Monthly Archives: November 2013

Effects of Gender Dysphoria

Years ago, I was working for an apartment building. I was talking with the manager (J) on a couple occasions where he mentioned a guy (R) who used to work for him. Real tech-savvy guy. But the story wasn’t about that, but rather about the time he had to be taken to the hospital (from his home) because he mutilated his own genitals – in other words, he cut off his balls.

Now, J referred to this guy affectionally as a “wingnut” – his term for people who are ever so slightly crazy. He mentioned that after this incident, R started dressing and acting like a woman. He clearly didn’t understand (and back then, neither did I) about the transgender condition. I now recognize that this “guy” was like me, a transgender woman, and was suffering from gender dysphoria on a scale that I can’t even imagine. J went on to say that (and from this point on I’ll use the correct pronouns for R) she still works for the company and apparently lives full-time as a woman.

My gender dysphoria has never driven me to such an extreme of action. I may not even experience it at all, but if I do, it’s just vague uneasiness/unhappiness with my body, and perhaps a healthy portion of apathy. Everyone is different when it comes to that.

Thanksgiving/Black Friday

Today is supposed to be the day where people are thankful for what they have. Instead they’re pacing into Walmart to get discount consumer goods, citing family celebrations short and forcing retail workers like myself to spend the day at work instead of with their families. All so some agile with to much money can buy a cheap TV for 20% off.

The deals start at 6 pm; already the store it’s filling up with customers who care more for a half price car stereo than the people who sell it to them.

I feel like I’m stagnating

I know that there’s only so much I can do on my limited budget. I can try and train my voice (and hope someone on /r/transpassing can get around to giving me feedback). I can use a little bit of my limited funds to buy some clothing I can wear to help quell the dysphoria. And I can try and get a better job. Tomorrow is Sunday; I have to work. But the next day is Monday; I can call places that I’ve applied to, to try and see if I can get myself noticed. Because really, right now, it’s all about funding. Without money, I have no way to do anything.

Since this is the first new post with the WordPress software, I just wanted to mention that you can now leave comments on blog posts. I think you have to create an account, but I’m not 100% sure. I do know I have to approve your comment, but after I approve one comment from someone, the others should go through. I’ve got it set up to allow anyone to register for an account.

Until next time!

How I came to know I was transgender

So I’ve come out to some friends online recently (Hi guys!) and pointed them to this blog. They’ve been amazingly supportive. But they, and my parents as well, have some questions. So I’m going to take this time to try and establish the major and minor points that lead me to the conclusion that I’m transgender. Fair warning: this post may be more candid than some folks are prepared to handle. Proceed with caution.

Imagining being a woman vs. wanting to be one

The fundamental part of the conclusion stems from my intense desire to be a woman. Now, there’s probably not a man alive who hasn’t imagined being a woman, and many often find things about such imaginings that would be better than their own lot in life. Most don’t dwell on the subject, rehash it ad infinitium, and generally become privately obsessed about it. I did.

I remember my first “wet dream.” I’m about to explain it in detail, I remember it well enough, so skip down to the next paragraph if this bothers you. I was no older than 15, probably younger. In my dream, I was a naked girl, I was hiding, and I had to pee. I kept moving around looking for a bathroom or some other place to pee, while remaining in hiding. I finally found somewhere, and that’s when I peed. Literally. My first “wet dream” didn’t result in a nocturnal emission, but rather peeing the bed. I’ve never told anyone else this. Subsequent to this, all my “wet dreams” were of the normal type, and in many of them I was female, but none of them stuck in my head like this one.

If you skipped to this paragraph, then the minimum you need to know was that I was a girl in that dream. Since that time, I’ve often daydreamed about how it’d be to be a girl – the good and the bad was all the same to me, I was willing to take the whole package because (and I didn’t exactly realize this at the time) it felt right for me. Through the years I continued to imagine life as a girl, and starting about 10 years or so ago I started imagining ways in which I’d actually be granted this wish, and how I’d dress in various jobs I held if I was a woman.

I imagined just waking up as a girl. I imagined being transformed, sometimes slowly (over the course of weeks or months – still faster and more fully than medical science can manage nowadays) and sometimes quickly (over the course of seconds, minutes, or hours). Sometimes I imagined being enveloped by a beam of light from the sky, that burned away the male “me” and left behind a female version (also left my clothes intact, or sometimes even shrunk them to fit the female version of me). I wanted this to happen. I NEEDED this to happen. But it never did.

