A Bit of Background
In October of 2022, I wrote nine letters that I shared on social media.
These “Mina Letters” are personal, but not private; they were meant to help people understand me better.
I originally wrote them for family and friends; however, I also found that they helped me understand myself, and now you’re welcome to read them.
I hope they give you some insight into me, your Library Girl.
One small warning; this is the longest post I’ve published, so you may want a cup of tea before we begin.
I present my letters to you in the order that they were originally published to various platforms.
(Specifically, they were published to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, &/or here at library-girl.com.)
Monday, October 10th, 2024 and Tuesday, October 11th, 2024
(“Prelude to National Coming Out Day” and “National Coming Out Day”)
These two letters were originally written for this blog, so they’re the two Mina Letters I’m not including the text of in this post.
However, I am including links to these two Coming Out posts here at library-girl.com, so that you may read them in their original format.
I’m also including additional comments I wrote on Facebook for each of them.
Monday, October 10th, 2024
(“Prelude to National Coming Out Day”)
This letter was written for my Library Girl blog.
After publishing it here, I then put the text of the post in Apple’s Pages app (so the text fit on one page & was easy to read), and made a pic of the Pages version, then shared the pic of the Pages version to Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook.
You may read my “Prelude to National Coming Out Day” letter on this blog, here:
And this is the additional comment I wrote on Facebook, for my “Prelude to National Coming Out Day” post:
Tomorrow is National Coming Out Day.
This pic is the text of a blog post I wrote this morning, to speak to those of you who may have someone come out to you.
I’ve published this to my blog, Twitter, & Instagram.
Here on Facebook, I feel like y’all don’t need to hear what’s in my note, as all of you are either part of the rainbow alphabet or are allies already.
What I didn’t share on any of those other platforms is that these thoughts came from a place of hurt.
I’m honest-enough to admit to myself and y’all that I did things wrong in a particular coming out conversation.
The person I came out to ghosted me; I left the door open, but it’s been a little over ten months, and while I still hope that they’ll reach-out to me, I’m also living with the possibility that they may never talk to me again (& may never want to).
Tuesday, October 11th, 2024
(“National Coming Out Day“)
Like the “Prelude…” letter, this letter was written for my Library Girl blog.
(This letter was actually written first, and then the “Prelude…” letter was written as a companion; but, the “Prelude…” one needed to be published first, as each letter was written for a specific day.)
I shared this letter out the same way I shared the “Prelude…” letter:
After posting it here, I then put the text of the post in Pages (so the text fit on one page & was easy to read), and made a pic of the Pages version, then shared the pic of the Pages version to Twitter, Instagram, & Facebook.
You may read my “National Coming Out Day” letter on this blog, here:
And this is the additional comment I wrote on Facebook, for my “National Coming Out Day” post:
Today is National Coming Out Day.
Like yesterday’s post, I shared this across my social media, I figure that you my FB friends need this the least, and y’all get more context.
Yesterday’s letter is the one that I wish someone (maybe my oldest brother Juan Pablo) had given to my parents, and today’s letter is the one that I needed as a child.
That said, I feel amazingly blessed that I have two aunts and a cousin who are supportive (& I have a strong positive feeling that one brother would be cool, if he knew).
Wednesday, October 12th, 2024
Another way conversion is like transition; we pick a new name.
I’ve chosen Miriam.
It’s the Hebrew form of my grandma’s name.
She’s precious to me; she was full of love & is still a role model.
Also, the biblical Miriam is connected to water (my element) & is full of mischief.
To be clear, this new Hebrew name is in addition to my existing name, so I’ll be both Mina Martinez Oldham and Miriam bat Sarah Imenu.
“bat Sarah Imenu” means daughter of Sarah Our Mother.
(Jewish converts are sons of Abraham (ben Avraham Avinu) or daughters of Sarah.)
Thursday, October 13th, 2024
Once upon a time, there was an eight-year-old girl.
