gender, identity, transgender

Reeling it back in

Even though I am still ‘pre-transition’; even though the idea of a return to ‘normality’ is as comforting or likely as jumping into a black hole; even though it’s all I think about as some painless dysphoria negatively guised as compulsive obsession (except when presented) – I still need to be able to function in life, recreate that semblance of order before the crucial revelation came.

On this second appointment, my gender therapist slowed things down, and addressed ‘restoring balance’.  While there may not yet be harmony, it can be grown in balance.  As difficult as it is, one must find ways to take a time out from the constancy of ‘trans trans trans trans trans trans trans trans trans trans trans’.  A way back to decently regular, gender irrelevant individual function.

Meditation and yoga are of course the preferred suggestions.  I personally find meditation too intense and that the visualisations remain.  I suppose it is very important when picturing situations in a preferred role to allow yourself to accept that and focus on the actual situation, breathing.  Yoga.  Finding a quiet space and spending at least 30 minutes can really still the mind, highly advised!

The therapist said that in her 8 years of practice she has only met two others like me who are taking this conservative (initially), protracted, cautious, pseudo-philosophical approach, and they transitioned marvellously.  Kinda scares me of the state many trans people must show up in.  Perhaps the brutality of that month long mega-dysphoria revelation it a constant reality for others…that’s a heck of a lot of anxiety.  Poor souls. I extend my love, understanding and belief in your determination.

I’ve spent the weekend looking through my old journals, trying to find evidence against my oath of not even writing it down.  Memories come back of when I had slipped and wrote about ‘That which shall not be mentioned.’  I actually can’t believe how messed up I was over the period of a 7 year depression.  Damn depression hits you hard.  So does loneliness.  I could not allow myself to be like that again.  Happily, in slaying mental daemons, maybe that’s what gives me a good chance to make the right choices and hopefully be of encouragement to others.

Throughout 11 years of recorded journals, there were slips.  Unknown dysphoria seemed to come in cycles and last for days or weeks.  In adolescence, I despised the effects of puberty wholly – the hair, the physical growth, the testosterone, the sex drive, the ugliness, the growing social expectation.  These feelings continued into my early-twenties and persevered, but always the weight of regular reality kept it secondary, and I can’t wait to get a firm handle on whether gender issues have had much more of an impact on my dark lonely past than I realise.

Still, now is now.  On the inside, mental strength will just have to do some more heavy lifting.  No more slips of denial, the anxiety and personality change isn’t worth it.  Get some structure into life again, continue the process.

The elastic band around the pole of ‘Male’ pulls very strongly as is natural, however not being cis-, I see the band around the pole of ‘Female’ pulling with less strength, but more urgency.  As cis-, one can be content lying still, riding comfortably the invisible gender waves, and living the transsexual dream of being right with gender, but the transgender individual is compelled to move away from the strong pull of body sex, with much struggle.

Externally…man, what a drag!  That was a joke. I’m questioning the wisdom of just rushing into the electric needle room for electrolysis.  The [facial] hair, it just needs to stop, arrrrggghhh!  From what I’ve researched, it is generally one of the first major physical undertakings, and the earlier the better.  I’m in no doubt, I’ve had individual hairs pulled from my face before and it hurts.

Also, voice.  I’m actually scared now to present because it feels so horrible when I speak.  I’ve been sick with the flu and I’m just terrified to start because it is going to sound stupid.  This makes it a prime priority before even considering making the switch.  So scared that I’m not looking forward to Hallowe’en, that instead of going as ‘Amy who didn’t dress up for Hallowe’en’, I would be going as ‘Transgender Jamie pretending to be a male dressing up like a female.’  It makes me very sad. Still, it’s perhaps one of the best opportunities for public experimentation.

Thus again, the analytical process becomes secondary to the left-field methods of changing gender presentation to match internal gender based perceptions.  The alternative is the sickness, rara!

Being a woman is pretty similar to being a man, just with different and probably more reasons to be insecure.  Being trans is a big reason to be insecure.  Being self-assured is a good way to be, man, woman, trans, or alternative.  I’m sure most people want to pass, men want to be men, women want to be women, they want it to be known, and they want to be proud of who they are.

For this issue, there must be an acceptable resolution somewhere; it can’t go on indefinitely as the prime issue in the mind.  There are massive levels of consideration to make, even as they already seem like moot options.  I think of my potential end goal, and the insane risk, so it really really really really has to be worth it.  I’m still looking for any alternative to avoid all of it that could work.  It can’t be a case of, as said in a great line from Meshuggah’s Catch-33 –

The struggle to free myself from restraint becomes my very shackles.’

I want to be proud of who I am, and I want you to be proud of who you are!

One. Step. At. A. Time.

Amy Xx

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coming out, gender, identity, transgender

Deconstruction reconstruction

Life is profoundly interesting regardless of your situation in life.  It is important to take the strengths of who you are wherever you go.  Self-loathing is an awful thing, and it must be crushed by something which can exert more force.  The energy and spirit of each person, when unlocked is more than is ever needed against mere conditioned negative psychological malaise.  It’s not so easy, accepting incredible difficulty and pain is part of the both the healing and the suffering.  I believe in Silver Lining Theory, there is almost always a lesson to be learned or a positive to be taken from even the bleakest of situations.

Self-loathing needs to stop.  Internalized transphobia it’s called, and the false belief that as the well-rounded, well-adjusted, strongly disciplined and principled person I am that I ought not to remain so.  In terms of being oneself, even if you took that transgender label away, I would still want to be doing what I am doing, because it is part of who I am.  Bad habits can be formed easily, ‘what are people thinking about me?’, ‘how do people see me?’, ‘Oh god they know, how can I cope?’ Instead, bring forth that true energy, with it comes strength, and a habit of self-belief.  Perhaps choose to be more determined than scared.

So, through a very public meltdown at work and finally a session with a gender specialist there is greater clarity, a nice cold bucket of water over my head.  She talked about ‘grinding’, where two opposing sets of thought create disharmony within a person.  I am not in sync, very good to know.  She drew the diagram;

M—————-|—————F

and asked me where I felt I was at that moment.  Apparently a good number of burgeoning transsexuals will drop in with fluster, proclaiming their total gender-oppositeness, demanding full transition rights without going through the psychological process.  The good people with knives won’t be coming for a long time, only the bad, ask a Jamaican gully queen.  I’m physically male and conditioned to be, so I’m not past that obvious and unfortunate biological fact.

The psychological process has to come, regardless of any amount of self-assurance.  She’s going to break me down into layers and build me back up.  Be malleable but wise to the process, be honest with yourself, or the lie your life has been could become another lie.  She asked simply – ‘What is your goal with this?’ I’ve said it here many times, I just want to get on with my life, female/male, I don’t care, so long as I can function.  Right now, I am clearly male presented, no point denying it, though neither do I deny I am female.

I found out a friend outed me to a few other known people yesterday.  Mistakes will always be made.  The only people who could have said denied it, and I’ll have to set those people straight.  As a trans person, I will reiterate what has been said so many times:  I’m not trying to be self-absorbed or arrogant, but the simple fact is, you do not get to make my, or anyone else’s life decisions, we make them ourselves. I can understand why some people can’t socially legitimise trans-folk for who they are, but very thankfully it is not up to them.

I have learned from this too, because I spoke of a trans friend I have online, when I should have simply introduced her as my friend.  It is ok that it is a bit of a tricky area, but to be respectful, it is imperative to allow the person to make the choice.  A trans-person still can’t out another trans-person, even if they are support, because she didn’t say I could.  So I’m very sorry.

This is a good lesson, be not disheartened!  The circle can close knowing who I can really really trust and share with, while others may just have to accept (or not) the facts of who I come to present to be.  I imagine folks will make their own opinions regardless of what I say, so, just gotta deal with it.  Forgive, but be careful with that trust, it is like beautiful porcelain.

For anyone who gives a cock-eyed stare or asks ignorant questions, for all those who just see a crazy nut, I see as clearly as I ever have. I can see through you better than you can see the seams of my man suit.  They are the deer in the headlights, I’m driving the truck.  For these decisions are made so lightly with no regard to physical realities, right?  Like all gay men should really love the kitten, and all lesbians secretly want the snake.  It’s just a different kind of ignorance, and it is again mutually exclusive from any amount of education.

elvis

I’ve been ‘presenting’, as best I can for now, let’s say ‘for fun’ or as an ‘experiment’ (but not really).  Still not gone to a shop or anything, just hanging with friends.  Neither an eyelid is battered, nor a question asked.  For no-one to care and accept me is a goal, just an assurance that you are cool with it helps a lot with the…you know….debilitating fear.  It’s just good to know how people feel, right?  If I had a broken leg you’d ask about it. Still, that’s my job too!  Responsibility, yay!

I am more in tune with the seriousness and importance of the vocal thing.  I said before that it was a scary thought of losing identity by changing my voice, but it’s actually creating a truer self-identity, as horrifyingly embarrassing and difficult it is.  I can dress up ok, but I can hardly keep quiet, or feel so uneasy whenever this Amy chick sounds like she smokes 200 a day.

More admissions contrary to what I have said before.  I like shopping.  Online for now, yes, but I’ve never enjoyed looking for clothes more, trying to think of what would match and look good with what, what certain styles say or represent, I get how it could become addictive.  I can’t deny I enjoyed the make-up I got, so many soft bristles on the face, so much potential for expression.  I also curled my hair, which just looked amazing.  A Saturday night all dressed up with nowhere to go, 3 hours of getting ready as such wonderful fun.

‘En femme’, I am liberated, my mind opens and you know what I think about?  Playing guitar, finishing the last chapter of my story, hanging with friends, partying, normal thoughts!  The fog lifts and I can do other stuff instead of thinking about being female.  As male, not so much.  I don’t know how that works but that’s how it is right now.

I’ve felt for a long time an affinity of how Western women’s cultural and social issues affect their lives, simply, cis- or not the restraints are put on your gender, the expectations, peer pressure, conditioning, interactions with the opposing gender which is constrained by the same systems.  As male, I’m only too aware of the invisible expectations I’m supposed to suppress into.  It seems simple: empathy.  Women have a different set of invisible expectations, and I would expect most, regardless of gender, to act in the same way if they were forced into it.  However, I am wrong!

For the near constant squeeze of dysphoria, I’m finding it important to celebrate each small victory.  It is not standing still, nor is it dashing forward.  There is no set way on how this whole thing is done.  Such freedom entails great risk; this is how greatness is borne, and how failure comes mourned.  The dysphoria will come back, it always does, though I hope to suffocate it with each success until the time where important decisions may have to be made.

Many bad things are happening around me, a family member with cancer, my closest friends battling alcoholism, folks unable to get over bereavement, relationship problems and so on. There are wars, plagues, people missing limbs, and with various cruel impairments. By comparison, being trans is positively amazing. It is the opening of a cocoon for so many caterpillars, a beautiful transformation of truth through self-discovery and acceptance.

Free your heart; accept the voice that cannot lie in your mind.  I am not an authority on anything, but I know how it feels to live. There is not enough time in life to be thankful for everything, so why waste time not trying to be at your best. I mean this so very generally. Being trans is hard, and I haven’t even scratched the surface yet, but no matter what, life is better than adversity.

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Metal in your glass,

Amy X

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