Happy #TransDayOfVisibility! Remember to show your appreciation for all the trans peeps in your life by sending them $20 (PayPal works fine, thanks babes xoxo).
Nah but for realsies, this is my first TDOV as an open trans woman, and I have a lot of feelings about it.
My relationship with gender has been chaotic for about as long as I’ve been lucid. I spent the first chunk of my life being completely oblivious to the binary, not really understanding that there was a (societally perceived) disconnect between “girls” and “boys” and sort of just thinking I would grow up to be a woman because… That’s just how it worked, I guess?
Having it made explicitly clear that I wouldn’t* grow up to be a woman kind of spurred on my first real existential crisis. I spent my teen years trying to run and hide away from, ignore or brush aside my feelings of dysphoria, always trying to make excuses for why I felt envious of the girls around me and didn’t fit in with or relate to any of the boys. Like most of the trans people I know, I kind of just assumed that everyone wished they’d been born as the opposite sex – that gender envy was just a normal part of life that everyone experienced.
I didn’t know what the words ‘transgender’ or ‘dysphoria’ meant until 2014, and after that, it was impossible to ignore what was “wrong” with me.
I got real sad.
I tried numbing myself with drugs and alcohol.
I used self-harm as a crutch.
I wrote more suicide notes than I’d care to count.
I was introduced to non-binary identities in 2016 (at the age of 19) and made a bunch of queer friends, and for the first time in my life, it felt like things kind of made sense. I started identifying as non-binary in my private life and slowly started feeling more comfortable with myself, even though I was still presenting 100% masculine. But as I entered my 20s, my beard got thicker, my skin got rougher and I started to go bald, and naturally my dysphoria intensified as a result.
I started seeing a psychiatrist that specialised in transgender care and planned to start hormones in secret in early 2017, but my sister found out and after a fight with her, I was spooked out of it (thankfully she’s no longer a part of my life). Five years later, last May, I was able to “come out” properly and start living as Ellie in my day-to-day life, be more open with how I expressed myself and experiment more with feminine presentation (albeit with the beard intact and a mostly masculine wardrobe). I also started HRT (hormone replacement therapy, for the cis among us) last July.
I did feel very comfy being openly non-binary, but the more I connected with my femininity, the more I was forced to actually address and reckon with my dysphoria. “Maybe I’m actually just a trans woman” was an argument I’d had internally for years, and I settled the debate for myself a little while before I came out last May (which is why I didn’t explicitly use the term “non-binary” when I did), but I didn’t make the full leap and come out as a trans woman then because, among other reasons, I was scared. I didn’t know how to navigate what would come afterwards.
Over the last few weeks of 2022, there were a few key events that forced me to take my battle with dysphoria more seriously. It became painfully clear that I couldn’t keep denying the truth for myself, and… I chickened the fuck out. I freaked, spiralled and ultimately tried to kill myself on New Year’s Day.
After coming home from the hospital and settling back into reality, I came to the conclusion that if I was going to keep living, I needed to accept myself as a trans woman and get myself to a point where I felt okay living as one. I started thinking about how I could work myself towards a presentation I felt comfy with before gently coming out – I’d keep going on my weight loss journey until I felt okay about my shape, then I’d lose the beard and get all the follicles lasered off, get a hair transplant and start growing it out, practise make-up in private until I had it down-pat enough, and then finally come out one last time.
But after seeing my extended family at a funeral in early January, I realised that I didn’t have all that time at my disposal. It hurt too much to keep playing pretend – I couldn’t keep wearing the mask I’d been wearing for my whole life thus far; I couldn’t force myself to hide behind masculinity anymore.
I came out to my partner on January 12th and leapt straight into femme presentation with no sense of aesthetic, a few hair pieces, wicked stubble, no idea what I was doing with makeup… I mean, I still have no idea what I’m doing, but I feel like I’m slowly getting better? I am slowly figuring out how to dress, present and embrace myself as the woman I am. And the truth is that I’ve always been a woman, it just took me 26 years of struggling to accept that for myself.
