I did an interview with Queer Words Podcast a few months ago and it has been published. It’s available here on queerwords.org or on Spotify and other services. Check it out!
A lot of trans people go on hormones and talk about 2nd puberty. Makes sense. I’m on my 4th.
I was born a girl. Or assigned female. I went thru puberty at 14 and grew breasts, got wider hips, body hair, a period, etc. I didn’t like it much at all. I liked girls best but didn’t consider myself a lesbian. I was just a boy that was unfortunately a girl, if that makes sense. I heard the term Female-To-Male at 17 from a friend and it clicked. I did some old-school internet research (Hudson’s FTM resources anyone?) and started going to a clinic at Syracuse University to work on a letter for hormones. It was…awful. Akin to conversion therapy in my opinion. You had to be binary and straight to transition. And abusive, invasive questioning. But anyway. Such was the times.
When I was 20, I went on testosterone. This was….2008. I was at SUNY Purchase College in Whiteplains, NY. It’s a pretty queer school. Gotta be the queerest SUNY school at least. It’s the definition of hipster. It’s where I learned that I was not unique but in fact a hipster. Ouch. Also I became more of a hipster (skinny jeans, big glasses….) It’s also where I learned that actually (sometimes) we like being called queers, dykes, etc. Anyway, I rode the train to Callen-Lorde in NYC where they did Informed Consent and I got my t. After a torturous Syracuse summer, which I have chronicled elsewhere.
After that I lived as a pretty gay, writerly loner dude for….wow….over 10 years, mostly in Syracuse with frequent trips down to NYC. Mostly with my parents. I went to SU and finished up my English BA. The trans community leaders and resources in Syracuse were FUCKED UP. I have also written about this elsewhere. There was a right and wrong way to be transgender for sure, and people of color and nonbinary people always got it wrong of course. And were shunned. Shrug. I didn’t stand for it, neither did my future partner Joey…We shook shit up, fell in love, it was beautiful…. Also difficult. I have a lot of trauma (but also just kinda sucked sometimes). But lots of good times with my new chosen family that included the wonderful Drew, Joey’s son, and two cats. Both on the road in our RV and in the crazy, lovely/ infuriating little college town of Ithaca, NY. Also chronicled quite a bit in this blog.
Anyway, Joey made me comfortable enough with my feminine side that I went off T, on it again, and off it several times over 6 years, usually going with a low dose. But, when covid hit, my alter ego Ellie was just like “I NEED TO EXIST DAMNIT” and so I…detransitioned? Not completely, because I never went out. And I never presented as female around Drew ( like with my breast prosthetics, makeup, wig, etc). I went with femboy. But I was a girl. “On” estrogen. And really longing to exist out in the world. But, well, covid.
Then, this summer. moody gay transsexual Dean (featured in my first book, Refuse) was like, “I’m back and uncomfortable in my body!” and Ellie was like “Well…I can work with T. I actually think I’m nonbinary and more of a femboy and tomboy, and also girls can have beards!).” And then there was Ryan (who is currently typing) who was like…”dude I’m a stereotypical masculine trans guy who wants to lift weights… and I’m bi but I’m like really hot for fem women especially.” Everyone else was like, “Noooooo you are somehow inherently problematic with your privilege!….But then….No wait, I guess you really aren’t actually. OK. Hi Ryan! You can exist too.” Ryan hadn’t been around in, well, decades. So here he was. He was formerly named Laura in my head, which was my birth name, and I kinda just “deadnamed” him outta existence. But he’s real. And he wants to be called Ryan.
Don’t freak out tho, you can call me Elliott or Dean or Ryan or Ellie and I won’t mind. Elliott is probably easiest for most. Or I’ve heard it’s cool to name your D.I.D. system. We are “The Angeles Family.”
I learned about D.I.D. and autism from Joey and that made sense of A LOT. Forgot to mention that.
So in August, Dean went back on T. And now here I am, Ryan, on .5 cc (decent dose), living in the country, lifting weights, doing pilates, posting shirtless selfies on IG…yeeeeah. I’m a bit of a harmless bro, which drives Dean a little crazy. But that’s ok. Because I realize everything about this sounds crazy, and I don’t mind. 🙂 It’s me. And yes, Dean is around often, to write and be a sub and listen to Depeche Mode and wear eyeliner and all black, and the others pop in pretty regularly too.
