A Reader Reaches Out: Let’s Give Brysen Our Attention!

Brysen left this as a comment on one of my posts, but I thought it better as a post of its own, and implore you all to give Brysen the benefit of your time and experience:

Brysen writes,

“At 42, I’m at an impass. I myself was my fathers son/daughter. He not unlike others, had no idea how to relate, nor did my mother. I was abused by my father as a child and my mother hid from his alcoholism and his abuse of others in religion, forcing my sisters and I to follow suit. Decades of therapy and “two middle fingers” (thanks for the loan, lol!) have healed most of the damage and trauma. due to the religous fear, and all around fear of rejection, I lived in hiding of being gay until I was 30. Living in hiding sucked. I wasn’t just “not out” I was not out, not dating, not involved, and filling my life with my career to avoid facing what I was missing.
Here I am at 42. I am once again tired of hiding. I’m a masculine lesbian that is niether male nor female within but as so eloquently put recently…some where in between,…and I like it. It is who I have been my whole life and he/she/we are dying/living to get out. I don’t consider myself trans, but I don’t like my chest as well. I’m totally cool with the bottom bits ( Your terminology cracks me up) but I am NOT good with my name. I have started calling myself Brysen and have mentioned changing my name to one of my friends and my twin sister, I’m not sure what to do. I feel like it’s the right thing for me, but who changes their entire name at 42. I live in good ole conservative southwest Florida, and for the first time I went out as myself today. Unshaven legs in shorts, unshaven armpits in t-shirt, my handsome short boy hair styled, and armed with anxiety I greeted the world with a smile. Thankfully I was in turn greeted with a smile.
At this point I’m at an impass of what to do for me. Change my name? live out loud? Let go and be honest of who I am? Any and all advise, relation, experience, suggestions would be sooooooo appreciated. From any and all brothers/sisters at arms.”


My advice, Brysen?  Who changes their name at 42?  You do, it sounds like.  And why is that not a good enough reason?  Doesn’t your desire count?  I’m 34 and I’m changing my name because it is right for me, and if anyone has a problem with that, they can fuck the fuck off.  I know what’s best for me because I spend a helluva lot of time contemplating it, and discussing it with the ones I love and trust, and I came to a conclusion.  I decide what is right for me.  And Brysen decides what is right for Brysen.

What I have found in my early encounters in coming “out” in public (with unshaven armpits and hairy legs) is that I care about it a shit-ton more than anyone I meet on the street does.  No one notices it but me.  Maybe it’s because I live in a liberal area populated with lesbians.  Maybe it’s because I am from Chicago.  I don’t want to advise you to be unsafe, but I really don’t think  you’ll be run out of town by pitchforks and torches for wearing cargo shorts in public.  Butches are strong in numbers in America.  But now let’s look at the LGBT scene in “southwest Florida”

-The Gay Social Network is a site dedicated to providing a social scene for gays and lesbians in SW Florida.

– A Siesta Key and Sarasota Area LGBT resource page can be found here.

-PFLAG chapters in Florida can be found here.

What do I recommend, Brysen?  I recommend you get an LGBT-friendly therapist.  (a list of which can be found here for Ft. Meyers, here for Estero).  I recommend you get used to living a life you want to lead, and I recommend you start thinking seriously about who you are authentically, because it’s the only way worth living.  I recommend you start unpacking all this baggage you have been carrying around with you, because you are going to be spending a lot of time in this new skin, this new identity, if you work for it and want it.

It doesn’t matter if you’re 42 or 62 or 82: you are alive, friend, and I want you to start believing you deserve the space you take up, the air in your lungs, and the love you feel in your heart for yourself.  i want you also to give yourself a break, to know this is a long road of self-work in front of you, and know that you are doing the best you can.

I speak boldly because I am in a position to do so: I have been spending a lot of time with my therapist (who I found on the same website I linked to above) unpacking my own shit.  I have a supportive partner and friends who have known me a long time and care about me.  Do you have those kinds of people in your life?  Be honest with them, be honest with yourself, and your whole world will shift in ways you never imagined.

Good luck, Brysen, and know I am here to support you.
-Your Pal Eli


Readers, you all are good and kind and intelligent people, and have a helluva lot to say about gender.  Let’s help out our friend Brysen.  What advice do you all have to give?

19 thoughts on “A Reader Reaches Out: Let’s Give Brysen Our Attention!

