I identify as queer and trans. I was born with a uterus and ovaries, which places me on the part of the spectrum of gender called FTM+, meaning I was labeled female at birth and I no longer find that adequate. For a long time I felt way too queer for Fargo-Moorhead. My Mom gave me unrestricted access to our Hollywood Video account and from age twelve through high school I spent most of my time in my room building my computer and watching movies. I would pick an actress, say Neve Campbell, and watch every last bad movie they were ever in (like, even this really bad one called "Hairshirt"-- I bought it on VHS). I took graphic design classes that allowed me to work on video, and I worked a full-time summer after my junior year to buy my first mini DV camera. With a friend, Eli, who really saw the vision of my writing, I made a lot of music videos and a few shorts based on my prose poetry.
After my last day of high school (June 2005), I packed as much as I could into my buddy's old Volkswagen station wagon and went to stay with two friends who lived right on Loring Park. I skipped graduation.
In August 2005, I turned 18, I met my partner Jill (on myspace), and I got my first apartment and first roommate, Rachel. With Jill I started to explore gender, reading books by Kate Bornstein, Leslie Feinberg, and so many others. Jill was the first person to allow me to be whatever mix of "feminine" and "masculine" I was in each moment. I started my freshman year at the U and joined Tranarchy through the Queer Student Cultural Center. Everything was falling into place until I got sick.
First, doctors thought I had an ulcer. We got a second opinion. And a third. By the time I got to Mayo Clinic, doctors had diagnosed me with chronic pancreatitis and put me on a hurricane of pills with enzymes and acid reducers. I took six chalky little pills with each meal. More than anything, I was upset that all of these appointments had put my journey on hold. I failed every class my first semester.
I was "on the mend" my second semester (and this time only failed one class) when I decided that I probably couldn't afford to go to school any more. I had too many medical bills. Something about all of that medicine made me feel so unlike my self. Jill and I decided to take a break and I spent the summer at home and at the downtown library. I read Sartre, Heidegger, Ginsberg, Wilber, Thich Nhat Hanh, and anything else I could find that felt like spirituality,
My roommate left, I ran out of money, and I got evicted. In August 2006 I started working a full-time job at a boring office in Minnetonka. Then I started working almost-full-time delivering pizza for Domino's. I did both, together, for almost a year, and in that time also acted in The Vagina Monologues and started volunteering my time to read and write with kids. Jill and I got back together. Through being in TVM I worked a lot to maintain my identities and share my critiques of the show with fellow actors and with the audience. I went to Jigna Desai's class "The Politics of Sex" (which Jill was in) to discuss the limited scope of TVM. Jigna made me want to go back to school right away.
I totaled my car when an SUV ran a red light as I drove back to Domino's. In May 2007, Jill moved into my post-eviction apartment in Elliot Park. We started planning the first Twin Cities Trans March with a few other folks. We met (at least) twice a week to throw the march together in about two months. The police revoked our permit on the spot as we approached the street in front of the Gay 90's where we intended to rally. We held our ground, but almost got arrested.
In September 2007 I had saved enough money for Jill and I to get a new apartment together. With a new job as a barista, I set about getting the College of Liberal Arts to readmit me for Spring 2008. Surprisingly enough, they did.
Now. Now I'm in "therapy" at the U of M's Program in Human Sexuality. Next month I'm going to start taking testosterone to help achieve my desired appearance. I'm also going to have a hysterectomy, oophorectomy, and double mastectomy as soon as I can afford them. I am building the body I see for myself. I'm keeping track of it all on video with the hope of making stories like mine more visible. I'm also interviewing other folks who identify as trans or as part of a Twin Cities trans community with the hopes of mixing our stories together into something closer to full-length. At the same time, I'm archiving and cutting the same interviews for a more traditional documentary about trans communities in the Twin Cities. I'm still planning Trans March, but now I'm also a member of the Transgender Commission at the U and of the MN Transgender Health Coalition.
My life is becoming the amalgamation of my theory and practice.