I was a virgin until I was 28 years old. I’m not saying that out of pride or shame, it’s important to understand the context. In all that time it’s not that I didn’t want to have sex, or even that I didn’t want to pursue it. In fact it’s hard for me to fully explain why it took so long. In part it could have to do with the fact that I am, again without shame or pride, very very good at lies and manipulation.
One of my earliest memories is of my mother putting me in a dress and showing me to my father and older sister (I’m not sure where my younger sister was at this point, it was certainly before she was talking). My father and sister both had a good laugh, I turned red in the face (probably) and I quickly demanded to be put back in boys clothes.
When I first started school I hung out with the girls because I was more comfortable with them. The boys of course made fun of me. So one day, when the whole class was seated on a carpet in front of the teacher, I stood, went to each girl in turn and punched them repeatedly on the back, an act I am ashamed of to this day.
I was sent to counseling, where I was diagnosed with ADD. I asked my mother once if it was possible to change gender, she replied that yes it was, but it was very difficult and the gender wasn’t really changed so much as visually altered. I ultimately decided that I very much wanted to be a boy, and would do so through sheer force of will.
This didn’t remove the thoughts though, they had to be pushed away. Constantly. Not only pushed but altered. My aunt has remarked that as a child I refused to go down the so called ‘pink aisle.’ I did refuse to go down the girls aisle, primarily to avoid the temptation. Every thought and action was controlled, considered beforehand, all to avoid the every lingering fear of exposure.
In all things I focused on masculine behavior. In some cases it wasn’t hard, activities like scouting and sea cadets were enjoyable for their own sake, video games also offered, for me at least, a comfortable middle ground. I could never get into sports, in part because I am bad at them, in part because I don’t fully understand them, and in part because even when I’m engaged and doing well they still spark absolutely zero interest for me.
I became pretty good at blending in, I still felt and acted awkward, but it was all hand in hand with the persona I crafted. I was a typical everyman, introverted and slightly aloof, polite and helpful. My system of values is focused around pleasant cohabitation, I do my best to get along with everybody and contribute my share. Except of course when I don’t.
I’m no saint, though the truth is I try my utmost to be. I do so as a defense mechanism, if found out I could attempt to fall back on whatever goodwill I may have fostered over the years. I tried very hard to make people like be because I knew, much as I was lying to myself I knew, that one day the dreaded inevitable would occur, that my true self would be revealed.
Naturally all of this comes with a significant amount of stress and anxiety. When I was younger I engaged in self harm, over the years I’ve turned to exercise, or simply shaking my arms as fast as I can. I loose my temper at times and I antagonize when I really, really shouldn’t. My deepest fear, deeper than the fear of exposure, is my own capacity for mindless violence. I have learned to shut myself off over the years, sometimes that backfires.
Other than childhood fights with my sisters I’ve never attacked anyone. For the most part I’m able to keep my emotions in check and have learned to function at a level approaching normal. I can often feel an irrational sense of anxiety plucking at the edges of my consciousness, but these feelings, like all others, are kept at bay, kept from interfering with my words and actions.
Except of course when they aren’t.
With all of this going on over many many years, I’ve found it very close to impossible to actually like myself. People are often quick to point out that I’m a pretty good person, but of course my every thought and action is dedicated to maintaining a falsehood. No one actually knows what kind of person I am. I don’t even know what kind of person I am.
Lying to myself was easy enough, lying to the rest of the world took some effort, but lying to someone with whom I’d like a relationship? The lies themselves, the words and actions are easy. Smile, slightly extended eye contact, light conversation, focus on mutual interest, state my interest in a relationship. Simple as that, I knew these steps in elementary school. No really.
There was a girl in my Elementary class, let’s call her Jane. As I mentioned I had decided I was going to be male. And one things males did, that I happened to be pretty good at, was make friends with the ladies. I convinced her to become my girlfriend, we kissed, it was gross, the teachers got involved, our parents were called, etc…
But you see, men didn’t just get a girlfriend and spend the rest of their lives with them. No a real guy, a James Bond type masculine man got all of the ladies. Jane had a friend we’ll call Sara, I told Jane we were ending and that I would make Sara my girlfriend. The results were as you’d expect. I tried this trick on a few of the other girls until one day all of them (the whole class) got together and told me they hated me. This moment was in about grade 5.
