Control

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Control. I think it’s what transition has been all about for me. An exercise in extreme control to the point that it took me the better part of two years of HRT, not to mention all that lead up to it to come out fully to my parents and my brother. Control to the point that I’m not out fully to my own child. Control to the point that I can count on one hand the people that know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

And in the end it’s control that’s holding me back. My last transition attempt was such a disaster I responded this time by tightlly controlling every aspect I could of transition and now that I’m all but fulltime, it’s actually holding me back. It’s the fear of losing control over who knows what and what they’ll do with that information that’s keeping me from taking that big step forward.

It’s control that I see starting to negatively affect my relationships. I can’t move forward with Michael, even if it is just to fail. Even that feels better then a fantasyland relationship that will never happen as long as the world still perceives me as male. It’s the delicate relationship I maintain with my son that will undoubtly suffer by not being completely honest about this issue and what it means for him.

Despite all that, I can’t seem to let go. My son has asked to see my therapist with me a number of times, and yet it would involve admitting that I even have a son to him. It was control and the fear of him not being willing to help me that lead me to exclude any mention of my son for the nearly three years I’ve been seeing him. Now my fear is in having to admit that I lied, by omission, but lied none the less.

I think I have everything under control and yet the reality is I have nothing under control and yet I can’t see to let go and just be Ryleigh. It’s not that I don’t want to, I think I just fear losing control and that is actually what’s controlling me.

I hate it.

Why can’t I just be fulltime?

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I woke up this morning. It seemed urgent that the dogs needed to be let out. It occurred to me the pink shirt and pink and blue pj bottoms were just a bit “too girly” for me to be wearing outside? Why? I leave the house most of the time in full on tomboy mode, makeup and all and don’t even flinch. I rummaged around for what I felt was an acceptable top and found a t-shirt after a couple tries that didn’t make me look all that girly. And I suppose that’s the problem, pretty much anymore, anything makes me look girly. That’s what I wanted right?

Why is it that 99% of the time, I can just be myself – be Ryleigh (yeah another name change, I know)? But for that 1% I can’t seem to pull the trigger as it were. I mean workwise, most people have their suspicions at the very least so its not like it would be a complete bombshell. I get gendered female by patients on such a regular basis it’s not even an emotional high anymore. Much to the point that I’m totally cool being regarded as female, but the fact that some people find me an attractive female is still taking some getting used to. My therapist wanted me to write about the pros and cons of being female, so I guess that’s what this is supposed to be.

I like my body, save for the one small part I dread. I’ve been thinking about it lately and I remember for most of my life and especially as a gay man, it always seemed odd to me, to be on my body without ever connecting it to my gender dysphoria. I mean I liked seeing it on other boys/men, but it always seemed odd and out of place on me. Now that I have a mostly female body, it seems even more out of place. I know that without taking that final leap, it will follow me to the grave and be a source of discomfort for the rest of my life. Oddly enough, at the same time I worry about the size of my breasts, I’ve had decent development on HRT and they’re definitely female breasts, but yet I still feel the need for a BA.

Acknowledging my female identity at work would end so much of my co-workers confusion. It hasn’t held me back professionally, as I’ve been promoted in the short time I’ve been there and I seem to be progressing well in my career, so I don’t have any fears there. Quite the opposite, coming out with my female identity would at the very least give me a shot with Michael and possibly others. I don’t have the feelings I have for Michael towards anyone else, but to everyone (Michael included) I’m a guy, though a bit on the odd side, I’m still a guy. I want a chance at a relationship with Michael. I’m not as boy crazy as I used to be about him, but I still have feelings for him that I want to feel free to be open about. If I don’t come out as female, my life with Michael will only ever be a fantasy (maybe TMI, but he’s the only guy I ever fantasize about).

I confuse so many patients by my presentation, and yet it’s my most male moment that I can muster. I’ve been mam’ed on multiple occasions or referred to as her or she (like the patient who told my partner “she’s got really cool hair”), I even had a patient flirt with me. Acknowledging my female identity at work wouldn’t change that, but it would allow me to change my work id, with my male name, that would make that less weird for everyone I suppose. I need to do this for me, and not for them though.

I resent having to portray myself as male, to the point that I wear the same boxers and t-shirt for days or even weeks at a time when I’m in male mode. I would never even think about doing that as Ryleigh. I know it can’t be healthy for me. If that’s true, not being Ryleigh all the time would actually be bad for my health.

I’ve been delicate with the issue with my family. I know I have their support, but I’m not being maybe as pushy as I need to be on this issue. That I need to do this for me, that its going to take some getting used to and it’s just time to move forward. I think I’m afraid of losing their support. They’ve known this was always an issue and yet I’ve never moved this forward with it before.

Lastly, and it’s probably the ghosts of my past transition more then anything else, I fear losing control of that aspect of my life when I’m fully open about myself. Things didn’t go well the last time, and though I’m a different person, I still worry about the past coming back to haunt me.

