Transphobia

Transphobia

There’s a lot of very blatant transphobia in our world, yet I’ve never actually encountered someone who would acknowledge that they or their words might be transphobic. I think this is because people don’t quite understand what the word means. It’s not a fear of trans people, we’re adorable and peace loving, no one is afraid of us. Transphobia is a fear of deconstructing gender barriers.  

When an interviewer rejects and applicant who happens to be trans, it’s not because they personally have a problem, but their customers might. When a landlord denies housing, it’s because the other tenants might complain. When schools refuse to allow someone access to public facilities, it’s because some of the other children might be uncomfortable. When a cisgender man reacts violently towards a trans woman, it’s because he’s worried about what others will think of him.

Gender roles serve an important social function, and the thought of their erasure is a source of anxiety for many. We are afraid of ourselves and each other, of what we might do if given license to live however we wanted. There are obviously more than a few negative extremes along this line of thinking, and I’m certainly not advocating an erasure of gender roles. What I am saying is that it would be really nice if we as a society could remove the weight of obligation and stigma, allow people to decide for themselves exactly where they fit, what role they are best suited to perform. Unfortunately this idea seems to terrify some people. 

The Satirical Edge

So I’m working on an auto biography, because why not? It’s called ‘The Satirical Edge’ and here’s the beginning.

The Satirical Edge

The exact point where people can’t tell if you’re kidding or not. Like that time I went around telling everyone I know that I’m transgender. 

The experience of gender dysphoria is one of near constant uncertainty. It’s not a lack of information, but rather the result of excessive and conflicting information. Pretty much everything in my life has been experienced with polarized feelings. Ambivalence is a good word, I use it a lot when explaining what it’s like to be a girl that looks like a boy, or as some might put it, a boy who thinks he’s a girl. 

To me the distinction between those two statements is academic, two different ways of describing a singular phenomenon that neither phrase fully encapsulates. Am I a girl who looks like a boy, or a boy who thinks he’s a girl? Anyone who expects a solid answer doesn’t understand the question. Both phrases mean the same thing, and they don’t really mean anything.

Maybe it would help to start at the beginning, or at least as close to the beginning as I’m able to recall. Once when I was very little my mother dressed me up like a girl. I may have asked her to, I don’t remember. That incident was clearly the root of my dysphoria, or at least that’s what some theories would suggest. And I believed those theories for a long time. Although I didn’t actually believe them at all. And while I don’t remember asking my mother to put me in a dress I kind of remember asking her. 

I remember wanting to wear the dress, or maybe that’s just what I want to remember. I don’t remember how I felt while wearing it. What I do remember is how I felt when my father and older sister saw me and began to laugh. Is there a psychological thing where emotions are linked to parts of the body? What I felt in that moment was deep in the gut, not a physical pain so much as an awareness. But definitely gut focused. 

Anyway I lied when I said I don’t remember how I felt in that dress. It felt wonderful, and I felt awful. Now you’re wondering if any of what I’ve said is true. And that’s kind of what I’m driving at. This has been my life. My whole life. Every single thought and emotion was conflicted. Many things felt right that I knew were wrong. For example I always liked the wrong music. Imagine hearing your favorite song and immediately hating yourself, because of the feels. 

This duality is something I’ve learned to cary, in fact I find it strange when I encounter someone who is unable to appreciate uncertainty. Likewise the people I trust most are the ones who can say ‘I don’t know’ with confidence. I’ve come to accept that truth is like a black hole, invisible to mortal eyes, understood only by the untruths that surround it. 

Am I a girl who looks like a boy, or a boy who thinks he’s a girl? The truth is somewhere in between, and ultimately unknowable. What I do know is that I have always wanted to be a girl, and I have always wanted to not feel that way. Rather than answers I’m going to focus on the questions I’ve struggled with over the course of my life. 

The first question is naturally why? Why do I feel this way? Maybe it was because of the dress thing I mentioned earlier. Maybe it was because I pulled a deep frier on myself at one point. Maybe it was a result of the verbal abuse I suffered. Maybe it’s because most of my early friends were girls. Maybe it was because my family moved when I was in second grade, and I attended a new school where I didn’t know anyone. Could it be something as simple as the fact that I was a girl trying to navigate a world where I was treated, and expected to act, like a boy?

