Before you read the rest of this blog, take a look at this picture, or don’t if you can’t imagine seeing me dressed as a boy.
This is a timeline I made of my transition. If you’ve followed my story for years (as many of you have, thank you) you’d know that this is hardly accurate. “Riley, you started living as a girl over 6 years ago, and you started hormones in 2009” you’d say, and you’d be right. The twist to this is that all of these photos were taken within a 12 hour period a few days ago. I know, it’s weird to make a fake timeline. It’s also weird for me to have pronounced facial hair but sometimes life is just weird.
When I made this I had just come out of a terrible batch of soufflé induced food poisoning and had lost about ten pounds, most of that boob and ass fat. I hadn’t taken hormones during that time as I was so sick and grew out my hair because I was post-laser and crazy lethargic. I looked just like my cousin, I’m not sure how I feel about taking (especially sharing) these photos, but i’m feeling more proud than dysphoric. I wanted to make something amateur and generic, not mocking timelines but rather trying to emulate them. I intentionally slowly built up the make-up from boy to girl and took awkward pictures. The comments that I’m a cuter boy than a girl add a whole new layer of confusion, though I’m sure I’d rather be an unattractive girl over being any kind of boy.
My transition never had a timeline like this, I have pictures of me at 15 as a pretty girl and pictures at 23 as the best man at a wedding. I think those timelines give the impression that transition is a straight line, and for some folks it is, but for many it’s more of a spiral or infinity sign. It was interesting to create an alternate timeline, a bit of a fantasy where I didn’t fall off hormones, where I quit smoking cigarettes and transitioned smoothly, in this reality Riley never feels crushed. What was more interesting, was to transition throughout the day, to clean myself up, put on outfits and go from a sickly scruffy skeleton to a pretty smiling girl, it reminded me that to be who I want to be I simply have to lift off whatever is weighing me down and clean myself up, both emotionally & hygienically. When the motivation is to do something creative and positive, that boulder of internal struggle is as light as a feather.
Not everyone who transitions feels that rollercoaster of self-doubt, fear, insecurity, depression so much, though life often finds other ways to make us miserable. Everyone hopes for that fairytale transformation, to take these wonderful pills that turn you into a girl, but in the process we learn it’s much more complicated than that. It’s a much easier road for some than others, but even if you’re ups and down have been harsh be happy in the moment and keep looking forward. Generic, but seriously regret and jealousy are a waste of time. We’re going to start hearing of more well-off, balanced teens transitioning with ease with the law on their side and protected from bullies, that’s a wonderful happy thought, even if that was hardly the case for most of us. Feeling anger towards them is the definition of bitterness, and the cure for bitterness is finding peace in where you are in life.
I’m not against timelines by any means, I just wanted to do something that would hopefully lesson the feelings of regret, inadequacy or jealousy that can come from seeing those photos. Seeing a collection of them spurred me to do this, because those negative feelings consumed me and made me a sad little Riley. As someone who’s been inundated with internet imagery most of their life, I understand the esteem shattering effects of unrealistic image standards. That’s really why I don’t publish “cleaned up” photos of myself and lose my squishy feelings when I see photos edited, I’d rather see blemishes and actual skin. I think the more you use photoshop, the more you’re turned off by airbrushing.
I made this weird piece of art to make a point, though I’m not entirely sure what that point is. I’m interested to see as it gets spread around how people react. I posted in on Fetlife with an explanation and people still commented how much of an effect hormones have had on me. I don’t expect you to understand my motivations I just hope you can still find me pretty. I know I can feel attractive, but I don’t always and that’s just part of being the kind of girl I am. How cruelly often positive thoughts come out of sadness, like the tweet below which I wrote in a desperate attempt to validate myself. I’m more than my looks, and focusing too much on my body isn’t the way to achieve my long-term goals, it’s just a way to get in a huff and feel bad about the timeline of my transition.
I hope this stirred up some thoughts, it’s funny how a shave and a smile can transform me from boy to girlm so if you’re feeling unattractive, put on a happy face 🙂 I’m also starting with a therapist tomorrow, exciting, hooray, cautious optimism! I’ll keep you posted and keep on posting… more stuff soon, be well internet!