When I first started questioning my gender identity, I found a community of transmen on this online diary website called Live Journal. I was floundering so much for a sense of community and I was so excited to find them, but it actually turned out to be a disaster for a lot of reasons that I won’t go into. However, I have found a great community here in my city of Philly, so I’m happy now and that’s all that counts. But I’ve decided to share with you some of my journal entries from the early days of my gender questioning.
Third Journal Issue:
January 8th, 2010
Well, folks here we are, embarking on yet another year!
What’s funny about New Years is that usually, I absolutely can’t stand it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about drinking and partying down, but it just is annoying that EVERYONE and their mom is out on the town on ONE night. Bars are overcrowded and overpriced, people are overlyobnoxious and dangers to themselves and the rest of society (in more ways than one), and everyone watches the stupid ball drop and is like YAY!! Ok… now what.
I also HATE the fact that as the minutes, then seconds tick away, 2009 just slips through our grasp. I wouldn’t say I’m a control freak, but an entire year just dissappearing without my permission? All those memories, good and bad – GONE?! Wait! I need to mourn! I’d like to say goodbye! This hardly seems like the appropriate time to be celebrating for me! Mostly my years are an average mixture of good and bad (although I may bitch the whole year about everything, lol) and it saddens me that all the memories have been slipped into a little manilla envelope, stamped “’09” and filed away forever in R’s history. Maybe I just hate getting old.
Actually, I know I hate getting old. Most days being an adult isn’t so bad, but it does suck on a lot of levels. Bills. Rent. Jobs. Cars breaking down. No health insurance. Blahhhhh… barf. Seriously. I’ve been speaking a lot lately with a good friend from home who has been just going through a whirlwind of shit and hard times, and I was lamenting to her my disdain for being an adult. I think I was able to articulate my thoughts to her pretty well:
I said that when you’re young (like teenager), it’s such a magical time because the possibilities are completely endless. As an adult, the possibilities stop short at how much money you have and when you can get off work. It’s pretty dismal to me sometimes.
Maybe possibilities for me will open up soon, because… I got laid off my job. Not at all because my trans status or any like crazy civil rights issue or anything, but because the website I was managing wasn’t making enough money for me to stay on.
Maybe it’s silly of me to think this, but I actually think that it’s kind of a blessing (I’m not religious, I just believed that it happened because things in life happen… but it makes me happy that it did).
I’m a writer/filmmaker, and although I have all the tools I need – supportive girlfriend, a studio space even to work, decent equipment – when I was working 40 hours a week it was painfully hard for me to find the time to devote to my work. By the time the weekend hit, especially in summer, I didn’t want to be anywhere near a computer. And after work I was able to get some work done sometimes, but with the holidays and some other family stuff going on the past month or two, I’ve just felt drained.
I see this as a chance for rejuvination. I feel like I’ve been on a crazy marathon since I graduated in May ’08, and these last few months I have just felt so completely wiped out. I have depression almost constantly, that ranges from mild to severe, I also have seasonal affective disorder and it’s winter now, and although undiagnosed, I’m fairly certain I have probably pretty moderate adult ADD. These mental illnesses are extreme challenges, to say the least. My brain is a constant center of activity, and constant may even be a slight understatement. There’s probably not a moment of the day where I don’t completely overanalyze EVERYTHING. Small and little, it gets tossed around in my brain over and over and over.
Sometimes I tell my girlfriend that my brain is the little hamster on the wheel, and he never ever stops. In fact, he runs full force all the time. Even lately I’ve been having these vivid, overly thought-out dreams (some nightmares) and my sleep has been completely interrupted by my non-stop thinking.
In short, it just makes me tired. I feel like I do all the normal stuff that everyone else does during a day, but I’m 200% more tired by the end of the day because I’ve thought about everything 200% harder than most people (and trust me, I’m not trying to say I’m smarter or better than anyone else or anything like that).
Lately I’ve felt like all my depression and everything has come to a real boiling point. I am in therapy for it, along with my trans stuff, and while I’ve avoided them forever, I was starting to begin to think that maybe some low dose medication would help aleviate some of the pressure in this noggin of mine.
But, after this month, I will no longer have the health insurance benefits I JUST received from my job… so that’s a no go.
On the brighter note, while I’m on unemployment and working on my writing and stuff (which should help), I will be able to excercise more and eat better, and hopefully get into a solid routine of both so that should help, and maybe when I go back to work I will be able to maintain the routine.
I have no idea what I’m going to do next for a job. I don’t mind all the possibilities, though. My job was in my field and I made a lot of good connections, but I was able to learn that the office, cubicle environment drove me NUTS. Especially with the depression and SAD (seasonal affective disorder), to be deprived of sunlight absolutely made me downright crazy some days.
So, I won’t be seeking a job, unless it’s AMAZING, in an office again. I’d like to teach or be doing something hands-on outdoors. Hopefully I can find something that incorporates a little of both 🙂
While I’m not working, I AM going to be working, heh. I have two book ideas swirling around – one nonfiction and one fiction. The nonfiction is a book for teenagers and adults who identify as gender variant (genderqueer, trans, cross-dresser, etc.) to give to their parents, and the fiction is a story about lust.
Well, I wanted to write about trans stuff, but this entry just became sort of like a rant or something. I will end it and write about trans stuff in another post, so that the folks who just want to read about that can read about that, without having to wade through a whole entry about me being unemployed, depressed, and having seperation anxiety with 2009.
Cheers all, and here’s something I think I saw in an email or something:
“May the best of 2009 be the worst of 2010”
I’m not sure that quite makes sense, but it has a nice ring to it anyway.
Well, now that I got that giant rant out of the way, here I am!
In 2010 I will become an FTM. Hey… that ryhmes. LOL.
