Category Archives: Trans*

Prisoner and Pride

This is a picture of me,
the rainbow on a chain around my neck
both prisoner and pride.

This body is mine.
Mine to own and care for, but
the strange curves of hips and chest,
the thickness of the thighs,
the high waist, the voice,
unabashedly feminine,
unflinching in the mirror:

Those do not belong to me,
photo or not,
flesh or not.

I am all rough edges and stubble,
gritty passion and flame.
But I’ve watched my demons come and go,
addressing me by name.

Still, I stand male,
though of all my friendships,
fear is the most familiar.

The light that formed this photograph
can just as easily devour it, and I
am caught somewhere in the middle
of fighting for myself,
and fighting to make the world safe for myself

and others like me.

Grief, Healing, a New Book, and Other Updates

These past few weeks have been difficult. A friend died, and it’s unclear whether it was suicide or accidental. What is clear is that she is gone. As an atheist, I don’t have the comfort of believing that she’s still around in the afterlife. With a single bullet, her energy and the light and love she carried within her dissipated, and that is a true tragedy.

The same day as that lovely human took her life, I found out another friend has inoperable cancer and an unknown amount of time left. This activist and inspirational human told me what matters is the fight to make the world a better, more equal place, but all I could feel was grief. For the past few weeks, I’ve been cycling through depression, anger, denial, and numbness, but I’ve finally begun to find the peace he told me about the cancer with.

The turning point was not what I expected. Grieving, broken, sliding from numbness to depression to crushing anger moment to moment, I drove my way home from a discussion at the local humanist center far from at peace. When I walked through the door, though, my roommate introduced me to “When Marnie Was There.” His favorite Studio Ghibli film, it was a moving, ultimately healing testament to overcoming tragedy, and when it ended, I felt lifted up with hope, the first hope I’d felt since the day of bad news.

Day to day, I’m finding my healing.

There’s been good news, too, though.

On July 20th, I put out a new book. Raw and honest, “Seven Ways to Break a Heart” deals with themes of heartbreak, addictive love, and tragedy in a deeply moving, transformative manner.

There will also be a book release party for this book on August 16th. Taking place at Maya Pizzeria in Mesa, Arizona from 7pm to midnight, there will be fantastic musicians, wonderful friends, my books, and some of the best pizza on Earth.

Later in August, I will, for the first time in years, be going back to college. I’d dropped out with only 4 classes left before my associate’s degree when I needed to appeal my financial aid suspension (I’d dropped too many classes due to a series of traumatic events that had severely exacerbated my PTSD) and been too overwhelmed and stressed by the appeals process to complete the steps to have financial aid returned. I finally took the necessary steps to appeal, and will be registering for my classes shortly.

Also, in February of next year in Bisbee, Arizona, I will be doing a workshop on “Navigating Gender Identity” as part of a series of workshops to help provide more information and support for the trans and non-binary community in Cochise County. I feel incredibly lucky to be part of this transformative movement toward a brighter future, and especially in as lovely of a place as Bisbee.

I’ve recently begun working again on my dystopian YA science fiction novel entitled “Crimson Class Rebel,” and I am 138 pages in. I recorded the first chapter as a little sneak peak for you guys, and I’ll be releasing that chapter soon.

The last bit of news is personal, but something I’m incredibly proud of. I’ve been struggling with weight gain for years, reaching 300 lbs at my highest, and feeling hopeless about my ability to lose any of it, but in the past couple months, I’ve managed to lose 28 lbs. While I’ve still got a way to go to reach my personal weight goals, I am proud of myself for overcoming my despair and stress to take steps that improved my health. Though I do believe that no one should be shamed or judged based on their weight, I personally was unhappy with mine, and am proud of what I have achieved on my own weight loss.

What have you achieved recently that has made you proud, and do you have any advice or things that have helped you to overcome your own moments of grief?

Spoken Word Albums and Other Updates!

I apologize for my long silence, but a job was swallowing my life for a while. However, there are some exciting new updates!

  • I recently released a spoken word poetry album on Bandcamp. You can find it here: War Songs for Peace Keepers
  • I am a quarter of the way through recording another spoken word album, this one entitled Graveside Goodbyes. It should be released this month.
  • I plan to release a short album (EP) every month until at least July. They’re all written and waiting for recording and mixing.
  • I am doing a major site overhaul to make sections of the site more convenient to access. So far the Home Page and Spoken Word Poetry sections have undergone their first round of edits, so check them out and let me know what you think!
  • I’ve started singing my original poems and songs at open mics around the valley as an add-on to my poetry, so if you see an open mic listed on the calendar, you might be in for a new treat!
  • There are three more books planned for release in the upcoming months. Two are poetry and one is something entirely different. Keep your eyes on this blog for more details and some previews!