Always, in my imaginings, I was thinner, because if I’m going to imagine the impossible, might was well make it the best I can. I even often imagined being short, because really I hate everything about this physical shell I’m in. I even imagined transforming into another race – as in, nonhuman races from video games. I’ve imagined going to sleep and waking up as one of my video game characters, at the start of a new game. Always, though, I imagined myself female.

This pretty much sums up the major part of why I came to the conclusion that I’m transgender. All the other stuff I mentioned in other posts, that’s not reflected here? That’s minor stuff, supporting the contention that I’m a transgender woman. If I took all of them together, and didn’t have this, I would have nothing; I’d be, at most, a sensitive, emotionally expressive man with some feminine mannerisms, but I wouldn’t be transgender. Some of those minor things may just be reflections of societial stereotypes of women that I picked up in my own self, and they may be far more prevalent than I know in cisgender men.

Hopefully soon I can start therapy, and get a better sense of myself; I’m looking into the options of that, but with my recommended therapist fifty miles away, and not knowing a thing about the attitudes of local therapists – or even what kind of doctor to look for – it’s gonna be some work even finding a therapist to work with. I just have to keep my eyes on the horizon, the end result, not on the difficulty of the path that lays before me.

Coming out

Coming out as a transwoman is perhaps the hardest thing I’ve had to do. It means facing it myself, constantly. It means squashing my own doubts that pop up due to a lifetime of mainstream cultural influences that tell me this is wrong. It’s not wrong. It’s not “right” or “desirable” but it’s not wrong, either. It just is. I constantly have to rely on my logical brain to override my emotions and keep me on the right path.

I don’t know how other people see it, but for me, my journey truly began with the coming out process. I came out to Reddit, to try and confirm my suspicions. Reddit doesn’t know me, so “out” is all I am to them. They don’t know the public me, the man I’ve tried to be all these years, they only know the secret me. So in a lot of ways, “out” to Reddit is meaningless. That’s not to say that Reddit is useless, just that it’s not, strictly speaking, truly “out” if they don’t know the “closet” version of me, too.

I knew that I had to get a closer perspective. I chose someone who knew who I was, but didn’t really know me. My stepmother (who I’ll call Mama) has a sister who is lesbian; I call her Auntie, now, mainly because her name is the same as her own aunt’s, who lives 1/4 mile down the road and who I call by her first name. I chose her because, due to her orientation, I figured she would be the best one to approach some sort of understanding of what I’m going through. One day, I contacted her and told her my story. So I was “out” to a family member, but one who only knows OF the “closet” me, but doesn’t actually know me.

Talking to Auntie and her SO was an important step, make no mistake. I needed her perspective, her guidance, her support, reassurance, and the strength she provided me, as well as those same things provided by her SO, in order to proceed on this path. But I needed to take it to the next level; I needed to come out to my parents, partly because I live with them and partly because I need their support to avoid losing my mind.

Coming out to my parents was a different ball game entirely. With Reddit, the risk was practically nonexistent; if I was hurt, I could just not go back. With Auntie, the risk was minimal; if that “out” didn’t go right, I could just as easily have severed ties with her, with little harm done. Now, I’m exceedingly glad that these bad things didn’t happen, but they were the thoughts that ran through my head at the relevant times.

To come out to my parents, I needed information, and I needed to prepare. I was fairly certain I knew my parents well enough to know I’d be safe to come out to them, but knowing and feeling are not the same thing; I needed to feel confident in that knowledge. So I asked Auntie about the matter, and gained reassurance that it was the right thing to do. Know that there are details I’m intentionally leaving out for privacy reasons. So, armed with that information, I began to prepare. I wrote up a letter to read to them, borrowing heavily from the previous blog post in this series. I ran that letter by Reddit, they gave me some excellent advice. Concurrently, I checked my schedule vs. Mama’s, and found that time was against me. I knew I had to act fast, so I did. I revised the letter twice with Reddit’s input, and finalized it. I set a time to sit them down and talk about it, and I read them this letter:

————————————————————————–

Before we begin, I ask that you allow me to finish this prepared letter in its entirety before asking any questions or making any comments. It’s important that I cover everything, in order.

OK. After much thought and reflection over many years, I recently came to a realization. This realization was of the kind that will irrevocably change my life, no matter what actions I take or don’t take. That realization was that I am transgender; specifically, a female assigned a male body at birth. This must come as a huge surprise. It was at first to me, too. However, in retrospect, it shouldn’t be so, for me, as I’ve always had access to my brain, my memories, and thus my feelings and behaviors for the past 20+ years which, in retrospect, clearly point in this direction.

