My feelings on being called Brave

I’ve been called brave a lot in my life. I’ve been called brave lately for starting T, starting medical transition because I am a trans man.

Other reasons i’ve been called brave: I was born with VACteRL Association (It’s an acronym, there is a reason it’s capitalized like that) aka i’m a medical mess. I even got shit wrong with me that don’t fit into vacterl. I was born disabled and in chronic pain and I will die that way. I do not know what a minute without pain is like or what it’s like to be abled.

I’m bisexual and a nonbinary trans man surrounded by people who think that’s a sin, living in a world that wants people like me dead. In particular the trans part.

I’m also surrounded by people who think me being Wiccan is demonic.

I had to recently stop talking to my dad because he refuses to accept me as Tyler, his son.

I’m autistic and have adhd and did not know this until my 30s. I also have anxiety, depression, and ptsd (for multiple reasons, both simple and complex).

I’ve been abused from multiple people. I’ve been used. I’ve been raped. I’ve been in situations where I should be dead.

Hell that last part is my entire life. I was born with vacterl association because of lead where my mom worked, a glass factory, when she was pregnant with me. They tested their employees lead levels once a year (i’m 34 so this was the 80s btw) and it came up when she was 2-3 months pregnant with me. The doctors tested hers and mine. They said she should have been dead or at least a vegetable, and I, or the fetus that became me, should have been a miscarriage. Logically, it makes no sense that I am here. My mom quit working there immediately upon learning that. But it didn’t stop there. There are other situations in my life where I shouldn’t be alive ranging from an abusive boyfriend to a house fire I was in. I was saved by my neighbor with a ladder.

Statistically, people like me often unalive themselves, and i’ve had thoughts of doing just that for over 20 years now. Physically disabled, neurodivergent, queer and trans, mental health issues … I wonder what the statistics would say about me.

Prior to starting T just last month I know that’s where I was headed. I realized I had 2 options. 1 Attempt to be myself, transition, try to live as a trans man, as who I am or 2 suicide. This is me trying to live.

I became a widow in my early 30s. Jan 17th, 2021 my mommom died, during a time me and my husband were moving into our own home and I was also learning i’m autistic, and we moved in late January and February 16th, my husband died. My husband and my mommom were the 2 people in my life who I knew loved me and accepted me as I am. I don’t think my mommom “got” it, but she accepted me. She called me Tyler. I had come out as nonbinary at 30 and socially asked people to use my name Tyler. I talked to my husband about wanting to transition (but medical reasons and disability delayed me starting) and he supported me. Now … I just started a month ago and he’s not here with me. As excited as I am about transitioning … it’s bittersweet. I really, really wish he was here with me. I know he’d be proud of me. I know he’d want me to be happy.

So … after that brief story of my life … how do I feel about being called brave?

Well, I finally know it’s true. I am brave. To go through all that, and to continue to, every single day. To still be here, to still breathe, to exist. Just existing as someone like me is brave. It shouldn’t be, but it is.

I know it’s true. And I appreciate that it’s seen by people. That all this bravery isn’t invisible. Because it’s fucking hard and it hurts. So yea, I know it’s true and I appreciate it when people call me brave … but … yes, there’s a but. But I shouldn’t have to be. I shouldn’t have to be this brave. I shouldn’t have to be brave just to exist. It’s exhausting and it’s painful and no one should have to be brave like this, just to exist as themselves, as myself. Brave just to breathe. I should have a right to exist peacefully as me.

I know i’m far from alone in this. Having to be brave just to exist. If you relate to having to be brave just to exist, you aren’t alone. You shouldn’t have to go through this. This world is deeply fucked up, and I will never fully wrap my head around why. I like to believe I see a glimmer of hope for the future though…

So no, i’m not offended, I know i’m brave and I appreciate it, but what other choice do I have? It’s be brave … or die.

And I don’t want to die without at least trying to be myself. I’d seriously regret not even trying.

I don’t want to die before legally changing my name (i’m currently working on it).

I don’t want to die without trying to actually live.

You can say i’m brave, but i’ll just think, “Yes, but what other choice do I have?”

