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Thoughts in a Waiting Room

by Helen Thu Nov 1st, 2007 at 04:01:47 PM EST

Slowly, I'm writing a series of diaries on some of my experiences as a transgendered person. Here in the diary "In the land between Blue and pink"  I discussed what it was like to be unwillingly male, and the processes I went through to find myself about to transition. So, I guess, now I have got to the point where I describe some of ways in which transition happens. As I've said many times, gender change happens between the ears rather than between the legs. I think, looking back, I am surprised both at how much I changed, yet how little.

Changing gender is a major decision, not just for yourself but for every interaction you have in society. It is the most primary piece of information people use to determine how to react to you, judge you, even see you. Yet, I am amazed that some people do it so lightly, such as those who come to regret it invariably casting doubt on the rest of us who agonised for years over our decisions. Equally I have been occasionally disappointed to discover that some people imagine I myself did so on a whim, it's really quite insulting.

Nevertheless, one January evening I found myself outside a doctor's surgery struggling with myself not to flee from the consequences of what I was about to do. Even at this stage I was debating the decision with myself and obviously many thoughts ran through my mind. So many that I wrote them down that night;-

It's a funny thing really. Your head that is.

You can think you've sorted something out in your mind. You make the decision and know, really know, that it's the right one. Okay, you may be avoiding one or two minor issues, but the substantive point is plain. So you're up for it. Ready. Let's do it......er ...wait a minute.

Why now ? Why when I'm sitting in the waiting room am I wondering what I'm doing here ?

It's as if I hadn't realised it before, but it occurs to me that I'm doing a big, big thing. Except that no, it's not. It's not a big thing for me at all. It really is a tiny little thing. It's just everything, that's all.

Except suddenly I'm thinking that I really want a girlfriend, to be her man. I'm almost eager to play rugby. Immerse myself in my grubby maleness. Do absolutely anything except take a chance on happiness. After all, it's a leap of faith really.  Here I am, a rather dull, frustrated personality that's not so much been waiting for life to occur, but practically been waiting for permission to live. That's what being male feels like to me. A sort of nothing-works-so-why-bother.

I don't like being male, I never did. I don't hate it, I'm rather accustomed to it after all. But I don't take the pleasures in it that other friends do. Ever since I can remember I've wanted to be female and always viewed any woman as just being lucky, really bloody lucky and viewed myself as correspondingly damned. Sentenced to live outside the light. Oh there's more to it than that, much much more but the lighting is sombre, the antique clock is ticking and my thoughts are racing away.

I'm not expecting miracles. But I want more than I have. I want what I cannot have until I walk through that door. The chance to be female, no longer a man (badly) disguised as one. I don't expect that hormones will make me a beautiful woman, but I hope to be a passable one. More importantly I want to have the social feedback of a society that sees me a female and in which I can behave in a feminine manner. We are social animals and it's that social recognition I desire more than anything else.

But having chosen my path why do I want to just get up and walk away and pretend I never made the appointment ? It's simple really. Because it's everything, this little thing. I feel alone and small and confused and scared. I'm giving away everything that's easy for god-alone-knows-what. And who would willingly turn their back on that ?

But I'm still sitting here. And I'll sit here till I'm beckoned in because I cannot have anything that matters unless I do.

And later;-

So now I've got my prescription and I'm taking the pills. Even the packet in a pastel pink tells me this is a new future. I will be a pastel pink person from now on, not a primary blue or red one.

These little pills, too small surely to change my world forever. Who could imagine they'd do such a big thing if I let them ? And I will let them because I want to feel lucky. Or at least I don't want to feel damned any more. I want the ache to stop. I'll get other aches but I want to know what life is like without feeling that I missed out somewhere along the line

And yet I'm being surprised by odd thoughts. Again, not because I've not thought about them, but because they've never had any force until situational reality comes knocking on the door. In 2 or 3 years time I'll be turning right into the ladies changing room, or going to the ladies loo. It's strange realising that this is in my future. Not a wish upon what-might-have-been to be considered as a hypothetical, but the real thing. I can put my hand on the rails and feel that future rushing towards me. I don't know where it'll take me  but even thinking about getting on board can make my head spin. It's a long time since I didn't know where I was going and it takes a little getting used to.

Just reading those words takes me back to that night. The bone-gnawing doubt, the fear and yet also, hiding away, the hope. A tiny flicker, uncertain and flickering it's true, but having tried all other options, I had finally allowed myself to hope. Hope for what I didn't know at the time, but surely anything must be better than this limbo. Yes, it's very personal, as you can imagine, but more than anything it allows you to see how I was feeling at this time.

As I have explained, the doctor I saw didn't spend too much time talking to me as he uses hormones themselves as a diagnostic tool. After six weeks of taking them, that little ache in the head that I have had all my adult life faded away like morning dew. Anything else I might have imagined I wanted from this process, that social acceptance or other stuff, was suddenly of no consequence. This was what I had wanted all of my life. Just that, the ending of that ache; that would do me. That was the little thing, the everything, and it only took six weeks.

Naturally, there's more, but not yet.

This is really very personal.  Thanks for sharing it.

I'm quite curious about the need to be recognized by society for who you were (inside) and that thing you describe as a little ache in the head.  Each of those things make sense on its own.  But then I get confused.  Weren't you already who you really were on the inside?  How did the pills make that different?  

I'm asking because I don't know, not because I'm suspect or anything.  Just trying to understand.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Thu Nov 1st, 2007 at 06:39:39 PM EST
I'm quite curious about the need to be recognized by society for who you were (inside) and that thing you describe as a little ache in the head.  Each of those things make sense on its own.  But then I get confused.  Weren't you already who you really were on the inside?  How did the pills make that different?

Unfortunately this verges into the philosphy of self and I'm afraid I'm not well versed in such thinking. When you're a guy and you have the feeling you shouldn't be, there is a tremendous need (or at lest there was for me) to rationalize it, examine it and tease it apart to separate the wheat from the chaff. That idea of social acceptance was one of my attempts to do so.

Germaine Greer has made much hay in her criticisms of transgenderism by taking the stereotyped ideas that some TGs use to express their desires as meaning that the "need" to transition is a very superficial jealousy of society's gestures (or something). Although it is very easy to find yourself hooked into almost fetishizing uber-femininity, I recognised quite early on that there was a deeper aspect to identity and wanted to find some way of expressing that. As I have explained in the earlier essay, being male was almost like being poisoned. However I suppose I'd become so used to feeling like that that it was my "normal"; kinda like having a bad knee, you learn to avoid causing problems to the point where you no longer think about it, even if it's always there. So I hadn't imagined that there was another way of being, which was without feeling bad in my head. When that release came I realise that this feeling of genuine normal, the absense of internal distress, was what I'd been seeking. Of course, after that release you start to realise there are other ambitions, but none of them would ctually have meant anything without losing the ache in the head.

I compare it to my experiences of male transvestism. I hated dressing up as a woman back then, because however much I felt compelled to do so, the fact was that having put all the effort in, there was no satisfaction. I didn't feel like a woman, which was the hope and intention, I certainly didn't look like one and just had the feeling of having wasted my time and been foolish. I was embarrassing myself, even alone in my flat. Because what I was looking for was nothing to do with the clothes, the need to dress up was simply an expression of that internal need for womanhood that was only addressed by taking hormones. Once I had that.....everything else began to fall into place.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Nov 2nd, 2007 at 08:00:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thank you, Helen!  It's amazing what it took for you to become yourself, which most of us take for granted and never question.  It's more than a leap of faith and takes courage I can't imagine.  Of course, the knowing 'faith' was already part of you and you followed it throughout.  What a journey! and what a gift to share.  

Big hug!  

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Thu Nov 1st, 2007 at 06:43:45 PM EST
Thanks Helen!!!!
by Fran on Fri Nov 2nd, 2007 at 03:34:28 AM EST
Helen, this is very powerful and moving.  Thank you for sharing it with us.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Fri Nov 2nd, 2007 at 07:27:39 AM EST
I'll second that.  Any insight into how another person thinks and feels always helps to raise the bar on understanding something we don't experience ourselves.

"People never do evil so throughly and happily as when they do it from moral conviction."-Blaise Pascal
by chocolate ink on Fri Nov 2nd, 2007 at 07:26:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Limbo experiences are very personal...

thanks for sharing..

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Nov 2nd, 2007 at 09:38:04 AM EST

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