Transition – How I learned Not to Give A Shit and Fucking Love Myself

Growing up as a teen pre transition, I fucking hated myself. I blamed myself for my parents divorce. I blamed myself for letting myself be controlled by abusive relationships. I blamed myself for not preventing abuse done to me by people with more power. I blamed myself for the people in my life whose affection I craved not loving me.

Then, I started gender transition.

When you publicly and visibly transition gender, you have to start dealing with a lot more visible, immediate and inexcusable hatred from strangers who do not know you.

Growing up experiencing insidious small scale abuse from people you’re told you should be able to trust, it’s easy to blame yourself for the abuse you recieve. Those people are supposed to protect, like and love you. If they don’t, you’re the problem.

When the abuse is obvious and external, from people who you know you’ve never harmed, it’s a little more obvious you’re not the issue, they are.

Some people are just nasty, abusive arseholes.

Every time I’ve had to stand up for myself to a stranger during transition, be it fighting for my right to use a public bathroom or a store changing room, getting my ID accepted or getting hassled on the street by a creepy guy, I’ve found a little more strength and personal resolve.

Every time, I’ve gotten better at recognising past abusive behaviour used against me in my life.

Every time, I’ve grown in confidence.

Since transition, I’ve found the confidence to tell my biological father about how much his behaviour while I was growing up effected me.

I’ve found the confidence to track down the pedophile who abused me and take him to task for the impact his actions had on me.

I’ve found the confidence to track down my childhood bully and explain to him how his controlling abusive behaviour ruined several years of my life.

Since starting transition, facing visible abuse from strangers, and finding confidence in my own identity, I’ve learned to recognise abuse, and to address it directly before walking away on my own terms.

I’ve learned to do what makes me happy.

I’ve learned to move on and find closure from the abuse that crafted me.

I’ve Learned Not to Give A Shit and Fucking Love Myself.

Transition, Tattoos and Body Ownership

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Before I transitioned, I had zero interest in ever getting tattoos or body piercings. The thought of altering my body from the way it was at birth seemed very odd indeed. Why would I make a permanent change to a body that itself wasn’t permanent?

I didn’t judge anyone with tattoos or piercings, but I just didn’t understand being that sure in something, sure enough to commit to permanently changing my body. How could anyone ever be that confident in the decision to alter their own body?

Then, I hit puberty. My body began to develop traditionally masculine characteristics. My voice dropped, I suddenly had a huge Adam’s apple, I was hairy all over and my own uncontrollable body made me feel routinely uncomfortable.

I didn’t like my body.

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For me, puberty was a lot like renting accommodation on a short term contract. Suddenly this place I had to live all my life, by no choice of my own, was different. I had to adjust to living in a new skin, one I disliked.

I didn’t want to stay that way. I wanted a situation where I could make the skin I inhabited my own. I wanted ownership of my body, not a rental subject to sudden upheaval.

I decided to begin the long road of transition.

I began to take ownership over my own body as something I could control. I changed my clothing, I altered my voice, I changed my name and my gender marker and my hair.

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I also started to get tattoos.

The road to physical help with transition is a long one in the UK. Years waiting to start hormones, and years beyond that to get surgical options done.

Years and years of waiting for the UK medical system to help me take ownership of my own body.

So I started taking that ownership myself.

I got three pixel hearts on my left wrist to celebrate making games writing my full time job. I got a My Chemical Romance quote on my right wrist to celebrate three years without a suicide attempt. I got a pixel magic bar on my left wrist to celebrate getting my Adam’s apple reduction surgery. I got the Let’s Play Video Games logo on my right wrist to celebrate going independent as a writer and managing to still thrive. I got the Non Compliant tattoo on my left wrist to celebrate lower surgery and taking pride in my own non traditional femininity. I got Faith’s tattoo from Mirror’s Edge on my left arm to celebrate having the strength to move from one period of my life to a brand new stage.

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Every tattoo, whether it fades or blurs with time, will remind me of a time in my life I took control. Each one reminds me of a time where I made my life something new. A time where I committed to something.