She was experiencing her first crush on a boy.
It was simple, and sweet, and innocent.
A few years later, puberty hit our heroine like a wrecking ball.
(As it does for many of us.)
Then, she had her first crush on a girl.
Before this, holding hands with other girls or hugging them wasn’t complicated; these were the affectionate gestures between friends.
But now, did touch mean, “I like you,” or “I LIKE you?”
All of this was further complicated by everyone (including her) thinking she was a boy.
Yes, our heroine was me.
I was a closeted child, in more ways than one.
Today, I understand myself as asexual & pan-romantic.
(I may get a crush on anyone, but I don’t want to have sex with anyone.)
I still like holding hands & hugs.
I like kissing, too.
Kissing is romantic.
(For me, it has to be closed-mouth, though; fluid exchange, including saliva & sweat, just gross me out).
Back to being a closeted child; as an eight-year-old, I knew it would’ve been dangerous & potentially harmful for me to express what I felt.
So, I learned to bury parts of myself & to lie.
A sadly common story.
As an adult, I’m happy & I’m healing.
My heart is open to starting-over with the people I both loved & feared as a minor.
My name is Mina.
I’m your daughter, sister, niece, and cousin.
I may also be your friend, if you’d like.
This tale of mine was inspired by thoughts floating-around from #NationalComingOutDay, and crystallized by the following quoted thread of @TillyBridges’:
Sunday, October 16th, 2024
Some of you are my blood family; I’ve known you all my life (or all of yours; whichever is longer).
Some of you, I know from the overlapping worlds of Irish Dance and Science Fiction & Fantasy fandom in The Bay Area.
Some of you, I know from my time as a playwright in the realm of audio drama.
Some of you, I know from having prayed with you.
A few, I know through Beloved.
These groups aren’t isolated from each other; paths connect them.
Irishness, faith, & fandom repeat through my life & friendships.
Whether you’re someone whom I’ve shared dreams with, or the person that I’ve never spoken to before, you’ve helped shape who I am, like a handprint on my heart; and now I have the joy of connecting y’all to each other.
Monday, October 17th, 2024
Let’s chat about my body.
I’ve got three related threads in my little panda brain, and today’s is about my body before I started medical transition (before I started on Hormone Replacement Therapy, aka HRT).
Before I started HRT, my doctor did blood work, to give us a baseline for my hormone levels.
In his notes, he said, “Your recent testosterone testing came back within normal limits.” The number was so close to the bottom level that it almost wasn’t in the “normal” range for male.
Can someone be a trans woman with naturally normal or high T levels?
Can a cis (not-trans) woman have naturally high T levels?
Do I think that my naturally low T levels contributed to my understanding of my body & self?
Let’s start at my forehead; I don’t have a brow ridge.
(They’re an indication of high T.)
I also don’t have a pronounced Adam’s Apple.
While everyone’s voice deepens with puberty, mine landed in an androgynous place, & people have called me miss or ma’am for decades, after hearing my voice.
(Beloved reminds me that I tried to deepen it a little, in my early twenties, for reasons I’ll get into on Wednesday.)
Regarding facial hair, I had what I called “Thursday shadow,” as I could shave on Sunday, and you’d notice stubble on Thursday.
So, while facial hair has been an issue, I’ve had it easier than a lot of other women.
Dropping a little lower, I never developed chest hair. some women have to do electrolysis, lasers, &/or waxing, to deal with body hair.
When I socially transitioned, I went straight to wearing v-necks, without fuss.
I’ve avoided comparing myself to men in this thread, because I’m not a man. However, for the last two things I’m going to mention, I’m going to compare myself to Father, Older Brother, & Other Brother.
Father & Older Brother are tall.
(Older Brother played basketball.)
Father & Other Brother have broad shoulders.
I’m shorter and smaller than all of them.
Summing-up; in many ways, I never physically developed into a man.