I’m not sure what to say about being back on T yet again except that I’m experiencing gender euphoria and it’s beautiful. Also, my partner invented GenderCat.com and that is also largely contributing to the euphoria. Woot woot.
Sorry if that’s TMI. Shrug.
Anyway, if you wanna check out my posts back when I went on estrogen you can look back a little ways in this blog..
And if you wanna check out my books, you can look them up under Elliott DeLine. Beware, I was pretty miserable.
And I guess that’s it for now, I’ll write another post if something comes to me. Peace.
For the first time this evening, it occurred to me that I am a “recovering addict.” I guess that’s kind of a loaded, stereotyped term. I have been aware for a while that I struggled with addiction. But I went to my first groups related to the issue this week. My addictions were marijuana and alcohol. Alcohol was more problem in the past, but I would switch between the two. I am not against marijuana usage, and I haven’t ruled out that I will never use it again. It had many benefits and many fond memories attached. But at the level I was smoking, for me, it was causing psychosis. And yet I still couldn’t back off even a little. A lot of people don’t think marijuana is a serious drug, but in this case, it was at risk of really fucking up my life. I wrote more about that in a previous post.
Anyway, today I had a meeting with my partner and my drug counselor and I realized I’m really really hard on myself. I’ve realized this before. But it is to the point where I don’t believe I’m deserving of love. This was a breakthrough for me. I’ve had people suggest it to me, but it never really sank in until today. I don’t trust that I deserve a loving relationship. And that’s why I’m always scared of losing it. That was a lot of the paranoia related to marijuana, and it was a self-fulfilling prophecy as I became a more and more difficult person not to love, but with whom to be in a relationship.
I’m looking back on many things differently now. There was a guy I very much wanted to be with, before I met Joey. I took his rejection very hard, because I took it as more evidence that I was not lovable- even though he was saying he did have love for me, he just didn’t want to be in a relationship with me because my life was honestly a wreck. I think about that differently now. I’m glad things happened the way they did, and I feel really lucky that I found someone who was able to be with me, through my struggles. And we’re still together.
Anyway, this is the part where I would usually berate myself for being touchy feeley or something but I don’t want to do that anymore. I feel blessed tonight and I wanted to share in writing.
It’s been four whole months since I wrote on this blog. A lot has happened. We are no longer full-timing in our RV. In fact, Serenity is in Florida with Joey’s dad currently. So what happened? Well, after 9 months away, Joey was really missing our friend Erica who lives in Syracuse. I was also feeling lonely and drawn back to the east. I was feeling the desire to settle somewhere, and maybe part-time RV if we could make it financially feasible. We cut our Pacific Northwest exploration short, and hope to get back someday. We cut across the country, from Oregon to Washington to Montana. We pretty much just drove and slept. The Montana mountains and forests were pretty. Then it was on to North Dakota. The Badlands were also visually intriguing. I saw another buffalo when we stopped one night. It was all a blur, because we traveled cross country in about a week. Minnesota turned to Wisconsin to Indiana to Ohio without much excitement. Then we were suddenly back in New York State, and that was weird.
We ended up back on the west side of Syracuse, staying in Erica’s mom’s driveway. It was a stressful few weeks. Joey had to set up his tent and workshop in the front yard. I felt really lost. It was great seeing Erica and other people again, but everything felt really uncertain and I felt a little trapped. I knew very quickly that I didn’t want to be in Syracuse. Joey was starting to get really depressed, and he still is. The constant stress and work of travelling apparently held it off for him, but now it’s front and center. I was also struggling. We were looking for places to live, maybe for 6 months, in the general Syracuse region. I saw my therapist. I vented a lot about the difficulties of RV life and my fears for the future. I casually mentioned how I wished we could move to Ithaca, because that was probably our best option as queer, trans, and aspie people in Central New York, and I had some internet friends who lived there. My therapist asked me why I hadn’t told Joey this, and I realized I should. He was like, “That’s funny, I was thinking the same thing.” So we started searching for apartments.
