Q&A

Dear Reader,

In May, reader Lois Lane accepted my invitation to ask questions and gave me three good ones. I promised to answer them, but life got a little complicated for me for a while and I haven’t answered them… until now.

landscape-1458839725-movies-amy-adams-man-of-steelLois Lane, 
How do you function from day to day?

That’s a good question, and it changes day-by-day and over time. At the time Lois asked this question, I wasn’t doing that great. My thoughts were dominated by doubt, guilt and shame, and I felt I had no control over my life or my dysphoria. As much as I had already learned about myself and the possibilities for me, I still had many unanswered questions – top among them “what is this going to look like when I’m done?” While I still don’t have a good answer for many of these questions, I have answered enough that the sense of chaos has passed. I know the general direction of my journey, and have some sense of how far I have left to go.

The dysphoria remains with me, but it has changed – it’s less random and generally less painful, but is now more focused and intense. While that might sound contradictory, consider the discomfort you experience when you’re sick (which tends to have a lot of different symptoms, each relatively mild, but as a whole they make you miserable) and when you drop something heavy on your foot – the pain is in one place, and very intense.

So a year ago, I survived day-to-day by just dealing with the circumstances I found myself in on that day. Now, I’m able to look ahead and make plans, and give attention in places of my life that had previously been neglected. I see the general trajectory continuing, where I will eventually reach a point where my gender has become part of the background and life reaches a place of normalcy.

Do you find yourself consumed by this new discovery?

landscape-1458839795-movies-amy-adams-man-of-steel-02At first, yes! How could I not be? This was a revelation which changed my life and my perspective on everything. All of the things I held as solid and stable were now shaky and unsecured. I didn’t know what was happening to me or why. I didn’t know how to interpret my feelings or how to deal with them. Pretty much all I knew was that I had been miserable and lifeless and had become very much alive, but in a lot of pain. I wanted the pain to stop, but didn’t know how to make that happen. So it makes sense that I was consumed – anyone in pain or distress would naturally focus their attention on making it stop.

But things calmed down. And so did I. I figured out what was happening and why, and what I needed to do about it. Stability slowly returned to my life. I needed more time to use that stability to move myself along in my journey, and I’m now finally reaching a point where I’m able to devote more significant attention to things outside of me.

One of the challenges that I still struggle with is a sense of selfishness when it comes to my gender. I consume a lot of resources as I am making my way through transition, and it’s hard to discard the notion that I’m the only person benefitting from it. I’m not used to taking more resources than I give, and it’s an uncomfortable place for me to be. But I look at the alternative (not transitioning) and know there is no way I could not transition; my very survival depends on it.

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of JusticeWhat works for you to allow you to “release” and feel “ok” when it all seems too much?

That’s a hard question to answer. I don’t think I really have a good answer; I’m not sure one exists. About the best I can come up with is “I try to figure it out when it happens.” And I don’t always succeed. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by what’s happening to me and my family. It’s easy to blame myself for the things that don’t go how I’d like. And it’s hard to tell myself that I don’t deserve pain and punishment for what’s happened to me, and harder still to believe it.

So what has worked? Well, taking steps towards affirming my gender is probably the most helpful thing: putting on some pretty clothes, being around people who call me by my (new) name and use the correct pronouns, putting polish on my nails – these sometimes help. But they tend to help in the short term. The bigger help comes from things like HRT, applying for a legal name change, and fixing my ID in the various systems which have my old name.

Coming out has also helped a lot – it has taken away a lot of the noise I’d always been dealing with in the back of my head – keeping up appearances so people wouldn’t suspect something is different about me. As more people know about me, I don’t have to work so hard keeping up the appearance; I’m able to share my genuine self with more and more people, which I think has been a double-blessing – I am finally feeling like others are really seeing me(!), and, I feel like others are feeling that I’m more open and available to them. I’ve strengthened many friendships and forged many new ones since coming out.

So when it comes to defending myself against feelings of doubt and selfishness, I’m finally getting the ammunition I need – confirmation that I really am a better woman than I was a man.

And finally, writing has helped me. Writing like this blog, keeping a journal, and participating in online support groups has helped me process, learn, and refine my knowledge of myself. So as much as my writing may have helped you, dear Reader, it has helped me more.

Until next time, keep the questions coming.

Me

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