It might seem strange but I attended my first lesbian wedding this past Saturday. Actually it was a vow renewal for a couple who’ve been together over 30 years and had a Quaker wedding about 19 years ago before it was legally recognized so it wasn’t exactly a wedding in the true sense of the word. We didn’t know anyone attending other than the brides and social situations like that always make me a little nervous. I also chose this occasion to don my best dapper outfit and wore a bow tie. The night before the wedding I watched a YouTube video and learned how to tie my new and first bow tie. I was proud of myself! After doing it about 6 times I felt confident enough to go it alone without the aid of the video. Thank you nice British guy for explaining it so thoroughly to me. This was the first time I had the nerve to wear a tie out in public since the 1980s when I often donned a skinny tie (which I still own). As I walked out of the hotel towards the door I pulled my shoulders back and and told myself to be a proud butch. I’m not out to the wedding couple yet. We’re not that close and I just haven’t gotten around to telling them yet and I decided that their wedding day wasn’t the best day to do it so I went as my old self and was assumed to be a lesbian by all of the guests. We were fortunate enough to sit next to a very nice gay couple for the dinner part and I think we made new friends so that’s pretty cool. I had a great time after I relaxed.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) is surgery day for my hysterectomy. I’m a little anxious just because of all the unknown with any kind of procedure like this but, in general, I’m feeling good about it. Of course I’m dreading the morning of stuff where you can’t eat or drink anything since I’m a coffee hound and have a little addiction to Nicorette gum. Actually, it’s a big addiction but I’m hopeful that a patch will get me through the morning without being too much of a zombie. I should’ve quit it a long time ago. I quit smoking almost 10 years ago now so I feel embarrassed that I’m still addicted to nicotine, but I am. That’s a topic for a different post. Thanks to genderneutral for suggesting a good book to read and a meditation CD for surgery preparation I’m feeling pretty calm about everything. Nothing left to do but pack my little bag and go to the hotel tonight so we can get to the hospital bright and early tomorrow morning. I can’t really believe the time is finally here. It feels a little surreal. I’ve said many times that I wanted to do this but it’s strange how when the reality of it hits I find myself wondering if it’s really what I want. Self doubt? Yep, got plenty of that to go around. But I’m sure. At least as sure as you can be for a mostly elective surgery. Any time you have surgery there is risk and I’m betting on it going great and being really happy with how I feel after this is all over. Part of my anxiety is caused by my surgeon not being able to 100% guarantee that she can do this the laporascopic way. Again, I’m betting that she can even though she said the chance was only “greater than 50%”. Eeeks! I would’ve liked better odds than that but it’s what I got. How much greater than 50%? Like, 50 +40%? Or is it more like 51%? She wouldn’t say. I like to know things like this. It makes me feel uneasy not knowing. And the difference determines how long I’ll have to stay in the hospital. Mentally, I’m not really giving any space to the idea that I might have to stay a few days. Hopefully I will be too drugged up to care if that happens. Anyway, I’m less than 24 hours away now from my first transition surgery and I’m excited…and a tad anxious.
A reader writes: “I am trying to puzzle out some things about my own body dysphoria and would like to ask you this question about dysphoria in general. Do you think it stems from a physical misrepresentation in the brain or a learned response?
“By physical misrepresentation I mean that the brain is wired in its neurons to perceive one set of genitalia but the body winds up with another set. By learned response I mean that the person perceives their gender as one way (socially and privately) and because their body is not aligned, they eventually develop confusion and despair over their body.
“I am asking because it seems many ‘documentaries’ and such about trans people feature a young child explaining how they wish their penis was gone or something. But how much of that is strictly physical and instinctive and how much is psychological? What would happen if…
This piece inspired and fueled me so I want to share it here with all of you. Many of us are on a path to find/discover/uncover/expose our authentic self that has been hidden and held back for so many years. It’s a lot of work to live authentically but it’s so worth it in the end. And the journey is sacred and the true reward. Enjoy!
A reader writes: “I have been an out Lesbian for 24 years (I’m 44) and recently met and fell in love with a Trans guy. For obvious reasons, this was a little confusing at the start, and I am still curious about my changing ‘identity’ (which appears to have become a little more fluid and harder to define than previously!).
“What are your thoughts on Lesbians dating Trans men? Should we still even care about labeling ourselves? How do I (or do you think I should) raise this stuff with my straight friends?”
I think it’s fine for anyone to date anyone, including lesbians dating trans men. What I have found to be one of the biggest problems for anyone dating a trans person is that the person then starts questioning his or her own sexual orientation. This can be a huge challenge for people whose identity is strongly tied…
I told my therapist recently that I don’t do “adult stuff” very well. She proceeded to point out all of the ways that I do “adult stuff” pretty well. Yeah, ok, maybe I do adult ok most of the time but there are times, many of them, when I still feel like an inexperienced teenager and I really wish I could ask my mom to help me out. Preparing myself and my doctors for my upcoming surgery in a few weeks is triggering a lot of my insecurities around being an adult. I don’t like dealing with medical stuff at all. Even going to the dentist makes me wish my mom could go with me for reassurance. For a person who doesn’t like to deal with this stuff I spend a lot of time dealing with it. Between my stuff, my brother’s stuff and my partner’s stuff I probably am at a doctor’s appointment at least once a week. Today I had to have a mammogram, which I don’t usually mind getting. They’re over quick and are relatively painless. I know what to expect with them. But today I had to wait around longer than usual and I was sharing a waiting room with people in wheel chairs and people on oxygen and it got me thinking about how scary life really is. Is it any wonder that I suffer from an anxiety disorder and still want my mommy at 53 years of age? We go in for these diagnostic exams and sometimes they turn up problems we didn’t know we had and suddenly we’re the ones on oxygen or having emergency surgery or chemotherapy.
