Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hmmmm. Setback.

Having one of those, "my life has been wasted, I'll never transition and even if I ever was able to do so it's too late for me to pick up the social learning" kind of day.  Repression and dissociative amnesia are like a cool fog that I welcome right now as the alternative is far, far worse. 

Don't you just hate those days?  Especially when they've been going on for a while?  And you start saying to yourself, "Maybe I *can* find a way to make it old age without ending my life early if I don't transition.  All I need to do is put everything in my head back the way it was for the last few decades".

Lest anyone try to sell it differently, being transsexual sucks.  Not being able to fix it *really* sucks.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Something I Forgot

I have spent the bulk of my life, from the time I was six to the time I was 39, with dissociative amnesia.  I literally blocked out everything that happened to me on an ongoing, rolling basis.  It was just too stressful and painful, being forced to be someone I wasn't under threat of physical pain, guilt and shame.   I was often teased in my family of origin for having a swiss-cheese memory.   It was hit or miss, from an outside perspective what I'd remember from just minutes before and what I had no recollection of doing or seeing or saying.

The scary thing is that when I read about dissociative disorders in abused children, it's me, or rather, was me.   I'm not saying my folks abused me; they were simply following the norms of their subculture and the whims of their personalities.  What I was trying to tell them was something they couldn't hear or discuss, much less accept.  But it makes me wonder if enhanced reparative therapy shouldn't be classified as child abuse.

Now I am left with these half-broken dissociative defenses, I'm mostly aware of the fact and I hurt most of the time.  I suppose I should be glad I spent the bulk of my life in that state, as I'd no doubt have killed myself long ago if I hadn't blocked everything out.  But somehow, I'm not.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Nobody's Pity Party

No, not the gender variant character from West Side Story; that's "Anybody".

  Recently, author Tamora Pierce posted an open thread on her LiveJournal page calling all geek girls to tell their stories of non-acceptance in their chosen areas of interest simply for being a girl or woman.  It's been bugging me since, and I just woke up and realized why (it's 3:26 am, btw).  I'm definitely geeky.  But I have to assert any claim to being a woman, and even then it's only safe to do so with my immediate family and well, they've kinda stopped using female pronouns and often go back to using my short birth name.  Not that the gender-based-on-spelling version my wife sometimes uses is any better (it was used in my childhood a lot as I was around three generations of the same short name but I wasn't part of the Jr/Sr structure).  Not sure how much sense this is making yet, but bear with me please.

  After reading the whole request for geek girl stories of oppression, I realized the womyn-born-women crowd is absolutely right.  I didn't have the experiences growing up that a woman, any woman, has in our society.  Problem is, I didn't have the guy experiences, either.  I ran from those and hid from those literally every chance I got for my own safety.  I knew I didn't pass, behavior-wise.  Socially I never gave the right responses, never did or said the things a guy was "supposed" to say or do.  So I pulled away as much as I could, I didn't want my faking it to be discovered; I'd had enough teasing and hassling in grade school to teach me that.  I avoided social contact as much as possible.  It's a wonder I ended up married but I managed to find the other extreme introvert at our college, someone who matched and (I thought) understood that part of me but for her own reasons.

  So, no identity history either way for me.  And no current identity, either.  My social identity is wrong, my body is wrong, to the point of my not internally associating with either.   I'm not recognized as a woman by anyone, even those who know and "care".  And the worst part for me is that I can't even identify as, "transgender" because it's as bad a fit (for me) as being male.  I've tried it.  Androgyny is no good either.  I eventually discovered that the name to describe what I have is transsexual by default.  But I don't identify as, "transsexual" either; for me it's a description of a biological condition but not an identity.  I wouldn't identify as a disease, say, as a failed gall bladder.   And yet, I don't at all fit in with the WBT (woman born transsexual) / HBS crowd either.  They strike me as a counterpart to  WBW (womyn born womyn).

  Since realizing what was wrong with me, I identified as a woman.  And I remember identifying as a girl in my early childhood but learned to hide it.  But if I'm a woman, I'm one who has no past and no experience as such.  I realize now that isn't possible.  How can you identify as something if you have no experiences to define that identity?  Isn't an identity that which sets you apart as an individual or links you with others who are the same, through common experience?   

  What about my body?  Well, it's a mash-up.  I'm obviously three decades past puberty so there are enough signs that I grew up male that people call me, "Sir".  And although fixing my endocrinology has done wonders for my health it won't do much more than it has for my appearance.  I've yet to pay that much attention to my appearance anyway to avoid the hurt and I've no one to guide me or even give feedback.  There is someone who could, someone who loves me but refuses for her own selfish reasons.  And I can't open that wound again, not now.

  I'm a little tall but not masculine.   I got lucky with my bones, apart from the damage done to my long bones by testosterone.  I've got the right finger ratio (because that's a foolproof indicator, ha, ha...).  My soft tissue has responded to estrogen to a degree limited by my age, but after 3.5 to 4 years I'm starting to see a plateau.  Typical middle aged Late Transitioner apart from my bones, weird endo system, only one normal-sized testicle and a hydrocele prior to hrt.  A few other minor indicators that my development was atypical but to go on makes me sound like I'm trying to stretch the definition of intersex.

  Surgery is out of the question now and for the next decade or so, for financial reasons.  Any expenditure that large spent on myself would take away from my family and our daughter is likely to need a fairly expensive amount of medical care herself in a only few years, stuff not likely to be covered by insurance.  Being a single income family means it's just me and I can't risk their well being to satisfy my own selfish needs.

  No past to fall back on, no identity build from experience, either.  No comraderie from those like me because Dante's (or is it Niven's) vestibule between Heaven and Hell is so very sparsely populated.

  So, no identity for me.  That at least fits, as I've never had one before.  Well, not since I was six or seven anyway.  I don't want my identity from experience as  transgender; the thought makes me throw up a little in my mouth.  It would mean my one shot at building an identity got screwed up.  I so envy those rare trans women whose spouses mentor them through the process of growing into being a woman. 

  I truly am Nobody.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Where did that come from?

Apparently, just the thought of my daughter's hermit crabs grosses me out.  And by that I mean, "thinking of their movement makes me nauseous".  Nothing, and I mean nothing used to do that.  Luckily. I'm still repressed enough (or just make myself do it because I'm the parent and that's what we do) that I was able to remove from the aquarium the limbs one of them had shed and put them in a...

...a baggie, to throw away.  Had to stop for a minute, there, and breathe and think about other things.  Happy, clean, fresh thoughts.  Now, isn't that odd?  I'm going to go web surf, now.  And not look up pictures of..., that was just stupid of me.  And, I hate you, Google images, and YouTube.  Oh, by the way the limb shedding for Hermit Crabs is apparently somewhat normal but a sign of stress or injury.  Our daughter totally took it in stride, btw, better than I did (internally, anyway).

I want

I want to have one 24-hour period where fixing myself isn't trying to force all other thoughts aside as it has constantly for the last four years, and did when I was a child.

I want a life where some little corner of my mind isn't always toying with the idea of suicide just to be able to keep an eye on it and not let it get out of control.

I want an existence that doesn't sacrifice my Self, one day at a time, for that of my kids and family.

I want a life where I didn't get beat and guilted and shamed as a child by my parents for wanting to be treated as and trying to be a girl, and all that has stemmed from that.

I want to go back to that night when I was six or seven and stopped feeling anything or recognizing that I existed as a person with wants and worth because I'd heard and felt so many times that I wasn't who and what I knew I was.

I want the protective fog to lift and the mental blocks to stop going up so that I can fix myself and get on with life.

I want learn how to have the self worth to spend the time and money to fix myself for my sake and for that of my family.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Crazy talk

Okay, so I hear voices.  Two of them, to be exact.  One is the voice that I hear inside my head occasionally when I read silently, particularly some difficult to parse passage in something poorly written.  It's that same voice that I hear when I'm typing & composing simultaneously, or simply thinking silently to myself.  My so-called inner voice.  It's normally very analytical and calm but sometimes (such as late at night when I'm lying awake miserable) expresses my frustrations if they are strong enough.  I don't much like that voice, but it works for me.

(this is the crazy part)

Then there's the other voice.  Since the kids came along I don't often get a chance to take baths.  But a couple of months ago I'd been cleaning out the garage all day and was very tired, and very sore.   It wasn't the kids' bath night so I followed my wife's suggestion and took a hot bath.   While soaking I looked at my body and how much it's changed over the last four years.  And I relaxed more than usual.  For some reason, (ha! as if it's rare, or strange) I was thinking about transition and about the "me" I haven't known since I was six or seven and about how much better my body fits now.  That inner voice of mine sort of self-soothingly told "her" to not give up, that she *will* be out in the world again someday.  And I heard in my head a reply of, "I know".  Then it was gone, as if a door had closed or it had sunk beneath the surface of a pond.  Now, I don't role play or imagine little dialogs in my head.  My little pep talk was supposed to be rhetorical.  I'd intended no response, since in my head I'm always alone.  Yet, there it was.  Two words in an inner voice different from the one I've known for decades, certainly my entire adult life.  Yes, the new internal voice was somehow "feminine", but not girly.  I could tell, immediately.  And that begs the question of who is typing this right now?   Who goes to work and interacts with other people?  Who, then, has been making all of those moment to moment conscious decisions and thoughts for my body each and every day since I was a kid?   Because now that I've heard that other inner voice the one that gets me through the day feels odd, mechanical and a little foreign, despite it's intimate and historical familiarity.

And that scares me a little.  Whoever this "me" is that's typing.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Why two years?

There's a reason people tend to transition in two years.  First, it takes about that long from first therapist appointment to final surgery to get things done.  But an even more important reason that is rarely mentioned is that if you don't you are likely to fail.

Once I realized what was wrong, the need to transition was strong.  The need to fix my body was primary, as it had been back when I was five or six.  I knew that at some point the need to fix my social role and identity would reveal itself, and when it did it would hit hard.

The best way I can describe the need to live as yourself is that it is an instinct.  I realized what primal instincts feel like when we had our children.  It's an unthinking drive to protect them and nurture them.  In the burning building / drowning scenario, there is no decision to make; you save your kids without regard to your own survival.  It's built in.

The need to transition feels every bit as unthinking and basic, and every bit as built in.  Some people follow that, and leave their family to fulfill it.  It is survival.  It's do-or-die, quite literally.  Half of us do.

In my case, that drive to protect and nurture my children and by extension, my family is just that much stronger than my need to transition, or to stay alive.

People transition in two years because they have to.  If forward momentum is lost, they lose the will to live.  It's that hard and that necessary.

I've been at it for four years, come mid-November.

Where'd it go?

I'm having another of those days.  You know, the ones where you get through the day and reflect on it and realize that you've missed all of your practical chances to transition.  No, of course you don't know.

 We went to my sister's baby shower today.  Getting the kids ready was a struggle as neither was in any particular mood to cooperate.  Finally got on the road, drove through traffic for an hour and got there an hour late.  Most of the women there were my sister's friends from a while back so they are about ten years younger than my wife and I.  Seeing them made me realize two things: One, that I'm not a real person and won't be unless somehow I am accepted as a woman and Two, I'll never be a "real" woman.

They are alive.  They feel.  They live.  They have a sense of Self and base what they've built as a person on top of that solid foundation.  It's what 99.08% of what people do, after all.   But I'm pretty sure I've missed all of it.  I've missed growing  up as a girl, being a teenager, a young adult, working, settling down, all as a woman.  I watch them interact and know that I've missed four decades of socialization.  Even if I were to be able to transition now, I'd be someone trying to jump into a gender role halfway through life.  And I have no one to teach me.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Minor Milestone

Today, I'm watching the kids while my wife is out shopping for wrapping paper and a card for my sister's Baby Shower on Sunday.  We try to arrange it so she gets at least one morning or afternoon alone each week, away from the kids and their loudness and sibling strife.

I took a vacation day from work and DW drove me to my last Laser appointment.  It was by far the easiest in terms of both physical and emotional pain.  The physical pain was minimal (still hurts, but tolerable) since there are less dark hairs to burn away.  The emotional was easier due to the magic of the Lorazepam prescribed by my doctor, two pills for each Laser session.  I love Lorazepam.  It allows me to look at either type of pain and deal with it and the issues surrounding it without my myriad of defenses and mental blocks being thrown up faster than I can relax them down.  But now, I am done with Laser.  Six sessions and I'm reaching a plateau.   I'll let my face heal for a month or two and then have start electrolysis.

I just wish I had someone with which to celebrate this milestone.  I don't talk about my gender issues with DW much anymore, and it's better that way.  At some point I'll put down why but for now it's enough to say that she's ready for us to live as two women, together, raising our kids in a house full of love.  She just wants nothing to do with the process of me getting to that point.