Which is crazy talk. Literally. I learned this from watching MASH. Klinger wasn’t crazy, but he wanted people to think he was, so he dressed like a girl. Because men who think they are girls are crazy. I learned of a book called catch 22, the idea was that a crazy person doesn’t know they’re crazy, so if they’re able to recognize that they’re crazy, it means they’re sane. By the way that’s utter nonsense and not actually what the book’s about, but that was my take away as a young child. 

So I was crazy, but recognizing this meant I was sane, or in my case not really a girl. Or something. Maybe I should have talked to someone about it. But then they would have told me I was crazy… or a girl. I didn’t much like either prospect. I decided it wasn’t something I could self diagnose, so I waited. Per the rules of catch 22 I needed someone to tell me what was wrong with me. 

Which is exactly what happened, except instead of being crazy or female, I had ADD. I always thought I should have been diagnosed ADHD. Apparently I wasn’t hyper enough, which isn’t at all how I remember things, but then what do I know, I’m crazy. 

My name is June, formerly David. Or Dave. Or whatever. I never much cared what people called me. But I absolutely love it when people call me June. There’s an awful lot of people who don’t feel I have a right to this. Who feel that in asking to be called by a name I actually like, I am living an amoral lifestyle. 

In that context I’m twice damned. Because I know that June is my true name, and that David was a lie. Maybe it’s a delusion, maybe it’s a trick of the devil, but it is nonetheless what I have sincerely come to believe. So do I live an amoral truth, or a moral lie? Notice I don’t actually refute the opposing opinion, instead I try to open it up. I don’t mean to say that there is not truth, only that we as humans are unable to fully perceive it. Also a person should always do what they believe is right, even if they happen to be wrong. 

One question that comes up often is “how do you know you’re really a girl?” My response to this question is always “Exactly!” Uncertainty is a difficult concept to communicate, people have a tendency to assume that if I disagree with them I automatically believe the opposite, when what I’m usually trying to say is that neither of us knows as much as we think we do. Which of course leads them to assume I’m an arrogant jerk. 

Oh yes I should mention I’m an arrogant jerk. Also I have self esteem issues. Most arrogant jerks have self esteem issues. When I was young my parents and teachers kept telling me how smart I was. Usually this was said to coax me into doing homework. It’d be nice to say that my lackluster academic performance was somehow tied to my gender issues, but really I was just lazy. Or maybe I told myself I was lazy and in fact had difficulty focusing because I was concentrating on presentation. 

Whatever the case I’ve always felt like an underachiever. As if I should be doing more with my life, but no matter what I tried nothing ever fit. Is that something I can pin on my gender issues? Did spending so much effort on denying my deepest desires make it impossible for anything else to hold my interest? What I find striking is that in the months before and after coming out my thoughts were consumed with transition.

I was ravenous, driven in a way I had never previously experienced. I was finally starting to let go, and came to realize my grip wasn’t nearly as strong as I’d thought. People at the time remarked that I was moving very quickly, despite the fact that I was doing my sincere best to hold on. Ok that’s a lie, I wanted more than anything to move forward. Even now I don’t quite have the words to describe it.

I mean I have lots of words. Like all kinds. Not necessarily my words, ok some of them are, but also dozens of links to articles I’ve saved in just the last few months. The most important thing I’ve learned from all that reading is that I don’t know much of anything about gender issues.  The second most important thing I’ve learned is that no one does, however even in that context I’m well behind the curve.

There are lots and lots of opinions, both sides will speak with conviction and fervor. Ok not really, my side is always reasoned and polite. It’s the people who disagree with me that are the loudmouth antagonists. Everything we say is calm, thoroughly researched and logical. They on the other hand don’t even acknowledge the brilliant points we raise that squash their facile arguments into paste. 

Of course I would say the same about any argument I’ve had on any subject. And of course I’ve never ever once been the loudmouth antagonist. Except for that one day I was in a bad mood and maybe wasn’t as polite as I could have been. But they were still a jerk to me so they deserved it. Also they smelled bad. 