I’m not trying to bring anyone down here. I completely understand how talking about this stuff is unpleasant. I would really like to not ever have to think about it let alone see it but it’s a part of life. Sometimes life gets really scary. For me, that’s often because I’m a wuss. I used to faint at the sight of blood. I still turn my head when they draw blood but I’ve toughened up quite a bit over the years. I remember seeing a kid in elementary school who was born with only two fingers on one of his hands and it made me nauseous and light-headed to look at his hands. See? I’ve come a long way since elementary school!
But still, being reminded of how rough life can get in a blink of an eye makes me feel queasy and unsteady. Reading all of the possible side effects of drugs makes me miraculously start having those side effects. I don’t read that stuff anymore. Commercials asking me if I have shortness of breath almost certainly will spur a sudden attack of light-headed tight breathing while I check to make sure I’m ok. I’m always checking in on myself this way. I scare myself too sometimes with all of this obsessive checking in. Did my heart just skip a beat? What’s that sudden pain in my chest about? Oh my God, why can’t I remember what day it is?
My upcoming surgery has me freaking out a bit too. What if I die? What if it doesn’t go well and I end up brain dead or she punctures my bladder? The doctor had to go over all of the risks yesterday with me so now I’m thinking about all of that stuff. No, I’m obsessing about it. I catch myself asking if it’s worth all of this anxiety.
I sure wish some nice adult would come give me a reassuring hug and tell me it’ll all be ok. I’d really like to take a break from this “adult” stuff once in a while and let someone else do the worrying.
This was to be my year to take care of a lot of surgery and general health care things that I’ve been putting off for a long time and so far I think I’m doing a pretty good job of staying that course. I decided to start out with the easiest stuff (none of it is easy or I would’ve done it already!) first and work up to my chest surgery as the grand finale for the year. Unfortunately it takes a lot of time to get all the details worked out and go for all of the preliminary appointments to get to the main event so it’s taken me three months to get to my first target. First on my list was having my “wisdom” teeth removed and despite a pretty nasty little snow storm that threatened to delay me I was able to have all four of them removed in my regular dentist’s office last Thursday morning. It was my first time having nitrous oxide, aka “laughing gas”, and I was nervous about it but even with the nerves I felt a calm that surprised me. These teeth have been giving me problems for many years now and my doc has been pleading with me to get them out. When he told me they could do it in their office now and I wouldn’t have to go to a surgeon I was ready to sign up. And I’m glad i did. It’s a little thing but I was elated to finally get that taken care of. The worst part for me is being drugged up on pain meds. I do not like that feeling and I’ve done a lot of sleeping because of it. I’m hoping that today (day 4) I can just take ibuprofen and feel somewhat normal in my head. So far so good.
Next on my list is the hysterectomy. That is scheduled for March 31st. Thanks to my therapist I was able to find a trans friendly ob/gyn who works with trans guys in order to get their lady bits removed without any hassles. I’m stoked for this surgery! I’ve had to endure two uncomfortable and one painful procedures to get here and I still have a few pre-op tests to get through before the 31st but I think the worst is behind me now. I can’t really describe to anyone how much this means to me. I’ve had this irrational (maybe not so irrational?) fear of pregnancy for so long and have experienced so much pain and agony at the hands of my lady parts, and still do even at 53 years old, that the thought of removing that from my life for good is more than words can express for me. I can feel them in there doing their thing and I hate it. I don’t really hate them but, to me, they just never belonged inside me and should have been removed a long time ago.
Hopefully this procedure will go well and will be an out patient type of thing. My doctor is hoping to be able to perform a laparoscopically assisted vaginal hysterectomy which means I should not need to stay overnight in the hospital and can go home later that same day. There won’t be any outward sign to the world that I’ve had this surgery but internally I know that it will make a huge difference in how I feel about my body and my self. I wanted to do this before I had any gender markers changed on insurance or IDs so it would go smoothly and without questions from anyone in authority.
The next big step will be chest surgery. Believe it or not, I’m still struggling mentally with that one, which is part of why I’m saving it for last. I know I want it done. I know I want a male chest. I know I’ll look and feel better without the moobs. But there’s a psychological aspect that I just haven’t quite worked through yet around this subject and until I do I don’t feel right setting up a surgery date. I’m close…I think. Part of the resistance for me is that I think that removal of my breasts is my last vestige of womanhood. Crazy, huh? If I’m a trans guy why do I want to keep that? Everyone will finally see me as the guy I am. That’s my thinking anyway. The truth is that some will and some won’t. I know this intellectually. Emotionally I feel like the removal of the breasts and construction of a male chest is the last piece of my female facade or mask and I will be very vulnerable, naked without them. They help to hide my true self. This is both good and bad, depending on how you look at it. I’m a pretty big wuss when it comes to conflict and I hate being the center of attention so stripping my psyche naked for the whole world to see is kind of scary. Terrifying maybe? I wish I was braver and surer of myself. I think that will come in time when I’m ready emotionally. So, for now, I work on it and keep chipping away at the facade little by little.
A reader writes: “My first close contact with a transgender individual was following a car wreck where the victim was later discovered to be transgender.
“Besides taking care of the patient’s physical/medical needs during transport, which, following a trauma, always includes exposing the majority of the body to examine for bruising, swelling, etc., I learned a lot about all the additional issues this person had going on. Things got a little complicated pretty fast.
“Fortunately, I was the only paramedic in the back, so was able to eventually establish how the lady wanted to be referred to, her new name, and the other issues involved, including being homeless at that time. I was able to become an advocate for her (with the other personnel).
“It takes a lot of courage for some transgender folks to discuss things with a perfect stranger, especially when in a serious medical situation. However, it…