I certainly didn’t develop like the three who are most-closely genetically-related to me.
And how I did develop told me about myself.
To be clear, one could have high T & a body like one of my brothers & still be trans.
We don’t yet know where gender identity is in the body.
So, speaking just for myself & not anyone else, I think living in this body has shaped my understanding of who I am; a girl called Mina.
Wednesday, October 19th, 2024
Today, we’re going to be skimming over my life, to touch on situations where I was gendered female by acquaintances or strangers.
CW: While some of these memories are sweet, we’re going to start with unwanted sexualized attention, including at work. Please keep yourself safe.
As a child, there were times when adults would think I was a girl. I never corrected them. My friends never corrected them, either. I think my friends thought it was funny. I simply liked it; it made me smile for reasons I took too long to understand.
These adults may’ve been a substitute teacher, or the parent(s) of a friend.
A lot of my friends were girls; I’m assuming that adults just saw me as part of the pack.
The nature of this adult attention changed when I was twelve.
Some older straight men started giving me unwanted & unasked-for sexualized attention. It took me awhile to figure-out why encounters with some dads made me feel like I wanted to bathe & change into clean clothes.
Let’s pause in this moment to dissect all the wrong.
You’re in a monogamous marriage, and you’re hitting on someone young enough to be your daughter.
That’s a world of gross.
Sadly, it wasn’t just one time, or one man.
Guys, please don’t do this, and call-out those who do.
Let’s flash-forward a decade; I’m now in my early twenties, and working a series of service-oriented jobs.
I mentioned on Monday that my voice never deepened into a male-coded range.
It was androgynous, with a strong probability of being female.
Men would call my workplace, hear my voice, & start hitting on me.
Or, they’d come into my workplace, hear my voice, & start hitting on me.
(At least when they called, I could transfer them to someone with a deeper voice.)
Again men, please don’t do this & call-out those who do.
I shouldn’t have to explain the wrong in this scenario either, but I will.
When you’re hitting on someone in a service job, they’re under pressure to continue being polite to you, and they can’t just walk away.
This unwanted attention is stressful & can make a workplace unsafe.
Unlike other girls, I had a way out of (most of) this harassment; I worked on deepening my voice.
I’ve just paused in writing this, to listen to my voice on an audio drama commentary from my early thirties, and I can confirm that my voice went from “androgynous, with a strong probability of being female” to “androgynous, with a possibility of female or male.”
And now the words, “It won’t cost much, just your voice” are in my head.
(Seriously, “The Little Mermaid” and being trans are things that keep intersecting.)
When I finally transitioned, part of that was working on my voice.
I had a set of exercises I did every morning, to undo the damage of forcing it down.
(Damage I caused, to reduce unwanted & unasked-for sexualized attention.)
Do you know the Beatles song, “Hello, Goodbye?”
There’s the part where they sing “Hello, hello.”
The difference in my voice pre & post transition is the difference between those two hellos.
So, I’m back to “androgynous, with a strong probability of being female.”
(I’m an alto.)
I’m your Hope Girl, so of course I was tempted to end this in an uplifting way, but I feel like that would undermine what we’re discussing.
So, I’m going to end by mentioning Supergirl.
I adore Supergirl. Her greatest power is her Hope.
Yet, even she was sexually harassed (while in uniform), in the magical 1984 Helen Slater “Supergirl” movie.
The behavior of men has to be changed by men.
We shouldn’t have to silence, or change, our voices because of harassment.
Friday, October 21st, 2024
One year ago tomorrow, I had a moment where my heart was filled to bursting with joy.
(I’m posting this today, as tomorrow is Shabbat, so I’ll be offline then.)
A friend reached out to me, about a month before his wedding, to ask a favor.
This friend and I had a bond; I’m about two decades older than him, and I’d been a mentor of his, when he was in his teens.
Beloved & I had already been invited to his wedding, but now he was asking me to do a small part in the ceremony.
