It is all still worthwhile

I’ve been sharing some stories that I realise are fairly negative in their scope. There are a couple reasons, the first of which is that this journey has not been particularly easy or fun so far. The other is that there are more definitive negative events then there really are positive ones.

Little wins tend to be very small but no less satisfying. I found a great pair of jeans that fit me well and look good. Win! They’re pretty obviously women’s jeans too. I’ve been wearing them in public and haven’t been stoned in the public square. It might not seem like much but its each battle that makes up the war, and I’m finally starting to see some battles won.

Hormone therapy can be slow and peoples opinion and behavior changes even slower, but I will try and write about the good with the bad. Though probably not much over the next couple weeks as I’m going on vacation. Talk to you all then!

Baring your Soul: Feeling for the first time

I’ve talked a lot already about how weirdly dehumanising this whole transition thing is. I want to take a second now and talk about one of the very humanising experiences I’ve had through this.

Which is that transition has helped me feel, for the very first time.

In order to cope with the weight of being in the closet and other elements of my younger life I clammed up. I’ve talked about this before but that void that only expressed anger was my life for 22 years.

What I’m starting to discover now is that I am beginning to feel, rather regularly, different emotions. I’m beginning to have that complete feeling. This all became noticeable to me yesterday. The event in question? I had a friend piss me off. They had done something, I made fun of them and they reacted pretty harshly back. Nothing particularly revolutionary what was revolutionary was that I felt hurt.

Now, feeling hurt is something I have not allowed myself very often. The only person really capable of it is my wife. To have opened up that a close friend could actually hurt and upset me. As crazy as it sounds is new to me. It was a weird milestone of success.

What got me thinking about this all though is that I’ve noticed that when I get angry I can feel something other then just pure rage. A plethora of emotions begin to rise and compete. It’s not pleasant but it’s still novel enough that it makes me happy.

Transition is a weird time and its full of a lot of ups and downs, and one of the things that’s keeping me engaged is that I can feel those ups and downs for the first time.

Baring your soul: dealing with dehumanizing elements of Transition

Things got a little off the rails yesterday. What I’d originally intended to talk about was preparing yourself for how much you’re going to have to give up of your privacy and really shine a light into your soul.

Medically, the assumption seems to be, that hormones are unsuitable until proven suitable. It’s easier to get intense narcotics then it is to get hormones. One of the first steps is being classified as mentally stable enough to understand the consequences of your decisions.

This involves meeting with some variety of psychologist, in my experience I got to go through it twice because the first one wasn’t actually qualified to write “the letter.”

The letter, if you’re not aware, is what is written by an ‘expert’ giving their opinion that you are capable of making a decision about your own body. Trans people have the same rights as everyone else though!

I’ve spoken with different doctors and a few have found my letter to be unacceptable because it didn’t detail enough of my ‘Transness’ nor did I seem Trans enough.

That lack of detail offended one doctor so thoroughly she refused to accept the letter as acceptable and demanded to speak with the expert who wrote the letter. Then promptly refused to work with me anyways.

She was also the one that initially didn’t think I was Trans enough. At the time I was working at a bank in a rural town, it was my first permanent job after college. I didn’t have a lot of space to deviate from gender norms. Having long hair (which I always tied back) made some people leery, but I digress.

So once you have this letter, which takes as long as it takes, mine took a year and a half. that’s not enough to be taken seriously, prepare to explain to every medical professional between your family doctor and whoever ends up prescribing you hormones why you’re Trans. As if you can easily explain that. I”ve found myself relying on the “I don’t know what its like not to be Trans so I can’t really help you” argument.

One of the most frustrating elements I found about this process is the lack of agency you have in this realm. my last article spoke about how lasting this dehumanising process was. What I had initially wanted to talk about there and did so here is how dehumanising the process is to go through. The expectation to discuss all of your trauma, detail intricately your emotional supports, your financial status, your coping mechanisms all so you can have someone decide if you can be marked acceptable to make your own choices. Something most people are just born with is something that you get to work towards.

I’ll compare it to another thing I’m dealing with in my life. My Wife and I are currently trying to become foster parents. As part of that process you have to go through a similar experience of stripping down your life and understanding your own psyche intimately. As part of this process we are taking classes with other prospective adoptive and foster parents. As this process starts to dawn on people and they realise how daunting it is they start to get worried or afraid.

Now, this process is to understand your ability to handle a traumatized child, and help them heal in your home. If you don’t have tough enough stuff their trauma will break you. The key difference between this and obtaining the “letter” is that you choose to be a foster parent, and it is ultimately not about yourself. You can choose not to be a foster parent. It is a choice.

Being trans is not a choice, we don’t expect people to tear down their mental state and check the stability of their psyche before making any other decisions related to their body. That’s generally considered antithetical to a free and just society. Agency begins with your own body.

