Field Notes In/On Transition
My 4th Transiversary, and first video blog
(script/Transcript) ooh Transcript, I am co-opting that, is below with pictures. But pretty much also word for word in the video link above.
So My Transiversary is coming up soon. I mark the ‘official start date’ of my transition as March 21st 2012, as that’s when I both began both HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) and started the expensive and labor intensive process of changing my name and gender where possible on my ID. So this is my 4th anniversary of starting Transition. Why does it feel so much longer than that? I guess because I spent my life since I was 25 coming out, almost starting transition, starting, stopping, until finally at 45 I started for keepsies. I turn 50 in September.
Really though, I feel like my Transition started when I first realized what the heck it was that made me feel so differently than I was told I was supposed to, as a kid. My awareness that I could actually maybe change the gender I was assigned at birth, and my young life, was maybe when I was a pre-teen and read salacious articles in the National Enquirer about evil transvestites, and transsexuals. There were a few positive stories here and there, about 1% trans elders like Renee Richards, or Jan Morris. The whole thing seemed out of reach to my raised in the 70’s brain. Only rich older folks could ever make that transition.
As hard as I prayed or wished before going to sleep, my bits tucked between my legs trying to approximate Barbie, or whatever sexless but very gendered dolls I had seen, no magic ever came to me and just changed things to my preferred gender. It’s probably a good thing that preadolescent wishes are only magic truth in fables, and tall tales.
But I’m not going to get into a whole memoir thing here. Please buy my book “All My Empty Dresses: Memoirs of a Strawgirl” whenever the heck I get it finished.
I want to talk about where I am at now either 4 years or maybe more like 40 years into my transition. The last few have just had a much more accelerated pace is how I am looking back these days. Everything before, all the not being able to live up to yourself, not able to get past the very real shame and guilt one has from the entire world around us, that still does not as a whole welcome or even begin to understand trans folks. Where I am right now is somewhere that I never thought I could get to: even as I started those few years ago, living my truth, very quickly starting HRT, name change. I am living my life presenting as the gender that I identify with all of my heart and soul. I’m still anxiety ridden a lot of the time, someone who overthinks, overreacts sometimes. But I feel that the difference between pre-transition me, and me now, is that I’m very honest about the things that get to me. I am too raw for many, but I shrug. It’s who I am. Scroll/stroll on by, if it’s all too much.
The thing that spurred me to finally commit to becoming myself, instead of continuing to live such a fake existence as I was living, was my blood pressure health scare. I didn’t have a heart attack, or stroke, but I very easily could have. The heart ward at St. Paul’s hospital, gave me several dark nights of the soul in a row. It was a pretty traumatic experience. I didn’t know if I would die. And when the doctors told me that I needed to lose maybe 20 or 30 pounds and live a healthier lifestyle, that I would be having heart attacks and strokes: I really didn’t know if I could do it. Did I have the strength to do so while still pretending to be someone I wasn’t?
I had kind of resigned myself to living as a bit of a closeted trans person. I ID’d as genderqueer if anyone asked, or sometimes said I was trans, but I still was presenting as male in public, except occasionally affecting femme style, specifically nails, earrings, and occasional androgynous shirts, and underthings that no one got to see.
The part of transitioning that I did before finally getting to see a doctor, and figure out hormones and the rest of it, was to get healthier. I went from 280 pounds down to my sveltest at 190 or so. So in less than two years by simply eating less and better, and drinking less and better, I yes lost weight, but more important than those numbers was that my hypertension was easily under control, and that I had good health when getting bloodwork done for transition as well. by the time I actually started the HRT in 2012, I was back up to maybe 200-205 lbs.
Transition, to keep the food talk going, is no cake walk, and now I have gained back another 40 pounds or so on top or that 10-15, so more than half my weight loss. It’s also a different kind of fat, in different places, the boobs and ass I’d like to keep. But I am feeling that I need to get back to that weird diet I did to get healthier a few years ago: I ate less and better food, and exercised a little bit every day for a year or two...
More recently though, my work life fortunes have started to turn around. I finally got a job (Visual Media Assistant at a film festival) that I feel like I can excel at, doing things I have actually been trained to do: edit video/film, and take photos, archive things. It starts next week or so, as there is some red tape with funding for the position. It is temporary full time, until the end of August, but I feel like having that stability of going somewhere everyday, and earning money in a positive friendly environment doing something I really am excited to do, will keep me from binging on tv shows, comfort food, and just sitting and staring at facebook all day.
My blood pressure is actually really good, as it has been for the last 5 years and my diet not half as bad as it was in 2007, but I still need to eat a better balance of food, and get back to some daily exercise beyond my typical walks to the tavern and back. Four plus years into my transition and I again feel like I am starting over yet again in my life. I don’t have any expectation that I can shed all the weight I have gained back, nor do I feel any shame, or guilt, about it, well, okay maybe a little. But not in regards to weighing ‘x’ pounds, but rather in regard to getting a healthier lifestyle going as I further transition and age. Neither of which are going to stop happening until i die.
It’s kind of like the first few years of my medical transition have been some sort of really expensive school. I’ve been learning how to be my real self, I’m not nearly the introvert I assumed I was, though I definitely have some introvert qualities. I transitioned from a long term job, mostly by being unemployed, but while: being my real self, more so every day, doing my memoir last year, fundraising, selling my art, and my upcoming new job doing the kind of creative collaborative work I’ve always wanted to do.
So, all I have to report really on the cusp of my fifth year living as my authentic self is that I really am becoming my authentic self, and as much as sometimes I feel like the world is moving too fast, I have in fact simply taken the time that I needed to get myself to a place where most of that shame and guilt at being who I really am, and at what I saw as my failure to be the other person I was trying to be. Joe never really reached for that brass ring, because it wasn’t his to grab, it was mine. Josie is the one reaching now. I still haven’t grabbed it, but I’m getting close, I can almost grasp it now.