Story time! I’m trans and I’ve been out since 2015. I used to write a lot. Like a lot a lot. I wrote a lot of fanfic and a lot of co op writing/RP with some fantastic friends.I wrote some many words in those days. The joys of college and few responsibilities.
Many of those words were very, very bad. I wrote in highschool and middle school on paper but never to the degree of engagement once I had access to the internet.
I also day dreamed all the fucking time. To this day I am so glad I did not have access to the internet at fourteen because the world does not need my self insert sailor Moon or Fear Street fanfic, let alone the crossovers.
I was a dorky kid with a very active imagination and not many friends that treated me well. I was also so far in the closet that I used day dreaming and writing to express those wishes in a way that could somehow excise them.
I dreamt about being a man and occupying male spaces. I dreamt of being kidnapped and coming home in a new body and oops everyone would have to accept me because of course they would. I was terrified to write those dreams down. I didn’t want anyone to know of those personal, very private thoughts where they might ridicule them.
Every time someone said I sounded masculine, or did something that was considered masculine, a part of me thrilled and wished to my very core that all of me could be perceived as such.
I didn’t have the language then to understand that I was trans and experienced a massive amount of dysphoria. It was the nineties and in a town that had a very small lgbt population, and didn’t have a pride parade until the early 2000s.
So I dreamt, and I sometimes wrote. But I never wrote consistently, and I spent my twenties lost. I became very anxious and scared to make even the smallest of decisions.
I did write.
But I wrote in safe places, online forums, co-op settings that would give me the ability to write but I never had to finish anything so if I dropped something the only people I was disappointing were faceless, and if I disappointed them fast enough they would learn not to expect much from me. I was so afraid of success I prepackaged failure to keep from being found out.
I felt like I was keeping a terrible, horrible, secret. That if anyone found out that would be the end of me and all I cared about. I stayed home and went to college locally instead of going for what I wanted.
Staying still felt safer. I developed anxiety and depression-like symptoms as a result. I say depression-like because despite diagnosis of those in high school it was episodic and the result of a exigent circumstances.
But still I wrote.
Haphazard, and unfinished, I wrote lots and lots of bad words. I expended a lot of energy learning how to write by writing with friends and then writing the occasional piece of fanfic. I never wrote more than a one shot, generally nothing above 5k, and at most one 10k piece.
But I packaged in the idea of them being standalone, never to be picked up again, because anything beyond a chapter one felt like too much of a commitment, too much chance to be found out and discovered for what I was hiding.
Much of this writing was done between 2004 and 2009 and if anyone remembers their fandom history, this bridges the gap of several large events in fandom history that made it even harder to feel safe in fandom spaces. You had FF.net shutting down all mature material, you had the terror and paranoia on Adultfanfiction.net and their attempts to close everything possible so they could say they took the time to keep the children safe. Blogs were being targetted, Xanga a blog system no one remembers was one of the first to introduce a ratings system for blogs themselves, a system that ignored their tagging system entirely and was another kneejerk response to the general hue and cry of supposed watchdog groups.
Then came Strikethrough, where suddenly blog after blog disappeared overnight and fandom went into a spiral of archive saving before shit really went down. This situation did not help my already terrified sensibilities. I joined a writers group that appeared to be open to all fiction but due to a character name mix up, — as in a wrote two different pieces which happened to feature two characters with the same name. I ended up banned from the group because again middle of the hysteria of strikethrough and a wave of censorship that crops up with the writing every few years from one group or another.
See 04-09 was one of the last real digs where conserative media groups and mainstream groups to get rid of fanfiction and the growing queer communities on the internet. It’s not a surprise that I was writing some stuff that was pushing boundaries and this was the group where I discovered I was trans and found myself banned shortly after. One 1500 erotica short is not an automatic ban in most writing forums, especially an adults only forum.
A few friends from that forum and myself created another writers group, but now I was worried and I didn’t want to fail and I really didn’t want to kind of succeed only to have it removed because of some arbitrary decision based on someone else’s views of me as a human. So I did a bit with that group but the second I needed to actually shit or get off the pot with my writing I drifted away and found other things to do that would be less risky.
