My husband knows me better than any other person does. That is clear to me beyond a reasonable doubt. He has been warning me for about a month now. I thought it would not happen. The shopping trip that I took with my Aunt and my Birth Mom did something wonderful, yet also something incredibly painful. First, let us travel onto a slight tangent. It will eventually reconnect with the train of thought contained in this paragraph. Do not worry. Please see the below diagram of my thought processes. We are just taking a shortcut over the darkest valley in this train of thought.
Some people have come up recently to me and noticed something wrong. I am being more open with my feelings; therefore people notice when I am not feeling well. It is nice to have people ask, it is nice to have people care. It is nice to have people notice me. I have yet to learn how to answer their questions in a socially acceptable well filtering out things they do not need to know. However, it is very nice to have people; even at work say “I want to know what you’re feeling.” That someone would care like that fills me with Pure Energy.
(Beware this video is VERY 80s)
For me the most important part of the transition is the internal part. I want to be in touch with the emotions I have always avoided. I want to be a caring, mothering, humanitarian. To an extent, I always was. To an extent, I always will be. I want to be honest with others around me and myself about my feelings, fears, regrets, sadness, joy, love, and excitement. I have repressed so much, for so long, the idea that that repression does not need to be a part of my life anymore is amazing. Phase one of this transition is to banish everything that told me to repress. Banish everything that emotionally, made me who I was in years past. I have, in the past, phrased Boy-Mode in a very negative way. Many people have called me out on that. I want to be clear phase one is to explore, for me, what it means to be feminine, what it means for me to be a woman. How far will my needs, wants, desires, hopes, emotions, and soul take me? I still do not know.
I do know that for my own self-esteem and confidence society will see me as a woman. That is why I have chosen that people should use female pronouns and gender words instead of gender neutral or male ones. However, how feminine is this particular woman? I do not know yet. One of the most important things that my late stepsister Carie taught me is that gender, and gender identity, is a spectrum and you move along that spectrum based on a series of choices. How you act, dress, present yourself, speak, walk, and millions of other things even so far as to how you spell your name can make people make assumptions about your gender and how you like to be interacted with.
As a little exercise in thought: What do you assume when you see a young woman in a short skirt? Now what do you assume when you see a young woman in a pantsuit? What do you assume when you see a young man in a short skirt? What do you assume when you see a young man in a suit? All I did in those four questions was change the persons outfit, then their gender. Yet, I know in my mind that I assumed each one of those people had a vastly different personality. I may have a situation in my near future where I could be all four of those people within the span of a couple hours, depending on who sees me, what they assume, and what I am wearing.
Building on the idea of a spectrum, I have begun to think about my gender identity as a pendulum instead of a spectrum. The reason being is that over the course of my life, I have found that it takes little to no effort for me to settle somewhere near the middle, being masculine and being feminine for me both require work. Being masculine requires work shaping my mind, my thoughts, my actions, my emotions. Being feminine requires shaping my body, my hormones, and my appearance in general. A pendulum at rest is straight down, dead center. As you suspend it takes constant work and effort from muscles or mechanical devices to fight the effects of gravity. The farther back you pull it the more work it takes to keep it suspended.
If my gender identity is a pendulum, it was on the male side for a long time. Over the years, it lifted further back into the air. Then it was still suspended but lowered slightly. Sure, the pendulum has moved over the years, but it has never swung freely. Society, my family, my friends, my misconceptions, and my desire to please people have supported this pendulum. All parties involved believed to be helping, to be doing the right thing. However, each time the pendulum moved it made me more and more uncomfortable… Why would it not settle anywhere? Why could I not be comfortable anywhere? I was only ever comfortable, but when I had completely numbed all my depression, anger, and fear.
(TW: This video is very disturbing overall on many topics, including war, death, mental health, anger, fear, depression, geopolitics, WWII)
On January 1 2014, I made a resolution that I was not going to put up with it anymore. Nobody was going to touch it until the moment it had settled somewhere. I started removing the supports one by one. I slowly realized that I was not here to please others alone, but had to please myself as well. Gravity grabbed hold a little motion started. Acceleration is a fickle thing, if you leave an object alone to accelerate due to gravity it will pick up speed and eventually start moving very quickly. However, at the same time I removed all the other supports. I loosened the grip of what my friends and family thought. I started fixing my misconceptions about gender and various things. Gravity took a deeper hold. Then I stopped caring what society thought.
The pendulum powered by gravity alone, and with no supports, started picking up speed. In late summer and though early fall, this pendulum flew past the middle and I came out to friends, family, and myself. The pendulum still has so much power, as the pendulum powers up the other side; so much work has already gone into making me the person I am. Sometimes I do not realize how much my physical appearance has changed already. Gravity has now turned to momentum. As that momentum is spent, it will lose power and not be able to resist gravity anymore. It will start coming back down.
There is quite a bit of momentum left going up, however, a good amount of momentum has burned off on my recent shopping trip. I have come to the realization that the transition I find most intimidating in all of this is not the surgery (if I do it.) It is not the voice. It is not the emotions. It is not the hair. It is not the name or the gender marker on the documentation. It is not the society will look at me for probably the next couple of years. It is the transition of my wardrobe. They are just clothes, why anxiety, why intimidation?
I have always worn clothes a size too large for me. I have a quite feminine figure something I have tried to hide under baggy/ill-fitting clothing since I was ten. When I was young, it was a constant source of bullying and pain for me. Now, overnight it seems, it has become one of my biggest assets in this transition. A couple trans* people have even told me tell me I’ll ‘transition well.’ I do not know how I feel about that. At the time I felt somewhat happy, but now I feel kind of offended because the implication that there are people who transition and do not do it well.
For me, the point of transition to embrace the physical, mental, and emotional gifts that you have. That is all I am trying to do instead of hiding myself under what society expects. Society and people around me interact with men differently than women. For me to interact with people and society in a male way marginalizes my gifts, my soul, and my beliefs. I would claim the only people that do not transition would are the ones that try to be something or do something that their skills and natural gifts do not support.
I will at some point, hopefully soon, publically put my body in the clothes that fit it better. The clothes that better compliment that natural curves and form that I have. I will someday embrace the gifts I was given. However, I am not ready. I need more experimentation that is more private. The clothes have always scared me. I know nothing about fashion. I know nothing about women’s clothing. However, I know clothing is one of the most visible things people use to identify and classify people. I know that clothing can be an expression of your inner self. I know quite a few trans* people start transitioning by crossdressing and realizing in that moment, in the clothes they feel comfortable in that they are transgender people. For me, the clothes are what I am expecting to be most difficult.
My husband warned me. He told me to slow down. He told me not to treat clothing in the same way I did the other parts of this transition so far. When I was afraid or not ready for a transition in the past and did not think there was a way for me to psych myself up for it I would just jump and land wherever I landed. That is what happened with hormones, that is what happened with coming out and many other parts of this transition. For the clothes, it was abnormal. My husband kept telling me to wait, he kept telling me to plan it out more. Nothing would deter me. I went shopping. I learned, among other things, I should have listened to him more. I am sorry I did not. He knows me better than anyone else does. He knows when I am about to jump in too deep. From now on, I will open my eye. Like paint on a wall, deliberate planned change looks best.
(The music video is anime, but the videos chosen by the maker are actually very apt to my feelings)
When I jumped into shopping, it was a nightmare in my mind. I, for the first time, saw boy mode and girl mode in my mind at the same moment. I saw a unification of terror. In my mind, two people came together and yelled in unison “what the hell are you doing?” The male half of me was saying, “You don’t belong here.” My female side quickly invalidated and yelled him down. “Of course she does, but not yet.” Even without going into the shops, looking into them made me wonder… for everything I saw…Would it fit? Would it look good? Would it feel comfortable on me? Many women consider what they want to wear on a day-to-day basis before the age of 29. I do not have that luxury. Every single article of clothing drew at least some of my attention. It was intimidating; it was overwhelming. Being in touch with my emotions now made these even more difficult than hiding used to be. In fact, hiding was not hard at all. If I keep moving like this and I am not careful, I will find myself Back to Zero.
However, I spent, most of my time, actually all of my time that day, in girl mode. Which by itself was a first. He would clear his throat in interrupt from time to time to say something invalidating, but never took control. I was only once that entire day called he/him. That only happened in a store when I happened to be alone asking a clerk a question. It kicked me back for a split second, but it was moments before I thought to myself ‘meh, he (the clerk) doesn’t matter.’ I am my own woman.
That is all that matters I am my own unique woman. Eventually I will figure out what to wear to express that best. However, I am realizing that is not necessary for people to see me as a woman. The amount of she/hers I have gotten is amazing. Clothes are an intimidating and overwhelming thing for me. Now, I am realizing it does not need to be rushed. I am realizing that’s a topic best taken on with a strategy and a plan, but first I need a break.
Therefore, if there is a speed dial it goes from one to ten. I have had it on eleven. It is time for some of that momentum to burn off the pendulum and bring it down… Maybe a six or seven would be better.
Eventually this pendulum will settle somewhere supported by my happiness, joy, and self-identity. At that point, I alone will support this part of myself. I will be the person to decide where it lands, and stays. Who knows? I may even choose to pull it one way or the other later in life. I will find my place. I will find my groove. I am not there yet, but eventually… I will be. I will have patience and inside and out, I will make a life for myself.
It is time to transition the transition into a new phase. For me, personally, it’s closing time on getting started. My husband has been my support throughout and I need to listen to him more. I have just been charging ahead. I wanted to change everything I could as quickly as I could. I have not been living. I have not been looking at my own transition. I did not realize how far I have come already. I was obsessed with starting every part of this transition as quickly as possible. I have been driving myself crazy trying to get everything to move as quickly as possible. It is time to start living my life again and letting the transition ‘happen’ over time. Time to let the pendulum lose some momentum because I just realized I have been pushing it from the back as it inclined up the feminine side. That is not healthy.
For my need to rush, for my feeling that everything needs to happen at once, it’s Closing Time.
It’s time to slow down.