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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Transition at 2 years and coming out

When I first started transition I thought about 4 - 5 years duration would be about right, and I'm still of that opinion.
Anyway, I'll be coming out to the wider blogosphere, to coincide with some fun publicity, in a couple of months time, so a general sort of post about the peculiarities of my transition process.
To reiterate. My process starts less than 3 years ago when I underwent a major hormonal change and, which is the really odd part, my neurology responded until I reached a violent tipping point.
After a first day of wonders and fears, I took 2 weeks to be sure it wasn't any sort of stroke but that I'd changed in a mix of ways and that it was definitely related to gender.
Then followed about 4 months of attempting to locate myself within or without the gender binary. To start I thought I'd have to be some sort of intergendered whatever, since I conceived that 50 odd years of male experience with nary a thought of anything else didn't exactly enable me to attain female gender. And it initially felt like having some weird sort of ability to go between gender gestalts, except for the way that 90% of the time I was overwhelmingly female, so I was rather concerned with underlying authenticity or whatever. But the process of identifying myself as having a female gender as the only active one was absolutely clear at the end of that time. So I set myself a further 3 months to see that nothing would change, saw a couple of counsellors and talked to a few non-specialist therapists and started changing my life to female presentation etc. I had an understanding employer (myself), and a supportive crowd around and approximately zero knowledge of things like makeup, clothes, voice and unable to have electro for about 6 months. It bid fair to be a long strange trip with no certainty of surviving it.
The way I thought, and still think about it, is as a process of growing up.When I first started I was about 9 or 10. Now I'm 13 and not so far off the jaded cynicism of a battle hardened 14 year old. In terms of measuring puberty, I've been having strong monthly cycles through the emotional mill for about 18 months and it's questionable whether I can really qualify as a suitable bait for unicorns.
I can't do drab anymore. Recently tried being andro for UK coming out visit and it simply didn't work. I pass reasonably on the streets but not long in conversation. Passing isn't a great deal for me, since I prefer to be reasonably out in terms of my history to the people I know and meet.
At the heart of my transition is a search for understanding how I now work. I prefer to view it in those terms because I want to avoid anything relating to gender performance having a primary role. I'm not sure how that matches with conventional trans narratives. I suppose because everything's been so concertina'd in my case it's bound to be different. I don't look out much for validation, though I'm really happy when I find it, in outside reactions. I'm a strangely immature woman to those who are my friends, in so far as I can tell, and an acceptable freak to many who aren't.But it's in understanding how this whole strange complex of female gestalt actually works, how things now fit together. It's the times of - oh that's what it's like to be a woman and that explains...- that I find the most exciting.Things like this...
A couple of months before starting transition, I was in a line at Tesco behind a woman who was in a really bad mood and taking it out on a hapless (female) cashier. Eventually she left and it was my turn. Passing the cashier I looked up and exchanged eye gestures with the cashier. Broadly it went ; (me) hard luck on getting one like that, (her)there's always one, (me) at least it's over with & sympathy, (her)getting to the end of the day soon anyway & thanks. I went into the mall outside, sat down on a bench and just rested and recovered for a quarter of an hour. It wasn't so much that it was rather more detailed than most normal gesture interchanges I'd had as much as being compressed to the point of happening 5-10 times faster than any similar experience I'd had.

I still remember the time I was sitting on an office chair, rocking a little in it whilst some music or other was on in the room, and suddenly realizing there was something totally new going on. It took about 30 seconds before the bamboo cane fell and enlightenment spewed forth. I was moving with the music. 50 odd years of music behind me and I'd never once moved WITH the music. Always as a counterpoint, an act of self definition through music, never just simply moving with it; never simply carried on the rhythms. And I had two thoughts about it. On the one hand I started seriously fantasizing about going for some sort of dancing because bump and grind theremin playing in a noise band didn't really do it for me. And on the other thinking how good an illustration it was of the effects of switching to an inductive cognitive paradigm and the consequences for abandoning the self-reinforcing differentiating paradigm typical of testosterone systems on agency in gender identity.
Or something.

A few months back I was in my place on a busy friday night when a woman came in I'd only met in passing a couple of times, and before transition started. She came in and was clearly relating to me as a guy in a dress. It happens and she wasn't the most perceptive of people. She was waiting for a couple of people she knew when a male friend sat down and started talking to me. Now he's a nice guy but the effects of alcohol and the lateness of the hour lent his words a quality of some considerable tedium. So I leaned forward with a light smile, concentrated expression and put that on automatic whilst I started thinking of other things entirely. The woman saw me doing it and totally changed in a flurry of eye signals.When the guy got up we went into an intense hour long talk with her apologising and overwhelmingly curious about the process of adolescence that I saw myself in. That was worth a lot more than barrel loads of pronouns or compliments to me. It's gone that way many times, before and since, but rarely so clear cut.

Again, I'm unsure why others' narratives so rarely include these sorts of things. Can understand that it might partly relate to feeling a necessity to be totally sure of their target gender and transition being at the end of a significant period of soul searching. Equally it may be that others also go through shifts but they're slow progressive processes rather than the violent one I had. But it leads to the odd feeling that I'm certain of being a woman, but not so certain of being trans, in terms of trans relating to individuals' more conventional narrative structures.
More reasonably soon on this....

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