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.

 

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abd in the new world

Days turn to weeks, as I sit in a sunny domicile, writing.  Water on the stove for instant coffee.  News on the wire of new world order.

I update a to-do list in my head; update birth certificate, renew passport, check the job postings of corporations offering excellent health insurance.  Because war is coming.

That’s one thing about having lived as male, there are certain instincts.  Like now I feel in my skin, and with every breath that I will give birth, even though I won’t.  When you’re a man you know that war is coming – as it has for the past 200,000 years.  Well, war is coming now.

 

We’re not going to earn our rights anytime soon, not by executive fiat, or supreme court decision, or ENDA legislation.  It’s status quo for the foreseeable future.  So if you were holding out for sunny skies to transition – and know that I’ve been there – there’s no time like the present.

There’s also a good chance that ‘preexisting conditions’ will become a thing again in the insurance world, though they definitely won’t call it that and you might not hear about it until you get an insurance bill or statement.  Meaning, the only way to fund a transition through insurance will be through employer-paid group insurance plans, I’m assuming.  So ima get on that.

And abortion might eventually be made illegal.  Though this doesn’t necessarily affect trans women, except from an ethical standpoint, legally forcing rape victims to carry a fetus to term – through the trauma of rape – is an unthinkably brutal affront to all women.

 

Watching Hillary concede, I realized that she loves the system more than she loves us – all of us.  That’s commendable, but I think it’s why she lost.  She stands there telling me what I owe Donald Trump, waxing sarcastic about her own campaign slogan, and generally baffling me with her personal strength in the face of a textbook crash-and-burn political loss.  My mind reels and strains as a different future appears; but some things you just know.

 

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.

 

inevitability isn’t an emotion

I don’t know where to begin.

My closest confidants separately and independently declared that no one is going to question my womanhood and that I need to snap out of this nervous funk I seem to be experiencing.  Dana they say, the war is over, wake up…  I do my best to absorb this.

As I meditate on the idea that I am in fact a woman, legally, socially, professionally, physically, and so on, I am engulfed by indescribable confusion.  While I am comfortable with myself in ways I had never known, I am in shock.

 

I have a good idea of how to conduct myself, what I’m doing and where my life is headed, but that’s all.

I know who I am.  I know what happened to me, but I don’t know why it did in a very basic sense.

 

I go out and I’m generally happy.  I look in the mirror and I am relieved, then disbelieving.

My body takes up less space.  I seem to breathe less air.  My eyes are expressive and it haunts me.  I appear to feel more than I can actually acknowledge, more than I will let myself feel.  It’s unapproachable.

But I’m told this is real, that being a woman comes with an inner life that’s different and which I might find difficult to accept.

 

I’m only beginning to sense what I’ve gotten myself into, but it’s not like I had a choice.  I feel like my transition was inevitable, that it would have happened somehow.  This is how it feels on the other side of the gender binary; there was no why, my gender was inevitable.

 

square zero

I’ve taken to blending out.  It’s like blending in, but in addition to looking normal you try your damnedest to go unnoticed.  It’s like passing, it’s related to passing.  I hate that term ‘passing’ like ‘pass for a woman.’  I don’t even care anymore, just as long as no one sees me, which is ironic.

 

It’s anticlimactic, ‘passing.’  It’s getting back to square zero, where everyone starts, “Oh look it’s a baby boy.”  The birthright, your gender.  I get a gender.

I wonder how I could have explained this to myself a year ago, if I could go back in time; that I go by a female name with a mostly female body, that I don’t live in the same place or have the same job.  That, all told, it cost about $20,000 (not including doctors’ visits and most prescription costs).  That our only real ambition now is to get through the day without feeling like crawling under a rock, to go unnoticed.  To live quietly, our painless lives.

 

Relatively painless.  I don’t know what I would have done or said if I had heard this a year ago.  I think I would have felt joy.  I think I could have lost consciousness.  I think I might have hugged me, I don’t know.  Why do I think about these things?

 

the block

I was spilling my guts to a friend over drinks; I think I should just stop drinking entirely.  But in the process of relating my unusual life and its concomittant angst in a crowded room, I realized something.  Or at least my friend realized something – I have a mental block surrounding my voice.