Wednesday Wrap Up August 17th, 2022

I know it’s been 2 weeks again since the last one but I had nothing to post last week really. Hell, I don’t have much now.

What I am currently reading

Nothing at the moment.

What i’ve recently finished

Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law by Haban Girma – 5 stars!

This is a wonderful autobiography! I loved how stories from her life was told in the present tense, it felt so much more personal. It’s also infused with humor. You can learn so much from this, in an accessible way and having a nice time while doing it. Please read the discussion questions at the end, they give food for thought.

I have also been disabled my entire life but for entirely different reasons. I am neither deaf nor blind. I do have auditory processing disorder though so when she mentions there was too much noise to make anything out, I relate to that. I can’t make anything out in those situations either.

She’s the first deafblind student to graduate Harvard, and she’s barely 6 months older than me. We still have so far to go, but that’s not meant to take away from how far we’ve come.

What do I think i’ll read next?

Something for netgalley? A magazine? Who knows. Maybe something else.

Other Stuff

Me and my mom are sick. It’s not covid but it still sucks and I can’t get a break because it’s one thing after another trying to recover from intense surgery still and now i’m sick on top of it and my body has a lot of trouble healing in the best of circumstances :(. But the drain sites look better so hopefully in time i’ll get better. If this cold doesn’t turn into pneumonia which they love to do with me. Please, send good vibes or whatever.

Links to all my socials

10 Books that define my reading taste Part 5

The last part!

The Haunting by Ruby Jean Jensen

A wonderful horror novel! Tackles grief and sexism. Loved the characters and depth and creepy atmosphere.

The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite

A F/F historical fiction romance. My initial review …

I freaking loved this! I adored the characters, especially Lucy. A very strong woman who knows what she wants and doesn’t take crap. Don’t get me wrong, she has her insecurities for sure, but she still has a strength within her than shines. Catherine has been hurt in the past and is very insecure in the beginning despite having the countess act down in public. She hides it well but she’s hurting. I loved her character arc and seeing her grow stronger. Both women have their own interests and personalities that I really enjoyed getting to see. Both are interesting characters that I loved in their own rights. I also felt for Catherine with what she had been through and some stuff rang quite true for me too.

A beautiful sapphic historical romance.

Bodymap by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Poetry about being a queer disabled femme of color. Raw, emotional, heart-breaking, thought-provoking, beautiful. I related to some of it, being queer, afab, and disabled myself.

Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft & Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon

Wonderful biography on Mary Shelley and her mother Mary Wollstonecraft! Told in alternating chapters it came together really well and I learned so much about them. Amazing women! Amazing, and humanized.

To Touch the Light by E.M. Lindsey

A latino gay trans man (also a chef) and a undocumented immigrant from Russia (forced out of Russia) who is half-blind, Jewish and gay. Age gap. M/M Chanukah HEA romance.

The Deep by Rivers Solomon

Hard-hitting, fantasy, packs a powerful punch, educational to boot. It has themes of being oneself, of being a part of a group and having a group history, of kinship, trauma, climate change. I’m sure there is even stuff I missed. It has powerful messages wrapped in a fantasy story with merfolk

Ghost Story by Peter Straub

A ghost story that’s not quite a ghost story. Very creepy, the writing flows, strong atmosphere, loved the characters. Easy to read while being complex.

Rare and Resilient – ONE in 5000 Anthology by Greg Ryan

Here is my entire review because I can’t figure out how to shorten it.

I was born with imperforate anus (IA) AKA no butt hole. Like one in 5000 people around the world. Yes, it’s real. There is no cure as it causes other life long issues, even after surgery. I have always been and always will be incontinent. I used to do enemas/malone, currently have a colostomy (again, had one as a baby). I also have other issues related to VACteRL Association (used to be called VAteR Syndrome) as many of us born with IA/ARM do (but not all. And ARM stands for anorectal malformation). It’s not laziness. It’s an invisible disability that causes pain, trauma, medical procedures, doctor visits, surgeries etc. Each person with IA can have a different story. Some have more issues, some have less. What works for one person, might not work for the next.