We’re about an hour and a half south of Syracuse, but it’s a completely different world. It certainly isn’t perfect. It’s a very white, artsy, hippy, liberal college town. It’s still Central New York. But I feel way safer here, and there are resources. I have a new therapist who is queer and great, and an advocate for my disabilities, and it’s all free. I started a queer writer meetup group and I feel like I’m making some friends and slowly building community. Community seems really important to people here. And there are a lot of trans people. Actually, I feel happier here than I did anywhere else so far.
I realized I need people in my life that I see regularly and who I care about. More than just Joey and Drew and the cats. It’s not enough just to meet passing strangers and do readings in cities once a month. If I’m ever going to live my life to the fullest, I have to get close to people. I’m a lot better than I was when we left Syracuse. I feel like I’ve clarified my boundaries. I’m still super anxious around people, but it’s getting better. I think Ithaca is a good fit.
It’s funny, because my original plan was to go to Ithaca College. I was 17 or 18, and I thought it would be perfect for me. My dad communicated that it was too expensive. I was not a great high school student so I didn’t get aid, and this was before he left on disability (or whatever happened. Early retirement? I’m not sure.) Anyway, I got pretty much no financial aid. I was a traumatized kid too focused on trying to survive and transition to really care, so I let my dad handle most my college finances and decisions (for better and mostly worst). I went for SUNY Purchase, and eventually dropped out. And hey, I never would have written my first book if I hadn’t gone there. And I got more familiar with New York City…a little. Beyond that, I’m not sure I got anything positive out the experience. I can’t help wondering what would have happened if I went to Ithaca from the start. The queers I’ve met here have seemed stable. Of course, I’m older now. But it’s interesting to wonder about.
We have a tiny apartment we can’t really afford on the Southside of Ithaca. It’s quite convenient to the Commons/Downtown area, which means I can bike places. We’re near a Wegmans. I can go to cafes, which is where I am today. I signed up and got a scholarship to take two classes a semester at the Community School of Art and Music. The queer writers group meets once a week. I am biking distance to water falls (which are mostly dried up from drought) and a swimming spot on Cayuga Lake. My needs are being better met. Joey’s business is doing better, even if he is really depressed. My book sales are pretty much the same.
Tomorrow I have an appointment my lawyer and advocate to talk about DSS and the stupid internal hearing for “intentional fraud” that I’m going to have to probably go to. They want $3,000. It’s total bullshit and bullying. I did nothing wrong. I will be glad when the meeting is over, and gladder when I just have SSI and don’t have to even deal with this. It’s been super stressful for me. I also have to see about getting foodstamps and temporary assistance while I’m here in Tompkins County. I have a meeting for that tomorrow too, which my advocate is also coming to.
Anyway, we have the apartment for a year. I really don’t know what’s happening. There’s been some talk of moving to Canada. I don’t know how serious that is, or if I really want it. But we are here at least until next summer. We may take a winter RV trip if we can.
I’ll post again when I’ve got something to say. There have been trips to the Adirondacks, New York City, and Buffalo that I have not covered. Oh well. Until next time. Thanks for reading my thoughts.
I am realizing how much I missed pine trees, and shade, and rain. It’s such a relief to be here. This is my first time in Yosemite National Park. I’ve barely explored at all yet, but I already am in love. The smell of pine, and rain, and campfires… cool air… It’s wonderful. It’s supposed to rain most the time we are here, unfortunately. Joey and I are going to take a shuttle and go exploring very soon. We have an umbrella.
The AWP Conference in Los Angeles went really well. It was good for me. I sold books, and I’m hoping to reap the rewards long-term. I met people and networked and that kind of stuff that doesn’t come entirely with ease. I’m feeling good about it.
But I’m feeling even better about heading north! It feels like we are finally free. For the longest time, everything was structured around Joey getting surgery. Then I had my big reading in San Francisco, and then AWP. Now we can do as we please. Joey’s business is going well too.
We didn’t end up going through the Eastern Sierras via route 395. It was snowy. Instead we went via route 99 and 140. We stopped briefly at Red Rock Canyon.
Last night we were watching Joey’s Firefly DVDs and we realized that a lot of it is totally filmed in Acton, where we were staying. That was awesome, but I gotta say, I am ready for a long break from the dry south west. Especially Los Angeles County. Especially Antelope Valley.
It’s funny how I have trouble recalling specific anecdotes to share. I have this vague sense of them, but they are just beyond my reach. Memory is weird.