I’m still struggling. I cry at least once a week over the fact I don’t have my own hair (that surgery is my #1 priority right now). I am finding voice training to be absolute hell (heat from fire, fire from heat). I do not pass in the slightest (as people in the street are always extremely keen to make clear), and the public transphobia is so much worse than I anticipated (see: that TERF rally here in Naarm a few weeks ago, where Victoria Police protected self-declared Neo-Nazis while they bashed trans rights activists). But I would much rather die as an open, struggling trans woman than live miserable and closeted.
I am more comfortable in myself now than I have ever been. Every mismatched fit, botched makeup job and vocal cord squeak is a learning opportunity – a baby step in becoming who I was always meant to be. When I look at myself in the mirror nowadays, i don’t immediately feel like shit. I smile. I see the hormones slowly starting to work their magic, I see my aesthetic skills developing, and I see a future where I feel comfortable in my own body. I see a girl trying her damn hardest to live her best life – a life of authenticity, radically and defiantly so – and my spirit burns for her. She’s my biggest inspiration.
TLDR: my name is Elizabeth Ashley Doria – Ellie for short (and if you’re wondering, Robinson is my mum’s maiden name; I use it for my writing as a tribute to the feminine energy that shaped me). My pronouns are she/her. I am a daughter to Mark and Jeanette, a sister to [redacted], a fiancée to Milo and a dog-mum to Cadbury.
I am a transgender woman, and I am proud as fuck to be one.
QUICK LIL’ CONTENT WARNING: This post openly discusses some potentially triggering topics, like gender dysphoria and transphobia, weight/diet/exercise stuff, financial insecurity and general mental illness vibes. If any of these might be triggering for you, I recommend proceeding with caution or giving this post a skip. It’s all good if you gotta do that, I still love you!
Hey, hi, hello!
Oh my God, it has been a MONTH. I refuse to believe February is the shortest month of the year – this one felt like it went on for approximate 13,462,373 infinities. But we got through it! And we went to a stack of gigs! Ten to be exact!
So like January, this month started pretty dismally – after last month’s whirlwind of emotions I was (or like, I have been) feeling very raw and sad and anxious. Milo and I went to see Girl In Red on the 1st and the show itself was incredible – she played all but one of the songs I was hoping she would (no love for ’Summer Depression’, sigh) and we both had a big ol’ bop – but it was also the first show I went to in girlmode, and it definitely kind of sucked being glared and stared and sneered and double-taked (double-taken?) at by a solid 20 people there.
Like I said last month, I don’t even come close to passing – not even close to close to close – but I was at least hoping that Girl In Red’s own (extremely queer) fanbase would be cool around visibly trans people. It was those curt up-and-downs – those quick-but-callous scans to verify that I was not a “real” woman – that really cut me. But I guess at their cores, cis queers are still cis people and exhibit cis people behaviours. I still had a great time at the show. And fuck the rest of Melbourne, I looked cute. I wore my fuzzy pink top and pseudo-edgy Valentine’s skirt from Dangerfield, fishnets and my buckle-y Docs, and I dolled myself up with a smoky red eye and razor-sharp wings… I objectively served cunt.
The next day I needed to grab some basics and felt confident so I didn’t bother de-feminising when I went for a mid-arvo Coles run; normally I’ll dress femme and girlmode around the apartment from the time I wake up, and then I’ll swap to boymode whenever I need to head out – it’s just a safety/not-feeling-like-being-perceived-as-the-truest-form-of-scum-just-for-existing kinda thing. But like, obviously my confidence was misplaced. I was out of the apartment for maybe ten minutes, tops, and got sneered at four times: first by a couple in an aisle, then by a group of teenage boys who were blocking the entrance to the self-serve checkouts, then by the staffer working those checkouts, and finally by a car of frat bros on the walk home.