I find I am very sensitive to emotional subtext. At least I think I am, I may not be. Either way I get a very distinct impression of what people are feeling based on what they say and how they present it. People have often told me that I seem quite sensitive in general, some would say oversensitive. 

This raises the question of whether my sensitivity, assuming it’s not imagined, is the result of any specific experience. I would say I’ve experienced my share of trauma, and I’ve heard it suggested that such history common among highly sensitive people. Some might suggest I’m just a wuss. There are days I would certainly agree with these people, like the first day I ever heard of a trans woman. 

There was a story about her on TV, her name is Caroline Cossey. I believe it was a segment on Entertainment Tonight. They talked about her as the Bond Girl (a woman who appeared in a James Bond Movie) who used to be a boy. I was mesmerized by her, a beautiful woman who’s childhood pictures just happened to look a lot like me. The segment even talked about her transition, about hormones and surgery. What stood out to me more than anything was that the emotional subtext of the piece was not at all positive. 

It’s not that they were overtly critical of this woman, or even skeptical of her gender identity. If anything they were baffled. It was presented with the air of a carnival sideshow. Hey check out this really strange person. It was their inflection when they spoke, the looks on their faces, discomfort and disbelief. And of course they pointed out that when she was in the movie no one knew about her past. The tacit implication, obvious to a child like me, is that if anyone had known, she wouldn’t have been a Bond Girl. 

I struggled with this information for a long time. Actually I’m still struggling with it. Soon after I asked someone about transitioning, I’m not sure who but it was probably the same doctor who diagnosed me with ADD. Anyway I was told that transition was only cosmetic, a boy could be made to look like a girl but wouldn’t really be one. Specifically they could never become pregnant. This bothered me more than anything, it still does. 

If I chose to live as a boy I could still at least become a biological parent. This felt a bit like getting the runner up prize. I also learned that in most cases feelings of dysphoria eventually fade, usually during puberty. I have no doubt that my own desire to be a woman will eventually fade, and I will at last be able to embrace my masculinity, this will probably be the day after my bottom surgery. 

I do wonder how my life would have been different if I had come out at that age. Would I have been supported? Could I have transitioned, and gone through my teenage years as a girl? Any article or video on the internet that shows parents being supportive of trans kids will inevitably have someone in the peanut gallery decry it as child abuse. 

As if the real solution is to deny these feelings, smother them completely. Well the peanut gallery and eight year old me are in full agreement. As time went on I picked up bits and pieces on the subject of exceptional gender identities, and came across the story of David Reimer. In the late 1960’s after a botched circumcision, doctors recommended the child be castrated and raised as a girl. For a time, many people believed this plan had worked.

I first heard about this in the mid to late 1980’s, when people still spoke of this incident as a success story. He was born a boy, but raised as a girl, and everything seemed to be fine. This reenforced the idea that my desire to be female was nothing but a delusion. It meant that a boy could come to believe they were a girl, and it meant that those thoughts could be changed. All I had to do was focus on being a boy.  

A few years later, sometime in the late 1990’s I came across the story again, but by now David had learned the truth. And the fact is the plan hadn’t worked at all. David was never a girl, he never liked being treated as a girl, and was relieved beyond measure when he found out he wasn’t. Sadly David took his own life in 2004, there were issues beyond his gender identity that contributed to this, but his regrettable upbringing no doubt played a part. Naturally I found all of this to be very disturbing, but it did solidify the notion that boys couldn’t actually become girls, proving that own feelings were mere fantasy. Clearly. 

Growing up I found it difficult relating to my peers. I was a strange child, curious, oblivious and far to energetic. Eager to please and quick to anger, or break down into tears. I was always doing something wrong, and an ongoing subject of mockery. The other children never let me forget the time I misspelled my own name, or that time the teacher refused to allow me to go to the washroom with predictable results. I assumed all of this was a normal part of childhood.

I continually attempted to reinvent myself, believing that if I wore the right clothes, or learned to speak the right way that I could perhaps find acceptance. Eventually I decided my problems stemmed from the fact that I was simply to weak. That people would be nicer to me if I became stronger, more masculine. 

