Field Notes In/On Transition
The Difference A Year Makes.
A year ago I was at one of the lowest ebbs of depression ever. I was saved by getting the call finally from “the clinic” to see a doctor about my “gender dysphoria.” I had spent the majority of the autumn of 2011 being grumpy, angry... lashing out, mostly at co-workers, customers in my haze of self loathing, gender dysphoria, and all the related, but very unfocused anger I had writhing around my brain.
I had been trying to get an appointment for three years through my own phone calls, and my GP once in a while putting my name in to get such an appointment. When you are so far gone, depression wise, as I was it’s a self fulfilling prophecy that I couldn’t even get an appointment to talk seriously about the thing that was keeping me on the edge of giving up on life completely. I never ever thought, though, even after getting the appointment, that I would have the gumption to transition, but as it turned out I had nothing but that gumption.
All those years of telling myself that it could never really happen, that someone or something (the monolith of bureaucracy that is BC’s privatized healthcare system, that ironically is far more of a Kafka-esque nightmare now that it’s privatized than it ever was when handled by the government being my usual impenetrable bad guy. I get angry even thinking about talking to someone at “Fair Pharma Care,” or MSP).... But suddenly all the roadblocks were removed, and I just started transitioning, really without any thought of doing anything else.
That phone message saved my life. It really did. Thank you Raven Song Clinic for rescuing me from my usual falling through the cracks of bureaucracy.
Not that I was suicidal in the quick and dirty sense, more like I feel I would’ve/was slowly hypertension-ed(ing) myself into a heart attack or something else cardiovascular, as I had been doing; my entire life until my hypertension showed up in that hospital stay end of 2007. It was fear of infirmity, and death that got me to lose all that weight in the ensuing years... and I tried stabs at being a not so closeted cross dresser or transvestite, but I quickly found that it was so not all about sex for me, not in the least.
I still get kind of depressed, seasonal affected disordered, whatever, sometimes... but I feel like I can get past these feelings these days, simply by writing about things here in my blog, or more often than not, confiding in a few of the people who have become my most crucial friends, and confidantes during my transition, thus far. All my friends, and family, but especially Leanne and Becky (my coffee klatch gals) have really helped me gain some confidence and my confirm my sense that I’m on the right path being Josie. But, I’ve been over all this before... several times in this blog.... it just has me thinking, I guess, that, I’ve been on this path now for a year, at least in my mind that’s how I see it. I committed as soon as I got the appointment, though I would tell people if it came up, that I was going to “just talk to the doctor, see what choices I can reasonably make,” etc, whatever.
I started hormones last March, started living 24/7 as Josie a month later, in June I gave away all my “man clothes,” In August I started doing makeup every day (99% just to cover the old beard) and now I’ve changed my name legally to Josie Ann Boyce, and in the coming new year I will be able to change all my ID (as opposed to “id” which has also changed quite a bit) to my real name.
This having actually changed my name thing is kind of a bigger step for me personally than it might have been, due to all the time I’ve spent in my life trying to find a male version of my name that was palatable to me. As a kid I was “-ey-ed” like most Canadian kids. Joseph, which absolutely no one other than first day of school, bureaucratic lineups has ever called me Joseph, not even my mom. It was always Joey, until in High school, I got tired of it, and started trying to get people to call me Joe.
Before university I often pretended I didn’t have a middle name (now my last name - Boyce) because having a last name as a middle name was for some reason I never probed, weird to me. It just felt strange to say. Everyone else was middle name Paul, George, Ronald etc.... But as I got older and became a writer, a poet, the nice ring of “Joe Boyce Burgess” became my “author’s name,” yet to me it always seemed like a pseudonym. And in retrospect, it was just that. Or at least, it was a placeholder until I could get to “Josie.”
Which brings me around to talking briefly about my life in the last few weeks since doing the name change, and living in this bubble of waiting for my legal name change certificate to show up. I’ve felt a bit in limbo, in fact, outside of the name change, I feel like I’m having a hard time letting go of a lot of my old “Joe” bad habits... foremost being snacking, wasting time online and off, with little to show for it, other than an expanding waistline and fatter ass.
It’s not like I expect myself to change a lifetime of habits just because I’m presenting myself differently, but kind of it is really. I’ve spent so much time fantasizing about doing what i’m doing, in the past, that of course often, real life doesn’t quite measure up. Except that, and for me this is key to why I keep going forward. Of course I don’t look as great (passing wise) as I had hoped in my fantasies, but neither do I look as bad (passing wise) as I’d feared in my bad fantasies. I’m not talking about “beauty” here either, just the more simple appearing at first glance at least to be someone of the female persuasion.
Recently I had a great encounter that helped me reaffirm this feeling of “passing” or at least seeming to be a woman to those around me. A friend of mine who I’ve known for about 20 years was coming out of her store on the drive the other day. I was across the street, waving at her as she leered back toward me as if I was a stranger flagging her down for some reason. I crossed as the light changed, and until I got over to her and said hello, she was totally unsure “who this strange woman waving, looking at me” was. We had a good laugh over this, and It buoyed me on a day when I was feeling kind of clumsy and oafish no matter how I was dressed, presenting myself.
This was a day or two after getting the best “Ma’am” ever... This little old lady (who’s picture is likely next to “little old lady in the dictionary”) came up to the counter, at work, and ever so formally asked me “Mad-um, do you have that movie where the Canadians pretend to make a movie and rescue the hostages in Iran?” I smiled ear to ear and had to tell it wasn’t on dvd yet, the movie “Argo,” that is. I do grok the “Ma’am” being a negative now, which to me is sad that something that should be a term of respect is by the standards of our “youthful beauty is everything” culture. But there it is, I’m starting to get properly gendered by strangers and friends on first sight!
And, having awesome friends is something that I’ve come to really appreciate. Like my friends Leanne and becky, who I mentioned above, I feel like I really am one one of the gals when I’m hanging out with them, I feel included while still being someone in transition, they’ve already let me in “the club.” My journey would be far less rich without friends like these awesome ladies, and my co workers, all of whom have been awesome as well, during a time for me that is not necessarily easy.
I’m really starting to feel like someone who is actually in the world, living, loving, not just standing outside as the world turns so fast, I can’t find a spot to get on... which has been my tilt a whirl existence as a man until transition. Always getting spun off the whirling dervish of life, unready for the vertigo and displacement that I no longer have, ow that my hormones and my daily life matches my inner world.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, etc, et al. My take there, is, if all you have is “bah humbug,” in regard to whatever holidays we have coming up... get over yourself. Enjoy the parties, and gift giving & getting, even if it’s your own gifts to yourself.