It never fails to stun me that transphobes think people actually want to be trans – that we’d choose to put ourselves in these situations, that inviting the rest of the world to openly and loudly hate you would be trendy. I made it back to the apartment and sulked until I fell asleep. There were countless others sneers and microaggressions and other little tidbits of transphobia that I copped throughout February – I went out in girlmode more than I did in boymode – but I’m only going to touch on the ones that feel relevant to what else I did this month. Otherwise this post would need chapters.
I felt second-hand gender euphoria watching my friend Hazel crush it with her band Those Who Dream on the 5th. Seeing the crowd cheer for and celebrate her doing her thing – celebrate her just being her – was truly life-affirming. And the show itself was sick – that was definitely a plus. (Sidenote: I wrote a giant ((5,000+ words lmao)) profile with Hazel that I should be able to post here in a little bit, I’m just waiting for her to send through some assets and one last quote ((but alas that bitch be busyyyyyyyy))).
A couple days after that gig (on the 9th) I went to 100 Gecs’ show at the Northcote Theatre and, very unsurprisingly, that was even transer – there had to be no more than, like, eight cis people there (one of whom obviously being Dylan Brady). It felt weird not being the tallest girl in the venue – I don’t think that’s ever happened to me before? – but every other element of that show felt absolutely incredible. They played most of my favourite songs and all the 10,000 Gecs songs sound absolutely massive IRL. I’m also parasocially in love with Laura Les, (not to simp but) that fucking woman could kick in the face with her Vans and I’d have no choice but to thank her.
I also realised when they played ‘Fallen 4 Ü’ (my favourite song of theirs – absolutely criminal that it didn’t make the cut for 10,000 Gecs) that I have an actual crush on this girl I’ve been talking to a lot recently and holy shit, I hate it. I mean, I don’t hate having crushes – I think it’s nice to have people that make you feel warm and cutesy and give you butterflies, it’s such an amazing feeling – but I specifically hate having this crush on this girl because she is so wildly out of my league and would never have feelings back for me, and I inevitably get stuck on those facts when I think about her.
Also crushes are weird when you’re in a committed relationship; Milo and I are open about the feelings we have for other people (and actively welcome it) and we’re not sexually exclusive, but we are romantically exclusive (ie. we’re not polyamorous, just ethically non-monogamous), and it’s like… I don’t want another partner or a side-piece (a sucky concept to begin with) or anything in that kind of realm, but… Like… Actually I don’t know what I want with this girl? A platonic friendship where sometimes we go out on proper dates and kiss a bunch? I had that simultaneously with Milo and another person before Milo and I started dating, but it ended with Milo and I developing serious feelings for each other and eventually becoming full-on partners (four years strong now!!) – and that other situationship wound up with the other person also developing serious feelings, which weren’t reciprocated by me, which caused problems, which ended up with our friendship ending messily. (But that other person was also very toxic and abusive and just a terrible person to have in my life altogether, so… Yeah look, I dunno).
Some other little moments of gender euphoria from this month: getting my eyebrows and lashes done at Miss Jay’s; having my first session of facial electrolysis and never having to see those few stubbly beard hairs ever again; taking the first step in exploring surgical options and having a consultation for a few FFS procedures (even if the consultation itself was wildly depressing and left me feeling incredibly dysphoric); noticing some of the physical changes I’d been waiting for since I started HRT (namely them PS1 Tomb Raider titties); being gendered correctly in random places like shops and cafés; the handful of insane, OTT full-body orgasms I had (one of the many other benefits of HRT); all the extremely sweet replies I got to all the dumb, cheesy femposting I did on social media.
Last month I vaguely gestured at “not existing in the gender binary where I thought I had for the last few years” and “unpacking that later on” – kind of broadly hinting that I’d probably come out as a trans woman soon – but I didn’t think I actually would for a long while… Maybe another year? Maybe on my 27th birthday? I came out “publicly” as Ellie and started using that name with work and in my day-to-day life last May (I’d been going by Ellie in my social life since 2016 and ID’ing broadly as non-binary since around 2020-ish) so I thought it would feel trite to “come out” again so soon – even though I’d been struggling with the thought that maybe I was actually just a straight-up “binary” trans woman for a hot minute before that time around 2020, and came to that solid, ironclad conclusion for myself a few months before last May.