I’ve been stressed about the anti-trans laws and sentiment in the US lately. I’m privileged to currently be able to put some space between me and the realities of civilization.
So yeah, I’m gonna get back to doing that.
OH! OH OH OH. I almost forgot! We went to a wildcat sanctuary! With tigers, leopards, cheetahs, snow leopards (my favorite). It was awesome.
I want to talk about some of the crap of RV life… and ultimately, what makes it still great.
Being trans (not so visibly) and queer (very visibly) my boyfriend and I face unique challenges. It’s often hard to know for sure when people are discriminating against you. Actually, you usually know. You can’t prove it, but you know. But such is the world we live in that we second guess ourselves. So some of the crap we’ve dealt with could be crap that anyone might deal with. But when it all lines up, and you know you stand out as different, it’s hard to dismiss it as irrelevant.
First, there are the bible people. The truck that says “Final Fight Bible Radio” is still here, patrolling. A bible group meets in the lodge. There are lots of Jesus fish on cars. This leads to a generally intimidating environment.
Then the other day I was at the pool, and some guy kept going on about “homos,” loudly. Another day at the pool, I decided to go use the public shower afterwards. I’m a trans guy, with no plans for bottom surgery. I have female genitalia on an otherwise male body, and that’s usually fine with me. Still, showers usually have locked doors, and I’ve had top surgery and I’m on T, so I’m not that worried about it. I do know that I am read as effeminate, which is fine by me, but I try to play it safe. Still, a shower in an empty locker room felt fine. There were no locks on the doors, just two curtains. One lead to the changing area, the other into the shower. So two barriers. As I said, I’m the only one in there. The shower water is running. And suddenly someone punches the shower curtain. Meaning someone has entered the first curtain. I’m startled as fuck, but I manage to yell, “Excuse me!” And I hear some scrambling and nothing more happens. No apology or anything. I’m standing there, dissociated, trying to figure out what happened. All I can say is that someone was likely trying to startle me, or possibly worse and thought better of it when I yelled.
When I snapped out of it, I quickly dried off and went outside. There was only one guy out there. A middle aged white dude, smoking, who quickly started walking away. I followed him, and watched where he went for as long as I could.
The next day, Joey and I were hanging around the pool, waiting for our laundry to finish. Joey was about to lay on a lounge chair but when he sat, he realized it was soaked with rain water. Another older white dude, with a military hat and a pony tail, walks by right at this time. “What, it’s just a little water and dirt,” he says, in a sort of would-be-friendly teasing way. Joey laughed and was like, “Well, I’m already soaked, might as well just jump in the pool right?” The guy kept at it. “It’s just water. Just sit, you wuss.” This time his tone was nasty.
Today we were driving, and another old white dude pulled us over to yell at us for speeding and saying he has our license plate number and will report us. We weren’t speeding. He wouldn’t step away from the car.
And after that, someone dumped Joey’s laundry out while it was still running.
Add to this, we get dirty looks when we go for walks. This RV park is getting really frustrating. Unfortunately, it’s really convenient because Joey needs to get work supplies in Hollywood, and I have my conference coming up in LA. It also is basically free for us, which is…necessary. But I’m really sick of this.
We got away boondocking near the Kern River. This was going well. We visited the hot springs again, and people around weren’t bad. Just hippy types. Then, one morning, someone bangs on our door and windows at like 7 am. “Knock knock anyone home?!” Obnoxious, not even giving us any time to get up before knocking more like crazy.
So it’s these two like 30 something year old white dudes, clearly (and later, admittedly) on meth and who knows what else. The first thing they say: “You guys aren’t cops are you? You aren’t gonna give us trouble, are you?”
They had a flat tire, and their car is parked right next to where we are camping. They are just all around rude and demanding we fix their problem. Joey helps because he wants to get rid of them. There are two girls with them. One is passed out in the back seat, and they are trying to coax her out to go down to the hot springs. “Fine, we can find some pussy down there I’m sure,” one says. “I’m so horny I’ll hump a tree.”
Some other guys show up. Hippy guys. “Hey, you guys got any spare pussy?” the douche bags ask. Hippies are unimpressed. “No.” “What, you don’t wanna share?”
