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.

 

Advertisements

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.

 

awake

I’m exhausted.  I’m bolt-awake.  I’m watching the world go by – fast.  I can’t shake the feeling that I’m wearing a disguise, that I’m not ready for this.

It would be impossible to become ready for this – to transition into femininity and start over with everyone.  I’m introducing myself to people I’ve known.  It’s just a thing.

“Hi Mom, hi Dad.  What’s new?”

I need to stop asking that question.

 

I can’t wrap my head around it, but I’m really, really afraid.  I’m petrified, and I’ve never known anything so unavoidably true.

I feel alone.

People support me but they don’t get what I’m going through.  The subject of a ‘transgender transition’ is foreign to everyone.  And speaking to transgender people about it is like screaming bloody murder into a swarm of bats.

I don’t know how else to describe that.

 

Meanwhile, life flashes by.  Doctors come and go, friends, allies; almost like it doesn’t matter.

Because I feel better and I trust myself.  I trust there’s a way out of this ridiculous situation.

 

femininity

I used to sleep well.

Tonight there’s this bespectacled teenage girl asking me why she can’t be a scientist.  Telling me what to do.

Is that what I’m like?  I’m annoying.

 

One thing about being a woman, being subconsciously perceived as a woman, is that every woman on the planet feels totally okay with telling me what to do.  From my mom to my trans mentor – if I’m not paying attention, it’s like I’m dead to them.  A kind of universal disappointment, a unilateral no confidence vote.

Femininity is a heavy, heavy thing.

 

before the fall

I’m not sure what to write, because all of this is so damn bizarre.  Life is completely different than I thought it was.

 

There are stealth people everywhere, which is profoundly annoying.  I don’t know where to begin to describe this purely body language and eye contact interaction between trans people.

Stealthy:  I feel so sorry for you.  There’s so much I want to say, but I’m stealth and can’t risk getting within three meters of you.

Me:  Why is that person staring at me like they know me?  Why aren’t they looking away now?  Oh, you’re stealth.  Fuck you man.

 

It’s weird.  The only thing that isn’t weird right now is the morning, before anyone wakes up and it’s just me and my routine: stretch, coffee, shower, coffee, cereal/oatmeal, makeup, walk.

My mom is acting like I’m the daughter she always wanted.  My dad is acting like I’m dead but we’re still talking and he’s supportive somehow.  Life with friends is like nothing happened, which is nice, and weird in and of itself.

Everyone’s relieved that I changed my gender presentation, ironically.  But they still call me ‘he’, which is bizarre.

 

And I want to forget my life before the fall.  All of the memories of someone I used to know – someone who used to be me, somehow.

I’d heard of transitioning being like death, like dying.  If only it were that simple.

 

dissolved girl

I’ve been home for two weeks now, and I don’t know where to begin.

 

I’m talking with my Mom and she thinks that I’m a healthier person than I was a year ago, and that no one will relate to me as a woman.  This is uplifting and annoying – but I was expecting the worst, so I didn’t immediately absorb the impact of her words.

 

I’m walking down the street and for a second I could have sworn I was dreaming.  I spend the rest of the day wishing I was, and that I would wake up.

 

I’m hanging out with my Dad and I can’t tell him anything about myself, anything new.  He asks what’s on my mind and I tell him nothing, just some random memory.  It’s all I can do to keep from bursting into tears.

 

I see those Macy’s posters that just say ‘believe’ with their oddly beautiful cover girl and I wonder if she’s a real person.

 

When I get home and throw my pocket debris on the table, I notice this pack of gum.  It reads, “Neither just sweet nor just peppermint, sweet peppermint is suffering from a delicious identity crisis…  but he’s a little sensitive about it, so we’ll leave it at that.”  The inside is covered with graf-style Queen of Hearts and King of Hearts scenes of chaos.  And a strangely anthropomorphic pair of scissors cutting a playing card in half.  If you turn the pack upside down, there’s a manish queen with a Jay Leno chin, more chaos.  I was dumbstruck.

 

reflections pt. 1

As I stand on a train platform, my feet are cold and firmly rooted in the ground.  I see the world differently and it seems that I don’t actually know where I’m going.

 

Its been almost a year now since I’ve affirmed to myself, my identity as a woman.  It’s not as scary as I imagined.  It’s not as fulfilling as I imagined.  It’s not as final as I imagined.  Basically, my concept of self is all that has changed.  Friends and acquaintances, coworkers see me the same way.  Changes in my appearance and how I carry myself are seen as the fashions of a gay man, if they are noticed at all.

Paradoxically I’m a lot more sincere, but when I say things like, “thanks!” or, “I think you’re really smart!” it comes across as sarcasm.  Literally everything I say is flat.

The most surprising thing is that it doesn’t really matter how I see myself, people see me the way they want, in the way that makes sense to them.

 

So I’m trying to look at this with a cold, objective eye.  Thankfully, when I look at myself in the mirror, it is not with cold eyes.  I like myself now.  I couldn’t say that before.

I hated myself for failing, for miscommunicating, for being painfully awkward.  For everything, from forgetting someone’s name to losing a friend.  I could never forgive myself for these things.  But tomorrow is another day.  And I hope that these memories, my regrets, won’t define me anymore.

 

A detail that is lost in all of this is my parents.  Its always been messy with them, as they’ve been separated for as long as I can remember.

My Mom knows that I’m her daughter and my Dad thinks that I’m his son.  This is difficult, and I turn over and over in my mind how I can fix it.  It’s a strange schism to live with, which I couldn’t believe for awhile.  My Father and I had drifted apart over the past year and I could have sworn that my Mom told him, but she didn’t.  It’s Thanksgiving soon and I’m worried about what to do.  I’m afraid to talk to my father about this.  Maybe we’ll never speak about it.

My Mother was in disbelief when I told her that I’m her daughter.  She still holds out hope that it’s a passing phase, that I’ll work it out, that it’ll go away, which hurts.  When I first told her, she said I was incorrect.  Then once she believed it, she felt upset for me, that I would be subject to such a fate.

 

I honestly don’t know what to make of this.  And I try not to think of it that way.

 

beautiful freak

I believe that whoever applied the terms cis and trans to gender was a scientist with a sense of humor.

Cis and trans are terms used for two versions of a molecule that are mirror images of one another.  A realistic application of these terms to human beings would be to their DNA molecules.  But a mirror image of my DNA would be complete nonsense.  My genes and characteristics would be garbled like a corrupted NES rom.  If every cell of my body contained a mirror image of my DNA, I would die.

But I am alive; I am a beautiful freak.

 

I stare into space at the corner of a train window.  A man walks by and makes eye contact.  I know he doesn’t see me.

I feel a pain that is always with me, unknowable, annoying.  It’s the feeling in your bones when you’ve been sitting for too long.  I’ve never been able to shake this feeling.

 

A part of me is frozen and lost to my senses.  It defies understanding.  It is excruciating beyond words to feel what she doesn’t feel.

I will never be able to express myself to another human being.  No one will see me.  I will never see the light of day.  I never want to feel this way again!  I want to pretend that I never knew, that nothing happened, that I am not here.

 

I am a trans girl and I have a choice.  I can ignore myself or feel the agony of knowing.

So I type at my keyboard in the dead of night.  I want to know who I am.

 

I want to hate myself but I won’t.  I know what hate is now.  My appearance is changing and I’ve seen hate in the eyes of my neighbors, in strangers and in friends.  My mother fears that the world will turn against me if I tell anyone.  She fears that my father will turn against me and blame himself.

I know that hate stems from pain.  I can’t succumb to it, I won’t.

 

I caught myself explaining cis privilege to my girlfriend this weekend.  I’m like, “You don’t need to think about gender all the time.”  I realize how ridiculous I’m being.  Yes, we’ve known each other for a long time.  No, I can’t actually explain what is happening.  I’m sorry.

Those were the first words I spoke to her as a girl, “I’m sorry.”

 

faith and irony

I used to be free.

I was a child who read science books.  My two best friends were girls.  We would wait for our parents after school and talk about life as we knew it then.  They were my secret friends.  It had to be that way because they didn’t want anyone to know they were friends with a boy, but it didn’t matter after school when everyone was gone.

Puberty was the most traumatic event of my life.  I began to see my two friends differently and was not at ease around them, I couldn’t relate.  Five years passed before I had another close friend.

 

I was beset by night terrors during my first year of puberty.  Shearing, crystal-vivid dreams of stretching across infinite space – into death itself.  I became obsessed with death, the fact that I would die.  I had panic attacks, crying fits of sheer terror.  They increased in frequency until they happened every morning at eleven for two weeks.  I had panic attacks about the panic attacks, knowing their terrible regularity.  My hands are unsteady as I write this and cold sweat drips down the sides of my body.  I remember these days like yesterday.

My mother was a single mother and she did the best that she could, but she could not foot the psychiatry bills.  She was at work most of the time that summer and I was on my own.

I looked to science and found no relevant information about death.  I looked to God and the clergy asked me to have faith.  In the meantime, I lost myself in digital worlds, Mario, Zelda, Baldur’s Gate.  This made things worse as I lost touch with reality.

I did find God eventually and the terror subsided.  But I was like a windup toy, just happy to be moving forward.

 

My stumbling journey into manhood was a forgotten chapter in my life.  I would occasionally have one of those dreams, drink a glass of water, and carry on.  But I never gave much thought to that period of time, until recently.

Now I am afraid that I lost a part of myself when my mind was soaked in testosterone and that she will never return to me – that my dreams and waking fears of death were singularly real.  I am all but forced to question the wisdom of this world’s design.

 

The irony of this is lost on me, and I hope that the past can be undone.  I don’t know how or when or why, but maybe someday.