I didn’t make that full leap when I told my parents/colleagues that I wanted to be called Ellie because I was scared – very fucking scared – and just taking that one step felt like the most I could do at that time. I was still trying to convince myself that I was okay with presenting masculine – that I wanted to, that it didn’t cause me intense dysphoria every time I looked at myself in the mirror or got dressed in masculine clothes or heard myself speak. But repression only works for so long and especially so as I saw more and more of my friends and colleagues come out and embrace their true selves, it felt like I couldn’t keep trying to run away from mine.
I think paradoxically, coming out as non-binary was part of what helped me realise I wasn’t non-binary; I’d shoot for that pseudo-androgynous vibe of wearing femme clothes with a masc face and feel great about the former but awful about the latter. I’d try to describe to people how I related (or didn’t relate) to the gender binary and realise halfway through a sentence that I was actually just describing what it felt like to be an egg who’d thought she’d already scrambled herself but hadn’t even cracked.
Hormones, too, amplified my feelings of physical dysphoria: my skin got softer and my mind got quieter, my titties started doing their thing and I even started smelling differently – not to say anything of how my emotional baseline shifted – but I still had a beard and a thick, bassy voice and I still wore gruffy bear clothes… The more I connected with my femininity, the more I disconnected from masculinity. And then I spiralled into a crisis where every hour of the day was directed by dysphoria, and I tried to kill myself because I’d rather be dead than have to keep hiding away from being a girl. And then I realised I couldn’t keep hiding after my great grandmother’s funeral… It’s all very flowery and dramatic, I know. Zach Braff would have a field day with me.
So I didn’t want to come out for at least another nine or so months because I’d already came out once, like seven months ago, and I didn’t want to look like a whore for attention. But compounding the amount of dirty looks I get every day just for existing in public as a loudly non-passing trans woman (a fat one at that) with the seemingly neverending discourse around Hogwarts Legacy, (in)famous TERF cunts like Glinner and JK Rowling, the murder of Brianna Ghey, and a band like Sticky Fingers being platformed at Bluesfest, it’s hard to ignore the overwhelming likelihood (if not just straight-up inevitability) that I’ll be involved in a hate crime in the not-too-distant future.
It’s not irrational to think that, it’s just a harsh reality of being transgender in a largely conservative world – even if they are a minority, there are people in the world that want people like me to be wiped out from existence. If I die because I happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, I at least want to be mourned as the person I actually am. So I came out with a quick tweet that I put two seconds of thought into on a random midweek morning. And now I’m an ✨open✨ trans woman. So wild. I want to write more about gender and my relationship with gender – as soon as I clear out my current freelancing backlog, I have a billion things to say.
I’m trying to fill that backlog up as much as I can, though, because I don’t really have a “day job” anymore. About 80% of my income came from the shifts I worked in the NME newsroom – a solid 40 to 50 hours of (very well-paid) work every week – but the newsroom got shuttered at the end of February. I’m able to make it through March alright, but unless a miracle happens and I manage to pick up a good dozen projects in the next little bit, I don’t really know how I’ll make rent for April. It’s a really scary time, money-wise. Becoming homeless has always been my number one fear, and, like… I’m fucking scared right now. But I’m putting myself out there and trying really hard to get by. Fingers crossed, right?
If you’d like to help me out a bit, here’s my Kofi link and here’s my PayPal (please ignore my deadname – I’m trying to get it changed but y’know, that process being absolute hell and all). I don’t like asking my friends for financial help, so there is absolutely no expectation that anyone will even click those. But there’s also no expectation that anyone will even read this post – I’m just killin’ time over here. I probably shouldn’t be, I have so much shit to do, but… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Swinging back around to a more positive note, I did some other cool shit this month! One of the biggest highlights was a face-to-face interview I did with Dallas Green at the Forum, talking about his new City And Colour album The Love Still Held Me Near – maybe his most powerful (and heart-wrenching) body of work to date – and the gear he’s been playing for the live shows. We did the rig rundown onstage, which was so wild (genuinely one of the biggest “oh holy shit I’ve made it” moments I’ve ever had), and we had our deep-dive album chat backstage. Dallas was incredibly sweet and wholesome, and he gave me a great story. I am very thankful for him, and the phenomenal women at Deathproof PR who made our lil hang-out happen.
