As a person of science, I have always valued corroborate and validate any conclusion.  Whether it be scientific, philosophic, or psychological, having someone else agree with me has always helped me to formulate my own thoughts, actions, and beliefs.  And when that validation deals with something life-changing, the more of it the better.

I think that’s why I am relying so much on my therapist to aid in my transition right now.  I’ve never had anyone directly tell me I’m transgender, especially not any professional.  And because I don’t have that validation, I find it difficult to progress in my transition.  What if I’m wrong?  It isn’t like I haven’t been before.  And in this case, being wrong can lead to even more problems.

Not being able to see my therapist for the last three months has really put a hamper on my transition simply because I can’t get that validation I so desperately need.  If I could just get someone to tell me, “Yes, your behavior, actions, and thought processes determine that you are transgender,” I could really get the ball rolling on my transition and be on my way.  Unfortunately, it’s looking like I’m not going to be able to get that for a long time.

Why I Hate League of Legends, and Why It’s Because I Love It

I’ve been playing a lot of League of Legends recently.  Every day for the past several months, instead of grinding achievements and gear on Azeroth, I’ve been logging into the Fields of Justice to do battle with people across the internet.  And over that time, I’ve noticed that I really do hate the game.

I really hate its community.  I’m currently Bronze II in ranked solo with a matchmaking rating somewhere in the low to mid-silver range.  Now, I know I’m definitely not the greatest of players, but I have been playing for a while and I’m at least mechanically decent enough to pull my own weight as long as I’m playing a champion I’m comfortable with.   I cannot, however, carry my team single-handedly if I am the only one who won a lane.  And at my level, people don’t seem to understand that.  I get constantly flamed for not being able to pick up the slack for others, blamed for poor play on the part of the jungler, laning partner, or unobservant lanes, and insulted for getting counter-picked or picking unconventional/unpopular champions.  And on top of that, my play has always been worse when people are pressuring me, which people don’t seem to understand at all.  The community is just so toxic, stubborn, and unable to understand even the simplest of concepts.

I hate how unbalanced the system is.  At my level, it’s just too easy to get an opponent snowballed through no fault of your own to the point where they’re unstoppable.  And that just isn’t any fun to play against, especially when I can’t play champions that do that myself.  Getting 2 kills up on your opponent shouldn’t make you unstoppable.  It’s just that simple.

I hate how much your game depends on your fellow teammates.  You can have the greatest game in existence and still lose because another one of your teammates was AFK or feeding.  Just one person on your team can lead to an insurmountable deficit.  It’s just sucks so much that winning takes a combined effort, while losing takes just one weak link.

I hate how nerve-wracking the competition is.  The fact that so much is riding on every single game is awful.  Knowing that winning games is all that separates bronze from diamond is just excruciating.  I know I’m better than bronze, but my teammates, the game’s unbalacedness, and only sometimes my own play are what’s keeping me from going up.  And there’s no way to combat it but continue to play games.  Even if you’re losing.  Because winning is the only thing that really matters.

And that’s why I love this game.  It’s so competitive, it’s always fresh, and self-improvement is the only way to climb up the ladder.  You have to show your worth because you carry yourself.  Your teammates are more than likely only going to bring you down.  And you know what?  That community has a good number of bright spots, too.  Even after dozens of games of flaming, idiocy, and poor play, everything is better when you’re in that group with that guy who’s good at his position, kind, and nice to talk to.

League of Legends is very much a double-edged sword.  When everything is going good, the game is great.  But when things start to slide, they really become terrible.  And it’s that possibility that it goes good again that keeps me playing.

Church Isn’t Always the Answer

I don’t generally talk about this kind of stuff, but some events recently have irked me enough to say something about it.  Just note that this isn’t an attack on any religion or anyone’s personal beliefs, but simply objection to a few certain individuals and how they portray their own beliefs.

Over the last week or so, one of my Facebook friends has been posting pretty regularly about his experiences with depression and loneliness.  He suffers from from severe mental illness, and, although incredibly bright, his illnesses keep him stuck with his incredibly conservative, religious family in relative isolation.  I know he must be going through some rough times, and I sincerely hope he gets to feeling better soon or gets the help he needs before things get worse.

But this post isn’t about him.  It’s about another one of my friends who has been giving suggestions on every one of his posts.  And on every single one of those posts, she has given the same suggestion.  Church.  “Have you gone to church?  There are people there.”  “Try going to church and praying.  God works in mysterious ways.”  “You’re never alone when you’re with God.”

I find these comments to be, quite simply, terrible.  Maybe even worse than not commenting at all.  This guy suffers from severe mental illness, and you suggest that he needs to pray more?  That’s unhelpful, backwards, and incredibly insensitive.  What he needs are medication, support, maybe therapy, and someone to talk to, not Bible thumping and fire and brimstone.  If he’s so lonely why don’t you spend that time you’re using to pray for him to actually talk to him, or, I don’t know, maybe visit him?  Maybe his problem isn’t with not going to church enough, but rather, the people going to church, like you, not caring enough to get him the help and support he really needs.