Lately I’ve been feeling good about it! Mostly I do feel good about it, but sometimes I have my doubts, and combined with the depression I was bitching about in the last entry, it can be devestating to think about transition.
But recently I’ve been doing A LOT. I’m still continuing therapy, still reading, still discussing it with my girlfriend, I’ve gone to an FTM support group that was AWESOME, and I made some new FTM friends (some in state, some out of), and, with the encouragment of my girlfriend, aka the lovely Jen, I came out to two close friends!
I wasn’t ever nervous of what my friends would say because they’re AWESOME, but GAWD, I haven’t came out since THE LAST TIME I came out as a lesbian over 10 years ago. When I was 13, flailing around my livingroom, dramatically crying and screaming at my flabbergasted mother that I was gay, it was kind of OK because 13 year olds are known for their theatrics and shocking discoveries.
24 year olds don’t flail and scream, and shocking discoveries get harder and harder to pull off as you move further and further into adulthood – in short, it’s harder to come out as an adult.
But, as I said, it went really great. My one friend, nicknamed Bird Boobs (in real life), has pretty much known for quite some time, and I never could tell her. The words were like right at the tip of my tongue, but when I went to say them, only air came out. When I told her, she was like FINALLY!!!!!!!! She had been wanting me to tell her while I was trying to figure out so she could help me, which I thought was so sweet. I’m glad she finally knows now.
My other friend, whom I’ll call Ladybug, was like DUH. lol. She’s not queer (although a strong ally) and didn’t know much about trans people. She just thought I’d be changing my name and everyone would call me “he.” She was kind of a little shocked when I started explaining to her how far I’d have to go medically to make this happen. But, still nonetheless, she was very supportive and happy for me, and eager to learn more. Both of them even want to help me raise money for chest surgery. My friends are great!! –beams with pride–
Last night I was hanging out with Bird Boobs, and a discussion with her really helped me think about a tormenting issue in a new way. I’ve written about this before, but I’ve been feeling tremendous guilt about “leaving” being a woman. I think women are so amazing and so, so, sooooooooooooo much stronger than society gives them credit for. So the question haunting me has been: why do I want to give that up?
I’ve also written about that feminist theory that butch women can’t handle being women so they switch to men. That has been a rack of guilt I’ve been holding myself to also. Bird Boobs pointed out that my wanting to transition hasn’t been a product of not being able to “handle” being a woman. I’ve never complained about being seen as a woman, or how horrible it is to be feminine, or how much I can’t stand my breasts (true I don’t want them, but I haven’t ever said I can’t STAND them). All the things that make up a woman aren’t terrible to me, actually they’re very beautiful and I love and admire them… as long as it’s another woman we’re talking about.
The fact is not that I can’t handle being a woman, but that I simply don’t identify as one. When I see my breasts, or when someone calls me Miss or girl or lady, or even if I see a group of really strong women, kick-ass accomplishing something completely awesome… I feel just left of center. A little irregular. A little out of place.
Likewise, when I will be looking at my trans body, I won’t be seeing a penis and balls — at least not one made out of silicone that won’t fall off without a strap, duct tape or mighty putty. I won’t be seeing a tall, broad-shouldered man. And if I see a group of (cisgendered) men joking and laughing and shoving each other, or with their girlfriend/boyfriend, or just sitting on the subway, taking up space in their manly way that they do, I also feel left of center (maybe even further so because I have no boyhood). Again I feel irregular. Again I feel out of place.
I have found a strong identity within trans. And I know a lot of people’s definition of self within trans is varying, but for me, I feel it is somewhat of a third sex. I feel there is absolutely no way that I could ever be one sex or the other.
And one might say, “well, if you’re BOTH, why can’t you just stay a butch woman?” It’s because I DO feel both, and in a woman’s body, I don’t feel like I will be able to express myself as both. When I transition, I feel that I will have a masculine body. I’ll have some facial hair, a deeper voice, and look like a guy. But I will also have giant surgical scars on my chest, nipples with no feeling, and a vagina. And that is what makes me trans. That is what makes me inbetween. That is what creates this third sex, and what doesn’t make me a cisgendered man.
I’ll be a man that can come out of the men’s restroom, meet my girlfriend as she emerges from the women’s restroom, and listen to her talk about how she just started her period without flinching — with empathy, even. A guy that be out on the beach in shorts and shirtless, and can reassure his girlfriend that she looks absolutely stunning in her bathing suit, and MEAN it, because he truely knows what it’s like to be in that position of insecurity and he knows that a woman is beautiful even if she isn’t a cookie cutter image of a supermodel. A man that can show up at a Women’s Rights rally and feel the cause deep within his heart, because he knows the struggle personally. A man that can take a drunk friend home and put her to bed with no ulterior motives, other than just to be sure she is safe.
I’m excited to be trans. I love the idea of the inbetween, and I’m so happy that I will be able to express myself that way. I love the trans symbol, a female sign, male sign, and third sign made up of the two, all connected in a circle. I’ve never looked at a symbol and felt so empowered by it, and felt that the very design spoke to who I am as a human being.
So that is why I can’t continue identifying as a woman. That’s why just being a butch woman won’t fulfill me anymore. I’m thankful that now I have an answer to that question. If I ever encounter an angry feminist who tells me that I couldn’t handle being a woman and that I just want to be a man, I finally have an intelligent response, instead of probably just stammering and having nothing to say. All those feminists, so smart with their theories and everything, are ironically failing to see the picture beyond just “man” and “woman.” As it turns out, they might be the ones with some reading to do!
My friends who I’ve come out to recently may be reading this, and I know my girlfriend is, so I just want to say thanks again for the support. You guys are all amazing, and I wouldn’t have the courage or the smarts to continue on this journey without you!!! Love you!
p.s. On a random sidenote… I’ve kind of become obsessed with hockey.