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

Posts tagged ‘celebration’

Day Four: Why is life so amazing?M

Tis be the time of 1:00am, and I can’t sleep cause my sleeping pattern has been obliterated, but I don’t have the energy to edit videos, so I’m going to do a little blog and keep you all updated till tomorrow when I’m going to finalize and post my vlogs.

I’d like not to go into too much detail because the vlog is already so intensively detailed that I just think it’d be overkill, but I’ll hit on the high points here:

– After I went with my couch host to his school’s LGBTQ resource center, one of his awesome friends pointed me towards Trans Thrive, an absolutely incredible  organization in the city dedicated to keeping trans people healthy and off the streets, HIV prevention, depression, support groups, the works.  Everything you can imagine, they provide.  Long story short, they put me on the fast track to get testosterone- I don’t know how to describe how extraordinary it was that I had an appointment for gender consultation after being in the city for 29 hours.

– I GOT MY SCRIPT.  I am getting my first shot on February 17th at 4pm.  Bow taken.

– I went to this little transmen speed dating thing, and well, I don’t like to kiss and tell, but I will say that I have someone to celebrate Valentine’s Day with.  (OKAY I’LL TELL HE’S AN INCREDIBLE TRANS GUY FORMER AIRFORCEMAN HE’S SO FUCKING CUTE okay done having a panic attack of HOW FUCKING AWESOME IS MY LIFE?! )

– There was free HIV testing so I did that, it came up negative, no surprise there.  Tom H., disease-free since 1988. ;D

– It looks as though I’ll be getting free dental, and get this, possibly into a program for getting my top surgery done for free as well.  I’m afraid free top surgery will make me look like frankenstein, but at least my binder won’t be destroying my back any longer, so it’s whatever.

– Speaking of binders, I got a free one from Trans Thrive that ACTUALLY FITS, now isn’t that a novel concept?

– Got a haircut, that’s boring and I’m sure you’ll see it in the videos.

– I got wolf-whistled at in the Castro today.  I feel appropriately male AND fabulous.

– Tomorrow I’m going to a transguy-run super bowl party, which is great because I’ve never had any reason to watch it before.  (I honestly kinda wanted to do my first shot on Super Bowl Sunday cause that just seemed appropriate, but that’s the point at which I cross over from being needy to nitpicky.  The 17th is almost too soon for me to take in!)

 

I’m sure I’m missing things, I didn’t ask my Puppy if it was okay to write about him yet either so I won’t go into a lot of detail till later, but MAN did I luck out, he’s the sweetest most incredible level-headed generous adventurous soul with a knack for back massage and GOD, what did I ever do to deserve all this good all at once?

I’m preparing honestly for something absolutely devastating to happen.

About Monday- there’s a sad thing, that you can’t take advantage of the food pantries around here without a proof of residence in the SF zip codes, which seems counterintuitive to trying to serve the homeless, because I’d update my I.D. if I actually HAD  an address.  ANYWAY, I’m going to the Transgender Law Center monday to see if they can help me sort my expired license out so maybe i can get food stamps.  Mmm, edible things.

Also monday I’m getting my blood work done.  There was someothing else but i literally just fell asleep at the keyboard, so i’m surre i’ll remember in the morning.  I love ALL YOUR FACES, you mean the world to me, dear readers, truly. MUST SLEEP

/END TRANSMISSION
 

Celebratory Post!

As of yesterday, I’ve officially made it two years living full time as male.

(My family even baked me a cake!  The celebration would have been really nice if it weren’t for… stuff.)

Lots of things have changed.  I’ve been dealing with a lot of personal demons lately, a lot of shit from my childhood bubbling up, and things that just generally eat your energy and time.  On top of it I’ve been working practically non-stop.  My term with Americorps is almost up and I need a new job if I want to keep my place, so I’m back on the job hunt, and plus I’m applying to art school this spring so I have to put together a bunch of portfolios.  I haven’t had a lot of time to think about this whole transgendered thing for a really long time.
It’s faded to the back, and while I’m passing almost 100% of the time now (even without hormones), it’s just not that big of a deal anymore.  I’m sure when I finally have the resources to get on T, and the doors open, this will all get very exciting again, but for now it’s been one of the smaller aspects of my life.  That’s kind of nice.

Besides all that, I really need to find a therapist who specializes in Dissociative Identity Disorder.  It was gone and dormant for near two years now, and I thought I could ignore it, sweep it under the rug, and pretend it didn’t exist so it’d be easier to pass the psych eval for hormones.

Now I’m realizing this is one of the ways I’m going to dealing with severe trauma for the rest of my life, and on top of that, there are still a LOT of buried issues right under the surface that I still need to work through.  I’ve never been able to look my sexual abuse squarely in the eye before, but now that it’s doing the whole zombie act and poking its ugly smelly head from the grave, I’m going to have to.  I feel like admitting that to a therapist and finally going through therapy for it may be the only truly affective shotgun to the head.

I’ve finally come to accept and embrace my psychotic past as a part of me rather than just thinking I could slough it off and become a brand new person by pretending it isn’t there.  I need to really go through and weed it out instead of just shutting the door to the attic and ignoring it until its viney tentacles grow out of control.  I may never recover from this if I don’t face it, now.

It’s liberating to realize, though.

That said, sharing my head with someone has never been easy and it’s not easy now.

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.

Cleaning and building.

Days till Manniversary: 22

Today I’ve cleaned my room, which is always a major event for me even though I don’t really let it get as bad as I used to.  Also, I went through my entire computer and organized everything into one major file that I can back up when we go get the computer debugged next week.  This means I spent an entire day going through files I’ve saved on this computer all the way back through 2005, which was a pretty exhaustive tour of the last 5 years of my life.  I got to relive all the embarrassing phases I’ve gone through in my latter teen years.  It’s hard to believe the sheer volume of crap I wrote about myself, and it’s kind of embarrassing to see how self-absorbed I was, but at the same time, it’s kind of a good thing because I can go back to almost any given date and see what my mindset was at the time.  After I finally gave in and accepted that I was a guy, and after the alter thing ended, it became almost a chore to write about myself because after so many years of trying to figure out who I was, I was so tired of thinking about myself and done with introspection in general.  This blog has kind of been a way to force myself to keep cataloging things.

Anyway, today has been a very productive day, because along with organizing and straightening and doing my laundry and so forth, I’ve been inspired to do a couple other things for myself:

1) assemble the playlist I’ll be playing at my Manniversary with songs that are relevant to my interests, and

2) finally put together that really awesome STP/packer with the harness that I’ve been wanting to make for so long.

The playlist includes the following songs which I consider FTM inspiring and empowering (and also amusing):

1. I’m Still Here- Johnny Rzeznik
2. Changes- David Bowie
3. I’ll Make a Man out of You- Mulan Soundtrack
4. A Boy Named Sue- Johnny Cash
5. Pork and Beans- Weezer
6. Half Jack- Dresden Dolls
7. I Can Make You a Man- Rocky Horror Picture Show
8. Rebel, Rebel- David Bowie

The one song that I REALLY wanted to add to my list, Guy Named Joe by Coyote Grace, isn’t yet on Project Playlist, but I’ll have to figure out some way to rectify this.  I’ll also be adding more songs as I come across songs that I feel are relevant.  If you like this list, feel free to use it or suggest songs you’ve found to be inspiring over your transition.

I’ll probably write about the stp packer next time, because I used techniques from a lot of other sources that I’d like to link to get the device I wanted.  I may even include pictures if I can.

I’m feeling very inspired to get things done, which is good because my new goal is to set up my first appointment with my new gender therapist by the 24th, and I still don’t even have insurance.  So it’s time to get on that.

Almost a month, and no post?

Sorry I’ve disappeared from the internets so long.  Celtic Faire was a blast, and I’ll probably update on a lot more of that later on, but let’s just say by the end of the third night, a group of the guys had officially initiated me into their group as a dude, and I was feeling pretty damn good about things.

For Faire, I dyed my hair orangey to get back to my celtic roots (pun actually not intended), made a kilt, and did my traditional application of theatrical facial hair.  Unfortunately, I only got one picture, and a bad one, and it was on a cellphone camera, but if I can get ahold of the person who took it and get them to send it to me, I’ll try and post it.

I got my hair back to a normal color today, and I’m feeling generally more creative and happy about things, so much so that I’m thinking about finally starting my youtube vlog.  As to why I haven’t gotten back on top of things since Faire, one of the things that happened during faire was that for five nights in a row, I was sleeping in a tent out back of the fairgrounds, which is normally fine, but we got a cold snap this year, with it snowing the first night and pissing down freezing rain the third night, so badly to the point that for the first time in faire history, they had to do a forced evac of the tents and relocate us to some of the more dry tents under the barn.  On top of all that, I worked my ass off every day from the second I got up until the workforce was turned in for the night, and all that combined gave me the worst case of bronchitis I’ve had in three years.  I was bed-sick for about a week and a half since I went home, with a fever for the first week above 100 the whole time.  I’m just getting my lungs back, the coughing is slowing down and I feel good enough to get up and move around somewhat.

I’m sick and tired of being stuck in a bed and not doing anything, so my creative juices are just bursting and I’m ready to start doing something really creative in the trans community.  I had a couple ideas for a music video, and my best friend and I want to record a dialogue on the internal warfare in the LGBT community and how we all just have to wake up, grow up and start trying to live in harmony again- or how can we expect the straight community to ever accept us?

