Tuesday, May 30, 2006

in the company of men

So, speaking of that new and improved mindset! It's variations on a theme that I've been espousing over the past few weeks- I'm happy. I'm feeling good. Solid. In a good place. I don't want to sound like a broken record, but at the same time, hey! It's good to feel good! And I really can't feel much compunction about spreading more positive energy into the world.

I used to talk about feeling feeling very unsteady- I was very unsure of myself, always longing for solid ground. Well, for a long time I didn't actually talk about it much to anyone but my therapist, since this was in my Era of Internalization when my "gender issues" (as I called them, being unready to own a trans identity) were my deep dark secret. But if you asked Annabelle, I'm sure she'd tell you all about how a major theme of our sessions together was me talking about how I was very nervous about the future, and how many choices and options I had before me. I didn't feel like I was standing on solid ground; it was self-perpetuating, too, in that I felt unsteady because I hadn't made any decisions, but I felt too unsteady to make any decisions. Then even after I did make decisions (which have turned out to be excellent!) I still felt unsteady and unsure last summer, and for a lot of the fall, too, as I started living out said decisions.

Now, I feel increasingly more solid. Though in some ways, I oughtn't- I'm in a typical unsteady, post-college point in my life. I don't know what I'm doing with my life, or where I'm going to be next year. But I've got a good job, and a good place to live, and a lot of good people in my life, and there is a slow realization (in every sense) that Eli is a good guy. And I feel like I'm getting a solid sense of self from which to address any and all future uncertainties.

One of the first signs I had of this solid ground came a couple of weekends ago. I went to a dance performance, called In the Company of Men, that was entirely choreographed and performed by male dancers. There was a lot of different embodiments of masculinity on stage, all of which were a delight to behold.

I'd been nervous, a bit, because historically, seeing guys perform has been a bit hard on me. It's tough sometimes to see guys be natural and comfortable in their bodies- it's made me jealous, and very aware of my own uneasy relationship with my body, and aware of my at times tenuous performance of manhood.

This time, though, there was none of that- just an appreciation for the stunning and energetic dance (of all sorts- tap to modern, wildly athletic to quietly charming) and the wide variety of guys up there in front of me. Made me aware of a new comfort in my self, separate from my perceptions of how my masculinity is playing out in the world. My own masculinity is coming together for me. Maybe I'm passing better, maybe I'm being seen more accurately by the rest of the world. But more importantly, I'm seeing my own masculinity, and being happy with it. This is important, as I have an unfortunate habit of seeing manhood as an amalgamation of

For example, there was a dancer there who was volunteering and ushering, and at one point he was pushing a mop across the stage to clean it up for the next piece. He was pretty curvy...well-built and muscular, but with, to put it bluntly, a very significant ass. I was appreciating it, and hearing other audience members around me murmur similar appreciation, and I realized that his ass was not unlike my own. And hell, if he can have an enormous ass and be extremely attractive and unquestionably masculine, then so can I.

It was good to have my anticipated worries fail to materialize and be replaced, instead, with further certainty that I'm happy as a guy, that I'm not lacking when in the company of other men, that I'm plenty manly, getting manlier, and happier about it all the time.

Part of my comfort these days is being happy with my body, as it is, and because it's mine, not because it looks more or less like (the problematic notion of) a "boy's body." I want to rid that phrase of the power it has. A boy's body. What does that mean, anyway? My body is a boy's body, because I'm a boy, and it's mine.

I'm letting go of notions built in my head of what it means to Be A Man (not too far- those notions, problematic though they are, still guide me. and that will take up an entry of its own one of these days) and am welcoming what it means to be myself in a manly embodiment. Am I putting too fine a point on it? I think it's a relevant distinction. I'm still looking forward to my body becoming more typically masculine, because it feels comfortable and secure. But it's a push-pull to a comfortable place, because even as I move toward my goals of masculinization, I'm also letting go of some of those goals, and reforming them to pull them closer to where I am now: validating my own brand of masculinity as it exists now. That's what I meant about becoming manlier all the time.

That's important, I think, as I transition- not to invalidate my style of masculinity as it comes naturally, without the aid of testosterone and surgery. Surgery and T and other hallmarks of transition aren't going to somehow turn me into a man. For all my talk about puberty, an becoming a man, I want to remember that my transition to being a guy doesn't hinge solely on physical transition.

Fortunately for me, I think that I'm learning how to transition along multiple levels as this physical transition continues. Even though (as you can read in my previous post) I haven't changed that much in my two months of taking T, I've gotten a lot more comfortable with my body as it is. It's starting to masculinize, true, but it's also masculine simply by virtue of being mine. The manliness of my physical self is also about how I move in my body, how I wield it and yield to it. I can grant myself manhood as surely as any hormone.

Though, admitedly, the hormones help.

I hope this post hasn't wandered too far hither and thither. I know I have a tendency to be verbose. I think I've gotten down some of my experience accurately. Namely, that I feel more secure and stable in my body now than I ever have before, and that is lending me a peace and happiness in the rest of my life. This stability is by no means perfect (nor do I expect it ever will be and, may seem obvious, but sometimes I have to say it outloud, not just because I'm trans) and I look forward to a lot of forthcoming work settling into myself. I've started to lay a good groundwork, though, and I can feel it in my happiness.

I leave you with some visual evidence. It's from a month or so ago, when my sister was visiting, and it's actually me sitting in the exact same place I am right now: on my fire escape. Of course, now it's night time, and I've got my laptop precariously on my lap and jackhammers down the street (really? jackhammers? at 10:30pm?) to keep me company, and that was pre-T, so in general I wasn't feeling quite as good as I am now. But in that picture I sure was happy- there's nothing that makes me feel solid and good like being with my sister.

so. happy Eli!


Kate Rood said...
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