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.

I shall call him mini-me

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English: Boy with a doll, 1922

English: Boy with a doll, 1922 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been far too long since I’ve updated my blog, yet I’m still managing to attract followers. Yes, that’s a shout out and you know who you are. :)Actually my crazy inspiration for this update is the wonderful turn of events in my life yesterday. My regular partner who I’ve written extensively about in the past left so I’ve been working with a bunch of different EMTs. I’ve known Heather for some time, we’ve never worked together, but we always see to see eachother in passing. Actually, funny story, the first time I saw Heather I thought, “he’s cute, but he’s got a big butt for being a guy”. Yeah.

Anyhow, Heather and I worked together yesterday finally, I was like a kid waiting for Christmas to come. Yes it was a blast, yes I’d much rather work with female partners.

During the course of the shift, as of course we talk about anything and everything during fourteen hours being mere feet from eachother the entire time, Heather volunteered “I’ve always identified more with male and being masculine” OMG my partner’s trans! Super cool! Well maybe not trans, she did expressly say she wasn’t interested in a “sex change” but she does bind, sorta, “They just belong where they belong.”, with a sports bra two sizes too small. Were it not for her wife’s love of her breasts, I think she really would get top surgery. So maybe GQ is more descriptive of her.

Enough about Heather, the real gem yesterday was talking about her son, William, and how gender variant he is, he still identifies as a boy and likes “boy things” but he loves girl stuff too and tells her he likes thinking about kissing boys, etc. I think he’s still struggling with his own concept of being gay, but he understands the concepts at least.

I talked with her quite a bit about being supportive of him and how trying to stop him from expressing his gender variance would do more harm then good and she responded by asking me to be his mentor (I of course told her how gender variant I was growing up). I looked at her and said, “I shall call him mini-me.” 🙂

When I came out to my parents I’d witten “I’m at peace with my past”, referring to the trauma of growing up gender variant in a less understanding world. I’m so excited that I get to make sure that doesn’t happen to another boy like me. Heather told me he begged her to buy him a pair of rainbow fairy wings at pride last year. Atlanta does their pride in October and I can’t wait to buy William his wings. 🙂

On Being a Ballerina

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This picture belongs to me, I scanned it and e...

I love that my therapist gives me homework. What you’ve been reading so far has been an outgrowth of her first homework assignment to try writing a journal to express my feelings about being transgendered. This week’s assignment includes a worksheet about my feelings at different life stages and the steps I took to express, or I guess repress, my gender identity.

As I look back on it, I am thankful my parents were open minded enough to allow my cross gender behaviors to express themselves. I’m pretty sure there was an underlying message in all of that that made it clear asking for, and subsequently wearing an age appropriate dress, especially in public was strictly off limits. In fact I know it was. My mother at one point made it quite clear that if I wanted to continue to wear female clothes I was to get my own (or something like that). It was a long time ago, and my recollection isn’t what likely happened exactly, but I understood it to mean, make out a wish list and it’s yours. I did. It was the early days of computers, but I was savvy enough to create a spreadsheet including prices and the appropriate pages in the JC Penny catalogue (I think my parents still cringe thinking about my love affair with the girl’s section of the JC Penny catalogue). I don’t remember how much time transpired between creating it and my father finding it on his computer, but I do remember having to explain myself to two rather angry parents.

I should have known that would be the outcome. I mean how else would I know enough not to ask about ballet lessons? Again my timeline is a little sketchy, but as a frame of reference it had to be sometime in mid to late elementary school. It was past the leotard incident and before my female cousin moved out of town which came at the beginning and end of elementary school. As you would assume, she was in fact taking ballet lessons. I desperately wanted to take ballet lessons too. I remember reading a book or rather seeing a book, I guess, seeing as how it was long on pictures and short on words. It made it clear that boys didn’t exactly wear leotards, but rather shorts and t-shirts. How else could I explain I wanted to wear a leotard like my female cousin because I too was a girl? Like I said, I knew well enough not to even try to explain it.

Outside of that moment, I have to admit I was allowed pretty much to do as I pleased when it came to expressing myself. Despite what she may have thought, my mother didn’t seem to care as I insisted on painting my nails, playing with the Easy Bake Oven, or even ask I asked for and got my very own doll (including stroller). Nothing was ever said about the time I convinced my cousin to let me wear one of her nightgowns to sleep in. Looking back as an adult I can only imagine the conversations that must have gone on between her and my aunt (her sister).

My therapist also suggested writing, but not necessarily sending, at letter to my parents expressing my feelings. As much as I am grateful that they didn’t keep me from doing things most other parents of boys would have simply refused to allow, that they didn’t deal with their child’s gender issues by “beating the boy into him”. I can’t blame them for doing the best they could raising a child with gender issues during a time that didn’t have the resources today’s parents have. At the same time, it hurts me deeply that they refused to listen to their child who tried to tell them their body was all wrong not once, but three times.

It makes me nothing short of apprehensive on the now fourth go round of trying to explain how horribly traumatic it is to be trying to live in the wrong body. At the core of the issue, it is probably the root of most, if not all, of my fears about transitioning. I want so much to be angry with their refusal to listen to me trying to express my feelings and instead try to “save me”, instead I’m left feeling hurt. The anger is merely the hurt coming out. The hurt of a girl who hardly understood what was happening to her and could barely explain it to the people who were supposed to love her just the way she was.

Makeup was my undoing

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I think the first time I openly hated my body I was around 12 or 13. It was hair and it was on my legs. That’s the first time I HATED being a boy. Thinking back on it now I can recall at least two times in my life before then I’d seen a naked girl about my age. I actually have no memory of seeking their genitals, but I’d been assured by the girls I had in fact seen them. Maybe there’s a lot to be said for having no recall of those moments.

