Today was a better day, I hope things continue upward.
“An Ohio court will decide the fate of a transgender teen who is in what the judge describes as a ‘gut-wrenching situation.'”
I began this journey long before I new what personal computers or blogs were, before they existed as a fixture of daily life. Before I understood why I was different from the people around me or had the words to explain it even if I had.
I spent many hours in the library looking for anything I could find which might explain even the simplest of things. What made men and women different from the genetic level to the way they saw and interacted with the world. Biology, Psychology, writing, speech, mannerisms… I wanted to know, to understand, to be able to piece together a picture in my mind. One which would match the growing urge I felt to understand why I looked the way I did and why it never felt right. Why couldn’t I stop myself from draping a towel over my head and imagining it was long hair? Why did I try to push things which didn’t belong back inside or tuck them to look as I should? How could clothing feel wrong? A haircut like I was seeing myself lying on the floor, as lifeless as the hair on the cold tile?
Why being around boys made me uneasy at best and fearing for my life at the worst? Should I find their mannerisms crude and threatening? Should I see their games as pointless violence as they tried to prove themselves? There was nothing about them which made sense to me and I had no desire to understand. How many times did I tell myself this was the main reason I avoided them, spending my time reading, losing myself in imaginary worlds or countless hours alone, riding the empty roads which made their way though fields of corn or beans, never seeing another human.
From where I stand now I can see how much I needed the solitude.
I remember the time I spent adjusting my body as much as possible so I could loo in the mirror and see my body the way I saw it in my mind, as female. Looking at myself with a sense of wonder when all the pieces fell into place and I knew without doubt this was the way I wanted to be, how I should be. The feeling of peace which washed over me to be quickly replaced with the raging fear of being caught, of the unspeakable fate which would await me if they knew the truth.
Still I could not stop the questions, the hope, the racing heart, which came with the thought of seeing myself completely as a girl though I do wonder if I really understood what my desires were leading me to.
Then finally giving in to the undeniable urge to see what I would look like dressed in female clothes… This is something i have written about before, the feeling of completeness, looking at myself and knowing without question or doubt it was right, correct and proper.
Then once again being drowned by the fear… no, the terror of what my parents would do if I were caught. It might seem foolish or childish, but at the time I had no doubt they could easily kill me Yes, I mean actually take my life and then throw my remains in a ditch somewhere, done with having to deal with a worthless mouth to feed and being able to go on with their lives as if I had never existed.
At this point I decided to be safe and shoved it all into a deep dark corner of my mind and made every effort to forget.
And it worked… for a little while.
Several years would pass before I found myself looking through the Sears catalog and then Fredrick’s and Victoria’s Secret mailers, looking at the clothes and wishing they were something I could ever dream of buying for myself. Then finding myself looking at the sizing directions, wondering if I could measure myself and order something, paying with a money order so my mom wouldn’t know until I talking myself out of trying because what would happen if she got to the mail before I did?
The sad thing is at some point during my teen years, I don’t remember exactly when, my mother tried to get me to dress up as a girl for Halloween… I was terrified of the idea, what did she know? How could she have found out, and if she didn’t know, then it was all too likely she would see or hear something which would give me away. In the end I refused and she let it drop.
It was also during this time I got up the nerve to try using makeup and needless to say, it didn’t go very well… You see, my mother was color blind added to a complete lack of understanding of how to choose makeup products correctly, which meant what she had was wrong for her and miles away from what I needed with my skin tone, resulting in my nearly having a nervous breakdown when I applied it to my face. I can’t explain the pure terror which ripped through me. I couldn’t get it off fast enough then spent the better part of an hour washing and rewashing my face with soap and Noxzema hoping I removed every trace and then being paranoid for days afterward.
Again I played it safe and shoved the feelings down even deeper…
And it worked… for a little while.
Several years later would find me serving in the Navy, (that story would need its own post…) Being stationed on a ship I found I occasionally needed to get away for a weekend so I would get a motel room at a place within walking distance of a large mall. There were several nearby movie theaters, bars, and restaurants so there was always something to do if i needed the distraction. It wasn’t long before the old questions began to creep back into my mind and I would find myself wondering if I could walk out of the room to shop, see a movie, a drink, or get something to eat and be accepted as a woman. Time and again I would sit and go through all the things I would need, clothes, makeup, hair. How to buy them, (I thought of saying they were gifts for my sister or girlfriend), where I could keep them away from the ship, what additional things I might need such as bags to store them and how to explain them away if I was ever caught. I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise I overthought the entire situation and would end each time allowing fear and doubt to keep from acting. Even mock shopping would fill me with anxiety, though I loved just being able to as myself “what if?”
Once again, I pushed the feeling away, deeper and deeper until I was able to almost forget them all together… almost.
Over the years which followed there were small flashes, little fires I quick tamped down. The sadness which came from seeing a piece of clothing I would have loved to try on just once… wanting to let my hair grow, of wondering what I would have looked like if I had been born the way my heart desired. I even thought about drawing myself as I saw myself in my mind, life sized and hanging it on the back of my bedroom door so it resembled a full sized mirror.
Yet, each time I would push it away, believing this time it would finally go away. Wanting to say, this is just foolish fantasy, nothing more than a wistful dream.
I told myself not to trust myself, my thoughts or emotions. It was too easy to give in and find myself following the wrong path. After all, if I was anything it sure as hell wasn’t a girl, right?
Then my world imploded and took my heart and mind with it.
It has been about six years now since I came out. Six years of constant struggle, questions, doubts, fears… and guilt…
Now I am one again thinking of pushing it down again, to bury it so deep within myself even I won’t remember where I buried it.
This was always the answer before and I managed to survive far longer than I ever imagined I would… couldn’t I survive again? Wouldn’t this be the best answer for everyone? Even if it wasn’t best for me… well, so what? I have lived my entire life with pain and disappointment, with denying myself for the sake of those I care about…
I can do it again.
If today proved anything, it is to never assume the people around you see things the same way you do.
The day started with a doctors appointment, just a check to make sure my BP is stable, (it is), and if there have been any issues with my antidepressant and anxiety meds, (there have been). I began by speaking with the nurse regarding my issues with depression and the recent struggles I have been experiencing. This turned into a much more detailed conversation than I intended and ended with a huge hug, which I appreciated more than I could say.
Then it was on to talking with the doc. He surprised me my saying he had been researching information on transgender health care. Something I never would have expected considering some of our past conversations. Sadly he admitted to being constrained by working through a catholic health organization, as he said, he can’t even prescribe birth control.Of course, my health insurance is controlled by the same organization so nothing trans related will be covered. Still I left feeling better about him being my primary care provider after a very open and accepting conversation.
Now, for several reasons, most having to do with my identification, I had to go about my business in as understated a manner as possible, so I was in what I call my “boy mode” or not overtly presenting as female. I had to go to a different doctors office to pick up a script for one of the boys where they usually require seeing a photo ID… cue ugly drivers license photo… Before the receptionist asked for it though, she handed me the script and the sign out sheet and asked, “so are you his mother?” Needless to say there was an interesting conversation with a very embarrassed woman, though I did my best to set her at ease, thanking her for the compliment and assuring her I was anything but offended.
These things might be minor in the course of a normal day, but recently I have anything but normal days. Those who know me, know I am my own worst critic and if there is a silver lining, I will only see the cloud.
At this point I think it best to explain some things…
I have known for a long time now I need to medically transition at least as far as going on hormones is concerned. There isn’t any doubt in my mind this is the next step I must make, however, it also something which remains just out of reach because I simply do not have the resources and at this point it looks as if I never will, which, I think you can understand, has caused me a great deal of distress.
I look at myself and all I can find are the negatives. The way I look, the way I sound… this all too masculine body… and I hear the whispers in my mind…
Who do you think you’re fooling?
Who will believe you when you say you’re a woman?
Anyone looking will see a man.
If there is one thing I am not, it is a man in a dress and the thought of someone seeing me as such makes me physically ill.
Seeing myself as such is soul crushing.
I have lost count of the times that damn voice has told me I am what this body makes me and no amount of wishing otherwise will change anything. Has told me I am a fool, delusional, crazy…
I know I have mentioned these things many times throughout the years, but they continue to torment me through each and every day.
There have been countless little things which have validated my understanding of myself, speaking on the phone and being accepted as female, having people in stores see and refer to me with feminine pronouns, regardless of my appearance…
Yet all it takes is one person… one comment… one questioning look and the illusion shatters into a billion pieces, knife sharp, cutting me to the soul. As I have said before, if I have not made an effort to be see as female, I cannot fault someone for seeing me as male, yet it doesn’t dull the pain, pain which I have brought upon myself because I have told myself my appearance doesn’t matter because everything underneath turns my outward truth into a complete lie.
Tells me I really am nothing but a costume, a caricature.
If I step out and I’m not presenting properly, then I have no right to expect to be seen as who I am inside.
Found this on Facebook and thought I should share. A very special thank you to Affirming Transgender Rights and Conversations with a Gender Therapist for bringing this to my attention.
This is a continuation of yesterdays post… well, really all of my posts as it seems I have a constant trail of thoughts meandering through my mind.
I have been struggling with my depression for a while now after a brief time of calm. I know I shouldn’t be surprised as this seems to be a far too often occurrence. This is the emotional rollercoaster I talk about and seriously, this is as tiring as you can imagine. You wake up and for a moment it seems it might be a good day and then the depression settles over you like a too heavy blanket and now it takes every ounce of strength just to sit up, never mind trying to get up and do whatever it is you need to do that day. If this was all there was to deal with, it would be more than enough but it doesn’t take long for the questions, doubts, and fears to come crowding in, finding any weakness in your mental defenses.
This also makes thoughts of being transgender and transitioning nearly impossible. I am constantly questioning myself, finding doubt after doubt just waiting in the shadows to pounce. Then there is the constant thought of “I have survived this long as I am, I can continue to do so.” Followed by “you’re a fool, delusional or crazy, to think you can be anything more than what you are at this moment.” Of course there is the long standing understanding I will never make the right decisions, that I am always wrong. I shouldn’t trust myself and if I do, if I follow my heart and dreams then I am being selfish. So self absorbed I don’t care who gets hurt. Or how I affect those around me or listen to their advice… That I am wrong. Wrong. WROUNG!
In the midst of this I decide to do something I know is going to hurt me, often deeply, down to my very soul… yet at the same time there is something inside which whispers, “You deserve this. You deserve to hurt every bit as much as possible because in the end it will never be as bad as how much you have hurt those around you.”
Yesterday I did this by taking a picture of myself al natural. I wanted to see just what I face every day in the mirror, in any reflection, in how I am sure the whole world sees me. I wanted the reminder of how foolish I am. Of how nothing has changed in all these years and never will change regardless of how much I may wish, hope, dream, or pray…
“How transitioning normalised certain behaviours and how that feels to a career nonconformist.”
“Transgender patients often travel long distances and pay more for less-than-competent medical care. But as doctors embrace virtual treatment models, those problems may soon be obsolete.”