Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Alex 2.0 "Becoming the Man I Am Meant to Be"

My family includes those related by blood and those related by love and choice. In 2010 my nephew-by-choice and by heart Alexandyr Reid-Watkins told me he was transgender and would transition from female to the male. 

Alex has become the man he always was and I am learning from him what it is to be transgender. I invite you to learn along with me through an essay Alex published  June 12, 2015 on a GoFundMe page he set up to raise money for re-assignment surgery, as well as through our subsequent on-line conversations. 

Alex has graciously allowed me to post to my blog his essay along with our Facebook conversations. 

Thank you Alex! 

Alex writes: I came out as trans in early 2010. This was something that was 20 years in the workings. Coming out certainly liberated me.  However, I did not feel complete. I started hormone therapy in May of 2012. That helped me feel more whole. I believe top surgery is one of those things that if completed will combat my dysphoria with my chest. I am not a small chested individual and I am saving up money on the side. It has been a slow process.

I've recently decided to embark on a personal mission: Alex 2.0. The time that I've given myself is 1 1/2 years to become the best possible person I can be. I fell into a depression and let myself go a little bit, but now, I'm working on my physical fitness, as well as saving for surgery and becoming the man I know I'm meant to be.

I am always educating people on trans issues and have no qualms about any trans-related questions, no matter how personal, so long as they are respectful and coming from a place of genuine curiosity. I have lost some friends in the process, but I have also gained tons more and so many friends and family have been supportive of me throughout my transition and for that, I have been eternally grateful. I thought about doing some sort of fundraiser and people recommended that I try gofundme, so, here I am.

I also wish to thank everyone in advance for helping me achieve the one thing that will make me finally feel outwardly how I feel inside. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am planning on having surgery done by a doctor who comes highly recommended to me.  $6,000 is his current price for Double Incision method (the procedure I would need to have done).

Betsy’s comments: All this is new to me and I am grateful for how open Alex is about himself and Alex 2.0, his process of becoming.  And I am grateful for his challenge to me and all of us to go beyond “accepting a trans person because he (she) is your friend.”

I have a lot more to learn and to assimilate and to accept about transgender individuals.  And Alex continues to teach me (and others) through his Facebook posts which I share now with you.

June 5, 2015 Alex posted on Facebook: So, in light of this Caitlyn Jenner story, I have seen both sides of the spectrum as far as acceptance goes and I have seen a lot of trans phobic rhetoric as well. Being an ally is not just accepting a trans person because they are your friend. You can't accept one person as trans and somehow deny other trans people because of certain stipulations you have placed on said friend, i.e. "Well, I don't mind that you're trans, but I don't like other trans people because (insert excuse here)". You're either supportive or you're not. That's it.

Another thing is, I have finally made a GoFundMe website for people who have expressed interest in helping me achieve my goals can support me financially, if they have the means to do so. 

Lastly, as always, thank you all for your continued support. It seriously means the world to me.

Note from Betsy: Unfortunately, Alex was not able to raise enough money through GoFundMe and his website was shut down. 

June 12, 2015 Alex posted on Facebook: I know that there is a lot more research out there nowadays than before. Just note that Google is not always accurate and people's trans experiences are not all the same. Something that may hold true for one trans person may not be the same for another.

For me, no question is off-limits. I do not get offended when people ask personal questions when they are genuinely curious about something. Times are changing and people are learning a little more about trans people, but there is still a real stigma about it. Especially with all the media hype and negative publicity. I personally believe that nowadays, it's probably the hardest person to be (as far as the LGBT spectrum goes anyway) because a lot of people are still really not knowledgeable enough about it or are just too uncomfortable with the notion all together.

June 18, 2015 Alex posted on Facebook: I was reading something today and it led me to a series of thoughts. I have often wondered why people associate gender identity with sexual orientation, and then I realized, even though it's an umbrella, LGBT (and all the other acronyms) are all bound together, so I can clearly see now how people who are unfamiliar with that world confuse them so often. Not saying anything bad about it, but, it does make much more sense now. [Food for thought].

June 20, 2015 Betsy responded on Facebook: Thanks for this. It is confusing I read this and can't separate it all out. Write more please.

June 22, 2015 Alex’s response: Well, I was just meaning how LGB (lesbian, gay, bisexual), all refer to a person's sexual orientation, whereas T (transgender) refers to gender identity. They clump all of them together (LGBTQIA - Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, and asexual) even though being transgender has absolutely NOTHING to do with your sexual orientation whatsoever.

I think that people confuse all the alphabet letters and identities often because they are lumped together and though it is getter better now, people often misunderstand trans people or think that being trans has to do somehow with being gay or lesbian or something else when, in fact, your gender identity (as male or female) makes you male or female.  For example, if you are FTM (female-to-male) and you like women, this does not make you a lesbian because your gender identity is male and you date or are attracted to women, you are considered a heterosexual male. And that works all the way across the board. MTF (male-to-female), if an MTF likes men, they are a heterosexual female. And so on and so forth.

Of course there are many other identities now as we see from the current expansion of alphabet identities:  LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, and asexual) but that is a whole other conversation entirely.