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

Archive for the ‘Name’ Category

1 Year Manniversary!

So, it was this day last year that I made the decision to start living full time as male.  I’ve pulled this from the first post on my blog:

“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.”

A lot of things have changed since that day.  The most recent change?  I’m now officially a working stiff.  Yep, that volunteer gig I’ve been talking about since April?  They finally offered me a full time, paid job with benefits.  My medical insurance starts in September, and I can start the process of medical transition this year.

Social transition started a long time ago.  Most people I know call me Tommy, even in the workplace.  Most of those people call me by male pronouns, except for family and people in the workplace.  I don’t know how I’m going to navigate that when I start looking and sounding more male, but I have a very cool and understanding supervisor who is used to dealing with people in unusual personal situations, so I’d be surprised if she treats me unfairly.

Funnily enough, my attitude towards pronouns has gotten a lot more lax lately, mainly because I’m just so tired of seeing people struggle with it.  I’ve even had a few people who have been trying their damnedest break down and cry over it, even when I wasn’t pressing the issue.  I can tell with these people, they genuinely want to say the right things around me and it really gets to them when they don’t, and it’s gotten to the point where I frankly don’t give a shit anymore.  I mean, it’s awesome when I get sirred in public, but there’s nothing I can do right now about the fact that I look, sound and smell female, and asking people to do mental acrobatics around it is a little unreasonable until I’ve been on T for a while.

That’s not to say that I let people walk all over me, though.  Recently a few friends and I were hanging out, and I was telling this story from back when I was still doing the whole “chick” thing, and one of my brodudes said, “Hey, FYI, you’re still a chick.”

I punched him in the face.

It was kind of awesome.  His head slammed the wall behind him and he came up dizzy and checking if all his teeth were there.

He got the picture.  We were cool from then on.

***

What else has changed since last year?  Hm…
– My car works again, feels good to have independence.
– I’ve finally gotten back into the habit of showering and brushing my teeth every day- I care about my body now that it might actually belong to me one day.
– I’ve been eating less junk food and soda and crap and staying active, and I’ve gained some muscle and lost 23 pounds worth of spare fat.
– I’m on my way to quitting smoking (which I’ve never really mentioned on here because I don’t want to make any of my  former smoker transbros start jonesing, but I feel it’s worth bringing up at least on my manniversary.)
– I finally got together the balls to cut my hair last year, feels awesome not to have an extra blanket of heat coating my neck and back in the summer.
– I’ve become an expert at using an STP at public urinals, and have broken the fear of using the men’s room.
– I’ve come out to my dad and we even talk about it at lengths these days, and he (sort of) accepts me as his son, off and on.  It’s all I can ask for at this point.
– Have been wearing a real binder, not an improvised one that could distort my ribs, for probably about 9 months now.  Of course I’ve been binding off and on for a long time, and every single day for a year now, but using one regularly that doesn’t hurt my back has done wonders for my self-esteem and general health.
– Since having them compressed every day, I’ve lost at least a cup size.  I used to be a full C, and now I’m kind of a saggy B.  Not as attractive with my shirt off, but much easier to bind, and sometimes I can even wear a baggy shirt without being self-conscious.
– I’ve pumped off and on all year, and let’s just say my microcock is a lot easier to see these days.
– A lot of other smaller things that I don’t feel like recounting.

The only negative thing is that I’ve become a lot less comfortable with sex these days.  Since being with someone who doesn’t neccessarily find my trans situation attractive and kinda made me feel like shit about myself in several ways, and becoming more and more wary that any guy I’m with will want to do me in the manhole, I’ve lost my sex drive almost entirely.  This has led to even more anxiety about it, since, as a general rule, “males have a bigger sex drive”, and since last year, mine has only shrunk.  Of course, it’s all a performance anxiety and self-consciousness issue.  But it’s kind of positive that I’m less desparately, widly depressed about how small my dick is and more generally just not interested in sex right now.  I’m sure when I find the right person, all that anxiety about my genitals will go away, and having my sex drive boosted by T won’t be as soul-crushing.