  1. Hi Brysen. I read your comment on the original post, and I’m so glad that Eli decided to dedicate a post to it. Your story is heartbreaking and inspirational at the same time. I agree with what Eli posted about “who changes their name at 42?” Let me tell you a bit of a story: My good friend has an aunt, who in her mid-40’s decided (for reasons she has never disclosed) to legally change her name. Not to a nickname, nobody in the family knows where her new name came from. She isn’t transgender, she wasn’t going through a divorce or any sort of mid-life crisis. She just decided that she wanted people to call her a name she identified with more than her birth name. Sure, the family still occasionally wonders about it, but years later the “name change incident” has become one of those things almost forgotten. So who changes their name at 42? Whoever wants to. She did. You can. You deserve every right to a name you identify with. Our names are our identity to the outside world. If you want it, you can do it.
    Now let me tell you a bit about me: I’m 30, and just starting to figure this whole “gender” thing out. It’s only in the past 6 months or so that I’ve been finding the terminology for me to ever tell people what I’m feeling. It’s through amazing blogs and bloggers such as this one (I’ll admit- in the past week or so I’ve checked in at least once a day), or neutrois.me run by Maddox (an amazingly helpful/inspirational person), and websites such as genderfork.com and transbucket that I’ve been able to research my own feelings and find others who feel the same way. It’s through the amazing support of my spouse that I’ve been able to epxplore my feelings in more detail in my real life (internet research is great and all, but the real world is where it counts, right?). And this is one of those topics that for every awesome, inspirational story I read, there’s another one that re-iterates to me that it’s too late in my life for this. So many stories start with “I’ve known I was a boy my whole life,” and you know what? I HAVEN’T known my whole life. The early years of my life I never really questioned, I was just a bit of a tomboy who didn’t like the double standards my parents set out for my brother vs. me. And then I was an awkward teen who didn’t like the double standards society set out for boys vs. girls. And not being able to say I’ve known my whole life is intimidating. It makes me feel less valid. It makes me feel like a fraud; but those are my own issues at feeling “not good enough.” I’ve had to learn that every time I read a story of a young transgender person saying “I’ve known all of my life that I was a (insert gender),” I have to accept that this is THEIR story, which in no way diminishes MY story. So I’ve come out later in life; my story is just as valid as theirs. And so is yours. My gender is just as valid as theirs. And so is yours.
    I’m not in therapy and never have been (and have no plans to ever be). I’m not “in the process of transitioning,” I am simply being me in the moment. I’m not transitioning in the same way that Cis folks who have an epiphany about their lives don’t transition into someone new as they adopt a new life philosophy. I’m just living, and because of that my life deserves respect.
    You deserve to have your gender and yourself treated with the same respect as everyone else. If that includes a name change and pronoun change, it still applies. If that includes a 42-year old coming out, it still applies. If that includes going out in public without shaving, it still applies. If that includes hormone treatment and surgery, it still applies. No matter what, IT STILL APPLIES.

    • So, coincidence or not, but my girlfriend’s aunt also changed her name when she moved out here (she was like mid-20’s to 30ish). I wrote about the respecting name changes – whether they are gender related or not.

      And obviously +1 for sharing your story, it is YOUR story. Whether you are 15 or 50 you have every right to say “you know what, whatever society told me I was, I’m not. It’s time I live my life as ME.”

      You are never too old to learn anything (or what, at 42 you know everything there is to know about life?) – and this includes yourself.

      • Thanks for the input, Maddox, and thanks for the link to your post as well–the more resources we can gather, the better!

  2. Hi Brysen
    I am middle aged,trans (mtf) and becoming so happy that honestly it almost hurts – and I know that sounds corny. For years I hid, trying, playing at being gay but I never had a moment of happiness. I found a therapist (I had substance issues) who was LGBT ‘very friendly’ and knowledgeable and at the age of 36 I came out for the first time. Yes the ensuing years have been tough, financially, career wise and personally very emotionally draining. But now as the dust settles and I am nearly done with my transition I cannot quite believe how happy I am. I never thought for a minute I could be this fulfilled. If I have any advice (and it’s slim) it is to be yourself because being the ‘real’ you is always a better place than not and if you are confident as you walk down the road then most of the time people don’t notice any difference. No this is not a perfect world to be different or trans but honestly doing the small stuff; for you not shaving for me electrolysis, and the bigger things; changing names, makes you feel alive. Go out and be proud of who you are. Congratulations on the first steps.

    • Thanks for your time, Juno. And yes, I couldn’t agree more with, “honestly doing the small stuff; for you not shaving for me electrolysis, and the bigger things; changing names, makes you feel alive. Go out and be proud of who you are.”