Would I say a traditional Irish blessing, in Irish?
I know a bit of Irish; enough to understand how to pronounce it, and I felt honored to be asked, so I said, “Yes.”
Being asked to do this blessing did put joy in my heart, but it wasn’t what filled it to bursting.
That came next.
He mentioned that at the reception, his bride was doing a father/daughter dance.
Then, he asked if I would do the mother/son dance with him.
So many happy tears.
As soon as the mixture of shock and happiness let me, I said, “YES!”
I’d always known that I was important to him, and he was precious to me.
However, until that moment, I didn’t realize how important I was, or how precious he was.
And if I’d never transitioned, we would’ve never have had this moment.
We danced to “Waltzing the Stars.”
As it ended, I put my hand on his cheek, stretched-up on my toes, & kissed his forehead.
I don’t know why I did these things, but later I remembered that in the 1st Oz book, the witch blesses Dorothy with a kiss on her forehead.
Did I bless him?
Since then, I’ve called him “Mijo.”
This is a Spanish endearment; it’s a combination of the words “mi hijo” (my son), and could be thought of as, “my darling,” or “my sweet boy.”
Our relationship has changed, grown stronger, and helped heal us both.
One question, one moment of inviting someone into our lives, can change us.
I know that this moment changed me both for the better and for good.
Monday, October 24th, 2024
I’d like to tell you a bit about my siblings.
I have two brothers, both older than me.
The eldest, JP, is five years older than me (well, four years and eleven months).
This made him something of a third parent and babysitter to me.
I don’t know how he felt about this arrangement, but in my heart, he was a protector and hero.
JP was an athlete.
He was tall and graceful, and when he played basketball, it looked like a ballet to me.
(And I must apologize here that I’m not a sports person, and still don’t understand how the game is played, despite attending his games.)
Later, JP was a sportswriter for some local newspapers.
He taught me an important lesson about writing, when he explained that he never had writer’s block.
As a sportswriter, he had to file a story of a certain word count by the deadline, & if he was covering a game, he wouldn’t have all the details ’til close to then.
His obligation to deliver drove him to do the work.
(When I was a playwright with monthly goals, I thought of him.)
He was there when I injured myself in gymnastics class, and his absolute calm made me calm.
This specific moment is an example of so many other moments when he was there for me, as a role model or a hero.
My other brother, JS, is my “Irish twin.”
(“Irish twins” are two children who were born close-enough to each other that they were (in some ways) raised like twins.)
I’ve often simplified this, and just said that he’s my twin; a small word that explains much in our dynamics.
JS is charismatic, and that’s magnified by his genuine love of people.
I remember as a child that we’d be at a bus stop together, and he would start talking to strangers.
He has that gift of engaging others.
(And I’d literally be hiding in his shadow, as silent as possible.)
Related to this is his skill with language.
He can address a crowd as easily as a single person, and he can do it in English, Spanish, or a mix of both.
He also has a talent with his hands.
Cook, musician, artist (including tattoos), and a barber.
I remember seeing him at work as a barber, combining his dexterity with his sociability; he’d remember the person in his chair, & pick-up their conversation from last month, with ease.
So, that’s a fond look at my brothers.
Those of you who know them may have your own opinions and stories of them, to gift others with.
Thank you for reading my longest post (so far).
When I started Library Girl, I thought that this blog would be dedicated to libraries, books, and related things; with no revealing of the girl behind the curtain. I even made “Be On-Topic” one of my two guiding principles in my very first post. So, I appreciate you taking this journey down the rabbit hole with me, and I hope it’s given you some insight into who I am.
I expect that I’ll rarely publish personal posts, but they may happen from time-to-time, and I’m grateful for your indulgence in them. My next post has already been drafted, and it returns us to the themes of libraries and books.
‘Til then, I hope that you and those you love are safe, well, and thriving.
Your Library Girl
Thank you for reading.