This is a very scary thing to be going through, but just thinking of the girl inside me struggling to get out, gives me every reason to want to improve myself, to be the woman that I would be, had nature not played a very cruel joke upon my body and bestowed me with a physiology more suited to a man. I’ve found hope, and a reason for self-improvement, in this revelation. I’ve seen the stories of others who have walked this path before me and found happiness. I’ve even seen the progress of a few transgender ladies who shared their pictures of their progress through the years from a male body to a female one – and their transformations are remarkable.

I’ve been in touch with [Auntie] and [Her SO], and have let them know of this situation, gotten their advice and some emotional support, reassurance, etc. They have been a source of great reassurance and strength these past few days since I first contacted [Auntie].

All I want from you is to know that I still have your love and emotional support, and that you can provide that while I make this difficult transition.

I’m sure you have some questions. I can send you some information that will answer some of that; some things I’ve written, and other things I’ve found that have helped me to understand my situation. As for here and now, I’ll answer what I can.

So. Questions?

————————————————————–

After I read that letter, I immediately knew it was the right course of action. I found acceptance of my condition, and I found parental love directed unconditionally at me. We hugged, we discussed some of the practicalities of the situation, and Mama offered to use her professional contacts to find a local support group and therapist to help me.

Now that I have Dad and Mama on my side, what’s next? Well, that’s for me to decide. I still need to figure out who next to tell, and when, but I don’t see any urgency in that at this point. I need to start therapy with a Gender Therapist, and get on Hormone Replacement Therapy as soon as possible. I need to practice my voice, and all sorts of other minutiae associated with the transition process. And I need to make the little changes that will help me cope on a daily basis. I guess the most important thing I need to do is to carry on, and with the support I now have, I can more easily do that.

I’m transgender? A lifechanging revelation.

Where to begin. OK. Well, after years of confusion and introspection, roundabout the first of November, 2013, I came to a realization. This realization was of the kind that will irrevocably change my life, no matter what actions I take or don’t take. As you may have guessed from the title of this post, or perhaps were told when the link here was passed on to you, this realization is that I was not born into the proper body for my gender. I am transgender, specifically a female assigned a male body at birth (AMAB) (technically, before birth, but AMAB/AFAB and MAAB/FAAB are the terms in use by the transgender community).

To those who know me, this must come as a huge surprise. It was at first to me, too. However, in retrospect, it shouldn’t be so (for me), as I’ve always had access to my brain, my memories, and thus my feelings and behaviors for the past 20+ years which all clearly point in this direction. Is it scary? Yer damn right it is. But I have to proceed. I am not someone who likes to live a lie, I’ve changed my behavior for smaller lies, how can I not change for such a great one as this? How can I not be true to myself, knowing that even down though both paths like hardship, to be untrue to myself would eventually lead to madness?

How can I not be true to myself, when just thinking of the girl inside me struggling to get out, gives me every reason to want to do so? Every desire to improve myself, to be the woman that I would be, had nature not played a very cruel joke upon my body and bestowed me with penis, testicles, and no vagina and uterus; with facial and body hair, and no breasts. It seems funny to think about it, but dammit, I miss these things I never had, and in some cases never will; and I dislike these things I have that mark me as the wrong gender.

Eventually, the question will be asked of me, phrased one way or another (or many ways by many different people): are you gay? The answer to that is a complicated one. The most honest answer is to say that I only am attracted to women. Being that I know now I am one, that attraction makes me a lesbian. I’m OK with that, it’s who I am. But those who ask this, need to understand that the question itself is based upon a misconception. Gender and orientation, while related, are distinct concepts. it’s just as common for a Male-to-Female transsexual (I dislike that word, but sometimes it’s the only one that works), abbreviated MTF, to be lesbian, bisexual, or straight.

At this point I’d like to give you some insight into my own experiences these past two weeks, since coming to this revelation. To that end, I’m going to paraphrase and/or excerpt some posts I made in an online transgender community that I participate in.

My “Internet coming out” post (excerpt):

“…I identify with women a lot more than men. I still remember my first erotic dream; I’ll spare you the details, save that I was a girl in that dream. Around that time, I saw a Louis Anderson bit where he called himself a “lesbian in a man’s body” – a statement which, when I stripped from it the cheap humor at the expense of lesbians, really resonated with me. So, of course, when my brother asked me if I was a lesbian in a man’s body some days later, I vehemently denied it, rather than take it as the humor it was intended to be, however misguided that humor may be….”

My doubts, and my answers to those doubts:

“1) “I’m really a man, but I act a bit like a woman and/or want to be one, due to the prevalence of female role models in my formative years.”

