Checking out.

From the beginning of this blog, I set out to keep it as professional as possible. I’ve been down the more personal “diary” route before (oh the teenage livejournal memories) and had no desire to go down that road again.
I’ve been homeless for a month now, living on couches and “squatting” at a cabin in the mountains before being snowed in (and subsequently evacuated/forced out) and with no end in sight, it’s time to just “check out” of life. And this post can tell my story, and serve as my “note.”
The worst part is that this wall of text isn’t exhaustive, there’s always something that gets left out.

While people love to deny that it’s possible, I was basically fucked by birth.

I was the third (and last/youngest) child to an emotionally dead/absent mother and an alcoholic father. From my first memories at four years old I knew I had gender identity disorder (though not knowing the term for many years.) The why and how isn’t terribly important, because my family was also poor, so transition as a child, when living a “normal” life may have been possible, was never in the cards. Though we were objectively poor, my mom was always desperately trying to pretend/fit in with “middle class” communities. That may have even played a significant role in my brother and sister both managing to break the cycle of poverty, but it was too little too late for me. By the time I was 8 we had already been evicted/moved 5 times and done a stint of several months homeless.

When I say my mother was emotionally dead, well, my sister and I have both commented that she showed more affection and love to her dogs over the years than her kids. Nothing we did was ever good enough for her, and life was constant fear of when would she yell at us for whatever we had unknowingly fucked up that day. While my dad was absolutely an alcoholic, he wasn’t violent, just an absent parent; he drank all night in the garage, didn’t really spend much time with us. From my earliest school memories I was the social outcast, and being the youngest of three was always failing to live up to the legacy of my older brother and sister, both were honors/AP students, etc. Plus they both resented me; in their eyes I was somehow my mom’s “favorite” child, because she bought me “shut up” toys. I realize now that it was just that I was an easy target for their own loneliness and craving for love/validation that they weren’t getting from our parents, but that doesn’t change the fact that their resentment had very real effects on my life. While my dad wasn’t violent, my brother was, I was pretty regularly bullied/”beat up” by him. And my sister was just outright mean to my face, seeming to take pleasure when she me made ashamed of the few interests I had (e.g. star wars, rollercoasters, computers, etc.) All of that lead to me being suicidal pretty much from the time puberty hit, eventually I dropped out of high school, started smoking and drinking heavily when I was 14 or 15.

But even throwing all of that aside, and just focusing on my adult life, I’ve tried and failed at basically everything, including moving out on my own, simple retail work (was fired several times) constant struggles at community college (it took me 4+ years to finish an AA) then failed out of university (UCSB) and eventually joined the navy when I was 25, only to be separated after six months for depression and anxiety.

After the navy, I knew it was time to try and address the gender identity issue. Over the past six years now, I had one brief period of happiness the first few months on hormone replacement therapy, but from the first day presenting female in public I’ve been mis-gendered constantly, pointed-at/laughed at by kids and adults alike, and sometimes verbally harassed. So that happiness is long gone.

Given that the mis-gendering and outright harassment continues to this day, it’s safe to say that I will never actually pass/be accepted as female. Along the way my brother disowned me, my few close friendships have been strained or ended completely, and my depression and anxiety basically developed into agoraphobia (granted this was only ever ‘diagnosed’ by an MFT intern, so not official in any legal situation/context.) Then there were the online games (LotRO & GW2) really the only social outlet I had. Of course, it’s the internet, so from the first time I opened my mouth on voice chat, people knew I’m a tranny, and I’ve been constantly harassed there too. At one point I was even ‘doxxed’ (people found my private information, phone number, pictures, etc. and made them public, posting them to facebook, etc.)

And the US government being what it is, I was denied unemployment after the Navy, denied disability, and until the ACA denied health care (more on that below, I still don’t have health insurance thanks to loopholes in the law.) I’m effectively unemployable now; 32, trans (but pre-op, which is an HR nightmare) with no college degree, an RE4 “Other than Honorable” discharge from the Navy, and severe anxiety/agoraphobia. Nobody has responded to a resume or job application in 6+ years; not even fast food chains or Starbucks.

And there have been very real financial costs for this. Hormones on average cost $30/month, so $2000 for 5.5+ years, ignoring the higher price I paid the first few months when I had to buy online. Plus the last ~$1500 I had on electrolysis and laser hair removal which was only ever ~80-90% effective. And all of the women’s clothes which went almost entirely unworn and were re-sold on eBay for pennies since I bought most of them when I was still hopeful/idealistic; before I understood how little hormones would do and how ugly I would be.

And there’s no way to sugar-coat my physical appearance, I am fucking ugly, plain and simple. I look like a fucking man in drag on the best day. Nobody today will ever point and say I’m female. No girl ever grows up saying, “Wow, I can’t wait to be fucking ugly, get mis-gendered/mistaken for a man and laughed at.”