Anyway, my manniversary celebration turned out to be a lot less exciting than I originally planned, but then, I originally planned to be taking my first T shot right about now.  I’ve basically only had my best friend over today and we’ve surfed the internet all day and listened to music.  That’s it. It just seemed superfluous to make a big deal out of “Hey, I decided something this day last year!”  I’ll probably go buy a cake or something when I actually get on T.

***

I think the biggest point of all this is, I held my own Real Life Test, just to know for sure, for my own purposes, that this was what I wanted to do, that not only could I handle the societal pressures of being male, but the problems that come with living as one gender when the world percieves you as another.

It went far better than expected.

I’ve been living with genuine peace of mind in myself for a year, despite the storm raging all around.  I’ve come to know who I really am, and that person wasn’t as cool as I originally thought he would be, but I’ve settled with being a big dork, and I’m happy with that.  I haven’t been experiencing any delusions or hallucinations, the dissociation has ceased, my emotional turmoil has settled considerably, and since having a cool and sane head, I can see that a lot of the world wasn’t as big and scary and dramatic and bad as I thought it was.  I’ve developed a sense of responsibility to myself and others now that I have a cemented sense of identity and I don’t feel like a visitor to this world operating an expendable avatar.  I’m comfortable with myself and my friends tell me that I seem happier.  There’s no more being constantly on edge for fear that my own mind will revolt and I’ll have to account for yet another day lost to someone I don’t know.  I’ve gotten used to what it’s like to be the only person in here, and it’s surprisingly simple, even if at first it was a little claustrophobic.  I feel much more real, I feel connected to the consequences of my actions, I feel in control.  I feel… normal.

That was something I never expected.

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Day 14: Name time, part two.

Last month, I discovered it’s a bad idea to try and live with a name given to you by someone who you might wind up hating down the road.  I’m glad that I didn’t get anything done legally about it and all I have to do is change it on places like my blog.  (I’d almost forgotten that even needed to, except I clicked the “Random Blog Post” button for a blast from the past year and some inspiration, and found the post where I talked about how I decided on my name.)

Anyway, my ex was the one who decided on the name Calvin, and I kept it in my name even though I never really used it.  Now, any time I see that name, it reminds me of him and what he did to me, and a whole sequence of bad feelings come rushing back, so I’ve decided to drop it, move the “Thomas” back around to the first name spot, and go with my legal last name.  Now my name will read Thomas Jack H______, and it’s considerably less clumsy and more comfortable.  Besides, now that I’m becoming a lot closer to my dad, I’m a lot more comfortable with sharing his last name.  I kind of wanted to change my last name originally because I was afraid he might not want to be associated with me, but he’s become a lot more accepting of it all since then.  Now I’m ready to get my legal name change when that’s ready to happen.

***

I’m also thinking about starting my youtube channel soon.  The computer with the camera doesn’t really work all that well and it doesn’t have much in the way of editing programs, but I figure if I don’t start now then I never will.  I’m having a hard time coming up with an opening topic, though.  I’ll keep looking and when I get it posted, I’ll put a link up.

Peace!

Day Twelve: Intrapersonal progress.

(I’m probably going to keep this short because the exhaustion of the funeral and so forth in the last few days has drawn me out.  Nonetheless, I intend to keep on track with the challenge as much as possible.)

Some time last week, a friend and his family took me out to go bowling.  Naturally, when he put my original name on the electronic scorekeeper readout, I had him change it to Tommy because the discomfort of seeing my old name announced across the entire casino made me want to rip my own guts out.  Now, to understand the complexity of the situation, let me explain that my friend is gay, and his parents are very conservative Christians.  To say that he’s used to keeping secrets is an understatement- his mom does know but she’s somewhat uncomfortable, and even she had advised him not to let his dad in on it.  So when I went to change my name on the readout, my friend almost stopped me.  But I told him, “I don’t need a reason not to like my old nickname.  Let’s just leave it at that for now.”

Now, I figured the delicacy of the situation would involve him explaining to his mom at a later date when his dad wasn’t around, because even as open as I’ve become about it, his dad does make me a little uncomfortable.  But what he told me later bothered me somewhat.  He said that his mom had guessed dead on the nose, saying, “Is she becoming a boy?” and he’d “explained” that I just liked the nickname and the barber had screwed up my haircut and made it way shorter and butchier than I wanted.  (For some reason, that was a satisfactory answer- I don’t know about you, but I’d still be suspicious.)  Maybe a year ago, I would have been grateful for him covering my ass, but now I felt as though he were ashamed of me.  I am now at the point where I’m coming out to respected adults and parents of friends in my life and expecting to be taken seriously, and it’s no longer a game to be hidden from the grown-ups.

