Field Notes In/On Transition.
Owner of a Lonely Heart
(Some long ago music to underscore not only how old I am, but maybe my old person taste in music)
I have most of my life been a follower, not a leader, at least in the human group of friends sense. Wanting more than anything to be liked and accepted (when I feel/felt worthy of neither in a deep profound way) I more often than not defer to bigger personalities in whatever group dynamic is happening. This is sometimes the place people call the “Friend Zone” but more often than not, for me, it is just deferring your own preference to that of your friend, or friends in a given situation.
It’s actually kind of amazing that I never experimented with a wider variety of drugs, sex and, rock n roll given these supplicant circles I am/was caught up in. But in fact I’ve never been able to take those things that far. I get sick from/of booze, or drugs, and/or weirded out with sex, I retreat, stay home, and eventually drop out of whatever circle that was pushing me in that direction. Even taking acid, every time I could feel myself unable to ever completely let go and flow with the high. I’m too stressed out for psychedelics most of the time. Thus I’ve never had much interest.
For a long long time my “gender dysphoria” (a 90’s term if ever there was one) was one of those things that I dove headlong into and then when it got to close to being my reality, I shut it down, grew a beard and gained 50 lbs of beer & chips. I viewed my “cross dressing thing” (the most benign non threatening in my view way I could find to describe to friends what I was going through) as much as an addiction as the endless peanut butter and banana sandwiches I was gorging on, or alcohol I might drink too much of. I oh so often repeated this cycle of acquiring “lady clothes” and trying out some nascent naive version of my real self ever so briefly, at first always in secret.
Lucky for me to move to Vancouver in my mid to late 20’s where I could relatively safely become at first a cross dresser in small friend groups, in casual support groups found in the Georgia Straight ads. But that binge and purge of the clothes; the only symbol of womanhood I felt able to access. For a long time it was all about the clothes, simply because digging deeper than that was scary as hell for me. The first time I came out to family (my mom and a cousin or two) as Transgender... my sister died suddenly just a month or so later. Back in the closet, too big to deal with while grieving such a shock. Three years later, I was at the VGH Clinic taking anti-androgens, and “being me” once a week at a group therapy session.
But again, I wasn’t ready. I buried it back down under food and booze etc. I tried so hard and failed to find a woman who could somehow save me from this transgender dysphoria, or somehow help me accept it. Male hormones here made this a nightmare. I was “dumb guy” with every female friend I had/made. So freaking desperate for love I was already getting, confusing that friend love for the sexier kind every time. If I’m into you, likely you have no idea, but are almost guaranteed I will bring it up at the most awkward moment possible. I hate that I was ‘that guy’ almost as much as I hate that I was a guy at all.
One of the things that I think has made it easier for me to transition, finally now in my late forties is that I have pretty much given up on finding some sort of mate. I’m not saying I don’t want to have that kind of thing happen, I just have a very strong understanding that likely it’s never going to be the case for me. And I’m fine with that most of the time. Especially since starting the anti-androgens last year, and now estrogen, my “male sex drive” is almost non-existent.
I’m a trans woman who will NEVER be able to “pass,” (I’m not even someone who thinks you should “have to pass”, theoretically at least, but the real world though makes it hard not to want it, just to stop from being called “Buddy” in some conspiratorial manner, all day.) not really. And for most guys that’s pretty key. I’m also not interested in sex only relationships whatsoever. Sex has never been comfortable for me, not once not ever. It always feels “wrong” in that same way that it feels wrong to wear a beard and “be a dude.”
Sorry, Dude friends from through the years, I was mostly faking it. :p
I tried the ‘only in the bedroom’ cross dresser/trans scene with a lot of online dating places. It brought me nothing but shame, its like prison sex for them, it’s not gay because a.) you are trans, and b.) it’s a secret. Le sigh. No thank you.
Here are some well spoken thoughts on The fear and shame around dating us Trans Women. More eloquent than my scant experience can relate.
Video with Janet Mock & Laverne Cox discussing how hard it is to love and be loved as a Trans woman.
Janet Mock's Blog, on the same topic.
Maybe the teenaged level of hormones is partially to blame, but I still don’t at 47 years old feel mature enough for any kind of relationship. I’ve only been transitioning a year and a half or so, and previously was unable to ever commit to any kind of relationship for more than a few months (usually when the gender dysphoria reared it’s head so to speak) so it should be okay for me not to feel rushed in this area, right? Yet I do, I see other Trans Folk able to at least date. There is a thick invisible wall between me and that world at the moment. I still have a hard time admitting to myself that it might be nice to have someone to share my journey with.
But like I say, I feel that I need to be the real me, Josie on my own for a while before I will/can wade into that area of life. I’m someone who wants to “do” far more than I could ever have time for. I want to make a living writing, but most days I’m so burned out from spending my day explaining why the DVD rental industry isn’t quite dead yet, I have to squeeze out things like this blog in the mornings.
Even then, it’s hard for me to do more than kvetch about whatever annoying thing I’ve seen on facebook, or some news outlet. I feel clogged. Too many ideas, being squeezed though a strainer that hasn’t been cleaned in ages. Which is really, maybe, what this post started out to be about.
All my soul gunk, all my spiritual malaise accumulated in a life time of slowly running towards, then quickly running away from the light, the light in my case being Transition, is really keeping me from getting where I want to be, or more so, really keeping me from even being able to fantasize about let alone make an actual plan for the future. I need to de gunk my soul, my thought processes, my life. Too much baggage weighing me down all the time it seems. It’s a lot to bear, and whether you have support or not, you bear most of it alone.