After all of that dour talk I wanted to reaffirm the value and joy that transitioning has brought me. Each step has made me more comfortable and confident and helped me discover who I am and my own identity.

I just also think its important to know that the process leaves its own set of scars. Nothing about this journey is pain free.

Nothing.

 

 

Baring your soul to strangers:

One of the biggest differences I’ve found since I started dealing with my transition is an aversion to secrecy. I think this is two fold. First off, getting to the point of medical transition is going to involve you spilling the beans, to an unfortunately large number of strangers. So you get used to telling your secrets at a whim. I also find I don’t have the stomach for any more secrets. I’ve had a big enough one pollute my life.

It’s odd how easy it gets to let go of this giant secret that I know I’ve held so tightly I’ve never let it slip. I’ve been blackout drunk, completely not in control, and not told a soul. That’s a secret that’s under wraps.

I’ve said it in other article, but coming out doesn’t always feel good. The first time you have to come out to a stranger even in a “safe space” is horrifying. It’s honestly a little dehumanizing. As I’m writing this I realize that I have lost the most private parts of my being by taking this road. For all of the happiness I’ve gained I’m realizing that I no longer have the stomach to fudge the details, or tell white lies as some would call them. I don’t know if that matters but its just another part of your soul you lose as part of this journey.

I don’t mean to say I’m not still a private person, but I have little appetite for secrecy anymore. In a lot of ways its made me a more honest person, which is a virtuous trait. On the other hand whats bothering me is that among so many things out of control in my life, this was one more thing that I lost control of.

Transitioning is a weird road.

P.S. I was going to talk a little more about the mechanics of these meetings and the feelings wrapped up in each meeting. Instead it became a little existential crisis. it is what it is and I’ll talk about that other topic later.

Moving brings out the worst in everything

It’s been a week since I posted last. Not out of a lack of inspiration but out of a robust supply of having to move my office and getting my taxes ready most of the weekend.

One of the things that I found the most interesting for myself was how much of an effect HRT has had on my strength. Things I know I could have lifted easily six months ago are starting to cause me to struggle. Hormones are exciting for me in a lot of ways but trying to hold up a large TV with my new noodle arms is not on the list.

The other thing I noticed is that I haven’t hit the threshold where people realize I’m getting weaker. I guess that doesn’t matter very much but I found myself in the awkward position of; do I explain whats going on and sound whiny, or do I just suck it up and struggle.

I struggled through. it was fine, it just made me realize as my cis-female coworker was stacking coffee pods in the shelves while I was carrying around the kitchen table that expectations do not shift quickly.

]’m entering a weird ambiguous point in my transition. I get mam’d by strangers and I get gentlemen’d by people I know. It’s a weird limbo that I’m looking forward to getting out of.

Coming Out is Never Easy

Chronologically I’m going to skip a head a bit because I recently came out to all of my colleagues, co-workers, what have you.

First off, I was incredibly lucky, I didn’t have a single poor or hateful reaction. Something that absolutely shocked me. It didn’t shock me from the sense that I thought anyone was really harbouring ill feelings towards Trans people. More in the sense that this big massive, all to looming shadow of a thing that is being in the closet twists everything into a “big deal.” Even though I’ve come out before, it has yet to feel good to do it. 10 times in one day was exhausting.

The mechanics of coming out are fairly simple. You tell someone the biggest and most personal secret you can. That’s how I do it. I met with everyone individually I felt everyone had a right to privacy and to react in their own way. Telling a group might be easier but my goal is to ensure everyone is comfortable with working with a Trans individual. I haven’t started telling clients yet.

I came out significantly sooner than I had been expecting. I’ve only been on HRT for 5 months now, and only 2 of those were with Estrogen. I haven’t exactly gotten to the point that anything was particularly obvious. I came to the conclusion that it would be an easier mental transition if I didn’t tie coming out with physical transition. Other then everyone knowing things were still similar the next day. I think that gives people a chance for acclimation to the situation.

I have a concern that clients will react poorly. Not all but some. I don’t want to see, when those moments occur. someone I work with getting upset about it. I’m concerned people will be hypersensitive and defensive more than standoffish. Which is the better problem to have in my opinion. My ultimate goal with my transition is for things to go as peacefully and simply as possible. I have a friend who is gay, she told me one day that she wished that she could just be who she was without having to feel different or other to everyone else. She didn’t want to live a normal life, she wanted her life to be normal. I think about that a lot. I know being Trans isn’t the norm for a lot of people, but I look forward to when being Trans is considered normal.

If you think you work with understanding people who have good hearts and good intentions. Who have a great and supportive reaction I want you to know that is fine to feel uncomfortable with it. I know for me I try very hard to be an honest person. Holding this secret that is so core to my being chafes at me. It hass also become comfortable. I can control a secret, the truth is far harder to contain. I’m not sure when I won’t stop feeling vulnerable and nervous but I do know that things can only get better.