Thursday, March 30, 2006

love me like a man

Just now reading that last (at long last) post over again, I'm struck by how not-terribly-happy it sounds, which reminds me of something that I was thinking about after group last night, and that is how un-anxious, not-scared, and un-worried I am in general about my transition.

I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed right now, which bogs me down in my own head, and gets me feeling rather overwrought sometimes. But these days (and this is part of how I know that this is the right thing for me to be doing) I'm not scared of being trans, like I was for a while at the beginning of this process. I'm happy, and pleased, and glad to be leading this transmasculine life. I'm not anxious about transition except in the sense of being curious and uncertain about what will happen.

And specifically, I'm not worried any more that no one is going to love me or be attracted to me. Okay, I was never really worried that no one would love me (I give my friends and family and community more credit than that!) but I was worried briefly about whether anyone would be attracted to me, and want to date, and I was remembering this because of what we talked about in group last night.

Our topic was Sex & Sexuality (ooh la la), and in order to start the ball rolling for discussion on that, we did an excercise where we all anonymously wrote down one fear or concern related to sex and our gender identity, then put them all in the middle, then read them out loud one by one. It was great to hear everyone's thoughts anonymously, and was therapeutic/cathartic in that regard; also relieving to hear one's own worries echoed by others. But I was concerned about the distinctly negative slant to the exercise, in the sense that it can be disheartening to hear a whole bunch of negative thoughts about the future. I interjected a request before we really got started, that perhaps in the future we could spend time at some point talking about the things we enjoy and are happy about regarding sex and our gender identity.

It's something that I've been thinking about a lot, how support groups and discussions about FTM identity often focus on our fear, and on navigating the difficulties of being trans. Which is important, and helpful, and necessary, don't get me wrong! But I'd like to be able to focus on the positive, too, which I find often (foreshadowing: future discussion of this is necessary!) manifests when we stop talking about "how to be a real man" and start talking about what it means for us to be the kind of men we are. Or, perhaps, the kind of masculine people that we are. Or even just the kind of people we are in general, since many of us are flamingly effeminate!

Anyway, one of the fears that came up a lot was a fear of not being attractive to others, of not being able to find partners who would love and honor and respect and lust after us and our transbodies. It was hard and kind of sad to hear that so many of worry about that, especially as I looked around the room to see so many handsome and beautiful and appealing people, plenty of whom must have been the authors of such fears. I'm glad to say that I myself don't worry about that so much anymore, especially because I believe (see below for more on this) that transition is going to make me MORE attractive, because I'm going to be a happier and more authentic Eli, which I can only imagine will translate to more confidence and heightened charm and appeal on my part.

Which is not to say, of course, that I'm impervious to worries about attractiveness and suchlike; I did let the discussion of those fears get to me, such that last night had to involve the airing out of some late night worries. Namely, that I don't know what I'm going to look like, or how exactly my body is going to change, which leads me down two somewhat daunting trails of thought. First, I don't know how I'm going to be able to fully inhabit my body, if you will, because I don't have a lot of experience with that...right now, I tend to maintain a fairly constant level of disconnect with some or all of my anatomy, because I'm not particularly fond of it/don't think it should be there. This goes for a lot of my distinctly female attributes, but I'm thinking specifically of my chest here. I'm hoping that physical transition, and altering my body to feel more real and normal for me, will help a lot in that regard, but I know, too, that I'm going to need some practice and time before I can feel fully connected to a more comfortable but suddenly unfamiliar body.

Which leads to my second thought, which isn't a worry so much as a...something. That something being the fact that it's hard for me to recognize that people could be (and are) attracted to me right now. I recognize, on some level, that I'm not a bad looking character, but my body is just so patently wrong to me right now that it's hard sometimes to hear anyone express an interest in it. In some ways, I don't really want anyone to be attracted to me right now, just like I don't really believe or feel that I'm attractive, because...well, I try not to remember that I'm actually shaped like I am, and trying to think about whether I'm attractive requires engaging honestly with my current body. So in some senses, I don't want to be attractive now, because this isn't really what I look like! If that makes any sense.

Though, as I've been reminded, an attraction to me as I am now does not preclude or in fact say anything about an attraction to me in the future, except that my body probably has less to do with my appeal than I feel that it does. Those folks who are interested in me can and do like me right now despite my imperfect anatomy (and power to them for that), and can and will continue to do so.

And seguing rather abruptly back to my ostensible original topic, I have to say that it feels very good not to be scared- about future partners, or, really, any part of my transition. People keep asking me if I'm scared of surgery or hormones, and I have to say that no, I'm not. I'm curious, and rather awed, and a bit overwhelmed by the turns my life is taking right now, and sometimes I'm worried about how I'm going to manage it all. And it's not that I feel brave. I'm just not frightened.

4 comments:

CaptLex said...

Eli:

Thanks for your comment on my blog - I'm also enjoying yours. I'm glad our group seems to be slowly building a community (of sorts). It's certainly something I feel I need.

Lex

KB said...

Hey,
I have to concur that you're getting more attractive with time, and I'm sure you'll be even more hot in the future. I think a lot about attractiveness and what makes people attractive, and I've come to the conclusion that a huge part of it is confidence. Any person who sees themselves as sexy, and who knows what they want, will be seen as sexy regardless of what they look like. It has something to do with an aura that they project, the way they look at people, the way they inhabit space, etc. This is not just my own preferences, either. Most people will respond to that aura regardless of what their stated attraction-matrix is. I think everyone worries about their bodies not being hot enough to attract people, and your worries are compounded by other body issues. But I've found that hotness is almost completely unrelated to bodies. And you have nothing to worry about re: attractiveness. Except maybe having too much of it. That can be a burden.

-Canadia

Julian's Mom said...

I have to say that I am shocked, shocked, shocked to learn about your insecurities re: attractiveness! You are one of the cutest, most popular, outgoing, charming, and fashionable people I know, and you have had a more extensive love life than most people I know twice your age. Just ask your current gf, who I'm sure thinks you're hot. I don't mean to minimize the sentiments you've expressed here, and maybe what you're trying to say is that you don't want someone to lust after you because of your trans status, or in spite of it (tell me if I'm wrong). Fair enough. I guess I am just trying to say that I don't think you'll have any problems at all, at least as far as this issue is concerned. The biggest problem you may face is the myth about girls not being attracted to guys who are sensitive or "too nice." As someone who is married to a sensitive un-macho man, I can say that anyone worthy of you will not be phased by any of this, so get down with your bad self!

Micki said...

I can totally relate to the attractiveness issue. For trans people, contemplating this issue has a certain stigma attached - almost as if you're being too vain or superficial.

But it's only natural that we should wish to match up to that image within our minds, of our 'correct' sex. And as someone who's met you, I can also concur that you're very handsome and you should have no qualms about having more confidence in your attractiveness.