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.

 

love in the time of hoverboards

I wish I had some time to myself.  After fast-tracking my transition, I just want a week to look in the mirror or visit my family.  I need to get a clear idea of who I am, because my appearance changes every week.  Important stuff like facial features, torso measurements, my outlook on life, different.  Every week.  I just blink into space.

What the hell happened?

 

People talk to me all the time.  It’s unexpected, I want to think it’s weird.  But judging from their body language, it’s normal.

I don’t need to hide who I am anymore out of fear of them finding out whatever it used to be that would put them off, my nascent femininity.  I say some of the most unfiltered and inane shit, and people listen, kind of.  They seem to find it pleasant.

 

Meanwhile, I’m rebuilding my important relationships.  Recasting them and making them whole.  I didn’t realize I was doing this, and maybe it isn’t me.  Maybe they’re ready to accept me for who I am.

Maybe they realize they don’t have a choice, the counterparties of my important relationships.

Maybe I just need help and it’s obvious.

Maybe I’m human and this is just what happens.  I feel a loss of will as I realize the idea of my father accepting me as his eighth daughter, or the idea of speaking to Leia again.  I realize that my friends are assholes, who love me, and there’s nothing I can do to change that, not now.

Not now, as I depend on these people to recognize me when I can barely recognize myself.

 

They know me.  They always kind of knew me, and didn’t tell me.  That’s love.

 

insomnia express

I can’t remember the last time I had trouble sleeping.  I also can’t remember having writer’s block quite like this; my thoughts are clear but I’m afraid to write them down.

I’m afraid of being discriminated against.

I’m afraid of being alone.

I’m afraid of this.

This, my life condensed to today, tonight.  Right now.  I can’t think about the future, because that just doesn’t make sense.

 

I accept myself, my face is a woman’s face because I am a woman.  My life is a woman’s life.  It is what I think it is, but I underestimated the damage caused by arguing the point, by being told otherwise.  Because anyone can argue this, and for a time I forgot there’s no basis to my identity.

I didn’t realize the nature of discrimination, that it would take forms that cannot be spoken of.  That not being taken seriously would become what I fear the most.

Worst of all, I didn’t think I would believe that I deserve this.  In my contortions to make sense of the situation, it’s the only explanation.

 

Outside, there’s a steady drumbeat of LGBT victories.  I’m told the military is reversing its ban on trans people.  Inside, I’m coming to terms with exile from my own life.  A snowglobe of memories filled with love and artificial snowflakes.  A farcical separation, and so very real.  It doesn’t matter how often I try to return, it’s not mine.

 

honestly,

I’m at a loss.  What I’ve experienced was so harrowing, so stressful and painful and seemingly impossible.  And now it’s quiet, I’m passing.  I’m this tense, awkward, doofy-looking woman whose clothing is ill-fitting and spectacularly out of season…  but I’m not perceived as transgender.  I look like what I’ve been through.

No one expects much of me, except that I make eye contact with them.  It’s an interesting expectation, like I need to be scrutable at all times, present, and at whosoever’s disposal.  It’s subtle, subtle, subtle, and it took me weeks to notice, but it’s like I’m under this warm spotlight.

 

I don’t know what I was thinking, this being a woman and all.  It’s just something I had to do, and now it happened.  Now I have to deal with it.  But it’s wonderful and beautiful, and so, so real.  The world is just so real, and almost mine.  I can’t understand it.

 

‘today’s weirdness is tomorrow’s reason why’

I can see why no one writes about this.  Why no one blogs about their transgender transition after the ‘I’m OK’ stage, when they drop off the face of the earth.

It’s because you basically drop off the face of the earth.

 

The moment you give away your old wardrobe, when you run out of mascara for the first time, when you find yourself standing in the social security office and declare yourself to the federal government to be a woman – and it’s not even a big deal – everything changes.  It’s as if I had never done anything in my life.  That I’m here, now, born yesterday or whenever, I don’t even know.  Everything is new and my body feels 1,000 years old, as if I’d been this way forever, like I had never known myself until now.

Now it is all I can do to make my credit card payments.  It’s the mundanity that slaps you in the face – that I need to adhere to this schedule handed to me from someone who apparently planned all of this out.  I try not to think about it too much.

 

Because to think about where I am is to break.  Under the weight of lost friendships and family and dreams and time.  To not know who I am or ever hope to know – to know I will never be part of most everything I see, to be alone.  To know that I cannot stand being touched.  To dwell on this is loss.

 

I found myself explaining that I’m stuck this way, and that I can relax now.  It’s true.

 

falling

I promised myself that I’d entered a new phase of my transition, where I don’t need to make any more major decisions, just cruise wherever.  I guess that’s true, but the process doesn’t stop.

An increased dose of finasteride obliterates traces of testosterone derivatives from my bloodstream.  The veins in my hands have faded and receded, and my fingers are noticeably fleshier.  Someone quipped that I might be able to sleep on my stomach again, someday.

 

My nightmares are not so vivid anymore and I can sleep.  It seems too good to be true.

But I’m blindsided by a sudden loss of some component of my identity, then immersed in paradoxical need for both quiet and emotional support.

 

I wish someone would’ve written about this shit in a little more detail, because I did not see this coming.

 

getting to she

I don’t know myself.  I don’t know where my center of gravity is.  My sense of touch threatens to overwhelm me.

 

I would say I’m in over my head, but that would be a metaphor, and an understatement.  This is what it is; I’ve begun to think to myself in female pronouns, she, her.

I’ve considered detransitioning, because that’s a thing now.  Here is different from there, is different from here.

 

“Nah.”

I’ll always be this way.  I hope that’s enough time to get to know her better.

 

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.

 

red dress

Leia asked me to try on her ballroom dress the other day.  I’m sure it’s expensive, it feels expensive, and I kind of dive into it.

“Don’t stretch it!”

After figuring out how to maneuver the lining and where to put my arms, I heard myself ask her to zip up the side.  And we kind of stood there in front of the mirror.  Actually, we definitely stood there.

Me:  “Interesting.”

Leia:  “That’s amazing…”

I realized then, in that moment, in a red dress, that I could totally pass.

 

Shit.

 

Days ensued, joy and panic interspersed between hours and minutes.  Fear and longing and the stark, stark realization of how much this is going to hurt.

Then I seem to have wrestled this rushing sense of inevitability to the ground.  I can’t do this.

But the dress fit perfectly.  It was beautiful, I was beautiful, and now?  Now I’m completely lost in this undefined social space.  I know I’m a woman, but what does that mean?  I ask myself, “Can I pull this off?”  And I do, I have to, it just is.