And then I told her that I was transgendered. She wasn’t too surprised in some ways. In fact she related a couple of her earlier reactions to me - that sometimes our being together reminded her of being out with another woman, and how one time she mistook me for a woman while looking for me in a crowd. I found all of this encouraging, yet realized that her acceptance was also tinged with a kind of disappointment at what might have been.
But I felt wonderful afterwards. I DID feel validated somehow, and more alive in the world. And because I was also just into my second month of HRT, I began to feel wonderfully free and at peace with myself for being able to be ME with someone whose continuing friendship meant a lot to me. And I discovered that there was indeed a ME that could be accepted outside of a male role, that I was just Myself, and that what I did about it was a matter of degree, not some insurmountable obstacle or choosing between two artificial roles, man OR woman.
But there was something else that I learned from the experience that I had not expected.
In one of my favorite parts of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, the main characters have arrived on a mysterious ship full of people in suspended animation. The Captain of the “B” ARK and one of his officers give our characters a couple of unlikely explanations as to why their planet had to be evacuated with an ark fleet. Seeing the not quite concealed looks of disbelief and mirth on the faces of his guests, the Captain looks thoughtful and utters the following words of wisdom: “You know……, now that I come to tell my story to someone else, ………….”
We should always keep those words firmly in mind.
And that is the other gift we receive by coming out to someone. They either ask us questions, or we maybe we just feel the need to over-explain. Whatever the reason, we are forced to try to explain our motivations to someone else in a way that makes sense. And if you have indulged in wishful thinking instead of critical thinking, or glossed over objections or not thought through your situation enough, you can be in real trouble, not only in convincing your friend, but also for realizing that you aren’t really sure yourself.
Luckily, I had thought about this before we spoke, so I had a chance to “check my premises” and get my act together so to speak. And a good thing too, because we can never anticipate all of the other person’s questions. We’ve lived with too long alone with our problems and dreams sometimes and now we are speaking to someone who maybe knew nothing of T issues before our conversation. And we won’t convince them if we start pausing and looking thoughtful at things we say ourselves.
But in speaking to her, I realized that I had crossed a line. I told her of one of the Transsexuality site essays that had especially got to me, the one entitled “Why You Don’t Want to be a Man or a Woman”. I realized while speaking to her about it that I was already ME, and that right now I was neither a man nor a woman and that was OK. And I was overwhelmed with insights then and afterwards, and became more at peace with myself than ever before in my life, knowing that I really didn’t have to make a false choice.
And it wouldn’t
have happened if I hadn’t broken my cycle of deception and come alive to
someone else and myself. And for thinking, “You know, now that I
come to tell this story to someone else…..,” !!!
Late onset Transsexuals have an extra curse or two. We feel the clock ticking in addition to our lost years. But worse yet, we have lived with and learned to accommodate our male role for so long, that it becomes difficult to know how far we want to go now in our quest for balance.
I needed to know who I was and what I wanted to do about it, beyond any fantasies or wishful thinking. Discovering a site with practical suggestions of how to do this was invaluable, but the most controversial advice was also the most useful.
“…. In the circumstance of discovering gender identity, a supreme tactic is to experiment. …… Perhaps the single most effective tool for self knowledge of gender identity, is to experiment with hormones. “
Here are the results of one such experiment.
I am not sure what I expected to feel when I began. Would I feel somehow more feminine? More emotional? Most persons who had done this described the results in happy, glowing terms, but what did it feel like in reality?
I found out. After a couple of weeks, I sort of mentally looked around and thought, “What’s going on here - I don’t feel much of anything.” And it was true. I felt rather neutral. And there was another almost disturbing element. I didn’t feel any particular urge or need to dress in a more feminine style. (I live alone, so previously, I did this whenever I felt like it). That bothered me. I had felt sure that I was transsexual and not just a cross dresser, (no offense intended), but with a testosterone suppresser at work, I feared that my desires had more of a hormonal/sexual basis than I had thought.
But in actuality, I continued to feel more comfortable dressed in my everyday unisex sort of style - girl tops and jeans and clothes that “passed” as male, and I still felt uncomfortable in actual male clothes. The need to look more blatantly feminine wasn’t there. But more importantly, I felt more comfortable than ever with the idea that I identified with and preferred and WAS, feminine.
And then I realized that my neutral feeling was just that, a kind of zen middle path. The inner reality was more important than the exterior appearance. The euphoria/purge extremes had long been fading - now they were gone. And I felt like I could finally think clearly about what I wanted without the distractions of my former inner conflict. I was no longer going through a cycle of euphoric femininity followed by a depressed male-ish feeling of futility and hopelessness.
And that was my first month.
“Hormone therapy is very revealing. The test procedure very simple. If after several months, you love and prefer how you feel, think and are, then you are probably on the right track,….”
It didn’t take several months.
Mentally, I was finally living in the present. Previously, the present was something just to get through on my way to “someday”. “Someday” I’ll be able to retire and live the way I want to. “Someday” I’ll be able to be a woman.“ Someday” (fill in the blanks with whatever you want). I suddenly felt at peace, and felt a contentment with myself that I had never felt before, EVER! My sense of nervous urgency that treated everything at work and in life in general as an emergency was gone. Previously, I had approached something like this feeling on the rare times I could camp out in the forest. I always looked forward to those times because I knew that with them came a clarity of mind that avoided excuses and self deception and let me see what I wanted rather clearly. And now my everyday life felt more like that.
Physically, things were changing too. My nipples got rather painful for about two weeks and actually enlarged. This doesn’t usually happen to someone my age - at all - since I am way past the time when my body finished its male development. And this didn’t happen after about 3 months, the time I had been led to expect breast changes - it started happening after about 3+ weeks. And this was NOT on high hormone doses either, but rather the standard anti-androgen dosage, and an average low dose of injectable estrogen that I did weekly for a more even release and added safety.
I can only conclude that my body was indeed reacting quickly and positively to the hormones that it had been waiting for all of its life.
I came out to another friend, and she was accepting of me. That made me feel incredibly free to be myself. I had a wonderful, growing sense of peace. This feeling stayed with me not only through a final camping trip, but through the aftermath of my return home from it. Another driver lost control of a trailer, and ran me off the road. My vehicle rolled over twice, and I received a concussion, as well as a back injury. As I regained consciousness in the wreck of my van, I still felt my wonderful sense of peace, a feeling that has stayed with me. I revisited the accident scene and I know that I was lucky to escape death or being paralyzed. This only added to my new perspective that life is too short and can end too quickly to not be yourself. I also chose to see this as a new beginning - a rebirth. Part of me did die in that accident, and I don’t want him back.
A friend of mine who is not aware of my T status commented that I was a different person. Previously, she said, even when I was in a good mood, I would complain about something - problems at work, or not enough time - always something. She said that my negative background feelings were gone. And she was right. I am happy now. I often think of Scrooge at the end of “A Christmas Carol” when he frowns and says, “I don’t deserve to be so happy”, then starts laughing and adds, “But I can’t help it”!
And now at three
and a half months, I know a lot more about myself. It has been a
wonderful experience. I want to go on feeling this way, forever.
“Simply quit when you choose. Take responsibility for this”.
But since any experiment has to be demonstrable and repeatable, I will reluctantly bring mine to an end soon at a little over four months. Why? Two reasons. I really don’t want to. But I have to know. If my prior feelings were testosterone related, I need to know how much of my present feelings are estrogen related. With my physical effects, I realize that I better not go the full six months because I may already have permanent changes and because of reason two below. And my new found sense of ME is currently very content. I think this is probably a permanent change of perspective and an acceptance of myself that my hormone experiment and accident helped me to arrive at. I want to know how permanent that change is, and how much of it, like my long ago male attitude, is hormonally induced.
And finally, due
to dealing with my issues in isolation, I have been self medicating.
Yes, I did my research and took precautions, but that is different than
having knowledgeable supervision and testing, and I know it, especially
with that point being made again so clearly on the Transsexuality site.
My new found clarity of mind sees that I not only hid my issues from others,
I’ve also hidden them and their consequences from myself. I was lucky
with the outcome of my accident, and I have been lucky again, but I no
longer want to risk my life when I finally feel ready to live it.
I have a Doctor who seems like he would be understanding, and he knows
that I have had some kind of positive change in my life. He suggested
that if I wanted to talk about it, to make an end of the day appointment
in a month or two when I do the final follow-up for my accident injuries.
I may do this, or I might drive one or two hours to the bigger cities nearby
and talk to someone there.
Whatever it takes. The clock has stopped ticking, and instead of the lost years behind, I am looking at the years of peace ahead for me. I now am ME, instead of being a guy at work and a girl at home. That ME feeling is worth fighting for, and I don’t want to go back to who I was before.
I started my experiment feeling like I was a ‘Tweener, someone In-Between but identifying as feminine, who might stay that way. I still feel like that. I haven’t developed a new urgency for SRS. But living in the present has another aspect to it. The journey is now more important than any imagined destination. I no longer state what the future will bring with conviction; I’ll let it develop. I know now that there is a difference between what we want to happen and what will happen, and I am not trying to force any issues anymore. The theme song for a favorite movie of mine, “Paint Your Wagon”, says,
“Where am I going,
I don’t know, where am I headed I ain’t certain,
all that I know is I am on my way.
When will I be
there I don’t know, when will I get there I ain’t certain,
all that I know is I am on my way.”
And that is enough.
forced by circumstances to pass as a guy at work for a few more
years until she can safely escape her academic career, she is
nevertheless beginning a slow transition and is feeling more like
aspires to be a writer or maybe a hermitess living in the woods.