I have been feeling fairly negative for the last few weeks. Internally I have been stamping my feet and throwing a proper tantrum about being trans, about being female, about trying to imagine what my life would be like if I chose to transition to female. Trying to work out a kind of pro/con scenario about my family & friends, my work; which colleagues would disown me and which would embrace me & what direction my life would take in general.
The idea that transitioning will be a permanent change – there is no going back to just being me was literally keeping me up at night – and I realised last week that I was just grumpy because I do not want to be transgender. Life is far simpler if I can carry on presenting male. Why put myself through all of this? I started thinking about the timing, the possibility of it just being a mental breakdown due to burnout, or a reaction to being emasculated during my marriage, or being dumped by someone whom I believed loved me imperfectly, all of the things I have mentioned before.
Of course being me I have shared these feelings online – when typing I can just write without overthinking and what comes out is what I am feeling, I do not need to sanitise the way I do when I am talking to someone face to face and trying to work out how much to share without overburdening them or over exposing my feelings to the chance of rejection. It is a natural habit and something I have done for years to protect myself from being hurt later on.
What I have discovered is just how beautiful the online Transgender community and its allies are. While they are taken out of context from their respective posts here are a few of the responses that I am sure the owners will not mind me sharing,
“Listen, you don’t need to be “good woman”, you just need to be you! You are not a man acting. You are frightened, rightly so. if you weren’t I would wonder… Fear is a great equalizer. It makes us think about the choices we make. You’re on the right track. Don’t look at it as transition, look at it as shedding the parts that don’t fit who you really are.”
“it is exhilarating to make that journey to authenticity. My “mind” had to learn first before my “body” could express it, if that makes any sense? It’s like slowly but surely, I’m shedding my baggage, and my shoulders are getting lighter and lighter all the time. ”
“Also I have had times when I questioned whether or not I could actually do this. At those times I just take a deep breath and then take a step back. I just stop thinking about the future. I focus on the day.”
“Remember that “phobia” = “fear” and you’d be crazy not to be fearful. It’s what our amygdala does for us. It tries to protect us from the scary monsters and things like that. It’s perfectly normal to feel these fears, all of them.”
“Every morning, awaken and look in the mirror and love what you see.
Learn how to loose the fear and awkwardness in presenting and go out into the world proud of being your true self.
Discover new friends and relationships that have always been around you, but you’ve never seen before.
Unearth your buried personality and be in awe how it is now growing and flourishing like it never has before.”
“In my opinion, a “good woman,” whether transgender or cisgender, is judged by her character. In my book, DeeDee, you are a good woman!”
“you’ll start living more for you. I’m seeing this happen right now in my own life. The more I am in public as myself, the more confident I become and the less I truly care what people think. ”
“I think the goal (if you will) is to not care about the labels, to just be our authentic selves.”
I thank all the ladies who have been in touch with me, the genuine warmth and support while I flailed around feeling like I was drowning in fear and indecision has been like someone throwing a life jacket. It has helped me keep my head just far enough above the water for the panic to subside. You are all beautiful and wonderful people to care so much about the well being of someone you have never formally met.
I had my second laser appointment this weekend, I went down to it and was greeted warmly by the receptionist, the appointments are in my male name, and a small part of me wonders if I could ask them to just call me Dee even if I am in my male clothes, but I am losing my nervousness now, we chatted briefly and this time I refused a cup of coffee and inwardly smiled at the man sat waiting for someone nervously looking completely uncomfortable, that was my mindset two visits ago, once his mum/gran came out he was out the place as quickly as he could be – a definite difference. Of course I very much doubt that he had on female undies and socks or that he had clear nail varnish on his hands or sparkling silver toe nails, but I find myself fascinated by all the different treatments on offer, and hope to ask about getting my nails and eyebrows done at some point – though I cannot fathom the options I have seen for lipstick/makeup tattoo – what happens when you want to change your colours? Anyway, the electrologist was really pleased with the results of our first session, I had some very smooth areas of skin, she admitted that my skin had taken a severe reaction, when I talked about it scabbing over, but said that risk was the trade off for having the laser set powerfully enough to be permanently effective. I love her no BS approach. What we are doing is a violent approach- thermolysis effectively blows up the hair root – so the body will react violently.
