I recently found out that I am now licensed in Oregon to practice psychotherapy. I have been needing a big change for a while now, so applied for licensure finally. The same day I found out, I applied for a couple county jobs knowing it will take time to develop a private practice. I got a call back 2 working days later asking if I would be interested in a Clinical Supervision job instead. Had I seen that one I totally would have applied as I am really digging providing supervision for interns and people working towards licensure in my private practice. Had a great interview via Skype 2 days later and now they are checking references. During the interview I of course did not mention being trans. After the interview I realized that the transcripts I sent were e-copies I got a number of years ago and had my old name on it where as my application had new name and male gender. I felt I needed to call and clarify. My sister who used to work for this organization said you absolutely need to tell them because they have recently contracted people to come and train employees on how to work with the trans population. Hence, it will likely be an asset. So today I called and told one of my interviewers. She seemed to take it with a grain of salt. I, on the other hand, felt my whole body tighten, I was pacing, my hands were shaking when I got off the phone and I have had a stress headache ever since. It was liberating yes and I am relieved to not have to come out like at did at my part time job here. And it totally stresses me out. I realize I need to work on this in therapy. I am proud of who I am, of the me I am finally manifesting and I still get majorly stressed coming out to people. I came out to a trans client not too long ago and I had the exact same reaction. A trans client for gods sake, why would that stress me out? But it literally feels like it is some sort of life threatening act. Do I still carry internalized trans phobia? Is it old childhood shit that I haven’t processed around it not being safe to be me? Is it some past life unresolved stuff? I keep saying it is internalized trans phobia to myself. Whatever it is, I want to work thru it. I want to be open and proud of who I am. I want to be able to educate people. I want to be able to speak freely about this. Right now I cannot do any of these things due to these extreme anxiety attacks. Does anyone else feel this? What do you do with it? How have you worked thru it in yourself, if you have? I really want to make this move to Oregon and let myself fully embrace and embody myself, no part left sleeping or ignored. There is something here needing attention for me to fully be free.
I recently bought an STP. I cannot go into a female bathroom anymore comfortably and have on a couple of occasions had to wait a ridiculously long amount of time for the stall while dining out – and drinking beer. It was difficult to wait as you can imagine if you are a beer drinker. It was novel at first, using an STP. I like the idea and ease of peeing standing up, will make camping so much easier. I got the EZP from Transthetics – a truly great product. I wore it daily for a couple weeks, using it frequently as needed. The more I wore it the more disconcerted I felt. I realize I really do not relate to having a penis. It feels wrong. I want it to feel right and keep trying. But in the end I am filled with angst. I am realizing more and more that I am gender queer and will never fit in the binary box and I am finding this to be difficult as well. Difficult because so many people do not have a clue. and even when I educate and tell them my preference for pronouns, they struggle to manage they-them-their. Some honor it by just using my name, but they report how awkward that can be; one noted she used my name nearly 20 times in a short convo. And then the few people that are stuggling with my transition, struggle in the context of me being a man. This then frustrates me because I am not that any more than I am female. I have moments of being truly pissed off at society for pigeon holing me and so many others – everyone if we really want to be honest. We must be one or the other and even transitioning carries with it the idea of transitioning form one gender to the other. And I feel stuck… I don’t know what to do or where to go. I find myself swimming in angst filled emotional waters. Sad, angry, confused, stuck…
I find it also interesting that I am calling myself queer – gender queer and sexually queer. I am of the generation where queer was really derogatory. I get it is changing and I am finding myself really relating to its nuances. It feels even more open, spacious and undefined then non-binary, cuz non-binary still considers there is a binary to be separate from. Queer is its own thing and that does feel right. I will never be male, female, gay or straight or bi. Pan-sexual perhaps if I understand it correctly. But again, in my generation, even my gay friends (gay includes lesbians for me) are not familiar with the term pansexual and are gay, straight or bi and there is nothing else.
And then the person who accused me of enjoying people being confused about my gender. I do not enjoy it actually. What I really want is to be seen as me, as queer and for that to be ok, to be accepted and to have a place in reality.
My ex invited me to join her for a swim at the rec center before we meet for dinner tonight. This will be my first swim indoors. Jamie said she would meet me in the locker room. I hmmed. She said, oh right. So the choice is the men’s locker room or the family locker room. I will opt for the family locker room as long as it isn’t occupied. Men’s will be default. Tho part of me wonders if I should just get it over with, use the men’s knowing Jamie is next door as moral support. And see how it goes. I will keep you posted.
A side note: a couple months ago, I was doing a fitness class at a private gym in town. The owners wife approached me after a class, fumbling for words (I was obviously her first trans interaction), she told me she wants this to be my second home and wondered if she could support me in anyway to feel more comfortable. How awesome is that!! WE discussed locker rooms as that was the only angst I felt. Nick her husband and the leader of my classes did great, whenever separating the class by gender he put me with the other guys. But I still hadn’t used the shower. I rushed home to shower and get to work on time. It was $500/mth for the classes so after a month I stopped. Never did use the locker rooms but loved the support I felt!! If I join a gym, I will go there vs the rec center.
I had two interesting experiences the other day. 1) A female client said to me “you probably won’t understand this because your not a woman…”. On the one hand, I internally smiled as you can imagine. On the other hand I wanted to say “well actually, I have lived 48 yrs as a woman so have a pretty good idea”. I chose to revel in my passing and by my response let her know that I understood what she was feeling. 2) I at times will touch a clients hand or back when they are getting emotional and it feels like an appropriate supportive response. I was working with a male client the other day and I did this. It made me realize a male therapist touching a man in a supportive manner like this is taken very differently than a woman therapist doing the same. I need to alter some habitual ways of working with certain people.
I have been having the oddest feeling of late: the desire to be a parent and the feeling like I would finally be a good one. I am hoping it is fleeting because I am not sure I would want to do it alone and I am not ready to let go of my freedom to a partnership. But it is almost a visceral craving like in my 30’s when my biological alarm clock was going off. I would be a really good dad. And I would like that experience of supporting another being grow into their unique selves. I saw a dad and son walking from the lake near my house back to their car after a morning of fishing. The son was maybe 6. Such a strong feeling, a bond unlike any other.
I am planning a trip to Africa sometime between January and April of 2016. I committed to myself many years ago that by the time I turn 50 I will do a trek across the Sahara. It will be a little after the 50 yr mark but that is ok.The original plan was from Mauritania to Egypt. Somewhere in Chad, there is a monastery that has been in silence for over 100 yrs. Somewhere near there is where Christ did his 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. For those unfamiliar, this was a place that many people of many faiths came together for introspection as well as exchange of spiritual thought/experience/philosophy, and greatly informed Christ’s ultimate teachings. My dream is to recreate this for myself. Due to all the political unrest this isn’t safe to do the trek as I wanted so I am settling for an 8 day trek from Morocco. My goal is now to have my own experience as well as to connect with a guide willing to work with me in the future. I want to recreate a shorter version of Christ’s 40 days and 40 nights where people of all spiritual backgrounds, including atheists (as my sense is they still have some sense of spirituality) come together to share and contemplate. I am feeling this deep calling – feeling like the world needs more peaceful meeting of our diverse spiritual beliefs and experiences. I have a bias too that in so doing, we will recognize the thread that runs thru each, uniting us. And hopefully help to heal some of the major rifts between the religions. I was once visiting a cousin of mine who was a monk in a Greek Orthodox monastery. I had a shaven head. One of the parishioners asked me what religion I am. I guess something about me made me appear not Christian. I responded “I am of all religions”. I still feel that.
I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked this question. Every time I am at a loss. The word transitioning does in itself imply a process, a starting point and an end point and time to get from one poin to the next:
from Webster’s dictionary:
1 a : passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another : change
b : a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another
2 a : a musical modulation
b : a musical passage leading from one section of a piece to another
3 : an abrupt change in energy state or level (as of an atomic nucleus or a molecule) usually accompanied by loss or gain of a single quantum of energy
I relate more to the 3rd definition of an abrupt change which has more of an immediacy or nowness to it.
My feeling is the minute I chose to embody my true self, I transitioned. The rest, all that followed in learning, growing and integrating, and moving through the struggles, are just the natural unfolding evolution we all experience if we are on a path of personal growth and spiritual evolution.
A person is a person the minute they are conceived. The rest is development and growth.
I believe what people are asking around when will I be done is really about what physical changes still need to happen – surgeries, facial hair, muscle mass…. to indicate some sense of being fully formed. So when I tell people, as I do, that I am done, I wonder am I being disingenuous somehow. Again for me, I transitioned the moment I chose to fully embody my innate nature. And I am waiting for my beard to grow in and as I work out, I am waiting for my body to build muscle mass and look more like how I experience myself to be. In this sense, I am not yet done. But again these are just aspects of growth and development, they do not define the truth of being who I am – transitioning from my afab self to a trans-masculine self – is immediate upon choosing to embrace and embody who I am.
