I have hit an odd place in my life. It is a place I have never been before. No matter how I experimented with religion, my feelings, family, or any other part of my life I have never felt this before. In trying to explain it, I have done that many ways to many people but I feel like the best explanation was to my birth mom on July 29 2015.
“I don’t know how to explain it but I just have this inner peace right now. Like… Yeah some things are good, some are bad I will keep rolling enjoy what I can and be happy. It feels like I can finally relax for the first time in my life…”
Releasing myself from the fear, anger, and depression that has gone with my gender dysphoria has made me feel like I have no more real burdens. Sure there is dysphoria from time to time the primary causes being things from my body (genitals, Adam’s apple,) my voice, or my legal name, those instances have been minimal. My biggest fear right now in regards to my transition is someone carding me for a drink at a restaurant. Reason being that the name on my license is still my legal name and the picture is four years old. Wearing women’s clothes has created an amazing shift in the minds of people around me especially at work. There are certain things that I can do, or not forget to do, that greatly decrease my chance of people around me misgendering me.
Primarily, the most powerful thing I can do other than wearing obviously female clothes overall, I have ended up skipping the ‘androgynous phase,’ is to wear dangly earrings. The more they dangle the more powerful they are… However, I have to remember to wear scarves if there is a day that I do not wear scarves but still remember the dangly earrings I do get misgendered quite a bit. The way I am seeing it is this: In people’s minds, my body always overrules anything that I choose – daringly earrings, clothes etc. It makes me more and more every day want to further consider and investigate physical modifications to my body. A little bit of my calm and happiness ebbs away each time.
The power that the subconscious mind has in regards to gender is amazing. These people know I am transitioning and will address me the correct way while thinking about it, but if they are distracted or in any way off the ball and see an Adams apple or any other physical sign that I was assigned male at birth they instantly revert to the wrong gender words. It can become very demoralizing that my appearance needs to be perfect to have people address me and interact with me in the way that is natural to my heart, mind, and soul. That is the reality of my current situation. No matter what I choose to do, the things I have not chosen, the things that have been determined by my biology always win. Why can people not see me and instead just see my body?
My birth mom said some incredibly insightful things in response to what I said on that night July 29:
“Enjoy it, life has its ups, and downs, enjoy it. Do not sabotage it, as I have, because it is a new feeling. Just enjoy it. It takes practice. I am not that great at it to be honest. with all that has happened in my life in the pit of my stomach I always feel like something tragic is lurking around the corner and if it doesn’t happen, I used to set myself or the circumstances up for it…kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy thing. I hope you learn not to do that sooner in life than I did.”
It is at times like this that I evoke one of my favorite series of quotations from the radio series of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:
Arthur: “It’s at times like this…that I wish I’d listened to my mother…”
Ford: “Why, what did she say?”
Arthur: “I don’t know; I never listened.”
Again, I failed to listen. I read what she had to say. I considered it. I saw it. Then I said, “That doesn’t apply to me.” I have done this repeatedly and now I have done it to three moms. I have heard what they had to say, and refused to listen. This time I had maybe a couple days of calm at most. As soon as I had the chance, I started undermining my own happiness. I started thinking about all the things I liked about my life, but being the person I am I could not leave well enough alone. I found the things in my life I was not satisfied with… I strived to change them abruptly. Within the last two weeks, here are the things that have changed: The idea of moving has become a definite and we are packing to move on August 15… I have resolved that the next time I saw my primary care physician I would bring up surgery… The first surgery would be the removal of my Adam’s apple. In addition, probably most out of left field I have sent a letter to my biological father.
Now I have dug myself into a mental hole again. First, I hate packing. To put my entire life into boxes and then hand over the care of those boxes to friends, family, and or a moving company terrifies me. It always has. However, this move in particular is something slightly different. I feel like I am packing up “Joseph’s” life and I will be unpacking “Josephine’s” life. I feel like there is even more pressure before in what to pack, vs throw out, what to unpack, how to pack etc. This move is not just a physical move in space. I will be living in my first place as only a girl. I will have never lived as a boy in that household. I know it sounds weird but this feeling is something I never expected.
In regards to the second issue, how was I to know that all of a sudden my major cause of dysphoria would be my neck. I tried various experiments over a couple of weeks with scarves/no scarves, other accessories… It became clear that anytime someone saw my Adams apple I had a major problem… I get very self-conscious when I do not have scarves. When I cannot cover my neck, not only do people incorrectly gender me but also I do not have the confidence needed to correct them. If I do not find a way to cover my neck, if they see an Adams apple, I feel like I am wrong to correct them… Crazy yes, I know. I am a woman… but a core part of my body, a piece that is plainly visible is contradicting what I say. Physically, I am not a woman. I am somewhere in between. I have both male and female features right now. It depresses me greatly. Now, because I have not taken my mother’s advice, I am trapped with surgery being my only option now… I feel trapped and out of options without physical medical intervention. I did not realize I would get here so fast… Yet, here I am, fully considering the Chondrolaryngoplasty.
Here is the third thing. I do not know why I did it, but I sent a letter. I just up and sent him a letter one night. I will never know if he ever got it or read it unless he responds. That anxiety is tough, but I left the decision to him intentionally. It is not my decision to make, and I do not want to interrupt my biological father’s life during something that would be a bad time for him. Eventually it will fall to the back of my mind but it is not there yet. It remains for the time being one of my top three anxieties. Will I ever hear from him? Who knows? What did I even wish to achieve from sending the letter? Honestly, I have no idea.
I fear surgery. I have had a couple before they were not pleasant. I do not like skin punctures and blood. I do not even like having blood drawn. With HRT, I am getting better about blood draws (because it is happening regularly) but I am still nowhere near comfortable. I did not want to be consider any surgery for at least another couple of months. I am trying not to think about it but all of a sudden, I feel backed into a corner. Therefore, I stretch out to better myself in other ways, reconnect with people lost, and move to a happier environment. My fear is so strong it pushes me potentially too fast, but there is nothing I can do about these decisions now. Were they the right ones to make? Only time will tell… Will I look back with regret? On the other hand, will I look back in happiness? I have no idea.
The worst part to me is that I feel somewhere in the background someone sitting there, judging me, and laughing at me… Thinking, or even saying, ‘you are a man. Just be happy with that.’ How do I explain that I could not do that? I tried that. I do not know what that voice in my head is. Is it Joe? Is it people I know? Is it all the people berating Caitlin Jenner, and making all those hateful comments and memes? Is it something like my conscience? Who? What? Why? All of a sudden, something has conducted an act of sabotage on my happiness. I look in the mirror and still see features that only males have. I look in the mirror and still see failure; I look in the mirror and still see depression staring back at me. Two weeks ago, I was happy. Two weeks ago, I did not see that. What happened?
I have yet again sabotaged myself. I feel like a train wreck. I had a moment of calm. I have now sabotaged that moment. The anxiety of packing and moving, the anxiety of thinking about surgery, and the anxiety of sending a letter and not hearing a response plus not knowing if I have interrupted the life of family member(s) in a negative way are all piling on top of me. Why have I gone and done this to myself? Any person would struggle with any one of these issues. I piled on all three at once. Simple, I am an idiot… Moreover, it is my life.