The new legislation in Indiana is offensive to me. Granted I am offended as a member of the LGBTQIA(etc…) community, but even more so I am offended as a christian. This is the literal opposite of what Jesus was trying to tell us. In the allegory of the good Samaritan we are taught to help people who need it, even if they are our enemy. This is something I see as fundamental to christian ideology. If a person wants to be judicious regarding their clientele I can respect that on some level, but this person has no business calling themselves a follower of Christ.
I keep telling myself I should write something, if only to get the thoughts out and allow my mind to breath a little. These past few weeks I really haven’t had the mental energy for much. It’s hard to talk about because it involves family, and there are members of my family who read this blog, or at least know of it. Basically things were said with the best of intentions from a place of deep love and concern, things which left me absolutely floored. Even now I haven’t fully picked myself up.
My parents are pretty great, but as with every family there were some rocky periods when I was growing up. During those times I still had an unconditional supporter and ally. I spent my life hiding who I was but I always felt if anyone saw through to the real me it was this beloved family member. I was devastated to hear them suggest I may simply be delusional, and frankly I’m being polite here. There opinion on trans people came accross with the subtlety of church bells. This was the person who taught me pretty much everything I know about gender and tolerance.
The question that’s been racing around and around in my head for the last few weeks, and in fact my whole life, is am I really a woman. It was the inability to answer this question that kept me in the closet. I’m familiar with all of the conjecture on the subject, for and against, it’s been part of my internal monolog for as long as I can remember. I’ve always felt like I was supposed to be female, but the reality is somethig I was never able to come to terms with. When I came out I was starting to, and over the last few months my self acceptance has grown.
I suppose that self acceptance needed to be tested at some point. I have a tendency to micro analyze. From a lot of perspectives transgenderism is a perfectly valid and rational condition. A lot of perspectives, but not all, and there are several rational arguments to be made against. Of course gender dysphoria isn’t something that comes from a rational place, in fact it’s more of a starting point, the nucleus of consciousness. But what proof is there?
One thing that’s really helped is a local LGBTQIA(etc..) affirming church. I’ve been to three events so far and it means a lot to interact with people who’ve shared a similar conflict and come through stronger because of it. Tonight at this church I listened to a number of monologes from queer and allied folk about thier personal journeys, how they found the strength to show themselves to the world. This was my proof. Am I really a woman, to be hontest I’m a long way from being able to say that with confidence. But I’ve gotten to the point that I know I am trans, and that’s something to be proud of.
I believe the mistake in current attempts to litigate the use of public facilities is the intent to make these regulations universal. I believe it should be the discretion of the property owner, and that it should be their responsibility to display appropriate signage, if they intend to enforce their expectations. It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that. Those who view the matter as a concern may choose their business accordingly.
Heads up the following is going to be somewhat dark and a bit graphic, in fact don’t even keep reading. The thing is for me it’s not much of a thing. I realized today that it’s become a part of normal every day life. Just now I was sitting on the porch enjoying some nice weather when I bit into my finger. I did it out of habit, not hard enough to break skin but enough to make my teach ache and leave a good mark. I do it to feel the pain, and to tell myself it doesn’t bother me at all. What’s most disturbing is that it really doesn’t.
I don’t like pain, it is not something that gives me pleasure. How this condition relates to my gender dysphoria is anyones guess, but it’s something I think about. As I sat on the porch I contemplated the various conjectures that had run through my mind over the years, every reason not to transition. At first it was simple uncertainty, then as time passed I began to hope the feelings would simply fade. It’s just a faze, they would say.
One day I heard of a theory called neural plasticity. Naturally people who transitioned would say it was a need, there was an inherent bias. But on tv I saw interviews with sciencers, precocious bearded men in neutral tone button up shirts who knew how to spell the word resarch. They were of the opinion that of course transexuls felt that way, because that’s how they behaved. I bought into this. I came to believe I had cured myself.
As I matured I learned that this concept was absurd. Further evidence came to light and it became abundantly clear that one could not be cured of this. It is not a thing to be cured of. How silly I had been, the truth was obvious, since one could not be cured it meant I was never trans to begin with. Oh the mental gymnastics.
As I began to think back I pondered all the stages of my life where my opinion changed. When I was very young I pulled a deep fryer on top of myself, resulting in third degree burns on my chest and right arm. I considered how this event may have affected things. It occurred to me this might have been what caused me to equate pain with masculinity. When I was in the hospital everyone kept telling me how brave I was, how strong.
I’ve observed that most people recoil whenever they receive even a minor injury. They stub a toe or scratch their arm on something, there is a sharp intake of breath and pained expression, cursing is not uncommon. In public spaces I try to mimic these behaviours. Though I feel the pain, it very rarely overrides my impulses. I believe it’s the sense of self control that I find most appealing. If I can control this, I can control any part of myself.
I’ve spent a lifetime privately injuring myself. Entering puberty I began to create hangnails on my toes. It got to the point where I would often remove a pinky toenail completely. Oh yeah, this is the graphic part. You should probably stop reading. I would pick away at the nail for days. The first day wasn’t so bad, the second day was a lot worse. The third day made the first two days seem like nothing. There were periods where a day didn’t go by that I wasn’t picking away for hours at a time. Even now I have a tendency to inflict pain on myself when stressed.