I sip coffee and make it blatantly clear that while Joey will be taking their tire into town, I will be here with the RV and all our belongings.
“Hey where’s my coffee?” douche bag one says.
“I don’t know.”
He laughed but looked pissed off. “Your buddy has no sense of humor,” he said to Joey. He proceeded to offer him drugs, which Joey declined.
While the douches were at the hot springs, Joey asked the girl in the backseat twice if she wanted a ride to town, in case she was in trouble. She declined.
Then we hightailed out of there, not wanting to be there when they came down.
You get very pretentious people in RV parks and camp spots, and also very desperate people. We don’t really fit either mold. Both can be unsafe and scary.
But ultimately, that is the great thing about RV life: we can always drive away.
This month can best be described as “catastrophes averted.”
First, my reading in San Francisco went great. After that, and a second reading in Oakland, we headed south to Wilderness Trails RV Park, in Menifee. We stayed there for two weeks. The first week we met up with a friend Joey made in Arizona. And then…Mittens went missing.
Mittens is our tortie/calico/polydactly kitty. She is usually more timid and serious than Snowflake. She always looks grumpy, but she is a healer. She is drawn to people in pain and soothes them. She’s also incredibly intelligent. She got off her leash at night and went missing for three nights. We put up flyers and handed the out all over the campground. People were very nice and helpful- we were actually surprised. We made friends with a woman, her 16 year old son, and their dog, who searched as hard, if not harder, than we did. When we finally found her, she was in the RV storage area, hiding under a rig that looked a lot like ours. Same year and model. I’m telling you: smart kitty.
I’m still thrilled to have her back. With all the strays and coyotes around, after all that time I really thought she was gone. It was horrible. She is a member of this family. I couldn’t imagine pulling out of the park without her.
After that, we planned to boondock in the Santa Barbara mountains. First we visited family in Santa Barbara. When we headed into the hills, the roads were not good. The forest ranger website said they were…but they were not. They were steep and covered in rocks, with no way to turn around for miles. Our engine gave out on a particularly steep incline. We managed to get it to start again and up to a safe area, where we left the car and many belongings, to reduce weight. It looked like it might storm, which would have been very hazardous, so we took the RV back down the hill and into Carpinteria. Drew has an aunt there, and we parked on the road by her apartment.
The next week was a mess of getting the RV repaired, retrieving the car, staying at motels, having the cops called on us (long story), dealing with insurance, and general hectic days.
But, we have our home back and it works fine. The step got busted, beyond repair. Everything else is fine. Now, we are at a park in Acton once more. That’s north of Los Angeles. We are still hanging around here until my conference at the end of March. Then we are getting to Oregon as soon as possible. We are all ready to be done with California for a while.
It’s been 6 months on the road, by the way, and nearly a year since I started this blog. Not bad.
Currently camping/staying in: Morgan Hill, Paicines, soon San Francisco…it’s complicated. But we are in California! Yes.
I started writing this entry as a reflection on my life since I’ve been with Joey. We realized early in our relationship that we wanted to move out west. So did his son, Drew. I wanted to give you a sense of what we had to get away from in Syracuse…but I’m realizing that would take another whole book on my part. Suffice to say, Syracuse was slowly killing us for multiple reasons. We had our best friend and family-by-choice, Erica. And while that was huge…we still had to leave. The original plan was to get to California. The idea for the RV came later (though it had been a longtime dream of Joey’s, one that he had almost actualized in his previous marriage).
And so, here we finally are, in California. I suppose I could say “back in California.” I spent a lot of my childhood school breaks in San Diego, because my dad traveled for work. I also lived out here a few years ago, on my own (see my most recent book, Show Trans). But for the most part I’ve been an upstate New Yorker all my life. We travelled from coast to coast. Within a week I swam in the Atlantic and Pacific ocean. It’s pretty mind boggling.
There’s an Instagram feed on the side of my blog now, if you want to see pictures. I’m finding that’s way less hassle then trying to insert them in these text entries.
Since I’m not going to reflect on how we got here– not at this time– I am going to focus on the here and now, and just what that is. Well, first actually, I will give a brief list of what has occurred the past week or so. We traveled to Jerome, AZ one evening, briefly: an artist colony in the hills. We stayed at a Cracker Barrel en route. We spent one night off of Ventura Highway, waking up to an empty beach on a weekday for sunrise. That was amazing. That’s when it all really hit me that I am here and this is life.
