More family stuff – specifically my brother

I come from a family of five kids. My oldest brother and I have always had an interesting relationship. At times loving and supportive but usually – historically-  there is/was a tension and antagonism. He has always played a very harsh Devils advocate with me often to the point of tears leaving me feeling so incredibly unheard unseen and not understood. He does/ did this with no other sibling and even my ex  gf felt more respected by him then I. So for the last eight months or so this has been changing. He listens to me, asks me questions like he has always done with everyone but me, laughs at my jokes, stops talking if we both start talking at the same time or if he is talking and I am trying to interject.  None of this has happened previous to the last eight months or so. I feel respected and I have to admit it feels good. And it leaves me boggled now every time I see him. I ask myself: 1) is he responding to my more grounded confidence? Or 2) did he struggle with me as a gender non conforming female more than he struggles with me as a trans masculine person? Or 3) is this some form of male privilege – now that I present more maled on so many levels does he respect me more because he has a higher respect for males. I am one of three AFAB siblings with two AMAB sibs. My oldest sister who I am very close to has a distant and usually tense relationship with this brother while my other sister has always been closer to him. This other sister has made more mainstream choices then me and my other sister save a ten yr relationship with a woman. (Her partner died and now she is married to a man and has two kids). I say all this because it’s complex. He respects this one sister without a doubt and definitely relates the most with her life choices then me and my other sister. So is his stuff with me respecting males more or at least significantly more than gender non conforming butch lesbians? Or is something else at play? It is perplexing. And one of those boons that I both really enjoy and struggle with.

Then there is my sister that I am very close to. She has been visiting the past week and a half. I took time off to spend time with her and her family. I asked her tonight if the reason we have spent less time together this trip is due to my transition. She acknowledged it is part of it. She isn’t sure if she is grieving her sister or struggling with being “soul mate close” to a “male”. She is essentially struggling with her notions of gender and how she has gendered our relationship. She is struggling to stay connected to the non gendered essence of our connection which she acknowledges hasn’t changed and let go of the outward gendered changes in me (voice, confidence, smell, appearance, body etc). She wholeheartedly knows the connection is there and that she can still talk to me about anything and I still respond to her with the same support, insight, inquisitiveness, compassion… And still she is creating more space or needing more space. It is painful to me. I believe her when she says she just needs time to adjust. That we will make it through this. Likewise I am afraid. To lose this relationship would be a devastation that I cannot comprehend. A death.  Is this what those closest to us feel as we transition? They say it is like losing someone. But at the same time not really cause here we are. I do not want to lose her. I would give up a thousand experiences as with my brother to maintain my connection with my sister. And I will not give up me.

Advertisements

Becoming

Work

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.

Personal

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.

Spiritual

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.

Learning

The other day I began training a new therapist at my county job. Here is how [name] introduced [name].

“Hi, I am [name] and prefer no pronouns to reflect my androgynous nature”. Just like that. I could not have fathomed doing this, obviously, as it took me a while to come out at work. But I so appreciate the direct non-issue approach. I wonder did [name] do this with everyone upon meeting them or specifically with me as it appeared [name] knew my trans status.

As I get more comfortable with transitioning and find myself letting go of distrust and fear of others reactions, I think I will try this approach at my next opportunity.

When will you be done transitoning?

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.

Thing – reposted from Raising Orlandos blog

I was touched by this blog post so much I feel the need to share: Thanks Raising Orlando for sharing this.

I am particularly appreciative of this paragraph:

“The Lost Thing may or may not be a Thing. It may or may not be lost. It seems that the Lost Thing’s main problem is that it evades categorisation. It doesn’t fit, and its appearance and behaviour have no easy point of reference. By the end of the story, it’s possible that the human who found it is actually the one who is lost. The paradox is that the human has become so immersed in bureaucracy and routine that he doesn’t really notice ‘Lost Things’ anymore.”

to read the whole post go to: https://raisingorlando.wordpress.com/2015/03/19/thing/

The effect of voice

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.