Every tattoo is a reminder that this body is mine. This body is owned not rented. I can decorate the walls. I can put in a window. I can turn two rooms into one. I can make drastic changes. I can make this body a home of my own.

No landlord can take this body away from me.

As someone who has made a lot of changes to their body in the name of control and comfort, I will forever be proud of every change I made. Every surgery, every tattoo, every piercing and every modification a reminder that my body belongs to me, and I can make it home in what ever way I like.

The Mysterious Transition Turning Point

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Mid 2014 Laura

I’ve been living full time as a trans woman for around three years now. I changed my legal name and got the gender marker on my passport back in 2014 and since then have lived every day of my life, without exception, as Laura Dale rather than anyone I might have been previously to the world.

For the vast majority of those three years, I’ve had to make a conscious effort to get gendered as female. With my hair down, face shaved, foundation and concealer, traditionally feminine coded clothing like skirts and tops that showed off the impression of breasts, I would still have a hit and miss track record getting correctly gendered in public.

I had to make an effort all day, every day, to still routinely get read as male in spite of my own efforts to present as female.

A few months ago, that seemingly changed out of nowhere. I’m not entirely sure why.

Mid 2016 Laura
Mid 2016 Laura

So, a few things have changed in my life since I started transition. I’ve started taking hormones, then hormones with testosterone blockers, then I had lower surgery and cut out the testosterone blockers. Most of these are things that will not be visible to the world around me.

As of right now, my body does not produce testosterone, and gets a daily dose of oestrogen.

My breasts, previously a bra stuffed with mastectomy breast forms, are now small but existent tissue of my own.

I don’t think I really look any different to when I started transition, but maybe that’s just seeing my own face every day.

The first time I realised something had changed was a night out in London where, trying to get home from a train station, four separate men tried to proposition me for sex.

It wasn’t a positive experience, it was honestly rather terrifying, but it was a night where I was clearly being clocked as female enough to face repeated creepy advances.

A few days later, I found myself getting catcalled more than I had before.

A few days later I ran to the shop in a baggy hoody, jeans, with my hair tied up and a bit of facial hair because I had not shaved yet. No makeup.

I got correctly gendered as female by store staff.

Lazy Laura
Lazy Laura

I found this starting to happen more and more frequently, I could make a “lazy day” trip to the shops making no conscious effort to signal myself as female, and still get clocked as female properly.

I’ve not had someone use male pronouns to refer to me in months. That includes days where I have made no effort on my experience and am bracing myself, expecting the reality of not being clocked as female.

I don’t know what turning point I hit, but from talking to other trans women, it seems like they hit this mystery point to.

2017 Laura
2017 Laura

There’s some point in transition where, even without making an effort, something changes and people start to clock your gender correctly in spite of non traditional aspects that would usually be considered “tells”.

I wish I knew what changed, but knowing this mystery turning point has been reached makes me feel infinately better about myself.

I feel like I can now explore non traditional femininity, the kind of varied experiences of valid femininity often promoted within non trans feminist circles, without worrying about my status as female being quite so scrutinised.

It’s a nice place to be in life.

Fidget Cubes Awkward Relationship to Autistic Stimming

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While I wasn’t diagnosed with an Autistic Spectrum condition called Aspergers Syndrome until I was almost 18 years old, looking back over a journal my mother kept during my childhood many of the diagnostic criteria were there from a young age.

From as early as age four my mother made records of various obsessive repetitive behaviours I would engage in, and the considerable distress that not being able to fulfil them would cause.

From hand squeezing patterns to jumps every set number of steps, bleeping noises to rocking on the floor, I seemingly needed to engage in sensory patterns to calm myself.

This is often referred to within Autistic Spectrum diagnosis as stimming. It can cover behaviours from small tapping motions up to full body twists, turns and rocking.

It’s often a response to sensory overload. As a person with Aspergers I often struggle to filter out unimportant sensory information. In a room full of people talking I might struggle to focus on one nearby and loud voice because of quiet distant noises, a light buzzing, someone breathing, an oven fan spinning and more.

When all sensory information is always present, having something routine to focus on, control and predict when it comes to sensory information can be incredibly helpful.

Over the years I learned ways to manage many of these behaviours in ways that were deemed socially acceptable. Having a trio of cylindrical magnets I could switch between a line and a cluster formation was much easier to explain than rotating my hands in large circular motions.

In recent months, I’ve replaced many of my smaller stimming patterns with a Fidget Cube (first a knock off, now an official version).

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The Fidget Cube has become somewhat of a popularised talking point well outside of the diagnosed mental health community in recent months. It’s a small plastic cube whose various sides provide sensory tools to interact with.One side features a switch that clicks between two positions. One side features five small clickable buttons. One side contains a rotating metal ball and some gears to rotate. It offers a variety of controllable sensory actions for a variety of needs in one small and unobtrusive design.

While it felt to me almost purpose designed exclusively as a tool for people like me to manage their stimming in a way that was unobtrusive and stylishly presented, they have taken off far more widely outside the diagnosed mental health community as a valid relaxation and anti-anxiety tool.

For someone fighting a life long battle with stimming, I have an uneasy relationship with the Fidget Cube. It is helping normalise stimming behaviour to many, while also giving a false sense of understanding that can at times lead to dismissal of the necessity of more intense stimming in high pressure situations.

So, let’s look at the positives. While most people picking up Fidget Cubes right now don’t seem to be people who have had long term issues with needing to stim to manage sensory issues, their increased presence, media attention and ubiquity has helped to normalise the idea that sometimes engaging in repetitive sensory behaviour can be a way to reduce anxiety and stress. It has shown people that a specific item someone carries with them might be an important item for stress reduction, even if it looks on the surface like a colourful toy for children.

On a surface level, it normalises stimming. In reality, it only normalises a very small bracket of stimming behaviours, those already manageable in societally acceptable ways.

While I can replace my trio of cylindrical magnets with a fidget cube and have my small scale repetitive hand motion sensory needs met with a device people recognise, a Fidget Cube will never replace my more intensive stimming needs. A fidget cube may help keep a bout of rocking on the floor or hitting violently at the sides of my own head at bay, if I end up needing to do either of those, a Fidget Cube will never do the job. The Fidget Cube for me is preventative of larger meltdowns, not curative once they occur.

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I recently had an issue on a bus where I ended up having to rock back and forth. A nearby passenger asked me what was wrong and I explained my condition and my need for certain repetitive moments to work through an Aspergers Meltdown.

She asked if I had heard of the Fidget Cube, and explained to me that it would be a much less obtrusive way for me to manage that obsessive need.

The Fidget Cube is the hot new cure for all repetitive motion needs, and as such it’s now the poster child for non autistic people to recommend how we could better manage our conditions.

How we can keep our condition less visible.

How we can treat our conditions in a more normalised way.

It’s a double edged sword. I’m thankful for the increased awareness of stimming behaviour in general but I fear long term how it may leave those not effected with Autistic spectrum disorders with a false idea of their place within our lives.

Still, I’m incredibly glad it exists. Being able to normalise my preventative actions is incredibly positive.

Steven Universe and Blue October – A Look at Musical Genre Theming

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Over a decade ago in January 2006 American Alt-Rock band Blue October released a track called Hate Me as a single. It was an angry, sad, angst fueled track about the desire to push people away during bouts of depression.

The track focuses on the way depression can amplify feelings of guilt and self loathing, and often manifests as a desire to push loving and supporting friends and family away for fear that you either do not deserve their support, or that them helping you will leave them upset further by your ongoing actions.

The crux of the song is the singer telling a supportive person in their life that they are making the unilateral descision that they know what’s best, and what’s best is them leaving the supportive person’s life.

You might be wondering what this has to do with Steven Universe.

The song Full Disclosure, from the end of Steven Universe’s first season, is a track about our protagonist Steven dealing with guilt and self loathing. He’s realising the consequences of a number of his actions and feeling like he’s putting unecessary stress, strain and pressure on those closest to him.

Steven decides to push away a close member of his support network, feeling like asking for that support puts those close to him at unecessary risk of additional pain and distress.

The crux of the song is the singer telling a supportive person in their life that they are making the unilateral descision that they know what’s best, and what’s best is them leaving the supportive person’s life.

While this may seem a little of a strained comparison, it’s one I have been thinking about from a critical perspective for several months. It’s the first time I really understood how one topic and set of themes could be covered musically by two such polorising genres.

While one track focuses on angry musical and vocal expressions of violent attempts to push someone away and the other picks a central musical hook to hang it’s feelings of sadness, uncertainty and quietly sad reservation upon, both songs take the same core relatable moment and explore different facets of the complex emotions it can bring.

So yeah, that’s it really. I just find it really cool that music can take one topic and approach it in two vastly different ways. Also, Any excuse to compare angry mid 2000’s bands with modern popular animation is good in my book.

On the future of LauraKBuzz

So, the past ten days have been very eventful in the world of LauraKBuzz.

In the past ten days I learned that my landlord is having to sell my rental property as part of some divorce proceedings meaning that we are required to vacate our home within two months. Deposit will be returned after we leave, but we need to move before UK laws on moving fees change, so we’re going to be stuck moving when we did not want to, at considerable up front expense.

I also got offered an interview, attended said interview, got offered a job and turned down a job offer in London in the past ten days too.

Let’s talk a little about why I turned down a job in London.

The job I was offered would have been a salaried editorial position with a reputable company. I’d have been mainly working on news content, and a good chunk of my 9-5 Mon-Fri would have been dedicated to working exclusively on sourcing original unique news stories, news worthy interview quotes and leaks.

While I enjoy the work I currently do in these regards, I find them incredibly stressful, draining and tiring even as just a small part of my larger career spread apart by more creatively fulfilling content creation.

Any podcast recording, video recording, editing of written, audio or video content, any reviews or original features and any silly stupid content I wanted to work on would have been relegated to outside of Mon-Fri 9-5.

While that would have been doable, it would have been an additional strain on my energy as a creator.

From experience with other Patreon creators, I suspect taking the job would have seen a sizeable drop in Patreon backer support. This is understandable, while working for the London company I’d have had less need for that financial support, but the issue is that if the job did not work out I’d have to fight to rebuild Patreon to where it is now.

Another factor, after some time spent in London, I don’t know that it’s a place I’d currently be able to feel comfortable living. It’s a city I find strangely emotionally draining on a long term basis.

The role would have been a fantastic stepping stone and a great point on my CV but it was also not something that I was going to be happy doing.

I balanced creative freedom, career advancement and financial status. Creative freedom as a creator won out.

This week has told me a lot about where I want to go in 2017 as a creator, and I’ll have more info on that in the coming days.

For now, I am going nowhere ❤

NSFW Review: Mighty Muffin Pounder Rangers

NSFW Review: Mighty Muffin Pounder Rangers

lopounderrangerssfw6So, I used my work day today to watch a 40 minute long Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers porn parody titled Mighty Muffin Pounder Rangers. It was simultaneously more amazing and more of a let down than I expected.

It was forty minutes of my life filled with severe extremes.

So, let’s get get this out the way, most of my review will be focused on the frankly stunningly hilarious first seven minutes of this movie. You can probably guess why already but that’s where a lot of the “plot” takes place.

Mighty Muffin Pounder Rangers features the highest number of forced sex puns I have ever seen in my admittedly limited experience with porn parody viewing.

In under seven minutes it manages to reference Ivan Ooze and imply that it’s a nickname for semen about to spray from Goldong (Goldar)’s “monster space dick”, imply that Rita “Repressor” engaged in a ten thousand year long blowjob which is why she was trapped in her dildo castle on the moon, rewrite the theme tune to sing “Blow Blow Punder Rangers”, rename the core cast of Rangers to Jizzin (Jason), Creamy (Trini which is a stretch), Sack (Zack), Rimberly (Kimberly) and Willy (Billy), introduce us to the Pussy Patrol and rename our anti-hero Tommy into Cummy.

You thought I was done with the puns? Oh no, I am only getting started!!!

The dinosaur themed Zords are now Dildor, Dongosaur, Vibrator, ButtPlugosaur, and MasterbatorSaurous Rex, with the MegaZord now the MegaWhore.

There’s also use of the amazing magic spell incantation “Here’s a spell to ensnare a man, I rub my titties with my hand”.

Yes, the dialogue really is THAT amazing.

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So, let’s dig into references to the show itself. The basic plot of this pornographic adventure is that Rita wants to enslave the earth for sex reasons or something. She sends giant Goldong to earth, and “a team of culturally diverse sexy college co-eds” are drafted to fight him off using sex and kung fu.

They fight Goldong off with an amazingly terrible hilarious sex scene. I’ll get back to that in a moment.

During those first few minutes of our adventure we’re treated to numerous nods to how horrendously terrible the original source material is. I love Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, but I acknowledge it’s inherently mindless crap.

We’re treated to references to Rita’s notoriously bad lip syncing, a deliberately poorly paced reaction shot, a joke about how ludicrous it is that nobody ever picked up on them colour coordinating outfits with their ranger colours, references to the black ranger “being written to once per episode do something that white people imagine black people do”, references to the worst bands and media of the decade, how poorly hidden Tommy (Cummy)’s eventual betrayal was and more.

It’s terrible, and that somehow makes it amazing to watch. Every terrible moment feels deliberate and knowingly crafted.

Also, before we even get to the hilarious Goldong Megawhore sex scene, there’s still SOOO much left to unpack.

Within 75 seconds of the movie starting there’s commentary on how banning transgender people from using the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity is “the first rule of being an arsehole”, which seemed oddly progressive for a stupid parody of a 90’s kids cartoon.

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It’s worth noting before the 7 minute mark the movie does equate a visible penis to male pronouns, which seems an odd choice when they felt the trans bathroom line was important enough to make their trailer for the movie.

Also Rita’s staff has a floppy huge blue neon dildo on the top of it, the Rangers “Cummunicators” are condoms, and they get “turned on” by Goldar’s giant space dong.

Oh, and the “zords” are just vibrators and butt plugs pulled across some sand by string. It’s beautiful.

So, let’s get to the darn Goldong Megawhore sex scene. It is the most amazingly cheesy, funny, not sexy thing I have ever seen.

It’s full of stilted dialogue about growing magically, the giant suits are too bulky to look like they are actually kissing, the sex itself is basically two giant costumes bumping against each other for a minute or so and the MegaWhore has giant breasts that connect to the front and look like spray painted plastic bowls.

It’s amazing.

Then we finally get to what appears to be the intended sex plot of the movie. Cummy the Green Pounder Ranger is turned evil by Rita’s evil magic and the rest of the Pounder Rangers decide sex is the way to break the spell.

But not before Cummy points out it’s stupid that they can’t work out that the character wearing all green is the Green Ranger.

The Pounder Ranger outfits are not terrible, but as someone who has cosplayed a Power Ranger in the past I can see where corners were cut. Mainly they spray painted standard motorcycle helmets as their base which have a slightly off shape and took some shortcuts by skipping minor outfit detail in favour of larger overarching brush strokes of outfit design.

It does the job, and the dongs instead of lightning bolts work well, but as a costume nerd I was sliiiightly disappointed.

And seven minutes in, we reach actual porn.

power-ranger-4The thirty minutes of pornography that follow barely acknowledge the source material at all. All of those front loaded puns and not one is uttered mid actual sex.

Sure they’re wearing their boots still and Cummy is wearing his gold shoulder pads, and you can see their helmets in the background, but not one pun saved for the sex itself is wildly disappointing.

Curse you Mighty Muffin Pounder Rangers!!!!!

I guess the only saving grace is they end by discussing how they broke the spell using “teamwork, friendship, determination… and my pussy too”, before a freeze frame rock music end title card.

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Ultimately, this was both more than I expected and less than I hoped. The material surrounding the porn was suberpbly packed full of cleaver references, jokes, visual and narrative gags, but not saving any for the pornography is a real shame.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers would never have agreed to a thirty minute physical activity scene with no puns, that’s for sure.