Laneway was also wild. It was the first festival I’d been to just for myself – not to review or “cover” or anything, but just to enjoy – in a solid five or six years. I did go to a press event in the morning though – a lil’ brunch thing to commemorate the launch of SoundOn – and that was really nice; I caught up with some colleagues who I’d known for a while online but never met IRL, and I had some fantastic new people put on my radar.
As for the festival itself, I had a total fuckin’ blast. I saw The Beths, Julia Jacklin, Girl In Red, 100 Gecs, Phoebe Bridgers and Turnstile – and every single set was goddamn brilliant. It was a very fun and chill and gay time. I was so dead after it that I had to bail on two gigs I was really looking forward to the next day – nothing,nowhere. and the Victoria’s Pride Street Party – but I’m not mad about that. I had the best time at Laneway, and I’m glad I listened to my body and gave it the rest it needed afterwards.
Turnstile’s Laneway sideshow was also insane, Glow On was my favourite album of 2021 and it felt so wild to see all my favourite songs from it come to life in the flesh. Milo and I also went to Dodie’s show at the Northcote (very cute and wholesome, such a wonderful vibe), and I went to Leo, Harry Styles and Alexisonfire by myself. I do wish I had more friends I could go to gigs with (Milo doesn’t like going to them anymore, so my +1s often go to waste) but I still had a ripper time at all of those shows. Harry was especially fun – just such a buoyant and bubbly vibe.
The night of that Alexisonfire gig was also the first time I tried wearing a 3XL shirt in a few years – and to my absolute shock, it fit me perfectly. Last March I could barely fit into a 6XL. I know it’s not a super positive thing to be like “I’m a 3XL!!” – I’m still considered “morbidly obese” – but fuck, I’m really proud of this little milestone on my weight loss journey. Because I’ve been struggling a bunch lately: my weight has plateaued between 157kg and 160kg for the past two months or so, and my eating habits have started getting a little more unhinged lately – but I’m still making progress, I guess, even if it’s a bit slow and inconsistent.
I keep needing to remind myself that progress isn’t linear. As long as I’m making progress at all, that’s all that matters. And I’m making decent progress – I weighed in at a scratch over 200kg in the later months of 2021, I’ve lost about ~40kg in 18 months. That’s pretty decent! I have a long way to go before I’ll be happy with my weight and figure, but y’know, baby steps and all that.
This month I interviewed two people for Australian Guitar (Dallas Green, and Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins) four for NME (Hope D, Annabel and Cecil of Body Type, Dallas Green, and Bec Stevens) and one for a freelance biography project. All of them were great!
It’s been such a mission trying to shake off the masculine “radio voice” I’d spent the past eight years developing. I’m doing voice training for just, like, everyday life, and so far that’s been a whole journey and a half in itself – finding a natural, comfortable feminine tenor, then training myself to speak in it and adapt it to my everyday speech patterns, then trying to rewire my brain to make that my default – so trying to adapt all of that to the OTT “radio presenter”-style voice I put on to conduct interviews… It’s been a lot! And I’ve been failing a lot! But I’m still trying! And that’s all that matters!
Like 99.9% of trans girls under the sun, my voice training journey has been steered primarily by studying videos from TransVoiceLessons (aka the actually iconic Zheanna Erose) on YouTube. (I feel like an easy way to identify transfemme people in a crowd would be to yell “HEAT FROM FIRE” and see whose heads whip around in knowing curiosity). I started training a few days into 2023 and felt like I hit a weird kind of snag around mid-February – I was finding it difficult to actually apply the advice and lessons Zhea gives in her videos – so I bit the bullet and booked in a private lesson with her. It was obviously so fucking expensive (and with the whole “losing my day job” thing, probably not the best use of my limited finances) but it was honestly worth every cent.
