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On being a transgender spouse, parent, and Mormon.

10 December 2015
Earlier this year, I came out as transgender. For as long as I can remember, I've known I was a boy on the inside. I've known since I was tiny, but I never had the right word to explain what I was. (When I was a teenager, transgenderism was still called 'gender identity disorder,' and I didn't want to put THAT label on myself.)

I told Hawk before we were married, but I didn't have the right words to explain how deeply I felt this way. And I had decided, at age 19, to do my level best to bury my male self as deeply as possible. I wanted to be 'normal.' I wanted to be a mom and a wife and I wanted to be happy in my female body and I wanted to have the Mormon fairytale where everything is perfect. (Never the reality, but when you're 19 perfection seems attainable.  but I digress.)

Since learning about transgenderism and the possibilities of transitioning, I've had a rough time. On the one hand, I've spent so long burying my male self that I don't know I could ever fully live as male. But I wanted to transition so badly. I wanted my inside to match my outside, to live in the right body, to be happy with myself.

Who knows, though, if that would be the case? I could transition and still hate my body. Transitioning won't cure me or make me magically happy. It might, but it's not a gamble I'm willing to take. Especially because if I did decide to transition, it would mean sacrificing my family. I would lose Hawk, and possibly Sparrow, and the life I have now. My life may not be perfect, but it doesn't necessarily suck either. And I'm not willing to be alone again, ever. I can give up transitioning if it means keeping my family.

I recognize that many people can't give it up, though. I lend those people my full support. I am proud of them for living their truth. I am happy for them as they transition and become more comfortable in their skin.

The LDS church has surprisingly little to say about transgendered individuals. Gender reassignment surgery is a no-no, but there is nothing said about hormone replacement therapy, or top surgery (in my case, a mastectomy), or anything else.  But we live in a conservative little Mormon bubble, and if trans people are seen as weird in the regular world, they're seen as three times as strange in the Mormon world.  We are taught that gender is essential and eternal. But what if your gender is just wrong? I don't know. I don't have an answer. And it's frustrating.

So I've come out as transgender to the world. It has been my deepest, darkest secret for my entire life. And even though I am not transitioning, I love and support those who are.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

(Sparrow does not know, so if you know us in real life, please don't mention this in front of him. I plan on telling him when he's around 12-13, but for now it's not something he needs to worry about.)

What It's Like to Have a Seizure

11 September 2015
I don't know about you, but I'm always morbidly curious about people's experiences and thoughts while they're going through medical things.  I like to know "what was your last thought before you went under anesthesia?" and "how did it feel when ______ happened?"

I am here to disappoint you.

I had a seizure on Tuesday.  Three days ago.  Hawk and I had just come back from meeting Sparrow's new German teacher.  I was in a good mood because our friends were coming over; it was our weekly game night and I was making dinner for us.  I had just put the casserole in the oven.  Sparrow was chatting to our friend Brad in the living room.  Hawk and our married friends Abby and Aaron were setting up the table.

The next thing I remember is a paramedic standing over me.  He asked me what day it was and I said it was Monday.  "No, wait, it's Tuesday," I corrected.  "Labor Day always throws me off."  Apparently I also answered my age wrong - I said 26, I'm 28.  The paramedic asked me a bunch of questions but those are the only two I remember.

They had me sit up and checked my pulse, my heart rate, my oxygen levels, my glucose levels.  I remember being thrilled because my glucose levels weren't anywhere near pre-diabetic and I've been worried about that this summer.  My blood pressure and heart rate were very, very high.  They wanted me to go to the hospital, but I didn't want to go.  I didn't want to make Sparrow sit in the ER with us for 8 hours again and I wanted to get back to playing our game.  So I told them that those numbers were normal for me, and that we'd see my doctor tomorrow, and I was fine thank you.  I signed a paper to that effect and they left.

That's when I learned that Abby and Aaron had taken Sparrow home with them.

So Hawk told me what happened from his perspective.

"You made a funny noise in your throat, like you were trying to scare the cat away, and I looked over and you had your arms straight out in front of you.  You started to come forward but you fell back and slammed into the counter.  I thought you slipped and I was coming over to help you up, but then I realized ... so I told Brad to call 911 and tried talking to you and you wouldn't respond.  Sparrow ran over and he was crying and freaking out so Abby got him.  You were turning blue and I was getting ready to start artificial respiration.  Then your body relaxed a little bit and you started talking to us. You were groggy and your eyes were closed, it was like you were on Ambien, but you were coherent.  You told Sparrow you were okay and he calmed down and left.  Then the paramedics walked in and touched you on the shoulder and it was pretty obvious that was when you really woke up."

