So, I haven’t written much lately. This is partly due to it being the busy season at work, and because I have just chosen to do other things with my time, mainly socialize on social media and via text with friends. Sometimes you need a break from thinking about heavy things, and lately when I’ve had the urge to write, I simply haven’t had the time and then the mood passes.
I titled this post “Apathy” and I don’t want anyone to confuse this as an overall feeling I have for life, because I’m actually more hopeful than anything. Rather, it is something I realized about my marriage, romantic life, and so much else I just don’t have the energy or desire to focus on.
My wife and I had “the talk” a couple of weeks ago, and it was totally unplanned, as those things often are. I had enjoyed a good therapy session a couple days prior. It was one of those sessions where you gain further clarity into who you are, and those are rare. I decided to open up to my wife a little about why it’s so hard for me to just be 100% female at home. I started to speak about roles I have always filled, and how hard it is to not slip into them. She asked me what I meant, and I said, “You know, father, husband…” She stopped me and said, “I don’t see you that way anymore. You stopped being that awhile ago.” The statement should have hurt me. I should have wanted to fight for her love and affection, but instead, I just accepted what she had said. She was right, and I was OK with it.
I know it still hurts her on some level and it hurts me as well. We have been together 20 years, but I think she’s also growing to accept the man she married doesn’t exist, and maybe never did. She stopped wearing her wedding rings a month before, and didn’t wear them for a week. She admitted the night we talked that it didn’t feel right,, and she only started wearing them again so the kids don’t ask questions.
We have become roommates and co-parents, both free to make plans with friends that don’t include the both of us. We still share a bed and bathroom, but that’s also to keep up appearances for the kids. As a family, we are more solid than we have been in a long time, and the kids are happier than they’ve been in a long time. We will stay together for the next few years, and then we will see. I don’t want to stay in a relationship that lacks intimacy, and I don’t think that’s fair to her either. I also don’t think she can or wants to be intimate with me, especially female me, and that’s OK.
I mention intimacy, and that’s another thing I don’t currently care about. My sex drive has gone into deep hibernation, and I can detachedly wonder if it will ever come back. Even if she were to come onto me, I wouldn’t be interested. My reasons come in two parts. The first is, as I have said, my sex drive is almost zero at the moment. I have to seriously talk myself into masturbation, and it takes forever. I now go several days before remembering I need to do the deed, because I’d rather do that then start getting morning erections…those bother me on a dysphoric level, and so I masturbate now to prevent those, rather than because I feel some urge to “get off.”
My second reason has to do with how much I hate my male body sexually, and that hate has only increased on HRT, as parts of my body feminize putting them at odds with those that are slow to do so. I am a trans lesbian, and so the women I am attracted to, if I cared to seek a relationship would not be interested in me because my body still appears far more male than female.. Straight women would expect me to want sex like a man, and I just can’t do that anymore, plus when naked, I clearly have breasts. Anything that I have to do that is “male” takes twice the energy it once did, and so I instead shun those “male” things whenever I can. Fucking like a man…humping, rutting, pounding away…all those euphemisms for how males go about it turn my stomach. I’m simply not capable now. For one who was once so sexually capable as a “man” I have permanently retired from that type of sexual intimacy. If ever sexually intimate again, it will not be until those defining male parts have been removed/turned into the genitals that fit my mind.
Why did I wait over two weeks to write the above? I waited so long because so much of the above thoughts are also interlaced with the wonderful. My female friendships continue to strengthen, while new ones are created. The acceptance of my femaleness, by women, in many ways is more validating than anything else I’ve experienced so far in transition. It’s something I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember, and while still imperfect, in that only women who know me as a trans woman can accept me that way…it is still a gift given that I cherish. To be confided in, and to be able to confide in others, as only women do with one another, gives me so much peace. I finally get the bonds of female friendship not only on an intellectual level, but on an emotional level I thought I’d never enjoy. Friendships now give me peace and fuel to persevere, and I, in turn can give that to my friends as well.
I was sharing with a girlfriend the other day that if I think I might have hurt a friend’s feelings I no longer worry about first justifying what I did or said. Instead, my concern goes to her feelings first, and my desire to make sure she is ok, and to apologize if need be. Talking about the “why” of what I did can come later. As a “man” I always felt the need to downplay another’s emotional reaction, or to justify why I was right. This has been a huge mental shift in how I interact with others, and one that I am thrilled to experience. I’d rather us laugh about my having over-worried that I hurt a friend’s feelings, than ignore it for the sake of an ego that has no place in my friendships.