Though having said all that I have to admit it wasn’t like a light bulb suddenly came on, as if I’d had a normal boy’s life before that. About the same time I’d seen my first naked girl, I had friend that had convinced me to take several articles of clothing from my mom. Mac moved away when I was about 5 or 6 so it was sometime around then. I don’t know what Mac’s own motivations for doing the same were, but I think I remember him showing me his “stash”. As he did, so did I. That’s how it all started for me. Was that when I knew I wanted to be a girl, I don’t think so. As I can remember, now my “stash” resided safely in my closet for maybe a year before I ever got curious about what it might be like to actually wear them. If anything, I think I’d actually forgotten about them at times.

Do I remember “the first time” like it was some magical life changing moment in my life. Actually no. But I do remember the first time I got caught, I’d made the mistake of wearing a bra in front of my mom, who promptly saw the outline of it under my clothes and called me into her room to tell me as much. Confronted, I admitted to my “stash” and tearfully returned all of it, except for the underwear she didn’t know I had on. There had been one time before that my brother had caught me, though I’d stashed the clothes in my parents’ laundry before they caught me in the act. My brother had been babysitting me that night and first thing the next morning my parents sat us both down and wanted to know which one of us had left my mom’s pantyhose in the laundry. The code of silence kept me out of trouble.

I don’t recall keeping any of my “borrowed” clothes after that and for a long time I had myself convinced that I had a dry spell from then until about 11. Never mind the fact I have disorganized memories of getting a doll one Christmas (complete with stroller), or looking forward to swimming with my cousins since if I played my cards right I could quickly try on a pair of my female cousins discarded underwear (never mind the fact that I was insanely jealous of her Wonder Woman Underroos) before anyone thought I might be taking just too long to get changed. I had to have been about 8 or 9 when I had probably forgotten my pajamas at my own house, somehow I managed to convince not just her but my aunt to let me sleep in one of her nightgowns. I recall another time that I had been sleeping in her room, I had to be young for the two of us to be sleeping in the same room, but that’s beside the point. I woke up early and I don’t know what motivated me, but I crept quietly towards her closet, silently sliding it open, I crept inside and slid it closed behind me. My target was her ballet tutu; I slipped it off as quickly as I’d slipped it on and crawled back in to bed. Only later would my aunt, though none the wiser, point out my pajama bottoms were on backwards. So yeah, big time dry spell I guess.

Oh I should have mentioned the second incident of seeing a naked girl was during this time period, and no it wasn’t my cousin. I was staying with a friend of mine; well actually her mom was my mom’s friend. Anyhow, and believe me I don’t know how it ever came about, but somehow I’d either talked her into it or been talked into it, which is just as likely knowing this girl, to wear a pair of her tights, they were yellow. Not that it matters, just that I had to make sure my socks were pulled up high (I was wearing jeans) so her mom wouldn’t notice when she woke up from her nap. I’ll take credit for, I think, suggesting it would be better for me to wear her underwear as long as I already had her tights on and that’s when it happened. Apparently in the process of taking my underwear off and putting her’s on she saw my genitals, later declaring that it wasn’t fair that I didn’t get to see hers and promptly pulling her underwear aside to show me.

So those were the major highlights, but of course there was the preference for playing with my female cousin over my male cousin the same age (they were twins) and of course I always went home with a fresh coat of nail polish, scraped off before I went back to school of course – I wasn’t stupid! Or how often I’d look at a naked Barbie doll and wonder what was wrong with me.

Middle school was horrific and accelerated my cross-dressing. How I’d kept it a secret for at least two of the three years I still don’t know, but at least that’s the way I remember it. Then came the leg hair. I think that’s what finally did me in. My body was following its biological destiny and I was maturing as male, I hated it. It was probably sometime between 12 and 13 I’d decided I wanted to be a girl. At least as much as I understood it, without the benefit of the internet (this was the 80s after all).

Makeup, or my curiosity towards it, blew the doors off my cross dressing. It was towards the end of 8th grade that I expanded my secret life into trying on makeup. My parents were out for the evening, I was sure I’d covered my tracks. I hadn’t. The next morning my mom could tell “someone” had been in her makeup. There was only one person it could be, it was me.

Over the course of several conversations I’d finally worked up the courage. I told my mom about my desires to be a girl. I somehow had figured out the word pairs and knew what I was asking for was a “sex change”. Somehow the words came out of my mouth that I feared having a sex change. Do I blame my parents no? There weren’t the resources then that there are for parents now to deal with what their son had just told them.

I was promptly shipped off to a new therapist, since obviously the last one wasn’t “working”. Though I’d been seeing him for unrelated issues, that he missed what my parents felt was so obvious was enough for them to take me elsewhere. I’d already been accepted to an all-male high school, my parents in the years since have said they were thrilled that it was a chance for me to be exposed to more male role models then just my father – since obviously I was rejecting his influence.

What really could I have done at that point? I was nothing short of terrorized throughout middle school. I couldn’t have gone to the public high school, not and stayed sane. There a ton more stories from the next four years, but that’s for another day. What would have convinced my parents of my gender identity? I’ve since thought I could have threatened suicide to get my way, but that would have gotten me a one way ticket out of my private high school and I’m sure it would have followed me back to the public high school, only worse. “He wants to be a girl!” I’m sure the bad news would have traveled fast. It would have only made the beatings worse, the social isolation worse. I could at least hide out in my private high school, surrounded by all males and given the strict nature of a Catholic high school I could be “not quite right” and at least not be tormented for it, openly at least. Maybe the key to survival, to not be thrown to the wolves, was to hide among them as best I could. Besides I’m sure I wasn’t the only boy that ever wore girls’ underwear most of his junior year.

Ladies' underwear advertisement, 1913

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