 

From October 16th, 2014:

This is getting progressively more difficult to think about, let alone write about.  I feel lost.  My mind doesn’t match my voice; my body doesn’t really match my voice, and I am lost.

According to my research, the voice is a direct reflection of a person’s mind, more so than the eyes or what one is saying.  Voice is just one of those things that is just not well understood.  The largest, richest corporations in the world cannot make artifical voices that sound human, even though this would increase their profits considerably – it’s that hard.

And then there’s the trans girl with a funky voice.  There are few things that I fear more than changing it, letting someone tinker with it.  Because a voice is who you are – even if it’s physically deformed.  What happens if you change it?  Does it change who you are?

 

Changing my voice has been the hardest part of this process, but there’s no getting around it.  It’s the most squeamish, ticklish, fucked-up thing.  I couldn’t stand my voice since forever, but I hate changing it, softening it, making it higher, pitching its resonance – playing my nasal passages like some kind of pipe organ.  In a gadda da vida.

I’ll never sing again.  I hate myself.

 

But that was the problem…  Apparently, my block is that I hate my femininity.  And voice is probably the purest, most intense expression of gender.

 

I’m paying through the nose for a speech therapist and I wouldn’t do the exercises.  I created endless obstacles between me and the exercises – that they wouldn’t work and I could only do them at a certain time, in a certain place, under certain conditions, because God forbid anyone should hear me feminizing my voice, which seemed like the end of the world.  I even created a semi-soundproof studio in my closet (of all places) to work on it before I got a roommate and needed the storage space.

Why would I be so embarrassed to have someone overhear me trying to make my voice higher?  Because it sounds stupid?  Yes, but no one cares at this point.  And it’s not like my gender identity is a secret to anyone anymore.  So what’s the problem?  I didn’t want to sound more feminine.  It’s weak, it’s wrong.

 

But it’s not.  It’s okay for me to draw strength from femininity, from things that I associate with femininity; community, trust, mercy, and yes – a softer voice.

As it was strong to be masculine as a man, it’s strong to be feminine as a woman.  This is something I need to remember.

 

At least I can do the exercises now.

 

mundanity

Suddenly it seems like not such a big deal, everything.  I’m a trans woman, life goes on.  Some people get it, some don’t.  It really doesn’t matter in the long-run.  There are other things in life than one’s gender and the implications thereof, opinions thereof, actions and words, on and on and on.

When I open my eyes, I see that my situation is routine, uncommon but routine.  And it’s my business to live my life and get on with it.

 

I never knew that cold mundanity could be so breathtaking.  It’s like a miracle or something.

 

to understand

I write in this blog and read from it.  Occasionally other people read it too.  It’s where I seem to be sometimes.  Not a lot of information.

Why do I do it?  I wanted to express myself as a woman, to exist and write something non-technical.  It’s a notebook, and I’m trying to understand.

 

What would I say today?  That you’ll never understand trans people?  Because I really want to say that.  Because I think it’s true.

But I want you to understand, because I don’t want to be alone;

 

It’s like any other kind of life, only without clearly defined relationships.

It’s like meeting other trans people and misgendering yourself “because you don’t want to be an asshole.”

It’s knowing that anything is possible.

 

But all I can really say is this:  If someone tells you they’re a gender – a different gender – believe them.  Believe them with all of your heart and know it is true.  Then you’ll understand.

 

reflections pt. 2

I flare out my hair and strike a pose in the mirror, “maybe I’m just a really ugly girl.”  This makes me laugh.  And it feels like I take myself way too seriously.

 

Who’s to say what gender I should have been or if I would have been happier in one life or another?  No one should have to answer these questions.  No one should have to choose the gender they have to be, the gender they are, it’s wrong.  It should just be, without drama, without fear.

And that’s how I feel.  There’s not much there.  After I’ve stopped feeling sorry for myself, after I’ve stopped laughing and crying and asking why.

 

The next person I meet, I’ll say ‘hi.’  And leave it at that.