At a young age, I was always extremely curious. I wanted to learn as much as I could about so many things because I found everything simply fascinating. That was 24 years ago and a few months. That curiosity blossomed into a physics degree, which I will complete December 2015. Getting this degree has been the biggest challenge of my life – both academically and personally. I feel as though, before I began at the University of Texas at Austin, I was simply a formless pile of sand on the beach. I was very opinionated, but I never truly understood what it took to know Veritas.
When September 11, 2001 happened, I was in fifth grade; I was swept up into the frenzy of patriotism that cascaded across the land. At that time, I was young, and I was easily influenced. I was always taught to respect my elders, for they have wisdom, and the elders around me were all staunch Conservatives. I took that and ran with it. That was my world view. At 14, I began to use the Internet more, as my social anxiety was in full swing. It was caused by feeling like my life was headed in one direction, but my mind was headed in another. I felt like Stretch Armstrong, being pulled in two completely different directions that I did not want to go in. I began to pay attention to the comment section and recognize that people of my political belief did not care about how people like me felt – even if they acted nice in person to your face.
When Obama came to office, I was parroting the same things they were. After all, I was 18 and a Republican. That got me involved with the TEA Party when they came around. I hoped that there would be something there that I could improve upon and get people to see people like myself in new light. I had started researching things at that point, albeit poorly. I made the average errors of cherry-picking, arguing by use of single “experts,” the usual stuff that still plagues the comment section of today. Those errors and cognitive dissonance kept me believing that they were right. I protested alongside them. I even spoke in front of members of my town spouting out the talking points that I could remember and string together. That was logic, in my mind and in theirs.
I was invited back to give a second speech, and did so in front of a fairly sizable group of individuals from all over our county; the TEA was being drunk in more and more areas. It was 3,000 words on the topic of where healthcare should go in the United States. During my research for the paper, I began to wander from my usual resources. I began to look at journal articles and primary source publications. It began to challenge my view. I could not adequately reconcile my findings with what I believed to be true from what I was told throughout years of listening to WBAP (AM conservative station that features Rush Limbaugh, Hannity, and others), preachers, friends, and family. I began to notice more evidence against what I was told to believe than for it, and that struck me as strange.
I lied in that speech. I used talking points and skewed data so that I could give them what they wanted. I knew, in my heart, that what I was saying was false, and that bothered me. I did not see why life should be about pleasing other people rather than making oneself pleased. Any power that might have been found from being of interest to that group was mitigated by the fact that it was “for the good of the ideology” that I didn’t feel was so great. It all felt fake. I was lying about myself, about the topic, and just about everything else. It was tiring, and it began to feel like every single person was lying. From that experience, I continued to believe that everyone was a liar in their own way. Lying to themselves about happiness, evidence, relationships, everything. It was very much Nihilistic. Unfortunately, that view made me cold and heartless, often ruthless. By the age of 16, I began threatening suicide, because everything seemed without purpose. I danced about my day listening to music in my head to keep me going, but my heart was nowhere to be found. Shortly thereafter, an incident caused the police to be called to my place of residence, and they gave me an ultimatum. I had to see a therapist or be transported to a hospital for the mentally ill.
Even though my mother had let me see a therapist when my parents divorced to no avail, I chose to see a new one. It was the better option. I was hoping that I might be able to finally get some help. Yet, I still believed everyone was lying. I began to assume that my therapist was a liar instead of someone that would empathize with me. I failed to see how anyone could empathize at all, except though deception. I presumed, since they came from my town, that they might just be conservative, just like me. Maybe they were a sociopath, just like me. I could not see how someone that might just be “one of my own” could possibly help me with my understanding that I was born a woman but the process “done got goofed up.” After all, I had seen the nasty comments online. The objectification. The prejudice. The pure hatred.
I lied again, some. Oh, I told the truth here and there, but she could not accurately diagnose me without the full picture. She gave me a list of things that I might be, but that was all. She could not recommend any further treatment, and I slowly began to retreat internally. I no longer wanted to play the game. I wanted to be myself. The only way that I could do that is keep to myself and away from others. I finished school that way. I went to community college that way. I began university that way.
Yet, just as the pile of sand on the beach does not stay formless, a sandcastle began to be built. I met wonderful people, the sweetest professors one could ever hope to have, and had beautiful experiences. I began to learn about how to approach complex problems using a variety of disciplines to form a solution. I took a variety of classes, as I wanted to go into medical physics, ranging from hands-on labs that addressed radioactive contamination to courses in mathematics that boggled even my number-loving mind. I learned about how language is built and how the mind is absolutely fascinating as an organ. I learned analytical methods that could be applied to any source of information would could ever hope to get their hands on that would allow one to construct an informed opinion from primary and secondary sources. My citadel was fortified through my education and curiosity.
It has been a rough road to the transwoman that I am today, but it was damn worth it, and I wouldn’t change a minute of it. My “laundry list” of diagnoses has been shortened to antisocial personality disorder, PTSD, and gender dysphoria. The first two I cope with adequately enough, as my sociopathic tendencies are a coping mechanism induced by PTSD from childhood trauma. I obtained treatment for the third on May 7, 2015. Dysphoria may have almost killed me and crushed my dreams of becoming a medical physicist, but I am now pursuing a path towards a medical degree in family practice. It’s for the best, as the first pursuit was based on a lie. Distancing myself from that gives me renewed passion. I will not be stopped. I hope to, someday, be able to provide quality care to individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community at low to no cost with my girlfriend that is pursuing a degree in psychiatry. It is also our goal to, someday, provide adequate shelter to those that may be rejected by family or are otherwise homeless due to their sex, gender, or orientation.***
My school’s motto is, “What starts here changes the world.” I hope that I can be another individual that makes this slogan true. We shall see where it goes, but first things first, let me tell you what I know through these posts…
***2016 note: Unfortunately, I was unable to achieve a “competitive” GPA. I graduated, but only by being slightly above average in my program with a 3.15. Due to my limited monetary resources, I’m unable to relocate far beyond my current options for residence. This severely hinders a search for a graduate school that would find such a GPA worthy of inclusion into their program.
So, for now, my academic career has ceased with only a bachelor’s of science in radiation physics without much opportunity to utilize it or move forward. Instead, I have decided to turn to other people’s kindness and support to realize the projects that I desire to complete for the betterment of other’s lives. In return, I try to offer support, knowledge, and wisdom using my life and academic experience to repay my request. I am grateful to all who cross my path and enrich my life whether they are online, off, a brief encounter, or a lifelong companion. Thank you so much. What I do is all I have left, as employment is scarce when you’re neurodivergent, trans, and dealing with other issues of life. If you’d like to support my current work, you may find me on YouTube in the following locations: