I Came Off Hormones

Around Christmas time my wife and I decided we wanted to start a family, and since I had the other requisite component I made the decision to come off hormones. SO far it’s been fine, it’s a weird experience. I don’t know what I expected but I don’t feel like I did before coming out. It’s a different experience.

It has made it harder to express myself. I thought at first it was because things have been kind of better lately that I didn’t feel as much of a need to write. It’s really become apparent that I just don’t feel as much of a need to externalize my feelings, because they’re far more deep seated. Testosterone is a weird hormone. I’ve been joking lately that  I don’t know why we trust men with any real decisions because they’re so hormonal and emotional.

It’s true though, I don’t cry as easily, I don’t feel as strongly, instead I just get moods that don’t end. If I’m upset I’m upset forever if I’m sad there’s no quick way to release that. You have to wait until it either subsides or hits some kind of critical mass before you can deal with it. Testosterone makes your emotions seem fuzzier, more distant, less pressing. Yet far more controlling. There’s less flexibility to deal with your emotions once they’re actually at a point they can be dealt with. Sure you can suck them back in and restrain them but then how much longer will they fester?

It’s harder to relate to people, I find my empathy has returned to a more intellectual empathy, it’s less sincere, I don’t feel the emotions alongside the person. I can read them, I can feel them, but not as strong. In that way I feel like I’m back in the closet, only this time I’m feigning an emotionality that I don’t feel as strongly.

I look forward to going back on hormones. I do miss them. There’s a simple elegance in feeling, dealing, moving on. Instead I’m stuck festering and stewing on how I feel.

On Emotionality

The last week has been hard.

My nameday went unrecognized.

I was sexually harassed.

Too many transphobic comments, too much victim blaming.

My parents gave me a stuffed rainbow horse for my nameday.

My wife made a nice meal and my family visited.

What’s unique about how difficult this week has been, is not the bad parts, the hard parts, and the awkward situations, it’s the fact that interspersed between those events were nice things, warm moments.

Sometimes nice things happen. Not often in my experience, but they do happen. The highs and lows contrasted in the same day is abnormal for me. It’s an emotionality I don’t usually experience. In really took the wind out of my sails.

In my experience, I’ve generally survived by being able to handle the worst situations, because I’m well accustomed to misery. The loss of a good feeling feels much worse then things just not being good and getting worse.

It’s an emotionality I’m going to have to learn to accept, it’s probably healthier anyways.

On Loneliness

Loneliness is a common theme that runs through this blog. It’s common, because it’s common in my life. I very often feel alone.

Yesterday was the first anniversary of my name change. I don’t celebrate my birthday, so some people in my life had asked if I would be open to celebrating a nameday. My wife and I had already talked about the idea, because she had hoped to have a day to celebrate me, since I guess she likes me at least a little bit.

Needless to say, all of the people that asked about it, those that I work with, friends of mine, even my own parents. Said absolutely nothing yesterday. After pushing me to get excited about it, and open myself up. To make myself vulnerable, so that I could be surprised and delighted about actually having something meaningful and good happen, that was exclusively about me. They couldn’t be bothered to recognize the day with even a simple message.

Having a day to feel special is not something that’s ever really happened for me. So I’m not going to lie, I was kind of excited, I thought hey, it’s a little different, but it gets me closer to feeling a little normal. Everyone gets a day that’s about them, that’s the whole point of birthdays, so it’s a second chance at a slice of regular, plain, normality.

So when no one even notices, an anniversary of something as spectacularly meaningful. I still remember the smile, the tears, the elation I felt when I held that stupid piece of paper in my hand. For something so small it meant so absolutely much. Even among all of the difficult and terrible things that had begun to unfold, and the year of pain and hardship that sits between yesterday and the same day last year. It’s still a testament to a lifetime of struggle to achieve something. To the labour of becoming oneself, and the effort of self actualization.

