The following article discusses several topics that are intended for a mature audience and may be uncomfortable, painful, or otherwise difficult for the reader to handle. These include:
suicide, depression, conversion therapy, gender dysphoria, LGBTQIA+, U.S. politics, and religion
While I have attempted to present all of these topics in a tasteful, fair, and brief manner, you are welcome to stop reading if you find yourself unable to continue. I need to share this story, but I will not force you to receive it.
I know that when it comes to computers and such I can be hard to get to shut up. But when it comes to myself, I'm quick to avoid talking about things. The simple reality is that I'm a private person who deals with things on their own and doesn't involve other people unless it's necessary. That's just who I am as an independent adult living their life. Still, there are times when I do feel the need to share things with other people and I find myself at one of those particular crossroads.
By this point, you're probably worried. This isn't bad news. But there is change happening in my life that I don't want to hide anymore.
We go our whole lives trying to figure out who we are, what we want to do, and how we will do it. I spent my entire youth focused on relationships and school and, I'm ashamed to say, that I put off for a very long time getting to know myself. That's not surprising from the kid who decided in 4th grade to become an Electrical Engineer, to specialize in Computer Engineering after a 7th grade home economics project, and then find themself over a decade later with a B.S. and M.S. in the very same. The drive that it takes to make all of that happen leads to many sacrifices to one's social life and romantic interests. It also leads to an unspoken fear of taking the time to step back and make sure that you are working towards the person you want to be and the life you want to have.
Last year, everything was put on pause by COVID. I had to rearrange my entire life around working from home without lab access. I had to completely rework my experimental design for my thesis, develop test equipment that we could no longer afford to borrow or purchase, and spend months validating all of that before I could even begin to work towards my original goals. In that time, I also found myself living alone and spending far more time with myself and my idle thoughts than I had in a very very long time. I discovered that there were many things that I wasn't happy with in my life and that I couldn't avoid them any longer. I started seeing a therapist that Spring and got the help that I needed. But that's the near past and all of this really started years ago.
On December 27, 2014 a young woman by the name of Leelah Alcorn committed suicide at the age of 17. In the letter she left behind, we learned enough to begin unraveling the harrowing series of events that lead her to that decision. You see, Leelah had the misfortune of being born with an XY chromosome. A perfectly normal occurrence that happens millions of times a day. But for her, it meant a youth of being told that because she looked like a man that she couldn't possibly be anything else, something that her parents took so seriously that when she couldn't stop doubting them, they took her out of school and put her in conversion therapy. There they committed despicable acts in the name of God to attempt to brainwash her into being someone she wasn't. Her parents didn't do this out of love. They did it out of fear. In an attempt to "fix" their child, they drove her into a deep depression where she sincerely believed that no one loved her, could ever love her enough, and that things would never get better. Exercising the only control she felt she had and the only option she could saw, she stepped out in front of a semi and ended it. Her parents denied being at fault and insisted that they loved their "son Joshua" unconditionally.
When I first heard this story in 2015, I had only a passing familiarity with the term "transgender". I had long since been a strong ally of my lesbian, gay, and bisexual friends and coworkers. They are good people whom I respect and that wish nothing but the best for. But I had been brought up on steady diet of TV and media that cares more about holding an audience than reporting honest and fair news. And I don't care whether we're talking about liberal or conservative media: they all misrepresented trans people for decades.
What I came to understand from doing my own research was a completely different picture. I thought crossdressers were trans. But just dressing as a different gender isn't the same thing as being that gender. I thought biological sex was an absolute, that there was nothing outside of XX and XY, but instead there are dozens of different chromosomal mutations to the contrary, many of which we don't even test for when a child is born so we have no idea how common they really are. And for children with "normal" XX and XY chromosomes, there's no guarantee that their secondary sex characteristics will develop along expected lines during puberty. People want to have neat little categories to label and define things, but biology laughs in our face by constantly disproving those absolutes with unexpected discoveries. I had to unlearn the lie that chromosomal sex and gender were the same thing. Recent research with fMRI has shown that there are distinct signatures for male and female brains and that transgender individuals generally line up with the gender opposite their biological sex. I also read the studies that proved that what we had been wrongly treating as a mental disorder (Gender Identity Disorder) as late as 2015 was actually a normal occurrence in the US that around 1 in 200 people experiences.
After weeks of research, I came to understand a group of people that had been around me my whole life, largely hidden out of fear of society and rightfully so. During their lives, 50% of trans people living in the US have been sexually assaulted. 50% were victims of violence from their partners. 1 in 10 trans people are physically assaulted every year. More than 60% will have been homeless at some point in their life.
After weeks of self-reflection, I came to realize that I wasn't just learning about trans people because I felt ignorant or fearful for them: I was coming to an answer for a question I had never thought to ask, after living with an assumption that I had never doubted. Like so many of the stories and testimonies that I had read, I had spent my life with an itch in the back of my mind. An ever-present feeling that there was something I was missing, something about my life that didn't make sense, something very wrong. But I had always ignored that itch, dominated by my drive to accomplish my goals and live the life I had chose. Until 2015, when a young woman's story tore down the wall and showed me my true self.
I spent that entire year trying to figure myself out. Finding what felt right, learning about a part of myself that I had buried so deep that I had forgotten about it. I dug through every moment of my past for signs that I missed, for proof that I was just a normal guy like the ones I grew up with. But at every turn, a mountain of evidence to the contrary was growing. All trans people experience dysphoria, a sort of dissatisfaction with their lives and an uneasiness about who they are, that manifests in a lot of different ways. For transwomen this usually manifests as being uncomfortable wearing masculine clothes or not looking feminine enough when they see themselves in a mirror. But physical dysphoria is just the tip of the iceberg. Dysphoria can manifest in many many other ways. For me, I struggled to fit in to the social and societal expectations of being a man. I wasn't one of the "bros" and I didn't enjoy masculine activities like football or wrestling. Sure, I enjoy firearms and archery, but so do plenty of women. I didn't agree with how most men behaved and I certainly felt uncomfortable emulating it. Most of my friends were women who were more interested in singing along with Disney soundtracks than going on a date with me. They didn't feel on edge with me like they did with most men. In romantic relationships, I found myself not wanting to fulfill the dominating masculine role that is so often expected of men. I dated women who thought of me as an equal and who knew that I wanted them to take the lead sometimes. The list could go on and on and on, reaffirming the conclusion that I came to:
I am a woman.
I have always been a woman.
Trying to live as a man has made me miserable and closed off, and I can't keep up this facade any longer.
I've waited 6 long years to share this will all of you, but the time has finally come. Now, I really get to start on the path to living as my authentic self. No longer afraid of being rejected, but realizing that I am surrounded by so many wonderful people who care about me more than I knew and who have been incredibly supportive as I worked up to this: my public coming out.
My name is Beatrice Theodora Meyers, but you may also call me B, should you prefer it. My pronouns are she/her/hers and I am pleased to finally make your re-acquantance!
You're going to ask me "why now?" when I've known for years, and the reality is that my world got turned upside down in 2016. Politically, I tend to be a moderate that votes on conscience and logic instead of party lines. I always have been. And while I don't really want to debate politics right now, I need you to at least understand why the last 4 years were a nightmare for me. Trump was in office barely 3 months before he had the military ban transgender people from serving. Anti-trans legislation cropped up in conservative areas across the country, with a particular interest in bathroom rights based on a hurtful lie that trans people abuse that privilege. There were hints that ACA protections for trans people were going to be reversed, cutting them off from the healthcare they need. That further steps to go after all of LGBTQ were soon to come. My very existence was suddenly under threat. I was scared of coming out and having it be used against me. I was terrified of threats of violence from conservatives in the media. So, I did the only thing I could do: I pushed my feelings deep down and buried myself in school for 4 years.
Then, in January 2021, just a few days before my birthday I breathed a sigh of relief as a different President was sworn in and the siege that I was under began to slowly lift in the weeks following. Months later, I recognize that the country has a lot of things to work on, but I don't feel like I need to hide anymore.
I am who I am and it's time to live the life that makes me happiest.
This post ended up being quite a bit longer than I originally intended, but if you made it this far, I really appreciate your taking the time to read about my journey and learning a little more about who I am. I look forward to getting reacquainted with everyone and stay tuned for a special livestream announcement.
Q & A
You probably have a lot of questions, but I'll try to answer a few of the bigger ones here.
Q: Are you saying you've changed? That you're a different person?
A: No, I'm still the same person all of you have known, no matter when you met me. What has changed is that I have decided to embrace a part of myself that I have been afraid to for a long time.
Q: What are your pronouns?
Q: Are you planning on changing your name? If so, what to?
A: Yes. I've had a long time to think about it and I want to keep my initials, but to change my name to Beatrice Theodora. I expect that to most, I will simply be "B".
Q: I see that your copyright statements still say "Bryan T. Meyers", shouldn't you fix those?
A: Until I've gone through the process of a legal name change, I will continue to use my "deadname" in any and all copyright statements to ensure these can't be challenged in the future.
Q: Are you changing you future plans? Will you still continue to work on Solus and other FOSS
A: My future plans and commitments have not changed. For the most part, all you will really notice change is my physical presentation, voice, and a wider range of topics that I now want to discuss. I am still planning on finishing my PhD and will work on Solus and other FOSS projects as long as I possibly can.
Q: What medical treatments are you currently receiving or planning to receive?
A: I started gender-affirming hormone therapy in May. This suppresses my testosterone production and provides estrogen to achieve levels similar women with the XX chromosome. Over the course of the first few months, this has dramatically improved my mood/mental clarity and started showing some not-so-minor physical results. After two years, physical changes will have peaked, but I will remain on hormones for the rest of my life. Much of the physical changes are quite personal, but I can tell you that over time my features will become more feminine, especially as body fat redistributes. You may be curious as well about potential surgeries, but the details about those and my decisions whether or not to undergo them, is quite personal and I'd prefer not to share that information in public.
Q: What about your voice?
A: Hormones can't raise my voice after testosterone has lowered it, since that has physically lengthened my vocal cords. Instead, I've spent hundreds of hours training my voice to work in a higher octave. This is still a work in progress, but is enough for most conversations. There are surgerical procedures which can help with this as well, but I don't think I'll need them.
Q: Do you mind if we ask you further questions on social media or other chat services?
A: Sure, I'm happy to answer the questions you have, so long as you meet the following criteria:
- Be patient, polite, and respectful.
- Take some time to do some research before you ask me. You may find you no longer need to.
- Understand that I can only speak from my own research and experiences. I am not an authority on every aspect of the trans experience.
Q: Are there other resources that we can read that may help us to better understand?
A: I highly recommend checking out https://genderdysphoria.fyi/ It's a great place to start.