So how does one do this? Well I’d pulled a deep frier on myself, so maybe pain management was something I could become good at. And I cried far too often, so that would have to stop. I needed to figure out all the ways in which I was overly feminine. Even at that young age I knew that no single trait was exclusive to boys or girls, but I did have too many girl traits so I would have to cut some out. And I wanted to be tall, because that seemed to be the primary advantage of being male. Now how to to accomplish all of this?

Pain and crying went hand in hand. When I felt tears welling up I learned to squelch that feeling, likewise when I found myself in intense pain I learned to suppress the physical response. The pain and suffering didn’t go away, but I was able to prevent most outward displays of these things. One time I got a particularly vicious hangnail on one of my toes and lost nearly the whole nail. 

Ok not ‘nearly,’ at least not for very long. I picked the rest out over the course of a two hour movie. For the next few days I was very proud that I was able to appear totally calm despite being in agonizing pain. Over the years I got into the habit of removing toenails on purpose, to remind myself of just how strong I could be, and it proved a really great distraction whenever I was overwhelmed by emotions. 

When it came to feminine tendencies I had to pick and choose, and came up with all kinds of silly rules. Obviously cross dressing of any sort would only break me further, so despite an intense yearning I never put on women’s clothes, even in situations where it may have been socially appropriate, like plays or halloween. My preferred activities were gender neutral, in particular I loved the outdoors and riding my bike. In video games where gender was an option I always chose male, unless I was on a second play through.

I cut out a lot of feminine things, but allowed myself a few vices. Like Disney movies, and singing. I love singing, and vocal control is something I’m good at. My younger sister is a marvelous singer, and in private I would often attempt to emulate her. Cross dressing was out, but cross singing left no physical evidence, and allowed me to express myself without having to admit what I was really doing. This has proven advantageous, as most trans women I read about have a great deal of difficulty with their voice, whereas for me it turns out this is a skill I’ve been working on my whole life. 

Pride

Let me start by saying that my intention here is not to preach. This blog is an examination of my psyche and sometimes that psyche has conversations with God, sometimes I imagine God speaks back. Feel free to substitute any instances of “God told me…” with “I imagined that…”. My cousin once told me when we feel God is speaking to us it’s important to hold it lightly, to never assume that the thoughts in our head can ever truly line up with the will of the Almighty. With that heady caveat out of the way I would like to thank God for an absolutely incredible pride festival 🙂 

Initially I was scheduled to work all weekend, shift trades can be difficult in my department, especially on a long weekend with a major event going on. There was a family engagement on Saturday and the parade on Sunday. It would be a small miracle to get either day, but God told me to ask and within minutes of sending an email I received a response from someone willing to trade. Both days, which as miracles go is a little more than small. Or maybe I just got lucky, or maybe I’m well liked in my department, or whatever. Everything worked out so I say thank you. 

Also kind of weird, I felt like God told me I would be presented with opportunity this weekend, one that I should not pass up. I knew it wasn’t going to be anything life changing, and no it was not going to involve any bedroom business. It was more like I would be offered an adventure so long as I remained open to the possibility. Or maybe this was simply something I wanted, but the point is I decided was open to going wherever the universe took me. 

The morning started with church, and from there I would have to make my way to the parade block where I would be marching with my work. Mom offered to go to church with me then drive me to the parade so I didn’t have to worry about parking or public transit. The service had a pride theme, and I must say it’s incredible it is to be in such an open and inviting spiritual environment. 

As the service was winding down my mother and I ducked out so we could make our way to the parade for 1130, per the instructions in the email from work. She dropped me off then went about her day. My church was also marching in the parade, but their announcement said to be a the starting block by 1145. Why were the times different? I have no idea but we didn’t start marching until about 1220… so whatever. 

Being nice and early gave me a chance to chat with a number of coworkers. I met a trans woman who’s been with the company for a few months and recently started HRT. In fact she was planning to come out her parents that evening. Later on I got a text from her that she had told them, and that her mother didn’t know if she would ever be able to use her authentic name. I congratulated her and told her not to let her mothers response get her down. So I made a new friend, and they wouldn’t be the first new friend I made that day.