There has been a lot of low times. A lot of stress. I still feel depressed, often. This has been hard work. It is not a full-time vacation. And we are not rich, or even really secure yet…
But the cats seem happy. Drew has wi-fi. I’m in California. Joey’s about to have surgery in San Francisco on the 20th, which is both stressful as hell but going to be so good for him in the long run and make his life easier.
And I’m sippin’ coffee and vaping in my camp chair, putting off a little longer my plans to make today productive if possible. It’s 9 am here, and skies are blue and the air is perfect. Yep. This is the life for me.
The past few weeks have been a blur. That’s sort of cliché to say, but it’s accurate. I can’t believe how far we’ve travelled. We went from Syracuse, down through the southeast, and then headed west. We’ve been through Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, and now Arizona. We’ve been doing a lot of boondocking, over-nighting in Walmart parking lots and such to save money, but also staying at some lovely parks.
Some of the more memorable moments would have to be:
- Swimming in the warm ocean waters at Buckroe Beach in Hampton, Virginia in mid September. I love bodies of water and swimming so, so much. I’m trying to find a way to swim several times a week.
- The wonderful audience I had for my reading at the LGBT Center of Hamptons Road in Norfolk, Virginia. It was a support group for trans folks and I read an except of my first book about the struggles, limitations, and ultimately beauty of human connection at a trans support group. So it was pretty perfect. People loved it, and I sold a lot of books. Then we stayed for the group. It was a much more positive experience than I had in Syracuse at such groups. It was really good for both Joey and me, I think. We sometimes lose our hope for community.
- Staying at a camp in North Carolina where we had to literally be the only campers without at least one confederate flag on our RV. Yikes.
- Things started getting really, really beautiful awesome when we arrived at Caprock Canyon in Quitaque, Texas. That’s when it started to feel like the West. They have a herd of buffalo there! I seriously fell in love with them. They were…adorable and ferocious herbavores. I. Love. Them. The canyons were also beautiful as hell.
- At Caprock Canyon we were able to go out into the canyons and find the perfect spot to view the lunar eclipse. You can read my partner Joey’s story about that here.
- Albuquerque was pretty cool. We stayed in the parking lot of a casino for free. But they had good gluten free and veggie options for us at local grocery stores.
- Joey and I jumped in “the Blue Hole” which is a very small but deep swimming hole in New Mexico. The water was super cold and clear. It was fun.
- Last night we stayed at Meteor Crater RV Park in Arizona, and now we are at another park, south of Flagstaff. It’s beautiful here too. Tomorrow we are going to find rivers and swimming holes.
Let’s talk about my state of mind. How am I feeling? Good question, self. I feel like I’m finally living a life I want. I used to always wake up every morning, feeling like today wasn’t the day. Like I was waiting for something to make me happy. I don’t have the feeling so much anymore. That’s seriously profound for me.
I’ve struggled a lot with mental health, as a trans/queer survivor of repeated sexual, physical, verbal and emotional abuse throughout my life. That struggle has included a lot of depression. I don’t feel depressed right now. I’m having some PTSD stuff still. Nightmares. Flashes of unpleasant childhood memories. Things piecing themselves together, slowly. I’m still very shy and anxious around people outside my family and my cats. I’m even anxious around Drew a lot of the time. But I feel like I’m living something worthwhile. There’s a lot of practical stuff that needs to be done, so I haven’t had all that much energy for creativity. I say that, but it’s not exactly true. I’m just hard on myself. Still, I feel like these adventures will inspire wonderful things. Art. I have to be patient with myself.
On a side note, I’m actually making more money from booksales than ever. The future is ever unpredictable, but I think it’s gonna be alright. This is surprisingly an affordable way to live so far. I’m privileged to have Joey, who can afford to make some investments upfront. That’s been the key. But it’s seeming to work out so far, for all of us. I’m not losing money.
Bottom line: I’m happy and hopeful. Pictures forthcoming. What I’d really love is to just install a stream of them from my instagram show up on the main page, and then use these entries for text . Maybe there’s a widget for that. I’ll investigate.
Anyway. The stars are out. The air is warm but arid and pleasant. Goodnight, readers.