This time she stopped more frequently to cool my skin down and spent less time going over my face, the session was only about 45 minutes start to end, it still hurt like a mammajamma but was nowhere near as bad as that last session, my face just over 24 hrs later has lost almost all of its redness and just has the scruffy hair look as the roots die out. I told her about the advice I had seen regarding not drinking caffeine and while she doubts it is true she said if it works for you, go for it – there is less hair to hurt this time so I cannot say decisively, but I will continue to stick to mint tea before my appointments and have the coffee as a reward after. Soon we will run out of dark enough hairs and will move onto the slow and laborious process of electrolysis. Curse my ginger celtic heritage!
The schools have begun their Easter break and my children are away with their mum this week so when I came home I could lounge around in my girl pj’s without fear of awkward questions.
Last night I played computer games while I listened to several videos on transitioning, on why people transition, the difference between someone who cross dresses and someone who is transgender, including the origins and actual meanings of the phrases transvestite, transsexual and transgender, some I had watched before and not really heard and a few of them were new and mentioned the fear we give ourselves over physical looks, over family relationships, over workplace and career opportunities and over mental well being. The over arching recommendation was that we owe it to ourselves to be as authentic as we can, to stop making excuses because we do not know what will happen, but statistics show what happens if we don’t do anything, then by taking tiny baby steps until we completely recognise the person that we see in the mirror we just keep removing excuses and things we do not like, we are still us but minus all of the other stuff we have been hiding behind.
Over the last few days I have realised that the recurring theme has been about my own fear of who I am losing and who I will become, the statements about discarding my excess baggage are so true – the statements telling me not to try and emulate what a “good woman” is are so true – I do not want to be play acting – makeup and clothes are things that I enjoy and they brighten up my day and make me feel prettier on the outside regardless of how I feel on the inside – wearing a wig makes it start to feel like I am pretending, trying to change my voice too much makes me feel like I am pretending.
I have not been feeling particularly feminine, in thought or looks, but I know that while my looks are very masculine, I have not been feeling any more butch or manly either. I have been making excuses to myself about why I should not or could not change. Last night as I drifted off to sleep around 01:30 am in my head I heard myself say “I am transgender”.
It nearly but not quite woke me up. This morning I woke up and in front of me were two sets of clothes. My day consists of catching up with my mum on the phone (who is super religious, super proud of her “son” and super unaware of my current struggle – putting my moods down to my marriage ending) and doing a load of washing taken from my child’s bedroom as he packed for his holiday.
As I looked at the two piles of clothes I asked myself which ones I will wear knowing that I will not be seen, that there is no pressure either way and that I will still look the same from the neck up…….. who do I really want to be?
I chose my butterfly tee, and my leggings.
Hi internet – my name is Dee and I think I am finally emotionally ready to admit that I am transgender.
I realise that I am still going to have moments of panic, that I am still going to question and doubt myself, I am overweight and under motivated and I break into a sweat as I envision telling my mum this summer and risk losing my relationship with her, but during one of my recent conversations with online friends I mentioned my hair removal treatment and found myself asking;
Would I really drive a 330 mile, 6hr round trip for a 1 hour appointment, just because I don’t like to shave?
It is these little things that make the difference – my electrologist said it didn’t matter to her if I called myself Archie or Anne (random names she made up), she knows I am months away from visiting the gender clinic, but she knew I was certain about hair removal and I was – while there I may answer to my male name at reception but the rest of the time I am called sweetie and darling and I am just myself. Without the extra nonsense. The pain gives you nowhere to hide, and while I know I have always had sensitive skin – make no mistake it is painful. Yet this is one thing that even over the last few weeks I have been absolutely certain that I wanted to do, but would I take the time, the pain and the huge amount of money that would be better spent on my bills and kids if I was genuinely cis gender? really? I am far too lazy!
Typing this I feel like a weight has been released – I no longer feel smothered by the decision but hopeful that at least now I can continue on – I do not have to put a poster up of Cameron Diaz with #lifegoals written underneath it. I can just slowly but surely examine all of the baggage I have and throw out the parts that I do not want to keep, I do not need to look at it as a transition, but as a spring clean of my physical and emotional self.
Take care and thank you for being so wonderful.