LOOK LIKE YOURSELF

THEIR STORIES: Darius

When did you realize you didn’t relate to your birth gender? 

My relation to masculinity and subsequent lack of relation to femininity was definitely more of a waveform than a straight-line.... however one of the first time I can remember being depressed about not being born a boy was at a very young age. I grew up right outside of Nashville, Tennessee. In the humid, religiously stifling, magical culmination of hauntingly beautiful and intensely polarized territory that makes up the south.

My mom had moved us into a nice house next to my grandmother and grandfather's house (whom we used to live in the same house with) and my Aunts house was in the backyard. I was so happy to live there but when I walked into my room... it was decorated with pink wallpaper with dolls all the way around the room. And sheets, and pillows, and comforter all matched.  A world of pink. A pastel pepto bismol that couldn’t do its job. Because every time I saw it, I wanted  to throw up. Lol. Not to mention as a fan of horror movies, the doll theme was unsettling and creepy to me. This would be any little girls dream. Except for me.

But the actual first time ever I had that realization was when I was watching an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. I was about 4 years old. At the end, I remember running to the bathroom and ripping off my shirt to show off my guns in the mirror and imagined how impressed girls would be when I saved them from robots, government plots or evil terrorists. 80s Action movies influenced me a lot. Typical boy shit. 

How did you deal with that mentally & physically?

Being from the south, there's a lot of unspoken (and some spoken) rules of culture, class and manners that were demanded. So I reacted  like any old soul, creative child under the crushing weight of patriotism, family values and Bible Baptist politics....

I didn't say shit. 

I kept my beliefs to myself and no one could ever change me or take them away from me. They were my own private paradise. 

Slowly, i started voicing my opinions about politics, religion and philosophy.  But outwardly I looked normal..... not the way I wanted to.  I conformed physically to the way my family wanted me to be because I knew it was important to them. So yeah from about 13 to 21 there was some really bad fashion. Haha. 

It took me moving to the west coast trying to be a part of the queer scene and subsequently finding out how fake, disingenuous, and cliquey most of that popularity contest was... to find my true heart and be able to express myself outwardly. And i don’t mean to come down on the queer scene. .. in some ways i would love to be more a part of it... but unfortunately as with most scenes you kind of have to mold yourself in a way and if you don’t vibe with certain things then  I personally just don't fuck with it.  Im a little too rugged and rough around the edges to be accepted. And i do want to stress that no community will ever be perfect. Its about picking what vibes with you. Which is fine. 

But when i found my community... it was love at first listen. The east bay punk scene. I will be forever grateful to be a part of it, for the lessons I learned  and for the people I met. 

Coming out is awesome. You can come out multiple times but it's not where u start or what community you start out with sometimes. But once u find your community..it just feels right. And it's 100% OK and good for you to find fulfilling communities outside of the gay/queer community or even not be a part of them at all. Do you. And your people will find you. Avoid the fakes. That's my best advice. So basically to fully answer the question, learning about your true nature with or without sexual identity/gender expression and meeting different kinds of people always helps. 

Give me glimpse of the inside you verse your outward appearance. 

Well if I had more paper. .. I'd throw in some more hip hop vibe sneakers ,hats etc. Maybe buy some really dope vintage punk clothes. But, honestly I think my clothes and body modification describe a lot of myself. The outside is just a little more toned down than the inside. Haha. I'd be covered In tattoos and jewelry if money was free and jobs didn't mind. 

How would you prefer people to address you? pronouns, preferred name etc

I'm not complicated in that way... He, him, dude.   

"Hey asshole!" works too. We are in Philly no doubt. 

What does gender identity mean to you?

Gender identity is our internal mental and emotional compass aligning with your higher spiritual existence. If/how that translates to a human understanding of male or female, a wider spectrum or none of that

(Non-binary)... it's all gender identity. Most societies pre-industrial revolution of all different races recognized and even revered what we would call "third gender", "trans" and "twin spirited" people. So I personally believe it is 100% psychological assault on queer and trans inclusive cultures (most of which happened to be brown) that their history is being erased and they are being vilified for that they were once given god-like social and spiritual status. 

Was there someone in your life that helped you start to see your authentic/true self? Tell me about how they helped you/who they are/

Yes. I went to a very queer college in Oakland CA. Many of the women there were queer and if not feminist and empowering. I already was vibing with that but it didn't hurt to be in that community. One of my friends started transitioning in college and it kind of shocked me for various reasons. I realized what I felt was competition, maybe even jealousy. And thats kinda when I was like fuck it... you can't keep spending your life in survival mode.... or you can be happy. My family wasn’t wonderful about me coming out as queer. They were OK but they thought they had done something wrong to turn me off from men or relationships. They were instantly supportive of me being trans. My mom said she always wanted a son and she loved me either way and my family life instantly got better. I spent a lot of time purposefully distancing myself from my family even though they weren't terrible about the queer coming out. When I was younger, it infuriated me my family couldn't see past their biases because I managed  to see how dumb biases were .

But they were great about me coming out as answer out trans man... it made way more sense to them answer bound myself. Finally answer bound label that fit. And it felt like finally solving a mystery. The puzzle piece that finally popped in with no effort. 

Talk to me about your struggles with identity and how you've grown to overcome them. 

Also include anything you want within your story

Most of my struggles with identity were not about accepting myself as a man. Mostly, they dealt with how my family would perceive me and how my dating life would be like. 

I realized if someone wants to know me then this is me. And in terms of dating.... people that are my type are a lot more knowledgeable and interested in alternative interactions. The popularity of people identifying as non-binary and gender queer,  open relationships, a queer person dating a heterosexual person...  all of this has made dating easier for me. The other piece of the puzzle is just how expensive top surgery. Crazy how much debt trans people have. Through potential surgeries and hormone therapy cost.  We are at a huge disadvantage medically. 

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