the apparent struggle

I’m beginning to organize the immediate past in my mind – it becomes apparent that my remaining friends and family would do anything for me and that I’ve essentially achieved my life’s goal.  Things should feel simpler, lighter.  They should.  I’m still lonely and broke, but this seems temporary and relatively insignificant.

I recap events every so often, ‘you underwent a medical gender transition, you’re a woman of effectively indeterminate age, you’re starting over.’

‘you need to finish your degree’

‘these people will catch you if you fall, if you really truly need them’

And so it goes.  There’s a lot of waiting, of the sit-and-wait variety.  I need to chill, because I’ve discovered that I have much less emotional self-control than I’d like, and that these emotions are highly transparent.  It seems to go a long way toward winning people over, since I guess I’m a nice person and all, but I’m uniquely incapable of dating.

 

When I look in the mirror, I think that I am very beautiful and very ugly, sometimes simultaneously.  I think others feel the same, and it’s mysterious.  Just going out is like visiting a world in the distant future or distant past, where my features are unusual.  Extreme height, wild hair, thin, wearing 21st century makeup and business casual like I’ve lived at a university all of my life.  I feel confident and out of place.

 

I grapple with my hormones and with my place in the world.  I see other women and I can’t match their affect, I move too quickly, storming around like I’m going to kick someone’s ass.  I don’t know what to do with myself.

My body writes checks my mind can’t cash; tells me to think of children, and birth.  Fifteen pounds of fat form a layer across my body from the tops of my eyebrows to the tips of my fingers to the circumference of my ankles, a conspicuous stockpile of energy seemingly intended to maintain fertility through a significant famine.  Except I will never be fertile, I accept that.  My body doesn’t accept it.

 

And I realize that I struggle for my soul, struggle for the things I cared about; people, science…

The process of petitioning for my vagina was a Kafka-esque nightmare, chased with the reality that only a handful of people give a shit whether I live or die.  Now I need to figure out what I, myself care about; which in itself is important to me.

 

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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.

 

stream of unconsciousness

I feel, seemingly for the first time, like my nature and the world are not working against me.  I feel like I’m riding a wave that is mine.  In the distance is a simple future.  I don’t know why.  What could possibly be simple about any of this?  Looking back at my life as it was, relative simplicity wouldn’t be that difficult to achieve.

I feel like my life is very fragile and short.  Almost as if the pain I’d experienced in the past made time pass slowly and now there’s nothing to hold it back.  At this rate, I’ll be dead before I know it.

 

I’m handed a new ID that I’m startled is my own.  My friends tell me I look nothing like I did two months ago.

I have trouble expressing myself, trailing off in speech with ‘I don’t knows’ and ‘it’s complicated.’

My life as it is, where it’s going, doesn’t follow any path or template that I’ve known or heard about.  I have surprisingly little opinion about this.  It is what it is.  People seem to understand that.

 

What is this?  I feel my consciousness absorbed into others’ – “what do you think?”  “What do they think?”  “It’s up to you.”  And I’m reassured, which is good because I worry about what people say.  Things people say can stick with me for months, stick to objects that I interact with.  I used to get hung up about things I did.

I pass restaurants on the street, with men at their tables talking about whatever.  The constant chatter of men and their activities, projects, and ideas is supplanted by a social network of women that seems to keep tabs on everyone at all times.

 

When I’m alone, it still feels like I’m waiting for something.  I don’t know what.

 

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.