The parade itself was a lot of fun. I smiled the whole time, waving a rainbow flag and cheering as the crowd roared in response. We would occasionally stop and run around the float like crazy(er) people, and some of us had snacks to hand out. It was about as public a setting as one can get, and I felt absolutely incredible the entire time. 

Afterwards my coworkers went their separate ways. There was talk of a party or something but nothing seemed to materialize, and soon I was left by myself on a busy street with throngs of people all heading in different directions. I contemplated heading to the train station to make my way home for the day, then remembered that I had been promised (or imagined) an adventure of some sort, so instead I simply followed the crowd I happened to find myself in. 

There were a lot of people, easily thousands, all making their way to a a pride event set up by a number of local businesses. I could smell food trucks and there was a massive stage. The music was lively with a strong beat, they sky was overcast with periods of light rain. I would have been cold If I wasn’t shoulder to shoulder with what felt like half the city of Calgary.

There I was padding along waiting for the universe to present this adventure, when someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was a trans woman I had met at a writers conference a few weeks back. We will call her Beatrix, because she is badass and carries a sword. Actually it’s an umbrella that looks like a sword, but nonetheless badass. 

She said hi and we chatted for a bit, she was meeting some friends and I asked if I could tag along, since I didn’t actually know anyone there. She was happy for the company and we made our way deeper into the festival. Along the way we ran into a number of her acquaintances, she introduced me and I found myself in a small dance circle not too far from the stage. It seemed we were surrounded by every type of human, all dress styles, all interests and identities, there were goths and cosplayers, punks and furies. Me, I was still wearing my church dress, and I felt totally at ease. 

The music stopped and speeches began. The woman on stage was deliberately channeling Hunger Games, and even made mention of this in her speech. She thanked the various organizations that had helped to put everything together, and at one point mayor Nenshi came on to deliver a speech. Our city’s mayor is arguably the best mayor on the planet, he’s actually earned this distinction in global surveys. So it was pretty cool to hear him speak at the pride event.

It was getting cold, and Beatrix suggested we make our way to a local pub to warm up. There we met some more of her friends, all wonderful people. We talked about the bad weather and the reason why Calgary holds it’s pride event in September, apparently it’s to avoid competing with the one in Vancouver. I get that but why September of all months? One couple spoke about how nice it was to have a day where they could express affection in public without receiving hostility, and bemoaned that this was limited to one day a year. Like when straight people ask why they don’t get a day, the response is that every day is straight people day.  

In a previous post I mentioned I haven’t used public washrooms since living full time, but my initial plan to go the whole day without using a washroom proved naive. I decided to go for the mens room, simply because I still get embarrassed and honestly don’t want to offend anyone. I had just stepped inside the mens room when Beatrix appeared and said, “Sorry I should have said this place is cool, and the women’s washroom is over here.” She showed me to the ladies room, I hurriedly did my business and got out.

Once seated Beatrix told us that when given a hard time in washrooms she simply declares, “Trans rights matter!” as if dropping a smoke bomb, then makes her escape in the confusion. She recounted a number of scenarios where this had proven effective. She said for the most part women don’t care at all, and are in fact generally very supportive. This was my experience throughout the rest of the day, and my next trip to the washroom was considerably more relaxed.

Our little group made our way to another pub a few blocks away where we met with even more members of Calgary’s LGBT community. We had a seat on the patio and sat with a lovely couple that Beatrix had met a few times. We were next to the balcony and it was still pretty cold out, but I was having so much fun it didn’t bother me. 

In the middle of the patio was a large group of women, and I was informed they were among Calgary’s most prominent lesbians. I know almost nothing about our community but there was an air of reverence when Beatrix spoke of them, of course there was also a lot of gossip and intrigue. The couple we had sat down with was familiar with the group in question, and were able to offer some insight into the social dynamic. No specifics of course, no names or anything tawdry. One thing I’ve learned is that lesbians are usually very respectful towards one another.

They spoke of the local bar scene, and how there weren’t many places these days, and the places that are left cater mostly to gay men. Apparently things used to be better a few years ago, but now the scene was rife with misogyny. I’ve only been to one gay bar in Calgary, and it has something of a dubious reputation among lesbians. 

For example I was informed that one of the ways this establishment prunes their clientele is to charge cover, but waive it for members. Of course there is no actual membership, what it really means is that they only charge cover to straight people and recently, lesbians. I’m told that in the past they were open to all queer folk, but more and more they have been discouraging anyone who wasn’t a young gay man. I heard a number of stories of apparent discrimination, and was a bit embarrassed to admit I have never been asked to pay cover there.

Actually the last time I was there was to see the weekly drag show, and one of the queens made a transphobic statement that I think he may have intended to be self depreciating, but it kinda ruined my night when he said it. I relayed this story to the table and they all nodded in understanding. 

I was having a really great time but my social anxiety was starting to creep up on me. Here I was surrounded by wonderful, accepting people, but they were also relative strangers. I’d had a few conversations with Beatrix, but I didn’t know anyone else. We went downstairs in search of better seating and didn’t find any, what we did find were three very good friends of mine from work. They had watched the parade but didn’t want to march, primarily because they wanted to enjoy the parade.

So my friends, who had been looking for a seat downstairs, agreed to join us all back upstairs. Suddenly I was totally at ease, and once more gave the big guy upstairs a quick thank you. The time came again to brave the washrooms, and I asked my friends if they thought it would be ok to use the ladies room in this place. They all nodded and spoke reassuringly so off I went. 

I have to say women’s washrooms really are much nicer, and it’s not just that they’re cleaner. The people are nicer, and surprisingly so is the graffiti. Anyone who’s been to a men’s washroom can attest that graffiti is more or less the same everywhere. It’s usually vulgar and bigoted in some way. Sure I’ve seen some clever bathroom graffiti over the years, there’s been good artwork and the occasional bit of sage advice. But what I saw in that woman’s washroom genuinely changed my worldview. 

Everything I read, literally everything was encouraging and uplifting in some way. There were some absolutely gorgeous pictures, there as a really great looking cat, and this weird octopus thing. I kinda wanted to take a picture but of course didn’t because obviously. I mentioned all of this to my friends when I got out and they laughed, saying they had wondered how long it would be before I commented on this.

As I’ve written there’s no single trait unique to men or women, but there are differences to be sure. Femininity suits me a heck of a lot more than masculinity ever did. At one point in the evening one of my long time work friends was recounting the firs time they had met one of the other coworkers present. The story was meant to be humorous but the person found it embarrassing and, having drank more than a little began to cry. Among my guy friends this would have been cause for ridicule, but instead we all did our best to make her feel better.

After a while Beatrix said her goodbyes and went home for a nap. My work friends and I were able to find a table downstairs and chatted well into the night. I even got the chance to sing a bit of karaoke. I honestly can’t say if the day was the result of God watching over me, or a simple combination of serendipity and modest social skills, though I’m inclined to believe the latter, in any case it turned out to be one of the best days of my life.  

Happy pride everyone 🙂

6 Months HRT

March 4th was my first day of HRT, and today marks half a year 😀 I came out on Facebook within days of starting HRT, so this is also a six month anniversary of fully embracing my true self, and living my life as I’ve always wanted. I guess the big question is how are things? Things are good 🙂 …Mostly. Time for a review, some of this is retreading previous blog entries but I feel it’s important to take stock periodically. 

I have so far experienced no outright negative responses, for which I am incredibly grateful. Most responses have been more positive than I could have hoped. My mom’s been great, as she’s always been. Dad being cool about things was a bit of a surprise, and I’m glad to say I’m closer to him now than I’ve ever been. 

My younger sister is a rock, and hasn’t so much as batted an eye about any of it. My older sister has downs syndrome, although she doesn’t quite get it she’s accepted that I’m going to be wearing dresses and calling myself June now. My extended family is welcoming and supportive, once again more so than I ever would have imagined.  I’ve have some some amazing heart to heart conversations with my cousins over the last few months, its been great to be able to talk about things that used to feel guilty even thinking about. 