Speaking of previews, here’s a preview of the album cover for Graveside Goodbyes:

Graveside Goodbyes

James Avery Fuchs signing out!

(P.S.: I finally got my legal name change!)

Poem Interlude: Stage Fright

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Stage Fright

It was June 2013 when I first told the world
the doctors were wrong. I’m not a girl.
I said it from the stage, the educator’s way;
then I stepped down as my entire life changed.

When I think of fear I think of success,
of turning points where there’s no going back.
Of my first Open Mic when I forgot my own words,
yet people cheered and I still was heard.

The deepest fear I’ve ever felt on stage
was the end of a festival, the day I told my best mates,
“I am male. I want to go by James.
Respect it or not, it is still my name.”

See, none of the musicians I spoke to knew,
and when the camera turned off, my shaking grew.
I didn’t expect the hugs and encouragement.
They admired my strength, and I’m better for it.

I keep seeking the stage to fight my fear,
and two years later, I’m still here;
my own books in my hands, words on my tongue.
They’re how I fight back, written, spoken, or sung.

But I no longer fight alone.

Bisbee Pride, Pt 1

Bisbee Pride, Pt 2

Bisbee Pride, Pt 3

Bisbee Pride, Pt 4

Poem Interlude: Stage Fright

Central School Project: Interview with Pete Goldlust

Sidepony Express Music Festival: Interview with Anamieke Quinn

Bisbee Pride, Pt 2

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Bisbee Pride, Day Two

Thursday, June 18, 2015

After I woke up, I timed each of my poems so I could have a realistic idea of how many poems I had time for. The rest of the day blurred together, and then it was time to set up for my first performance.

Set-up was quick, and left me with plenty of time to get to know the other performers. I talked with Venus DeMars and her students Alex, Molly, and Ruby, among others, and they were all fascinating people. Alex was flamboyantly awesome, Molly had the most amazing pink hair and radiated intelligence, and Ruby, though quiet, stunned with her depth. Then there was Venus. Tough as nails, courageous, and remarkably compassionate, I felt lucky to speak with her.

Suddenly, though, it was time to start.

Pete Goldlust, the Director of Central School Project, the organization that brought us to Bisbee and put together these amazing events, stepped on stage to introduce me as I looked around at the almost completely full theater. A minute later, I firmed my knees and walked onto the stage.

Deep breaths.

I performed 14 poems, the slight shaking fading more and more with each. The audience was rapt, a room of about 80 sitting in complete silence, and more than one had tears on their faces by the end. I could feel the emotions running high, and when I stepped off the stage, the applause surprised me with its fervor. When Pete mentioned my workshop the next day, multiple audience members called out to ask the time.

The night would only get better from there.

Venus took center stage first, with a riveting, emotional performance on coming out, and the changes that have (and haven’t) happened since then. I could feel tears clinging to the corners of my eyes as she stepped down and Molly walked forward.

Molly’s first piece was a powerful monologue, touching philosophy and identity in thoughtful ways as she spoke about the struggle to be yourself in a world that wants to put you in boxes so you fit with everyone else. Ruby followed with a heart-wrenching performance on who we’re told to be, covering a mirror with sticky notes and magazine cut-outs as she spoke, filling the mirror until her reflection disappeared. By the end, tears were streaming down my face. Molly then did another monologue exploring more themes of identity, and then it was Alex’s turn.

Alex’s performance began bemusing, grew to involve the audience, and ultimately culminated in a moving letter to a childhood crush that both broke my heart and gave me faith in the ability of people to grow. Then Venus stepped on stage again, and after smashing some memories, invited everyone on stage with a flashlight for a brilliant, powerful song. As the last chords faded into air, a bunch of my fellow audience members told me how much my poems had moved them. One in particular spoke to me about losing their wife, and how my poem Chasing Horizons had helped them heal. I was overwhelmed.

I spoke to a bunch more people at the after-party, where a friend who had seen me perform before told me she had cried throughout my entire set from pure overwhelming emotion, and I sold some books that evening as well. When I left, I felt like I was glowing. The trip had dawned brightly, and I couldn’t wait for the morning to come.

Bisbee Pride, Pt 1

Bisbee Pride, Pt 2

Bisbee Pride, Pt 3

Bisbee Pride, Pt 4

Poem Interlude: Stage Fright

Central School Project: Interview with Pete Goldlust

Sidepony Express Music Festival: Interview with Anamieke Quinn

How I Chose My Name (And Why You Should Use It)

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Every name has a story.

I was born with a different name than the one I carry now, in an Ohio suburb that I only vaguely remember. Growing up wild and mischievous, the intensely feminine name that I had been given made me uncomfortable. It never felt right.

That wrongness was something I thought about more and more over the years. I don’t think my parents ever noticed the discomfort, but then again, I don’t think I ever talked about it. It was just one of those things that there weren’t set words for, or at least words I knew how to express. I’m only finding them now, at 25, sitting at the computer in a body that often feels like it belongs to someone else.