So, that happened.  I'm pretty sure I know why this happened too, but I've been banned from driving until I see a neurologist.  So I had to withdraw from BYU today and I'm pretty upset about it.  I'm just so bored when I'm not in school and the next 4 months are looming in front of me and making me sick to think about.

When I fell during the seizure, I hurt my ankle.  It's not broken, but the ligament or tendon might be busted.  So I'm on bed rest until Sunday and then I have to wear this huge black walking cast for at least 2 weeks, including when I'm sleeping.  It's not awesome.

So I've done the seizure thing and I can tell you I don't recommend it.  It's pretty boring during the actual seizure because you're basically asleep.  And then there's a whole host of issues to deal with upon regaining consciousness.  Avoid at all costs.

I literally have nothing of worth to say right now so here enjoy 3 pictures

30 June 2015
A wild Krisling appears! You use Diet Coke - it's SUPER effective!
Nana and Sparrow 4evar

This is just a really good picture of Sparrow for being taken with the iPhone in 3 seconds. 

Malarky and shenanigans.

30 May 2015
It's been an interesting few months.  I finished up with my semester at BYU and actually passed all my classes, despite missing tons of school thanks to my lack of immune system.  I've been out of school for a month now.  Sparrow will be done with first grade next week!  He's done very well this year and constantly impresses his teachers with how smart he is.  His behavior is terrible, but he tries (mostly).  And I am always in awe at his German skills.  He is fantastic at the language and he speaks it all the time.  It's so cool to hear.  I so wish there had been language immersion programs when I was in elementary school!

May has been a hard month for me.  I had some family drama, some serious emotional struggles, and last week I got so sick that I had to go to the hospital.  I'm looking forward to May ending so I can breathe freely again.

Emotional struggles.  Anxiety and depression have been ruling my life with an iron fist lately.  I want to punch it in the face, but I don't want to break my hand.  Some days it's all I can do to shower and get dressed.  Some days I can't bring myself to leave the house - even if I really want to run errands or just sit on the porch and read.

I think that's the worst.  I want to be outside and I want to be making friends and out doing things, but I can't make myself do it.  I get panic attacks.  I think "what if someone sees me and talks to me and everything goes wrong?"  or I think "but people in this neighborhood hate me - I can't be outside - they'll make fun of me or get mad at me or ..."  I know it's irrational.  I know it.  But I can't stop the thoughts.

I haven't been to church in months because the panic attacks are simply not worth it.  I can't separate "this bad thing happened once" from my thoughts, so I can't make myself go.  I am hopeful that when our ward splits I will be able to go to church again, because I miss it a lot.

I can't split "this bad thing happened once" from any of my thoughts.  It's not just church.  I had a family incident a few weeks ago and I don't know if I will ever be able to go back to life before it happened.  I keep trying to talk myself down, but the memory is too fresh and thinking about it makes me sick.  And I mean that literally - I get physically sick to my stomach when I think about what happened.  It's so frustrating.  

In happier news, Hawk has been such a wonderful support to me.  If I was married to me I'd commit some serious homicide.  Hawk takes care of me and puts up with my madness while holding down his job and feeding us and doing all the money things and church things and etc etc.  I would not have made it this semester without him.  In fact, if he hadn't come home last Friday to bring me soup for lunch, I might be dead.  I was so sick, but I didn't think I needed to see the doctor.  Hawk came home and within an hour insisted we go to the ER.  I convinced him to take me to Instacare instead, and they sent me to the ER.  I had strep throat and it was very severe.  I'm better now (thank you, IV antibiotics!) but it was a scary time.

In a few months, Hawk is taking me to England!  I am so excited I can't stand it.  This trip has been my dream for the past ten years, ever since I left England on 2 May 2005.  We'll be visiting Reykjavik Iceland, then to London, Oxford, York and Edinburgh, and then to Paris for 2.5 days.  Sparrow is going to be spending the time with Hawk's parents in North Carolina.  He's going to have a blast, and I am looking forward to spending time alone with my favorite human in my favorite places.

It's been two years since we were able to buy our home.  The neighborhood continues to expand like crazy.  Hawk and I talked about it a few weeks ago and both of us agreed that while we love the people here, we're not crazy about certain aspects of this place.  And we both feel that our house is way too big for us - which is something I was worried about when we bought it, but Hawk insisted that it was the perfect size.  I'm glad he finally sees what I meant!  We'll probably stay here until Sparrow is done with the German program at his school (so through 5th grade) and then we hope to move somewhere that's a little more secluded.  We both love Heber, but who knows what it will be like there in 5 years.  So we'll see what happens.  But it was nice to know that Hawk and I are on the same page and have similar life goals and plans.  I mean, obviously being married we are usually on the same page, but it was great to have it reaffirmed and talk about what we hope to do in life.