As I sit here, contemplating this writing, I reflect on myself, what has changed and what has not. I have said a million times that I am still me at my core just more so. This still holds true. I am now more at ease with myself as the stigma of being gender non-conforming has resolved as I allow myself to be the gender queer, trans-masculine self that I am. How I dress has changed a bit, as I wear more button down shirts to work. I now truly dress in business casual. (A friend once joked with me around my sense of business casual which was truly more casual, hang out clothes). I still wear the same jeans I have always worn (carhart and dicky’s). And in truth, I would likely have always dressed this way if I didn’t have those double d’s to contend with and “hide”. Now that I do not, I can comfortably dress as I am. My hair is changing – leg hair darkening and growing more on thighs, pubic and arm pits when once it was so little. That little strip of hair at the navel is starting. Sideburns and small patches under the chin.
My dysphoria is greatly relieved, my anxiety almost totally gone, my confidence stronger.
And as I write all this I continue to know the evolution does not make the person. I am right here, right now. I transitioned the minute I chose to embody my true self. Yes I want more facial hair and muscle mass, but those things do not define me, do not make me the gender queer, trans-masculine person that I am. The choice to be and fully embody and embrace my gender queer, trans-masculine self is the transition.
And I cant help but feel that when I say this, the people who are asking now believe that the changes are done. I wont visibly change anymore. I know that I don’t owe anyone an explanation. They can interpret my answer as they will. But I cannot help but think about the impact or implications on clients in particular. Should I grow a full beard and choose not to shave someday – will this be a betrayal of sorts. “But you said you were done… I thought that meant you wouldn’t change anymore” I imagine them thinking or saying. It is a double entendre of sorts. And maybe in the end it wont matter, just as a baby grows before us, we often miss some of the changes as they occur so consistently and subtly moment to moment, perhaps my continued growth will be the same to those who see me regularly and be less impactful and less taken as a betrayal.
Time will tell.
I had an interesting check in with a client about the impact my transition is having, if any, on our work together. She said she doesn’t really think about it anymore but that in the beginning it was my voice that really was the most difficult. She was of course used to my soft feminine easily meditative voice. As it deepened and was really all over the place and not under my control at all – she said it felt harsh. She was reminded when her two boys were going thru adolescence and their voices changed. She said she often needed to remind them about their volume and tone. This was good to hear as I do believe some of the conflicts I have had personally since transitioning have been due to the change of my voice and my early inability to modulate it. That and embodying a stronger male presence which my cl struggled to find words for , but said I was more heavy energetically. As we discussed this, she compared me to another healer I sent her to who is very neutral energetically and fairy-like. Grounded and yet really light. I am more dense and always have been energetically compared to this person – more earthy groundedness. More human. Interesting as I have struggled so much with my humanity.
Anyways, the reflections are interesting. And the stuff about my voice was particularly good to hear. I am just over a year on T and feel like I finally have control over my voice. I am able to guide my clients into meditation more easily as I learn how to use the softer tones of my deeper voice. I notice the difference talking and I must admit, it is easier to listen to myself. I can also sing again which is huge. More range and easier to deepen into the more baritone sounds. And I notice when I get more emotional about something, there is once again an ease and non-edginess to my voice. The harshness is gone. It is still low but the thing that was getting me into trouble feels eased. I say it was getting me into trouble because my uncontrolled changing voice combined with T created an intensity in me that people did find harsh and hard to adjust to – particularly when I got emotional in my personal life. My voice and my energy feel more balanced.
Now if only the facial hair would grow thicker in more areas than the side burns. Cl again shared that her oldest boy was around 24 by the time he got a full beard, and her younger son’s beard is spotty (a little here a little there) at 20 or 21. So I have time. My brothers were no help in sharing with me their beard growth process. I guess when it has been 25 yrs plus the minutia of things like this are not what we remember.
Here is to unfolding balance as I settle in to the myriad changes.
Woo whoo!! I am now legally Sky and my drivers license has M. Such a long and arduous process. And am I remembering everything?Diplomas, professional licenses, someone reminded me to tell the post master otherwise I might not get mail – would never have thought of that one. Debating on the birth certificate. I am curious what others have done. And does it matter? is this one essential for reasons I am not thinking of?
Gender marker was a tough one for me. I did decide to change it should the day come that I can actually grow a beard – or my fantasied sexy 5 o’clock shadow. It will likely make traveling easier. But I still don’t feel wholly male identified.
Its like what I told one of the psychiatrists I work with recently. We were with a client and the psych ended a sentence early something like “Sky will be your therapist so check in with….” and she faded off not finishing the sentence. She just couldn’t get “them” out. We talked after, and I said think of it this way as she struggled with the grammar – “when you say them in reference to me you are acknowledging my dual nature, as I identify as two-spirited”. Something about this seemed to have registered. We’ll see.
I just wish that there was a non-binary gender marker for all those legal documents. As male feels as false to me as female does.