Writing My Transgender Life

Forcing my thoughts to change by leaving my comfort zone

Amethysta Herrick
Amethysta Herrick
Amethysta in the Sky with Spiders - image by the author via Midjourney

The past weeks seem filled with incessant talking. I talked with a new friend, our conversation honest and easy. I talked long into the night with my inner woman, the conversation bitter and demoralizing.

The past weeks seem filled with loss as well. I lost my new friend. Inadvertently, I hurt her with my words. I also lost my illusion in the path I've taken. I can be not-a-man, I can be a woman, but I cannot be female.

Bereft of identity, I lost my desire to see the future. I wanted to silence the talking - no more voices, no more thinking, no more words.

My family convinced me to rest. For weeks, my life centered on words, web design, and planning. Now I write these words in a hotel in the mountains.

I rest.

The voice plagued me for decades. I knew I must transition gender at least 40 years ago. But the voice was buried under so many layers, I could not hear the words clearly until I had peeled back enough layers to reach the little girl screaming inside.

Now I talk with that little girl. Again...words, always words. But we talk as I form words, not speak them. I talk now to my young self - named initially Rebecca, then Selina, now Amethysta - through my handwriting.

Deep inner change

I woke two days ago with no sense of purpose, no sense of self. As I wrote my Morning Pages, a revelation occurred - the words are stilted, truncated, because I am not there to write them. I only move my hand.

The words - hated for their power to harm, their power to expose - appear from ink in a magical alchemy of movement. But I am not in the words.

Who wrote page upon page of journal entries? Whose handwriting do I see? It isn't mine. This is the handwriting of a chemist, designed for the legal documentation of laboratory notebooks. This is the handwriting of a pent-up woman forced into constraints of her own making, pushing herself until she fails.

That woman is to be discarded if I am to live and to heal. She must be left behind - her structure, her regiments, her straight-lined...masculinity - all must be left behind. I must learn to embrace my darkness - allow my Dark Lady to emerge - if Amethysta is to survive.

It is an existential crisis of communication. It is time to break completely. I resolved then I would write in my journal only in cursive, starting immediately.

Frankly, the thought terrified me. I've been a scientist and technologist for so long, I could not consider communication that flowed, that connected with flourishes, that delighted the eye as well as the mind. Changing my handwriting is a challenge far greater than simply walking into the woods to silence the voices.

I am my communication

Language - as anybody unfortunate to argue with me about the Oxford Comma can attest - is a fine craftswoman's tool for me. As I write, I consider the sound of words, the flow of consonants, the appearance of paragraphs on a page. It is gauche to begin consecutive paragraphs with the same letter.

Changing my handwriting is on the level of peering into my soul, scrambling it as so many store-bought eggs, and expecting a fine Allemande sauce to appear.

It is precisely what I need. So here I sit - writing this article first longhand, the thoughts building slowly, my hand scratching laboriously.

I pause to watch a a beetle crawl across the floor to me in silent homage to Derek and the Dominos - choose a place to die, indeed. As I pause, I glimpse a twist in my writing I had not seen before: my young womanhood.

I swallowed that womanhood - it could not be lived, not if I expected to live in society. My role was as a man, and men are decisive.

Men move in the appropriate direction, undaunted by the unknown. They have no time for the frivolous, for the merely beautiful. There are lands to conquer, markets to corner. There is no time to squander, not if they are to win.

Starting over

I needed out of my usual words, but I could not find the path. After four decades of inertia and a year of gender transition, I had learned the lesson that should have been obvious from the start - that any effort I made would work only on the macro level.

My genetics will never change, my life will not rearrange to make sense from a young girl's perspective as she grew into a woman and found her place in the Universe. At its base, I accepted the anti-LGBTQ rhetoric that sex is gender, and I was ashamed.

I am still ashamed.

The path forward - to my chagrin - was more talking. I made another new friend in the mountains and I talked about life from my current perspective. I reflected back as a woman today, not as a man then. The change in handwriting began to unlock who I've known, but never expressed.

I talked also with my wife - four hours on the phone about who I am and why I am. She said what I had not spoken to myself - that I have 52 years of unlived life.

What I need is not simply to try to move forward, damn the torpedoes. No. That is a man's action - to do first, then think.

What I must do is go within, slow down, hear...feel...write.

From the inside out

I am healing. I will go home after this vacation, not simply walk into the woods to silence the voices. My life - the previous 52 years, I mean - must be relived. Fifty-two years of understanding must be reframed, inspected, and revised from my current level of being.

As I write - tongue firmly in the corner of my mouth - the beetle crawls on my foot. I hate insects, especially those that land on me. But I look at the beetle, waiting for him to crawl off on his own, anthropomorphized in the pronouns I gave him. I hope he doesn't care.

I watched him, reframing a hatred of anything allegedly unclean. Now I write about him in my halting handwriting. He is immortalized - on paper that rots, on the internet that never crystallizes, in scratch-outs and ink blots.

I see the unclear, the random, the chaotic, reframed from a "conquer-all" perspective. I see the words I write in cursive - clumsy, unfamiliar...and undeniably me.

The flourishes, the connections between letters, the style I never developed out of fear of living as who I am - I see them. I see them so vividly, I failed to refer to my femininity in the Third Person.

As I said, I am healing.

The story of Ami

I have stories to tell. I have words to write, words to speak. I may never speak to my lost friend again, and I will grieve not being able to tell my stories with her help.

I am fortunate, however, in finding the vehicle to my words. I refuse now to write in my journal with sterile, scientific, block capital handwriting. That does not - cannot - capture the woman who must emerge.

Pages that once took 15 minutes to fill now take closer to 30 minutes; my thoughts are slower, quieter. They require time to ripen, to wax, to gestate, to leaf, and to shade me in their beauty.

I am frightened. I am alone with my femininity, looking my Dark Lady directly in the face, and finding I have so many stories to tell. Fifty-two years is a long time not to live.

The beetle understands me completely - he will not live 52 years. But the beetle will not live the rest of my life, either. I didn't crush him - I just intend to live many more years. I intend to find my darkness, dance my wildness, embrace my Dark Lady.

My hand is tired. We worked hard today - forming difficult lines on paper, dreaming vital thoughts. I still don't care for beetles. But if I am to live, he must as well.

It is time to begin living - to tell my story, true or otherwise. To write the story of my Transgender Life.


Amethysta Herrick

Ami is a transgender woman dedicated to exploring identity and gender. She is Editor-in-Chief of Purplepaw Publications, LLC.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the offical policy or position of Purplepaw Publications, LLC. Please view the Disclaimer page for further information.