It also causes a lot of shame. And growing up when I did, the internet barely existed and as a teen I had internet but it was dial up and certainly not like it is now. Now we have facebook groups and ways to talk to others in the same boat, which is amazing, but I and many others didn’t have that growing up (and some still don’t depending on where they live/their situation) so we literally felt completely alone, like no one understood, because it’s so rare. I’m in my 30s and to my knowledge , i’ve never met anyone else with vacterl or IA/ARM. Though it is an invisible disability, so who knows, I might have.

The shame and stigma need to end, but it’s going to be hard getting there as these issues are so taboo. There needs to be more awareness and understanding. Something Greg Ryan and the one in 5000 foundation are working towards.

It is so wonderful, on one hand, to read these stories, to see myself in so much of them, to know there are others out there who understand, going through the same things. Feeling all alone is the absolute worst. But on the other, it’s a double edged sword, as I would NEVER wish these issues on anyone. No, not even my worst enemy. After that though I must mention there is also plenty of hope in these pages. Also plenty of emotion and it is heart-wrenching.

I’m beginning to see just how strong I am. But … can I please get a break?

Btw, it’s also on KU.

The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love with Me by Keah Brown

This book is a memoir/essays by a black disabled woman with so much honesty, truth and power in the pages! Honestly I wish I knew how to describe it, but all I can say is the affect it had on me, an afab (nonbinary) disabled person. I don’t know what it’s like to be black, i’m white. I learned a lot from this book, from where I didn’t relate personally but also from where I did, with being disabled (though with different medical issues) as well as the talk about depression and suicidal ideation.

It showed me that though i’ve already been working on having disability pride and unlearning internalized ableism, as someone who has also been disabled my entire life and always will be, I still have a lot more to learn/unlearn. Some of it felt like a much needed punch to the gut! It wasn’t easy to hear some of it, but I know I needed it.

This was incredibly emotional for me, and some of it i’m just like “how do I get there?”. I’m still working on a lot of things, but life is a journey and as long as i’m working on it, that’s what matters.

Transmuted by Eve Harms

As a deformed trans person myself this hit so many feels! The feelings of dysphoria, of being fetishized, of being looked at like a freak, of feeling like a freak. The way people treat you. I loved Isa. I want to gush about this book but i’m at a loss for words. I read it on KU and had to buy myself a physical copy.

Links to all my socials

10 Books that define my reading taste part 2

I came up with 50 potential books for this and instead of narrowing it down to 10 I decided to make 5 posts lol. Here is part 2.

It by Stephen King

Horror. Very character-driven. I absolutely love character-driven and getting to know the characters! Coming of age.

Krampus: The Yule Lord by Brom

Fantasy. Holiday. Reminds me to not be a Grinch during the holidays. Emotional.

Better Off Red by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Paranormal romance. Vampires. F/F. Much erotic-ness. But also emotional with some depth. Romance. First book in a trilogy and for some stupid reason I never continued. I have it on audio now and need to reread it since I own all 3 physically.

Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal

Nonfiction. Animals. ❤

Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner

Character depth. Friendships. Action. YA Fantasy. Queer. F/F.

Defining Myself: Transmasculine Experience Through Poetry by Michael Eric Brown

I am transmasc. Transmasculine poetry. I cried. A lot. Related so hard to this!

Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe

I also related a lot to this! A Nonfiction autobiography about growing up nonbinary and asexual. I am not asexual but I am nonbinary and I wish i’d had this as a teenager. It would have helped tremendously! I am so glad it exists now and I wish people would quit banning it!

Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-first Century edited by Alice Wong

Nonfiction essays by disabled people about disability. These 37 essays feature a huge diversity of disabled people! Queer, Trans, People of Color, physical and mental disabilities, all very much featured in here! It’s accessible and so very much needed. If I could ask everyone to read just ONE book, it’d be this one! No question about it!

The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen

Fantasy. Fairy-Tale. I love The Little Mermaid.

We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir by Samra Habib

Exactly what it says, a queer Muslim memoir.

Have you read any of these? Thoughts?

