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.

 

choosing to forget

Yesterday I wrote a lot.  I erased it.  I wrote again, erased again.  Erased, erased.  I deleted the whole file eventually…  made some checklists.  Walked to the store for some groceries; I think pop tarts look good on me.

I walked and chose to forget, almost everything, except some things I enjoy.  Convinced myself that seriousness is for losers.  I wish I could depend on this feeling.

Because I woke up this morning with tears in my eyes.  I hate that.

So I showered and cleaned myself and chose to forget, again.  Apparently it’s an iterative thing.

 

I wish I could have slept, but it seems worthwhile in my crisp shirt and comfy thrift store skirt.

 

Also, the hardware on my face draws my attention away from my facial hair, because I’m the only one who cares about my facial hair.

I told the piercer I’ve had worse.

 

miss world

Ending transition is a transition in itself.  Most of my effort is spent trying not to show how I feel and controlling my emotions, which seems counterintuitive because that’s what I used to do as a guy, except it’s much more difficult.  Others sense this all-important task of mine; of not flying apart like a cold war-era ultracentrifuge, which brings me safety and social status.  You can’t make this shit up.

Because I express myself as my self becomes different, and eventually write it down.  I do it for myself because no one hears anymore.

As comforting as it is not to have trans problems at the moment, it’s not actually comfortable.  But I told my friend that I’m over what happened.

 

Which is why I claw my clothes off in my sleep.

And why I attack my nightstand in my sleep.

 

My lamp may never be the same.

 

ex-narratio

It’s 8:40 pm.  It might as well be 8:40 pm forever, and this is all I do.  Write, write, write, walk around.

Some guy spit on the sidewalk walking past me and I swear I could feel it on my eyelashes.  I should feel something more.  Life is filled with these subtle, obscene social gestures from total strangers.

Walking, and walking home around midnight, some guy started following me and shouting; asking me where I was going.  And I pulled a shank out of my hair.  There’s nothing subtle about that.

 

Every morning I open my eyes and marvel at how painful it can be to lie still for seven or eight hours.  A series of information enters my mind, generally reminding me that it’s going to be a struggle to prepare to leave and a struggle to get enough done when I’m out there.  This morning, and most mornings I try to come to terms with myself; to some level of acceptance and self-love, but not so much so that I panic at how thoroughly screwed I am.

I shake off memories of dreams that are only pleasant when I’m having them, and disturbing in the light of day; getting lost on the highways, ex-friends coming out to me, being recognized for my work.

 

Sometime an eternity or two months or so ago, I spoke to my ex-friend who said she used to have a narrative for her life but now she doesn’t.  I refused to relate at the time, but now not so much.

Because all I know is the present, and it’s 9:06 pm.

 

embrace

Some years ago, I was speaking to my psychologist.  We were talking about ceremony, and how there isn’t a ceremony for changing genders.  If you get married, or someone close to you dies, there’s a ceremony and an embrace; a moment when you are ‘the little warm center that the life of the world crowds around’ (as Chuck Palahniuk might put it).  But there is no ceremony for transitioning, and no embrace.  I actually get the sense that those around me are still trying to reach unanimous agreement on my gender.

So I find myself asking my friends and acquaintances, ‘who will hold me?’  Difficult to admit, as I careen from spectacular social failure to spectacular social failure, but undeniably true.  I should chalk it up to ‘finding myself,’ which is something I assumed I did a long time ago.

 

Staring down the page of another draft of my thoughts, this one makes sense.

 

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.

 

uncharted

I don’t understand.  I was plagued by an overwhelming desire to escape from myself, then I discovered my gender dysphoria and transitioned.

Now I don’t know what it means to be a woman, but it’s how others see me, and it’s accurate.

I feel better.  I don’t want to drown my consciousness in science and software; I’m not desperate to lose myself in marijuana smoke and virtual worlds.

I can breathe and be okay with it, I’m okay with my body.  I can live behind my eyes.  I can stand still.

 

My old journals ask the same questions:

What will make me happy?

What is my problem?!

It seemed normal, to be not okay with life.  I didn’t notice I was repeating myself.

Then I wrote this blog, and every couple of weeks I put the past further behind me.

 

I can write clearly.  Not only about myself, but about the science I experienced under semi-consciousness; file boxes of notes, notebooks, calculations, programs, diagrams, data.  Records of data, a life’s work on disconnected servers.

I wonder if the cable company sent my account to collections yet.

 

They don’t recognize me, and I don’t know how I’d explain what happened to me if I had to.  My old name is legally erased, just another word.

 

I’m trying to trust, and my gut is telling me it’s implausible that any harm will come to me now, somehow.

 

But again, there’s this – these words, this blog.  A search-indexed transcript of many of my innermost thoughts.  What was I thinking?  It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Then I promised myself that I would continue writing it; my liability, this unique record.

When I’m done thinking about it, I’m certain that perception of transgender people is so bad, so hysterically misguided, that publishing my diary can’t actually make matters worse for me.

 

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.

 

for myself

Why do I sit here every other week and bleed my heart out into the aether for anyone who is listening?

I did it for myself.  The primary enemy of my transition is my own transphobia and shame.  I didn’t know this two years ago, but on instinct I endeavored to be as open as possible about all of this.  Little did I know that I was preparing myself for random people’s questions about my junk; testing my boundaries of what I am and am not comfortable sharing with others, and learning to accept myself – learning that what I’m doing is amazing and noble and worth telling the world about.

 

Because I was born a man and am somehow, mysteriously but surely, a woman.  And I have to deal with it.  I have to deal with battle royale-style arguments with religious types who want to debate my gender.  And I have to deal with colleagues of over half a decade who won’t give me the time of day.

But I did it for myself.  I had to choose between making a go of being a woman or to die trying to be a man.  I chose myself, I chose life, and I am awesome.  I’m not ashamed of that.