By Commissioner Mike (CM) Shannon
Two months ago, I decided to go ahead and shave what had apparently become an iconic strip of facial hair above and beneath my lips. I had kept it for two reasons:
1. It hid my resting bitchface
2. I hate shaving my face
But it’s novelty had worn off. While I had plans and I had learned to work around it, my face was itchy, I was getting regular fits of dysphoria and it was evident I was in need of a different kind of blade job.
What is Dysphoria?
Dysphoria, also known as Gender Identity Disorder, is the feeling shared by a substantial number of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. It can affect people in a number of ways. I deal with somewhat mild dysphoria in the sense that while I’m not too crazy about it, I’m comfortable enough with my body. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t have moments when I look in the mirror and dislike what I see.
I’ve learned how to block of negative energies from my life. I mean, I’m crazy enough to get myself involved in the wrestling business, which is loaded with negative energy- so it’s pretty evident that I’ve managed to block out negativity for the most part… But dysphoria, that’s a silent kicker that lurks in the shadows of my mind; chipping away each and every day until I break down and something has to be done.
“Cool Rock Boy”
Through most of my life, I got by as “Cool Rock Boy”, a gimmick I created for myself to survive. Growing up, I experienced homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia first hand. Any part of myself that had come across as remotely gentle (not even feminine) was met with ridicule and violence – like, I got a busted lip back in my first year of high school just for being an *NSYNC fan.
In the years that followed, I caved in, mentally put everything that could be feminine about myself away and pretended to be a “regular guy”, under the idea of being a “cool rock boy”- an image that I continue to keep, for the most part because it’s easy, convenient, and somewhat not too far from home. Ish.
When I was twenty-two and in the process of finally growing my hair out, something inside me changed. I still to this day don’t know what it was- maybe it was a spiritual awakening, maybe it was the accumulation of so much stress going on, but something in me snapped. I woke up one morning, just feeling like I wanted to own up to all the feelings I had spent so many years keeping away.
I felt feminine and for the first time in my then two-decades of existence on planet Earth, I felt like myself.
You’d think that after having opened myself up, I’d be okay and I could just go about my normal life without a care in the world. Years, even decades of repression, forces the opposite, because now I was forced to spend the next seven years catching up with myself. I had to get to know myself from scratch, while trying to get by with a career and dreams that we’re almost too impossible to ignore.
For the first time in the mirror, I could look at my own face and recognize the person I was looking at. It was beautiful, it was terrifying, and I didn’t even know where to begin… How can you lead an honest life if half the world didn’t want to understand you.
And so, I jumbled between gender identities and pronouns, until just a couple of years ago, I accepted the fact that I’m transgender. A transgender woman, no less. A transgender woman who likes girls. (Think Angie King, but with a steel chair instead of a race car!)
The advantage cis people have is that whenever they meet someone new, they don’t feel compelled to describe themselves to whoever they meet. It’s very “what you see is what you get”. People simply take for granted how easy it is to present themselves when they aren’t part of a minority, a minority that faces regular violence and discrimination.
Being an out and happy transperson isn’t just an act of free will, it’s a political statement because we face so much shit on a daily basis to just be ourselves.
In my experience, while I don’t know what to expect when I come out to people, it’s always been generally supportive. People try to understand and accept it. Some of my friends weren’t surprised. To some, family members in particular, it’s been hard to accept because who I am defies every expectation that was set on me.
It’s not easy or ideal, but I do recognize that compared to other trans girls, I’m lucky.
Thankfully, this acceptance has managed to extended its way to wrestling. I’ve got so many people in the scene as friends on Facebook and I’m sure I’ve dropped enough hints with the memes I share… Most of my closest friends in the business are aware and have accepted it, even encouraged it. MWF management supports it which more than an actual wrestling ring, is more than I could ask for.
Not speaking as Mike Shannon, but speaking more as Mikers Litton (my real name is too anglo and masculine for my liking)… I was ready to keep who I really am as a secret if it meant MWF had a shot at success. So having this support is overwhelming, and as I write this in the middle of my office, I’m trying really hard not to cry by pretending I’m about to sneeze.
I’m Mike Litton, a queer transwoman in the wrestling business. I’m lucky to be part of a vibrant minority in a community that have done so much to advance the industry as a sport and an art form. I am proud of who I am and it’s an honor to be among a minority that has given so much to wrestling.
Here’s to a future of more ass-kicking, innovation, and acceptance!
I leave now with a quote from Elvis Costello… “You can call me anything you like, but my name’s Veronica.”