what it TRULY feels like to be transgender

What I’m about to post doesn’t need much introduction. Lee Mokobe, an inspiring, South African poet has better vocabulary to express what I feel. Her words will speak not only to your mind but hopefully, your heart.

What does it truly feel to be transgender?

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#PrideMonth entry 1: my best friend

Five years ago (in uni), I was blessed with the most amazing debate partner anyone could ask for, and he’s still one of my best friends. Everyday, I’m grateful that he is who he is and that I got to meet him. If there was anyone to discriminate against him – call him names, deprive him of rights, belittle him, I will not sit idly, and watch. I’ll make sure they (whoever they are) understand that no one deserves to be treated that way. As much as I can logically argue for rights, I would admit that LGBT, in particular, is a personal cause for me. When I hear people say that gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry or adopt kids, they’re saying that my best friend who, for the past tumultuous six years of my life, has been a rock and a supporter, is not good enough to reaffirm his love for another or build a family just because of his sexual preference. That, I cannot stand. Who you are and who you choose to love is not reason to be treated with any less dignity than any other person. You deserve to be seen as an equal because you are. 

weight for me

Get it? Weight? Forgive me, my very patient readers, I feel unusually punny this morning.

I was still young when I first discovered the social standards of what’s an “acceptable body type”. Even then, it perplexed me. How can there be a standard for bodies when there are at least 7 billion people in the world, with obviously very different frames and figures? What’s even more confusing is the decreasing number on the scale that’s religiously celebrated by TV ads, magazines and fashion shows—soon enough in the streets of cities and the hide outs of far flung towns too.

Body image is both a personal and a social concept. Much of how we objectify beauty  is caused by the culture we live in. Beauty in an African town, not yet reached by the claws of New York runways, may be an exquisite, dark-skinned lady with a short, curly hair and hefty womb, ideal for child-rearing. In Japan, it could be captivating doll eyes and a petite frame, emphasized by a bright eye make-up and pastel, baby doll dresses. In fashion week, it’s a size zero, thigh-gapped, perfectly-sculpted, 5’7 and above model walking down the runway for some of the biggest names in the industry.

What’s my point there? That even in a very superficial and judgmental society,  beauty is and always will be relative.

r151l15822_52518de69606ee096dd4feb5 (1)

This isn’t the part where I say, well be unhealthy and and raise you middle finger in mock salute to those who eat greens. That’s not my intention.

If the world gets to set standards on beauty, so can you. Make it personal; make it about you. Embrace your curves, your slim figure, your bum, your muscles—everything about you. If you still wanna lose some weight, fine. Go for it! Before you do that though, make sure you love yourself first because if you’re counting on loving yourself when you’ve lost all the weight, it might not work. Often, body image issues aren’t even physical. It’s what you see, not what really is.

girl

I want you to look in the mirror and see someone beautiful.

I hope you’ll step on that scale and love yourself whatever number it shows.

I beg that you walk in any store and ask for your size confidently, not caring if it’s in one or two digits.

I pray that you’ll be happy with who you are, proud that you’re beautiful in every single way.

 

a man’s thoughts on feminism

Below is a post I read off Tumblr and I thought I should share it as much as I could considering I, like most women, have experienced some form of discrimination. Whether it was intentional or not, it shouldn’t happen. Neither should little boys feel emasculated because they wanna play with dolls or be more creative. It’s unfair to expect men to hold back tears and women to get paid less just because they were born with a different set of organs. Your gender shouldn’t dictate your entire life because it’s such a minute part of who you are.

I hope you’ll find it in your heart to share this too because I’m sure at one point in your life there was woman who mattered to you but even if there wasn’t, you deserve to live in society where we’re more than just our gender. 

“I’m a man.

When I was born my grandfather congratulated my dad for having a son, and thanked my mother for giving my father a son. I got my grandfather’s name.

When I was a child, I could play with LEGO, because “Lego is a boy thing” and that helped my creativity. My ability to solve problems was stimulated.

I got HotWheels car-washes and gas stations. I also got a box of plastic tools, to assemble and disassemble toy cars and trucks. That also stimulated my creativity and developed my logic capability, which is good for every child.

