Thich Nhat Hanh Speaks With Oprah Winfrey

On My Life, Transgender


This is going to be a long and difficult post, but I ask you to bear with me.  It’s going to have a lot about my history with gender identity, and many people in my life are not going to understand that their memories of us do not match my experiences.  I can’t apologize if they are upset.  I can’t apologize for being honest about what went through my heart and soul during my life regarding who I am.

I am non-binary transgender and have been out of the closet for many years.  What this means is that my gender identity is not male or female.  If you were to give a definition, it would be third gender or gender neutral.  Let me gives some history as to how I got to this point in my life:

I was born half of a set of fraternal twins – myself, and my brother.  Gender confusion started early, with short haircuts and matching outfits with my brother – there are photos where he was dressed in blue, I in red.  I was often mistaken for a boy, sometimes mistaken for my brother.  Around age five, I remember having difficulty in kindergarten relating to the other girls, and the teachers pressuring me to play with the “girl toys” (like that damnable kitchen set) rather than the blocks and the Hot Wheels cars.  It was at this age, that I realized I wasn’t like my brother, but I wasn’t like the other girls either.  I felt somehow “wrong”.

This feeling of inherent “wrongness” continued throughout my school years.  Through my early years, I played sports – soccer, baseball – and enjoyed it.  I have memories of being in Girl Scouts, but had no interest in the skills they were teaching.  Quilting is booooriiing.  My brother, however, got to do the cool stuff with the Boy Scouts, like pinewood derby!  I remember his gold camaro-looking car that our older brother helped with.  They took stickers from my collection to decorate it with musical notes.  I was so jealous.  I wanted to play with cars, not quilt.

Throughout grade school, and into high school, I tried to force myself to do the things that girls do.  I mean, that’s what is expected, right?  I tried out for cheerleading – a lot.  In grade school I never got in, and the girls teased me endlessly for even trying.  By high school, I made it into junior varsity cheerleading, but got picked on for it.  I got called fat, ugly and stupid for trying to be the girl my body said I was supposed to be.  At one point, a student threatened to beat me with a chair (the teacher walked in as  he had the chair over his head).  In trade school, again, I tried to “be the girl”, signing up for Hairdressing shop.  I failed.  I went through that for three years before switching schools.  In my perception, it seemed the more I tried to be a girl, the less successful I became, and the more others were aware of this and mocked me for it.

All this time, I looked in the mirror, and I loathed what I saw.  Puberty brought it’s own confusion.  I looked to God for help, but no answers came.  I finally decided that God didn’t give me a body for me, so it must have been put here for others.  This lead to a series of sexual abuses throughout high school, but I was too afraid and ashamed at that age to come forward and ask for help.  I felt like this was punishment for being born in this body.

By 16 I attempted suicide.  We couldn’t afford treatment for me, because we had no insurance, so I had to deal with things mostly on my own.  I loathed this body so much I considered self-mutilation.  If I could just cut away the parts that were wrong, I could be complete.  Thankfully, I never acted on these feelings, but they still haunt me.

At this point, I still had no idea what transgender meant.  This was back in the 80s in a small city, that sort of thing wasn’t publicized.  Nobody was out of the closet.  There was no Internet.  I was completely alone in this.

By college, I had met members of the lesbian and gay community through the school’s LGBT group, but I was too terrified to speak up about what I was feeling.  I felt like a fraud.

The rest of my life was more of the same.  I got married and had two amazing sons.  But still, I felt confused, wrong in my skin, depressed, upset.  I was put on Prozac until I became violent and was taken off.  My therapist dumped me due to an insurance problem.  Another suicide attempt, and I lost everything that had value in my life.

After I lost everything, I found a name for what I was experiencing.  I wish I could say I was elated! Overjoyed! I found a name, huzzah!  No.  I wasn’t.  I didn’t want this.  I didn’t want any of this.  Why couldn’t I just be a girl?

Because that would be a lie.

In 2009, I was official given the diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder.

Since coming out, I’ve had a mix of responses.  Some have been supportive.  Others have just… disappeared.  One offered to “pray for me”, as if somehow that would make me not be me.  I’ve had other transgender people tell me to get off the fence and choose a gender already, because “third gender” and “gender neutral” just don’t exist.  I can’t buy clothes that suit me, everything I wear feels like dressing in drag.  My chest is too big to bind effectively, to get a flat chest.  I can’t afford the $10,000 it would cost for me to have the top-surgery to remove/reduce my breasts, giving me the neutral look that, for me, feels right.  Looking in the mirror, I don’t see me.  I see someone I don’t recognize.  Some days, I am ok.  Some days, I don’t know who I am anymore.

