mazel tov

I write because I write.  Seemingly, there is not much left to say – not much that I can gracefully share.  Still a woman, which is about the triteest thing I can think of saying.  But that’s what it boils down to.  That and a belief that whatever gender you are, that’s the gender you’re gonna be, when you’re ready, or die trying.  No one is going to like it, but you’ll meet new people who like you the way you’ve become.  They may even take you behind the brunch joint and all intervene on you like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia about how you have no self esteem and need to cut that shit out.  I was touched, really.

When I got home, I reprised a mental exercise, think a happy thought.  I can always think of something.  Tonight it just doesn’t matter; nothing does.  And that makes me very, very happy.

 

dana ansari vs. the world

The instant woman, like instant coffee; necessary, familiar, wanting.

Every day I do the best that I can to fulfill the needs and expectations of those I’ve included in my circle.  The people I’m codependent upon.  I balance a spectrum of needs and desires, trading values for time, dreams for security, meaning for lust, energy for capital.  Back and forth it goes.  If I ever stopped, I’d be soulrupt or something, but this is my reality.  Whatever I traded for my body, for my life – whatever it was I did, it cost.

It’s all I can do not to think or feel too much.

 

Meanwhile, I’ve fallen in love with someone I don’t even know.  I guess that happens.  This is maybe the eighth time for me.  It gets jaded, I’m like, ‘yeah, there’s this person and she’s perfect, and I’m like nothing, and it feels like my life is over.’

My roommate tells me to stop being so angsty and adolescent.  I gave her the double finger.

 

flight

I stepped out of the sodium street lights of a random night.  Onto a train, into that antiseptic train smell.  I thought to myself, ‘I’m leaving.’  I realized it then, staring down the aisle of well-to-dos.

Ten years after I stepped off of this train into the same street lights; I know in my soul that I will never return here.

 

Leia met me sometime later, at a random bar of well-to-dos.  Fresh from her office, I presented her with the wine she instructed me to purchase in her text message, “Make sure you taste it first.”

She regarded me with the relieved exasperation that only she could provide.

 

I was fresh from the depths of despair, a loss and malaise that made the Great Depression look like Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

I pleaded with her to save me.  We chatted about the election.

I asked her for purpose and place.  She caught the server’s eye – someone she had gone to high school with apparently.

 

She asked if I could set up a cloud server for her work.  I don’t remember much else.

 

It’s been several weeks now.  Removed from the place where I took on a new gender, I feel like a new person.  Perhaps I am.  Completely stealth now, I’ve fallen into a normal life, jarringly familiar from the time before I took hormones and dyed my hair.  I have obligations and new friends, disposable-ish income.  I don’t really wear makeup anymore, and that’s okay.  No one wears makeup every day.

 

Nightmares come and go.  Leia says I cry out in my sleep sometimes.

My pupils have returned to their normal size from antidepressants, which I take with my keys and my phone.  And I’m tempted to thank God that there’s nothing in life that can’t be solved by sex with the right strangers.

I am infinitely fortunate.  I was able to transition and didn’t lose all of my family, or all of my friends.  I didn’t die.  I’m attractive and have skills, I look forward to my life.  My sex change operation was a success.

 

But no one should have to do this.

 

no honor among thieves

I sit in my room.  It’s a nice room but a bit dusty, and I’m allergic to dust.  So I’ve been struggling to breathe since I moved here.

 

My trans friend sleeps across the room, on the small mattress we found on the street.  She’s been transitioning for 10 years, though she’s much younger than I am.  She used to update her video blog.  She’s always telling me to get some real problems.  Every day we wake up head-to-toe in that tiny bed.  Would we have it any other way?

 

She insists she isn’t my girlfriend.  She doesn’t like to be touched.  I remember what that was like.

We share food, share our lives.  Thick as thieves, I wear the ring her boyfriend gave her.

 

And something interesting has happened.  She walked the path I started upon, took it to the extreme.  Gave herself nothing and no one to lose, but it ends nowhere.  So I found something to care about.  It’s obvious.  It’s inevitable.  As sure as I would die without her, I need to complete my science work.  It’s not a question of discrimination or profit, I need to be what I’ve become.

 

miss world

Ending transition is a transition in itself.  Most of my effort is spent trying not to show how I feel and controlling my emotions, which seems counterintuitive because that’s what I used to do as a guy, except it’s much more difficult.  Others sense this all-important task of mine; of not flying apart like a cold war-era ultracentrifuge, which brings me safety and social status.  You can’t make this shit up.

Because I express myself as my self becomes different, and eventually write it down.  I do it for myself because no one hears anymore.

As comforting as it is not to have trans problems at the moment, it’s not actually comfortable.  But I told my friend that I’m over what happened.

 

Which is why I claw my clothes off in my sleep.

And why I attack my nightstand in my sleep.

 

My lamp may never be the same.

 

grad school

I sit in a coffee shop staring at my notes.  They’re written out in gel pen; and I’m in grad school.  I’ve been in grad school for a long time.  I think I’m about to not be in grad school one way or another.  Feeling ambivalent.

I want to text my friend about this for the hundredth time, but I’m trying to not come across as so desperate, so I join a game of Subterfuge.

 

I don’t think of my past much; I look in the mirror and the idea crosses my mind that I was once male.

“No.  No way.

Apparently it’s difficult to be thankful for something when the alternative is unthinkable.  And I really should be more thankful, this is miraculous.

So many close calls and desperate plays…  my surgery was something like 45 days from the expiry of my health insurance.  And I went into this whole thing with no income and about $5,000 in savings.  Changed religions twice.  Fell out with and reunited with multiple people, multiple times.  Lost my health insurance, twice.  Went through six generations of clothing and four iterations of employment.  Two apartments.  It’s only been two years.