Mentally and emotionally, I don’t relate to anyone anymore. I have envy/jealousy bordering on hate towards most women, and fear, distrust and alienation towards most men. And the fact that I feel this way makes me hate myself even more. I can’t have kids and wouldn’t know how (or trust myself) to be a parent anyway. Even if I were employed, self-sufficient, etc. I couldn’t attempt to date or have any kind of relationship. I can’t ever answer/respond to “M4F” personals, because I don’t pass for female, I don’t sound even remotely female, and I know full well I’ll never afford surgery. When people post like that, they are implicitly excluding trans women, and I sure as hell don’t trust anyone specifically seeking a tranny as ugly as me.

And then there’s the “end game” goal of gender reassignment surgery. The state of health care in the USA means I’ll never afford it. (As an aside, I went the first few years post-Navy without any insurance, until the ACA/Obama-care expanded state run/subsidized plans a couple years ago. Being unemployed, I qualified, except that in October 2015 my coverage was cancelled as the social services department re-classified me as a “Medically Indigent Adult” because I’m not pregnant, nor a single mother, nor permanently disabled in their eyes.) Beyond all of that, after nearly two decades of online research, it seems that very few doctors have good ‘success rates’ with surgery in the first place. The only one I see recommended online with any frequency (and at this point the only surgeon I’d really consider) is actually in Thailand, “Dr. Suporn” and flat won’t be covered by US health care in the first place. And even if someone just dumped $30,000-50,000 in my lap for surgery, I will still just be an ugly tranny, still not have had female upbringing or socialization, still have a male voice, etc. Surgery might eliminate one source of anxiety (genitals/tucking) but it won’t make me female, the rest of the world will still just look at me as a man in drag/pretending to be female.

So every dollar I had from the 6-months in the Navy, and six years of my life wasted. I’m still horribly lonely, I’m depressed, I’m not happier, and arguably my life is worse than ever. And when the last therapist I saw told me, “You don’t deserve help (in the context of government assistance; e.g. don’t deserve disability, health care, etc.) because other people have it worse.” It’s just time to give up.

And the final nail came in December when we were evicted. My mom lives on less than $2000/month from her social security and pension/retirement, and there’s just nowhere left. My dad is dead. My brother, sister, and all of my extended family with any spare rooms have all refused to let us stay with them, and the only shelter my mom’s church could offer was a cabin in the mountains with no internet access, no television, no cell service, etc. The first day we had no power, and frozen water pipes. Those were fixed for less than 48 hours before we were snowed in (3 feet over two days) and lost power for a week, at which point the local sheriff evacuated us because the access roads in the area are considered “closed” and won’t be plowed until April.

So now it’s constant bouncing between cheap motels, living in my mom’s car, and sleeping on my aunts couch (when it’s available.)

I have nothing. I have no future. My life doesn’t matter to anyone. For happiness to ever have been possible, I would have had to have been born genetically female, and I wasn’t. The world doesn’t want me or need me, and I am just not a strong enough person to deal with this life.
So I’m done.
Maybe this can offer some kind of insight into how broken this world is.

And my advice to anyone that’s struggling with gender identity, transition before puberty, or be prepared to live a life where you’re treated as less than human.

Memories

For several months now I’ve been using the app Day One (Journal / Notes / Diary) – Bloom Built, LLC to force myself to write at least a few sentences every day, even though this normally doesn’t make it anywhere public.

One handy feature is the ability to set a daily reminder, and even popup a quick entry window from your menubar. These reminders also show you a simple writing prompt, and can send them to Notification Center in Mac OS X.

Granted, after a few weeks you’re likely to see some repeat prompts, but on the whole it’s a nice touch, especially if you’re particularly struggling to find something to write.

Last night a reminder I hadn’t seen before showed up, not really a prompt at all, just a statement.
memories

This one struck me.

habitual cynicism

My initial reaction was cynical and negative, but I kept thinking about it until I went to bed, and still can’t quite shake it two days later. Do I really only have bad memories? I know there were good days or moments, but do they stand on their own? Is it possible to separate out the good moments from the overall context of my life? I feel like trying to isolate memories diminishes them; but trying to personally contextualize them makes them all negative/sad. And is there really any benefit to this?

I don’t know, I can’t really tie up this line of thought just yet.

The more I think about this, the more I’m reminded of an interesting conversation and thought experiment by CGPGrey which he talked about on Hello Internet 29. (the particular segment starts around the 54 minute mark)

Without hesitation, I would press the button.

Scumbag developer spotlight: Tapbots

As someone who just recently switched back to iOS, I’ve been turning to a lot of popular news and review websites to decide what applications to buy to replace apps I used on Android.

One big category is twitter apps, which are always a problem since Twitter is notorious for crippling what third party developers can do, even limiting the total number of users they can support with their infamous token limits.