So that’s my story.  Feel free to comment below.  Abusive comments will be deleted.  Thank you for taking the time to read all of this.

Mindfulness, Meditation and Practice


It’s been stressful lately.  In part because of some very personal issues I haven’t shared on this blog.  Also because of all these dietary changes, school issues, I’ve had to sit back and re-examine my life.

I try my best to practice the tenets of Buddhism.  More than a decade ago, I was introduced to Mindfulness and Buddhist teaching through DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy), and I was immediately drawn in.  It all made sense to me.  Where religion and spirituality left gaping holes in my life, Buddhism filled them.  I read more, anything I could get my hands on, and it all rang true to me.

Recently, however, I’ve been losing touch with my practice.  I rarely meditate.  I lose focus.  I forget the teachings and let things get to me much more readily than I used to.  I need to get back to the practice, and I decided I can’t do it alone.

In Buddhism, there are the Three Jewels, the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.  They are all key components in Buddhism.  I have never been a part of a Sangha.  A Sangha is the Buddhist community or congregation, who practice and learn together, usually under senior students or a teacher.  Thus begins my quest for a Sangha.

There are a number of meditation groups within an hour of where I live, so I’ve been researching what I can find.  There is a Shambhala center, there’s a center focusing on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, and a few Zen centers.  I’m concerned about the cost.  The websites mention membership fees and donations, and I don’t know what’s appropriate to donate and what’s not.  Those sites that recommend a specific donation, I worry about feeling guilty about having to offer less.  The Membership fees vary from $300-$600 annually, which I just outright can’t afford.

After posting on /r/Buddhism on Reddit, many people encouraged me to email the center about their fees.  While I understand fees are a necessity for the smooth running of a group such as these – rent, etc. – they assured me that my ability to pay would not prevent me from coming to their events.  They do have to charge a fee for membership, but they are willing to work with me on an amount I can afford, and a payment plan, should I choose to become a member.  Elation!

They have an upcoming meditation on Sunday morning, and I’m considering going.  It’s not far from where I live.  Downside, I get very nervous going to new places by myself (nobody is willing to go with me. Sadface.).  I hate that awkward feeling of being around a bunch of people I don’t know doing something I’m not accustomed to.  New environment. New practice.  Shudder.

We’ll see if I can gather up the courage to go this Sunday.  Wish me luck!

Whole Foods Visit, Hard Boiled Eggs Failure

Today I decided to hard boil a few eggs (four) for a snack.  I guess I did something wrong, maybe I didn’t cook them long enough, because although they seemed done, and the yolks were firm (with no green), the shell wouldn’t come away from the egg whites.  This means when I tried to peel it, chunks of egg came off stuck to the shell.  Kind of discouraging for my first attempt at hard boiled eggs.

Got to take a fast (like half an hour) trip to Whole Foods today, looking for some GF options that I could eat that might qualify as FODMAP free.  I found myself coming away just as discouraged as I did yesterday at the regular grocery store.  I loved that they had tons of options, and everything was clearly labeled with their little purple signs, but sadly, everything is seasoned with things that aren’t FODMAP free, automatically disqualifying them from my purchase.  Sigh.

I was able to pick up a few things though:

  • Corn and Rice pasta
  • Cereal bars
  • Tamari (Finally!)
  • Organic plain tomato sauce (cans)
  • Chicken and Vegetable Stock
  • Rice cake (tahini and seaweed flavored)
  • Soy ice cream, Vanilla (Dammit, I got my ice cream!!!)

I came away with a wallet $36 lighter, which was a lot less than I expected to spend – I had budgeted for around $50.  I’ve been considering talking to my doctor about allowing the FODMAP foods in gradually, and just sticking to the GF, but I’m not sure about that yet.  There were a lot of GF options available, just not that I could eat and still be low FODMAP.  I’m just looking for something more manageable.  Is that too much to ask?

Since I can have cheddar cheese, I’ll be trying to make macaroni and cheese stuffed peppers.  I’ve made this recipe before, I’ll just have to make some dairy-free adjustments to the recipe and hopefully it turns out well again.  I’ll be using corn elbow macaroni, which is new for me, but I figured all the cheese would make it more manageable as a new food.

That’s all for now.  Comments always welcome!  Please, feel free to share!

