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G. L. Balend

How losing my husband led to accepting my gender identity

Photo by Igor Kasalovic on Unsplash

In 2016, my husband lost his lifelong struggle against depression and anxiety. The man I had been with for nearly a decade, that I had planned to grow old with, was suddenly gone. That first year without him, I felt rudderless and rooted myself by diving headfirst into managing the affairs of his estate.

During that year, I also took the time I needed to grieve, while also trying to keep my consulting business afloat. It was one of the toughest years I had to navigate, and I cannot say that the events did not change me. …

The complicated story behind my deceptively simple name change

Photo of the writer, G. L. Balend

In early 2020, I began the process to have my name changed legally. Again.

This is a common rite of passage for most transgender people, as we come to terms with our identities and seek to find a name that better suits us as we begin our transition journey. However, I have changed my name legally twice before, and neither of those changes were for gender related reasons.

Childhood confusion

To begin with, my deadname was Gigi. However, this was never my legal name. It was a nickname my mother and grandmother called me. It was the name of their favorite movie

As long as you keep trying

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Everywhere you look these days, you’ll see people adding their pronouns as pins to their clothing or to their internet profiles. For many queer people, being referred to by the correct pronouns is important to us, and it’s great that our allies are helping to normalize the practice.

Still, those with the best intentions mess up sometimes. I know it’s not always easy. I’m a trans guy and even I get people’s pronouns wrong sometimes. Once when I was at a Target, I wasn’t paying attention to the cashier, and I hadn’t picked up on the fact that she was…

Praising a trans person’s past appearance is not the compliment you think it is

Photo by Vitolda Klein on Unsplash

Someone I recently met saw some photos of me before I transitioned. I don’t hide them, so that wasn’t an issue. However, when she began gushing about how pretty she thought I was in those photos, it made me uncomfortable. At first, I responded with an awkward, um, thanks, but then she kept going. I had to ask her to please stop twice before she realized I did not appreciate the praise.

Backhanded Compliments

I know most people mean well and may not realize how praising a trans person’s past appearance may come across. However, there are plenty of people who purposely…

A review of the new Amazon writing platform

Amazon Kindle Vella Banner

On July 13, 2021, Amazon launched a new serialized story platform called Kindle Vella. As a published author through Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), Amazon notified me in April of the upcoming rollout and invited me to prepare a story for the launch. This has been my experience on the platform for the first month since it went live in the US.

How the platform works

Before I discuss the pros and cons, let me first explain how the platform works. Kindle Vella is a serialized story platform, where readers can read a story in a series of episodes. They provide the first three…

Avoid stereotypes and dehumanizing your characters

Photo by christian buehner on Unsplash

I mostly write about LGBTQ issues here on Medium, but beyond this platform I write works of transformative fiction and have published gay erotic stories under my pen name Grayson Bell. As a gay, transgender man, I also read a fair amount of gay erotic romance. There are many amazing works out there, but some make me cringe when I read them. So I wanted to give some tips to those interested in writing this genre.

LGBTQ People are Human

If you’re writing about any marginalized group, including LGBTQ folks, remember they’re human. Their sexuality and gender identity are not an all-consuming focus of…

Living my truth and changing my perspectives

Photo by Mercedes Mehling on Unsplash

I frequently write about the negative experiences transgender people face, but I want to step back and take a moment to appreciate the good things I have found in being trans.


Anyone close to me knows I have transitioned. They have watched as my appearance changed over the past few years. However, anyone I lost touch with before my transition is less likely to recognize me, and that’s wonderful.

I’ve had a falling out with a few people who I’d much rather not interact with again, including some ex-boyfriends. If I run into them in public, not being recognized gives…

The transphobic backlash

Photo by Possessed Photography on Unsplash

Recently, the Olympic Committee banned athletes from Namibia because their testosterone levels were too high. You may think this was because either they were doping or they were transgender, but they weren’t. Their naturally occurring testosterone levels were merely higher than the required guidelines. Guidelines that were put into place to allow transgender women to compete in Olympic women’s events. Those same limits are now preventing natal born women from competing.

Instead of protecting cisgender people, especially women and children, the rules and legislation that are put into place to limit the rights and freedoms of transgender people are now…

Ignorance of the fundamentals of science hurts all of us

Photo by Roman Mager on Unsplash

It has become increasingly clear that our science education is lacking. From ridiculous conspiracy theories like the insistence the Earth is flat or that vaccines cause autism, to dangerous and discriminatory policies based on outdated or misunderstood science.

What is science?

Let us begin with the basics and define what science, and by extension the scientific method, is.

Science, any system of knowledge that is concerned with the physical world and its phenomena and that entails unbiased observations and systematic experimentation.” — Encyclopedia Britannica

Science has three branches: physical, biological, and social. Physical sciences include chemistry, geology, physics, and astronomy. Biological sciences include…

Having groovy gender-affirming grandparents and becoming a socially awkward adult

Image by MasterTux from Pixabay

Generation Z gets a lot of attention for being the queerest generation, according to recent studies. However, earlier generations, including Generation X, probably have as many queer people within our populations. These studies do not consider the persecution and lack of representation that kept many of us in the closet.

1970s: Groovy Grandparents

Growing up in the era when women’s liberation was in full swing, and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was on everyone’s lips, made it an interesting time to be alive. Still, despite all the positive messaging around women and equal rights, I felt no connection to being female. …

G. L. Balend

Transgender writer and author. I primarily write on LGBTQ issues, with a focus on the transgender community.

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