Wow this is getting pretty long winded and morbid. Seriously why did you read this? One thing to be clear on is I despise injury. Pain doesn’t often bother me (waxing is the exception) but I can’t stand any loss of functionality. I eventually got over the more severe acts of self harm by focusing on exercise, or looked from another angle I found a healthier way to cause physical discomfort. Ok now for some happy thoughts and a nap… maybe some ice cream 😀
Shortly after writing my previous post I sent a message out on Facebook to everyone on my friends list that I am transgender. Later that day I sent an email out to my team at work. Needless to say my life recently has been hectic. Everyone was incredibly supportive and it was a challenge trying to respond to everything. This has been my biggest fear for as long as I can remember and it’s gone surprisingly well.
The fear of exposure has haunted my since childhood, I felt that the whole world would turn against me. The reality has been that I have some incredible effing friends. Until now I didn’t appreciate just how lucky I really am. Thanks again to everyone I know personally who might be reading this, your support has been amazing.
One thing that stood out to me among all the well wishing was the number of times people said something along the lines of “I’m glad you’re finding your happiness.” or some such. I appreciate the sentiment, really I do, but that’s also a somewhat inaccurate assessment of what transition is about. I mean sure I want to be happy and being pretty does make me happy. But it’s not like there were never moments of happiness before, and there have certainly been some pretty awful moments as a result of this transition.
To me it’s about finally being honest with myself and in the way I interact with the world. I have spent my life in constant struggle with my instincts, the moment I learned something was feminine I consciously avoided doing it. This included things like making sure I never crossed my legs and didn’t stick out my pinky finger while drinking tea. I’ve dropped all that nonsense, I am starting to dress and act in the way that I am most comfortable, i.e. the way that requires the least mental effort.
Painting my nails relaxes me, I enjoy having smooth soft skin and wearing pretty jewelry. I don’t feel ashamed for liking certain songs, or walking in a particular way. I look at a dress in a store window and stop to ponder just how it would look and feel on me. Granted I still can’t actually work up the nerve to buy anything on my own, I went into a store to look at a cute leather jacket, then panicked and bailed when the attractive sales lady talked to me. Luckily my friend Matron has proven to be a good shopping buddy. Oh and that’s another thing to appreciate, having a totally plutonic female friend without worrying what people think. Matron you are a rockstar.
The days following my coming out have been demanding, but in a good way. There’s still one very important person I haven’t talked to. My Aunt. Aside from my mother she is the most significant female role model in my life. She is the one who taught me about feminism and the need for true equality and understanding. I’m not sure I can articulate why talking to her scares me more than anyone else, including literally everyone else. She knows by now, she no doubt wonders why I’ve put the conversation off.
To me she represents the ideal of womanhood, she is the strongest and most intelligent person I have ever known. One of the reasons I’ve avoided transition is that I felt like an interloper, as if I would be treading somewhere I didn’t belong. If femininity was the forbidden country she is the almighty queen. I know she holds me in high esteem and have no doubt she will support me, but it’s still oddly intimidating for me. More so even than shopping.
So last night I took my very first estrogen pill 😀 I feel… pretty much the same. I don’t know what I was expecting really, I’ll update my progress in this blog. My life has been pretty busy of late. I came out to the bulk of my guy friends very recently at a batchelor party. The batchelor is a good budy with a lot of the same friends as me. There’s a fairly large group of us that have known each other for decades (I paused as I wrote that to do the mental arithmetic and yes decades plural is appropriate in many cases.) I had come out to a few of my friends weeks before but this was the first occasion with just about all of them.
Guys I’d gone to elementry school with, guys I met in junior high and highschool. I was in boy clothes with no makup, but full jewelry including recenlty pierced ears and glossy blue nails. It was a good night, the next morning, when asked what I drank my immediate response was a lot. There were a few questions but no one was negative and most people expressed strong support. It was a surreal experience to be sure.
I’m fascinated by anything to do with studies on the brain. It’s naturally a subject that catches my attention and I learned a few interesting things this week. Apparently emotions play an absolutely crucial role in our decision making process, specifically emotions are what establish our goals. This theory certainly seems to fit my personal obervations of human behavior. Anyone who has worked customer service can probably relate to this. I have on many occasions spent the better part of an hour attempting to passify a customer over a trivial sum of money. It’s also a behavior I’ve observed in several phobic politicians and pundits.
In contemplating this I came to wonder about the nature of the gender binary, the question of what’s social and what’s biogical. I think of course the flaw with that quesiton is the presumption of only two factors, you could just as easily ask about the influence of temperature or season, diet, bacterial culture etc… The point is human behavour is influenced by countless factors. But among those factors there are definitely instincts. Biological perogatives that exist at the most basic level our psyche , so deep that we don’t even realize they’re there.
I’ve come to believe that gender is among them. I have come to believe it exists as one of the fundamental kernals in our decision making process. Self awareness means making decisions, making decicions requires goals, objectives. Humans are a complex social animal with multiple roles to fill, there exists a biological need for our brains to diversify. The strongest systems are the most adaptable, and in light of that the concept of a gender spectrum makes a lot of sense to me.
Ok enough rambling. No I lied I’m going to keep going. I’ve come to suspect that transphobia is driven by instinct, and this might be the same instinct that drives some of us to transition. People seem to get very uncomfortable around gender non conforming individuals. From what I’ve seen it actually takes a bit of discipline to get over this. The sense of unease they feel when they see someone acting outside their role could well be the same thing I feel when I look in the mirror.