My body also continues to change in positive ways, and that makes me happy as well. I don’t want to talk about it too much, as I have an HRT update that will post early next week, but some really good things happened during Month 5, and I will save those for that post.
Getting back to apathy, it gives me the patience to play the long game. I still have my moments where I want to hurry, but more of me doesn’t care if I hurry. I can continue to exist in the world of cis-male privilege a little longer if need be, and I lose nothing. My body and mind will still continue to develop on HRT, regardless of how I am dressed, and it also gives me the time to get hair removal done, as well as any other little things that need attending to before going full-time.
Apathy isn’t always a bad thing if it helps to temper desires that cannot yet become reality. Of course, there is the danger that it can come to permeate everything, but that isn’t a worry I currently have. To be honest, as of late, I’m feeling pretty positive. Friday I begin my Month 6 on HRT, and I can’t believe how fast the past five months have gone. Months 6-12 seem to be where so many see big changes and so how can I not be excited to see what happens moving forward. I feel like like the past few months were setting the foundation of the house, and now the framing and work above ground really can get underway. I’m psyched to begin seeing what kind of house actually emerges.
Last Friday I heard from my family regarding the letters I sent them. They all sent texts to me, because texts are safe. You don’t have to show emotion or get emotion in a text. They said all the right things, that they love and support me unconditionally, and it did mean a lot to me, but it wasn’t all that I needed, and I don’t know when I will get all that I need from them.
Coming out to people is mentally exhausting. I’ve already decided that now that I am out to my immediate family I will only come out to people, if and when I need to, because of how exhausting it actually is. The act of telling someone I am intersex and transgender isn’t the hard part of the coming out. Instead, the hard part of coming is the time spent explaining to the other person that I will be OK, and the time spent making sure that they are OK with me being…me.
I talked to my mother three days after she got the letter I sent her, and I walked away from the phone call feeling off about it all. I spent the next day and a half in a darkening mood as I tried to figure out why the call bothered me so much. It wasn’t a bad call, but it wasn’t a good call either. Instead it was a safe call, as if my mom was afraid to show any emotion, and so the topics stuck to transition related stuff, which in turn also included the issue of passing. As a result, I spent the call basically justifying who I was and making sure she was OK with this. It will also be the last time I do this…I hope.
It isn’t my job to make sure you are OK with who I am, that’s your issue to deal with. I have a shit shack full of my own issues with out adding yours to the mix. Are you sad, scared, worried, or concerned with what others will think? If so, then you need to work that out and keep it to yourself, because guess what…I’ve thought about it ten times, no, one hundred times more than you will ever think about it.
I’ve thought about the effects on my marriage, my kids, my job, my body, my health, and I could go on with the list. I’ve thought about passing, living full-time, safety, how people will see me, and how people will treat me in such minute detail, and I will continue to do so, long after you stop. This is “my” life, so of course I think about these things…I live these things, or will as I move forward. Transition, and everything about it dominates my thoughts and life.
If you are trans and reading this, then I am guessing you are nodding along, as I know you have dealt with this, and like me will probably continue to deal with this. In some ways it is the shittiest part of being transgender, and I fear that if I never “pass” that it is something I will always deal with…and probably on some level I will anyways, because dysphoria never goes away entirely.
It is such an easy thing for people to take their worries back from a trans person they care about. How? Don’t dump your concerns and fears on the person coming out to you. Instead, you could hug them, tell them you love them, you support them, and that no matter what you’ll be there to help and see them go where they want to.
In the case of my mom, I just wanted her to be my mom. I wanted to hear her say she loves me, and that she will be there no matter what. And this is where I get selfish…because I know she has already expressed this to me, but I wanted to…needed to…hear it. I wanted to feel the emotion of her love, and I didn’t get that with the first phone call. I’m sure I will get it in the future, and I don’t want to paint her as being wrong, or that I’m mad at her. I’m not mad at her, after all she has talked to me. I also found out from my sister-in-law (through my wife) that my mom is hurting bad right now. My biggest fear in coming out was that she would hurt when she realized how long I had been hiding and that she never knew. As a parent you would do anything to keep your child from pain, and when you find you didn’t or couldn’t do it…it breaks your heart a little. Knowing this, I’m giving her the benefit of time to let her process. It isn’t my problem that she feels this way. She’s a mom, and so it can’t be avoided, but I can give her time to deal. I’ve thought about sending her a text to tell her that it isn’t her fault and that I don’t blame her or my dad for anything, but there will still be a part of her that feels like she should have known. I tear up thinking about it, because this could easily have been my daughter and I thirty-some years from now. Being trans and having a trans child puts me in a unique position to get both perspectives on this. I want what I want, and yet I also can empathize with what she is feeling.
