Wednesday, February 22, 2006

prove your manhood to me constantly

Been having a sweet day of validation and respect at work, which has been refreshing and unexpected and great coming on the heels of recent days of being she'd left and right. Plus, it's mostly come arm in arm with compliments, too, which is always nice! For example:

Patron: You look fashionable today, Eli!
Other Patron: He always does.

And two other patrons called me 'he' or 'library guy', and one of the surveys that I'm compiling had a note in the comments section about the "extremely helpful male librarian."

Always nice to get unsolicited, not in the context of any particular gendered experience, no-strings-attached validation. I wonder if/when there's going to come a time when I'll stop feeling that tiny swell of pride and pleasure everytime someone uses masculine discourse to refer to me. Certainly it's diminished over time- I'm not so thrilled as I used to be every time someone uses the proper pronoun, or calls me Eli, but it still makes me happy. I guess when it becomes completely commonplace I'll become correspondingly less delighted each time.

These interactions came at a particularly good time, too, now that I think about it. Not just because I was trying to look snappy and stylish today- I have three separate occasions tonight at which I wish to look good: pyschiatrist, transman group, and a hot date- but also because I think I've been getting caught up in my imminent physical transition in a not entirely positive way.

I've started thinking "after I have chest surgery and can wear tight t-shirts all the time" or "oh, well, once I start T and have a manly physique" or "well, once my voice has changed, then..." fill in the blank with some important piece of my life and maleness predicated on physical transition. I think I've started hinging my masculinity on those steps in my physical transition, and that's not something I want to be doing.

Sure, all of those things are important, exciting thing, but they're not the be-all, end-all of me and my manhood, and I want to be careful not to let them become so. I've been a guy...okay, this gets problematic. I've been living full time as a guy for over six months, identifying solidly as a guy for almost a year, and have pretty much considered myself a guy for quite a number of years. I don't want to devalue that.

Not to mention the fact that it's all to easy to think about "Oh, once I have a manly physique, everything will be fine" and not keep in mind what my manly physique is actually going to look like. I'm going to change, that's true, but not in ways that I can definitely predict, and I'm not going to become 100% Normative Man, anyway.

Man, I'm glad I'm keeping this record, and that I've got writings about this from years back. It's important to me to have continuity with my past, and be able to identify how and from whence Eli has evolved. I can feel how my mindset and ideas have changed, and I feel very estranged from feelings that I know for certain I used to keep close. That's not entirely a bad thing- I'm rather pleased to have divorced myself from a lot of the worry and uncertainty I used to carry around- but I want neither to be swept up in new ideas without thinking them through, nor to summarily dismiss older thoughts that still have importance.

It's disorienting, almost, to think back to a year or so ago, and remember how worried and scared I was about this. My 'gender issues' were my not-particularly-well-kept Deepest Darkest Secret, and there was this feeling I had all the time- almost like Tony sings about in West Side Story- that something big was coming. Except I knew what it was, I just didn't know how I was going to deal with it.

Now it seems strange to me that there was every any question of how I would deal with this. Transitioning has proved to be such a positive, fulfilling, relieving, natural experience. Weird to me think that I could be any other way, that I could still be living as some kind of girl. Weirder still (!) to remember that there are plenty of people in the world who haven't heard the news yet, and still think of me in their heads as a girl! Woah. Hadn't even thought about that- it's a bit unnerving to think that I still exist in a lot of minds as a female person, even as the memory of that femaleness is becoming more and more dissonant in my own head.

Whew. I'm just going all over the place with this tonight, aren't I? I think my mind is jumpy because of my psychiatrist appointment tonight. Have to meet with a professional in order to make sure I'm not crazy before they start dispensing mind- and body-altering controlled substances to me.

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