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

Posts tagged ‘religion’

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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I came out to my dad last night.

It was unexpected, unplanned, and exactly the way it was supposed to be.

Well, sort of.  It took some weird complications to make it happen, but I think if it weren’t for those, it wouldn’t have gone as well as it did.

See, last weekend my dad and I went up the hill to shoot his shotgun and hit a couple golf balls after I’d had some serious relationship issues (more about HIM later.)  My dad seems to think it’s great therapy to blow off steam by blowing up paint cans, and he couldn’t have been more right.  It was the golfing that got me.

On my last swing, I lost track of my form and swung not just my arms but also my back, throwing something out of alignment.  It wasn’t a HORRIBLE injury, just enough that I was done goofing off.  But all that accumulated in my back seriously giving out on me last night.  I was trying to get the baby in her high chair when my back went SPROING, and all of a sudden I couldn’t move my arms, couldn’t lift my head, and I was completely immobilized and panicked.  Good thing my best friend was there helping me watch her or it would have been me stranded and helpless with a screaming 2-year-old for 2 hours.

Anyway, I tried to get comfortable, took my last two Vicodin from my old knee injury and waited on the ‘rents to get back.  I won’t go into the gory details of those two hours, but let’s just say that 1000 milligrams of hydrocodone should have worked better than they did.  I was in humiliated tears before the night was up.

And when they got home, things just got better.  My stepmom the nurse gave me another 1000 milligram and said that was enough for the night, which did little other than to make me drowsy and nauseous, but hardly touched the pain.  My dad, pious believer that he is, decided to get out the holy anointment oil and try to pray the injury out of me.  He sent everyone else out of the room, and I just sat there, with nothing to say.  When he asked if I was alright, I looked him square in the eye and said, “Do you really think I would still believe in a God who would make me this way?”

Once I started, I couldn’t stop.  Everything just rolled from there, but even in my drugged stupor and excruciating pain (probably the reason I didn’t have any reservations about saying what I said,) it couldn’t have come out better.  Everything I’ve been struggling with figuring out how to say for months flowed out like water, and at the end of it, my dad said he would love me forever, no matter how much I decided to surgically mutilate myself.  Well, it was funny at the time.  You have to get my dad’s sense of humor.

No matter how he put it, I knew he was behind me 100%.

Whole new worlds have opened up to me.  Of course, I’m still stranded here at the house with my back busted and it’s going against my better judgement to even be sitting here at the computer instead of lying down and resting, but I had to share this.  Yesterday, it was 2 weeks until my birthday and I still had the burden of trying to figure out how to tell him before I turned 21.  Last night, all of that went away.  Today, I’m free.  My dad still cares about me, he won’t try to change me or preach at me, and he knows everything there really is to know about me.  I feel like we’re really friends now.

One other thing- as soon as I can afford it, I really want to get on Minoxidil (or Rogaine, see the minoxidil discussion on the Beard Board for details) for my facial hair growth.  I don’t feel nearly so awkward about it now that my dad knows I’m FTM.  Everyone else can just figure it out for themselves, but now that I have my dad’s blessing, I feel free to express my gender and really start the ball rolling towards true transition.

It’s time to start planning my coming out party!

Where do I even start?

I know I promised a massive groundbreaking STP post of some sort (<–more unneccessary buildup), and I estimated that I’d be posting it about… say, yesterday, but frankly, much bigger shit has been taking precedence in my life.  New shit has come to light, as the Duder would say, and now it’s been taking up so much of my thought that I can’t really honestly make a post about a piss-tube.  It’s been so hard to even express all of this to MYSELF that I don’t even know where to START on paper.

I guess I should back up some and start from the beginning, which is hard, because there really is no beginning.  The waves of things that are happening today undulate into the past; I could start with my grandmother, if I so chose, but I think I’m gonna be generous today and just start with a few months ago.

See, one of my biggest fears with this whole process of transition has been my mental health record and how they might infer from it that I’m not a healthy candidate for T.

You might recall me mentioning a past record with Dissociative Identity Disorder.  I wasn’t being entirely honest when I said that was a past issue that was already resolved.  I just didn’t want to address it in terms of therapy or even bring it up with you guys because, well, that’s just the way things have always been.  The sky is blue, the sea is wet, Mommy couldn’t quit pot, and there have always been several people living in this head.  I’ve actually been afraid to even mention it here because I didn’t want some psychotherapist to dig it up and use it as evidence against my case for getting on T, when really, that’s kind of unhealthy because now it was a scenario of trying to bury and conceal things that would be a lot more healthy to just bring up and ultimately bring into some sort of reconciliation.  Another reason it wasn’t mentioned here is, integration (the DID term for melding all the alters together) frankly scares the shit out of all of us.  It’s something we’ve tried three times, always for the wrong reasons, and it always ended in tragedy, heartbreak, and further mental splits.

I won’t go into the childhood abuse that brought all this about because, simply enough, you guys don’t want to hear it, and I’ve been thinking over the last year that it’s not as relevant to my psychological situation as we once theorized.  It was almost certainly what set up our mind to work this way, what caused the initial splits.  An alter is created to protect the mind from damage.  But what created the ever-penetrating, ever-pressing ultimate NEED for Jack to identify and be recognized as so inherently male?

And what made it so important for me to differentiate from him?

For the longest time, I theorized that it was just a part of the human condition- Jack had a very strong sense of identity from the start, always rebellious, always male.  People- friends, family, etc.- have said that when he takes over, I looked completely different, to the point where it’s impossible NOT to think of him as male.  He was one of several alters (almost all of them male), but definitely the strongest as others faded to the background.  In fact, more and more often, he’s been in-body more than me.