I’m tired of being angry all the time, depressed when not angry. Crying and screaming are things I’m sick to death of. It has to I think though, take time to deal with all this dross, stuff collected by years of self abuse, neglect, narcissism and its twin self loathing; (both are evil twins, like both Captain Kirks in that Star Trek episode) this whole self awareness, and growth, actualization stuff is hard!
What I think I’m learning about, though, is having a little bit of faith in myself. When you spend your life reinforcing the idea that everything you do will end in failure anyway. (I can’t even be the right gender, sheesh! :p ) It is tough to give yourself some credit. To say... maybe I am making a good choice here. this is way more difficult (for me) than having faith in a higher power, or in others, which in the past, I confused, imbuing friends or heroes/idols to divine status in my mind. I’m learning slowly not to do that anymore.
In the late 80’s and early to mid nineties I had more spiritual interest. I used to spend hours at libraries, or books I bought perusing mythology, esoteric thought. At the time of my sister’s death for example, I was heavily using the I Ching as a guidepost, gaining insight into myself and my grief every time I threw the coins, and pondered the vague meanings provided by the various texts available to me.
I went to the Berkeley Psychic Institute and had a spiritual cleanse, and past life regression, which, among other interesting thought provoking things explained who my Imaginary Friend “Johhny Wreckless” (pronounced wreck-ulls) “really” was with absolutely no prompting or history from me. I understand the difference between reality, and the life of the mind, I do.
I have never felt more in tune with the world than after that relaxing trip into the myths and archetypes of my mind and imagination. Total Peace, that was only broken when I saw what a sad square of dead grass and wire fence that the People’s Park in Berkeley, was reduced to at that time. Even into the mid/late nineties... I did Tarot, Reiki, all sorts of esoteric things that existed (probably still do) before the Leviathan that is Yoga crushed them all to take over the Vancouver “spiritual scene.” I got a lot out of these pursuits. I have forgotten more about alchemy and it’s history, and actual use in understanding the world than most people will ever bother to learn.
It was core to my 90’s understanding of the gender binary and how rigid it can seem, but really isn’t. A lot of this information has simply become the background noise of my self work. I can glance at a Tarot spread, or some tea leaves, and have an insight based purely on instincts backed up by a youth spent gorging on esoterica. My insights may not be Canon, but they give me things to mull. Which really is all I ever wanted from all the stuff I absorbed.
I was pretty sure that I am/was the reincarnation of Thelma Todd around that time, as well. Still today, when I see one of her appearance in a Marx Bros movie or one of her shorts with Zasu Pitts, and later Patsy Kelly (one of the greatest comedy duos of all time, now long forgotten by all but a few film buffs), or read some new biographical thing I haven’t seen, I “remember” things about her life, that I would later find out through another source, were bang on.
Now I don’t necessarily even believe in Re-incarnation in the simplistic “I used to be another person” sense. The whole “moral part” of reincarnation to me, is smoke and mirrors. There are lots of aspects to the universe that we can see, or fathom, and lots that we can’t. Much of what we experience is hard to put into language, and maybe doesn’t need to be.
My gut tells me that most of our Aetheric constructs, mythopoetics, and philosophies are really just ways of Grokking (there’s that word) the parts of the universe we can’t fathom in a conscious or intellectual manner. Or to put more simply: Faith, or Belief. I’ve seen ghosts in my life, interacted with them. Whether these “ghosts” are real in a that tree is real kind of sense is immaterial. I gained insight and understanding of my self by accepting that there are things we can’t explain in this linear world that we mostly experience. Metaphor is everything, Simile is something.
In recent months, I have not only been lonely for some physical intimacy, but also some internal/spiritual intimacy. Mostly I have gotten this going inside by making the decision to read more than I watch movies or TV. Not that some movies and even Tv can’t be a religious experience. I find that that absorption of imagery is not doing it in the same way it used to for me. I read, I read a lot, 3 to 4 hours a day usually. I’m mostly reading sci-fi, or fantasy, usually with some sort of alternate history aspect, like a steampunk setting. This clashing, mashing of “real history” and a fantastical one where there were zillions of airships, zombies, vampires running about within a historical setting has a lot of intellectual zest for me.
The only kind of non fiction I read lately (other than the internet, whose reality is always in question) are bits of academic take on the King Arthur mythos, or maybe some new Trans Folk biography or Trans theory. I miss the more academic stuff occasionally, but I’m not quite back there yet, in terms of stimulating my mind, spirit.
I was crushed spiritually when I had to flee Canada in order to pay off my ludicrous VISA and Student Loan debt back in 2002. I am only now 18-19 months into my transition, 8 years after leaving Japan, 5 years after almost killing my self with hypertension, just now starting to feel like my mind and my spirit are catching up with what I’m doing.
It’s hard to rebuild something that was so utterly destroyed as my sense of joy at reading and understanding, grokking if you will, the esoteric, and the spiritual parts of life. For so long, I felt as if all I had learned, back in my 20-30s something readings of that part of the world, were somehow invalidated by my failures at the most basic parts of existing, knowing with certainty my own gender, and my oft unquestioning acceptance of other people’s points of view over my own.
I’m finally ready, hopefully to be able to be a leader at least in my own life. I still have a hard time saying no to pushy (they think confident, I think pushy, yet follow anyway) folks. But I am learning that my own views (as odd as they may be) might actually have some validity. Weird.