So to celebrate something so monumental seemed worthwhile to me. It was an important accomplishment. It was a defining moment in my life, and one I will treasure forever.

I just won’t celebrate it, because I now know, unequivocally, I am not worth celebrating. I’m not worth knowing, and I am especially not worth anyone’s time.

There’s a comfort in knowing where you stand. I know who cares about me, and even if the list only has one name on it, I at least had the foresight to marry her.

The Unspoken Line Between LGB and T

Netflix recently added a new special by Dave Chapelle called Sticks and Stones.

First off, I thought the special was hilarious. Especially, the segment about the alphabet people as he calls us.

You should go watch the segment, Here’s a link to an animated version.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQ_sPR2V1RA

I’m going to assume you’ve watched it. This interpretation of the community to me, is spot on.

To explain this I’m going to tell another story. Recently, I worked with my town to recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance. It would have been the first time the town did. I didn’t have a lot of time to organize anything, but I did get the town to agree to light up one of their buildings in the trans pride flag.

Well, they did the rainbow instead. When we went to go see the building lit up, I was pretty immediately disappointed. What was more disappointing was what happened when I shared a picture of the building to a group of local folks in the community. Where I was somewhat crushed to see the town, on a day specifically for the trans community reduce us to just ‘the rainbow people’ none of the queer folk saw anything wrong with it. They’re trying they said, what should I expect they said.

A more polite way of saying “just shut the fuck up.” sure, but still not nice, and definitely not very inclusive. There’s the unspoken line right there, and it manifests in so many different ways. It’s why the trans community had to wait until the gay community was more settled before we were invited back in.

Everyone says that pride was started by trans women of colour. Yet no one cares that the T wasn’t widely added to the acronym until the late 90’s, 30 years after Stonewall, what happened between those points? No need to speak of that. Gay political groups undermined the advancement of trans rights in order to secure their own, as gay rights were seen as more politically palatable and advancing the community as one would hold them back. We don’t talk about it, but it’s a part of our history.

“Just shut the fuck up.”

It’s why when I talk to an old gay man about how we were both hurt when we came out to our parents he was brave and he told me I’m selfish and need to understand my parents perspective.

Because it’s hard to love trans people, it’s hard to accept trans people.

Because we’re different within the community, Because it’s their community and they’re generous enough to allow us in.

I often feel the most accepted by the community when I’m perceived just as a lesbian, not a trans lesbian, I can’t bring that up. Acceptance to them is accepting that I’m gay just like them, the trans part is messy and difficult and better left out of polite society.

I’ve spoken of this before, and it’s so pervasive. This idea that because trans people are begrudgingly accepted in the community, that we should be happy. So they don’t need to try and meet any of our unique needs, because we should appreciate that they let us in at all. So we shouldn’t be upset when they expect us to “Just shut the fuck up.”

They’re trying, and that’s supposed to be good enough.

 

 

 

 

On Belonging

Belonging is a hard feeling to quantify. You can be welcomed somewhere and not belong. You can have the warmest reception and everyone be kind and gentle with you and still not belong.

Belonging requires that you not just exist in a space but that you have a right to it, that you aren’t just allowed to enter but to take up that space and be free to express yourself within it.

Talking about taking up space and claiming your own expression is a concept that is difficult for some people to understand. Those are people that have never had issues with that concept. If you’ve never felt like you haven’t belonged, it’s hard to imagine how others might feel.

There’s many reasons space is denied people, children are often denied space because as adults we feel they don’t use it the way we want them to. Beyond that there are countless reasons we deny space to our fellow humans, and in a lot of those cases I doubt there’s any credible reason. We deny space to women, we deny it on racial lines, we deny it on the basis of sexuality and gender, we deny it to the young, we deny it to the old. We deny it to the ugly, to the poor, to those that are sick, to those that suffer from mental illness, to those that are disabled, and to those that look different, act different, think different.

Are different.

