When It Crashes

Things are about to get very difficult for us.

I’m near the end of my Ph.D. studies.  What should be a time of, if not hope, at least anticipation is a period of constant dread, because of two things I’ve learned.

My supervisor is, in all likelihood, signing the form he has to deliver to the Department of Biology indicating what his financial contribution to me next semester is going to be, and everything he’s said to me since the beginning of last semester says that that amount is about to drop from about $6300 to $0.  He has “incentivized” me to get my degree this semester by hanging the specter of his half of my salary no longer showing up in my bank accounts if I take any longer than that, because the stress of homelessness and lapsed prescriptions somehow does not get between scientists and their work.  I won’t know until he tells me, or I ask the department what he sent them.

But that’s small potatoes compared to the latest development.

For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook (you should!), I recently calculated that, if my parents were not to be hideously surprised by their eldest daughter at my thesis defense, they would have to learn about her no later than early November.  The earliest plausible time for that defense is sometime in the Canadian winter, between late January and late March, and they would need at least a few months to get over themselves.  So I wrote them a long letter and delivered it by Email, pouring my hopes and fears about their reaction and about some of the steps that led me to this point into three pages of text.

Every conversation with them since then has been a gut-wrenching shouting match.  They regard my realization both as a personal insult and as a terrible decision on my part that they could have, and wish they had, somehow prevented, by keeping me away from supportive friends and partners.  They regard Ania as a conspirator against them and as a manipulative, nigh-magical force who pushed me into transness and who is therefore persona non grata to them, no longer welcome in their home, for the crimes of standing by me during my transition and for defending me from their verbal abuse.  They have not yet stopped attempting to emotionally blackmail me with the turmoil that my revelation has incited, all the while ignoring that my siblings and my grandmother are distraught right now not primarily because of the surprise of my transition, but because they anticipated, and are now watching, my parents’ bigoted, interminable histrionics and they fear for my future.

My parents now refuse to deal with Alyssa as they have with the person they thought I was.  I am, as far as they are concerned, an interloper, a body-snatcher that has taken over the form of the “son” they thought they had and who now cruelly refuses to return “him” to them.

I can no longer count on them to make my tuition payment, should I require another one.  I cannot count on them to make up the shortfall in my income should my supervisor decide that my fine for not finishing my degree on his schedule shall be half of my salary.  I cannot count on them to keep me afloat in the nigh-inevitable event that I have a few months of waiting or job-searching in between the end of my degree and whenever I start the next phase of my life.  I cannot count on them to help me with medical expenses, now that most of my health costs relate to a part of me they categorically deny.

The hour-long emotional wringer that was my last telephone conversation with them has left me shaking and nauseated, barely able to function, at the brink of tears, ever since, and has made sure that neither I nor Ania will see them again before they have a 180° change of heart.

Things are going to be scary for me for a few months.

So I turn to you all.

As long as I am an international student, it is both legally difficult and academically a very bad idea for me to take on another job, and Ania likewise cannot and should not seek employment.  Until my permanent residency application is processed sometime next year, I do not qualify for any government assistance, in Canada or elsewhere.  I will be at the limit of my fundraising capability seeking funding for a postdoctoral position as I inch into my career, as most of those fellowships are contingent on outside funding, and frantically looking for scholarships to take the burden off of my tuition or my shrinking salary.  We are now at the mercy of generous benefactors.

We need your help.  I need your help.

If you can afford it, if you like what I do with this blog, if you have the power to help lift me out of the existential despair that has taken root in my life, help keep us homed and healthy.

Ania’s Paypal account is [email protected], and it feeds into our joint bank account.

Our Patreon page allows you to make small contributions, monthly or per blog post, and gives you access to Ania’s serial fiction to boot.

Ania’s Etsy store has her paintings and other creations, which give you an item of beauty for your generosity.

Our mutual Amazon wish lists won’t do anything to solve this problem, but they might put a smile on our faces in these dark days.


This is the most scared I have ever been, and I don’t know what else to do.




When It Crashes

3 thoughts on “When It Crashes

  1. 1

    I’m only an undergrad (biochem at UOttawa), and your recent posts are just as scary for me to read. Maybe because you get it harder for being international, but as someone who is reaching the stars, wanting to become a researcher,work for science companies etc, your advice and tips, and realism would be greatly appreciated. If so, maybe you could write a blog in itself, ill be sure to share with fellow students.

  2. 2

    Update: My supervisor agreed to fund one more semester, which is more time than I will need to finish this degree. Whether my parents will pay another semester of tuition remains to be determined. The donations I have received have been more than helpful, and are keeping us out of destitution until then.

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