  3. Thank you ALL so much! In every other aspect of my life I am confident, strong, secure and with your words, I am now inspired. I have two wonderful sisters and a good friend for support. And as a strong believer in the kindness of strangers… I have a great new support in the words you have endeared. And yes, I love Bry, Bryse, and Brysen. I can’t express my thanks enough (on what has become) a beautiful Easter, Passover, Sunday! You ALL totally ROCK!!! (Yep…I just said that.) (I live with a 10yr. old).

    Thank you Eli for the quick research ( that was above and beyond). I live in Naples, so Estero is a hop up the road, and I will put the other resources to use today! As a really good judge of character, i’m thinking i have met some truly wonderful/awesome people.

    • no problem at all Bry. We are here for each other, and I am glad to have fostered a safe (internet) space for genders of all varieties.

      Keep us posted on your advancements and troubles!


  4. To Brysen,

    I am a 62 year old TG woman who stopped living my life as a man only four months ago. I came out all at once over the course of a week and packed all my boy clothes into boxes and put them in storage until I have the time to decide whether to sell them at a garage sale or give them away. I legally changed my first and middle names and kept my last and am now living as Deanna Joy Hallmark. Everything on the TG websites said I needed to pass in public but instead I just began to dress and do makeup to please myself and in no time I became so good at it that it is now rare that anyone will call me sir or use the wrong pronouns. I posted my present job on Facebook as being a beautiful, confident and competent woman and I soon will be looking for work as a bartender as soon as I complete a training course. I can go to the gym, to the beauty parlor or even to the lingerie department of a department store and comfortably converse with other women who never seem to question who I appear to be and will take me into their confidence without a second thought. As I am comfortable with myself, so are others comfortable with me.


  5. Guess I’m still a girl, lol… that got me teared up. YOU GO GIRL!!!!!! Thank you Deanna!

    So yesterday I sent an email to one of my good friends and my counselor that I bounce things off of from time to time, announcing my name change an some changes to be forthcoming. Today I told my coworkers I was going to legally change my name ( suprisingly the universe brought the subject up in their conversation, I just dove in) and I had an indepth converstion with my counselor who is totally on board and ready to meet my needs and challenges head on. I drafted an email to my parents, an impersonal yet necessary precursor and plan on sending it out in the next few days.

    Thank you ALL for your inspiration.

    And to pick your brains and experiences a little futher… was it wierd hearing your new names for the first time? How long did it take to adjust? Oh yeah… and I got my low dose script for T. Took it years ago for health reasons and haven’t felt right since I stopped, so WOOOHOOO! let’s get this party started! Picked up some rescue remedy for the anxiety too.

    • Bry,

      Firstly, congrats on all these steps you are taking. It is no small feat to face our true selves, to break out and be that person against the conforming will of the masses. So bravo. 😉

      About the name change: yes, for me at first it was a bit weird, but then it felt very homy very soon. Sometimes I hear someone say my birth name and I turn to realize they are speaking to someone else. That reflex takes a little time to work out. But overall, it has been a truly positive experience, claiming a new name that suits me and being known by it.


  6. Whew, thanks Eli! knowing that some one else has experienced the same, or similar feelings is giving me the nudge to move forward in leaps and bounds. Humorously enough, my prior name is unique enough that if I do hear it… they are definitely talking to me. LOL!

    Great day & Blessings,

  7. I told all of my family about the name change this weekend and the othe changes they may expect. It went unbelievably well. Also found all the paper work necessary online and have it all ready to drop to the county clerk on Tuesday (off work). Thanks again Eli, and all of you!

  8. Hi all! As all of you were such a huge part of where I am today, I thought I would share some unbelievably happy news.
    My father and I have always had a less than positive relationship. He was a abusive alcoholic. I actually spent my twenties and half of my thirties with almost no contact. In the last two years he and I have come to a new understanding. (he quit drinking 15yrs ago). Over the weekend I told him via text (I know lousy way, but I still respond to him poorly during conflict) about my name change and a whole list of other things going on with me, encompassing my lifetime thus far. I was expecting the worst. Instead, I received this via text, ” I LOVE YOU. If this is what makes you happy and is right for you, then it is right for me and it is what I want too.”
    Acceptance. Saturday April 14th 2012, after years of so much ugliness and separation…I have acceptance.
    Now on to accepting myself.
    Thank you ALL!

    (Hope you are doing well Eli!)

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