My friends have been amazing, last night I went to a girls night put together by a woman I’ve known since high school. It’s one of those things that makes me appreciate the cost of isolating myself. A lifetime believing that no one would ever like the real me, mainly because I didn’t like me. Then the walls come down and I realize I’m an ok person, and I have friends who actually do like the real me.

I’ve been attending church whenever I can. It’s a bit odd, as a child I couldn’t stand going to church, I was bored out of my mind the whole time and wanted nothing more to go home and play video games. Now I look forward to it, I love the people and the space, I feel genuinely welcome and accepted there. Also there is an element of nostalgia, I grew up in a religious family and it’s comforting to be in that environment. 

Work has been very supportive, though until my paper work goes through I still have to identify myself as Dave on the phones. This is becoming increasingly frustrating, and has led to a few amusingly awkward exchanges. “Sorry what was your name again… Oh..”  “Wait, I’m sorry but you sound like a girl.” “Did you say Stacy? Mavis? Whatever.” “Have you been sick recently? Your voice sounds really soft.” Every one of these has made me smile 🙂

I am becoming emotionally invested in my wardrobe. I love my many dresses, I don’t have enough blouses and tops, my shoe collection is mostly flats, purchased because they happened to fit. And boots, I love boots. I currently have two pairs, one of which barely fits, but they look great so whatever. Fall is approaching, and this idea of a seasonal wardrobe is a bit new to me, but I can’t wait. Before everything was t-shirt and jeans, adding in a warm coat if the weather was bad. Now there’s so much to choose from, and I hardly know where to begin. 

Depending on where I am and who I’m with my comfort level in public continues to fluctuate, but I’m definitely a lot better than I was in the beginning. That is to say I can now put on a bit of makeup, jeans and a t-shirt and walk around the mall by myself without having a panic attack. I haven’t used gendered public washrooms since living full time. This means making sure I go before leaving the house, and being very conservative with drinks. I normally drink a lot of water, but when I’m out I have to be careful to only sip enough to wet the inside of my mouth. Outings are limited to about four hours, when I’m at the office there’s a gender neutral washroom I can use. 

Physical changes continue at a glacial pace. My hair covers the back of my neck, my fat is redistributing and my nipples are sore pretty much all of the time. Actual breast growth is negligible. Without clothes or makeup I look like a man, I kind of hate looking at myself in the mirror immediately before and after bed. There have been times I’ve needed something from the store but I looked like an absolute mess. Sure I could throw on some clothes and head out the door, but I will either go without or spend twenty minutes getting ready. I’m really not a fan of boy mode these days. 

And here’s where we get to the not so great. It’s a tricky subject to dance around, as it involves my ex, who we will call Lady. She doesn’t like it when I mention her in my blog and normally I try to respect that, but I’d be lying if I said her absence doesn’t affect me. I hurt her in ways I can never make up for, a relationship would be impossible at this point and not something I would consider even if it wasn’t. The thing is it’s rare for me to let people get close, no one has been closer than she was. It wasn’t rejection so much as incompatibility, but any way you slice it there is a hole in my heart.

The truth is I am pretty lonely, despite what some have suggested there hasn’t been anyone else. I’m not at all interested in starting a new relationship at this time, and I’m not interested in casual hookups. Loneliness is something I’m used to, and things and much better now that I can express my true self to the world. A relationship with someone was never going to work out so long as I was in the closet, intimacy is impossible without honesty.

To answer a question my Father asks regularly, am I happy? Well who knows what that even means. 2014 was the best year of my life, but my secret was like an anchor on my happiness. Now the anchor is gone, and 2015 is certainly one of the most interesting years I’ve had. There have been some amazing moments, experiences that I never thought possible. 

