A journey to San Francisco to become no less than Me. (BLOG REBOOT: Former site of Hairy Legs.)

Archive for July, 2009

I am Batman.

As in, Christian “I-Gargle-Thumbtacks-and-Vodka” Bale, Batman.  (I quoted that nickname from somewhere I can’t remember.)

A lot of people would argue that Bruce Wayne was actually Batman’s alter ego, not the other way around.  That he put on the mask and changed his appearance to become his true self, and in acting like the normal person everyone expected him to be, he was hiding the unusual person that society would reject him for being, but the truer person, nonetheless.

FTM metaphors aside, sometimes I feel like I must sound like him.

I’ve got two voices.  One is the “Bruce Wayne”, I’m-living-in-the-gender-I-was-assigned-at-birth voice.  It’s a ridiculous, flutey soprano that I can’t stand.  If I was given the choice to change only ONE thing about myself genderwise, that would be it because I can pretty much deal with everything else without medical intervention.

The other voice probably sounds kinda like Christian Bale with throat cancer.  I try to make my voice sound naturally deep, the way I expect it would sound if God hadn’t been high on crack the day I was born and handed me the wrong set of vocal cords like he did.  But you have to really push it to cover up a voice like the one I have, and sometimes I think I just come off sounding totally cheesy.  Still, it’s the voice I choose when I’m with people who know me and understand why I sound like I have laryngitis.  Both voices feel fake to me, one just fits better.

So, the question is, what do I do when I finally get around to posting my transition on Youtube?  I’ve been watching a lot of transition videos, looking for transguys to chum up with (most of these guys haven’t started on T yet), and here’s the thing.  It’s hard to admit to it because it makes me sound like a total jerk.  But I’ll click these videos, and most of the time I’ll think “Shit, this guy looks great!  I wouldn’t even know he was trans if it didn’t say so!” …until they start to talk.

It makes me wince how huge a part of the male presence the voice is.  When a guy starts talking with the voice of a girl, at least for me, it VISUALLY pushes them at least 3 out of 10 points back over to the female side of the scale.  It doesn’t change my opinion of them as guys, but it just shows how deeply wired the voice is as a gender cue, and every time I see a video with a guy who still has the wrong voice, I think, “That’s going to be me.  I know I’m a guy, and other trans guys will know I’m a guy, and the people who really know me will know I’m a guy, but for just about everyone else, I’m going to be completely invalidated the second I open my mouth.”

It’s enough to make me think I should use voice changing software when I post something online.

But here’s the other thing.  I made the decision a long time ago that I was going to show visually and clearly all the aspects of my transition from day 1 forward.  Some trans people probably think that showing stuff from the “before” life is sick and twisted and undignified and feeds into a social stigma about trans culture.  Some are just uncomfortable with it because they feel it invalidates their current status as male or female to people who wouldn’t understand.  Other people like to do it because it connects them with their community, educates people, or just feels more honest.  Any reason to share or not share your background or transition is just as valid as another and I’m not one to argue any of these points.
Personally, immaturely, I just think it’s interesting.

Aside from being one the hardest things in mine or anyone else’s life (for those not educated, the suicide rate for trans people rests at a staggering 31%), the actual medical aspect of transition is astounding to me.  I think that it’s absolutely breathtaking that medical science is so advanced that, for example, we can inject some compound for a few months and slowly watch our body rearrange itself into the way it’s supposed to be.  It is truly a modern miracle, and as for myself, I just want to share that miracle with the world.

But back to the voice thing.  It’s the only thing that really makes me uncomfortable, even around other trans guys, and if I really want to show the pure change that T will afford me from day 1, then I’m going to have to use my real voice, at least at first.  That, of all things, scares me.

Would Batman be afraid to use his Bruce Wayne voice, for fear of being found out?  Would his world crumble?

Dreams, nightmares.

The other night I had a dream.  I dreamed my voice was right.  Nothing else was really fixed about me, but I can pass well enough visually without hormones anyway, so this is the main thing I want, and I had it.  The weird thing of it was, I only sounded right through audio equipment.  Recordings of me sounded right (so I could post a video online without sounding wrong) and I could talk through a microphone and I sounded right, too.  It was everything I wanted, I just had to carry around this technology with me to have it.

I know there’s something symbolic about this but I can’t quite put a finger on it.

The next night, I had a nightmare.  I dreamed I was at Wal-Mart, just goofing off like I always do (because Wal-Mart is the only cheap thrill out here in a place like this), and I saw someone from the old life, someone I still have to pretend to, my old music teacher.  Apparently she was Christmas shopping for everyone she knew, and she wanted me to go on ahead and “be a dear and pick out a present for yourself so I don’t have to.”

She had very specific limitations, though.  I had to pick out a girly item from this very particular name brand and it had to be under 3 dollars.  She told me where they were, and naturally, because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings or give myself away, I trooped off to go find something.