Fear is, or can be, a healthy motivator. In this case, I worry it’s paralyzing me. I don’t know how to move forward.

But You’re A Girl!

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Even I was starting to think this blog was dead, but the fact that I’m still attracting new followers and getting “hits” even when I don’t get follows tells me people are still interested in hearing what I have to say, or rather reading what I have to write.  Oh the ego that sentence seems to promote.  I’ll side track here to offer my dedicated, and not so dedicated readers and apology.  I’m all to well aware of a insanely adolescent phase I’ve been in for the last three years.  Funny, every time I type that, either here or some where else, I always initially write it as “last year”, I suppose I’m still in a letting go process.

I think I had a really productive session the last time with my therapist, the turning point was when he asked if I had a savings plan for surgery.  Not only did I admit that I hadn’t, but that I’d spent a ton of money on clothes in the last year.  I’ve set out since then to leave that phase behind me, first by apologizing to the people I’ve burdened with it.

I know its a normal part of the transition process, but it doesn’t change the fact that I have to take ownership of the things I’ve done and for you my readers, I’m truly sorry for the adolescent tone of far too many of my past posts.

As for, “but you are a girl”.  It’s an interesting story, as you know from previous posts, I’ve been mentoring a gender queer 10 year old named, William.  It was actually william’s brother Danny that uttered those words.  I don’t recall anything else about the conversation but that phrase, but it tells me that people are recognizing me as female and all but rejecting my maleness.  Which is what I wanted.

I had expressed to my therapist in my last appointment that surgery was important to me.  It was, in my mind, validation of the fact that I am female.  Without it, I think I fear I would never be taken seriously.  It’s sad we live in such a society, but it is the reality of the world we live in and I’m sure fodder for another post.  For the record, I won’t touch on the Katie Couric controversy, far better writers then me have already offered their opinions which I totally agree with.  It does reinforce what I feel though, I suppose it’s some level of dysphoria if you want to go that far with it.

I told my parents of my desire to change my name.  I think I’ll write a post on that conversation later, so I refer to it only as a gateway to the next stage which is of course “full time”. For me at least, its been a relatively flexible concept.  I wear female clothing probably about 99% of the time as it is right now, so full time is a soft concept really.  Once I file my name change, I go to court 30 days later and I’m officially Tristen.  For me it is the gateway to full time at work and there again I’m handcuffed by the need to be taken seriously.  My voice sucks.  Because I never worked on it until now and now I desperately want full time as the ultimate means of leaving the male identity I started shedding years ago.

What triggered my name change was my annual physical.  Being acknowledged as female (I hate the term “passing”)  is not absolute for me, but each time the receptionist called my male name I realized I would never really achieve my goal until that was part of my past.  It was  like being stabbed everytime my name was called.

As for work, it’s evenly divided, apparently, on whether I’m transitioning from male to female or female to male.  I’ve made no attempts to hide my transition at work, though I’ve never officially acknowledged it either.  I could change my name, gender neutral as it is, and continue to not “come out” at work, but I’m as ready as I’m ever going to be for full time.  Without my voice at least femalish, I fear that I won’t be taken seriously at work and that is unacceptable.

I’m tempered by the fact that both Danny and his younger brother, Shawn, both insist I’m a girl and their sister Sarah tells me that all her friends “think” I’m a girl (oh and all of this in an environment where I’m not fully out either).  And best of all, Sarah insists on her and I having “girl time”.  Our first experience being her painting my toenails, which Shawn happily joined in and had me painting his toes while Sarah painted mine.  It was one of the best experiences of my transition so far, especially having been excluded from “girl time” at the fire department since I wasn’t a girl (I was pre-everything at that point and not out) and how much it hurt.

But I am a girl.  I’ve achieved that goal in my transition. People are starting to see in me what I always saw in myself.  Now it’s just a matter of feeling like my identity is taken seriously by the rest of the world.

Progress

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First things first, I’m pretty excited to have two followers now, which is way more than just the random person I used to get reading my blog.  So now that I’m actually feeling like an author, I did do a little bit of tweaking and shameless promotion of my blog.  But, hey, a girl’s gotta do what she’s gotta do.  Anyhow, just a quick shout out to transparentguy and trans*forming mom for being my first official followers.

Today, I’m going to try to weave three topics into my post.  I think they’re all related so it should actually work, but comments are always appreciated.  And now that I have followers, topic suggestions, random questions, are all appreciated to.  The three topics are crossing paths with another trans identified person, coming out to my former roommate and the quest for toe socks.

