Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Sigh of Relief

Something was going on inside me, something I refused to look at until the weekend our older daughter, Laura, came home from college. When we went to visit her dad in the hospital, she got behind the wheel and I slipped into the passenger seat with a sigh of relief. 
-- Linda Weltner, No Place Like Home

There's something about that moment, when after a period of time in which what you feared would happen never did, that brings a sense of relief. We don't usually notice the anxiety until it's gone. In fact, the loss of old anxieties can in some ways prepare you to deal with new ones. There's that moment before we get wound up in the new set of stressors that we can just breathe, if only for a moment.

I felt in between, neither male nor female, before I started hormone replacement thereapy. While my anatomy seemed to indicate boy, I knew I wasn't really like the other anatomical boys running around. There propensity for pecking orders and dominance was something I could never understand.

I also knew I wasn't a girl, at least I couldn't see myself chattering about babies, clothes, makeup and playing house. But living as a boy, I was always curious what it would be like on the other side.

In a way, I was lucky. I did fairly well as a man, even though I found the whole concept of man as difficult to wear as a lead suit. I tried body building and just couldn't maintain interest for long in any kind of involvement in team sports. I closed up around guys, and made very few friends.

I did well. Even though I had a difficulty adjusting to my genital in my adolescent years and beyond, I lasted until my 40's, before I began to just not be able to function as male anymore. I knew I wasn't male. And my toying with the idea of being a woman finally began to emerge as a possibility.

Did I have any clue then that I would feel much more comfortable being a woman? No. Did I know the amount of discomfort and how dysfunctional my social skills were? Well, a little. But it didn't erase the fact that I felt  like I was a blank slate as far as gender identity was concerned. I didn't know if I was a man or a woman at 42 years old.

After some experimentation taking on a female persona, I found my social dysfunction starting to ebb. I began to worry less in the new persona, and as the anxiety of looking like a crazy fool were dispelled by the people who came to know me, their expectations of me as female fueled a new spiritual growth and I began to more fully identify and feel comfortable in a female persona. My inner woman had been starved, while my inner man had failed to thrive.

The conflicts this opened became intense, since I was married and had two young children. Fervent prayers and begging for signs seemed to always point in one direction. My male days were coming to an end. Of course, this was not good news to my wife, who saw my energies become more selfish and pushing me to keep going one step farther. The mental shift happened rather abruptly, as I finally accepted what I was and what I had to do, being accelerated by hormones and being in the presence of people who saw me as a woman. My mind settled in on the fact that, whatever it was before, it was now female.

So I am simply transgender, right? Actually, no. You see, this whole time, since I hit puberty, I couldn't ejaculate unless I let go of the male image I was forcing on myself until I allowed myself to feel a female image. The sex of my brain was hooked up to imaginary female parts. I thought that was not significant enough to spend the money on SRS (Sexual Reassignment Surgery) and as I became more comfortable, it became easier to transition socially and then finally at work. And I began to fall in love as a woman.

It became predominant in my mind that I can't love someone the way I am with male parts. I want to love them with female parts, no matter where they lie on the gender spectrum, and I realized that I have always felt that way.

But having now worked for two employers, both very accepting, I have lost one of my primary fears--that I would be unemployed. And through my church, I lost another--that I would be unaccepted. And finally, I lost the fear that I would be unloved, and now for the first time in my life, I feel comfortably alone and not lonely, though I will not reject love if it shadows my door.

So I can breathe a sigh of relief, even knowing there are some things that still need tending to. My iron count is high and my doctor is, hopefully, scheduling a phlebotomy. I need to see a financial manager to severely deplete my retirement savings to pay for the SRS and the plane ticket to get there in a few months. I am having severe premenstrual sysmptoms like clockwork every 28 days, including nausea, dizziness and lower abdominal cramps that keep me in bed all day, even though I shouldn't have a uterus to cramp. But I remember telling my wife before I started hormones that I seemed to have a monthly cycle, and called it a male period (I never asked another man if they suffered the same thing).

But yet, my total anxiety is low, even though I have old bills still to pay.

Home is the place where you feel comfortable being yourself. Perhaps, I have finally found home.

Hugs and God Bless,

1 comment:

  1. Welcome home, sounds like. Th' rest is details.