After trying out one popular app, twitterific (free with in-app-purchases) for a few weeks over the summer, I was fairly happy, but before I purchased the upgrades, I wanted to try the other popular client, TweetBot. Tweetbot however has no trial option; it uses the older app pricing model; $5 up front, with no in-app purchases. Based on all of the glowing reviews on pretty much every review site I read, ~5 weeks ago I broke down and bought the app.

And today, with no prior warning or indication, no customer notifications, or emails, or developer blog posts anywhere. Just out of the ether, Tapbots launched Tweetbot 4 as a separate paid app, with no option for recent purchases to upgrade to the new version. The app store even allows for ‘clever’ upgrades thanks to the ‘complete my bundle’ option; this is how The Omni Group handled upgrades for their popular OmniFocus app when they released the universal version. This however requires the old and new apps be available in the store at the same time, and the developer creates a ‘bundle’ with both apps, so let’s see if they followed that route…

talbots_apps

Oh, well this doesn’t look very good at all… not only is there no bundle option for upgrades, Tapbots actually pulled the old version (tweetbot 3) from the app store. So not only do recent buyers have to fork over another $5 for version 4, but if for any reason you didn’t leave version 3 installed (and/or haven’t manually backed-up the ‘IPA’ file) you can’t re-install it, you’ve lost your purchased app entirely.

What happens if the app doesn’t transfer during a phone upgrade? Gone.
Need a warranty replacement for any reason? Gone.
Uninstall the app by accident? Gone.

This is a flat out user-hostile move, and shows that Tapbots doesn’t respect their customers. Granted this doesn’t matter, in a few weeks nobody will remember today, and people will turn to iMore, Mac Stories, et.al and see glowing reviews that make no mention of this.

Maybe I’d feel different if I were a long-time user, with months or years of updates already behind me, but I’m not; I’ve had Tweetbot 3 for 5 weeks, and I don’t feel the app offered enough to be worth $5 for 5 weeks of use. Given the way the launch of version 4 is being handled so far, I don’t trust the developer nor think they deserve another $5 at this point.

So this post can serve as my attempt at warning people about buying anything from Tapbots; they don’t respect you as a customer, so think very, very long about giving them your money.

El Capitan

So I finally took the plunge a couple weeks ago and upgraded my hackintosh to OS X 10.11 El Capitan. This is just some preliminary notes on how my upgrade went, and some guidelines you may want to follow if you’re similarly upgrading your machine.

Because this is a major version upgrade, and El Capitan is adding stricter SIP, I recommend being a bit more methodical/paranoid than normal with the upgrade:

  • copy existing clover config/installation to a USB key for backup/emergency use
    1. a full bootable clone of your 10.10 install is best, but a 10.10 USB installer with a known good clover config is good enough in most cases
  • find any/all updated kext patches for your hardware (e.g. cloveralc, handoff/BT, 5Ghz wifi)
  • copy all kexts that you plan to inject via clover to the 10.11 folder
    1. alternatively, you can copy your kexts to /Library/Extensions after your installation is finished. I chose this route so I could use a stricter SIP setting than most people are using.
  • add necessary ‘BooterConfig’ and ‘CsrActiveConfig’ values to config.plist to configure or disable SIP
    1. most people are using CsrActiveConfig 0x67 or 0x77; this is basically entirely disabled, and ultimately turns off all of the security that SIP offers.
    2. if you just want to turn off kext signing (ala kext-dev-mode=1 from yosemite) you want to use 0x11
    3. you can find a list of the various Csr options over at insanelymac.
  • update any kext patches to their 10.11 versions
  • If you have an unsupported Nvidia card…
    1. manually turn off the web drivers from the preference pane prior to running the installer.
    2. On the final reboot after installing, manually add the nv_disable=1 boot flag just to be safe
    3. install Nvidia web drivers & reboot without nv_disable
  • If you use CloverALC, make sure to run the script again to re-insert the layout/zml files
  • rebuild kernel cache one last time and reboot

For Nvidia users using any SMBIOS other than Mac Pro, you don’t need to change your SMBIOS for the install. Use a tool like pacifist to force install the drivers, then manually run the installer package. The Nvidia installer script does a check for existing driver components (specifically NVDAResmanWeb.kext), and if it finds them, it bypasses the hardware/SMBIOS check and allows the installation on any system with compatible OS version.

Ok Apple, I’m interested…

I didn’t have a lot of interest (and definitely no sense of “FOMO”) when Apple first announced the Apple Watch, nor when it was released, nor even after WWDC and the Watch OS 2.0 announcement.

But that all changed today, because the rose-gold aluminum is just flat gorgeous. I don’t think there’s too much to say really, Apple did a fantastic job of nailing subtle feminine style. Granted, I’d still prefer an option for a 42mm sport watch in rose gold aluminum with the lavender band from the 38mm, but the stone band is also very clean and professional, and should pair well with the forthcoming Rose Gold iPhone 6s models.