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On the creepiness of identity

For a long, long time I had this ongoing problem during many of my mornings. And sometimes throughout the day. Especially when looking at mirrors.

Basically, I'd wake up, and then be confronted with the incredible, uncanny, creepy horror of being. Of identity. Of being a specific person in a specific body with which I live a specific life.

The thought process went something like this:

"wait... wha??? What's going on?

Where am I?

What's I?

What are these things attached to me?

Arms... legs... ummmm...

Oh yeah! I'm me!

Ewww. That's scary. Who's me?

Oh yeah! I'm Boyname McSurname!

AGHHH!!! That's fucked up!!! I don't want to be Boyname McSurname!!!

Why do I have to be SOMEBODY???"

And gradually the sensation would fade. Usually aided by the little mantra I developed along the lines of "well, you have to be somebody in order to be anybody".

There were a number of things that could trigger that same horror and sense of unease with having a specific identity. Mirrors were definitely a big one, if I accidentally began meditating upon the fact that that was ME. WHO I AM. Another surefire way to incite the worst kind of this anxiety and dread would be repeating my name to myself... "Boyname, Boyname, Boyname, Boyname"... gradually it depersonalized into a signifier for an individual. And once that happened came the horror that I (the intangible self) was merely a conceptual analog to that individual.

I've met about one other person in my life who seems to have totally understood this precise neurosis. I don't know how common it is.

A lot of it was obviously tied to the GID thing. "Wow, a trans woman felt a profound sense of alienation from her male identity? YOU DON"T SAY!!!"

Transition certainly helped tremendously.

But the thing is.... it hasn't entirely gone away.

It no longer is triggered by waking up and the recognition of myself. It's definitely no longer triggered by mirrors. And it's only slightly triggered by repetition of my name. But still...

It came around yesterday, when I began reflecting on the path my life has taken. Specifically how with each passing moment, with each decision, with each accomplishment, that is one less OPTION pruned from the tree of my life's possibilities. Increasingly, we narrow down from the amazing, beautiful potentials of a life down to the singular life actually lived.

For instance, the anxieties I expressed last night about how although I am now achieving a modicum of success with my writing, it is in a VERY different form than the kinds I'd anticipated and imagined for myself. The possibilities have now been reduced to a reality.

And with that, the specificity of an identity grows. As a child I was a slate upon which could be inscribed a thousand lives. Now I am increasingly following a given path that is mine, and it alone can I follow.

How can that NOT reawaken that fear of being a specific person? Of having to be SOMETHING in order to be ANYTHING.

I'd much rather be anything.

I am starting a livejournal...

Hello everyone!

I'm Natalie Reed.

(sort of)

I write for a blog called Skepchick.org, which is about science and skepticism from a women's and feminist perspective, and I run Queereka.com, which is more or less the same but from an LGBTQ perspective.

I mostly write about gender theory, feminism and transgenderism. At least thus far. I'm hoping to expand out into other things. People seem to like what I do, though I'm not entirely sure why. Yesterday I was named #5 most influential female atheist of 2011 by Blag Hag (Jen McCreight). That was pretty awesome.

I'm 27 years old. I'm unemployed and live on welfare, in a rooming house in East Vancouver (near the Joyce-Collingwood Skytrain). I'm a male-to-female transsexual and have been full-time since July, and have been on HRT for just a little over a year. I used to have a severe heroin addiction but have been clean for 15 months. I'm a high school drop-out, but got a GED and later a BA in literature, literary theory, poetics and linguistics from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA (2007).

I'm 5'11, 140 lbs, have brown hair that I currently dye a vibrant shade of burgundy, green eyes, and tiny itty bitty little wrists. Really, they're quite impressive.

I was born in Victoria, mostly grew up in a little village on Nova Scotia's south shore, spent my high school years in North Carolina and Virginia, went to college in Olympia (as mentioned), spent a little town bouncing around from place to place like Boise, ID, Tucson, AZ and Shropshire, England, before finally "settling" in Vancouver, where I've been for almost two years now.

Some random stuff I love: Don Quixote, linguistics, neuroscience, Totoro, Doctor Who, My Little Pony, Joanna Newsom, biology, Dr. Strange, abstract expressionism, Benjamin Britten, The Smiths, The Velvet Underground, Mazzy Star, Ingmar Bergman (especially Wild Strawberries), chess, arthropods, Virginia Woolf, guns, poetry (seriously), fashion, Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, skepticism, feminism, atheism, trans-feminism, trans-atheism (is that a thing? it is NOW), Carl Sagan, Julia Serano, Ludwig Wittgenstein, jewelry, Tindersticks, Samuel Beckett, comic books (especially those "grown-up" ones without superheroes in them), The Sundays, dinosaurs, Final Fantasy, Woody Allen, Dungeons & Dragons and indian food.


Anyway... about this LJ...

See, I find it kind of weird that I'm writing about gender theory for science and skepticism blogs.

That is NOT exactly the kind of thing I really envisioned myself doing, to be honest.

I know... life doesn't turn out how we plan. And I'm enormously grateful for the success I've garnered since I began blogging, really really really I am. It's not like I've found myself with this terrific platform and voice and opportunity and am spitting on it because it's not EXACTLY what I had envisioned for myself whatever-many years ago.

But... the work I've been doing, it's not really for me. It's been out of a sense of obligation. Like, that I have the opportunity and means available to be doing some advocacy work for the trans community and helping educate and build awareness, so therefore I'd be a bitch not to actually act upon that and take it as a means of doing exactly that.

I feel like I owe it. To the trans community, to skepticism, to feminism, to future generations of trans girls and boys, to other trans skeptics and feminists, etc. I need to do my part to help.

But still... I have creative impulses and needs, and I have a great many thoughts that have FUCK ALL to do with skepticism or LGBT stuff. I have a life and existence. I have interests and passions and hopes and fears and obsessions and neuroses and bad habits like using "and" quite a bit while writing a series of nouns or discrete concepts. I have an inner life.

And there is such a multitude of aspects to my life and who I am that I feel I simply an unable to express in my primary platform, and even if I were able, really, it wouldn't be appropriate. Who would care?

The blog I work for is, in short, not my fucking diary, nor should it be.

And yet I still wish to give these aspects to my life and being a voice, and to represent them to myself (at least), lest I forget who I am. I don't want to forget that I'm MORE than just this stupid fucking birth defect (teh tranz) and the shitty socio-cultural dynamics it saddled me with. I don't want to forget that long before I ever became "A Skeptic" I loved poetry and art and humans and stuff. Thingy stuff of things. I want to give all of that... the 90% of who I am that doesn't quite belong on Skepchick... I want to give it space too.

And I want to have a space, and a location for writing, that is for ME. Not for the trans community, or for "creating a more inclusive skeptics' movement", or for helping "push our culture in the direction of free-thinking critical inquiry and evidence-based reasoning", or for "promoting critical thinking about the nature of gender and sexuality", or whatever. Just me. And some friends.

And finally...

I've also had some people I know (Anna J., specifically) express a bit of interest in hearing about some of the "fluffier" subject matter associated with transsexuality and transition. Things that aren't Big Important Statements On The Nature Of Gender. Things that are just little bits of a trans life. The kind of thing that while not necessarily being right for a high-profile skepticism blog, is still the kind of thing that maybe can help people understand what a trans life is.... help cis people, and help people who are considering transition themselves.

So... um... yeah!

This will be a space for talking about me, my thoughts, my life... just going about being Natalie, in all the myriad ways she exists. A little casual space for me and my friends.

Thanks for reading!


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