I always thought that he just needed to be recognized as an individual, and at a point I began to modify my own actions JUST to contrast him and let him feel more manly.  Where he would naturally act towards something with a more manly mind-set, I’d act girly and cute, as a sort of martyr mindset.  I became supporting cast, the goofy sidekick.  It’s become more and more obvious how unhealthy that way of thinking is.  Jack has never been one to act a part, even if it would benefit him (his honest and sometimes brutal mouth has gotten him [us!] in trouble more than once.)  So I picked up the slack because, as the natural gap of translation between myself and him began to close with years of work in communication, I was beginning to see how much pain he was in just for being in a female body (what we recognized as gender dysphoria a couple years ago.)

There will never be any words to describe what it is like to experience the pain of another person so closely as someone inside your own head.  Even people who love each other very much have the benefit of flesh walls between their minds.  When someone you love is screaming inside, they have the option of muting it, locking it up, and hiding it from you.  You can even ignore someone else’s pain when they’re in a different body.  It’s even easier to deal with pain when it’s your own, because it’s yours and you own it and you understand it and you can do what you want with it.  You can’t do that with someone else’s pain when there’s no barrier between you and your brother’s minds.  If they are screaming in pain, 24-7, you can hear it, feel it, taste it and your mind is steeped in it.

As we grew closer like that and he began to take precedence, I began to realize this life wasn’t meant to be mine alone forever- a slow, steady realization that didn’t frighten or even much sadden me, it was just the way things were, for whatever reason.  Things were shifting and it was obvious that it was going to be his life now.  And I realized I wanted to give him something, something that would make his life bearable, almost as if it were a way to make up for forcing him to live in this so-wrong body with me all these years just because my psyche demanded his presence as a way of protection.  I felt so much guilt that things were this way just because I needed his help so many years ago.

I wanted to give him my body.  I wanted to let him take it and modify it until it fit him, instead of me.  I couldn’t see him in pain anymore.  And I knew that I’d be far more comfortable in a male body than he has ever been in a female body.  I’ve been pushing for his transition- our transition- for two years now, and it’s been our journey.  Even when I forced a female appearance for my parents, I’d always had more of a tomboy mindset than anything.  It just didn’t bother me nearly as much as him.

Dissociation is a funny thing.

When your psyche is trying to build walls between you and what would otherwise be destroying your mind, you will overlook the absolutely most obvious things just because your psyche thinks it’s healthier not to even notice they’re there.  When someone experiences something that’s traumatizing enough, their mind will actually blank out and ignore the entire section of the brain that stores that data, just to protect you from it.  And then, years later, when things become safer, your psyche lets down its guard, and the walls start to crumble, some of the most amazing shit will tumble out.  And usually, when you see those things, you can’t unsee them.

Such strong religious pressures from such cruel and domineering and abusive parental powers will sometimes annihilate your desire to be anything but what they WANT you to be.  For so many years, it was just easier to want to NOT want to be a boy.  And the memories have been hiding for so long- that’s so much of what the abuse was about- so much of what the forced wearing of skirts was about, not just because of their religion, but because they were afraid I’d turn out a freak- it blew my mind when it all came to light and all made sense.

Jack isn’t just a mechanism to protect myself, he isn’t masculine just because a stereotypical man’s man is a better protector.  I can’t believe how many years I explained it all away with that weak, pathetic theory.  He’s the boy part of my mind that they tried to kill, screaming to be free.  The REAL part of my mind.  Everything they made me to be, everything that everyone knows about me… was built on lies.

Why did I feel such a strong need to dissociate from him?  Because all they ever told me all my life was that he was wrong.  That I was wrong.  He’s not the alter.  I am.

In writing this blog, we’ve been hiding the fact that we’ve been separate all this time, and we’ve been writing this as a team effort.  Jack’s never had that much patience for writing, so I generally do the physical typing.  Therefore, it’s in my tone of voice, my writing style, but it’s almost all from his perspective, as if I were documenting HIS journey from the outside.  And yet, this has possibly been the most healthy thing we’ve ever done, because it’s brought us together and forced us to see the truth of things.  It’s shown us our pasts as they entwine and become one.  It’s brought us together and taught us to think as one mind- something new and so unbelievably alien, something that hasn’t even been considered as a natural way of living since before I can remember- something that may actually work this time, and not make us fall apart, because we have this one thing to work towards together now, the one thing we’ve needed from the beginning.  It’s made us see that this quest we’re on, for the right body, is more important than the individuality of either one of us. It is so important to get to the bottom of the truth, to become ourselves, one whole healthy being, one male person who loves himself and doesn’t need to be something he’s not just to be able to function properly- “properly”- it’s been the one thing that has made us see that integration is now the only way.   And now that I think we can actually work through it this time, I’m not afraid of addressing it, even with a gender therapist.

We’re on our way to a enlightened way of being.

I’ve finally gotten to talk to my best friend about it, a person who has known Jack and I as two separate entities for a long time.  Let’s just say, there’s a big difference between telling your best friend that your alter is some day going to be living in a male body “but don’t worry, I’ll still be a girl, *twitch*” (as I’ve been telling her for years), and telling her that you’re on the road to integrating with your brother and very soon, you’re going to come out as a totally different person, and you’re BOTH male, ONE male person, and the girl she’s known all these years is more or less a fabrication…

It gets confusing, not to mention heartwrenching.  There were a lot of tears and she said she was afraid of losing me.  But I tried to explain that she won’t be losing me, she’ll be GAINING me, the real me.    And now I have I go through what all of you have, with my family.

Now I really know what it means to be trans.

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