Field Notes In/On Transition
Guy Stuff vs. Girl stuff vs. Too Much Stuff
Sometimes, especially when out drinking with a few dudes, I’m still very much “one of the guys.” I lately notice that, I don’t find myself in a “bro” situation often anymore, at all. The other night I went to a facebook group meetup, and was immediately glad there was another woman already there. To have these thoughts even,consciously, accepting myself... this is still kind of a big deal to me.
My self re-programming is going well. I feel it’s an apt way to look at what I’m doing. It’s alarming how little transition is about the hormones, surgery, it’s about learning to presenting yourself in a way that is FINALLY comfortable, and uniquely and Capital Y You! It may be more femme than you imagined, or more butch, or more likely somewhere in the rainbow between The Big Binary.
The Big Binary Theory is one of the things that kept me obsessed for decades of stop go trans identifying. I was desperate to fit into one cliche or the other, or find one in between as a kind of plan B to being brave enough to transition. I tried to be straight guy, bi guy, gay guy, cross dresser guy (of varying lgbtness)... none of these labels ever felt remotely real to me.
I am a person in transition. My gender identity is obviously more femme than butch to put it in cliches, and I want to be identified as a she, a her, or a they if you like, but not a he. I think I present as someone expecting she, her, etc 24/7. But still, as it turns out, pink lipgloss and a babydoll dress, high heels is still no guarantee of not getting “Sirrred.” If there’s still a bit of that 40 odd years of body conditioning to fit in the male part of the pegboard, it gets picked up on first every time. Monkey Brain wins!
It’s our “civilization” that gives us the time to pause and take in the person, and go oh. “sorry Ma’am,” or better yet, “Miss,” or “Mademoiselle” (break out that french guys, Madame, sounds better than Ma’am, every time: I am Catherine Deneuve!) You can notice that I’m presenting as a woman, you really can. And more and more do, I’m finding. Time always tells. I’m getting less paranoid about “passing” every day; I hardly think about it in fact, except maybe at the end of my day, in retrospect.
I’m not trying to “pass”, so much as find my self that is the kind of woman than I am becoming ( I try not to dwell on the “would have been” part of being trans: “I” was stuck in a man’s body, not I was “a woman stuck,” rather, just an “I....” my true self in my sense of the universe, was not necessarily a woman who couldn’t manifest, but someone who was not yet ready to accept being a woman who never got to be a girl.) more than the woman I am or am not in this moment. I even have some concrete goals; I want to regain my dance mojo. I feel a bit paralyzed in this regard, which is kind of odd since I’ve always been able to get out on the dance floor (metaphorically and literally)... though for certain in my younger years I needed some boozy stimuli to get up and boogie. I like to think though that at least up until the last few years when I really retreated from going out to shows etc, so much, that I became a pretty good dancer. For someone who always feels like the bull in the china shop. Always, I had a groove and some moves.
I guess I’m a bit scared (ridiculous, sure) that my moves are no longer appropriate, or just some sad white boy shuffle that I had imagined having some elegance. Cliches, they really put us in blinders. I still see myself as not graceful enough to be “a real woman”, or even to be mistaken for one. We all have ridiculous fears and phobias. Mine centre often on being “unaccepted” somehow. The truth is though that I feel a lot of acceptance from the people I interact with daily, at work, or just in my neighbourhood. I feel I have shape-shifted from sad grumpy but still gregarious Joe, into happy (with occasional bouts of grumpy) chatty, enthusiastic Josie.
Sometimes I feel like I’m having too much fun, just being myself all the time, opening my mind to new ways of interacting with people. I’m learning to sing in my own voice, instead of copying some crow I overheard in my youth.
Which leads me to the other thing that I want to get in touch with, perhaps in ways I never thought possible: my voice. Recently when I’ve been particularly cheerful, I’ve been more and more singing along with music at work, or at home. I’ve always caterwauled along with music, like most. If I ever was “in tune” it was a random confluence of events. I did gain a certain confidence over the years, though in my “readers” voice, as a poet... I think I was a pretty strong reader/performer. I did once a few years ago in Toronto get to read my poems while an improv jazz band played, I felt I really had a groove with them, without trying to sing or be in tune.
But lately, like I say, I’ve been singing along, but in a higher key/voice than before; without thinking about it, or trying to, I usually don’t notice right away.... I think some shape shifting goes on under our noses. I still might not be in tune, but my “happy voice” sings along in a “girlier” manner than it did just a few weeks ago maybe. I’m truly happy, my “real voice’ emerges? hmmmm. Maybe, but I think I might need to do some actual work in that arena as well. I would like to be able to carry any kind of tune, even a very male sounding one if that’s all I can manage.
Convergent to this recent “epiphany” I have decided to do an art show opening, with some fellow artists/coffee friends, this summer. The details are not worked out, but I have a deadline, which I like, and a need to refine my poetic voice, as well as work on some of my photography and make some prints.
So to summarize: I am thinking/planning of learning to dance and to sing, if only to be able to properly accept my metamorphosis in ways that feel resonant to me. As far a my daily speaking voice/gait go(es), I feel that I am slowly absorbing, grokking the feminine cues, queues, etc (that I need to), and that this part of the transition takes care of itself with some gentle nudges from things like singing lessons,or singing in the shower, or a dance/exercise class, or dancing to classic rock in your pjs at home.
It’s very cool to be able to accept yourself for who you really are. It’s a novel thing for me, to be certain. I think I like it.