Finally the hormonal malaise seems to be settling down. I’ve gone a few weeks without major ups or downs, I feel ok, I feel….normal.
I feel now for the first time as regular as I did two years ago before my life situation and mental health rapidly deteriorated, before I even realised I was transgender. Dysphoria is again a background noise rather than a thudding hammer in the fore of my consciousness; because I’m aware of it and accept it, because I have taken the medical steps I believe necessary, it cannot do the same damage.
Of course, it will change, and this game is far from over – dosages will increase and planning for surgery will become a reality rather than an abstract ideal.
It is around this time that some transwomen may consider that HRT is no longer necessary. After all, the symptoms feel as though they are dealt with so much as they can be. However, often enough these women may stop treatment and dysphoria will make an unwelcome return as the wound up springs of hormonal change unravel and testosterone attempts to renew its’ mighty hold.
In feeling ‘normal’ again it is somewhat juddering to my gender identity. Since I feel as I did when I thought I was a man, does it mean I am male? Does it mean that the consciousness I experienced my entire life has been female? Or, what I believe more likely is that I feel more balanced as an individual and gender doesn’t come into play quite so much, which was my initial hope from this process.
I can’t deny the possibility that someone assigned male at birth could experience gender dysphoria, remain male, but be on HRT anyway, simply as a way of dealing with mental incongruity. After all, there are plenty of men in the world flooded with an over-abundance of estrogen.
As such, my goals are being realised, gender is much less of a concern than it has been for the past 18 months. Truly now I reclaim my old clothing even though my jeans barely fit over the growing mound of fat on my hips. I have a sense of calm identity that is privately my own, and anywhere I can take the sting out of residual dysphoria I will do to my own standards.
I figure I must be polygender. My experience of gender is like letting a three year old play with a dimmer switch. I can totally understand why some might think my gender experience is based on a conscious whim, but in fact it is controlled by unconscious whim. I cannot describe how my gender changes because gender cannot be described as a concrete form of being.
The testudinal pace of physical changes has slowed even further to the point where I feel my features are remasculinizing. With an ever more finely toothed comb, masculine aspects seem more especially prevalent – my facial hair seems to be growing in stronger, I feel my face looks less feminine, my breasts hurt less. I feel now is the time to up the dose, yet it has been nearly six months since my one and only endocrinologist appointment and still without the results of initial blood work, or a date set for my next appointment.
The temptation to up my dose is the same as the temptation to start HRT without medical consent, and the results would be the same because I would still be cut back to square one. The system sucks, it doesn’t feel safe, but I’m still accepting it is as my best bet for a successful medical transition.
My sexuality is becoming more of an annoyance to describe. I know I am still in a pupal stage, and I claim myself to be on the asexual spectrum without being fully asexual. I call it ‘Notsosexual’. For my entire life I have very very rarely been sexually attracted to anyone, nor have I had an explicit need for sex.
Yet at the same time, I have physical needs which can be totally crippling when not met. I believe strongly in touch as a necessary connection between humans, and I find it strange that affectionate/intimate non-sexual touch contemporarily can only come within the territory of a sexual relationship. Most common relationships are seen as the only status where affective non-sexual touch is ‘allowed’, yet touch is a hunger like food, water and sleep that must be sated, and I believe it is this lack of touch that makes so many monsters and failures out of people, it is a damaging conflation.
We live in a society where one night stands and friends with benefits are not seen as particularly morally offensive, yet having a cuddle-buddy may seem taboo. I feel asexual because I find it hard to make that connection where intimate touch between two people leads to the mashing together of genitals. I get it, we are a rutting species under the yoke of survival mechanisms, but I don’t accept that sexual urges must be acted upon simply because they are felt and the senses compel. Sometimes sex isn’t what is necessary, it just feels that way.
This personally helps me; I spent a lot of time as a male feeling ashamed about the behaviour of other men, and of my own natural physical sexual desires. All I ever wanted for was a woman to see me and to not think I’m some slobbering beast trying to get into her pants when I’d much rather touch hands. I still suffer a little of that shame, however with my sexuality as it is, I can safely deign that any sexual inference whether by words or actions in my liaisons with other human beings is totally on them, not me. This notion gives me so much safety and relief, because I know I’ve never been the threat, in fact, it has been the amorous nature of others that has hurt me.
A working solution has been physical therapy, massages etc, chances to share and revitalize energies and auras in a professional setting with experts. No fear of lust, no complications of romance. In fact, it was a massage two weeks ago, the first in a long time, that has spurned this more positive attitude.
I have to leave 2015 behind. It was too intense and I lost my way. I leave my failures and hurts behind like the old life that it is. I’m not ignorant or delusional as to the effects they still have, but I leave the past where it belongs. A heart can be raw and vulnerable yet still whole, and that’s where I am.
Most mornings now I wake up and feel my body, because it is soft and comforting. A few days ago as I was contemplating how female-like my lower back feels, a term popped into my head: ‘Self-appreciation’ and I think that is beautiful. Though I still look entirely masculine, I’m aware that I am not, and that is because of my skin. If you feel my skin, you are feeling female skin; if you kiss me, you are kissing female lips; you may not be able to see my breasts, but if you were to feel them, you would be feeling female breasts; if you were to feel my genitals, you would know that it is a female penis regardless of how much that sounds like an oxymoron.
Although transition still takes up more points on my list than anything else, I feel finally that I can be more relaxed and playful with it, without yet fully embracing it. Over a year full time I still don’t know what a bobby pin is, and I don’t really care.
As my gender becomes calmer I become more perplexed about the cisgender overestimation of what gender is. I believe from a lay point of view that the only difference between cismale and cisfemale is hormones. I used to say the history of social constructs are also to blame, but I reduce these to be the result of hormones as well. Aside those, the differences between males and females cannot be reduced to the extremeness of gender constructs we experience. For non-binary individuals, while I accept I don’t have the understanding, I make the reasonable assumption that their gender(s) are no less different than those experienced by any individual that they should lead to an outcast feeling of ‘otherness.’ What I mean is, male and female are about as opposite as Coke and Pepsi, it’s the same stuff, and non-binary folks are made of the same stuff too.
Gender isn’t this big thing that cisfolks might believe we view it as because we spend a lot of time trying to figure its’ properties out, or how we see gender as a spectrum, or how we change our presentation. It might seem extreme, but it is not, and I’ll apply what I said earlier in a different way – any sense of sexual perversion about transpeople comes purely from cis individuals, not us.
As much as general cis views on gender are overestimated, the general view on transition is underestimated. It may seem a contradiction, because if gender is so similar, then why does transition seem so complex? Usually it is because of the binary world of assumptions made about sex and gender that force us into little boxes that don’t always fit, it leads to repression, and with freedom comes seemingly foundational change. For example, clothing does not have a gender; it is a tool, not an objective, yet this is not seen as simple awareness.
In a world where gender isn’t a concern, not everyone would be transgender. Men would still be men and women would still be women, and if you called yourself all, neither or in-between it wouldn’t matter. Trans folks would still transition, and society would not fall apart. Nor would it be confusing if we can open ourselves to understanding that people are who they are, not who they are told they must be. Our mental processes are not the result of our sexual biology.
So, here is a radical notion. Instead of gender being a characteristic of our natal sex, how about having gender as a characteristic of our individuality?
Just remember, there is only one way to do gender. Your way.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. Thank you to all the beautiful bloggers out there who share in my story and let me be part of theirs. You know who you are, I’m so grateful and emboldened with love for your existence.