In my school day, the girls wore skirts and my friends lifted their skirts. It was a mess, So they were forbidden to wear skirts. I never saw a boy actually get punished for it though, after all “Boys are just like that. Took after his father this menace” – is what I usually heard

At home, with my family, I liked to play house with a younger cousin. We were around eight. I was the dad, she was the mom and the dolls were our children. While playing, when i carried the dolls in my arms my mother would get mad: “Let go of that doll boy, that’s a girl thing”. And my little cousin’s father, when he saw us playing, wouldn’t let her do it either. He said boys play with boys and girls play with girls because “boys are very stupid, and worse, very forward”. I did not consider myself stupid, and did not understand what he meant by “forward”, but I still did as I was told

At Christmas, my sister got a Barbie and I got a beyblade. She cried a bit because my toy was much cooler than hers, but every year my mother made the same mistake, and got her a doll, a toy stove, a toy fridge, a blender, everything pink, once mom got her an iron

When I turned 15 and started dating, my father bought me some condoms
During my teenage years, no one criticized me for kissing lots of girls. Nowadays, that still stands.

My father does not get mad at me when I don’t come home for the night, He does not say I need to be a “family boy”. He never slapped me in the face for thinking I’d spent the night at a motel.

No one lectures me saying I need to be reserved and play hard to get.
No one judges me when I want to be with a girl and take initiative

No one cares about my clothes; no one says I have to preserve myself.
No one says I have to preserve myself because “women only think about sex”

No one think my girlfriends were only with me for sex.
No one thinks that, when I have sex, that I’m submitting to the wishes of my partner
No one demonizes my orgasms.

I was never judged for carrying condoms in my backpack or in my wallet
I never had to hide my condoms from my parents.

I was never told to marry a virgin because I was a man
I was never told that “men have to value themselves” or that I had to “give myself the respect”. Apparently, my gender already makes me worthy of respect.

When I go out into the streets no one tells me I’m “delicious”
No unknown woman shouts “smoking hot” my way
I can walk down the streets having an ice cream cone at ease, because I know I won’t hear things like “drop that and come suck me”. I can even walk down the streets eating a banana

I never had to cross a street, even though it was out of my way, to avoid a group of women in a bar, who will probably catcall me when I pass, embarrassing me

I never had to walk in sweatpants, because my shorts leave my legs exposed, and that could be dangerous
I never heard someone say I was “shameless” because I went out without a shirt
No one regulates my work out clothes
No one cares about my clothes period.

I was never followed by a woman in a car when I was walking back home

I can catch a crowded subway everyday and surely no woman will rub against me, to record it and throw it on some porn website

No one ever had to create a subway wagon that was “just for men”

I never heard of someone of my gender being raped by a crowd

I can get on a bus by myself in the middle of the night
When I’m not carrying anything valuable, I no longer feel threatened, because I don’t fear getting raped at any moment, at every corner. That risk does not exist in the minds of the people of my gender.

When I go out at night I can wear whatever clothes I want.
If I suffer any kind of violence, no one blames me for being drunk, or for wearing certain clothes
If, one day, I was raped, no one would say it was my fault; that I was somewhere inadequate, that I had on a revealing outfit
No one would try to justify the rape based on my behavior
I would be treated as a VICTIM and that would be it.

No one thinks I’m vulgar because when it’s cold, my nipples show through my shirt

When I have sex with a woman on the first date I practically get a standing ovation. No one calls me a “tramp”, or “easy” or a “whore” because I have casual sex sometimes

99% of porn websites are made to please me and men in general
No one is shocked when I say I watch porn
No one judges me if I say I love sex
No one cares if I read erotic literature
No one is surprised to hear I masturbate

No mother-in-law will tell her daughter not to marry me because I’m not a virgin

No one criticizes me for investing in my career
When I have the same job position as a woman, my salary is never inferior to hers
If I am promoted, no one says it’s because I slept with my boss. People believe in my merit
If I have to travel for work and leave my kids with their mother for a few days no one calls me irresponsible

No one finds it strange that, at thirty years old, I still don’t have kids

No one guesses my sexual orientation based on the length of my hair
When my hair starts to grey, people will find it sexy, not think I’m letting go of myself

Society does not see my virginity as a prize

90% of military services are destined to people of my gender, even the higher jobs, in which the official only deals with paperwork and management

If I go out with a certain outfit no one says I’m “asking for it”

If I’m at a club and a woman performs oral sex on me, I’m not the “whore” or the “tramp”, she is.
If a video of me having sex with a woman gets leaked, no one will call me names, criticize me, stone me. I won’t be the “disgusting little bitch” I won’t be “trash” or “used” or “cheap”. I’d just be the man, fulfilling my alpha guy position in society.
If I lead a promiscuous lifestyle and then fall in love with just one woman, people think its beautiful. No one judges me based on my past.

No one says it’s disgusting if I don’t shave myself

No one would judge me for being a single dad. On the contrary, I’d be seen as a hero.

I’ll never be stopped from occupying a higher position in the Catholic Church for being a man

I was never beaten up for being a man
I was never obligated to do housework for being a man
I never had the obligation to learn how to cook for being a man
No one tells me my place is in the kitchen for being a man

No one says I can’t curse for being a man
No one says I can’t drink for being a man

No one stares at my plate if I put a lot of food in it

No one justifies my foul mood by blaming it on hormones

No one has ever made jokes that undermined my intelligence for being a man

When I sometimes mess up in traffic no one says “It had to be a man”

When I’m polite to a woman she doesn’t automatically assume I’m hitting on her

The term “tramp stamp” did not come into existence because men were seen as cheap

No one treats my body as just a tool for giving pleasure to the opposite sex
No one thinks I’ll have to be submissive to a future wife

I was never judged for drinking beer at table in which I was the only man

I’m never the target audience for house cleaning products ads
I’m the target audience for beer ads

No one’s ever asked me if my girlfriend lets me cut my hair. I cut it when I want to and people understand that.

There isn’t haze at USP (a university) that promotes my humiliation and objectification

Society doesn’t split my gender in “to marry” and “to whore”

When I say “no” no one thinks I’m just playing hard to get. No is no.

I don’t have to dress a certain way to avoid having women falling into temptation

People of my gender were not raped each 40 minutes in São Paulo last year
People of my gender don’t get raped every 12 seconds in Brazil
People of my gender didn’t get raped by a crowd during protests in Egypt

I’m not a man. But if you are, it’s fundamental to admit that society AS A WHOLE needs feminism
Don’t underestimate suffering that you don’t understand.”

Camila Oliveira Dias

#unpopularopinion GAY RIGHTS

I haven’t posted in awhile for reasons I promise to reveal in future blogs but for now I’m back here with a new website name. I’ll be making some changes and you’ll see that in the course of the coming months. Exciting things, I promise. For now, allow me to talk about something that has been bugging since I saw this video:

The gist of it is Austin, an openly gay teenager from a private school, was called on by his principal to ask him to ‘go back in the closet’ from whence he came. It was an all out inquisition if you ask me, calling his parents as if he cheated on a test or something worse and told them that he had to delete all his posts on social media regarding his sexual orientation and basically act like a ‘normal’ dude, whatever that is.

We all already know how I feel about gay rights. Granted I was vague about why I became such a strong advocate in the first place but I never faltered about my stance on it. I would be lying if I said wasn’t seething when I first saw this video but the logical side of me calmed me down enough to write this entry.

There are merits to the principal’s decision, much as I hate to admit it. Writing that feels like swallowing salty water when you know you’re about to drown. It’s a private institution, with its own moral code or whatever bullcrap the admin or  board of trustees feed the students to blindly follow. The principal may have A. had his hands tied himself or B. he’s just as homophobic as the rest of his academic peers. For his sake, I hope it’s A. because all he’ll need to get over his lack of spine is a bit push in the right direction which I hope this entry does for him. If it’s the latter, then he has some serious learning to do because regardless of what he believes there was a better way of delivering this to a teenager already having a hard time. If this is how you let every person whose going through the same thing feel then you shouldn’t be dealing with coming-of-age teenagers who might already be picked on every day for who they are.

There are enough bigots in the world. Trust me, these kids don’t need reminding.

I was 16 when my best friend of 4 years came out to me. He came out to a whole group of people he just met at uni before he told me and to be honest with you it broke my heart. Much as I tried, I couldn’t talk to him for days the way I used to even if he was going back to school in a week. If you’re wagging your finger thinking I’m no different from that principal, you’re wrong. That’s not it at all although someone who knew me less would have taken it that way.

I’ve been replaying in my head over and over again what I did to make him feel like he couldn’t tell me. He said it wasn’t a big deal, that he would have told me anyway but he didn’t and I couldn’t help but feel that there was something I did that convinced him I won’t love him anyway or more because he was honest with me. Was it because I come from a pious Christian family? Is it because I was in an all girl religious group in high school? I couldn’t bring myself to talk to him because so much guilt was eating me up like some terminal disease and it made me feel so sick.

I never talked about this because since then I’ve had some traumatic experiences concerning other gay friends and how they’re treated. I’m not always proud of how I defended them so I  usually just avoided the topic altogether. I’m not much for emotions as most of you already know but I thought it was important to share what I realized after that.

I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING.

I’ve always felt strongly about gay rights, always defended them in my head, wrote stories I never published supporting them but that was it. I never did anything openly to reassure anyone in my life that I’ll be there for them, love them and support them regardless of what their sexual orientation is. Not since recently at least. It doesn’t mean shit if you fight for them in your head. They don’t know that because often those who criticize them are louder than those who rally behind them. It’s unfortunate but it’s a fact, one which I hope this small blog from some unknown corner of world changes in some little way.

So Austin I may not be able to convince the world to be kinder and more accepting of you and those just like you, much as I want to, but I hope you know that there’s one girl, insignificant as she is to the statistics of 7 billion people, who celebrates you for who you are. Who you choose to love is just one part of you, albeit and important one, don’t let them box you for that. The world will get over their ignorance one day and you should know that you’re one of the reasons why they did.

Stay strong Austins of the world. We’re slowly finding our voice to fight for you.


 

As for my friend, you know who you are. I hope you’re reading this and feeling how much you are loved. If, my dear readers, you want to make someone else feel the same, share this blog and that video. Show them that we’re better than the jerks who treat them badly. #niceinternet #supportgayrights

#depression

I realised.. IM HERE FOR YOU ♡♥♡

One morning I woke up with an unfamiliar material draped securely on my back. It was heavy and cold and it very much resembled a cloak- like in one of those old Hollywood movies. The fabric clung to me like second skin, choking, smothering and weighing me down while it slyly remains invisible to the eyes of even those staring right at me. No matter how hard I fidget, move my body like a convulsing freak, grab at it, try to tear it away from my body with all the strength my man hands could muster, it remains rigid and unrelenting. There are days when I feel the grip tightening, leaving steady marks on my skin that will remind me of how it possessed me for as long as I live.

It’s daunting to admit how much it’s affecting a full grown person with rationality and control. The fear of judgment and ridicule in society where the easiest response would be to ask if the cloak truly exists or if I made it up because I’m either crazy or in CRAZY need of attention. Either way I will be labelled a freak and avoided like a plague or talked to behind my back. To the few who care enough to consider that there MAY be a cloak, they’ll look you from head to toe and when they see no physical manifestations of a life threatening cloak. They walk away claiming that you’re lucky it won’t require surgery. At that moment, I wish it did. Maybe I’ll get more help if people can physically see the pain an invisible cloak is causing me.

You might know the cloak by its common name, depression.

its not fair how i see everyone breathing.

Yes my lovely readers, how timely right? Just as the world is  confused, bewildered and pained by Robin Williams’ death, one caused by this cloak itself, I decide to write about it. Well to be honest this entry was inspired by him. I have been struggling to write anything on this subject for years, ever since I started this blog actually, but I never had the courage, words or inspiration to even start. That changed when I was aimlessly browsing through my twitter feeds and froze on one of the trends. I think we all know which trend it was.

#RIPRobinWilliams

A thousand RTs, skimmed articles and a full blown movie marathon later, I decided I need to write something about this. Screw inhibitions and fear, depression is a real thing and it has to be talked about because more and more people are falling victim to it and very few seem to take it seriously. The most infuriating yet common reaction we get is it’ll pass or get over it. Those are the words of an ignorant person brushing off something purely because he has no clue what it is. The same words that will make the lot of us, already depressed, consider ourselves even bigger freaks than we already think.

I doesnt.