The result is that I felt incredibly conflicted every time I so much as looked at a girl. Knowing on some level that I was one, wanting to be more like them while simultaneously rejecting that side of myself, physical desire, shame, confusion, self doubt, recrimination, along with the knowledge that I could probably convince one of them to like me, but what then?
Do I deserve to be liked? Would they actually like me if they got to know me? Would I actually like them? I dated some, such instances were few and far between but never for very long. There was a girl I traded notes with who left because I ate like a cow. There was a girl I met on a cadet trip, one day while we were dating I saw her making out with a random guy on the bleachers, without so much as the facade of discretion.
After high school went a couple of years without really seeing anyone. I attended college, joined the army reserves, that all fell apart, and I got a job at a video store. It was there that I met two eventual love interests, one during my time there and the other a few years later after a chance encounter. The first (I learned after the fact) was interested in intimacy but felt I wasn’t reciprocating (fair), the latter had no interest in intimacy whatsoever. I was ok with that, mostly.
It was the relationship I craved, caring for someone and having them care for me. The problem was the person I expected them to care for was a fabrication. In my late twenties I started working for a call centre. It was there that I met the woman who first showed me intimacy. It was nice but like every other relationship the connection we had was fundamentally hollow. Some time after that I dated another woman who had no interest in physical intimacy. Having been in this position before I was happy enough to be done with it.
And then after I time, I met the woman we’ll call Lady. As of this writing out relationship is in an ambiguous state. Our first encounter was years ago, and it ended with us going our separate ways. I was alone for a long time, there was a brief fling, and I went back to being single for a while. Then Lady called me out of the blue and gave me the best year of my life. But we’ll get to that later.
I call her Lady because that’s what she truly is, in all ways. She is passionate and not to be trifled with. She is caring, dedicated and honest do a degree unique among my acquaintances. And she a little bit hates me right now. Maybe hate is too strong a word, or perhaps it’s understated. I don’t know. I’m in love with her. Things are kind of shaky. It’s a long story. But I think I’m in for a late night. I’m going to grab some coffee, then see if I can write a book before morning.
And things just got complicated. This book by morning idea may have to take a hiatus. Never mind, the book is back on. The truth is I sincerely deserve this, and I am definitely learning my lesson. Sneak peak spoiler alert, I feel a bit like I’m in a sitcom at the moment. Recently we’ve had a couple of awful fights, almost the end of our relationship. Tonight she decided to come visit me at fencing, but my car wasn’t parked there. I had to park down the street but she doesn’t trust me at all right now. It’s important to understand that she thinks I’m being unfaithful, to some degree.
This story begins with me coming out to her. It was a bad time, relationship wise, and my perpetual fears were there to haunt me. She felt I was being distant, basically she felt under appreciated. Me, I was seriously considering marriage, and the implications of being transgender in that context. At least that’s how I choose to contextualize it in retrospect, it was all a bit of a blur. As one would assume the dilemma caused me a great deal of stress.
Recall that over my life I’ve spent considerably more time out of a relationship than in. Naturally that led to a lot of porn. While I was in a relationship the porn stopped, it was only good courtesy. And emotionally faithful. So yeah the stress mentioned above caused me to go just a teeny bit, shall we say loopy. Am I making excuses? Probably. The take away is that I’m not proud of myself.
I was becoming just a little bit obsessed. I rationalized a poor decision, I was unfaithful to my Lady. Though not in a physical way it was still wrong. Alight, all the moral boxes are ticked off we can move forward. Anyway the porn wasn’t doing anything for me so I started reading articles. As many as I could find. There actually aren’t that many. There are however a lot of blogs and one or two webcomics.
Everything sort of came into focus at that point. I realized just how much conscious effort was going into lying to myself. I was play acting my entire life, essentially. This deception was a big contributor to my stress levels, and that the reason I never felt comfortable in my own skin is because I’ve never felt comfortable in my own skin.
Lady and I had a big fight, I spent the following day driving through the mountains, and on our next sit down together I came out of the closet. She was extremely supportive, we went shopping and put on make up. She spent many, many hours helping me with all of it. And the whole time I felt terrible about myself.
I don’t know if I imagined it or really saw it, but I felt as if I was repulsive to her. A lifetime of insecurity simply wouldn’t allow me to consider the possibility that someone could genuinely accept me. Also I’m dumb and was blind to the fact that she is an absolutely incredible human being. She in turn interpreted my self doubt as abandoning the relationship.