As I got into high school, I started thinking very seriously about what name I’d pick, if I only got the choice. It was a hard battle, hampered by unacknowledged discomforts with my body and orientation, and I didn’t manage to settle on anything concrete during those four tumultuous years.

Time continued to pass, and what the right name for me (the one I just hadn’t found yet) was remained a mystery. Then, in this past year, I began intensive research on what two names would label my soul in a concrete, accurate way. I couldn’t keep walking in a name that made me cringe. It was bad enough being trapped in this body when the dysphoria hit. A false start or two later, I finally settled on James Avery.

James, to me, has always been confident, extroverted, and a little mischievous. James can stride into a room and join a conversation without fear. James radiates calm and humor. James is the best parts of me and the things I want most to be. James is me at my fullest potential. Every time I am called James, I am reminded of my best self and pushed to continue striving for it.

Is it any wonder I chose the name?

How about Avery, then? I like Avery because it reminds me where I came from, and to never forget the inequality women face. As a gender-neutral name, it reinforces the message that though I am leaving behind my birth sex, I shouldn’t forget what I have been through, and what women go through every day. It also keeps me from forgetting that I don’t have to always be masculine to be male.
When I pick a name with that much meaning, is it strange that I want to be called by it? And yet every day I get comments like, “You’ll always be Kim to me,” or “I’m sorry, but you don’t look like a James.” Yet if I had gotten married and changed my last name, there would be very little problem.

Why do some people refuse to call someone by a name that has meaning to them and instead insist on one arbitrarily assigned at birth? It takes people time to get used to a new name, but why do some completely reject a person’s right to define their own identity?

I think it’s because, unconsciously or consciously, the people who insist upon misnaming others realize that calling someone by a name that they chose, a name that means something to them and describes them, requires you to acknowledge their humanity. Misnaming is a way of denying someone’s personhood, and that is the worst kind of crime.

Man

From Gasoline and Winter


I became a man the day I stopped being a boy,

not the day I first bound my breasts to ease the ache inside.
It wasn’t when testosterone hit like hope,
or the first time I kissed a girl.

I became a man the day I stopped being a boy.

I’m not a freak or fairy or a lesser man
because my body differs from yours.
My name is James, not “Miss” or girl.
I became a man the day I stopped being a boy.

How to Respond When Someone Tells You Their Body is Not Their Gender

  1. Thank them for trusting you. It isn’t an easy thing to talk about. It takes people a long time to come to terms with gender, and it’s often dangerous to bring up. Even when it isn’t, people are scared of the reactions of others.
  2. Respect their gender identity. Call them by the gender and gender pronoun they prefer, and ask them what they are.
  3. Do not tell anyone they have not given you permission to about their gender. Not only is it a betrayal of trust, but it can, again, be dangerous. Along with this you should ask if there are people who don’t know, and how you should refer to the person confiding in you when those who don’t know are around.
  4. Realize that everyone’s experience with their gender identity is different, and remember it is not the same thing as sexuality. Not everyone wants to transition, and not everyone views male and female the same way. Some people may act in “typically masculine” ways and still be female, and the reverse is true as well (Do not rely on gender roles. EVER. They are one of humanity’s worst inventions.). And then there’s the difference between gender and sexuality. Gender is the gender of the person. Sexuality relates to the gender of the person they are attracted to. Don’t assume they are interrelated in any way.
  5. Treat them the same. They didn’t become a three-armed monster bent on destroying the world when they told you about their gender. They didn’t change who they were, either. They just let you get to know them better. Same person = same treatment, outside of respecting pronouns.

It’s as simple as that.

If you wonder why this is so important, read this survey’s results.

If you wonder how I came up with this specific method, it is an aggregate of the best reactions I’ve had, the best reactions a number of people I’ve surveyed have had, and this post.

Call Me Gentleman

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My little brother was the first to call me a gentleman, and my eyes lit up like electricity. I’d just discovered that I liked male pronouns, but I hadn’t yet realized what a powerful word gentleman could be. It’s more than just a word for a man. It’s praise.

My gender is still up in the air, but there’s something undoubtedly delightful about the combination of “gentle” and “man”. It implies that the typically underrated quality of gentleness in males is in fact something to aspire to, not mock. And the way it feels in the mouth as my tongue rolls out the word… It’s beautiful.

It has such exquisite meaning, too. It brings to mind holding open doors and pulling out chairs and taking the time to listen. I can’t say I’m a perfect listener, but these are things I desire to be.

Perhaps, after all, gentleman is simply an ideal that leaves us striving to better ourselves, and isn’t that why we are here? I want to be a gentleman in the fullest sense of the word: not just on Tuesdays, or with someone I love, but always.

Call me a gentleman only when I’ve earned it, but call me a gentleman.