Despite the tone of the title, I have an important announcement:
When Erin announced that she was going to post a photo of herself if we met my surgery goal by the end of August (which you guys SMASHED in 36 hours!), it was decided that a plan needed to be in place.
Why? Because, as has been mentioned before, Erin suffers from a very severe form of body dysmorphic disorder.
By now, you’ve realized how severe, and why I made such a big deal out of making sure she didn’t feel pressured to do a bikini or cheesecake photo. Folks, this is a big deal. I don’t want my friends to get hurt, or to hurt themselves on my behalf. Erin was willing to do something that made her physically ill because she felt she’d made a promise…that should tell you the strength of her character.
Erin and I began talking on Facebook, and I don’t even remember how – it was just like, “Oh, hi, what’s up?” After a while, she confessed to me that she had a secret, and asked me to not freak out if I was told.
Obviously my curiosity was piqued, but when someone says something like that to you, your first question should be, “Are you sure this is something you want to tell me?” And I asked – she confirmed that she trusted me. I was not really worried about it – I mean, I knew she had BDD, her sexual preference, and a few other things we’d talked about, so what else was there?
Then I was emailed the first of several photos of Erin, and I will admit, at first, I was speechless…for maybe a second, tops, and then I messaged her back and and went, “Oh, okay. Cool. Thanks for trusting me.” The actual conversation was a lot more complicated, but that’s the gist of it, and I’m sure she’d back me up on that point.
The funny thing is, I’d literally just had another friend come out as the same form of LGBTQ – a biological male who felt like a gender female, and is actually going through the steps for “gender re-assignment” surgery (a misnomer, but I’m not going to get into that, now), including therapy. She’s also Erin’s age. (Yes, I use the pronouns that a person prefers, because it’s respectful, not because it’s politically correct.)
Point is, this is a big deal. This is one of those things that people have a hard time understanding and dealing with because it seems so odd to just not be what you look like – I’m female, so folks assume that I’m either straight or a lesbian, or if I say I’m bi, it’s just because I like to make out with other girls at parties (spoiler alert: I’m bisexual, and I think making out with other girls at parties for attention is one of the stupidest things, ever, though I don’t discourage it…I just avoid it, because it’s NoMGDB). No one assumes that, if I’m a lesbian, it’s because I feel like a man trapped in the body of a woman (like Chastity Bono…now Chaz…who went through so much crap just for being who he felt inside). Our eyes tell us so much that we sometimes forget to use our brains to process information…and it’s THAT failing of a lot of society that has caused so many issues…and it’s that failing that has caused Erin to wait this long to come out.
Erin posted this photo of herself and Oleg the other day, without naming herself as the other individual. That, in and of itself, for someone who identifies as genderqueer, is an incredibly brave move (guys make jokes about being a lesbian trapped in a man’s body…this is Erin’s reality, and it’s not funny). She had to know that people might ask, “Who’s that other guy?” Yet…she did it, anyway. She stuck a mirror on her blog, even though she’s written some pretty thinly-veiled accounts of how she feels about what she sees in the mirror, and she didn’t immediately tear it down, but linked it both on Facebook and Google+…just as she would any other post she makes.
Before I knew what Erin looked like, I enjoyed her posts, her conversation, and her company. Her appearance changed none of that for me, except to incite some concern when I felt she was going to hurt herself. If, after this, she chooses to pose in a poodle skirt with a coconut bra top, wearing a fright wig and 4″ press-on nails, I will stand beside her and support her every step of the way. Why is it different, now? Well, because now you know what you’re voting for, and she knows that you know.
Knowledge is power…and not just for those on the receiving end.
Brigid made a post regarding this topic, and the last part of it is, essentially, why I have the attitude I do about people (which is to say, if they’re good people, who the hell cares what they prefer, what they look like, where they work, etc?):
What if just for a day, you were judged solely on what you’ve read, what you’ve learned the hard way, what you are, what drives and inspires. What if you were valued for your innate abilities to survive and prosper through that day without birthright; handling yourself and your actions without apology, but simply by the human vanity of your own strengths and the grace of He who loves us as we are.
If that day came, who would the world see?
We’ve already established that Erin is willing to do nearly anything for those she cares about (see above linked posts regarding her efforts toward my surgery and Lyme treatment). Are you willing to do the same? Are you willing to show who you really are…and is that person willing to stand with Erin Palette?
I am. And if you mess with her, you mess with me.
I may be out of commission for a few months, but I am armed with words, and if you do ANYTHING to outright hurt my friend and a member of this blogging family, you will feel the full power of what my words (and knowledge) can do.