Anger and Ice Cream

ice cream

Today I wandered through the aisles of my local grocery store, and I got to ice cream.  I wanted ice cream so badly.  It’s my go-to mood food.  When I’m down, it’s where I turn, and I’ve been super down lately.  I had hoped that maybe there was a soy alternative to ice cream, but no, I’ll probably have to go to Whole Foods for that one.  Going up and down a few more aisles, I got to breakfast cereal and thought – hey!  Checks are gluten free! Maybe I can get that!  Finally found it and looked at the label – “Fructose”.  Sigh.  Put it back on the shelf and left the store near tears.

I’m so angry and frustrated with this whole diet thing.  It’s only been nine days and I’m so hungry.  I’m a bigtime snacker and I’ve got nothing to snack on.  No sweets that I can find that follow the diet, so my sweet tooth is raging.  Everything I eat is bland and lifeless because I can’t figure out how to spice things properly.  I look for recipes online and everything comes up baking baking baking.  I couldn’t give a rats ass about baking right now.  I want food.

The harder it is to maintain this diet, the more I want to cheat, even though I know in the end it’ll make me feel miserable.  I’m only in minimal discomfort right now, which is good, but I don’t know what actions I’m taking that are making me feel better – is it the gluten free?  is it FODMAP free?  I don’t understand.

This would be so much easier if my doctor had assigned me a dietitian, but no, the insurance company won’t approve it.

Over the last week, this is the closest I’ve come to just completely giving up, and living another 20 years with the pain.  I don’t really know what to do any more.  Fellow sufferers, any advice?


The doctor’s idea to go gluten and FODMAP free, I didn’t realize was going to be as difficult as it is.  Without a dietitian to help, I’m seriously lost, and as a result, barely eating.

I’m not used to eating a lot of meat, and it seems that if I want filling food, I’ll have to seriously up my protein intake.  Subsisting on fruits and veggies is so unsatisfying.  Sure, it tastes good, but I’m hungry ALL THE DAMNED TIME.  Tonight’s dinner should be nice and filling, but it’s only 4pm, it’s not time to even start cooking yet.  Maybe if I take some hints from paleo followers, and prepare some foods in advance – like hard boiled eggs, grilled chicken breasts, burgers, etc.?  That might help?

I’ve been getting a lot of help from the Living Happy with IBS website, to the point where I’ve sent an email to the site’s owner (no response yet).  I’ve also been scouring Pinterest for food ideas like I usually do, but once you type in “gluten free” all you ever get is baking responses.  I’m not interested in baked goods.  It’s everything else that has me scrambling.  I got a magazine this week about cooking for allergies, and the gluten free section?  All baked goods.  Breads. Cookies. Cupcakes.  That’s it.

We went to Trader Joe’s yesterday, and tried some of their rotini rice pasta.  Thankfully, it was actually really good, and the price is right ($1.99 a bag).  I didn’t have a lot of time to scour the shelves for other stuff I can eat, but maybe another time.  I also need to stop out at Whole Foods and Fresh Market and see what I can find there as well.  I need to do some more research into what they carry and come in with a list.  Much better course of action!

Do you have any dietary restrictions, and how have you dealt with them?  Leave a comment below and let me know!

Re-learning Food

After speaking with my doctor’s office, they’re not going forward with an IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) diagnosis, instead sticking with the diagnosis of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).  From our discussion, there’s really not much I can do about it except adjusting my diet drastically.

When my symptoms get severe, I’m supposed to follow a “BRAT” diet – Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast.  Sounds exciting, right?

For the rest of the time, I’m supposed to take limited amounts of ibuprofen for the pain and take prilosec.  Inconvenient, since they want me to take prilosec half an hour before I eat, and I don’t exactly eat on a schedule.  I’ve been eating tiny meals lately because of the nausea (they gave me something for nausea too) and I’ve lost 7 lbs in the last 3 weeks.

As far as dietary changes, the nurse recommended trying to go either with eliminating gluten or eliminating FODMAPs and reducing my overall fiber intake.  Talk about drastic!  She stated that finding out what foods work and what doesn’t will be “months of trial and error”.  Looking over my options, I’m going to have to cut out so many things that I really enjoy eating.  I’m going to have to completely re-learn what and how to eat.  There’s so much information out there, and they only gave me the barest sliver of a recommendation.  I wish my insurance company hired nutritionists.  Would make this so much easier to have someone to talk to about it!

Thankfully, right now, I’m only in mild discomfort, not the agonizing pain I was in a couple weeks ago.  I just want to live without being afraid of food.  Is that too much to ask?