Now it had turned into my least favorite kind of dream:  one of those panicky dreams where I had to find something before a certain time limit ran out- namely, before my music teacher had gotten through check-out.  Naturally, if it had been real life, I would have just declined because her narrow image of what to get for me was exactly what I DIDN’T want, but for some reason in the dream world, this was now my quest- to figure out something from the girly shelf I would actually LIKE.

One of the biggest problems became even finding the shelf in the first place.  Once I did, all that was left was a bottle of fingernail polish remover.  I have NEVER liked fingernail polish.  It was a bloody joke.  (A weird deviation-  someone else came along and suggested this weird little dressertop knick-knack that kinda reminded me of the Easter Island heads.  I retorted that I didn’t want any more crap since I have enough of it to get rid of anyway.)  At this point I was so frustrated that I finally just ran up to my music teacher and told her if she was so determined to give me a present, I could just take the 3 dollars and go get a burger and call it a day.

The symbolism in this dream seems so obvious that it pretty much speaks for itself.

Ever heard that one joke?

The one that goes, “I’m a man trapped in a woman’s body, but that man is gay, so nobody ever really noticed.”

Used to get a real kick out of that joke, mainly because it sort of applied to me.  But as time goes on, and you’re not a 14 year old anymore, and you start to grow up and figure yourself out, you really start to realize the difference between SEXUAL ORIENTATION and GENDER IDENTITY.

That joke hasn’t been funny in years, because I realized just how fucking wrong it was.

You’d think it was, but being a gay man in a woman’s body isn’t really that much of a blessing, especially when you’re a bear.  In fact, it makes things a lot more complicated, particularly when you’re trying to come off as male to people who DON’T really differentiate gender and orientation.

I love dominating men.  Women are a piece of cake most of the time, but when you put yourself on top of what should be macho, you feel like king of the world.

I guess I happen to be with a guy right now.  Now, he does love to crossdress, and he loves to be on bottom, so he’s really the one wearing the skirt in the relationship, but he ultimately identifies as a male.  My god, though, he’s so perfect.  The first time he ever met me, and I told him straight exactly what was going on in my life, he just pretty much shrugged and said “I’m good with that.”  He never questions, never second-guesses, always trusts, and he GETS it.  I will never find a better match.

My main problem is my dad.  Getting him to see me as male has been really fucking hard, and I get that feeling that if he knew I was with a guy, everything I’ve built with him would crumble and he’d just think, “Well, there’s no point in saying ‘she’s’ a guy since ‘she’s’ STRAIGHT.”  So my life partner has been my “best friend” ever since my dad’s known him, even though I know it’d probably tickle my dad pink to find out that, even though I’m a “crossdresser,” I’m “straight.”  I don’t think he’ll ever get it.

The truth is, my identity as a male is more important than being seen as gay, straight, or whatever.  Even if it WOULD dissapoint my dad if he thought I was going out with girls, I’d rather him think that if it meant he still saw me as a guy.  But is this wrong?  Hiding my relationship with the most important person in my life from my dad just to prove my credibility?  Does it even matter WHAT my dad thinks of me if he still isn’t seeing the whole truth, if I’m still hiding?

The other night, before my parents left for Kentucky, we had a family dinner and my babe was here.  It’s the worst thing in the world when you turn and, without hardly thinking about it, go in for a kiss, then stop just inches from his face.  Time slows, eyes locked, and you have to look away, not just to hide your love from those who might tear it down, but to hide your shame from your lover that you even consider it something you have to hide at all.  I could feel his hurt, and it hurt me, too.  Why should I be afraid of being seen as gay if I’m already a fuck-up in my parent’s eyes, anyway?

“I heard a joke once.  Man goes to doctor.  Says he’s depressed.  Says life is harsh and cruel.  Says he feels all alone in a threatening world.  Doctor says, ‘Treatment is simple.  The great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight.  Go see him.  That should pick you up.’  Man bursts into tears.  Says, ‘But doctor… I am Pagliacci.’  Good joke.  Everybody laughs.  Roll on snare drum. Curtains.”

-Rorschach

Start.

4:54 am, PST on Friday, July 24th, 2009.

This is Day 1.  Ground zero.

Today’s the official start of my transitioning process.

Some day, I won’t be the only person who sees me as a man.  Some day the whole goddamn world will without a second guess.  And it’s only a matter of time.

Joaquin Jack, the rootin’-est tootin’-est outlaw in the Wild West.

Lemme give you the layout.  It’s still dark (5 AM) on what’s probably going to be one of the hottest days this summer in tumbleweed Hick-town, California, of all places.  Just said goodbye to my dad, who’s awesome, and my stepmom, who’s an idiot, when they left to fly out to Kentucky for two weeks.  It’s hard to believe I’m 20 and the economy around this tiny dustbowl is so dried up that I can’t get a job and move out.  Half the places I sent applications to this year have shut down completely- the Mervyn’s, the lumbermill, the Gottschalks, even an entire state park nearby, and god knows what else.  Everywhere that isn’t closed is laying people off left and right just to stay afloat.

And here I am, caught smack in the middle, a pre-op, pre-hormone, pre-everything queer-as-folk transman, trapped in White Republican Middle America in one of the most Evangelical households in the West.

