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Nine years on ATS today - A painfully long and boring personal reflection

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posted on Jul, 29 2016 @ 06:52 AM

Today marks the ninth anniversary of my membership here save for a few months in the penalty box so please indulge me a moment to reflect on what this has meant to me and allow me to apologize in advance for this post that is a TL;DR read for all but the very bored few. A little too much wine, a smoke and the late hour combine and compel me to write this but I'm not exactly sure why as it is somewhat out of character. It's a milestone of sort, I guess, and even as I have advanced in age, the little things and small accomplishments still have meaning or maybe more meaning? I am going to share some of that with you now.

Like many, I lurked for some length of time before actually signing up so have seen the many ebbs and flows and iterations of this website over time. I've witnessed many members come and go, rise and fall, myself included as I have been once banned and returned as someone hopefully kinder and smarter but not still without strong opinion on certain topics of interest to me that touch on the things I am passionate about. Life without passion of some sort is wasted and meaningless and although I have many others, the one concerning my involvement in this community is unique.

The point of this post is to pause and reflect on the ways a site such as this one can have or influence a person's attitudes and feelings on things ranging from the far out esoteric woo to helping to clarify and define more personal thoughts and viewpoints. ATS and some of the people I've met and some of the discussions I've been involved in have influenced me significantly. This is to document some of that and maybe get others to think about the changes in their own lives or thoughts this crazy and often maddening place has helped bring about for them. The Internet in general can be included in that thought.

Many around here often share the sentiment that ATS is community, is family and is an important part of their lives, socialization and interaction. Although not often expressed, us lesser knowns that mostly lurk in the shadows that shy away from the chit-chat and camaraderie still also feel a part of the family here, a part of the community even though we may be relegated to obscurity or develop less than stellar reputations or even none at all.

In this post, I do talk about myself a little assuming that not everyone already knows my tale but this isn't about my story as much as it is about the ways some of my personal feelings and attitudes have changed during my time here at ATS. This is neither a rant nor some sappy emotional exposé as much as it is an ode to ATS and the community in spite of the often controversial nature of my presence and opinions I express here.

The bulk of my first eight years of membership were mostly silent having something like only thirty posts during that time being more of an observer rather than participant, often biting my tongue and not wanting to get involved even in things I felt strongly about. I just let them slide and watched and listened.

That all changed around May of last year when I started reading the posts from a young woman, nearly to the day forty years my junior, that inspired me to U2U her with my words of support for things she had posted and to share with her some of our common life experiences. As a bright university student, her knowledge of space, astronomy and science was impressive but when she began to speak of her personal journey of gender transition at a young age and going through the process of changing sex, I knew I had come across a rare kindred spirit and fellow traveler of the journey traversed by few. In spite of our age difference, we hit it off right away.

It took a lot of encouragement on her part to convince me to speak up as I have walked a similar path in life as a transgender child but in the very different times of the 1960's. This has always been a very private and personal aspect of my history that I've shared with very few and still something in the physical sphere that people don't know about me and I prefer to keep it that way. I was reluctant to involve myself with or expose myself to the online world fearing someone would make a connection between the digital and physical realms. (Read: paranoia mixed with a certain degree of embarrassment and something a genuine pain in the ass to deal with) I am not on any social media platforms or member of any other forums or groups and not part of the LGB() or trans communities so I was pretty apprehensive about joining the conversation.

However, she was persuasive and I was motivated to stand with her and share my past with the board and since then, have done so often in great and sometimes painful detail in the name of educating others and to foster understanding and support of today's trans youth, their families and others dealing with transgender issues. I know the struggles of trans children, their pain, their challenges and know these things can be overcome with love, compassion and support. This sharing of knowledge here about these things has become my passion and talking about my life, which is more of a sidenote, somewhat of a personal awakening for me and a revelation in terms of self acceptance.

Although I may give the impression I am "out and proud" about my medical history, this is something I am not in the real world. I've told three people in the last 32 years and only because physical intimacy was involved. Having a place unique to all others where I am open about my history and life has helped me to deal with some of my own internalized transphobia to a certain degree. Having the opportunity to talk about it and being out as trans here has been positive and beneficial to me but has not been entirely without its downside.

My adult life has been wonderful, amazing, happy and even magical at times but remembering and writing about some of the things I went through as a child and more difficult times in my life has not always been easy. Discussing some of these things here has helped me gain some perspective on it all and of the kind of things I put my parents through I hadn't really acknowledged until even recently. ATS has been the platform and catalyst for me to explore these memories, feelings and experiences and as a result has helped me to grow as a person. Being here has had significance to me in a way I can't quite describe. It has forced me to step outside of my comfort zones.

On the other hand, it has also made me more aware of the fear and ignorance of people like me that is often expressed as prejudice, hate, intolerance, bigotry, transphobia, ignorance, violence, mockery and ridicule. Not that I feel like I'm a victim of any of that or anything but these are things that trans people live with that they shouldn't have to.


posted on Jul, 29 2016 @ 06:53 AM
I have been lucky in life and fortunate to have never faced these things in the real world beyond my tumultuous high school years which were a very long time ago as I'm now well on my way to my 62nd birthday. There have been days here though where some of the attitudes and opinions expressed about transgender and transsexual people have been very hostile, caustic and difficult to endure and even if not directed at or applicable to me personally, they still can hurt and be difficult to read. Some days, I have had to simply walk away. Some days I have been up for the fight. Others have made me just sit and cry being overwhelmed by it all so the ride has had its ups and had its downs but I'm still on-board clutching the handrail.