Zhea not only gave me some incredible guidance, she was able to break down where, how and why I was failing to progress, and gave me tangible and easily applicable tools to overcome those barriers. It’s only been a week since our first lesson and I feel like I’ve made an insane amount of progress in my training, just using what I was taught over that hour. I mean, I still have an insanely long way to go, and I’m nowhere near achieving the voice I want for myself… But things take time, right? I was a terrible journalist in 2014 when I started, but now I’d confidently argue that I’m pretty great at my job. I’m looking at voice training like that – and things cooking, driving, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, etc – whereby practise really does make process. Sometimes ya just gotta trust the process.
I know I need to take that same advice when it comes to transitioning in general. I have some friends who have been openly transitioning for years now, and they seem to have everything under control – they pass flawlessly, they have the most stunning fashion senses and makeup skills, they sound incredible, they seem so confident and fearless in themselves… But I scroll back to where they were a couple months after they came out, and see they were in the same spot I’m in now: rough makeup, garish fashion choices, overly forced “confidence”. There are some girls I know that seemed to nail femininity right off the bat – like they skipped the first five years of transitioning and leapt straight to the optimal “endgame”… But I’m not one of them, and that’s okay.
I think this point in particular is when I need to remind myself of that often. It helps to have goals and targets, and (for most of us at least) there’s a long and tricky process involved in reaching them. Every time I fuck up my foundation, I learn what not to do next time; every time I clash my colours or contrasts with an outfit, I learn what top and bottom combos don’t work. I’m not [names redacted] and I can’t speedrun my transition. And that’s okay. I am where I am and I’ll keep working on myself, and then in a year’s time, I’ll be where I’ll be. I’m not waking up, scratching a beard and immediately wishing I was dead; I’m not who I was in December 2022, and fuck, dude, that’s a huge enough leap for now.
In terms of other media I consumed this month, I… Actually haven’t consumed much at all. I haven’t had time. Milo and I went to a press screening for Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania, and as expected (being a giant, unapologetic MCU slut) I thought it was so fucking sick. And of course I have remained absolutely fucking obsessed with The Last Of Us. I love everything about this fucking show. I truly am not ready for it to end next month.
Speaking of which, March is shaping up to be enormous. I have 16 gigs in the pipeline – six of which are My Chemical Romance (yes, Milo and I are doing the entire tour) and all of which I am very excited for. I also have a bunch of features trickling out over the next couple weeks, and I’m hoping I can get a few more over the line to make March a really solid month, writing-wise.
If you ended up reading all of this:
1. Why? What is wrong with you?
2. I’m sorry that a lot of this was just aimless rambling about dumb shit
3. I hope you taking the best care of yourself that you can. I know this post was about 4,000 words that made it sound like I very much am not, and maybe I’m not taking great care of myself – I mean, I know I’m not – but I can promise I’m making the best effort I can to change that. I don’t know if March will be a good month, or whether I’ll make any progress with the things I’m struggling with – shit, I might spiral even further down!!! – but I’m going into March feeling hopeful and optimistic that it will be and that I will. I went into February with the same mindset and was swiftly kicked down, repeatedly, but I’m not letting that stop me from hoping things will be different in March. I can’t let it. I don’t want to be spiralling, I don’t want to be in a constant state of crisis. And if I don’t try to stop spiralling or try to reckon with my crises, they’ll kill me. And as much as I’m struggling with suicidal ideation right now, I don’t want to die. So I am trying to take care of myself, and I hope you are too. I hope you’re taking time to think about the positive things in your life and find positive ways to approach the negative things in your life. I hope you’re allowing yourself to feel loved and I hope you know that you are loved either way. I believe in you.
All the love in the world, Ellie 💖
Here are some songs from this month that I’m vibing a whole bunch: