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
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.