I started this blog back in August 2017 after coming out trans (to friends and colleagues) and making the decision to begin transitioning. Eight months ago I felt empowered to step into this alternate but familiar fantasy finding after years of crippling anxiety and shame, I could no longer face myself for a go at it. My sagging, scared reflection told a story of pain. In my own tenuous voice I found the will to show up, literally to be there in the moment, one foot in front of the other, every day, no matter how uncomfortable things felt. The weight of a thousand worries propelled me into this dream where self confidence was not a measure of self worth.
“I’m here and I’m trans”.
My family, and friends stood by somewhat confused by this roundabout and spirited expression of my aha moment. I broadcast my outness like a cheapo advertisement printed on the side of a box truck. If there was a hat- I would have worn it. In contrast to my introverted disposition, I posted on FB and started IG page, joined the church, joined the Rainbow ERG at my job, joined some local LGBT friendly groups. I still didn’t find what I was searching for.
My second instinct (after the broadcast) was to apologize for making people uncomfortable. At work, I went out of my way not to make things awkward for my colleagues and I succeeded in so far as I will now need to come out a second time to ensure that the first conversation really sunk in. I am transgender, I am transitioning, and I prefer male pronouns. I wish I was more clear on that 8 months ago but I was too caught up in “coming out” experience, this once in a lifetime announcement that I never had the courage for. Riding that high for months, expecting that everything would just finally be okay, waiting for my life to reach that perfect balance, I fell into it again. I retreated back to booze. Back into my comfort zone.
8 months later, red-faced and bloated, I’m making another go at it. Today I have 42 days sober.
I started on T two months ago and am now in the gender ambiguous zone. My new wardrobe consists of my same old wardrobe minus the heels and blouses that never fit right. Just today, I noticed that I am starting to grow some facial hair around my lip. I don’t expect any of my coworkers to comment. I am gracefully introverted by nature so transitioning has given me less than ever to talk with people about. When they do ask, I feel like The Inquisition. Me, sweating under a hot, buzzing, overly bright fluorescent light. Them, friendly and curious in spirit, trying to make the best of it. I realize that I need to lighted up. In gaining sobriety, I lost my sense of humor.
Since coming out, I have learned the following:
- Coming out trans was less of an announcement and more like a daily affirmation to honest living. Its immediate gratification was confounded in certainties I was unable to give assurance to. People tended to want the abridged version of my intentions and I was unprepared to answer those questions with definition. When was I starting HRT? When did I plan on having surgery? It was sudden and it was terrifying to have such personal intimacy open for discussion. Coming out was not a one time event. It will be something I face daily and more confidently.
- It is okay not to know where you’ll end up because this is a journey of discovery. I am not setting myself up for disappointment by setting timelines and expectations of how my transition should be. Every trans person’s journey is unique. It’s new territory and I’m guided by an instinct. I am not an expert on trans.
- There is less support from the trans community than I first expected. I realize now that expectations can be unsatisfying. I hoped to join a support group and meet other people who were facing similar challenges with family, friends, work but haven’t found any active groups in my area of NJ although there are more resources in bigger cities. The Trans Advocate is a great podcast for all trans issues (http://transadvocate.com/). I eventually want to start a local group up in my community.
- There is even less support from the medical community. I have been lucky to find an endocrinologist who was willing to prescribe me T BUT he had also stated that he has not transitioned a patient before. Good luck finding any specialist that works with insurance. Especially therapists. Shame on them for being trans exclusive and too good to work with insurance providers. I was initially hoping that someone was going to teach and help guide me through this process but I seem to be teaching the teacher. After a painless prescription pick-up, I drove home with the T, and was quick to learn with the needle. After about 4 shots my hands no longer shook when I inject myself. I am going back for the first check of my blood work levels next week.
- T is not magic. I did not lift a car with my newly muscular bare arms, run 20 miles uphill both ways or have sex for 5 straight hours after my first shot. I went to bed like any other normal day, got up and went to work the next, and am still waiting that glorious six pack. My mood has been awesome. Super calm and level. I have been struggling with anxiety and panic attacks for the last 3 years and after starting T, no more panic. I did notice being super hungry after the 2nd week. The voice is dropping a bit.
- I can look myself in the mirror again and not be disgusted by what I see. I haven’t physically changed much but my head is calm and I am proud of myself for stepping out into this world.
The best advice I’ve been given so far is to just show up (from my therapist who probably says that to many of his clients). It’s a simple and effective piece of advice. Yes, there are times when I was disappointed with those I trusted but there were also people who really surprised me with support.
So that’s it for now. I’m present in my own life. I cut the alcohol completely because I want to have a go at a healthy transition (both mentally and physically). I’ll probably be writing more now due to the sobriety factor (suddenly I have more hours in the day than I know what to do with). Just for today, I am grateful.
-Until next time