In other news, I might be making it down to the Bay again some time in the next few weeks, which is always revitalizing.  So things are looking pretty up.

Celtic Faire.

I’m going back to volunteer again this year at the community Celtic Faire (kinda like Renaissance Faire, only celebrating  Celtic tradition.)  It’s another sort of geeky paradise, yet another thing I’ve always gone to that falls into the category of  “an excuse to dress up as a man.”  Particularly, I’ve always kind of gone as this bizarre scallywag-type character, not precisely pirate, not precisely knight.  It’s fun, because last year I volunteered there (which basically amounts to pitching your tent on the fairgrounds for four days, doing anything and everything you’re told, and getting to take part in the after-parties which run into all hours of the morning.)  I was working through an injury last year, which meant I never really got to work hard enough to earn the elusive and honored “workhorse” title, but I DID earn a Faire name, basically making me part of the family.

I became known as the Bearded Lady.

Back at that point, I actually thought it was all well and good and fun and games, but I’m not so sure how comfortable I am with it this year.  I’ll probably wear that name with pride as long as I keep coming back to participate in Faire culture, but it’s funny how things that seemed harmless a year ago have developed a knee-jerk reaction of seeming offensive.  I don’t know, it seems easier with this group to just let them believe I’m a tomboy.  I’m not sure how accepting they would really be of my being trans.  Still, Celtic Faire has always been one of those spaces in my life where I was happily known as a boy, at least to the people who visit, if not to the people who run it.

I’m wondering if they’ll even remember me this year, since I’ve gotten my hair cut and changed a few other things about myself, including the way I dress.  I’m thinking I should just go by Tommy and hope they don’t remember who I am, play along, and if they do, just shrug it off and say it’s the nickname my friends have for me lately since I am such a tomboy…

I’m going to the volunteer meeting in 2 hours.  Play it by ear, that’s my motto.

(Also, I’m considering making a kilt for myself this year.  I have a week and a half- wish me luck?)

Testimonial of a life reformed.

To anybody who thinks that going through transition is a bad idea: think again.  I wouldn’t be getting my life on track this way otherwise.

Now that my life is worth living, I’m finally sprucing it up a little.  Now that I’m slowly starting to inhabit an identity that I actually like, rather than one that’s foisted on me, I’m taking care of it, owning it, and learning to like myself.  I’m exercising more and eating less; I’m giving a considerably bigger crap about personal hygiene and such, now that I’ve realized I don’t have to drown myself in florals and strawberries every time I step in the shower.  I care about my appearance when I step out the door, and actually probably pay more attention to the way my hair looks now that it’s cut short than I did when it was hanging long (rather like a dead rat- I couldn’t do anything with it, so I barely even bothered brushing it).  I know the clothes that I like, and thereby don’t just throw on any random thing I find lying on the floor anymore (and believe me, my room was full of hand-me-downs that even the biggest fashion pariah would look at and go, “You’re wearing that?  Really?”)

It’s spreading into other areas.  Now that I like my life and intend to live in it for a lot longer than I originally planned, I’m taking care of my things and spaces.  For the last four days, I’ve done a super-powered bedroom cleanse where I threw out about 66% of my belongings, 75% of my clothes and 100% of the trash that was lying around from six years of living in the same house and not giving a shit where anything landed.  I’ve done away with the ancient bedframe with hearts that I never liked but used anyway because it was there; I can sleep on a mattress on the floor and be four times as happy.  In fact, I have three twin mattresses in there as my main furniture.  Now my room has the look and feel of a totally modular bachelor pad, and I actually enjoy spending time in there- it’s no longer a drop-off dump for my junk.  I’ve cleaned out my dresser drawers, washed all my clothes, folded it, and put it in there.  You’d think that becoming a guy would give me sloppier housecleaning and hygiene ethics, but I’m not sure it was possible: the only direction to go from where I was at was UP!  I’m no longer the disgusting guy who doesn’t shower and has a room full of empty cheetos bags and other questionable items.  I’m the guy who is getting his life together.

I’m applying for jobs again.  I’m saving up my money to get a new car.  I’m getting my insurance papers in order so I can get my teeth fixed.  I’m making new friends left and right instead of losing the old ones.  And I’m doing it all because I’m transitioning into the person who I want to be.  None of this would be possible if I had so little hope as I did last year.  I was beaten down, confused, and certain that I was so screwed up that I’d never fit in.  At that point, I figured my life was over, I was never going to be happy, so why not just give up?

And then, I figured out that there was a way out.  I wasn’t trapped.  Sure, I wasn’t going to get the body that I wanted (everyone wants a Ferrari), but there was a way to get into one that I could at least be comfortable with (my ’92 Chevy AstroVan).  With this, I know I can go on and make a good life for myself.