So that is my random update.  Things have been hard with anxiety.  I love my husband and don't know what I would do without him.  I'm proud of Sparrow but also not super impressed with his behaviors at school.  I'm not sure what we'll do this summer.  It looms before me and makes me nervous.  But we'll survive.  We always do.

Essay Contest Entry

22 March 2015
The Women's Services department at BYU had some kind of exhibition/contest thing last week.  The theme was "Courage is..."  Here is the essay I threw together for it.  

Legacies of Courage

I was 25 years old before I could distinguish the difference between courage and bravery.  Though I grew up with a legacy of courageous ancestors, for a long time the two words were synonymous in my mind.  But in my mid-twenties, I realized that the distinction between bravery and courage is that bravery is confined to a single moment in time, whereas courage is many moments of bravery added together over the course of months, years, or even a lifetime.  Prior to this realization, I had never considered myself courageous.  It’s hard to think of yourself that way when you come from a family like mine. 

Take, for example, my great-great-great grandfather, Andrew Gustaf Erickson.  When he was 14 years old, he decided it was time to leave home and make his way to America.  He found a boat leaving his native Sweden and stowed away on it.  He arrived in America speaking no English whatsoever, but somehow found his way to Idaho, where he claimed several acres of land, married, and made his fortune.  When I was 14, I was barely able to walk to the library on my own, let alone sail across oceans and travel across continents. 

Andrew Gustaf’s courage was passed down through his family.  My grandma inherited his legacy of courage.  In the 1970s, she stood up to an unfaithful husband and got a divorce, despite the fact that she had no education and two small daughters to support.  My grandma went back to school and became a teacher.  While raising her two girls, she held a full time job, ran a household, and eventually received her Master’s degree in Education.  It takes bravery to stand up for yourself, but it takes true courage to decide to change your circumstances in the face of adversity.  My grandma is a hero to me because during extremely difficult circumstances, she found the courage within herself to face her challenges head-on. 

My grandma’s example was passed down to my mother.  Abandoned by my biological father, she gave birth to me at age 19.  Instead of giving me up for adoption like so many other young unmarried mothers, she raised me —alone — and gave me the best home she could.  When she later married my stepfather, she helped support our family by becoming a kindergarten teacher, later earning a Master’s degree and eventually a Doctorate while also raising three children, running a household, and working as a full-time administrator for an early college high school.  

My mother’s example of courage has also passed down to me, though I was well into adulthood before I was able to recognize the courage within myself.  My story is more ordinary than my great-grandfather’s, grandmother’s, and mother’s. I have struggled with serious depression and anxiety since I was a child.  During my teens and early adulthood, I found solace in self harm and bulimia.  Upon the birth of my son, however, I realized that I had to change - if not for myself, then for him.  Finding healthy ways of coping with depression and anxiety is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.  At times, it has been difficult to get out of bed in the mornings.  My story of courage is not an exciting one, but it is a persistent one.  Instead of giving in to my illness, I choose to fight it.  I choose to try my best to improve myself, day in and day out, that I might pass on a legacy of courage to my son and his children.  

One of my favorite books states “we believe in ordinary acts of bravery.”  I love this quote because it’s true; ordinary acts of bravery, day after day, forge courage out of the flames of disappointment, struggle, and fear.  The more disappointment, struggle and fear you face (and persistently conquer) in life, the stronger a person you can become.  No matter how ordinary the struggles you face may seem, just the act of persistently fighting them makes you a courageous person.  Recognizing the progress you've made and celebrating it also takes a surprising amount of strength every day; it's easy to focus on your failures, and so much harder to acknowledge your worth.  Courage is made up of days, months, and years worth of small acts of bravery.  No matter how ordinary you think your story is, if you keep pushing through the obstacles in your way, there's a good chance someone will look back on your own legacy one day as an example of courage. 

Kris Surname is a junior at BYU. She is majoring in English with an Editing minor. Kris lives in [location] with her husband, Nate, and their 7 year old son, Toby. Her goals in life are to become a crazy cat lady, to move to England, and to write novels for young adults. Kris is an expert in all things Star Wars, Avatar/Korra and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In her spare time, Kris loves to read everything she can get her hands on, chase Toby, and make up Grumpy Cat memes. Kris’s friends give her an A+ in Awesomeness.


05 January 2015
Ten years ago today, I set out on an adventure.

I was a barely-18 year old junior in college.  It was my first time living on my own, my first time across the Atlantic Ocean, my first time in a collegiate dorm-type setting.

It saved my life.  I spent most of October, November and December of 2004 alone and depressed and suicidal.  My best friend begged me to hang on until I experienced London.  I came within moments of actually killing myself twice in Nov/Dec of 2004, but I remembered her words and I hung on.  It changed me.  Within 48 hours of my plane touching down, I realized that I was actually happy for the first time in months.   It was like a miracle.

