Overwhelmed and Exhausted

I made a decision recently.  I decided to start living OUT as Shawn, as my true self, to not hide who I am by down-playing my male side.  I came out to (sort of in a vague way) the rest of my high school and college friends on Facebook as Shawn and explained that it had to do with how I see my gender and who I really am.  I think most everyone figured out what I was saying without saying it.  It went well and most of those folks have migrated over to my new page without a hitch.  Some remain on my old page for whatever reason and soon I’ll be shutting that down for good and say goodbye to my old persona as Dawn.  That was step one in living out for me.  The second step was to finally tell my brother about why I look so much more like a guy than I used to.  He pretty much already knew but we actually had a conversation about it and it went fine.  I was nervous and stressed about it but it’s all good.  I had planned to do it several times but for a variety of reasons I hadn’t felt like the time was right.  On this particular day I had gone to one of his doctor’s appointments to see a doc I’d never met before and the doctor thought I was his brother and neither of us challenged that idea.  This has been happening a lot even with doctors that see me regularly.  I don’t know if it has anything to do with their heritage as middle eastern men or the low lights in their offices but it happens and, other than feeling uncomfortable for my brother, I don’t mind.  So that little experience was a great jumping off point for our conversation.  My brother is a really odd guy and sees the world in a very unique way due to his mental disability.  We actually joked around a bit about it and I asked him if he could think of me as his weird little half brother, half sister/half brother.  He thought that was pretty funny and agreed that I was weird at least.  Anyway, I’m out to him now and it’s all cool.

Step 3 was to start binding my chest and using the men’s rooms.  This is where things got pretty dicey for me.  First, I hate hate hate binding my chest.  HATE IT!!!  Binding reminds me throughout the day that I have this chest.  It is uncomfortable and hot.  I hate being hot.  I have always hated the feeling of stuff wrapping around my body tightly, like a bra or a binder.  Bras were extremely hard for me to get used to wearing way back and I clung to my “training bra” for as long as I could.  Binders are a special kind of hell for me.  It’s like wearing 50 bras that are too tight.  ALL I can think about all day is my chest and wanting to rip the f-ing binder off.  I don’t think I can keep doing it.  I’d rather go bra-less out in public than wear that thing.  I have 3 of them, all different and they fit fine.  They are the right size for me, not hard to get on (well a little but that’s the way they are) so it’s not like I need a bigger size.  So I wore a binder for 3 days last week all day at work and when I went out at night and I’ve been uncomfortable and cranky because of it.  Last night Candace and I needed to do some shopping and decided to get dinner out.  I wore my binder with a white t shirt over it under a men’s polo.  I was anxious as we went into the restaurant how they would see me.  This was the first real test of my living out experiment.  It flopped.  The waiter called us ladies after giving me a very hard look-see.  And then at the grocery store the teller told us ladies to have a good night.  Great!

And then the bathroom issue reared it’s head.  I had to go.  REALLY had to go like it couldn’t wait til I got home.  We were in the grocery store.  What is it about grocery stores that make you have to go to the potty???  I really had no idea which one to go into.  Technically, since I’d been seen as female I should use the women’s.  But I was determined I was going to stick with my preferred gender so I went into the men’s.  I almost walked back out.  There were three urinals and one handicapped stall.  And there was pee on the floor by the toilet and poop on the seat.  Yuck!  So, yes Virginia, men’s rooms are disgusting after all.  But I had to go and there wasn’t much time to worry about all of that.  I went as quick as I could and got the hell out of there.  No one saw me.

Binding, coming out, worrying about which bathroom to use…I’m mentally exhausted.  I want to not think about gender or at least MY gender for a while.  I need a mental rest from it all.  I am feeling like I’m not as ready to charge ahead with all of this as I thought I was.  I don’t look male enough to pass in the men’s room or out in public.  What do people see?  I have no idea.  I could ask them but that’s not going to happen.  I asked Candace what she thought and she said that I look like a person who has one foot in both worlds.  I’m trying to put both feet in the same world but maybe I’m not ready for that.  Maybe I’m just trying to force it because I feel so uncomfortable being seen as a masculine woman and not fitting into a gender.  I’m not non-binary and I respect those who are but that’s not where I want to end up.  I’m extremely uncomfortable in this in-between place and I want it to end.  If I could just grow some decent facial hair it might help but even that is no guarantee.  So I’m frustrated, tired and grumpy as heck and I’m just going to hibernate at my house this weekend and try to forget about it for a while and give my brain a break.

Call for Papers

I got an email from Michael Brown, the admin at the FTM Mentors website, FTMMentors.org, about a call for papers for trans men who came from a lesbian and/or feminist background.  The deadline for submissions isn’t until January 30, 2016 so there’s plenty of time to submit your story if you have any interest.  I know there are a few of us with this background here so I wanted to share this opportunity with you.

Here’s the link to their website which will explain everything about what they’re doing:

http://transmasculineherstory.com/

Good luck!

Anxiety and Tipping Points

As I sit here today to write, I’m recovering from a bout of morning brain fog which led to an anxiety attack.  I’ve experienced a couple TGA’s in the past and I have a serious fear of having another one so when I start feeling like I can’t remember little things that I feel like I should it makes me feel panicky and if it goes on long enough it can lead to a full-blown panic attack.  An anxiety pill and a meditation later I’m starting to feel like my feet are planted more firmly on the ground and my head is connected to my neck again.  It’s a very disconcerting feeling to feel like you might be losing your mind and coming unglued.  The anxiety and panic only intensify it.  Luckily, I did not experience another TGA today; just the fear of having one probably brought on by internal stress and angst.

Since my trip to New Orleans last week I’ve felt more and more aware of the fact that I have arrived at that “point of no return” in my transition.  I don’t think it’s necessarily a concrete point of no return because I am fairly confident that one CAN de-transition if they decide they need to.  But, assuming I’m not intending to do that and that I continue to take my hormone shots and proceed as I have been I have gotten to the point where I look more male than female to strangers.  Perhaps I look this way to my friends too.  Candace still thinks I look female.  I have to go with the majority of reactions I’ve been getting lately and assume that Candace is just too close to the situation to see it fully.  I’m too close to see it fully.  I have told myself since the start of this that when I got to this point I would need to start asking for male pronouns and using the men’s rooms.  I think I’m there now.

Also since my trip and perhaps motivated by it I have finished migrating the remainder of my high school and college friends from my old page on Facebook.  I wrote a short post on there about the name change and was a bit vague about needing a name that reflected how I see myself and my gender and asked them to go to my new page and friend me there.  I’ve received nothing but positive comments and many of them have switched to the new page now.  As I’ve said before, I hate coming out and I hate feeling so vulnerable like this but unfortunately, since authenticity is one of my goals with transition, I need to get used to it.  But that doesn’t mean it’s not stressful.  It is.  The past few days I’ve been on edge wondering how these people would respond and feeling anxious every time a message would pop up on Facebook or my phone.  The comments mostly refer to how they respect me and how talented I am (was) and how they’re so glad I’m happy.  I never said I was happy but I guess they are assuming that I am because why else would I turn my world upside down if it didn’t make me happy.  *shrug*

Anyway, the comments have me thinking that I’m really glad that I was such a good kid/young adult back in my high school and college days.  Those people seem to really like me and respect me and I haven’t really done anything in the past 35 years to earn that from them.  So they’re working off of old memories of me now for the most part.  Some I have seen and interacted with a bit but not enough in my mind to constitute truly being able to say they KNOW me anymore.  They know me in a general kind of way.  But still, it’s gone well even though it makes me feel naked and vulnerable and I pretty much hate feeling that way.  And it makes me feel a lot of pride toward my young self.  In some ways I had my stuff so much more together then than I do now.  I had a vision and a path and I was pretty strong in my convictions.  BAM!  I was a tough little kid and nothing was going to get in my way of what I wanted.  My plan didn’t include being gay or trans.  It didn’t include a relationship with anyone at all; at least not a serious one.  Like I said, nothing and NO ONE was going to get in my way.  But I’d never been in love at that point and I hadn’t experienced the forces that grab the heart and disengage it from the brain.  My plan didn’t include getting dis-owned from my family or the parental threat to out me to any potential employer if I were to continue to be gay.  The new rules changed the game plan.  I had planned to either teach or join the military and play in a band.  It was the early 1980s and gays were not allowed to serve in the military and I knew several teachers who were fired for either being gay or having relationships that were not considered appropriate.  So I took a big detour and forged my own path bushwhacking my way through an uncharted forest of my own design.  It was a rough trip with lots of bumps, bruises and jagged turns.  Still, I felt relief knowing that my “lifestyle” couldn’t be used against me and keep me from making a living or having a career.