Links to all my socials

10 Books i’ve loved so far this year!

Misery by Stephen King

I found this terrifying and realistic! I’ve been abused, and manipulated. And I know people like Annie exist in fandom. I also have many medical issues and often need to put my life in Dr’s and nurses hands. This has an evil nurse in it. Normally I avoid such books. I couldn’t stop reading though. It was so engaging while terrifying me senseless. It’s relatable to my own worst realistic fears. I was hooked the entire time. The characters were believable and fleshed out.

The Ghost Next Door by R.L. Stine

Major TW for fire and I was in a house fire in 2012.

This is so well written and plotted. The characters have depth. There’s foreshadowing and emotion. There was so much to it.

I’m disabled (always have been) and there is some talk of disability in it (not a major part) and having been in a house fire, these 2 things make it mean a lot when I say this book gets all the stars from me. I’ve hated books because of how they dealt with disability or characters that were just in a traumatic fire situation. I loved this book!

I think it’s the only Goosebumps book that’s made me sob.

Far Sector by N.K. Jemisin

A thought-provoking and action-packed superhero story! Has mystery, dealt with social issues, wonderful art and characters. This might make me get into superhero’s!

Tastes Like Candy by Ivy Tholen

I loved this slasher! The slow start didn’t bother me, we were getting to know the characters. It was funny at times and nostalgic (and made me feel old relating to the mom about growing up in the 90s lol). The deaths were creative and heart-wrenching because I cared about the characters. I did not guess the killer! The book punched me in the feels and made me cry. It’s a slasher with depth. This is why I love horror.

When Aidan Became A Brother by Kyle Lukoff

A wonderful children’s book about a trans boy who gets a little sibling! It is own voices. It celebrates a child who understands their gender identity isn’t the one they were assigned at birth. Aidan picked his new name, clothes, changed his bedroom into one that felt right. Aidan’s mother got pregnant and he loved helping pick clothes for the baby, paint the nursery, and helped with the baby’s name. People asked Aidan if he wanted a brother or sister. He didn’t have an answer. He’s just worried about being a good big brother. His mother explains no matter who the new baby turns out to be, they would be lucky to have Aidan as a brother. It’s so sweet!

Transmuted by Eve Harms

As a deformed trans person myself this hit so many feels! The feelings of dysphoria, of being fetishized, of being looked at like a freak, of feeling like a freak. The way people treat you. I loved Isa. It’s one of those books I wanna gush about but am at a loss for words. A transgender body horror story. Highly recommend!

The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum

Based on a true story. Neighborhood kids, and her aunt, hold a teenage girl captive and brutally torture her. It’s a very hard read. Not for the writing, but the content. It shows just how we’re all capable of such evil. How decent people can be capable of evil deeds, and sometimes that includes doing nothing. How adults don’t listen to children. This book will have you sobbing.

Growing Up Trans: In Our Own Words edited by Lindsay Herriot and Kate Fry

This book is so very much needed! Trans youth in their OWN words! Tips, book recommendations for further reading … I highly recommend this. I don’t know what else to say other than please read it.

Golem girl by Riva Lehrer

An autobiography. Born in 1958 with spina bifida she wasn’t expected to survive. Her parents and doctors are determined to “fix” her, sending the message over and over again that she is broken. Telling her she’ll never have a job, a romantic relationship or an independent life. She tried her best to be a good girl and a good patient in the quest to be cured.

Then everything changes when as an adult she is invited to join a group of artists, writers and performers who are building disability culture. Their work is daring, edgy, funny, and dark—it rejects tropes that define disabled people as pathetic, frightening, or worthless. They insist that disability is an opportunity for creativity and resistance. Emboldened, Riva asks if she can paint their portraits—inventing an intimate and collaborative process that will transform the way she sees herself, others, and the world. Each portrait story begins to transform the myths she’s been told her whole life about her body, her sexuality, and other measures of normal.

She is also Jewish and queer. This is an amazing autobiography and I listened to it, she narrates it. I loved listening to it and I listened to it via Libby and HAD to buy myself a physica copy. I know I don’t pick up everything as well via audio so I want to read it. And then listen to it again.

This is one of those books I wish everyone would read! I loved listening to her and learning her story. I need more memoirs like this, by disabled people.