 

I want to say that I’m feeling better.  Today I’m trying to have more faith in my friendships.  This seems key.

 

meaning

…And so it’s a struggle to find meaning.  Transitioning used to be meaningful and now it’s over.  I’m telling people that the cosmetic procedures I’m considering aren’t going to change who I am, which is good, transitioning sucked.  But it provided some hope; it was like, ‘Oh, there’s this endpoint where I’ll be okay.’  And I am okay.  Just okay, and tired.  Very, very tired.

I’m trying to be social and people like me, I’m able to form new relationships.  Someone even asked me out half-assed.  It’s just that I know, know in my soul that none of it is permanent.  That no relationship can be counted upon.  It’s all bullshit and lies; exchanging business cards when it isn’t really necessary.  And I can’t undo this knowledge.  It’s a steep and surprising price to pay in order to be in my right body and my right mind; knowing what my erased life feels like.  Like the ending to It’s a Wonderful Life, except there’s no one to wave a magic wand and turn it all back again.

 

I find that the last shred of meaning is writing about my new life.

Someone shakes up the spacetime continuum every few weeks, changing everything.  Leaving me in the same location with the same genome and social security number, and a collage of memory like a broken mirror;

Lost in a daydream, I think of the person I love.  She touches my hair, touches my neck in a certain place, and it’s all I’ve ever wanted.

I sit in bed, head to my knees, eyes squeezed shut, overwhelmed with the knowledge that I will never, not ever understand my body.

 

Tonight I’m a capable, charismatic, healthy human being who can do anything she desires, and I just want to go home.

 

starting again

I find myself with not very much to say.  There’s no context.  Everything is new and blank, and I’m forced to move on, to start again.  Any attempt to salvage my old life is met with disgrace.  There are some things, like my education and a handful of core relationships (absurdly repurposed core relationships) that I’m taking with me.  But attempts to, say, utilize my network of professional contacts, are yet to succeed.

 

My new body is comfortable; it is also unfamiliar and somewhat disgusting.  I’m sick of standing up straight.

I want to hate myself, but I can’t find any clear reason to, other than being so consistently out of my depth, not knowing my sexual orientation with any precision, being afraid of random shit, and crying too much.  But I can’t bring myself to hate myself for these things.

 

I feel lost and also without a need for direction.

I would ask myself why.

 

uncategorize

I pour fresh coffee into an oversized black mug.  It’s filling and then it’s spilling all over the counter, neatly covering the surface with vanilla-scented liquid, making two straight lines onto the hardwood floor, into shadows of dusk.

I think I’m really out of it, and I am.  I feel queasy, often.  I have acne.

 

This actually seems to be working.  I can’t imagine myself having any stupid gender arguments ever again.  There are many things happening simultaneously, not least of which is a violent increase in my body fat percentage, although I didn’t gain any weight.  It’s also infinitely easier to maintain the resonance and timbre of my voice.

 

And I decided that I’m not really alone in this, I’m just needy.  Note to self; be less needy.

 

surgery and aftermath

It’s a mob scene at the local pizza place, one of the places I can go to write at eleven at night.  The busser calls me ‘buddy’ and I feel his hand on the small of my back as he moves me into a different line, “You don’t need to wait behind these people.”

People give me these crossed signals between male and female – and I never realized how controlling it is to touch a woman on the small of her back and move her, directly where my center of gravity is located, at my disturbingly handle-like middle.

 

It was relatable when people would do this, to misgender me but subconsciously treat me like a woman.  It mirrored my internal state, the constant dissonance of being a woman with a penis.

I would try to compensate with makeup and soft pastel clothing.  Failing this, I would try to assert my identity in spite of my anatomy.  Failing this, I would try not to think about my anatomy at all, which made my inner life fantastically complex.  I didn’t realize how complex it had become.

 

surgery

In the whirlwind leading up to genital reconstructive surgery there was little time to think, but I knew what I wanted.  I knew that if they botched the surgery, it would be better than having a penis, which provided a stoic optimism.  In retrospect there was little chance my surgeon would irreversibly botch the surgery.

I remember lying there speaking to her assistant.

 

“How are you feeling?”

“I’m nervous.”

 

“Do you still want to have surgery today?”

“Yes.”

 

I signed the final handful of forms, which detailed everything that could go wrong.  I complimented them on their projected complication percentages.

They clipped the forms into their many binders and filled out their paperwork.

I laughed reflexively at their inside jokes.

 

I asked the anesthesiologists to warn me before they did anything.  I must have asked them this like three times.

“You have such beautiful big brown eyes.”

This is the last thing I remember.

 

That night and the following night I begged the nurses for more morphine so I could sleep.  I was caught off guard by the sheer pain involved with this surgery, which made me feel naive.

My roommate came to visit and brought me a stuffed animal.  I can hardly remember what we talked about but I will never forget that he visited me.

Some of the nurses and staff looked at me like I was unusual, even though there were three other trans people on the floor of that hospital.  Was it my voice?  That I had days of growth on my unpainted face?  Was it because I slept with a stuffed animal?  Everyone was really nice though.

 

I lay in my mother’s lap on the taxi ride home.

 

aftermath

I try to lay down as much as possible, as my doctor said to do.  I’m alone for the most part and I have time to think.  What has this cost me?  I take stock of my life and what I’ve done, what I’ve accomplished; I may have traded everything else to become whole.  A tidal wave of rejection, my colleagues, my best friends, my father, they are absent from this story, and absence now speaks louder than anything.

I need people.  I’ve never seen so much of my own blood, and I need support.  I’ve irrevocably changed who I am, overnight, and I need someone to tell me who I’ve become, because I don’t know.

 

But I made the right decision, because it’s the sort of thing where ya just know.

And there’s nothing heavier than the difficult thing with which I’ve had no choice.