Tuesday, October 10, 2006

mish mash splish splash

Further nuggets of gender-related musing, served jumbled together for your enjoyment. Like dim sum! A little bit of everything, and a lot of it.

-This weekend I looked in the mirror and decided that my hairline is receding. Just a tiny tiny little bit, around my temples, where I've always had blonde streaks anyway, so it's always looked like I've had slightly receding hair at my temples. But now I think it's definitely further back than it used to be. I could, of course, be making this up entirely. But I don't think so. I wonder sometimes about whether I'm destined for baldness. People always say to look at your mom's dad, but that's only because most guys only have one X chromosome. I've got two, so I have to check out both sides of my family. Well, my dad's pretty much bald as a bowling ball, and I don't know about the rest of his family. My mom's got three brothers, two of whom have very thick hair, and another who is thin/balding on top. I don't know about her dad, but I think he had thick dark hair til very late in life. So I figure I've got a 50-50 chance, based on that data. Though maybe slightly better, since I do more closely resemble (dark, thick hair instead of lighter, finer hair) the two uncles with hair remaining rather than than the other uncle or my dad. On the other hand, I'm pretty fine with being one of those bald, bearded guys. I think I could rock that aesthetic pretty thoroughly. So we'll see. I'll try not to be too neurotic about it.

-The transmasculine support group has started up again, Wednesday nights at 7:30 at the Center. It was good to go and see everyone, but I've also got a few ambivalent feelings from last week's session. First, I've got a nagging feeling that we're not going to cover as much ground as in the past. Well, that's not true- in general, I'm sure we will, but specific to me (and isn't it always all about me?) , I have a sense that there is a Law of Diminishing Returns at work here. That is, I'm going to get less out of this than I have in the past, because we're going to spend a lot of time re-treading paths that we as a group and I as an individual have trotted down before.

This is a good sign, I think- group is great as a socialization medium, but it's main purpose (I think) is to help all of us get a handle on this process that we're going through- that is, the process of understanding our trans identities. The fact that going to group doesn't seem as crucially helpful anymore probably means that I've gotten a better handle on myself. So hurrah for that!

I think I'll keep going- I think I have a lot to add, and a lot still to gain from going. Hopefully I can take away things that are helpful for me, be it insights or strategies, even if we talk about things that aren't as relevant for my anymore, like coming out to family. Also, and I think this is a function of our necessarily small community, we each have a finite amount of experience and stories to tell. I'm starting to become familiar with our discussion topics not just in general, but specific to those of us who've been attending for a while. I know these guys' stories now! As they know mine, no doubt. Hopefully we can keep from boring each other.

I mentioned a few ambivalent feelings. The others are not so much about the group itself as feelings prompted by the conversation we had last week. It ties into other things I've been thinking about, and so therefore gets its own bullet point:

-Loss! Yes, indeedy. Related to what I mentioned here the other day about recent lack of solid ground; that lack is originating in no small part from my currently complicated feelings about my transition. Namely, I'm not quite sure how to manage myself as I want to celebrate and rejoice being a happy happy guy, and also feel kind of sad about letting go of my former self as a masculine female person.

Lately I've been thinking that maybe it's related to this large/colossal sense of unfairness about the whole thing that I think is nested inside me. I rarely let it out, but still, there's a little genderless part of me inside that's stamping hir foot and exclaiming, irrationally and contradictorily, "It's not fair! Other boys don't have to grow up with breasts and hips and periods and then fight fight fight with judges and surgery bills and needles twice a week in order to live normally!" "It's not fair! Other female-born people are happy being boyish and masculine and butch and don't feel like they're busted, and being mis-seen by the rest of the world!" "It's not fair! Other trans guys know that they're trans from the age of 2 and never question their feelings!" "It's not fair! At long last I'm feeling happy and secure in my body and I have to start dredging up questions of origin!"

Sounds like I want to be every gender and eat my cake, too.

That last bit is what's been giving me trouble. Now that I'm where I am, that I've accomplished these goals I've set for myself, I've got time to slow down, take a breath, and start speculating. Being happy is making me forget what it was like being unhappy with my body, which makes me start to wonder what it would've been like if I hadn't been able to transition. The fact that I don't think (unlike, so it seems, many other trans folks) that I'd be dead or a non-functional member of society is really getting to me. It seems invalidating, and it's a scary question to try to explore.

Where would I be? Is it even worth asking, since clearly, I'm not there? And related to that, why am I here? I know the most basic and important answer to that question: I transitioned (am transitioning?) because I wanted to, because I know (and can confirm now!) that I'm happier living as a [trans]guy. The next, scarier (though not as scary once I keep reminding myself that it's theoretical and critical in the purely intellectual sense) question is: why am I happier this way?

-Ohhhkay, enough angst. In other news, I'm really scruffy today, owing to not having shaved in 3+ days. It's still really only noticeable up close, but since I blathered on the other day about my facial hair, I feel like I should mention that I'm definitely starting to see encroachment further up my cheeks.

Yes, I talk about my "beard" a lot. Yes, I spend a lot of time with my chin thrust towards the mirror, squinting with one eye, examining my "stubble." Yes, I know, I'm really cool.

-Last but not least, I got a message today from an acquaintance from college, who said she'd seen my new Friendster picture (one of the shirtless-self-portrait-in-the-mirror pictures I posted here a few weeks ago) and wanted to know if I'd "had an operation."

What is it about that phrase that rubs me the wrong way? I guess it sounds archaic and full of assumptions to me. Sounds like the phrase "getting a sex change," it's out of date and uninformed. On the other hand, surgery IS an operation, right? Just because I'd say "I had some surgery" rather than "an operation" doesn't make it unacceptable. I guess it's just a matter of being fluent in the language of my community- just because she's not up on the lingo doesn't mean she doesn't mean well. Woo, lot of double negatives in that last statement. Maybe I need to stop compulsively analyzing this line of communication and just write her back a short, polite answer.

Yes. I've had an operation.

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