Saturday, October 07, 2006

travelin' thru

An assortment of things that I've been thinking about:

-I shave every other day or every three days now, in an effort not to look like a slob. If I let it go over a whole weekend, I've definitely got stubble by the end, though it remains contained in distinctly adolescent localizations. It seems to be growing from the outside in, coming up my neck and down along my sideburns, straining to meet along the edge of my jaw. Someday, presumably, it'll start filling in up along my cheeks, and I'll have a real honest to goodness beard. I wonder whether all boys wait and wonder and hope for their beards, or just those of us who were at first denied the possibility of it? I use nice quality disposable razors now, and try to change it every 10 shaves (three weeks) or so. I've been using shaving gel from a can- it always surprises me how far a little dab of that stuff will go, spread in circular motions with careful fingertips. I'll daub it all over my face, then start the water running so I can rinse my blade between swipes. I always shave my moustache area first, since that's where the shaving cream is most annoying- it tickles my lips and nose. I don't always shave my upper lip, though- only every other shave- because it doesn't seem to be growing in as fast as my jawline. I keep meaning to get a shaving bowl to use as a water basin so that I don't just waste water while I carefully scrape away at my face, trying to avoid the acne flare-ups, and keep an even line down the edge of my sideburns. Also, someday, in the distant When-I'm-a-Grownup future, I'd like to use shaving soap and a boar-bristle brush, and a nice razor. Maybe not a straight razor (unless I got some proper training on the matter, and where do you get that?) but a nicer razor than the Gilettes I've been using.

-I'm growing a pelt. It's a little hard to keep track of, since I usually only notice my body hair when I'm naked, and I don't always have my glasses on when I'm naked, and without my glasses, it's damn hard to see those fine little hairs cropping up all over. But on the other hand, I spend enough time scrutinizing myself that it's hard to miss: when I'm leaning over the bathroom mirror, it starts to become obvious that patterns of hair are establishing themselves up and down my sternum, spreading down beneath my collarbone. Again, with the interesting hair patterns- my leg hair has definitly been creeping up from my ankles, but my chest hair seems to be starting at the middle (sternum, down to encircle the belly button) and working its way out.

-It's just about exactly two months since I've had surgery. Seems like the blink of an eye, whereas when I was counting down at two months until surgery, it seemed like forever. Makes me remember what a small percentage of my life I've lived already, and how long I've yet to go. Puts things in perspective when it comes to my impatience with my feelings of tumultuousness. I feel like my life's in upheaval again right now, because I'm once again in new territory. See, I'd finally gained some solid ground last winter and spring: I'd arrived in New York, found my community, set things in motion for myself. I'd made plans for transitioning and my name and my life, I'd gotten everybody on board the good ship Eli Is A Guy, and I felt solid as a female-bodied, male-identified person. In short, waves were starting to subside from the big "Oh, I'm a guy!" realization/disclosure/upheaval.

Now, I've gone ahead and gotten myself into a vaguely post-transition state and (oh the irony) feel more in transition than ever before.

By post-transition I mean that I've passed the critical mass of months on T such that my masculine secondary sex characteristics are firmly established, and strangers read me as male nearly 100% of the time. I've surgically altered my body in the most immediate and drastic way that I had plans for. I've gotten my name legally changed (though, to be fair, that hasn't finished processing yet). These things are some of the traditionally major hurdles (milestones?) in the FTM transition process...and, with a few wrinkles excepted, I've mostly ironed them all out.

I'd expect to feel relieved and elated and accomplished right about now. And I do! But I also feel, familiarly enough, that I'm lacking solid ground beneath my feet. I've changed up my life again, and I need to settle in and rediscover and acclimate to how things are now. I've mentioned in passing that 2006 seems to be the year of Transitions with a capital T- maybe 2007 will be the year (or the first year) of adjusting instead of changing.

I hope so. I like solid ground. Sometimes I worry that it means I'm not truly radical at heart, because everything I know about being radical means tearing structure down. Though, I guess, there's nothing to say that it can't be rebuilt in a good way.

-About a week ago, I got an invitation to return to Simon's Rock to be part of an alumni panel on Family Weekend- sort of a "What I did after I graduated from SRC" deal. Laying aside concerns about why they'd want me on the panel, since I haven't really done anything impressive like go to grad school or whathaveyou, I was pretty conflicted about whether or not to go. I think maybe it's too soon to go back there- the impressions of my past are still strong and deep there. It hasn't been that long since everyone on campus knew Emma ...and that's scary. I know that I have many friends and allies, most of whom understand (at least to some extent) that I'm not Emma anymore, I'm Eli. (aside: that may be the first time I've ever written that sentence...I have tried hard to keep Emma and Eli in separate sentences. interesting.) Anyway, I'm worried about going back, since the last time I was there, people who didn't know any better called me 'she' and just fucked up my whole weekend. It was really uncomfortable.

I don't want to be cowardly, though. I've changed a lot since April, and I have to trust those changes on a lot of levels: I have to trust that the folks still at the Rock will know and respect me as Eli, I have to trust that those who don't will just follow the cues that I offer now (sideburns, voice, etc), and I have to trust myself to be strong enough to deal with any possible uncomfortable situations that might occur. So I've accepted, and I'm going to be on the panel- it's Saturday, October 28th. Optimism, optimism!

-Last but not least, Dolly Parton sings a song called "Travelin' Thru" that she wrote for Transamerica, that Felicity Huffman movie I still haven't seen. Dolly's song is beautiful and heartfelt and true, and is country music about being trans (!! my little heart could just explode from sheer delight), and I listen to it probably once a day.

1 comment:

Oli said...

I'd expect to feel relieved and elated and accomplished right about now. And I do! But I also feel, familiarly enough, that I'm lacking solid ground beneath my feet.

Word. Obviously I'm at a different place (both gender-wise and physical-transition-wise) than you, but I've been wrestling with these feelings lately too. I'd really like to have a tête à tête w/you about some of this if you're down for talking about it more sometime. Since our double date is probably not the best venue, maybe we can start with email?