To be fair, he said that she’d decidedly stated that she didn’t like transsexuals, so I was at the risk of not being welcome in their home if I’d been outed, therefore, he’d taken measures.  But damn it, I’ve come to the that place in my transition where, if somebody doesn’t like it, then it’s up to them to decide whether the loss of me as a friend is worth it, because I’m not going to change myself to fill people’s expectations just to keep them around.  I spent the first two decades of my life wasting time on that.  Frankly, if you don’t know I’m trans by now, then I either don’t respect you or don’t trust you.

Day Eight: Enter the rat race.

As you may or may not know, I live vicariously through my Youtube subscriptions.  One of them recently posted a video about having on the job harassment issues, etc.

As much as that sucks for him, it’s actually helped me to form a game plan for when I start to really go through transition.  This is from my response to the video:

“…I actually have a plan to get a shitty little job of some sort, food service or something, to get me through during transition, and then, as soon as I’m passable, I’m going to look for another job and drop the first one like a hot potato.  I don’t want to get into something I’ll enjoy doing if it means I’ll have to leave it as soon as I transition.”

I mean, it’s a pretty sweet idea, and it pretty much follows what I was planning to do career-wise anyway- take whatever crappy little job I can get, and then build from there.  I’ve heard it said many a time that it’s much easier to GET a job when you HAVE a job, so if anything, all my strategy really does is stretch out the time I spend in my shitjob a little longer, probably.

I already work a volunteer job, so I have a taste of what it’s like to be unpassable and not out in the workplace- it SUCKS.  I haven’t brought it up because simply enough, it would just complicate things unduly in a workplace that it’s really not worth it for.  I’m working at the local food bank, which basically translates to working with uber conservative, upstanding, elderly white ladies who would probably have a heart attack if they knew they were working with a transsexual.

It’s kinda funny, actually.

They all really do love me to death there, because I’ve shown initiative, dedication, good people skills and phone skills, and invaluable computer experience (really, they don’t much know what they’re doing with the computers they have, so any help makes me look like a wizard.)  And I hate to put a cynical slant on things, but one of my top motivations for working there isn’t so much helping the community as racking up work experience, a good list of references and connections to the working world.  I feel like all my time there would be wasted if I alienated them by demanding their acceptance in this area, too.  So, basically, it’s turned into a big game of kiss-ass, which kind of gives me a sick feeling in my stomach.  But hey, you do what you can to get ahead, and as long as you’re not hurting anyone in the process, there’s really nothing wrong with it, right?

Anyway, that’s all a microcosm of what I’m probably going to be going through at McDonalds or whatever patty flipping joint I can manage to work at- except with less money, less hours and less gender problems.  Once I get on T, I expect the shit’s really gonna hit the fan.  I’m going to have to deal with people questioning my binding (which generally becomes more evident the longer you spend time with a certain group), my voice drop and my facial hair growth (which, if my genetics have any say about it, will be prolific, believe you me.)  I plan on deflecting as much as possible, and sad to say, I’m probably not going to do much sticking up for myself if I’m starting a job looking like this and wind up looking like my dad.  They’re going to have every right to be curious, and frankly, I can’t expect them to switch pronouns to accommodate me unless I wind up working with a real bang-up, intellectual, forward-thinking group of fast-food workers.  Not exactly the descriptors that come to mind, right?

These will be the crappiest six months to a year of my life, and it’s going to be worth it.

Good things.

After my latest episode with very difficult issues (which I may or may not go into eventually), it was time to get away and get my head on straight.  SO, with my sister begging me to come down and see her for some time now, I decided to use my savings to go down and spend a couple weeks with her in Los Angeles.

It was seriously the best idea I’ve had in a long while.  First of all, my sister didn’t even recognise me at the bus stop when she came to meet me, so I’ve obviously been changing.  She was thinking at first, “who’s that random guy waving at me?  Oh my GOD!”  It was the first sign of a couple of good weeks ahead.

She hasn’t had any trouble with pronouns since I’ve gotten here.  I think it’s been my voice.  It’s finally been dropping a little due to the voice lowering exercises, not so much that it sounds unnatural, but enough that I at least sound like a guy going through puberty, so nobody questions it when she introduces me as her little brother.  It was the coolest thing last week-

We had a cosplay picnic to go to on Saturday, and I wanted to help make her a cosplay that looked good on her.  It was a little hard to find a dress that could accomodate her figure, so we decided to go and make one.  Ironically, I was the one inborn with that particular artistic skill.  So, gritting my teeth, we went to a fabrics shop that she knew had sewing machines.  I was prepared to be among another group of people who would be calling me by the wrong pronouns all over again, but when my sister introduced me as Tommy, her brother, the ladies fawned over me and said how neat it was to have another guy who knew how to sew!  The manager of the place named several men she knew who sewed as a hobby, including her husband, and many guys who had to take community service classes who wound up becoming interested and kept coming back for more lessons!  Not only was it cool that I learned how common it is for men to do this traditionally female task, but that they never even did any double-takes on whether I was a guy or not.  It seems like I’m in that androgynous place where all it takes is to have one person say “he’s my brother/friend/whatever” to tip the “male scale” and have people seeing me as the right gender.  And I’m pretty happy about that- not to say I don’t want more, because without introduction, I’m getting about a 60/40 ratio of people seeing me as female/male down here, so I’m almost perfectly androgynous, but I’d like there to be no question in people’s minds that I’m male.

What I’d frankly like would be to wake up, first thing in the morning, and look and sound like a guy without having to spend an hour trying to make myself look that way.  It would be neat actually to have to spend an hour trying to make myself look like a girl rather than the way it is now, because I want to look female so ridiculously rarely. 

….

I think the best thing that’s happened this week has been the cosplay picnic.  My brother-in-law Jeremy, who is totally supportive and cool with me, really helped me out with something, in that he was my bathroom wingman. 

I had decided that this event would be my first attempt to use a public, multi-stall men’s room, because frankly, even though I looked basically 100% male in my cosplay, and even though my voice isn’t 100% there yet, I didn’t feel comfortable even thinking about using the ladies’ room.  Plus, there’s a lot of “crossplay” at anime events, so even if I were questioned or outed in the men’s room, it seemed like this was a generally safer group to find my feet with.

BUT, I was still extremely nervous.  So, we came up with a plan.  He would go in, then come out and tell me how many people there were, and if there were too many, the deal was off, but if not, I’d go for it.  Plus, I felt safer having someone inside who could vouch for me as a dude in case someone called me out.

So, I waited… he came out and told me there was nobody.  Unfortunately, just at that moment someone went in who’d thought I was a chick from earlier, so I didn’t feel like having a confrontation.  I waited out a few more minutes, and Jeremy went in.  Then, when I saw the guy leave and I felt safe, I made a dash for it.

I have to admit, at least for posterity’s sake, that I was a little weirded out when I saw Jeremy using the urinal.  I kept my eyes on the floor and went straight to the stall, keeping to men’s room ettiquite, but it was a little jarring to have my brother-in-law as my first image ever of a real guy standing and peeing in public.  But then I just shook myself and thought: “Dammit, if I’m a guy and he’s a guy, then we’re probably going to use the same bathroom a lot more times in the future so I can’t let it weird me out now!” 

I’ve been using the men’s room ever since.  After that first time, all the mystique was broken, and I’ve realized- it’s just a room.  There’s nothing all that special about it.  If anything, it’s dirtier and smellier, not any more sacred, than the women’s room. 

Just this afternoon, in fact, I had a girl friend of mine confide that she uses the men’s room all the time- for no other reason than if it happens to be closer and she has to go, dammit, there’s a toilet and she’s going to use it!  She says this gets her some stares and even some catcalls once in a while, especially with her short skirts and high heels, but nobody’s ever harassed her about it.  This gives me confidence about the whole bathroom thing- if she can get away with it in her girly demeanor, then why should I worry when I’m getting read male most of the time anyway?

I’ll be using an STP when I can get together the confidence in the mechanics of it, but for now, I’m using the stall.  I’ve had a lot of guy friends tell me they mainly piss sitting down anyway, so I don’t think I’ll get any weird looks or anything, but I’ll feel a lot better when I know I at least have that choice.

New friends, new binder, new year.

Just got my first real binder in the mail, and I have to say it’s improving my quality of life by a considerable amount.  It doesn’t hurt my back, it works a lot better than anything else I’ve used, it’s very breathable (almost to a fault- why does it actually make me colder than when I’m NOT wearing it?  -oh well, it’ll be great this summer) and it generally makes me feel more attractive to wear it.  Because, as my honey said, the only difference between my haircut being a boy haircut and being a lesbian haircut is the presence of tits.

I’m being read as male about 50/50, still.  I had to pick up some deodorant the other day (I like Old Spice) and I was expecting to have to explain that I was picking it up for my dad or boyfriend or something, like usual.  But the lady at the checkout counter asked if I had a dime (so she wouldn’t have to give me 90 cents in change), my friend started to dig for a dime in her purse, and I pulled one out of my pocket, so the cashier said, “Don’t worry dear, he’s got it.”  She completely read me as male without even a doubletake- I’m wondering if I’m androgynous enough now that it’s little gender cues like what kind of deodorant I’m buying that are tipping the scale one way or the other.
I’m getting funny looks when I go into the ladies’ bathroom, but weirdly enough, now that I’m entering that phase, I’m enjoying it way more than I thought I would.  It’s kinda funny, really- I feel as if I’m entering the enemy’s camp, in a fun spy sort of way, and the double takes I’m getting when I step into the bathroom are more validating than anything.  I’m getting read male way sooner than I thought I would, so it’s like a little freebie.  I don’t know if it makes me a pervert that I feel like a spy when I’m in the girl’s room, because that’s where I’ve been all my life, but it’s a burden we all trannies bear- no matter which bathroom we go into, society’s going to see us as perverts, so I just roll with where I feel more safe at the moment.  I don’t have the balls, so to speak, to enter the men’s room quite yet.  I’d rather be sure I at least sound male before I try that.

Anyway, I got to go to one of my old friend’s parties last week- actually, I really only got to meet him once before, long ago when one of my other friends took me to one of his parties, and I got a little too drunk to want to show my face there again for a while, but he saw me at the hardware store and he invited me to “Movie Nights” on tuesdays, so I guess they don’t hate me there.  The thing about this place is, almost everyone who shows up is some brand of queer, so I felt safe.  Last time they saw me, I was still trying to pass for female and it wasn’t working out, so it was really awkward.  Now I’m settled into a male-ish identity, and I was determined to let them see that I was a lot more stable now.  Ultimately, I just tried not to get too crazy with the alcohol.

I met a lot of new people at the party, introduced myself as “Tommy”, and here’s the cool thing.  Now I have a whole new group of friends who aren’t burdened with trying not to use the wrong name all the time.  Bless all my old friends who are trying their damnedest not to hurt me, but it’s just a burden off me once in a while to hang out with people who aren’t all dancing around what to call me.

Anyway, the party seemed split down the middle- the girls were in the living room watching a chick flick, and the guys were in the kitchen slamming Irish car bombs and laughing it up.

That night, I had my first Irish car bomb.

They really treated me like one of the guys, for hours.  I even clung to some hope that they were all reading me as male.  It wasn’t until way later that my perceptions became more realistic when one of the girls referred to me as “she”.  It was an unexpected little punch to the gut, and I actually felt winded and had to go sit down in another room for a minute- give me a break, though, it was the first time I felt comfortable and felt like I was hanging around with people who had no female preconceptions of me, and that rug got yanked out from under me quite effectively.  I didn’t let it get me down the rest of the night, though.

As it turns out, one of the guys who lived there was FTM, which was pretty exciting for me because I’ve never met one of my own in real life before.  I’d heard of him before from one of my other friends who knew I was FTM and wanted to hook me up with other transpeople in the community- it almost makes me feel guilty talking about him this way on here, as if he were a unicorn or something.  I have to keep in mind, he’s just this guy, but it’s exciting to know the possibility of someone out there who understands me and gets what I’m going through.

Anyway, there happened to be a moment where the guys all went out to the porch and he and I were the only ones left in the kitchen.  He said something about how he remembered the last time I was there.

I shuddered.  “That was back when I was still trying to pass for a girl.”

He nodded sagely- he knew it all, everything we needed to know about each other for that moment passed between us.  He’d already been down that road, taken the hormones, his face had the hair and his voice had dropped and everyone referred to him as he, and he was where I wanted to be when I looked to the future, and I was where he’d once been when he looked to the past.  Then he looked me up and down and said one thing.

“It never gets any easier.”

He left, and my stomach tightened.  Why did he say something like that?  Things were already getting easier for me.  His words haunted me for the rest of the night, and I tried to dismiss them as a generalization- that life gets harder in general, whether you transition or not, or maybe that his life was an anomaly- one of the few for which transition actually makes things worse in a quantifiable way.  What I tried not to think about was that terrifying possibility that hangs over all of us:

What if it really ISN’T worth it?

But I prefer to think of it this way, and I posted this on my facebook the next day:

“I don’t believe that things never get easier. I think they get easier, then harder, then easier and harder over and over again like the ebb and flow of the tide, and you have to learn to go with the flow, accept the hard times, appreciate the good ones, and over all, learn to embrace change as the one true constant.”

This has always been my philosophy, and it makes the future seem brighter.  And the funny thing is, it has been getting brighter.  I made a lot of friends there at the party, ones who accept me for who I am.  At about 3 in the morning, they popped the question:

“Are you FTM?”

They were so straightforward, I had to answer the same way- with a simple Yes.  And they were cool with it.  They had a couple questions, which I was fine with answering, and since they knew this about me, I had to know something:  when I got there, did they see me as one of the dudes?

One of them mulled it around for a second, and then shook his head.  “Not really.  Just being honest.”

I fell a little flat.  “Not even just a little?”

“Well, if anything, you seemed like one of the gay dudes.”

I felt a whole lot better now.  “That’s basically what I am, so… go me.”

I could definitely be comfortable with my identity as a gay boy.  I’m finally free to be myself with a group of people and be seen as a rough approximation of what I am.  All in all, the night was too cool.

2010 is shaping up to be an awesome new year.

Once again, no pics, but Things are Afoot.

I went fishing with my dad Friday morning.  He was to meet one of his old friends from church, Lon, so he asked me the prerequisite question- “How are you going to explain your haircut?”

(I find that a lot of stupid questions, like “What did you do to your HAIR?!”, are best followed with a stupid answer, i.e., “I got a haircut.”  Somehow, this ridiculously redundant answer- explaining nothing at all of my trans status, of the tiny black shadow on my upper lip, of my distinctly male profile (thank you, backbreaking binders) or of my starkly male dress code- seems to be enough for anyone asking the question. They shrug and go back to business as usual.  Why?  Did they really find the information they were looking for in that simple, obvious answer?  Couldn’t they have gleaned that from their own question?  Do they ever WANT to know more, or were they just asking for the sake of acknowledgment?  If they wanted to acknowledge, couldn’t they have asked in a manner that wasn’t so directly reminiscent of “OH MY GOD BOTH YOUR LEGS ARE IN CASTS, what did you DO to yourself?!”  I wasn’t in a car wreck, people.  I walked into a barbershop and paid someone to do this.  Nobody stole my hair in the night.  (Although I have considered, without following through, answering something to the effect of “I have cancer.”  It would be an appropriately dramatic answer to their dramatic inquiry.)  But why not something like, “Nice haircut,” or even “I see you got your hair cut, how’s that treating you?” instead of acting like I’m a chemical burn victim?

Or maybe they did want to know more, i.e., “WHY did you get your hair cut?”, in which case I would be stumped for a simple answer.  But that question, “What did you do to your HAIR?!” seems to be the most common question and my standard answer is the one that leads to the least possible drama in any given situation.  Maybe the short curtness of it turns people away from asking any more, as if I were saying this- “I cut my hair off for personal reasons that I obviously don’t want to go into because if I did, I wouldn’t have said something short and stupid like ‘I got a haircut.'”  Who knows what goes through the heads of the Inquisitors.  They’ll know all too much soon enough.)

