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Turns out the import function for Live Journal on Dreamwidth works a treat. So does the cross-posting function. Let the bubbling contempt flow.


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It occurred to me just now that one of the main differences between cisgender and transgender is the way in which they're questioned.

Cisgender is never questioned. Even when the assumptions of gender are destructive and restrictive there is no need felt to interrogate the gender of most people. It just is. Immediate and innate and self-evident to such a degree that it's processed without conscious thought.

Trans is always a question. Always a puzzle. Always something that demands interrogation and never something which can just be. And so with each person we meet we must decide what we tell or hide. Our lives are gender studies lessons, our love a fractured, disjointed mosaic of queer sexuality, even for the most straightforward of relationships. And because each new person hasn't had those conversations before, we have them again and again and again to validate ourselves afresh in each new acquaintance's eyes. The need to validate itself is invalidating though. It's incumbent upon us to make ourselves real and it needs effort with everyone who encounters us, just to make us even a fraction as believable and understandable as the person we're speaking to who can so comfortably assume that we will parse their identity and nature that they never even think about it.

I'm not sure where this goes, just a random thought for the evening occasioned by yet another instance of having someone describe the three genders, as they see it - male, female and transgender.
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Nearly two weeks on and I think 'nise is gone. This has left me aware of the fact that her's was the sole unconditional love I've had for the past two to three years. She waited out the front of the house nearly every day to greet me when I returned home from work, sat with me in the evening, vetted and then adopted my friends as her own and was my constant companion. All my current relationships are in some way at arm's length. There has been nobody who has unreservedly wanted me in their life for about three years now. This is not to say that I don't value my friends. I very much do. They've kept me sane and safe and loved. But I miss having someone's face light up and their voice brighten when they see me at the same moment that I feel delight in being around them. I miss quiet unfussed intimacy. I miss being special. For all that she was just a stripy cat, Anise delighted me and was delighted by me daily. That deep reciprocal love from a person is all the more special and it's clearer to me now how badly absent that has been. The freakshow feeling is stronger just from contemplating that. People will let me in as a friend and will occasionally let me close physically. I wonder how much closer than that I'll get to someone.
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Yes, I know that complaining about bigotry not being overt enough is a fucked up thing. The way things are is surely better than being in receipt of outright abuse. I still want catharsis though.
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I unpacked trans at a friend last night. This fired my brain up which kept me awake and then there was more internal dialogue this morning. In the end, I didn't get to debrief with someone in the way I was sort of counting on and that meant overload and meltdown. I need to manage this process better because falling apart in the car on the side of the road is not my favourite thing.

So. Stuff.

Everything is gendered. Every. Damn. Thing. We interrogate gender from the moment we start to distinguish ourselves as actual people, separate from our parents. As soon as we start to do that though, we get feedback from our parents, our peers, everyone with whom we come into contact and the message is that there are aspects of gender identity which correspond to the gender that you don't belong to and these are never to be touched. I suspect this is especially strong if you're gendered as a boy - anything feminine is considered shameful. So there are some fairly basic aspects of gender identity which we explore at the age of 3-5 years which are denied to us and if we have to re-examine our gender later, this means is that 35-40 years down the track there are some of those aspects of gender which I never got to explore and which I never got to accept, reject or otherwise evaluate. That doesn't exempt me from having to pull that apart and look at it regardless. The same thing happens when you hit puberty and again when you hit early adulthood and start living genuinely independently. There are all sorts of gender aspects which we examine, explore, evaluate, push through a peer review process and otherwise generally integrate to a greater or lesser extent. Some of the behaviours associated with this process are generally viewed as being related to the age at which we usually do this stuff but I strongly suspect that some of it actually relates back to the aspects of gender identity which we're thrashing out at each of those stages. What that does mean though is that the behaviours you exhibit while exploring those aspects of gender are seem as being somewhere between juvenile and infantile. This in turn means that you have to conduct that part of the process entirely inside your own head and try very hard not to internalise the reflexive notions of shame and embarrassment that tend to surface when you engage in childish things that earnestly and seriously.

When you transition gender later in life you have to do that again. All of it. All at the same time. You do it for the most part without a peer group to bounce off. You do it without the cushioning expectation that this is what you're meant to be doing at that age. You effectively have the 5 year old, the 12 year old and the 19 year old all trying to dress your 42 year old self each morning and you have to mediate that process and reconcile the fact that you'll never be the magic sparkly fairy princess rockstar dyke that pops up in your mind as a result of those thought processes. It is of course, not just clothes. You run into every aspect of gendered differentiation (and I can't even begin to list those here) so the frustrations felt at each of those stages come out to play. And again, all of them. All at once. I've mentioned this in the past. You suddenly abandon male privilege, hetero privilege and cisgendered privilege and become aware of how fucked up and inequitable the world is. A little more thought and you start to be more aware of discrimination that doesn't apply to you. You get angry. You get angry like a child who has been told "You can't do that". You get angry like an angsty teenager, complete with hormonal flux. You get angry like someone in their early 20s and start flailing at your peers and shouting "THIS IS IMPORTANT!", which of course it is. But they've all done that 20 years ago and view it as angry young adult stuff, not as identity awakening stuff and regard you bemusedly. "Yes it is. Haven't you already done this?" No, actually. You got angry 20 years ago because this shit happened to you. It didn't happen to me and nobody explained it to me except occasionally in accusatory tones. I didn't get it. Now I do. And all the time you're *aware* of this, trying not to bleat the bleeding obvious, trying not to sound like a teenager, being embarrassed for yourself that you only just get this now, no matter that there are good reasons for that and trying to integrate all of it along with the other rather more specific homophobic and transphobic garbage that most of your peers didn't have to deal with and with every other aspect of gender identity that people fumble through haphazardly and mostly unthinkingly over the course of a decade or two. All whilst UNLEARNING half of what you internalised the first time around.

This is a touch overwhelming at times. Insidiously, it's really easy to wind up struggling with it all nearly as unthinkingly as you did the first time around. And all whilst fighting off the thousand tiny messages you get that say these efforts are futile, invalid, deluded and otherwise wrong. The problem is that most of the tranphobic stuff I receive in this culture isn't bald, overt aggressive bigotry. It's not deliberate. It's the unthinking wrong pronoun, the checkout chick unthinkingly calling you "Sir", the call centre operator flustered out of their scripted processes into awkward pauses and silences, the forms which don't fit you, the processes which assume that gender is immutable and very nearly every time this is thrust in your face, it's an actual person has to enact this stuff even if it's not their own thoughts which produce the awkwardness in the first place. Because they're all tiny incidents, it's just not reasonable to lose your shit. It's a little thing. One tiny straw upon the camel's back. I have found myself playing out persecution scenarios in my mind and I realised today is that what I want is for someone to overtly, unapologetically be a stinking, inexcusable transphobe to my face so that finally I have a legitimate excuse to pin them to a wall by their fucking throat and scream blue shrieking murder at them. I want someone to call on their bullshit, a face to put to it, not the tedious dribbling banal microaggressions that provide nothing on which to gain purchase. I have half a lifetime's worth of development and discrimination to resolve in a handful of years and no release valve.

Suddenly the self-harm and suicide attempt statistics of the trans community make horrible sense. Those times when I just curled into a ball and stopped functioning for an hour or three and wanted to the world to go away with no resolution have more meaning to them. It's about the lack of ability to confront the discrimination that exists because it presents no tangible representative to be challenged and that denies us the avenues of personal (as opposed to collective) defiance. I don't actually really want overt persecution, nobody genuinely wants that. But the separatist radfem dialogues and tranny crossdresser stereotypes and awkward hermaphroditic images and and and remain out there without a face to which I can tear all these misconceptions to pieces and shout "Don't you DARE tell me that you know who and what I am better than I do! Don't you DARE demand that your hastily constructed confection of kneejerk reactions and stereotypes deserve to be given equal weight to my daily, critical interrogated lived experience." This doesn't make me special. I have been watching dialogues around immigration and racial discrimination and in many ways those have driven these thought processes. There is discrimination which I will never face and can only dimly understand. The world is an inequitable and shitty place. What I want in this case isn't the means to fix that. I just want the catharsis of having someone to shout at about it. Without that available to me sometimes it just escapes randomly through the most convenient available emotional outlet. I worry that one day it'll be someone I don't want to scream at who gets it rather than me just messily curling into a ball for a bit. I very nearly did precisely that today.

I thought I was done with this. Silly me.
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Saturday was eventful. I had my last scheduled appointment with my therapist and it consisted almost entirely of me telling him how thoroughly happy I am. I first walked into his office about three years ago, a very nervous and confused and distressed person. I'm not that person anymore in so many ways that the me that used to be feels more like someone I used to know than someone I used to be. The disconnect is remarkable. The difference made by surgery is so much more than I'd expected and I'm still unraveling that but all of the entangled aspects of it are good. I feel now that I've done all the big stuff and I now have the head space for some fettling of myself and my life.

The cello is obviously one part and I love the thing. My body is still a bit of a focus though. It's coming on to a year since I had regular exercise and I've become fat and soft. The fact that my drinking habits have escalated over that period as well hasn't helped and that's a concern on a few levels. So it's time to do a bit more reclamation. I'm cutting back on alcohol and the plan is to drink none at all during July. I'm also doing a detox diet over the first three weeks. I don't know that the word "detox" is especially meaningful but the basic plan is to break a few bad habits and lose a few physical cravings like caffeine and refined carbohydrates. I probably won't stop drinking altogether but the way I approach it needs a significant rethink. Exercise will obviously have to wait a while - I'm still having to be careful about how much I walk at this stage, never mind anything more strenuous.

On a more superficial level I got a labret piercing on Saturday. I'm most pleased with it and had been getting really good responses to it as well. I'm also still craving ink. I have a fair idea what I'd like a tattoo to look like from a couple of metres away but I'm rather short on content. This needs to happen soon, I think. Now is the time in my life when I want it to happen.

I've done the broad brush strokes, now is the time to erase some smudged pencil lines, blot some excess ink, and fill in some detail. I am still my own project. This is fun.
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Another few weeks and I'm back at work and feeling more comfy. My secondment has been extended for another eight weeks which pushes it back to the end of August and the call centre is feeling very very remote. This is a good thing. Call volumes are out of control and the atmosphere in there is feeling rather toxic to the point where I'm feeling it from 9 floors up and through some rather remote channels.

I bought myself a cello last weekend. This is an amazing instrument and one of the most deliciously tactile things I own. It is huggable in a way that I don't expect from a musical instrument and rewards pretty much any kind of touch. It resonates and responds makes complex noises no matter what I do with it. My left hand kind of knows what's going on but the bow is a challenge. If I play it pizzicato the level of concentration needed is less than half of what I need with the bow and it engages me in an exhausting way. I like this. I like it a lot. I'll like it even more when I learn to make deep, sweet, toffee-coated sounds with it.

I'm finding that I can walk more and I'm starting to want to reclaim this body that I like so so much more than I ever have before. I still can't cycle or skate and that will take some time. I'm undertaking a detox diet with my housemate which was something she wanted to do and that dovetails with the intention I already had not to drink alcohol over the course of July. This might pull some of this excess weight off and give me a head start on doing some kind of real exercise heading into August. In the meantime I still have the opportunity to get to know this body in an awful lot of ways. Derby is receding into the background although I still have a lot of wonderful people in my life as a result of it but the resulting gap left by its absence and the fact that surgery no longer occupies so much space in my thoughts gives me a chance to introduce new things to myself. Cello is definitely one. Defining relationships with people and the communities in which I exist is another. The myriad mental projects which all seem to be converging on the notions surrounding the ways in which we see and treat those who are not like ourselves is yet another.

I have a big blank canvas to play with. There's lots that's already defined but I have lots and lots of wriggle room. I *knew* this was coming and I knew full well that I was only going to be able to start the process of filling in the gaps once those gaps appeared. This is going to be fascinating.
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This new body just gets better all the time. This isn't just not wrong. I've had it brought home to me just how remarkably right it is. I keep saying this over and over - I wish I'd done this 20 years ago even though I know I wasn't ready and it would have been so much harder. The next step is to keep settling into it. This will take some time but the learning curve promises to be rewarding.
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Things are still getting better. My stress levels are down, I'm making and retaining good connections with people and more and more I'm settling into my body.

Cut for talk about girly bits and how they're progressing. )

So I'm relaxed and happy. I've cleared some huge stresses from my life and starting to find new food for thought with regards to my sexuality. There's nothing that's a notable departure from where I was before but the removal of such a significant dysphoric dissonance and being so pleased with how my new body is progressing makes contemplating such things much less fraught and so much more promising. I think perhaps I've hit a good part which is such a relief after the past few months.
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Just posting this so I get to keep it. I was talking to someone in my league yesterday. I've known her maybe a year and she, like everyone else there, knows that I'm trans. I mentioned "my wife" and there was a pause. "Oh, so you weren't married in this country?" She'd actually forgotten that I was trans. I live my life assuming that it stands out like I've got a gigantic flashing neon sign over my head and a couple of times I've had things happen that give me reason to believe that. A little moment like this one makes all the difference.

Ow. Yay.

May. 1st, 2013 03:10 pm
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It’s now May although in my head it’s still just barely April because as far as I’m concerned it’s still Tuesday night even if I did start typing this at 2:45 am.

So just over a week ago, I regained consciousness and vomited weakly into a bag. That was my first conscious memory with no penis. Except that it really wasn’t. Sure, at that point there was nothing I had which could be pointed to and described as such but I was so swollen and swaddled that it made no difference whatsoever. It would be nearly another six days before I cried tears of joy over that fact.

I should have been typing something every day but I was sore and muzzy-headed enough that the simple lack of being able to just type it all directly into a blog made me give up and either sleep or, latterly, read lots of Terry Pratchett. So let’s see if I can’t remember enough now while I’m still in my hospital bed that my future self doesn’t quite want to throttle me.

I got it together enough the next morning to post on Facebook (and the love I bear my smartphone over this period of otherwise total internet blackout probably doesn’t bear repeating and might be slightly creepy). The resulting tide of love I got from that one post alone makes me realise how ridiculously lucky I am. 80 “likes” and thirty something comments is nothing for a FB post but this didn’t go viral or otherwise get shared, that was entirely from my friends. I got message after message that day and in the days since via Facebook, Twitter, email, text, a couple of different chat clients and in a couple of truly weird instances, phone calls. This is a theme I will probably return to again and again. It bears repeating because that paragraph nearly didn’t exist. I nearly just said that the first two days consisted of me trying to sleep through the discomfort, in between medical needfulnesses and the astonishing physical challenges imposed by eating awful food when you can’t sit up.

The first two days were in fact, discomfort, intermittent sleep, medical needfulnesses, physical challenge eating and unremitting love and support.

Friday brought the first day of elevated temperatures. This meant that food went from boring to nauseating and apart from white bread and simple dairy I couldn’t face food, the smell made me want to gag. The lowering of discomfort from surgery was countered by that non-specific grubby malaise that comes with just fighting off a bug. The drain, catheter and IV conspired to keep me flat on my back and I experimented crazily with bed settings to find one that minimised that and ease my lower back. This was basically me playing with the recline setting. For some reason I couldn’t just raise my feet – that option seems to be mechanically disabled on this bed. Electric motors complain but nothing happens so there are locking pins in or something. This continued on and off over the weekend. In that time I got visits from my parents, the genderqueer and trans community and of course, derby people.

Cut for way too much talk about blood and body parts in amongst the funky self-actualisation thingies. )

The catheter came out the following morning and since then I’ve not been tethered to anything (the IV came out on Sunday) and it turns out that most of the restrictions on my position in bed have been related to the internal form and swelling. So I’m still either laying flat or gently reclined on my back at this point for my most comfortable sitting position. The fact that I can sit upright more or less comfortably on the toilet makes me look forward to the inflatable doughnut cushion Mum says she’s bought me. All the hoops have been cleared as far as I’m aware so I should be headed back to Mum’s tomorrow. A combination of concern for my cat (I dragged her into a strange house and then disappeared 36 hours later – from Bonnie’s reports though she seems happy, but I just want her to see *me* back there again) and the fact that I now have the Amazing Japanese Shower of Extended Joyful Features may see me home earlier than planned after that. From there it’s not quite business as usual but back to real life.

There has been no inkling of regret in this but there have been ponderous, crashing surreal (that’s been a favourite word lately) moments when I’ve contemplated the irreversibility of what I’ve done. Contemplating exactly why this is actually such a big deal might be a whole other blog post because while I’m not going to dispute the idea that it’s a big deal, exactly why warrants more teasing out. Later. So while I could characterise a lot of my thought processed as “Oh god, what have I done.”, that reflects the seriousness and irreversibility of it all rather than the good or bad aspects of it. I’m getting sensations which are either actual phantom sensations or bits of skin so radically relocated that I can’t make sense of what they’re telling me and this reinforces the weirdness of everything. For the most part I’m just enjoying tripping on this. It’s fascinating and surprising and at the same time the culmination of a goal that I’ve been pushing towards for about three years now.

I still stand by what I said earlier about surgery not being the be all and end all of transition. Even disregarding all other trans people who don’t want or can’t have surgery and talking soley about myself, I’d already done a substantial portion of the process of transition well before surgery. But in addition to what I’ve described surgery as before, it’s essentially the last big goal for me to work towards as part of transition. That doesn’t mean I’m finished, not by a long stretch. But it does mark a change to a point where my primary focus might not actually be transition and I can get on with my life.

[edit:]

Now at Mum’s place with real internet.

This morning my surgeon burst into my room which he did every time he saw me in hospital. Now this isn’t an entirely fair description as the man does knock, but then so does everyone else. So at 7:30am which is apparently when he visits post-op patients I get a polite knock at the door which just barely suffices to wake me. “Is that breakfast?”, I think, “Or does the nurse want to do something to me?” (never as good as it sounds) So I cheerfully invite whoever it is in except that I’m not awake so a series of noises emerge that mean nothing except “I’m awake.”, but that’s enough. The nurses and kitchen staff understand this. They crack the door open and explain who they are in gentle terms and then let me catch up. My surgeon doesn’t. I don’t know when he wakes up nor what he drinks when he does but he’s got a full head of steam by the time he gets to me. He breezed in, breezed at me, patted my knee, called me dear and breezed out. My half of the conversation was approximately “Whuh? Uh? ... Home? Yes...today... unh...salt...appointment...?...” Followed by me being functional enough to remember what he wanted to talk about five minutes after he left. Good enough though. Everything was written down for me anyway and I remembered the important bits regardless.
I think it shows how pleased I am to be out of hospital that I sat uncomfortably in the car going down the Southeastern Freeway towards Berwick through the driving rain and genuinely enjoyed it. Then after dropping stuff off at Mum’s we made a quick trip to the shops for a few things. It turns out a supermarket run after sitting in a car for a bit is about the limit of my physical reserves for the moment. I shouldn’t be surprised though, really.

I have liquorice allsorts though.

Ow. Yay.

May. 1st, 2013 03:10 pm
sacredchao: (Default)
It’s now May although in my head it’s still just barely April because as far as I’m concerned it’s still Tuesday night even if I did start typing this at 2:45 am.

So just over a week ago, I regained consciousness and vomited weakly into a bag. That was my first conscious memory with no penis. Except that it really wasn’t. Sure, at that point there was nothing I had which could be pointed to and described as such but I was so swollen and swaddled that it made no difference whatsoever. It would be nearly another six days before I cried tears of joy over that fact.

I should have been typing something every day but I was sore and muzzy-headed enough that the simple lack of being able to just type it all directly into a blog made me give up and either sleep or, latterly, read lots of Terry Pratchett. So let’s see if I can’t remember enough now while I’m still in my hospital bed that my future self doesn’t quite want to throttle me.

I got it together enough the next morning to post on Facebook (and the love I bear my smartphone over this period of otherwise total internet blackout probably doesn’t bear repeating and might be slightly creepy). The resulting tide of love I got from that one post alone makes me realise how ridiculously lucky I am. 80 “likes” and thirty something comments is nothing for a FB post but this didn’t go viral or otherwise get shared, those responses were entirely from my friends. I got message after message that day and in the days since via Facebook, Twitter, email, text, a couple of different chat clients and in a couple of truly weird instances, phone calls. This is a theme I will probably return to again and again. It bears repeating because that paragraph nearly didn’t exist. I nearly just said that the first two days consisted of me trying to sleep through the discomfort, in between medical needfulnesses and the astonishing physical challenges imposed by eating awful food when you can’t sit up.

The first two days were in fact, discomfort, intermittent sleep, medical needfulnesses, physical challenge eating and unremitting love and support.

Friday brought the first day of elevated temperatures. This meant that food went from boring to nauseating and apart from white bread and simple dairy I couldn’t face food, the smell made me want to gag. The lowering of discomfort from surgery was countered by that non-specific grubby malaise that comes with just fighting off a bug. The drain, catheter and IV conspired to keep me flat on my back and I experimented crazily with bed settings to find one that minimised that and eased my lower back. This was basically me playing with the recline setting. For some reason I couldn’t just raise my feet – that option seems to be mechanically disabled on this bed. Electric motors complain but nothing happens so there are locking pins in or something. This continued on and off over the weekend. In that time I got visits from my parents, the genderqueer and trans community and of course, derby people.

Cut for way too much talk about blood and body parts in amongst the funky self-actualisation thingies. )

The catheter came out the following morning and since then I’ve not been tethered to anything (the IV came out on Sunday) and it turns out that most of the restrictions on my position in bed have been related to the internal form and swelling. So I’m still either laying flat or gently reclined on my back at this point for my most comfortable sitting position. The fact that I can sit upright more or less comfortably on the toilet makes me look forward to the inflatable doughnut cushion Mum says she’s bought me. All the hoops have been cleared as far as I’m aware so I should be headed back to Mum’s tomorrow. A combination of concern for my cat (I dragged her into a strange house and then disappeared 36 hours later – from Bonnie’s reports though she seems happy, but I just want her to see *me* back there again) and the fact that I now have the Amazing Japanese Shower of Extended Joyful Features may see me home earlier than planned after that. From there it’s not quite business as usual but back to real life.

There has been no inkling of regret in this but there have been ponderous, crashing surreal (that’s been a favourite word lately) moments when I’ve contemplated the irreversibility of what I’ve done. Contemplating exactly why this is actually such a big deal might be a whole other blog post because while I’m not going to dispute the idea that it’s a big deal, exactly why warrants more teasing out. Later. So while I could characterise a lot of my thought processed as “Oh god, what have I done.”, that reflects the seriousness and irreversibility of it all rather than the good or bad aspects of it. I’m getting sensations which are either actual phantom sensations or bits of skin so radically relocated that I can’t make sense of what they’re telling me and this reinforces the weirdness of everything. For the most part I’m just enjoying tripping on this. It’s fascinating and surprising and at the same time the culmination of a goal that I’ve been pushing towards for about three years now.

I still stand by what I said earlier about surgery not being the be all and end all of transition. Even disregarding all other trans people who don’t want or can’t have surgery and talking soley about myself, I’d already done a substantial portion of the process of transition well before surgery. But in addition to what I’ve described surgery as before, it’s essentially the last big goal for me to work towards as part of transition. That doesn’t mean I’m finished, not by a long stretch. But it does mark a change to a point where my primary focus might not actually be transition and I can get on with my life.

[edit:]

Now at Mum’s place with real internet.

This morning my surgeon burst into my room which he did every time he saw me in hospital. Now this isn’t an entirely fair description as the man does knock, but then so does everyone else. So at 7:30am which is apparently when he visits post-op patients I get a polite knock at the door which just barely suffices to wake me. “Is that breakfast?”, I think, “Or does the nurse want to do something to me?” (never as good as it sounds) So I cheerfully invite whoever it is in except that I’m not awake so a series of noises emerge that mean nothing except “I’m awake.”, but that’s enough. The nurses and kitchen staff understand this. They crack the door open and explain who they are in gentle terms and then let me catch up. My surgeon doesn’t. I don’t know when he wakes up nor what he drinks when he does but he’s got a full head of steam by the time he gets to me. He breezed in, breezed at me, patted my knee, called me dear and breezed out. My half of the conversation was approximately “Whuh? Uh? ... Home? Yes...today... unh...salt...appointment...?...” Followed by me being functional enough to remember what he wanted to talk about five minutes after he left. Good enough though. Everything was written down for me anyway and I remembered the important bits regardless.
I think it shows how pleased I am to be out of hospital that I sat uncomfortably in the car going down the Southeastern Freeway towards Berwick through the driving rain and genuinely enjoyed it. Then after dropping stuff off at Mum’s we made a quick trip to the shops for a few things. It turns out a supermarket run after sitting in a car for a bit is about the limit of my physical reserves for the moment. I shouldn’t be surprised though, really.

I have liquorice allsorts though.
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Everything is moved. The shopping list is mostly filled. I have to rummage though closely stacked boxes to find the one that contains my bags so that I have a bag to pack and then pack it. My last solid food happens in less than two hours and after that there's a somewhat intimidating prescription to take. I should also book a taxi now for 5am, given that admission is 6am.

Suddenly it's upon me and it's awfully surreal.
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In a week's time I'll hopefully be mostly if not entirely moved. I'm in the process of packing and it's going slowly and painfully, mostly because I'm utterly exhausted and keep bursting into tears. I am not coping well. I keep telling myself that I just have to get through this last week and hold it together and it's all done. Just so long as I do what I have to that's enough. I don't have to like it. I don't have to do it especially well. I just have to do it. Please god don't let me miss something important. The money is paid, the consent forms are sent. I still have to fill me post-op care shopping list, but that's not huge.

I'm having not grownup responses like wanting to curl into a ball and have someone else fix everything for me. This is not reasonable but then that doesn't appear to be a criterium for how I'm feeling at the moment. I guess this was never going to be an easy week. So I'm whining.

I'm whining because I feel awful and my body does things to me like make me cry randomly (like right now) and want to fall asleep at inopportune moments and because I want to have this record of me whining so I can look back at it later and value what I have just that little bit more because fuck it, I have *earned* this.

Oh but I hate it though. I hate the feeling of not being in control of myself. I hate the feeling of suddenly not having enough time when the wait had dragged on forever. I hate not having the personal resources to simply harden the fuck up and simply DO what would at any other time be a fairly straightforward thing. I hate feeling like some kind of fraud because on some level I'm not registering that this is real stress and it feels like some weird scam I've concocted. I hate the way in which I'm kind of bewildered at my lack of ability to just get on with it.

Can I just be finished please? I really really want this to be finished.
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Just over two weeks to go and there's a sense of too much to do and too little time in which to do it. This isn't actually the case but it feels that way and the temptation to procrastinate is perversely strong. I'm definitely starting to feel the stress. It's not so much that I'm consciously worrying about things but my body steps in and hits me with adrenal surges so sharp that I gasp like someone has poked me with a pin or I'll suddenly have to disappear from my desk at work and walk quickly and determinedly away so that I can burst into inexplicable tears in private. I'm also veering oddly between insomnia and finding myself falling asleep at inopportune time (ok, maybe the veering isn't so odd but it's inconvenient and disconcerting) I may need to be very conservative with my estimates of how much I can get done in a given amount of time in the final week.

There is more than just the stress of moving house and impending surgery to cope with. The loss of derby is still fresh enough for me to cry over under the right circumstances and while that's receding it's a sort of sour background fog that ties in with me being really fucking annoyed with my body, mostly because of the restrictions associated with my knee. This in turn relates to the way in which the impending reconfiguration of my body has me angry at myself for the indulgent comfort eating and excess of alcohol which in combination with almost no exercise has seen me gain 10 kg and lose a lot of hard won fitness. I worry about how to deal with that as I suspect I may be pushing too hard with that even now. It also has me re-evaluating aspects of my sexuality again which will place me even further into extravagant freak territory but which I cannot simply sweep under the rug and ignore - that bump is now too large. This will be part of how I contextualise myself in the future and not something I can ignore while actively trying to start dating again.

I've also made a tentative but enormous commitment which has a year long lead time and a lot of wrangling but would yet again turn my life upside down. It has a ratio of amazing and scary that probably means I absolutely have to do it if it's even remotely feasible but the very idea makes my brain fizz.

I can't actually effectively hold all of this in my mind at once. I'm trying very hard to focus on the important stuff that is happening really very soon now but the other things barge in and shout at me about how big and important and exciting and scary they are and how I need to think about them Right Now. This is not something that is calculated to promote calmness and rationality.

Still, there's not that much time left. As long as I do what I need to get done in the next couple of weeks, from that point I can just hang on for the ride and come out the other side with a much clearer mental and emotional landscape or at least one with a couple of huge and pressing elements removed. I just wish I could convince myself to put everything else aside until then.

Why am I doing this to myself?

Advent

Mar. 25th, 2013 12:01 am
sacredchao: (Default)
Two years, four months and two days ago I started taking estrogen. I've taken it every day ever since. Tomorrow will be the last dose I take for a while. This is because Tuesday marks the point where there are only four weeks until I go in for surgery. Apparently an elevated amount of estrogen ais a risk during surgery (it is for cisgendered women as well but there's no way to regulate it in that case)

I'm starting to pack my things, work through lists of things I have to do and I am thinking of little else but moving house and surgery. Moving house also happens in four weeks, the weekend before surgery. I could wish it was a week earlier but some things just can't happen so I guess I suck it up and deal. It essentially means that I'll do a quick and dirty setup in the room that will be my bedroom so I have a bed to sleep on and access to my clothes and everything else will be shoved into the other room to be dealt with when I get home after surgery. Unpacking will be a slow and gentle exercise, methinks.

I don't think I'm especially scared. I'm appropriately wary of the risks associated with surgery but short of not going ahead with this there's nothing I can do about that so it's not worth getting worked up over and I'm not. I'm a little more edgy about the pain that I know will be involved but again, that will be what it will be and falls into "suck it up" territory. Price of admission and all that. It's what comes after that. New home, readjustments to make to how I see myself. I suppose my life won't change that much but what will change will be that I will no longer have a major goal to push towards with transition. I'll have done all the big stuff and, to paraphrase Hitchikers' Guide to the Galaxy, anything I still can't deal with will therefore be my problem. What next? I broke my life apart, threw away several large chunks of it and then set myself to focus almost entirely on the process of transition. I need to be aware that I'm not going to have much in the way of goals after this and be ready for the "now what?" questions. If I'm honest, I think that's what I'm nervous about now. Once I've negotiated the big stuff I'll be left with just a life like everyone else. It'll come with a couple of extra challenges but so do many other people's. To survive isn't enough, I'll need more purpose than that. There's no big rush I guess but even so.

Having said all that I suspect that I really shouldn't underestimate the fact that there will be several levels of coming to grips with what I'm about to do. I'm not even sure what that will entail but it's not going to be a case of dusting off my hands and getting on with life as if nothing has happened. Even putting aside healing, I think I'm going to be re-examining myself yet again. Let's be honest, I have no idea how I'm going to feel at that point. Lots of general purpose bracing knowing nothing except that there's a significant probability of post-surgical depression. That's a very long winded way of saying that this is a big deal and I have no idea what to expect afterwards. As usual though, getting it out of my head helps it to make more sense.

I watched a video about body modification yesterday. In the middle of it, reassignment surgery was mentioned and there were some shots of surgery being performed. It was graphic and bloody and unpleasant and more or less intended to shock. I watched it with a degree of naked want that surprised me. I watched the incisions and the suturing with no fear or distaste, just a wish that I could skip the next four weeks. I have no misgivings about this, no second thoughts, no niggling wondering that I might not be doing the right thing. This is so so right.

For all that it's very definitely what I want though, I'm already wigging out slightly and by the time the weekend of the 20th of April rolls around, I'm going to be a bit incoherent. Anyone helping me out on moving day gets extra thanks for their forbearance in advance.
sacredchao: (Default)
Time rolls on. Tomorrow will be six weeks to go before surgery and it's starting to get big enough in my mental view that I'm losing perspective and it's now just a Very Big Thing™. How I will be feeling in a few weeks wouldn't bear thinking about except that I'll be moving house about then.

I confirmed my new home today. I'll be sharing with two lovely people from my derby league and the six year old son of one of them. They're both good, low stress friends and I'm really super pleased to be moving in with them. Rather nicely, what I'm getting for my rent is essentially a corridor that leads off the loungeroom; the two smallish bedrooms and ensuite that open into that are all mine except that the ensuite also constitutes the laundry. It's for all intents and purposes my space and that will be a very nice thing indeed. The rest of the house is a nice space as well.

The fact that I'm sharing with a couple of people from my league and that there will be a steady trickle of people from my league and others through the house will be a gentle way to stay connected that isn't going leave me overwhelmed. I've also got my own space in which to hermit if I have to. Being in Thornbury also puts me much closer to a great many friends. For that reason and a few others, I'm looking forward a great deal to moving back north of the city. The plan at this stage is hopefully to move in there the weekend before surgery. This could involve using most of my reserves of coping but at least it's positive stress. Then I get a full Monday to Friday at work. Having said that, it will also be the last week of my secondment, mostly due to the fact that I'll be away from work for five weeks after that. I have no idea what's going to happen after that. At all. I can't begin to predict my life post surgery. It will, of course, be much as it was before but I'm having trouble picturing it.

Eep.
sacredchao: (Default)
A big step today, I booked the date for surgery. Don't invite me to anything on 23/04/13, I'm sort of busy. It's a couple of weeks later than I expected but really that's neither here nor there at this stage. So this is a big thing with attendant crazy stress levels. Coming on the heels of the news about my knee, it presents two huge stressors, both of which introduce considerable uncertainty. Yes, I expect surgery to resolve a lot of dissonance and confusion but I also know full well that once that happens there will be a whole new slab of myself to evaluate and place into context and it will result in me evolving and growing yet again. I have no idea what the result of this will be though, only that it will almost certainly happen and so I should not make any especially firm plans.

I have a job interview on Wednesday. It's for the permanent position for which I've just started the secondment. I like to think that the fact that I've been given the secondment bodes well for he permanent position but I rather badly want this one. It will be a quiet relaxing job around people I like, interacting only with other departments, not the general public. It also means a slight bump in pay. Want.

So these things along with various interpersonal whatsits happening at different levels for different reasons and the need to find a new place to live before surgery mean that I have enough uncertainty in my life to have pinged some sort of what-the-fuck-is-going-on threshold. I need to address one thing at a time, even if everything is clamouring for attention at once.

There are times when I just want to have a comfortable thing to curl up against though. My soul is craving safe and cozy and I'm really not finding that right now.
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I'm feeling odd. Today was full of little adrenal panic attacks from the moment I woke. All I really wanted to do when they happened was lay down and stop moving or thinking and on a couple of occasions when I was assured of total privacy I did precisely that. I really hope that this is a short lived and unique thing that I don't have to deal with again. I made it through the day at work despite non-functional computer systems for half the day condensing my workload to an afternoon of crazed keyboard thumping.

Still hating my body. I'm fat and slow and fed up with both of these aspects. I have a consultation on Thursday about my knee which may explain the fit of nerves today. I *am* nervous about this because an unfavourable diagnosis could badly dent my lifestyle and ability to work with my body. Nervous isn't really a strong enough word - I'm scared that my current limitations could be permanent or that the limitations that will be permanent will be close enough to what I currently have to make no real difference. I'm kind of dealing with the things I can't do on the basis that they're something that isn't forever. If they are forever there will be tears.

Surgery is closer. Less fear and more excitement with this but still the trepidation that comes with a big life event. There will be pain and work to recover and a whole new round of coming to terms with myself and I have no idea exactly where that's going to leave me.

I also have a job interview tomorrow. I had an interview for the four week secondment that will cover the period up until they finalise the permanent placement but this one is for the permanent position. I want this position. So that's more nervousness.

Attendant to surgery in a way is the desire to move. I want that to happen before surgery or I'll be stuck here for a few months longer which I don't especially want. I need to start making that happen.

I think I would like one aspect of my life not to freak me out for a while. Something relaxing and comfortable. Right now I don't really have that which leaves me without a retreat. There we go - that's the insight that comes with typing stuff out like this. Now I know why I'm a twitching mess I might have a chance of working out what to do. Maybe. Fuck.
sacredchao: (Default)
The last couple of days have been difficult. Old insecurities have come out to play with additional tiny insights and incidents to spur them on. Maybe my usual trick of writing them down will make them more coherent.

My body hasn’t endeared itself to me of late. For reasons that I both have and haven’t covered here it’s not something which delights me at the moment. I’m also still feeling exceedingly single and badly missing the intimacies both large and small that come with a closer relationship than just friendship. The launch of the third iteration of Dude magazine over the weekend heightened that as its theme is partners. There was a great deal of discussion about the dynamics of relationships with trans people and that brought the whole issue into sharper focus for me.

While walking back to my car, a random guy sized me up and declared, “You look like a man.” He was part of a group walking in the other direction and once my gobsmacked mind had sorted itself out we’d both gone some way. Probably for the best...a group of drunken lads out on a Saturday night aren’t likely to react well to being called out by an uppity tranny.

It stung though. He had no investment in me whatsoever and was simply reacting to what he saw in front of him. This is unusual in my interactions with people. Most people I speak with know me, like me and want to support me. I’ve mentioned before the fact that phrases like “you’re gorgeous” refer to the person as a whole rather than their appearance and simply mean “You are a person who I like and value and want to support.” This clouds any opinion I receive from people partly because they’re perceiving the entire person and partly because there’s absolutely no way they’d tell me that frankly, I have a bit of a bloke-in-a-frock aspect for precisely the same reason that being told that by a random stranger in the street is considered to be so astoundingly rude. He was unusual simply because he had no compunctions in saying what he honestly thought.

I’ve had a good friend point out that a body is not a unique truth to read and it’s surely not a good indicator of gender but even if each person we interact with has a different impression of us, they *do*each read us visually in all sorts of ways that influence their impression of us and if there’s a dissonance there then it does register, whether it informs their opinion of our worth as a person or not. I know that *I* make those sorts of assessments. They don’t change my opinion of that person as someone I want to know but they do inform things such as attractiveness and if someone is unfortunate enough to have physical aspects wildly at odds with their gender I do think “Oh crap, you poor thing.” I hate myself when I find myself making those assessments precisely because I know it’s a thing I’m worried about myself. It informs more than just attractiveness; it affects how I’m positioned when I talk to people, it manifests in how I read people looking at me in public spaces, up to and including assessment of my personal safety.

So when my friends say lovely affirming things to me, it slowly becomes obvious that each and every one of them talks about me as a personality and how they value me as a person, even when the topic is specifically my physical appearance. This brings me back to the horrible and I hope unwarranted impression that they’re all stepping around the issue at hand to try to say something nice because while they’ll talk about my personality, my abilities, how I dress and a number of other things about me, my physical appearance is rarely if ever mentioned and when it is, it’s about things that don’t address this such as my eye colour.

All of this comes back to the worry I’ve had since I started the process of transition, which is to what extent this winds up with me being considered “other” by *everyone* and how seriously or not my identity will be taken by those around me, both consciously and sub-consciously. This includes myself. I do get instances of imposter syndrome where I don’t feel that I can legitimately speak with a woman’s voice and that it will be resented if I try. I’m acutely aware of the fact that my acculturation is heavily masculine and while I’m scrambling awfully hard to catch up, I still feel thoroughly clueless in many respects. As I’ve said before, I’m also still carting around aspects of male privilege which, while I don’t feel that I need to apologise for it, distorts and fragments my perception of how I position myself. A nasty aspect of this is that some parts of the feelings that contribute to the sense of being an imposter are very much like the arguments presented by some transphobic radical feminists as to why I’m not a real woman but a deceitful, deluded, infantile, mutilated male. I run across these often enough that the ways in which they mirror my own internal dialogues are *extremely* unpleasant. As it happens I came across a particularly nasty example of the type this morning. This meant I spent the rest of the days in a state of mind where I simply shouldn’t be talking to people. I forbade myself from sending even the most mildly critical of emails (which is a part of my job – I provide coaching feedback relevant to the work I do) and left that for tomorrow.

The catch 22 in all of this of course is that there are very few ways in which I’m going to get any kind of validation regarding this one way or another. Collaring my friends and putting them on the spot is a serious imposition that I’m not prepared to explore. Going back looking at my last entry it’s obvious that this is an ongoing argh with a few extra triggers to bring it out in its full nauseating glory. I’m not sure I know yet how to tackle this particular set of ideas but however I do it, it has to be in a way that’s honest with myself. This is also part of the ongoing process of trying to call myself on my own bullshit. So I have to acknowledge that making this public *is* me shoving this under the noses of those around me and I’m totally aware of that and so I also have to acknowledge that nobody owes me the awkward conversation that thrashing this out implies. I have to be prepared to accept that there’s going to be an untidy resolution where some things are validated, others refuted and much not resolved at all in the near future and that each of those aspects may or may not be to my liking. Ultimately though, this is mostly to get this out of my head in a sufficiently coherent form that I can take at least one step back and see it more clearly than I have so far. Otherwise I’ll continue to rehash half-formed thoughts and reach half-baked conclusions.

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