The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz

It takes place in retro-futuristic America. Clara is an AI repair tech and a wanderer. Sal is a fully autonomous robot. Older than the law declaring her kind illegal due to ethical concerns. At best, she’s out of place, at worst, she’s vilified. She continues to run a tea shop previously owned by her long-dead master, lost in memories of the past, struggling to fulfill her master’s dream for the shop as she slowly breaks down.

They meet by chance, but as they begin to spend time together, they both start to wrestle with the concept of moving on…

A F/F retro-future sci-fi asexual romance. A story about artificial intelligence and real kindness and about love. Also the HUMAN is the asexual one, not the robot.

It was such a sweet romance! I wanted to hug Sal so badly. I was crying at the end. If you want a sweet f/f asexual romance, pick it up!

My All Time Favorite Book: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley (and in particular the original 1818 version) is my TOP favorite book. I got really into reading near the end of 2015, and I had always wanted to read ‘Frankenstein’, so I did. I had no idea at the time there is more than one version so I ended up picking up the 1831, more conservative (because pressure apparently) version. Read it, enjoyed it. Later I heard about the different versions and I looked it up, realized I hadn’t read her original version, so I fixed that, and I fell in love!

Possible spoilers for the book down below.

I feel so much for the creature. As someone who has deformities (though not always obvious, because I have a hemangioma which is big and ugly but it’s on the back of my right leg, from my knee to my privates, yes on my right labia. I also have 9 fingers because of a hypoplastic left thumb at birth but had pollicization surgery at age 2 but even though that’s always visible, unlike the hemangioma because pants, people rarely notice that and I don’t even want to count the hand thing because it’s so minor but I guess technically it is? My left thumb now was my index finger originally and still looks exactly like my right index finger, it’s just in the thumb spot. I would get stares and questions, pity and disgust, when I wore shorts or skirts to school because of the hemangioma but I was never going to sweat to death because of it) and is disabled I felt like I related a lot to the creature.

People run from him because of how he looks. His own father abandoned him, because of how he looks. No matter how hard the creature tries, people can not get past how he looks. I understand his eventual anger and frustration, he was treated horribly and all he wanted was a friend. He deserved a friend, but people are so shallow. Am I excusing his eventual actions? Hell no! But none of it had to happen and I can understand his pain (to some degree at least). There’s a bit more to my story that i’m not currently sharing but suffice it to say I want to give the creature a hug and befriend him. My love for the book is why i’m scared to watch any movie “adaptation” because i’ve heard how they get the creature all wrong and everything. If anyone that also likes the book knows of a good adaptation (tv, movie, even another book/story) please let me know because I want to experience it all! I’ll even get around to the other movies at some point, just so I know.

I’ve read ‘Frankenstein’ 5 times, in different editions. I have multiple copies of ‘Frankenstein’. First read was the 1831 version before I knew it wasn’t the original. Then i’ve read a few different editions of the 1818 version where they had different essays/annotations etc. (and one had annotated all the differences between the 1818 and 1831 versions).

I hope to at some point re-read my different editions (and maybe more) taking notes on so many different things!! I’m positive this will be far from my last post about ‘Frankenstein’! Though don’t worry if you don’t care about ‘Frankenstein’, i’ll have plenty other things to post about as well and won’t post all the ‘Frankenstein’ stuff all at once! It’ll take awhile. 🙂 I also got obsessed with learning more about Mary Shelley and highly recommend the book ‘Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft & Mary Shelley’ by Charlotte Gordon if you want to know more about her and her mother, both amazing women!

Am I obsessed? Maybe. But it gives me such joy to think about!

I also feel a bit weird though that my favorite is a classic as I don’t want to seem snobby. I can certainly enjoy other classics too but I also read nearly everything under the sun. Horror, Contemporary, Romance, YA, Middle Grade, Children’s and more. ‘Frankenstein’ just happened to become my favorite, because of reasons. And no, I don’t think people who love classics are snobs, but I used to.

Honestly I started this post thinking it’d be a “My All Time Favorite Books (so far)” post but it seems better to leave it here. ‘Frankenstein’ is my number one. I’ll make other posts with more. And of course all this is just my personal thoughts and opinions.

Thank you for reading. Leave any thoughts down below!

The particular book above was bought at (I think that particular cover is gone now though)