Eight girls wearing toe socks

Eight girls wearing toe socks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ll start with the toe socks since this was going to originally be a post about how after a year and a half of looking, although casually, I finally found toe socks in my size.  I think I alluded to it in my “inner tights enthusiast” post, so that should give you a relative idea of how long I’ve been looking, but yeah the search is finally over.  I was so excited when I ordered them and even more so when they arrived.  I almost screamed.  It reminded me of the post by a mother of a gender variant child who screamed so loudly when he saw his first Barbie doll, she’d thought he injured himself.  I’d link to it, but I can’t honestly recall where I read it.  If you’re that mom or you know who is, let me know and I’ll update this post with a link.  Anyhow, that’s about how loudly I wanted to scream.  It should be obvious how much I love my new socks, I guess.  :)Moving on, I crossed paths with someone I assume was trans identified yesterday.  To understand my lack of certainty for a moment, I have to disclose, if you haven’t figured out already, I’m a Paramedic.  It was actually another crew, from another service even, with their student in tow.  The student looked pretty standard issue lesbian, short hair, standard EMS student uniform.  I couldn’t help but notice that it looked as if they were binding though.  I told my partner as much, that I wasn’t clear at first if they were male or female.  The binding, or apparent binding, made it pretty clear to me and yet I’m still not sure.  It wasn’t the time or place to be questioning them.

I wear my transgender pride bracelet all the time now (one of those latex bracelet things that are so popular right now).  Most people have no idea what it means, nor do I feel the need to tell them.  I was hoping this poor student might know what it was and we could maybe hit it off or something (as juvenile as that sounds).  Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.  What an interesting change for me though, considering it was only a couple months ago I met someone I’ll refer to as Amanda.

To understand Amanda, or rather my choice of naming an otherwise stranger, you have to understand how I met Amanda.  My partner and I were at a hospital cafeteria trying to get lunch.  It’s a small hospital, with a small, crowded cafeteria.  I found myself standing behind someone with a bad floral print top and long, stringy hair.  I thought, odd shirt for a guy, but he’s got long hair so I suppose it works.  Well, Amanda turned around and it was pretty clear.  I was faced with the largest set of fake breasts I’d ever seen, even to the point of being disproportionate on her frame, and a rather masculine looking woman.  Hey, we all gotta live and be happy, right?  Well Amanda opens her mouth and out comes a deep booming voice, male speech patterns and all (there is a difference).  The finale was her very masculinely walking out of the cafeteria.

I admit, I coined the term “Amanda” as a play on words. A-man-duh.  I know I’m supposed to admire her courage, especially considering this was a fairly rural county (though close to a major metropolitan area), but I couldn’t get past being angry with her.  Angry that she was doing such a horrible job of trying to pass, or was she even trying?  She struck me as the kind of person that was a support group queen who, every week, wondered why she didn’t pass and a gaggle of groupies at the meeting telling her how beautiful she was.  I suppose the anger was mixed with fear.  I was fearful on some level that she would recognize me as transgendered (the physical changes are obvious) and somehow feel as though we were “sisters”, essentially publicly outing me.  Our narratives are completely different, I don’t appear to have anything in common with Amanda, but the anger I felt towards her was fear more than it was anger.

Contrast that with my more recent experience.  Aside from the differences, that I don’t think the more recent person was trying to pass as desperately as Amanda was, and the obvious differences between MtF and FtM passing; but I think the difference was me.  I’m not afraid of myself the way I once was.  Fear is a healthy motivator, but it’s also capable of inducing paralysis.  I was paralyzed by it.  I didn’t care this time around; in fact I wanted to connect with this other person.  I connect better with FtMs anyways, but that’s another post for another day.

Finally, all of this was the run up to coming out to my former roommate.  Even that downplays the context of our relationship, really.  I’ve loved Matt for almost as long as I’ve known him.  As I think about it now, it’s been over 10 years.  I was pretty aggressive about professing my love for him at one point in our relationship, going so far as to convince him to be my roommate – thinking that if we played “house”, he would fall in love with me.  Matt is one of the few guys I really consider myself friends with, Chris being the other one.  You get the idea.

Matt knew nothing of my past transition.  He knew my former roommate and knew she was transgendered.  I swore her and another friend to secrecy and until last night, Matt knew nothing of my gender identity.  In my post NYT article life, I had taken on an “I just don’t care anymore” attitude.  I was eager to tell him, truth is, I’ve been trying to tell him for a while.  We’ll all that’s in the past now and it’s a wonderful feeling to know that he’s as supportive of me as he is.  I’ve opened up more to my family as well, and they’ve made it clear they love me all the same and support me as well.  I hate to be “that girl”, that has yet to have a bad coming out experience, but it’s true.  I think the difference is me though.

As I started out saying, I was going to work all three topics into a workable post.   The common thread is how I’ve changed as a person.  Living my life is getting easier as I move forward.  Fear was holding me back; lacking fear is moving me forward.  I’m ready, but as I told Matt last night, I’m not quite ready to risk the obligations in my life (i.e., coming out at work), but I know those will come in time.

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