'm doing all about accepting myself fully? Haven't I looked at myself for months until I could really seriously look at myself and see the woman I can be? And wasn't that all about deciding that where I'm going is really where I [em]want[/em] to be, and that I'll satisfied with where I can get.

So, why the shame? Well, I think it all must boil down to internalized transphobia. Even though I know that being trans is just a thing about me, something I was born with, something that I share with actually an awful lot of people (TLDR: 1:500 is a pretty safe lower bound on the proportion of people in the U.S. population who have strong transsexual feelings), I still grew up thinking that this is something that you should be ashamed of. Something that you shouldn't let people know about you, ever.

But that's not a reasonable way to live--and how can I truly accept myself if I keep feeling that way? When I'm thinking most clearly about things, I don't look at it that way at all. I've already decided that I want to embrace being trans. That it's part of what I am. I don't want to cut away my past and pretend that I've never lived as a man. So why should I want to cut away this part of my present and future, as I pass from living as a man to living as the woman I've always wished to be?

After all, in a way what I'm doing is just the same as what anyone does when they look in the mirror and don't like what they see, don't feel like it's truly them. They take better care of themselves. They diet. They exercise. They buy different clothes. Some of them have cosmetic surgery, either to repair damage to their appearance they feel bad about or to correct what they perceive as flaws in the hand that nature has dealt.

Hormone therapy is rarer than any of those things, and it has some side effects that some people would consider unacceptable. But in many ways, it's less serious than surgery. (At the same time, it makes cosmetic surgery seem a lot less extreme. )

The other side of the equation is the distress that my presentation causes other people to feel when they see me. A lot of that comes down to prejudice, too, essentially the same prejudice I have against myself. People who aren't "one thing or the other" are not expected. They're a bit of a spectacle. Even someone who doesn't have a deep-seated feeling that it's unnatural and wrong feels compelled to stare. Someone with a strong prejudice may feel disgust. Someone with less prejudice may feel shame that they can't take it in stride. Either way, it's distressing to them.

And that's something I've focused on when thinking about my transition: I don't want to make other people feel terribly uncomfortable around me. There's a point at which I can't do anything: People feel what they feel. I can try to help educate them. I can try to help them understand. But I can't get in their head and tweak that emotion and make everything okay. Neither for my family, nor for anyone else.

So that's a big decision point for me when thinking about how and when I want to change how I present. I can't even educate the people I meet walking down the street, so I may as well not rub their face in things if I'm in a particularly incongrous state (for example, if I've got breast development going along well, but my beard is still really obvious and I'm still having to grow out multiple days worth of stubble for electrolysis, there's no good reason for me to wear form-fitting tops.)

At the same time, heck, I live and work in neighborhoods of a large city, both of which are within easy walking distance of three universities and two colleges. (Assuming I'm not missing one.) I work at a university. That's no guarantee of a liberal attitude among the whole population, but it does create a certain expectation that people will kind of smile and roll their eyes at the unusual. For example, it's not [em]terribly[/em] common here, but I've seen men presenting as male wearing skirts more than a few times. (And no, I don't mean kilts.)

So, in the end I look at things again, and I ask myself "Why am I ashamed? Why do I want to hide who I am? There are probably as many people who experience transgender feelings walking around as people who have their birthday today." And suddenly... things don't seem so awful. The question of how and when I present in a given way doesn't seem so important.

I still have some need to be protective about my personal safety if I'm out and about and obviously queer. But no more than if I were out gothing it up and wearing a skirt. And... even if I'm passing perfectly some day, as a woman I [em]still[/em] need to take a lot more care than I do as a man. (Which is ridiculous in this day and age, but still true.)

I'm sure this isn't the last time I'll feel this feeling of shame and self-deprecation. But... every time I do, and every time I really think about it, I get closer to fully accepting myself. Every time I do, I realize more that while I need to be prepared for stares and occasional abuse, as long as I am certain [em]in myself[/em], I can... just live, like anyone else.

I'll probably still push towards "passing" as much as I can, because honestly, I [em]would[/em] rather be an attractive woman than an unattractive woman. And I [em]would[/em] rather be understood to be a woman by random people I meet rather than as being "other". I may have cosmetic surgeries if I feel that I need them. I don't know--because there's no telling where hormones will take me.

But I won't stop being me, at any point in the journey. I won't stop being a person I can be proud of--and prouder of, in accepting who I am, than I ever was when I was filled with shame and the need to conceal my feelings.

So that's today: One more chip gone from my mask.

That was lovely, Hyp. I think the question of "Why am I ashamed? Why should I hide who I am?" comes up to everybody at some points in their life -- maybe not for anything so life-changing as what you're going through -- but so many people would just accept the shame rather than trying to discard it and accept themselves

The hard thing (which is hardly unique to my situation) is having to do it over and over again until it sticks. Stupid brains.