To that, I say “I’ve had plenty of male role models, good and bad, throughout my childhood. Yes, the closest ones were female for a great deal of my childhood, but I had my grandfather, uncle, and, much as I hate to admit it, my stepfather, as familial male role models while I also had teachers at school as well as media portrayal of masculine roles. There’s no reason why I should identify female based on role models or a lack thereof, yet there is at least one distinctly feminine aspect of my self that I actually express, and have for as long as I remember: I don’t like going topless except in private or intimate situations. Others can simply write this off as body modesty, but I’m incredibly reluctant to show my naked chest even to my Dad, and have rarely gone topless in public at all.

2) “It’s just a prurient whim” / “I’m so attracted to women, I want to be one” / “It’s just a result of lack of a relationship/sexual intercourse with a woman” / etc. along those lines.
To that I say, a lot of cis hetero guys go without sex for extended periods, and they don’t want to be women. I’ve only had one sexual partner in my life, a woman, when I was around 25. While my feelings of being in the wrong body diminished (or were more forcefully suppressed) during that time, I can’t say they completely went away. Since puberty, I haven’t gone much more than 10 years without sex; some men certainly have gone longer, and my feelings were always there, I think.

3) “It’s too late to change my gender now, I’m 35 years old.”
Coming here had really fed me the ammunition to counter this one, as there are folks here who were older than I am now when they started on this journey. Besides, lack of acceptance in the past doesn’t change who I am, and it’s never too late to be true to yourself.

4) “But what will my friends and family think?”
I’ve suffered enough with fearing what friends and family might think, what society might think. I’ve lived for others all my life, it’s time for me to be me. That suffering isn’t all related to this, either; I’ve made sacrifices for others that have not been reciprocated, or even acknowledged as such. Small ones, big ones… I’ll still do that, it’s part of who I am, but I refuse to let it define me anymore. And besides, isn’t that really why I’m here on <REDACTED>? To forge my own self true to my reality and not what nature has mistakenly applied to me?”

More doubts

“…why is it that I feel like such a big phony, posting here, calling myself Kristy, calling myself a girl, and generally being true to who I, intellectually, know I MUST be from the weight of both empirical evidence and my own conflicted feelings? Would that be considered institutionalized cissexism? A fear of abandoning heterosexual cismale privilege (made all the more prevalent for being white – and the fear amplified by the impression that it gains me nothing)?”

“I see a lot of things in myself, the more I think about it, that are not sexual in nature that still lead me to believe I’m a AMAB girl. I’ve put extensive thought into how I would dress in every facet of my life, if I were a girl. I rarely go into a new life situation without coming up with such a thing. Harder to pin down, however, are certain behaviors that, while not strictly feminine, I think I picked up from women in my life throughout the years. For example, when my hair is in my eyes, I’m as likely to toss my head as I am to use my hand to push it out. When I have long(er) hair, I tend to tuck it behind my ears – though that may be more of a long-hair thing than a girl thing. Just, mannerisms that are distinctly ME tend to come from what I’ve seen other women do.
I’m also more emotional than the men I see in my life; I’m more prone to tears (though I can suppress them better than other women, just not as well as a man), more likely to provide comfort to someone in need, and I’ve always known that I am. But I don’t know if that’s a sign at all or not.”

“Then there’s the question on coming out. I’ve only really been sure of this about myself for about a week. For a few days I resisted trying to find a community, partly out of fear of discovery, partly out of fear of self-discovery, and partly out of laziness. My parents are religious, but I get the feeling that they might be accepting; my stepmother’s sister is lesbian too, and she accepts her without judgement, leaving that judgement to God. I’m more concerned with coming out as an Atheist to her than as a transwoman, and I’m concerned that the second will lead to the first and result in a breakdown of communications. As I can relate better to her than to my Dad at times (and especially on certain subjects), I don’t want to damage that relationship, and right now I’m still partially financially dependent on them both so I risk losing my home if I come out to them. I don’t want to come out to one separate from the other.”

(after I posted the above, I came out to the mentioned lesbian sister of my stepmother)

At this point I’ll bring this introductory post to a close. There will surely be more to come. I do have a few more points to make before I go. Ever since this realization about myself, I’ve been in an emotionally turbulent state. Last night, for a while, I was calm for the first time since it all started, and for just a moment I could imagine dropping the whole thing and going on like I have been. But that way lies self-denial and madness – I can literally envision myself losing my mind to dysphoria if I try to travel that path. So I carry on, though the rainbows and butterflies are not united (the butterflies are in my stomach, after all!)