Clarity and Vulnerability

I don’t have any one thing to talk about today and nothing exceptionally earth shaking to discuss so this post will just serve as an update on what I’ve been up to for the past month.

Candace and I went up to Niagara Falls, NY for a much anticipated family wedding and spent the week up there using it as an excuse to take a  mini vacation.  Straight weddings are always an ordeal for me to figure out what to wear but this one wasn’t so bad.  The only dilemma I had really was which shirt to wear and whether to ‘push the river’ by wearing a tie with my men’s trousers and sport jacket.  I decided against the tie and ended up wearing a blue shirt to coordinate with Candace’s blue dress.  I looked casually dapper and felt pretty good about it.  The only comment I got was from my brother in law who thought I looked sharp and liked my jacket.  I believe, though I didn’t take a conscious poll at the event, that I was the only female bodied person there wearing pants.

It’s interesting how events like this make me feel so hyper aware of how different I am from other “women”.  I feel very out of place.  Yet, the really interesting part is that the men seem to “get” me and accept me as one of them.  They shake my hand instead of that fake hug thing that they do with women and sometimes they call me “dude”.  I really appreciate when the other guys see me and accept me.  It makes all that discomfort worth it.  All in all, it was a fun wedding and I had a good time helping my brother in law embarrass my niece (his daughter) on the dance floor.

Being so close to Canada we decided to drive over the border for a day and see the falls from a different, and I must say, better, perspective.  Of course, you have to go through Customs to get in and out of both countries.  Getting into Canada, the customs agent, who had just looked at our passports, asked us if we were carrying any weapons.  We both said no, but obviously he didn’t hear me over in the passenger seat and said, “how about you, sir?”  Nope, I even left my trusty pocket knife home so it didn’t get confiscated.  As we drove off, Candace said, “he called you sir”.  I said, “yep, he must not have paid much attention to my passport”.  But of course, I was smiling inside about it.  Canada was beautiful and clean and we really liked it over there.  It was a nice day.

Since we’ve been home for about a week I’ve been back to working on how to proceed with my transition which means trying to decide on a name.  I believe my hunt for a name that I feel good about is finally over.  I had decided I was going to use the male name my parents picked out, but it’s actually a very feminine name and just didn’t feel quite right to me.  So I kept looking and I devised a list of my top picks for my friends to comment on.  Their comments were interesting and entertaining, but on the whole not all that helpful.  I ended up picking Shawn.  It contains part of my birth name and has the same basic sound to it as I’m used to hearing but it has a much more masculine slant.  It feels right.  I’ve been waiting for that feeling to come over me about a name.  Plus, there are some famous Sean/Shaun/Shawn’s that I really like…notably Sean Astin who played Rudy in the movie “Rudy” which is one of my favorites.  I like the whole ‘underdog who accomplishes the impossible’ thing.  It speaks to me about my own experiences in life and makes me feel empowered.

Now that the name is settled I’m planning to come out to the harder people in my life.  I’ve come out to the easy ones so far.  Easy, meaning that I was pretty sure they’d be accepting and cool and if they weren’t it wouldn’t ruin my year.  Now I need to have the conversation with the people who, if they react badly, will be big losses to me.  I’m feeling nervous about it but generally think it will go fairly well.  I’m expecting some surprise out of a few but it should go ok in the end.  Wish me luck!

The process of picking my name actually was very helpful in solidifying why I’m transitioning and what it actually means for me.  I think this clarity is really helpful as I begin the process of exposing my true self to my world and coming out.  I realized that part of my fear in coming out is that I will feel naked.  The male part of me has been hidden and dismissed for so long that to shed light on it feels like a very vulnerable thing for me to do.  This is my soft underbelly that I’ve been hiding and protecting  with my hard outer shell of armor all these years.  Very few people have ever touched this part of me and I can tell you that it is very sensitive.  I see my transition as a merging of my female bodied persona with my true inner male persona to create a new, improved, hybrid version of myself.  The name, Shawn, is like that too.  It’s a morphed, hybrid version of my birth name.   Unlike many who transition, I don’t see this as a death of my female but a merging and rebirth.  For me, this image gives me peace and clarity and purpose.   I can’t ask for much more than that!

Happy Pride!



Confused and frustrated

I feel like I need to write in my journal but instead I’ve decided to share some of what’s in my head on here.  There’s a lot swirling around in my noggin these days.  I realized a while back that the thing holding me back from transitioning was not my partner or society or my doctors but ME.  And fear.  Oh, and that in doing so I may very well have to start a new life on my own without a support system.  Why can I never be the person who’s family rallies behind them and cheers them on and jumps on the band wagon of their causes?  I guess most of us don’t get that kind of support but when I see a parent or a spouse who is supportive I sure get a dichotomy of emotions inside me.  I’m happy for the person they’re supporting but I also feel that twinge inside of wishing it was me getting the support I so desperately desire….as do we all out here in the land of “other”.

So I know that if I just decided to do it I could probably have my transition well under way by the end of the summer and at least be scheduled for top surgery if not have it completed.  Money is a bit of an issue but not a complete obstacle.  I could up my dose of T and start looking more masculine very soon.  But while I am tempted to stomp on the accelerator I still have my foot on the break.  That’s frustrating.

The other thing I ruminate about a lot these days is my name.  I really want to use the name my dad picked for me if I’d been born a boy but it’s actually kind of a girl’s name and I just can’t get totally excited about it.  I think about using the masculine name of my birth name and I don’t hate it but, again, sometimes it just doesn’t feel right.  I’ve picked names that I like but others tell me they think they don’t fit or remind them of someone they don’t like.  I just don’t know what to do about a name.  I wish I was one of those people who’ve always had a name that they loved and just use that.  I haven’t.  There are names that I like and some that I really don’t like but nothing has jumped out as MY name yet.  How many baby name websites do I need to go through to find the right name?  I get frustrated and think that I should just use the name dad picked for me.  He’s long ago deceased as is my mother so there’s no asking them for suggestions.

I think about coming out to certain members of the family and certain close friends but I worry that without the name chosen I’m just wasting my time.  I want to be able to tell them this is my new identity and I want you to start calling me ___________.  So I wait.

And then there is my partner.  She is still adamant that she will not stay with me if I transition.  Unlike in my early life, losing my partner of 17 years is not just about losing the relationship.  We’ve built a life together, I love her family, we have a home together that I cherish and pets that I adore.  I will lose most if not all of that if I transition.  She wants me to make the sacrifice for the relationship to stay together.  I want her to support me no matter what I choose to do even if that means we can’t make the relationship work in the end.  I need her support.  She’s my best friend.  I love her and want her beside me as I traverse this new territory.  I’m so conflicted about all of it.  And scared.

But inside me there is a storm brewing.  I can feel the wind picking up and the thunder is getting closer every day.  I wonder how much longer until the eye  of this storm is upon us and there will be no more hiding and denying.  I have moments in many of my days when I feel hopeless and worry that I can’t continue like this.   I don’t want this to get to a life or death situation but I fear that it is going to come to that.  I just wish I could pick a damned name out and stick with it.