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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.

 

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the unforeseeable future

It was surprising, the first time I forgot about my transition.  I was out, it was sunny, and I was unaware that I had been a man, or had considered myself one.  I forgot about that and was just myself, focused on whatever I was doing.

Then I snapped out of it and thought, ‘this doesn’t seem like such a big deal now.’  Because I knew it was possible to escape this uniquely awkward place, if only for a second.

 

But it’s still a struggle, it’s a struggle to afford electrolysis and to decide what to spend money on and what to put off.  Clothes?  Hair removal?  Voice lessons?  It’s a careful, nervy balance.

My vocal cords are wound more tightly than I am and I’m a clearance sale victim at least one day of the week.  Every morning I pluck hair out of my face and carefully, lightly cover it in layers of silicone gel, foundation, and double face powder.  How long can I keep doing this?

 

polaroid of perfection

I finally have a proper wardrobe, an array of soft pastels.  Layers and colors, accents to communicate truths about myself in what I choose to wear.  I never understood clothing, I always dreaded buying clothes.  But today they are an extension of myself.

I’ve finally become comfortable-ish with my new voice, I thought this would never happen.  But the positive effect of having my negative self talk in a not-definitively-male voice cannot be overestimated, let alone actually having the ability to communicate with people.  I’ve spoken before, of course, but it’s just easier now.  I am in awe of the adaptability of the mind and the human voice.

 

On the downside, I feel mind-numbing pressure to be perfect.  Perfect weight, perfect clothes, perfect voice, never offending my friends, never spending frivolously, or doing anything to offend God because I’ve seen enough, for real.

I live in fear of impending doom, that everyone will stop talking to me and I’ll find myself standing in the welfare line, again.  That I’ll lose access to my medications and morph into some appalling freak.  That I’ll date someone and they’ll shatter my sense of self.

So I try every day to be perfect.  It’s exhausting, it’s desperate, and it’s so very necessary.  I just want this ordeal to be over.

 

But there is something familiar about this narrative.  It is something I’d heard from friends, just about all of which had been women, that they must be perfect.  That they don’t have as much control over their lives as they would want and so must please everyone all the time, as much as they can, so they can be loved and protected.  It’s a hell of a thing to experience all at once.

So I’m learning to look up to women as I join and identify with them.  I never had in an I-want-to-be-just-like-you sort of way, but it’s something, another thing, which is necessary – that the only thing between me and a careless world is the understanding of others.

 

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.