In the meantime I didn’t complete college, was in a dead end job that at first offered some modicum of autonomy and then destroyed even that. I was stressed, couldn’t function, and had to leave work and was left without any idea of what to do with myself. I had a plan to go back to school and had to wait an entire year in order to get get that started.
That was when the trouble really started with writing. I was picking at it, but this was a year after realizing I was trans but no where near able to accept it as part of my identity — thank you massively transphobic society and media for making me question my fundamental core, go fuck yourself.
I finished school in between my father having a heart attack, losing two of my uncles to cancer and kind of coming out to two friends but wanting nothing to change because hot damn I was fucking terrified and there was already enough stress in my families life I couldn’t risk the thought of them unable to accept me.
So I put it behind me, I put everything into becoming an LPN, met some old friends and started dating someone. At that point I put it so far behind me I stopped identifying as trans. I redoubled every feminine thing I could, I bought pretty clothes and really tried to find the inner girl everyone wanted.
But I still wrote.
Half assed barely cogent, always ready to run at the least opportunity.
And then the person I was dating finally admitted it wasn’t working and he did what I couldn’t do and break up. This was the first time I couldn’t write. The dry spell on my creativity lasted between 2011 and 2013. I was financially stressed because of former student loans and shift work and casual don’t allow for a stress free existence.
It wasn’t until 2015 that I could write again.
This was the result of three major changes that happened in 2014. I became finacially stable in that my job became permanent. Between 2013 and 2014 I started birth control to try and take care of my pcos — a failed endeavour of epic proportions and I was maid of honour for my cousin’s wedding.
The permanancy of my job finally gave me enough stability to pay attention to my health and my floundering sense of self worth and increasingly awful dysphoria.
At this time in my life I’d push myself so far back into a closet, I no longer felt I had the right to call myself trans. Yes, let me say that again, socialized shame, lack of represenation, and fear violent retaliation kept me locked away.
So 2015 opened with a lot of agony, and me feeling absolutely awful without really understanding the why of it. In the meantime I fell head first into The Hobbit fanfiction, and felt an overwhelming need to fix the last movie. I read a bucket of fanfic and watched the movies until I could see them in my sleep.
Then I started writing.
And writing a lot.
I joined the Hobbit Big Bang, a competetion to write at least 25,000 in a specific time frame, usually three months. I proceeded to write 150k between January and May of that year. 96k was published over the course of a month and half.
Those first words, that fic, was an exploration of all of my fears. I wanted to write something about gender. I was fascinated by the idea that gender meant something different to the dwarves and what that would mean for the culture and their society.
I also wanted to look at the effects of that on the hobbits and how they would respond to gender outside of the apparently strict gender roles. Bilbo became my exploration, a way for me to figure out what my fears were regarding coming out and whether I could continue to hide.
I met my best friend and fellow writer at this time and she was the first person I came out to and felt confident in that acknowledgment of who I was. Her support was the bedrock I needed to come out to others. I had somehow faced all of my fears in writing about all the potential ways coming out would go wrong, about all of the things I felt and how much I was hurting and unable to acknowledge it or in some places even be aware of it.
I started my transition as much because of writing this fic as because of the support I received at a crucial point when I was rediscovering who I am.
It’s been three and half years since I came out, two years since I started testosterone and now I’m getting ready for surgery in the coming year.
But even more so, the comments I’ve received since posting my fanfic, the support for my writing, the sheer number of people thanking me for creating a space where they feel represented within fandom and their media has been astonishing. I’ve had so so many people thank me for giving them a Bilbo who felt the way they did, who feared coming out, but knew they had to face it because choosing anything else wasn’t an option.
I will never be shamed or feel embarrassed for creating fanfiction. I will never be shoved aside because I choose to create something that is wonderful and open and free for people to enjoy. I will no longer quiet my voice when I know it can do so much.
I’m going to include a link to the fic I’m talking about, and while the follow up work is not somethin I’m super proud of because of changing fandoms, I will forever be happy with this first one for all it has come to mean for my life and my happiness.
Interludes of my Still Beating Heart