This is the testimonial of a life reformed.

To anyone who says that transition isn’t a good idea for those who feel they are stuck in the wrong body:

You can suck my cock.

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’.”

Some shade of awkward/awesome is happening under my roof.

I’m not sure why, because I’ve had the haircut for a couple weeks now and I’ve been binding for over 6 months now and I haven’t worn makeup in probably a year and haven’t shaved my legs in two, but for some reason it all came together a couple nights ago, because the eight-year-old we adopted turned around when I walked in the room, looked me up and down, and asked, point blank, “Are you a boy?”

Now I wasn’t sure how to handle this, because yes, it would be awesome if everyone I lived with started acknowledging my gender, and I know that young children happen to be some of the most easily accepting people out there, without any huge gender strings attached.  But I also know that they can’t keep their traps shut when needed, and also, with my stepmom who can never really accept this and her religious outlook on raising these kids, it would just be asking for trouble to come out to them.

So, hardly skipping a beat, I went with the “casual, no big deal” attitude approach and said, “Sure, why not?”

She inspected me a little more closely.  “Because you look like a boy in that shirt.”

Later that night, she started to call me Tommy.

The funny thing was, I was wearing what I considered to be about the dykiest stuff in my wardrobe.  I’d taken this attitude that, no matter what I do with myself right now, until I get on T and my voice drops and so forth, I’m pretty much going to look like a dyke to everyone who sees me, so I might as well roll with it for now, call it a cosplay, and at least be sexiest dyke that I can be.  To that purpose, that day I was wearing one of those black t-shirts with a tuxedo front printed on it (so 80’s!), a pair of hand-me-down pants I like to call the “Pretencha-Pants” (because they were factory-ripped and bleached to perfection off the rack, hence dripping with pretension, and my boyfriend frankly couldn’t bring himself to wear them since he got them for christmas last year) and also army boots, a leather jacket, and a fedora with a pinstriped band.  Oh yes, I had looks to beat the dykiest dyke out there, and in my moment where I was embracing that everyone couldn’t see me as anything but a girl and therefore I might as well look like the kind of girl I wouldn’t mind looking like, someone snapped me out of it and pinned me as a boy.

The next day, of course, I was called to jury duty.  That morning, I went relatively dress-casual, with black jeans and a grey dress shirt (no tie) and also, my leather jacket because I couldn’t find the other one in time.  I figured, if there was anything in my outfit that would pin me as a dyke, that was it, but I just shrugged and rolled with it.  I didn’t really care what people saw me as- I was just there to do my civic duty and so forth.

When I was getting ready to leave, 8 y.o. decided to make a big deal out of it- “You look like a boy again.  You look like you have a mustache.”  I leapt to the mirror to look at my tiny fuzz- not much, I’m afraid, but just enough to give me a little tiny shadow in the right lighting.  She thought I had put shading there, but I had her look real close, and she saw that it was real hair.  And that was when she really started to freak out- “She’s turning into a boy!  Quick, glue your hair back on!  Shave your mustache!  We have to stop you from turning into a boooooy!!!”  It was actually pretty funny, because I obviously didn’t want her to take it seriously, and I don’t think she was.  (Also, my dad called her an idiot.)  Mainly, I just took it as affirmation.  But at that point, I figured I still looked like a dyke and an 8 year old couldn’t really tell the difference, not having been part of queer community and whatnot.

So imagine my surprise when, going though the metal detectors at the courthouse, I had the guy who checked me say, “You’re all clear, sir.  Move along.”  It was the best moment EVAR.  He didn’t even double-take and say “Sir- I mean, Miss, sorry,” like has been said before.  It was the first unquestioned “Sir” I’ve ever gotten.

Better still, when the Judge was doing her cross-examination of the jurors and she got to me, she looked at me and said,
“Mr…”
(glance down at paper)
“…Harbor*…”
(glance back up, then double-take at paper)
“…Excuse me, MISS Harbor.”
(commence slight tittering throughout the courtroom)

My first legal name is unmistakeably female, so the Miss was understandable.  I didn’t even get bummed at being outed as female in front of a courtroom of about 80 people.  It was a pretty cool test, saying that, with a little effort (and without opening my mouth), I can be read as male, even by someone as observant and sharp as a justice of the court.  (And yes, she was very sharp- I liked her a lot.)  Everyone seemed to read me as male before she unveiled me, too, so it was pretty intense.

Hopefully later tonight I can post pics of my transition progess and haircut.  I’m just glad I’m becoming visibly male.  The next step is a proper binder, which my partner is actually offering to pay for because I’m so strapped for cash lately.  The other very vital step, to me, is getting on T so I can fix my voice.  Everything else feels secondary- I’d just like to be able to communicate without being read.

*name changed to protect the not-so-innocent

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