Let me be clear…I am not in a bad mood as I write this, and actually feel like I’m in a pretty good place. My mood always gets better as the week goes on, and this is another source of mental exhaustion. These days my weekends are almost always good. I get to be me all weekend, even if most people see boy…I’m good with it, because I get to wear what I want and express as I will. I don’t have to be him or think like him, and I love every minute of it. As the week goes on and I get closer to the weekend, my mood improves because I know I won’t have to play the part for a couple days. Conversely, as the weekend comes to a close I become anxious and depressed because I have to put the man suit back on for another work week. Luckily, I work from home on Mondays and so it’s only four days, but my brain is already at the point where it doesn’t give a krap…it simply wants to be, and I wish I could let it.
This means exhaustion also comes from my need to hold off presenting full-time. I know many gals jump right in, and this is why they do so. It’s too hard for them not do so, and perhaps they don’t have the constraints that I have in my life. There can be a myriad of reasons for why we go full-time when we do. For me, it isn’t time yet. It’s not because I don’t want to, but rather because I want to go full-time when I feel the time is right. However, knowing the time isn’t right doesn’t give me comfort, after all logic and emotion are often at odds with one another. Logically, I should wait and plan it out, so that I can maximize the greatest benefit for me and my family. Emotionally, I want to say “Fuck It!” This is who I am, deal with it. These two sides being at odds with one another in my head can be draining, and I don’t see it ending anytime soon, but I know it will end. I just have to keep my eye on the glimmer at the end of the tunnel and hold to the idea that one foot in front of the other gets me where I want to go.
Now all of the above, plus add in hormones, mood swings, and all the normal day to day stuff everyone deals with. You can start to see why one might have mental exhaustion issues. Usually sleep rejuvenates me, but this week with the added stress of coming out I haven’t been getting that emotional rejuvenation, and so I just feel tired every day. If I didn’t have my emotional support network…if I was alone…then I don’t know where I’d be, but it wouldn’t be a good place.
I have my wife and my friends to thank for helping me get through this week, and for bringing me out of my funk. My wife was there over the weekend giving me support while I started to stress about talking/not talking to my mom. My friends were there to get me out of my funk after I talked to my mom. Some friends just listened and offered words of understanding and comfort. One friend, in particular, who is becoming a really good friend, just made me laugh and smile, because she seems to get me on a level that I never had a male friend ever get me on. She, in large part, was responsible for getting me out of my dark place this week, and I’m thankful to have her in my life.
The takeaway from this post and the one I want cis people to walk away with is that your mental exhaustion and mine are not the same thing. You don’t have to pretend to be someone else half your week, every week. You don’t have to regularly justify your existence or make others feel better about the fact that you exist as yourself. If you have a trans person in your life, please remember this. Remember, they don’t need to hear most of what you think. What they need to hear is your positivity and support. What they need from you is to simply be a loved one and/or a friend. If they bring up worries or concerns then by all means talk about them. If you have questions ask them, but do it in a way that comes from a desire to learn, and not from a place of worry or fear. We do enough of that on our own, even if you don’t see it. Yes, I try to be positive and outgoing to the world, but that doesn’t mean I don’t fear and worry. It just means I don’t want to constantly shoulder others with my problems, and yes, most of the time, I’m in a good mood. I would venture to say this is the case for many trans people out there.
Tomorrow is a new day, and next week, a new week…and before that a weekend with blessed sleep! I look forward to the future, because every day there is something that moves me forward. Even though I get exhausted sometimes…I like where my life is heading…I just wish I could get there a little faster.
Also finally changed my video…I thought “Just Breathe” by Pearl Jam was appropriate for this week.
The past week has seen many up and downs for me, and as I’ve said to many people, things have gotten very real.
As I came out, got to know other girls via social media, and received massive support from those I shared with, I was buoyed up and not forced to face many realities that stand before me. In many ways this is as it should be. If I had to look at all that stands before me I might run to the corner, hide, and never come out. It is best to plan ahead, but you should also take each day at a time, and adjust as necessary to what is thrown your way.Last Friday was a mix of good and while I won’t say bad, I will say starkly real.
I decided on Friday to come out to a group of “Parents of Transgender Kids” that I am a part of. I used to be very active in the group, and regularly wrote a blog as the “father” of a transgender daughter. I was confident that it would be an affirming group to come out to, but I had no idea just how positive my news would be received, and to say I was overwhelmed by the positivity and support shown me would be an understatement. I am even happy to admit that there were some happy tears shed as I read messages left for me. When I wrote my announcement, I vowed to respond in some way to everyone who reached out to me, and it took me over two hours to do so, and I was happy to do it. To those of you who posted and read this…thank you from the bottom of my heart. Things like your messages give me armor for when times get tough, or when I get low. You all have a special place in my heart, and I will always remember and be thankful for your support.
