by The Bathtub Project
Date of Interview: 9/1/2017
Name: Robyn B.
Location: Chicago, IL
How often do you bathe or shower?
Twice a day, typically; I’m very very clean. I shower. Baths are more of a special occasion type thing for me.
If you’re an underwater creature, which one would you be?
A dolphin for sure. Dolphins are playful and they’re happy; also, they’re not afraid to fuck up a shark when the time requires it. And I don’t know, they seem like very genuine creatures to me; I try to live my life with kindness, respect, and a little bit of playfulness and that just seems very dolphin-like to me.
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about learning first and foremost. I love learning new things. I love having new experiences because I feel like that’s ultimately the point of life- to learn as much as you can and experience as much of the World as you can before it’s time to go. So, that’s one thing I’m passionate about. Do you want a list? [laughter] Because there’s lots of other things. Well, weed is pretty cool!! [laughter] Chemistry is also awesome- I think the whole of existence is essentially a continuous chemical reaction that is constantly producing new products and that is pretty cool. What’s the most recent thing you’ve learned or experienced that has had weight to it? That people can be different than the way they present themselves. Even if it’s been somebody you’ve known a month or ten years of your life some people can really really surprise you. And it sucks when that happens but it’s a learning experience, and learning is the point of life.
What are your thoughts on relationships? Platonic, sexual and otherwise.
I think they can be a great thing. I think they can also be a very dangerous thing. Relationships are great in the sense that they can make us feel great and they can make us feel wanted, happy, and they can make us feel whole. One thing that makes them dangerous however is that they can make us feel too secure; relationships can hurt us in ways that we weren’t anticipating and yeah, you’re also very very vulnerable in a relationship and that vulnerability can lead to some pretty extreme cases of pain. Familial relationships are kind of a challenge because my family has never been the stereotypical connected family; we experienced a series of deaths and other tragedies in our immediate family unit when I was little and it just kind of broke things. I believe in the concept of blood family, I do, but I think ultimately family is more of like something you create for yourself than something you’re born into. Platonic relationships- we need them!!! [laughter] Just… We need them. They’re the spice of life. They’re also totally essential in terms of navigating the human experience; we all get by with a little help from our friends! Now, as far as sexual relationships are concerned, of course, those are important too. I would say just almost as important as the platonic relationships because sexuality is one of the purest forms of self-expression; during sex, you’re giving yourself fully to another person and it is a demonstration of your kindness, generosity, and it also demonstrates a little bit of strength because there’s strength in being able to make yourself so vulnerable to someone. But again, if you wind up in that position with the wrong person, it can also be detrimental. It can lead down the road of pain and suffering if you’re not careful, which is what I recently went through. I was married and had been with my partner for about 10 years. We have a child together. So, three and a half(ish) years prior to today I came out to [redacted] as trans and started the process of transition and initially, she was extremely supportive of me. Over the course of time, the changes started to become a lot more visible and that was when we started to have some problems as a couple; truthfully, the problems were always there but my gender transition forced us to face some tough realities that neither of us were expecting.
When [redacted] and I first started dating, I was quite a bit heavier and that was one of the thing that she found really attractive; [redacted] likes large, hairy men and that was definitely me for a long time! My gender transition started with a massive weight loss; I’m not where I want to be yet in terms of like overall body composition but I feel like I’m so much closer than I’d ever lost before because I lost like a very significant amount of weight. And with that kind of weight loss comes– you can’t lose that amount of weight and not experience some sort of psychological shift in the way you view the relationship you have with food, fitness, and your body. You just can’t. It was essentially like I lost an entire severely depressed person that was living inside me and all this deeply repressed negative energy kind of started to work itself to the surface. While I was discovering what kind of person I was and finding out all these awesome new things about myself, [redacted] was mostly just hanging out on the sidelines watching; she had a hard time seeing me grow from being this surly overweight dude who smoked pot and played video games all day and didn’t really care about anything (almost to the point of nihilism) to this budding young woman who cared about things. Like how people were treating one another. Like how queer people were being treated in our community. I don’t know, I started caring about things and that became like a problem– I don’t know. It’s apparently cool to not care [laughter]. It’s cool to just be like– like a stereotypical Brando-esque greaser with the devil-may-care “I can do whatever I want to” attitude.
The one awesome part about this point in time was that after coming out, our sexual relationship became incredibly active. We conceived a child together and all seemed to be going well over the course of the 9 months the baby was growing fingers and toes. C was born in December and due to the complications during childbirth, C was transferred out to a different hospital; for the first seven days of his life C and [redacted] were in different facilities and for those seven days I really didn’t sleep. I just drove back and forth between these two hospitals and made sure that my family was okay. Eventually, we were discharged from the hospital and sent home and upon arriving it was like immediately something was different between [redacted] and myself. She did not want to hug or hold hands, was super mean to me, and just generally kind of started treating me as though I was an unwelcome guest in her home. And it was just so bizarre to me because she started off as one of my staunchest supporters. Our relationship began a steady decline and eventually it got to the point where every interaction was a fight. We weren’t interacting kindly with each other anymore, it was just constantly this negative bitter energy; in November of last year the need for me to transition became overwhelming and I began to express a firm desire to begin hormone therapy. And so she sat me down– actually, it wasn’t even a sit-down kind of thing because the conversation happened while we were arguing!! So mid argument she was like, “If you do hormones. That’s it. That’s it.” It felt very surreal; I made the difficult choice to move forward with my transition and then in January that was when it was just—done. She was like, “I’m not divorcing you because I’m very loyal.” And I was like, ” All right well what kind of a marriage do you want to exist or do you want to have?” And she was like, “None of that stuff is important to me.” None of the bonding emotionally or the experiencing life together mattered at all to her; we had nearly ten years of shared experiences and she told me that none of it mattered at all to her and she thought that we were best off as friends and nothing more.
After that, we continued living together and were trying to do the cohabitation thing for the sake of C, which really didn’t work for us. I moved into the spare bedroom and for a minute it got better, but then it was just like the arguments more-or-less took a turn for the worse. Especially once I started expressing a little bit of independence; it got to be June and it was during Pridefest that I had the epiphany that this situation needs to come to an end. Chicago just has this magic about it; being down here for the whole weekend I was like, “This is the place I need to be right now. This is like really where I need to be.” Because I was at the point where I just didn’t ever want to return to [redacted]. I was just so unhappy. I just felt unwelcome and I was tired of feeling that way. I started saving up a little bit of money and I started my search for roommates and places and moved to the city at the end of July.
What does home mean to you?
Home means security. It means safety. It means a place to rest and really let your guard down. A place to be yourself with no shame and no pretense. Just 100% you working it, all-natural. And I think that’s what home should mean to everybody because what could home mean otherwise? I mean because I’ve experienced various forms of “home.” I have the abusive home growing up as a child. I don’t even know– the negative home that’d I just come out of. And now it’s like this place is– I finally feel okay. I feel like I can be myself, whatever that may mean. I can be Robyn and not have to offer a disclaimer or apology or anything, so I guess home to me would be a place where you can just be you in your most raw form.