Church isn’t always the answer.  Whether or not you believe in miracles, there’s still a hell of a lot better chance of treating problems like this with medicine and social support than divine intervention.  And no, praying won’t just make it go away.  Mental illness isn’t a sign of immorality, it’s a fucking disease.  Treat it like such.

6 Months: A Recap

I’m getting hit pretty hard by the dysphoria-depression double whammy today, so of course I want to write.  I guess days like this are pretty good for thinking about how far I’ve come in the last 6 months, I might as well start there.

About six months ago, I came to the realization for the first time in my life that I am transgender.  All those self-image issues, the feelings of not being quite right, the latent desires to live a feminine life – suddenly they were all incredibly apparent.  It was at that point I realized I needed to do something about this or else I’d be living a perpetual life of discomfort and unhappiness.

I can definitely say now that although I still have an incredibly long way to go, I have really made huge progress, and I’m actually starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Actually admitting that I needed help was a huge step, and therapy has helped a ton to open me up to how I actually feel.  Writing has helped a lot, too, and being able to lay out my emotions on paper has done wonders as a productive outlet.

And, of course, the biggest steps I’ve taken have been opening up to friends and family.  I’ve told my fraternity brothers, I’ve told my guild, I’ve told my oldest sister.  Those were all huge deals to me.  Opening up about my personal problems has never been one of my strong points, and sharing something this personal and life-altering is a huge step forward.

My next step, once I’m released from the frozen wasteland that is currently the Midwest, is to open up more to family.  Starting with my closest cousin, then my two youngest sisters, and finally my mom, I’m going to finally open up to the most important parts of my family.  Hopefully since they’re the most tolerant and closest relatives, they can help me to come out to the rest of my family and the rest of the world.

And considering the dismal state I’m currently in, the sooner that comes, the better.

Do I Really Not Care?

For years, my standard response to just about any question asking for my preference has been, “I don’t care.”  It doesn’t matter what we eat, where we go, who goes with us, what gift you get me.  For a while now, it really just seems to not matter to me.  I won’t be ecstatic about what you’ve chosen, but as long as you stray away from what I truly despise, I won’t be mad either.

But what if I do really have a preference?  What if I actually do have something that I want, but I can’t portray that in any fashion to the person who’s asking.  I think that may be what’s actually happening here, and this may be the cause of some of my dissatisfaction with people as a whole.  Obviously, there must be some things that I want more than others, but years of subconscious teaching and neglect have dulled or removed my ability to convey them.

Growing up in a family of 6 where everyone was pickier than me, held different beliefs, and angered at the thought of stepping out of the bounds of a vanilla suburban lifestyle set me up for this sort of life right away.  What I wanted didn’t matter because my choice would anger someone else.  My options were limited to what everyone else wanted, leaving no room for what I wanted, even if it was something I needed.  You want Taco Bell?  Nope, your choices are McDonald’s and Burger King.  You want video games?  Nope, your sister asked for books and music, so pick from this list.  You feel uncomfortable in those clothes?  Too bad, you have to match the family.

Living out in the middle of nowhere hampered my chances of self-expression even more.  I couldn’t do what I wanted because it was too far away.  There was no one else around that felt the same way.  So in order to survive I had to make compromises.   I had a buzz cut for most of my life because my family liked it and it was improper for boys to have long hair.  For the longest time country was all I knew because that was all that people ever listened to.    My experiences with bullying in elementary basically kept me from really exploring most of my own interests until late high school for fear of standing out too much.  I couldn’t really see that there was anything else because everything I saw was the same.

A two-year relationship with a controlling, exacting, narcissist didn’t help, either.  At that point I was already pretty set into not really caring about what I wanted, so turning that to wanting what she wanted so that she was happy was pretty easy.  She controlled pretty much everything I did, and when I started to branch out and do things on my own, she lost it.  Unfortunately for me, my fear of loss and dependency on close friendships, especially with girls, dragged that situation out far longer than it needed and left me a mess for a few years after.

And now I’m left with this situation.  I’ve been stuck not being able to care for so long that not I can’t properly articulate my preferences.  This problem has led me to a pretty average, boring life full of what-ifs and regrets, and I’m only 25.  Several years of time when I should have been taking chances and finding things out about myself and others and instead stood to the side, afraid to make someone mad.  And now I’ve got myself stuck in a place where I’ve told people I am one thing for most of my life, when in reality I’m something completely different.

So what it boils down to, I guess, is do I care enough about my own happiness and life fulfillment?  Or am I okay to live a boring and average life full of compromise, disappointment, and regret?