Maybe I had, it’s hard to explain just how fiercely I had fought this side of myself over the last thirty odd years. I could not believe in long term acceptance, so I simply assumed it would soon be over. As stated I get emotional. I freak out, yell and scream etc… I really didn’t want to do this, so I disconnected. And Lady picked up on that. She insisted I was holding something back. I hadn’t mentioned the porn, what kind of idiot mentions the porn. So I told her about the porn. It was a terrible decision. The porn I mean, telling her was the right thing to do.
Except that now there exists zero trust. I’m sincerely not the kind of person to cheat in a relationship. I could, anyone can really, I mean that’s not why I’m in it. If I wanted casual I would do casual, I gain nothing from secrecy. I am in love with Lady because of our relationship.
Just now she came to me, to ask about fencing and why my car wasn’t parked the lot. I told her I was parked down the street. There were words, I Obi Wan’d the conversation. That is to say I sat there and kept my fool mouth shut, knowing as upset as she is there are no good words other than I understand, and I’m sorry. We talked, she left, we talked some more then I left, she followed, we talked, she walked out and shut the door on me. Literally this moment, seconds before I type this. I may well be some kind of sociopath. Except that this hurts like hell. I want my Lady back. I don’t deserve her, I hurt her a lot… wait where am I going with this?
Ok lets’ get the story back on track, we’ve kind of jumped around a bit here. Oh yeah I mentioned earlier that I would talk about the best year of my life. Let’s do that, it was a happy time 😀
January of 2014, I had been alone for several months, still reeling from that fling I mentioned. I found myself thinking about Lady. We’d had good times together, sure there were some rough patches but I enjoyed her company and deeply respect her worldview. We’d gone our separate ways over silly matters, and I regretted loosing her. Then one day she contacted me.
I was elated, and more than a little confused. Why had someone bothered to show interest in me after so much time. I was giddy when I stepped into my car, the evening was fabulous and when I walked her to her car I wanted desperately to kiss her. Instead I went into full facade. It was honest, after a fashion. I very much liked this person and desperately wanted a connection.
I proceeded to do all of the right things. As stated I’ve known the right things since early childhood, I played it slow, allowing her to take the initiative but staying just close enough to provide the opportunity and temptation. She actually liked me, I was delighted to reciprocate.
By far the best aspect of our relationship is the adventures. We had some fantastic times together traipsing over hill and yonder. We’ve been on several day trips to the mountains, I’ve taken her flying in a Cessna (I can fly a Cessna), we went to visit her parents in Ottawa, rode down a Hawaiian mountainside on a scooter. Going 90k in traffic. Wearing shorts. It was awesome. The rest of Hawaii was pretty awesome as well, it’s a great place, I recommend going.
We moved in together shortly after that. In the fall we were able to return to Ottawa, her parents were thrilled to see me again, her Oma and Opa (grandparents) fed us breakfast, we picked up some of the most delicious cheese you can find. Then fall carried on into winter. I continued doing the right things, or at least doing the right things as I saw them. Regrettably the right things didn’t always work.
Part of the problem is that I am by nature quite fickle. It’s a trait whose significance I’ve only recently come to appreciate (girls are said to be fickle, I don’t like thinking about gender stereotypes. Why am I perpetuating gender stereotypes? Shut up voice in my head and let me get on with it). I continued to jump through the required hoops but my mind began to wander. Specifically towards the prospect of getting married while secretly transgender, except I wasn’t really transgender and the feelings will go away if I don’t think about them and why am I still thinking about them.
I was a bit distracted, she picked up on it, I came out to her, I believe I’ve already covered all of that. The last few weeks have been a heck of a roller coaster. I was discovering a side of myself left buried for years. Except not fully buried, there are feminine traits that have remained strong. I can sing, my femme voice lacks practice but I seriously think I can pull it off and even belt out a decent tune. I’m in reasonable shape and slender boned, with a bit of exercise and a lean diet I can probably look the part with little fuss.
There’s a whole world that I’m just discovering. And as I’m discovering, my Lady is watching from the sidelines, desperately afraid of loosing me. There were many fights and reconciliations, sometimes within hours of each other. Both of us have said reprehensible things in awful ways. And this is where I find myself. Alone and exhausted at one am on a work night. The bedroom is probably off limits, I don’t imagine my company will be welcome.
As it turns out the door was open, and my company wasn’t wholly rejected, she was even willing to hold my hand. This also put an end to the book by morning plan. Screw it I think I’ll just make this into a blog.