Frustrations, Flummoxes, and Fandangoes.


Field Notes In/On Transition. 

Frustrations, Flummoxes, and Fandangoes.

There are a lot of ups and downs anytime you undertake a big life change. Heck, there are likely just as many ups and downs even if you have not made such a big upheaval in your life as a trans person does. Just keeping your nose to the grindstone, and fitting in, doing what’s expected of you by mainstream society.... Shit happens. Family, friends die, you get sick, people hate you for no reason, you hate others for no reason, or a good reason, whatever. We deal or we don’t. But there’s room for variation in how well we deal or don’t deal, maybe. Maybe there’s wiggle room to sometimes suck at “dealing?”

So this post is kind of a laundry list of my fears, and things that are really difficult for me so far in my transition... I am very sunny and happy most of the time. But lately I’ve been reaching back to the “Frowny Joe” of last autumn a bit too much, dwelling on things that I can and will get past, but seem insurmountable, not just for transitioning but, rather in my humdrum daily life. There is more to my life than presenting myself in the manner to which I’ve always wanted to but was too frightened by to ever really try. At least I friggin’ hope there is.

I definitely have my doubts as to whether this is all worth it. I mean will I be a better, more fulfilled person, living the life of a woman? A lot of people argue that no matter how far I go, I won’t be doing that, living the life of a woman, and to be fair, they maybe be right. Sort of. 

I feel like I’m presenting myself as female as I can, but even wearing mascara, a dress, and lipstick, etc I still get “Sir, Man, Buddy-ed” pretty much by everyone, except those who call me Josie. And even then, there is often pronoun confusion, and slips of the tongue.

I really do not expect people to simply switch their brains to seeing me as a woman, yet. I really have just begun this process, that I’ve waited my whole life to do. I’m pretty easygoing about all of the above. At least until I get home and go over my day. I want to stop feeling bad about my self. And it’s not like I’ve even tried to figure out how to speak and move “like a woman.”

That’s something I’m going to have to start working on soon. I have some advice from people, and have looked online at methods. It’s yet another part of transition that there’s no way any agency is going to help me pay for. It seems to me that methods of doing things like this are good for some. But I learn like a sponge eats. I absorb information. I just need to keep doing what I’m doing, maybe adding some “voice lessons” if I can ever figure out how to afford it, and find the guts to sign up.

Will it help me be seen as a woman, at least at first blush (pun intended) if and when I get brave enough to go hugely in debt getting my beard, moustache removed by laser/electrolysis... for more than the few minutes that those things sort of disappear by my shaving daily; something I’ve never done in my life until now?

I always hedged my face shaving, going bearded a lot of the time, so that in the long run when I did get brave enough to transition my beard would be less of a hassle to get rid of/hide. I’m scared to death of the whole burning the hair out of my face thing. It’s way more intimidating to me than dressing in ladies clothes every day. As is the prospect of hiding my “man-face” in make-up.

What about speaking in the proper cadence, with a more feminine tone? Will that help? I have no idea. It’s definitely not happening at work, or anywhere off of facebook yet. I do get all sorts of compliments about my clothes, nails, and lately my hair, eyebrows. I still get “Yes Sir.” “Thanks Buddy,” mixed in with these compliments and encouragements.

I am not even close to feeling comfortable enough with makeup to hide it. I don’t want to be wearing primer, concealer, foundation, blush eye shadow, etc and so on, every day. Growing up, I saw very little of that kind of make up wearing from the women in my life. It makes me feel less like a transgender woman and more like a drag queen. Not that there’s anything wrong with drag queens, if it wasn’t for those queens at Stonewall and elsewhere, I doubt very many of us in the LGBTQ rainbow would be able to be as open and “Out” there as we are. But I don’t want to be a man in a dress, as awesome as that can be.

I still feel like that’s exactly what I am, sometimes, though. Sometimes I feel more like my transition is more about not being seen as a man, than it is about being seen as a woman. Being a man, or  dude, or a boy has brought me nothing really but grief in my life. I do feel that I have made the best of it most of the time. I tried my best to be the guy I thought I could be. Often I was as happy with my status as anyone, or at least on the surface it seemed that way. There was always this sense of waiting, though. 

Most of the creative projects, ideas I’ve had over the years have been stymied by not wanting to accomplish whatever it was as a man, and thus be stuck in that identity.

My failures to become say; a film scholar, a director, a novelist, a comic book artist (the only things I’ve ever been even remotely interested in doing as a “career,” all of which are exactly like playing the lotto as a career) are/ have been 100% self induced by my fear of not being able to do that and transition, as well. One dream always seems to kill the other for me. I’m sure this is ludicrous, but that’s how my life has gone thus far... 

I’ve never had any confidence that I could get a job where I make a decent amount of money, or work in a big company which are by definition conservative in their attitudes towards alternative existences like being Trans. My inability to be seen as a woman, even, or especially, maybe when I was a bearded, side-burned beer swilling fast food devouring fatso was the reason in my mind that I failed at everything. This inability made “ME” a failure as a person.

Now as a person in transition I know that a lot of ways of making a living are pretty much denied me. If I lost my video store gig that I am ludicrously over qualified for, (but easily enjoy more than any job I’ve ever had) I feel like I would be homeless and probably dead in a short time. 

I have no confidence whatsoever that I could somehow get another job, any other job, while in transition. All the jobs I’ve had have each been “night and day different” from each other. I found out during my last job search (long before transition) that there are very few jobs anyone would even consider me for. I was either over-qualified, or under-qualified for everything I applied for.

Out of 100+ jobs I applied for (this was before the so called recession) I got exactly 2 interviews. The job moving crap from the warehouse to the showroom at future shop I was denied because I had an education. This is exactly how it was put to me, despite my eagerness to take a 10 buck an hour job so I could pay my rent and you know, live. 

The ESL jobs here in Vancouver, I soon came to realize were the antithesis of teaching ESL abroad. Over in Japan, having ESL certification was almost a hindrance, here it is a requirement, that costs you money... I even went as far as doing an intro lesson at an interview, that the students and teachers loved, but was I offered a job? Only if I paid the school 1500 bucks to get certified. The reason I was looking for work was that I had no money. Catch 22 there. No?  Maybe. 

I’m someone who constantly feels stymied, like no one takes me seriously, not respected for my opinion. maybe sometimes this happens, but upon reflection...this all stems from feeling that I’m not allowed/don’t deserve to be the person that I want/wish I could be: A person who is seen as a woman, or if not, at least not a man. If you have no confidence in yourself, very few people will take what you say seriously has been my experience. 

So where am I going with all this moaning, and whining about my lack of self esteem, and things that happened ages ago? I have no idea, other than it’s really the main thing I’m trying really hard in my life to change. By writing this blog, self publishing my two poetry books, and even there I feel stymied in that don’t have the confidence to really sell myself as a writer. I seem to be waiting for my audience to find me. 

Wow, good luck with that, Josie. 

I don’t feel like I have a voice as a poet anymore. Or at least that no one is interested. Since the late 80’s I have made numerous half hearted attempts to be part of that (and the theatre, film) community, in Winnipeg, and in Vancouver. And to a small degree I was successful. I did almost every open mic there was from 1991-2002, I staged many readings with others, on my own. But I never felt even once that I was an appreciated part of that community. 

Every time I reached out I felt slapped back, asked to read places, thinking being asked meant being on the bill, when in fact it meant that there was a fear the open mic would be light, and I was dependable enough for that, but never to headline. 

It all comes back to my own lack of self though... even last November, I had a video-poem (for the 3rd year in a row) as the closing short in the Visible Verse Festival. 

All  the attending poets were singled out before the screening and applauded for coming, to showcase their work, except for me. I just sat there feeling embarrassed and as invisible as ever (in my mind)....More of the usual, as far as I was concerned. 

Did I speak up at the time, or ever later, when I had an awesome time eating, drinking, socializing with all these awesome people at a restaurant? Nope... I don’t feel this oversight was the fault of the speaker, as much as it was my own inability to take myself seriously enough for someone who knew me really well to remember I was sitting right there in front of them. 

I could have spoken up and light heartedly said: “Hey what about me?” But I didn’t; I let it go, and just let it be more proof I don’t get acknowledgement because I don’t deserve it. Intellectually I know this is bullshit. I may not be a “great poet” whatever that means, but I’m a decent writer, and a good person. Right? I was in the depths of my self loathing at that point. It took every ounce of courage I had, just to show up at the screening.

My “career” as a writer summed up so glibly above is a great example of how I react when I’m feeling unworthy, fake, a failure, which is who I was all the time last fall, and at more points in my life than I can count. For me feeling like things are looking up, looking forward to the future is something I abandoned as a teen when I realized that no matter how hard you wished for something it never came true. You actually had to do these things yourself, and if you were lucky, someone might appreciate it. But probably they wouldn’t notice. 

It turns out that my sense of being stymied at every turn came from within, from that part of me that “knew” that the only thing I ever really wanted - to transition, to become some sort of woman was impossible and I was thus undeserving of any more success than I could get without really trying.

I really could have made so much more of all the opportunities I had over the years at readings, hanging out with the writers, film makers, artists, and other geniuses I count as my friends. Regrets of this kind though I finally realize are a sham. Look through my facebook friends. All those great creative successful people? I know them, They’re my friends. I have rarely counted myself as belonging to or deserving of their success though, and have more often as not avoided joining in on those successes, that I could have been part of.

Geez. Pretty depressing, right? I don’t think so. I’m not that teen anymore, i’m definitely not “the guy” I was last fall: “Frowny Joe”. Which is probably too cutesy a nickname for the ball of anger and frustration that I was. I am moving forward, taking all these baby steps towards finding out who I am. Most people figure this out pretty early. I’m a late bloomer, I guess.

I still feel like crap on a stick sometimes, but those times are less and less often, and far less intense. I’m proud of myself to be taking any kind of step to transition. I’m happier than I ever have been, a mere five months in to what will be a long arduous process. I can’t even comprehend how good I might feel a year from now. Maybe these laundry lists of self-woe will vanish completely from my life? I doubt it. We all have pain to work through. 

The difference for me lately is that I am working through it, rather than wallowing in it, letting it feed my fears, doubts. Just listing all these worries, and concerns has made them all seem not so insurmountable, as they did this morning when I started writing this opus. 

Starting this blog is possibly the best thing I’ve done thus far to help myself transition. I need to get on those “voices,” poetic, and daily, and also, find a way to “vent” outside of this blog. There may be quite a few classes I need to take and I’m almost ready to do just that. Yoga? Voice lessons? Cooking class?

I am thinking about what comes next.

I’d almost forgotten how to do that. Of course the other ting that my lack of self esteem has kept me from doing is joining in on more Trans-centric events, drop-ins, counselling, whatever is available to me. I’ve been doing this mostly on my own. I have to figure how to reach out to those few resources that are available. 

Those fears of being fake apply there too. Damn it.

Baby steps.

I only have to look in the mirror, and look at all the love and support on my facebook page, here on my blog, or from my real life daily friends and acquaintances who seem to be handling my transition with even more joy than me for some sense of not being stymied, being appreciated...  Thank you all so much.

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