Why Now?

I was reading Kira’s latest post, Revision, and it got me to thinking. I was going to respond to her but this began to grow into something long enough deserving of its own spot on my blog.

I am often asked why did it take this long for me to face my gender dysphoria? And truth to tell, it was largely three things. First, when I was younger, I didn’t even have the words to adequately express how I felt. I was fascinated with “sex change” stories when I was young but I was given so much baloney, and believed it, that I could never see myself doing that. I obsessed over girl things but I was male and, much to my dismay, I had those male dangly bits to constantly remind me that I was physically male. It didn’t matter that I thought of myself as female inside. It didn’t matter that I’d adopted a female name for myself when younger. There was this huge psychological disconnect. Maybe I thought I’d “outgrow” whatever this was. Maybe I was afraid to face what it meant. I don’t know. I just know that at that time, I lacked the words to adequately convey how I felt about myself.

Second, because of my socialization, I had this burning desire to “become the man” I was expected to be. That same desire made enlisting in the army trivially easy as a decision. By that point, I had a wife, a baby on the way, and needed steady work, which in that part of the country in that decade was very hard to find. So there I was being offered a job that carried the “mystique” of being able to “cure” me of my strange longings.

And the third part was me overcoming that aspect of my socialization against queer people to accept and be comfortable with GLBT persons generally, which then allowed me to face myself honestly. Part of that socialization, in the coal mine and steel mill country of the 1960s and 1970s, also horridly mocked people who were “queer” (homosexual). I didn’t see myself as queer but the hints around the edges of society suggested that what I felt was even worse than being “queer”. I was terrified of being found out, mocked, isolated, physically assaulted, and all the rest that came with that.

It was when I was planning suicide and I stopped myself, realizing that I do not want to do this but I can’t live like this anymore that I finally realized that I needed help, more help than this proud and arrogant person would have admitted to needing ever before in my life.

I go back now and look at things and it’s not just me interpreting my past. It’s my therapist hearing these things and helping me see what was different about my past. Yes, I am interpreting that past through hindsight but I have tools and memes and vocabulary now to better express what I felt then, and still do today.

My greatest regret remains not putting these pieces together earlier in my life, that I might have spared certain persons their own self-induced anguish at the horror of being related to a trans woman. If I had known then what I know now, there would have been no striving to be “a man”, no baby, no wedding, no such obligations and all those who today are horrified at the mere thought that they might be related to a transwoman would be spared that self-induced fear and loathing.

However, facing this earlier would also remove so many wonderful and precious people from my life. Julie, Elizabeth, Fran and Kate, my daughter, and so many others as well. And so my regrets are not large. They are not consuming regrets. They are tiny ones in the overall scheme of things, an overall scheme with which I become happier with each passing day and more confident of myself.

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3 thoughts on “Why Now?

  1. I just want to say, my thoughts were not in relation to therapy, but in those beginning days and weeks when we struggle to understand ourselves and seek inner validation so we know we are not crazy. To find those things which, though missed at the time, might have pointed us in the right direction had we understood where we were heading.

    For myself, therapy has been a tremendous help as I have been able to gain focus. To ask me the questions I never thought to ask myself and to give me the tools to cope with a madrid of issues both intertwined with and separate from being a Transwoman.

    Also, when I write on my blog, I am speaking only for myself. My thoughts, my emotions. I cannot and would never try to speak for you or anyone else, such is simply not my right. Each of us has a unique path to follow and no one but ourselves can say where it is or how best to walk it.

    I hope you consider leaving a comment on my post with a link to this as I think it is important for us to share with one another and all of our readers.

    Sincerely,
    Kira

    • Absolutely, Kira! 🙂

      Each of us walks a unique road. It’s just that your post made me think about that same thing, which took me in directions of my own as I considered it.

      There were lots of little signs in my own life as well that got shoved aside, gently patted on the head and told “No, you’re a boy.” And as different as each of our walks is, we also share a lot in common.

      Thank you for your thoughts! I try to read your blog regularly. 🙂

      • LiMarie,

        I’m glad to hear this, at first I was worried I had said the wrong things or at least said them in the wrong way and in so doing had made things more difficult for you and anyone else who read my post. It’s something I worry about, with as many people as read my blog. It’s kind of scary in a way; seeing the potential to cause so much harm with one poorly written word… I know it seems overly dramatic, but I have been online a long time, in chat rooms and forums and now in the blogsphere, and I have watched many times as one thought, one comment, wrongly worded, has had very real, serious, and almost deadly repercussions.

        Take Care,
        Kira

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