I can’t explain it, believe me I’ve tried all of the explanations, many of which are printed in my blog, none of them get the idea across to people that haven’t dealt with the issue themselves. But God help me I love it, I love being a woman, being seen and treated as a woman. I wish I’d done this years earlier and kind of envy the kids who have the courage to be themselves at such a young age, in spite of all the garbage thrown at them. For anyone considering transition all I can say is you have to do what’s right for you. For me I’m glad to be free, and could never go back to the way things were. So yeah, I guess I’m happy 🙂

An Analogy

Boys and girls are different, we know this. Sure, everyone is different and there’s not one specific trait that’s exclusive to either gender, it’s really more of a mosaic where you have to step back and look at the whole picture, but there is a difference. Male and female are different things. This is known and accepted as fact among pretty much all corners of human civilization. The real question is where does that come from, and why is it so hard to accept that it may come from the brain. 

Gender is the one of the first things we notice about someone. If you know anything about a person you know their gender, and if you don’t know their gender it bothers you, you want to find out. Mis-gender someones pet and there’s a good chance they’ll correct you. Point to a random cloud and ask someone if it looks like a boy cloud or a girl cloud, most people will think about it and come up with an answer. The human brain is hardwired to gender pretty much everything, why then is it so hard to accept that the brain would also gender itself?

We tend to like things we self identify with, we pay attention to them and internalize them. Everything we see and hear is processed and filtered by the brain before being presented to the conscious mind. We have surprisingly little control over what we notice or how we feel about it, and it takes a great deal of effort to go against those feelings. 

This gave the the idea for an analogy which I humbly submit, and invite any and all feedback as to whether you feel this accurately reflects the trans experience to some degree. Imagine a job at a toy factory, santa’s workshop or whatever. Conveyer belts are color coded blue for boys and pink for girls, because of course they are. The job is quality control, if person is assigned to a blue belt, whenever girl toys come down the line they must take the item to an appropriate pink belt. 

For most people this job is easy, the sorting mechanism is very precise and hardly any work is required. Except sometimes a blue belt continuously produces girl toys, or vice versa. This means the employee has to take every single item off the line to a different belt, and it’s exhausting. It also means that their toy box stays mostly empty. The first instinct is to wait it out, hoping that the problem will correct itself. It doesn’t so the next step is talk to the boss upstairs about fixing the machine. But no, the machine will be left as is. So really the only logical solution is to switch boxes.

Except now there is a pink box in front of a blue conveyer, and that’s against the rules. You can’t have a pink box in front of a blue conveyer, soon everyone will decide they can use whatever box they want, imagine the chaos and confusion that will cause, all the uncertainty, and won’t someone just think of the children. The innocent little girl who gets a toy that came off of a *gasp* blue conveyer belt – which is about the same level of logic employed by those who object to us using public washrooms, or you know, this

I’m not quite sure how this analogy extends to non binary and fluid individuals, a belt that produces toys which don’t apply to either box, or that sends items through seemingly at random perhaps. Anyway feel free to let me know what you think of this, and any ways in which the idea can be refined 🙂

Normalcy

One of the questions that comes up a lot is whether I’m more comfortable now than I was before. The answer I have to give is that it’s more like my comfort has shifted, in that there are times and places where I feel much more awkward than I ever did, but there are also scenarios where I feel totally at peace. 

This weekend I attended a writers conference in Calgary called When Words Collide, and I had an absolutely fantastic time. Everyone was friendly and open minded, and I was comfortable with myself the entire time. I wore some of my favorite clothes, including a new outfit that one of my coworkers helped me pick out. I didn’t wear my wig and I clearly read as trans, and I was treated exactly like any other normal girl, in fact for once I genuinely felt like a normal girl. 

I had some great conversations with people I’d just met. This is unusual for me, yes I know how to hold a conversation without coming off as a strange person (that is to say I’m good at lying) but I’ve never really felt invested in such conversations. Being closeted meant every relationship sat on a precipice. Whatever a person thought of me their opinion could polarize with a single revelation. Since coming out reactions have been better than I could have hoped, and even when I’m nervous it feels like I’m on solid ground. 

It’s hard to verbalize how I’ve always felt about myself, I kept trying to feel like a boy but the idea never fit. I guess I have always felt like an abnormal girl, a girl who was not allowed to be a girl. At last the doors have been opened, I am invited to the party. Literally it seems, I’ve been invited to an upcoming girls night with a number of long time friends. In previous posts I’ve written about not having that many close female friends, this seems to be changing 🙂