I enrolled in a study abroad program through BYU.  A group of 50 or so students, professors and their spouses/kids lived at the London Centre in the heart of London.  It was about a block away from Hyde Park, three blocks away from Notting Hill.  I lived smack in the middle of all the action.  I didn't take enough advantage of that, because I was young and poorer than dirt.  But I was there.  For six glorious months I breathed British air.

I have spent the last ten years missing that country with all my heart.  I belong there.  When I left, I felt sure that I would return within two years.  Instead, I got married.  And every time we've tried to plan a move across the Pond, something has come up.  Right now we are waiting for Sparrow to complete the 3rd grade (as he is in the German immersion program at his school, and we have been informed that once the student finishes 3rd grade they are considered fluent.)  And then I will go Home again.

No one in my family actually believes I will ever live there again.  It will be hard.  I will miss my grandma and my mom a lot.  But I miss England more.  Also, there are planes.  They're free to visit at any time.

So I will bide my time and get my degree and Hawk will get his, we'll start networking across the Atlantic and someone will eventually snatch our employable faces up.  In the meantime, perhaps I will get to visit my homeland for my birthday this year.   I will watch ALL the British television.  I will continue to research best ways to emigrate.  And I will eat all the British chocolate I can get my hands on.  Amen.


24 November 2014
So, this month has sucked.  Quite a lot.  My life is eroding out from underneath me, it seems, and I can't find solid ground to stand on.

"Get over it," is some of the sage advice I have gotten from older and wiser people.  People who should know better than to offer "get over it" as advice.  You can tell someone with anxiety to get over it until your face turns blue.  Their face has probably turned blue from efforts in trying to get over it.  Sometimes you just can't.  I've done a decent job of getting over as much as I can.  Now I am stuck.

Long story short.  Recently, my local church congregation got too big and split.  Almost my entire neighborhood is now in a new congregation/"ward," with the exception of maybe 40 homes.  The boundary line is literally 5 feet outside my door.  This in and of itself is not a huge deal.  Sure, I can still meet people who live in my neighborhood and make friends, though honestly, I am a homebody and it will not be easy for me to get out there.

No, the problem I have is now with my ward leadership.  I tried talking to the bishop about it.  I told him "I am not asking for the leadership to be changed or adjusted in any way; I just would prefer to not be asked to be in a meeting alone with leadership.  I will bring my husband, and everything will be fine."  I explained the reasoning I have for this, and the bishop gave me a long, tired spiel about forgiveness.  "Yes," I said.  "I have forgiven, honestly.  But I am not going to put myself in a position where I could get hurt again.  That would be stupid, and it would be my fault for doing it a second time."  And then I was told, in so many words, that I was being ridiculous and that I am clearly a hysterical woman who needs to get over being "offended."

I stopped him there.  "I was not offended, Bishop," I said.  "I was threatened."  In any case, I don't care who you are.  You should never, ever invalidate someone's feelings based on your imperfect understanding or opinion.  It's easy to ask someone to "get over it" when, once again, you don't have the screwed up brain connections of a person who literally cannot get over it.

Luckily, Hawk was with me when this conversation was held.  He is not afraid to tell me if I am being ridiculous, and he said that I was being perfectly reasonable.  He also feels that I was blown off and told to move on and shut up.

Now what?  Now I no longer trust my bishop.  I don't know that I can feel comfortable meeting alone with him either.  For the first time, I find myself on Ordain Women's side (though I still don't want the Priesthood, thank you very much.)  No woman should be required to meet alone with a man, though.  At the very least, we should be able to have an advocate with us in meetings.

It's been two weeks since the split, one week since the meeting with the bishop happened.  I have been sick with stress over this.  If I stop going to my ward, I will lose my ecclesiastical endorsement for BYU, meaning that I can no longer attend university there.  Even if I attend the new neighborhood ward.  I won't be able to serve / hold a "job" in the new neighborhood ward, which is important to me.  But staying in the old ward means being sick every time I look at the stand.  It means panic attacks in the hallway.

Hawk doesn't know what to do.  I don't know what to do.  Sparrow is not doing well with the change either - not being able to go to church with the kids who live around him isn't much fun for him.  It wouldn't be so bad if 90% of our ward didn't live 20 minutes away, but they do.

I'd like to move.  This is my dream home (except for the lies and bullshit that we dealt with and are still dealing with - thanks Fieldstone! FYVM) but I hate the politics that have happened since I moved here.  If I could pick up my house and move it to the other end of the neighborhood, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

I don't know.  I don't see a solution for any of the problems I am dealing with right now, all of which popped up around the same time and have been giving me ulcers for weeks.  I'd really like to just turn everything off for a month or so.  I'd like to be in a coma for a couple of months.  It's like being dead without the commitment.