Anyway, back to the story at hand.  I was dressed in my fishing finest, my uniform since before I can remember- blue jeans, plaid flannel shirt, baseball cap, army boots.  I’d never really cared about how it was assembled before, I just threw it on and went, untucked and looking more like I’d climbed out of bed with a hat on.  But I’ve found that male dress isn’t always about what you wear, but how you wear it.  The addition of the binder made for a flatter chest, of course, and now I knew to tuck my shirt into my pants and let the belt ride below my gut, not across my bellybutton and above the rise of my hips like I’d been more inclined to do as a gut-conscious female dresser.  The short hair brought the dapper, mountain-man look all together, as though I were a 15-year-old version of my father (in spite of being the age of 21).

My dad looked me up and down and remarked, “He probably isn’t going to recognize you.  How do you plan on handling this?”

Excitement filled my limbs.  “Oh, dad, can’t we tell him I’m your nephew or something?  That’d be so cool.  I could be your nephew Tommy…”

He narrowed his eyes.  “I’m not going to lie.”

My heart dropped, and I tried to salvage the situation.  “Well, you don’t have to keep it up.  It could be like a joke.  You could introduce me, and we’ll see if he remembers me, and if he doesn’t, then we’ll let him believe it for a little while, just for the fun of it, and then tell him later, and if he does know it’s me, then obviously it’s just funny-”

“I’m not going to lie,” he repeated.

And that seemed to be the end of that.

I didn’t care too much.  I knew it was unlikely that he would think I was my own long-lost nephew or something- after all, he’d seen me in pants and a binder before (kind of a no-no for a Pentecostal follower, but he hadn’t said anything).  The only difference was the haircut.  Besides, not everything had to be a gender experiment.  I really just wanted to go fishing with my dad.

When we got to the lake, it took a little while to find him, but he came waving and all smiles up out of a boat ramp, with one of HIS friends.  This was unexpected.  My dad looked him up and down, looked at Lon, looked at me, and shrugged.  “Hey Brother Lon, it’s great to see you.  Have you met my son, Tommy?”

I looked up from the ground with lightning eyes and looked back and forth at my dad and Lon, and grinned.  Lon said, “Hey, Tommy,” and we both laughed.  I’m pretty sure he recognized me, and I’m pretty sure it was just a joke to him, but something significant had happened.

I remembered my dad saying, twice, “I’m not going to lie.”  This meant that he acknowledged me, truthfully, as his son.  I couldn’t stop smiling.  I didn’t care what anyone else thought, this was what really mattered.

My biggest surprise came later in the morning.  Lon’s friend looked over in between the long moments of silence and asked my dad, “So how old is he?  Your son?”

I think he asked something else too, but the excitement at hearing someone use the right pronouns, someone who had been in my presence for more than a few minutes, someone who had even heard me talk a little, and this someone wasn’t even thinking about sidestepping female pronouns for my sake- I was just a person, just this kid- well, anything else he might have said flew right out the window.

I tried to answer as sanely as I could.  “Yeah, I just turned 21.”  I had to to try not to let my voice jump up a few dozen octaves.  The joke had gone right over his head- I was just my dad’s son, nothing special about it.

This is saying amazing things to me.  This is like the world opening up to me and going, “Yes, things aren’t going to be as hard as you thought.  Yes, you’re actually making progress on your journey.  Yes, you’re on a downhill slant from here.  Maybe you’re even closer to the end of this particular journey than the beginning.”

It reminds me of a quote from “So Long and Thanks For All the Fish,” one book from Douglas Adam’s fabulous Hitchhiker’s Guide series.

“For Arthur, who could usually contrive to feel self-conscious if left alone for long enough with a Swiss Cheese plant, the moment was one of sustained revelation. He felt on the sudden like a cramped and zoo-born animal who awakes one morning to find the door to his cage hanging quietly open and the savannah stretching grey and pink to the distant rising sun, while all around new sounds are waking.

He wondered what the new sounds were as he gazed at her openly wondering face and her eyes that smiled with a shared surprise.

He hadn’t realized that life speaks with a voice to you, a voice that brings you answers to the questions you continually ask of it, had never consciously detected it or recognized its tones till it now said something it had never said to him before, which was ‘Yes’.”

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