trigger warning for sexual violence, physical violence, and self-harm. please consider this warning appropriate to all links in this entry. thank you!
Once upon a time, i was a miserable boy-thing from the wrong end of some assy state. I believed my life would never amount to a thing and that i would be dead in the next year.
Once upon a time, i slashed my wrists. Pretty good, actually. I went to the “mental facility” for youth that covered the whole state. It was shortly after a “medical professional” had committed some ugly and horrible violence against me. It wouldn’t be the first time i was raped, and sadly it wouldn’t be the last. He broke part of my face, which is why i’m asymmetrical.
Once upon a time, i told a therapist what was wrong with me and expected that she would humilate me, lock me away forever, or try to torture it out of me. I didn’t know where those fears came from, but i know damn well now.
Once upon a time, that therapist cocked her head sideways, looked at me, and told me there was nothing weird about that at all. And i was sure, SURE i was being tricked. And i was sure, SURE i was Making A Horrible Mistake, i was sure that i’d be locked away forever, where perverts and deviants were.
Once upon a time, she went to the psychiatrist who oversaw the place to attempt to intervene with my “family member”, my less-than-stellar mother, and explain what was wrong with Little pre-Erica. Her supervising shrink, a stern white man with an eternal frown, explained it to her that “You will have a corpse, or you accept having a daughter.” It sounds almost ridiculous, it sounds almost preposterous. Once upon a time, i was ashamed of how this sounded. I bent the details to avoid it because it sounded so preposterous. Once upon a time, i believed i had to make my narrative sound right, which diminishes infinitely that once upon a time, that man was the first person to point at me and call me “she” and “her”.
Once upon a time, i started writing a journal. That quote above was the first words i wrote. Along with that “Dear Diary: My name is “Erica (lastname).” Shame how that didn’t work out, but maybe i am no Erica after all. Once upon a time i was…but you’ll see this is no story of once upon a time at all.
Once upon a time, i believed this to be a curse, i believed this to be something i deserved, i believed this to be a horrible flaw in my being. I believed this to be what would forever make me lesser. I believed this to make me a deviant and a pervert.
Once upon a time, i had to jump through ridiculous hoops to be able to get basic affirmation of who i was and what i was. Though the folks where i came from were understanding, the “gender therapist” who was the only option who’d see me in my area considered me something between an annoyance and a dress-up doll. He groped me more than once, pissed that i didn’t have “real breasts” and that i was doing my darndest when you’re forty inches around and flat as a board. He reminded me, constantly, of all the things i wasn’t. He used my dread pronoun “it.” He ridiculed my hair, he told me ugly girls need to know how to wear makeup, he mocked how i sat. He had an almost prurient interest in if i liked the boys and if i had told them my HORRIBLE SECRET. See, once upon a time, you had to be heterosexual, or lying about it, to survive the Standards Of Care. It wasn’t that long ago, the US was on its first President Bush and i wasn’t exactly in some backwater town, either.
Once upon a time, i cleared his approval. I still hate all the hoops i jumped through and the fact that i played Little Princess Doll-Thing to get his approval. Once upon a time, i thought i’d never forgive myself for lying to him so i could be a Real Transsexual. I’m getting over that, slowly.
Once upon a time, i bought the rhetoric of being a Real Transsexual. I bought that self-loathing and hurting other trans women was acceptable. I am responsible for coming up, with some assistance, with one of the ephitets that gets hurled at trans women by other trans women now and then. I’m so, so, so, so, so sorry. Once upon a time, i believed that i had to do things like that. Once upon a time, i thought my invisibility in the cisarchy made me a better person than ‘those transsexuals’. Again, so, so, so, so, so sorry. Once upon a time, i believed that the age i transitioned at gave me some moral superiority…something i obviously now know to be bullshit, it’s just a goddamn number, it just tilts the number of years i got to be the right gender in my favor, and that’s a blessing, but it doesn’t make anyone better or worse, no matter what that number is. Once upon a time, i let myself be what transfundamentalists wanted, and like every story with a hapless girl who’s someone’s pawn, i didn’t end up with Princess Charming, i ended up being an evil stepsister. Once upon a time, i saw no shame in that. Now, i see it’s nothing but shame, internalized and externalized.
Once upon a time, i spent the next two decades of my life in a never-ending chain of self-loathing, being medicated into a stupor by people who “knew better” and promised “horrible consequences” if i stopped. I made small advances and believed them to be huge victories. I went with the flow. I was what other people wanted me to be. I was Erica-by-committee.
Once upon a time, i believed that Erica-by-committee was all i could be. I believed it was all i ever deserved to be. People felt sorry for Erica-by-committee. People pitied the pathetic little ball of horrors untold and unsaid, until i got angry and lashed out or freaked out. Once upon a time, those horrors lived right under my skin, plain as day to anyone who could see, but i would never talk of them. Better to be an asshole to someone than show your weakness, right? Or so i thought, once upon a time.
So to that deeply unwise boy-thing which slashed their wrists once upon a time on this, the 10th of February, i wish i could go back and tell you that Erica-by-committee is not something to be, i wish i could figure out how to have screamed without using a scissors, i wish i could i wish i could. I wish i hadn’t been such an angry, afraid mess because of how other trans women treated me. I wish i had stopped running from myself and stopped the dread psychmed cocktail sooner. I wish, i wish, i wish. We wish because it’s raging against something we can’t change, but we wish because it distracts us from what we actually *do* need to change. Once upon a time, i needed a committee, i needed other people to tell me who i was. Once upon a time, i wasn’t even a person, i was just a massive pile of self-defense that lashed out at good people and let toxic, awful people into my life, further alienating the good people. It’s a shame, but that too is once upon a time. I mean, the upshot to all this is that i did kill that miserable little boy-thing. I got to be all the things i got to be since then, both good and bad, both beautiful and horrible.
But once upon a time is just once upon a time. It’s a term from fairy stories to teach little boys to be tough and to lull little girls into complacency. Our lives must be so much more than once upon a time. I must be so much more than once upon a time. Because once upon a time is how you live in the past, how you give dominion and control to others, how you never take responsibility for your own life. Because when you live in ‘once upon a time’, your time is never now.
Besides, i want to make my own Happily Erica After on my own terms…er, i mean…Happily Ever After. I hope you’ll make your own, too…and maybe give Princess Charming my number?