The elegance of belonging, the crux of politeness culture, of rules of professionalism, of guidelines for etiquette, is that it goes unspoken. Belonging is the responsibility of the unwelcome. Conform or move on. When you walk into a room and the conversation immediately stops until you choose to stop bothering others, or you choose to continue to take up space that is silently not offered to you. Each act you take after that reinforces the fact you aren’t’ welcome and that you are disrupting some unspoken status quo.

It takes an incredible amount of energy and nerve… yes it do take nerve, to claim space. To exist freely and openly, to flaunt that which makes you different, even where there’s no reason that you are different.

Sometimes it takes nerve just to exist, to belong in your own head. The pressure outside of your mind forces it’s way in sometimes.  The internalized hate that infects your mind and makes you feel less then those around you. I’ve talked before about the shame that I feel about my own life, the weakness I felt growing up, the control I tried to exert because I felt helpless. Belonging starts in your own heart and head.

Finding places that you can just be, space that is given freely and without reservation is often rare, but it’s important to find those spaces, because I believe we all have an internal battle with our own issues to fight, and sometimes relieving the pressure on the outside is what’s needed to keep your own house in order.

As far as claiming space for yourself and being able to just exist.

Well I’m still working on that.

 

I Still Don’t Hate my Penis

One of the most looked at posts I’ve ever made is I Don’t Hate my Penis I don’t really know why. Maybe hating your penis is something that resonates with folks, or the fact that I don’t hate mine is controversial.

But I wanted to have a bit of a penis appreciation post right here. If you’re not comfortable with that, then please stop reading, I don’t want to trigger anyone’s dysphoria here. Or make anyone more uncomfortable then they currently are. If you’re along for the ride though, it’s going to get personal up in here.

Often transness is reduced to very medical terms, it’s often a discussion of surgeries, of characteristics. Which is totally okay, but sometimes it would be nice to be positive about one’s body. It’s mostly bad, but it’s not all bad, I know positivity coming from me, very off brand.

I like my lady dick, which for all intensive purposes is just a regular dick, maybe a little smaller then usual, definitely smaller then it was pre-hormones, but a dick nonetheless.

And that’s A-okay.

Maybe it’s a result of my trans experiences, maybe it’s just a flaw in my worldview but I’ve never made the connection that genitals = gender. Maybe it was a product of my time, it’s not like anyone was talking about this stuff almost thirty years ago, so I got to grow up thinking whatever I wanted about it. Sex and gender have always been fairly separate in my own head. Which has come in handy. It’s got me in the situation I am now.

The scarier thing, and I know it’s scary because I’ve scared people by sharing this fact. Is not only do I not hate my penis, I even like using it. I was at a conference recently with obviously still gendered gender neutral bathrooms, which is a story for another day. The point I’m going to make is I pissed at a urinal for the first time in a long time, and I’m not going to lie, I kind of liked it. There’s something powerful about peeing while standing in five inch heels. Not an every day necessity, but on occasion, hell yeah.

Another point in the penis-euphoria section… It still works, and I use it.Here’s some fast answers to some of the questions I get.

  • Does it work the same?
    • No
  • Does it feel good?
    • Yes, but in different ways. For example it’s not a prostate heavy orgasm, as there’s very little ejaculate.
    • I also ‘arrive’ more then once now.
  • Can you have sex?
    • Yes, you don’t need a penis to have sex.
      • Also yes, I can still have penis-vagina sex, don’t have the staying power I used to and sometimes there’s some discomfort afterwards, but I am able to ‘get it up’ and use it.

I’m sure there’s more but those are the big ones, yes my endocrinologist was amazed when we talked about this, so this is not a particularly well understood thing. The only thing I can think of is that since I don’t really have any genital dysphoria that there isn’t really a block on having an erections. Erections are part mental and part hormonal, so there’s not the hormonal support, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.

So there you go one trans woman’s opinions on her penis. Solicited or not it’s here, and if you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask.