Sunday, June 13, 2010

Every so often

I think I should be posting here more often, but as in all aspects of my journey, I'm trying to balance my own needs with those of others. And one of the needs which has been expressed, as you know, is that I not be so quick to broadcast my thoughts about relationship issues here. To refrain kind of undermines the purpose of this blog, but when a reasonable request is on the table, compromise must be made. It's certainly true that bigger compromises have been made or at least considered.

Another aspect of that is that since what I write here is read by some of the parties involved (or close to those who are involved) I find it's very easy to be misunderstood in the intentions behind my words when it's seen through the lens of the raw emotions in play, so occasionally I'll end up having to explain (not apologize for) something I said here.

Nevertheless, this IS about the journey and there are aspects of this journey which, while widely divergent in detail, are very similar in the broad themes across many of my sisters on this road (and presumably brothers as well). I find myself, more than once every day, considering not just my own rather twisted up circumstances but the whole context of being trans in this world and how it affects rather ordinary things, and most especially when you are mid-transition and, in the eyes of many, "neither here nor there."

The application of that which I'm most aware of in my own day-to-day experience is when being gender-specific is required. See, the thing is, although I am presenting something less than a fully female image (in an effort to compromise temporarily) I still think of myself and wish to be reacted to as female. And yet I can't begrudge anyone, when I'm doing this in a "half-assed" fashion, for not reading me that way. So I find it's especially pleasing when someone (such as my wonderful co-workers) is/are considerate enough to get names and pronouns right, to interact with me as "one of the girls, " and to generally pretend not to notice my unfortunate situation. On the other hand, it's most distressing when I find myself too afraid to use the ladies room, and too uncomfortable to use the men's. This limbo I'm currently in can be a tricky place to navigate.

Yet, for all of that, I find myself filled with dread at the idea that I might have to revert almost entirely to a male presentation, no matter how temporary I may intend it to be. There is so very much riding on that choice and so much pain in either road, I find myself just wanting to resign from the human race rather than make the decision that is before me.

But hey, I've said far too much about that before and there's no point in getting lost in those weeds again tonight.

Let me divert, a minute, into a somewhat more "general interest" topic. On the TG board where I post, from time to time we get into a bit of self-examination, about who we are and how we go about doing the transition thing. There's hardly a rule book or a "right way" to go through this because all of us find ourselves in different circumstances family wise and financially and so forth. All of it has a certain aspect of "making it up as you go" and so it's only natural we "compare notes" and try to learn from each other's mistakes and successes.

One of the things that comes up there occasionally is how integral certain body parts are to feeling right about how we look. For a F2M transsexual, breasts are often a very distressing thing and often leads to much emotional pain - obviously something that's hard for a woman in our society to understand given the emphasis our culture directs towards a woman's curves.

Likewise, for a M2F, you can get everything else right but if you can't at least simulate those curves, no one will take you seriously as presenting a feminine identity. Whether or not there are flat-chested natal women around you isn't relevant - if you want people to see you as female you FEEL that there has to be at least the illusion of breasts. For those who can afford it (sometimes a few hundred dollars) you can buy nice breast forms of the sort used by women who've had a mastectomy and present a very passable silhouette. For others, such as myself, you have to improvise a more rudimentary substitute.

I've heard it said that wearing a bra and fake breasts is one of the harder things for the average person to wrap their minds around in this process. But one need only consider how the woman who's had a breast removes usually feels about her womanhood thereafter. Usually such women find it very distressing and go to some lengths to at least create the image of "wholeness," if not getting an implant. Clearly even for a natal woman it's psychologically important how the world sees you. So it is for me. It might seem a trivial or even silly thing to you that someone who doesn't HAVE to wear a bra feels a deep emotional need to do so, but that again arises from starting with the base misconception that you are asking this about a man, rather than a woman. Until you grasp that - whatever my physical plumbing - my MIND thinks and reacts and feels just as any other woman's does, and feels the same needs and desires, you will never take even the first step in understanding why I do some of the things I do. Perhaps one day I can speak freely about all the different ways that manifests itself.

One other aside, before I go. And given that so few local people read this (that I know if) perhaps these words will go to waste but I have to say them somewhere. One day this week i was in Wal Mart and I saw a mother and child looking at swimsuits for the girl. the mother had a very short male-style haircut, a "trucker's hat," a very oversized drab gray t-shirt, lose jeans and work boots. I saw no purse. Now, in my position it's obviously easy to "see what you want to see" in this situation. this woman might have just come from tending the horses or some such in which she was dressed down just for that reason. BUT on the off chance that I have a comrade in this business in this little town, as long as the odds against that might be, I wanted to say that I almost spoke to you, and shared a knowing smile about how tough it is to pull this off, but I didn't want to embarrass myself if I was wrong. But do know that you have my thoughts and prayers if we have this in common and if you ever have the opportunity to speak to me iI hope you are braver than I was.

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