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.