To the women who readily accept my female self and have reached out on social media, and to the local women who have extended hands of friendship, let me say thank you! Your acceptance, and friendship means so much, and I can’t wait to begin to get to know all of you, and let you get to know me.
However, love isn’t always sunshine and roses, sometimes it is about being real with the ones you love, and so I want to talk about what else happened on Friday. I’ve talked before about how my anger was a big reason I sought therapy and knew I had to come out as transgender. I had known my wife was not happy with me, but wrongly assumed it had to do with emotions she was feeling from me telling her I was transgender. I was right about her anger, but very wrong as to the reason. At around the time I decided to seek therapy I had begun to lash out at everyone in my house, my wife, my kids, no one was safe from my short fuse. I had gotten so bad that my wife was a hair’s breadth away from taking the kids and leaving me. Fighting back tears, she shared this with me Friday night, after I started to get angry for something else she had told me. As I listened, I found the anger falling away, only to be replaced by a profound sadness, and then she broke down about my trans status.
My heart broke as she began to break down in wracking sobs. I dropped to the floor, back against the wall, as her words hit me, and I just listened. She had turned the corner to accepting that this was happening, but this is not a joyous thing for her. She is losing her husband, and it breaks my heart that as I move forward, she will suffer in many ways for it. This is not uncommon for those of us that want to keep our families intact, and it highlights one of the many difficulties of transitioning later in life. The silver lining in it all is that her sharing has allowed us to move forward and now actually have real conversations about my transition. I no longer feel like I can’t share, or that she doesn’t want to hear it, but I also accept that none of this will be easy for her.
Her big fear, as is the case for many spouses, is that I am moving too fast…however, what many do not understand is that I’ve fought this for decades. There is no such thing as moving too fast at my age, but for her, and because I was so good at lying to the world, it seems like an overnight happening. I assured her that this would not happen overnight, and that I was looking at what I thought would be a minimum of two years before a final end result. I don’t know if it made her feel better, but it did put her more at ease. We both cannot say if we will be together when this is all over. Perhaps we will, and perhaps we will not, but even she is certain that no matter what we will always be close friends and remain in each others’ lives. Things will happen as they will, and we will adjust as the changes in our relationship dictate. It saddens me to think she may not always be my spouse. I have been married to this wonderful woman for over 18 years. People are always telling me how brave and courageous I am, but in my eyes, she is the brave and courageous one. She is choosing to support and stand by me as I slowly kill her husband, and replace him with Allie. To be able to stand by and watch that…well, I’m on the verge of tears just writing this.
As for being on the verge of tears? I am currently down in Florida visiting my parents, and completely in stealth mode. They have been unbelievably affirming of my daughter, and I believe they will support me, but it has been a trying time for me as they keep bringing up trans issues, and every time they do, I want to say “I have something I need to tell you.” I don’t tell them, and won’t yet, but it’s hard keeping such a big secret from them. However, it’s the right thing to do, but it is also something I will talk about in therapy again next week, as I think about the “how to” of eventually telling them.
I find myself, as of late, walking through life as if I am a person who has just been given a death sentence, or told she has only months to live. Every time I experience something, I can’t help think, this might be the last time I do this as a “man”, or this will be the last time I do this before hormones change how I see the world. So many girls tell me how HRT will change the way I see and experience the world, so while I will continue to present male at work, and for some time out of the house, my brain will change much more quickly, as testosterone gets blocked, and estrogen takes over. Once that happens, regardless of how my body looks, I will cease to be the person I am right now. Even excited and looking forward to HRT this is a heavy thing for me to face. These thoughts, make the past few days bittersweet for me. I look forward to the future, but have a sorrow for the would-be man I am putting to rest with the knowledge that it will hurt many who love that person. I can only hope that they will see the heart of that man is the woman I really am, and that it was my love and fear of hurting others that made me wait so long to share my deepest secret with them.
Love can be joyous, and love can be sadness, but through it all, love is wondrous.
I do not doubt this, and it gives me hope that others will accept and in turn show me compassion and love in return. I hold onto this as I move forward, and will do my best to constantly remind myself of it in the darkest of moments during transition. As long as there are people who think positively of me and there are those who love me, I will never be alone and will find a way to keep moving forward.