A friend e-mailed me the other day to ask if I was OK. She was feeling motherly concern based on a couple of my recent blog posts (this one and this one), which, reading back, I can understand. I was doing hard emotional work when I wrote both of them, and they are dark. I don’t want to minimize those posts; but on the other hand, I’m doing fine overall, and it occurs to me that if I want this blog to reflect my total transition experience, then I’m overdue for an up side update. As a matter of fact, many parts of transition are going well.
Parenting: Transition is a narcissistic process, and from time to time I have become so engrossed in myself that my parenting has faltered. Most recently this took the form of pointing both my emotional neediness and my stress about money at my children in ways which were unfair to them. In effect I was asking them for the kind of support one might expect from an adult friend or partner rather than from one’s teenagers. Sensible and empowered as they are (I do have amazing offspring) they called me on it. At their request we went together to a short course of family therapy, and talked a bunch of stuff out. End results: I’m feeling better and stronger about my parenting than I have for a long time (and, I trust, doing a better job at it); I also got to say some things I think they needed to hear; and in our little household the tension-level has gone way down and the fun-level has gone way up. Yay for all three of us! :-)
Hormones: It has been about a year now since I got up to full doses in my hormone regimen, and I am totally digging the physical changes. I’m already happy with my new breasts; even if they don’t grow any more than the modest amount they have so far, I have indefinitely tabled the idea of surgical enhancement. My face also looks much more feminine, mostly perhaps because I’ve lost about twenty pounds, but there could be skin changes and fat-distribution changes too. (Likewise with my neck, shoulders, arms, legs.) Some days at least I think maybe I’ll never have to get facial surgery, and considering how desperate the need for that has sometimes felt, that’s big. I can’t quite say I’ve tabled it indefinitely, but at least for a couple of years I have, and that eases the money worry. And, one other hormone plus: back hair completely gone. That makes me smile every time I think of it. :-)
Surgery plans: I have pretty much settled on a surgeon and a date for Sexual Reassignment Surgery (Dr. Brassard in Montreal, summer of 2012), and have a working plan for how to pay for it (retirement savings, which I recently discovered I have more of than I thought). The Montreal SRS experience sounds about as wonderful as it could be: Dr. B is by all accounts as good as any other SRS surgeon working, and for a day before and several days after your procedure you stay in a residence with other patients, nursing care, full meals...and all for the same price as other surgeons who send you off on your own after a couple days in the hospital. One of the things I was dreading most about SRS was a week spent recovering in some anonymous hotel room, which seems to be the dominant model here in the States. A week of pampering and peer support for no extra dollars? Yes please!
Performance/writing: As noted in previous posts, I recently realized a lifelong ambition and performed a piece in a show. (Gushy post here.) I want to see what it’s like to perform for a straight audience next, rather than a room full of twenty-something lesbians, so I’m going to check out the comedy open mic at the Slainte winebar here in Portland. One visit to get the vibe, and then work up a routine and step up to the mic. Oooh, butterflies. I’ve got the bug bad...performing is *such* a rush, and I turn out not to suck at it, so, onward.
Meanwhile, after several false starts, I have figured out a way to write long-form about my trans experience. Success as a writer is my earliest, most intense, and most enduring ambition in life, so when a project is going well I feel a deep sense of fulfilment and happiness which nothing else can give me. It’s going slowly, but it’s going...joy!
Feminine life: the daily experience of living as woman in the world has lost the gee-whiz factor which leads to blog posts, but it continues to be deeply satisfying. I’m not sure how, but I’ve managed to reduce my anxiety about presentation (dress, carriage, mannerisms, and especially voice) almost to zero and just focus on enjoying every moment. I still get such pleasure from such simple things; a nice new pair of earrings, walking down Congress Street in a skirt, an unforced and natural “ma’am” at the grocery store.
So, in sum, yeah, I have money troubles, and sometimes my self-esteem plummets, and sometimes I feel desperately lonely, and I have no idea at this point even what sort of partner I want, let alone might ever find...but overall things are going well. The curious burden of being trans is also the source of most of the pleasure and sense of forward motion in my life, and it is *never* boring.
Next time the rollercoaster dips down into one of those low tunnels, remind me to come back and re-read this post.