Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Writing is on the Wall

Well, no, not actually.  Really the writing is on the label on the lid. 

A year and half ago or so I realized that I was going to legally transition and most likely end up fully transitioning.  It was sometime around then that I realized it was time to start working on my handwriting again. 

It's interesting to see what transgender people end up not liking about themselves.  For many of us it is obviously body parts that we don't like.  That is probably not something that even really needs to be mentioned.  Gender confirmation surgery kind of confirms that many trans people have a very hard time existing with bits that they don't identify with.  But, sometimes there are other things besides body parts that bring about grief. 

Maybe surprisingly, my handwriting is something that I have always hated due to my perception that it has always been extremely male.  Male handwriting you ask?  Yes, male handwriting.  I understand that it may appear to be weird to think of handwriting as exuding a gender, but it does.  Well, maybe it itself does not, but we as a society interpret handwriting as having gendered characteristics.  Do many men place little hearts as dots above letters such as i?  No, most do not.

My personal issues with my handwriting began very early in my life.  My mother would describe my handwriting as chicken-scratch.  Which is apparently a very common way to criticize handwriting.  Anywho, possibly more damaging were various teachers who would examine my handwriting and then calmly explain that it was clearly not something I could do, because I was born as a male.  Having been born with a male identified body, meant that while I had good gross motor skills, my body lacked the appropriate muscles to perform fine motor skill tasks well.  Thus when I went home, I was not really motivated to practice my handwriting. 

My issues with my handwriting began before I was ever told that it was something I would never be able to do well.  It was simple, I never actually practiced.  Yup, that simple.  Handwriting is an art form that I never cared about.  I was lost, confused, and alone.  My household was a classic 80s dysfunctional mess.  Practicing my handwriting was not high on my priority list.  Hell it wasn't on my list at all. 

When I began teaching and seeing massive amounts of other human beings handwriting that I began to finally understand that people's gender was irrelevant to the quality of their handwriting.  Actually what I noticed was that people who practiced more had better handwriting.  So practice was the key.  And occasionally I did practice.  But they were all really half-hearted attempts.

It wasn't until I chose to transition that I began to attack this problem in earnest.  The first thing I had to learn was a new signature.  That was weird, but cool. I super enjoyed creating a new signature.  What has been harder is learning the intricacies of this art form, such as letter spacing, letter size, slant, staying on the line, and going from line to line.  All those little lovely pieces of things that combine together to create good looking handwriting. 

I'm not done.  I think I am somewhere in the middle.  I have improved, but I have improvements that can still come about.  With time, effort, practice, determination, and persistence, I know that I can get it to be what I want it to be. 

Sometimes to change all that is needed is practice.  Not a medication, not cognitive behavioral therapy, not hours of pondering, not being born in the "right" body, just simple practice. 

I'm going to go continue practicing.  I know I can do this.  I know this is possible.  I believe in my ability to learn and change and grow. 

What do you believe in?

Love you!

Love yourselves!

I hope you believe in yourself.  I really do.


  1. Hi Nadine. This is a great article, thank you for writing it. I so enjoy reading these other perspectives, to learn about others "like me".

    I was kinda the opposite growing up, regarding handwriting. I had such good handwriting I can remember being asked in third or fourth grade to help another boy with his at recess. My handwriting rivalled some of the girls'. Maybe this was another sign that I didn't realize until just now.

    My writing has gotten worse and worse over the years, to the point even I can't read it back sometimes. My hand also cramps, but perhaps that's because in the internet age, we don't write as much, and are out of practise.

    Recently, and maybe this is in my head, but what little I write seems a little bit better. Is HRT helping slightly? Who knows. A mentor of mine told me I should write to deal with my feelings, and as I improved mentally, my writing would too. Well, I blog instead, again because it's painful to write by hand. But, there's a good chance she was right. I'm calmer, and maybe that is why my writing is slightly better.

    Sorry for rambling on your blog. Lol. Take care.


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  3. I have always disliked my handwriting. As a child, in school, I would envy the way some of the girls would write, and I actually tried to copy their techniques (in compete privacy, of course). I eventually adopted a cross between cursive and printing, and have even received compliments for it. I'm still not happy, though.

    When I decided to call myself Connie, I apparently wasn't thinking of how crappy my cursive writing was. The double "n" in the middle still gives me problems whenever I sign my name. Even if I were so inclined as to dot the "i" with a heart, it would still not look feminine; not to me, anyway.

    BTW, before I could get my teaching certificate, I had to take a handwriting test - both cursive and printing. It's a good thing that there was no time limit, because wrote like I was taking a 4th grade penmanship test. :-)

  4. Keep at it - I know you have the gumption to follow through! I have ALWAYS hated my handwriting - it's sloppy garbage. I have tried a number of times to improve but have failed and I am ashamed of it. I have not come up with a signature that I have liked as of yet but someday... Seeing beautiful examples at work always gives me something to strive for. 😊

  5. "Sometimes to change all that is needed is practice..."

    So very much that, yes. :-) Some people may have a gift in summer areas and may take to the task easily. The rest of us? I guess we struggle along, but as you say, if we put the time in, we can get there.

    As to the mess of the 80s. Yeah, I think we're in a better place around motivating people. Praising effort rather than results seems to help. There's a fantastic TED talk on the growth mindset and how to try and instill it.

  6. Interesting comment on handwriting.
    My handwriting flows nicely unless I rush it. I am in the closet about my transgender nature, but it has often occurred to me that my handwriting looks more feminine than masculine (as much as you can gender handwriting), including drawing a circle above the letter i rather than a dot. One day when I needed to sign something at work, a young lady looked at my signature, and blurted out, "You have a woman's handwriting". I muttered under my breath. " If you only knew!".

  7. It is a shame that handwriting does not seem to be so important these days. I have to say my handwriting was always bad, but I have worked on it and it is much better now, many of us neglect our handwriting, largely because we spend so much time using computers and mobile phones. But there is something very special about a handwritten letter it is a skill that needs to be cultivated, so thank you for for taking about it. As to wether my handwriting is feminine, I don't know, thats an interesting question. Perhaps 'feminine' hand writing if there really is such a thing, is really someone who puts an effort into writing, something women perhaps do more than men.