It's been said that around here if you're going to play, you'd better have pretty thick skin and for the most part, I do. My tenure here at ATS has helped me to develop that and I consider myself a survivor but I've never had to face some of the detractors and hostility and brain-locked individuals in the real world that I have on this board and hope that I never will. In life, I've always been treated with courtesy, dignity and respect mostly due to the privilege of being invisibly trans. Here I am visibly trans, I'm "out", and that is a very different and unusual experience and a different perspective. It's good for me but awkward.

So, ATS has been a love/hate relationship all at the same time or maybe a bad addiction but nevertheless, is still one of my windows on the world and something I value highly. During the several months after I was banned, which was for just cause, I still visited the site multiple times during the day and night and couldn't stay away from the community I felt I belonged, even if only peripherally. I had to come back and add my voice as I feel it needs to be heard and adds to the depth of the discussions here and can be helpful.

When I did return, my intention was to leave my personal history out of the discussion and start fresh feeling it gave me a more neutral, less biased position in my advocacy for trans youth. I didn't figure I was going to get away with that for long but then more or less as I expected, I was inadvertently outed by a member that knew me before I was exiled

At first I was angry and felt somewhat betrayed but now realize it was a blessing in disguise as once again opening up my history to be part of the discussion is informative and educational and since I've been here as long as I have, I have no plans of going anywhere and will continue to do the things I've done and continue to share my voice and experience in these matters because quite honestly, I think it is important to show folks like me are just folks and to provide some genuine knowledge and experience on the subject. I certainly cannot speak for all trans people as everyone's experience is different and mine is unique but I still take satisfaction in the fact that some have learned from me and some have examined their own attitudes and opinions about all this and some have even come to a better understanding of it all just from engaging with me and talking. That helps everyone.

ATS with all your good and bad, you're still important to me and will be for the foreseeable future. I don't have many friends here but the ones I do mean the world to me and regardless of how well I fit in or how much or little value there is in my words, you, the people I love and the people I hate are all still my community and I am a part of yours. We're all human. Let's be kind to each other.

Thanks ATS for nine years. Yeah, this is just some silly spot in the vast Internet galaxy but it is the place I call home, warts and all.

How do you feel or what part has ATS played in your lives?


(note to self - do not drink wine, stay up until 4:30 AM and post)

posted on Jul, 29 2016 @ 07:10 AM
ATS has no big part in my life , I live in the real world. But I have to say I have found joy in reading the posts of some great people, so ATS is a place I like to be but dont need to be.

posted on Jul, 29 2016 @ 08:09 AM
a reply to: Freija
THIS is one of the reasons I come here. Thank you for posting such a genuine and sincere OP. I spent much of my life with people who believed just like me. Oh I had experience outside of it before, and now after, but the bulk was with those folks. When I left that group of people, I knew I wanted...NEEDED perspective in my life that was vastly different from what I had been part of for decades. ATS, it's members and staff have given me more than I could have hoped for.

So many people live their lives in a vacuum, and think their subjective view of the world is how the world really is. I had the advantage of having a life before I was "indoctrinated"(self and otherwise), but many don't. They're stuck in a subjective reality that doesn't allow for any other world view. I appreciate every member here, whether we have laughed together, or argued together. The importance of perspectives other than our own can't be over stated, and you just added another to mine.

Happy Anniversary.
edit on 7/29/2016 by Klassified because: ETA

edit on 7/29/2016 by Klassified because: better wording

posted on Jul, 29 2016 @ 08:49 AM
a reply to: Freija

Happy Anniversary and thank you for being so willing to face the fiery dragon of total disapproval. I wish I were so brave. I have learned a lot from you.

posted on Jul, 29 2016 @ 10:05 AM
a reply to: Klassified

Well said Klassified! Many of my indoctrinated beliefs are no longer what they once were.

ATS calls me on my BS, and for that I am grateful.

ATS has really opened my eyes to a larger world I would never have experienced in my little bubble.

I read and appreciate all perspectives here.

Thanks Freija.

posted on Jul, 29 2016 @ 10:10 AM
Just want to thank you for writing such a good OP

posted on Jul, 29 2016 @ 10:25 AM

I am always amazed at the strength, intelligence and wit of your posts. As we have been on some of these threads together, I read your posts and think, "wow, she said it so much better than I did". You almost intimidate me with your ability to articulate so well while I flounder about. I try to learn from you so that I can be better.

It must be hard for you to keep at it when there is so much negativity pointed directly at who you are at your core. Frankly, I don't know how you do it, but I DO know that ATS is a better place with you here.

Happy ninth anniversary, friend! Here's to many, many more!

posted on Jul, 29 2016 @ 10:31 AM
a reply to: kaylaluv

I'm glad I am not the only one floundering about.

posted on Jul, 29 2016 @ 11:00 AM
a reply to: Freija

I think KaylaLuv came really close to echoing my feelings on this. Congratulations on putting up with all of it. I have so much love for you and perk up whenever I see a post by you and I wish it were more often.

Hope everything is going well on your end.

posted on Jul, 29 2016 @ 05:54 PM
Thank you all so much for your comments, thoughts and U2U's. It means a lot and I am humbled if not flattered by the response.

I'm also a little surprised it seems many have managed to wade their way through my vast wall of text. It was from the heart and a little raw in places exposing some of my own vulnerabilities but as thoughtfully noted, it was genuine and sincere.

My appreciation goes out to all of you for the stars, flags and kind posts. At times it feels overwhelming around here but I take inspiration in knowing I have opened a few minds and changed an opinion or two and that's what keeps me going.

posted on Jul, 29 2016 @ 07:16 PM
a reply to: Freija

for the record, you are my favorite SJW.

Happy 9th.

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