It’s simple enough.  All I gotta do is migrate to some metropolis (maybe my own personal New Mecca, San Francisco), somewhere I can get a job and save up, and start my personal financial journey into the body I belong in.  Cept for one little thing.

I gotta think about my special lady friend.  A genderfuck just like myself, I been with a lot of people but nobody, not even my best friends, ever understood me like this.  I don’t wanna hold onto this relationship like some kinda crutch, but even I understand that a connection like this don’t come along more than once or twice in a lifetime and throwing it away would make me a damned fool.  Gotta stay for a couple more years, till his term at the community school around here is up, and then we’ll be scotch-free.  Just don’t know if I can hang around that long.  Staying here means being dependent on my parents and that means playing the game and wearing the proverbial skirt for way longer that I’m willing to put up with.

So I’m faced with a question.  What’s more important?  Me, or us?  Freedom, or love?  Independence, or a beautiful connection?

Do I live where I can tell the truth, but without meaning, or do I tell lies to protect what’s most important to me?

Anyway, at least I get two weeks to pretend freedom.  I can wear what I want, do what I want, and be what I am, in my own house, and not worry about the wrong person walking in and ruining everything.   It seemed like the perfect time to start “official transition.”

The process of transition’s been on my mind a lot more over the past few months.  It’s been something I knew I wanted for years, probably since I was 17 or less.  Before that, being a man in a woman’s body was something I just accepted about myself.  I actually prided on how well I was adjusted to such an inconvenience.  It’s how slowly I realized the brainwashing that shocks me.

How tiny I was when I first stood in front of the mirror, holding strips of my own long hair across my upper lip and fantasizing about how dashing I’d look when one day I’d grow up and have a real mustache of my own.  Maybe it was things like that that made my parents force me into a 24-7 regimen of skirts and blouses.  It took years for me to figure out that I wasn’t actually going to grow a mustache when I got older.  Not on my own, anyway.

Age 17- when I finally stood up and borrowed a pair of jeans to wear from a friend.  Before that, I satisfied my need to be seen as something other than a little girl by going to as many costumed events as possible.  “But it’s a costume party,” seemed to be the only excuse from the skirt regime.  Always extravagant, over the top costumes that required heavy special effects makeup- always male.   My first was Captain Jack Sparrow.  A knight at a Renaissance Faire, Beetlejuice at Halloween, The Joker at a recent convention, V at a party, Darth Sidious at a talent contest (don’t ask), more than I can name- anything where female features could disappear behind a heavy layer of liquid latex or a mask.  I was used to people staring at me; being forced to dress practically like a Minnonite already made me a social pariah.  If people were going to stare at me, I was gonna like what they were staring at.

When I started wearing pants every day, it was a weird kind of freedom.  I expected everyone at school to stare at me like I’d put on another costume, but people hardly noticed me.  I was kinda… normal.

To them, though, I was still a girl- just another girl in jeans.  How many girls do you even see walking around in skirts, anyway?  One in ten?  It destigmatized me, but I never wanted to be a normal girl.  I wanted to be a normal guy.

Not having the right body parts became painfully obvious when I started having sex.  I’ll spare the gory details but let’s just say that doing anything fun with the vagina I was given leads to unbelievable shame and anguish and the only mental peace I get during sex comes from a strap-on. (Fun fact: I built my first one before I’d ever even seen one [I’ve built three] and to this day the ones I build work better and are more sturdy than the more expensive Doc Johnson one we bought last year.)

Anyway, before this blog really starts to feel like every other FTM confession journal you’ve ever read, I guess I better start to celebrate the milestones I’ve passed.  The thing of it is, I know that even though today is the day I officially decided to start to track my transition, and the 24th of July will be the day I celebrate each year that I started my journey, I know it started a long time ago.  It started when I dreamed up my crazy outlaw name, or it started when my best friend and lover started calling me by Jack.  Maybe it was when I built my first STP device, or maybe it was when I learned to void through my fly without making a mess.  Or maybe it was when I chose to stop shaving my legs and pits last year as a testament to the only natural physical masculinity that I could claim, or this year when I stood up to the nitpickers at the pool when they felt like trying to point out that women with hairy legs are somehow more gross than guys with hairy legs, and I didn’t even feel entitled to give them an explanation or excuse.  But I think the biggest landmark was last night, when my own dad called me by Jack without me even reminding him to.  It meant acceptance by the only people in my life that matter.

I know I started my transition a long time ago, and I’ve still got a much longer way to go.  I know my stepmom will never be as accepting as my dad, and until that day long after post-op when my license says “m” and I can walk into a store without people questioning whether to use a ma’am or a sir, her ever using the name Jack is out of the question.  I still wear a bra instead of a binder on most days, and I still put on makeup when I go in for a job interview.  It makes me feel like a prostitute to society.  But I know that as long I still have to live in this gender, the only practical way to make my life work is to fulfill what people expect.  Someday I’ll be in the position to move in the direction I want with strength and conviction and dignity, but today it’s enough to be able to stand up for and own the little things.

Like hairy legs.

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