So, Hell Yeah!  I’m proud of that young person that I once was.  I was strong, persistent and tenacious in my pursuit of a life of my own choosing free from my narcissistic family.  When I look at all I’ve gone through and overcome in life it’s really no wonder to me that I’m just now getting around to dealing with my gender.  I had a lot bigger issues to deal with (like survival) and, surprisingly, the final pieces to all of these puzzles have come together at once for me.  It doesn’t make it any easier and sometimes, often, it makes me so angry I could tear a tree down with my bare hands (maybe a little tree) that my life couldn’t go more closely to my original plan and I had to take all of these detours and make so many compromises in life.  I truly do wish I knew then what I know now but I didn’t.  I did the best I could with the knowledge and resources I had to work with at the time.  There was no internet.  I didn’t know any other gay people, let alone any trans people.  I had seen Billie Jean King and Martina come out (sort of) and I’d heard of Renee’ Richards and even saw her play on TV but it just wasn’t enough to connect the dots for me.  I’d also seen these women being shamed and made fun of by the media.  If you can’t tell, I was a big tennis fan as a young person.  Martina Navratilova was my hero.  She still is.  I adored Billie Jean King too.

But back to the present time now, I feel a lot of pride in how I was as a young person and I think I don’t give myself enough credit for who I am today.  I have a deep feeling inside like I’m not as strong or good as I used to be and I don’t deserve the respect that my young self earned.  I do deserve that respect and more.  Not one of those people on Facebook knows my whole story and how my life got derailed at the age of 18 simply because of who I felt a sexual attraction towards.  The impact that first kiss had on my life is profound.  I remember feeling the next day like I had changed or life had changed.  It had.  I was right.  My life would never again be as simple as it was the night before.  I had a lifetime of deciding whether to “come out” or live in the closet, who to tell, when to tell them, how much to tell them, how honest to be, trying to remember which lie I told which “friend”, shame, fear, stress.  And all the while being told by the LGBT community that I should feel Pride.  I didn’t feel pride.  I never understood Pride parades and celebrations.  Why do I have to feel pride?  Why don’t I feel pride?  All these thoughts swirled around in my head as I went on with my life.  Now.  Now that I understand that I’m transgender.  Now I understand.  Now I get it.  I am proud of being transgender and the struggle I’ve gone through to get where I am despite society trying to force me to be straight and cis-gender.

I’m at my own personal transgender tipping point right now.  I’ve been riding the edge of this tipping point for quite a while now but I can see that this roller coaster is very close to the tip top of its climb and I’m about to start that exciting push over the edge into my new future as myself very soon.  I’m deathly afraid of roller coasters so I think this is a perfect analogy to how I’m feeling right now.  The worst part of the ride, for me, is that awful climb up the first hill.  It feels like it will never end.  No.  Actually, the worst part is when you’re at the very tip top right before your stomach ends up in your throat and you go racing down the hill at break neck speed.  But the climb is torturous too.  Yep.  And I’m at that tip top right now and I can see clearly where I’m going so I’m hanging on with all of my might and just praying that I don’t come flying out of the car.  Thinking about it this way, it’s no wonder that I was feeling a lot of anxiety this morning.  I just keep telling myself that it’s all going to be ok and I’ll be fine.

New Orleans Blues

We’re in New Orleans on a mini vacation/business trip for Candace. She has a conference to attend and her beloved Cowboys were playing the Saints so she roped me into going with her and staying a few days past the conference to sight see. I like to travel but I get a lot of anxiety around it for a multitude of reasons, my gender being a big one. I always feel uneasy when I leave the comforts and familiarity of my home galaxy. I didn’t really think New Orleans would pose any special or unique challenges but I was wrong. Navigating the women’s restrooms here has been a challenge I’m not used to at home. At the football game a lady told me very sternly that this was the women’s room to which I replied by grabbing my boobs and saying “I am a woman”. Well, not really but I’m not going in the men’s room at a football game so whatever. She looked puzzled and just said “oh sorry.” It happened twice at a museum yesterday too. The first time the lady said she knew I was female and only wanted to assure me I was in the right place. Ok, whatever.

It’s making me paranoid to use a public toilet now. We’re with a couple of Candace’s work friends and I’d hate to have them witness this indignity I’m experiencing here. And I can’t really go into the men’s room with them around either. Personally, I’m ready to get back on my spaceship and Buck Rogers out of here but we have a couple more days to go. Until then I just keep my ID on me and hope for the best.