Depression, unlike physical illnesses with very visible manifestations, is often treated as a whim of some attention seeking person who is bored of his own life that’s why he needs to make up some disease that cannot be visually assessed. The truth however is depression gnaws at you from the inside, turning every thought, every memory, every experience into a black hole that sucks the life out of you while you seem completely a-okay on the outside. You feel disabled without the advantage of a parking space. In  two  very cliché words : it sucks.

so fucking true

There is no standard to depression. It varies for each one and I could spend the whole day discussing to you the many kinds but really what those going through this need from you is just one thing, your understanding.

UNDERSTANDING

It may sound so easy, so fundamental in fact but to truly understand someone who goes through that requires for you to suspend your prejudices and preconceived notion fed by some exaggerated movie or oblivious hearsay. We don’t all cut or binge or drink meds or listen to sad songs or plaster a frown on our faces. Often even a smile is the most believable lie one gets to tell. Funny though, almost everyone falls for it. Depression too is not to be stereotyped.

For those still trapped in their cloaks, hang in there and stay strong. Fight to be happy because you’re worth no less. Find comfort in the promise that you’re not alone and somebody on the other end of this screen understands and appreciates you.  I do care and I’ll keep fighting, I’d love for you join me. –winks-

perhaps?

united colors of bullies

It’s been awhile since I last put up an entry and before I start sobbing and saying sorry for leaving you guys hanging, let me just say that I had a tough month writing 15 chapters of a book I’m hoping to publish. So please please put down the pitch forks, I’m not one to make excuses but my brain was fried (figuratively of course).

Today I thought it would be fun to write about a topic that inspired one of my book concepts and that is bullies– in all their colors and varieties. We already know about the obvious ones, which mind you are a scary lot but there are more subtle versions. They hide under the covers labeling themselves something more beautiful and attractive. The magpie in us grovel for the promise that it oh so boldly declares then we realize later on that the shine it has is all that it is, shine.

The inspiration came from a nostalgic evening of coffee with 2 of my best friends- after they convinced me to keep writing on this blog because THEY ACTUALLY READ IT AND LIKE IT. Imagine my surprise when they started talking about entries I wrote, I mean these are my overly critical, highly intellectual and difficult to please best friends we’re talking about. My self loathing subconscious found that difficult to believe and quite frankly, I was speechless for a few moments.

On the same night, we realized a lot about the path we took together in college. We gave up so much to be that image of an over achieving student whose main goal is to get the best grades, manage as many  extra curriculars and maintain as few creative, non logical pursuits as we can. Labels and expectations- the box they made for us- those were our bullies. 

photo from caity-bullying.blogspot.com

I’ve finally learned that bullies don’t just come in different kinds of people, they come in every shape, size or form. I may not have been shoved around or locked in a janitor’s closet by some teen fiction stereotype queen bee but I’ve been confined in a society where there’s a predetermined standard of beauty- one which some may claim I don’t fit. That norm, that belief, that is my own brand of bully. It follows me around, taunting me to cinch around my curves and smoothen my edges to fit this overused mold already made for me.

When I  found enough courage and fought back, told society to shove its size zero, fair-skinned, blonde perfection up their bums, another bully manifested from the shadows- one far stronger and more paralyzing than its predecessor. The firm grip of its manacle, over sized hands smother me with ridicule of how success has and will continue to elude me because the career I chose to love and devote my life to will not earn me millions, buy me a mansion or a jet-setting lifestyle

Your bullies may be far more frightening or life threatening than mine. I can’t be the judge of that and I won’t try to. If there’s one thing I took away from dealing with bully after bully, people and circumstances alike, they’re never as easy to deal with as they they seem on the outside. It’s a bully for a reason. They know your weakness and capitalize on it as much as they can so you’re hurt in the worst possible way. They planned the perfect, most gruesome way to twist and turn the knife they stuck to your heart so you’re left clutching at it, trying to rip it off and stop the bleeding.

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But if you don’t know already, let me be the first to tell you, you’re far stronger than any of your bullies. You have the ability heal and those battle scars will remind you every day of how you fought and how you deserve to be happy- HOW YOU’RE WORTH A LIFE YOU CHOSE TO LIVE and not one chosen by some thug or an unfortunate circumstance for you. 

You get one shot at life my friend, don’t let some bully take that away from you.