The trouble with being a writer is that sometimes you just have to write. When I began this blog I wrote twice a week, and as the weeks close on my gender dysphoria, my mind is filling again.
‘Uncoupling’ has featured in three key ways over these past years. Firstly, it was uncoupling from an accustomed life, presumed male, involving work, family, relationships, activism, social activities and so on. Secondly, there was uncoupling from all the love in my life, as my family and marriage disintegrated and I was no longer wanted. This was accompanied by having to leave behind everything I had accrued, socially and materially and emotionally.
This time, the uncoupling is from the gender dysphoria itself, and this is no small thing. I wrote recently of it as emerging from a long tunnel into daylight, realising nothing was following or chasing, and nothing threatening ahead, just open air.
This weekend has been once more profound. Starting (again) in my dance group, I felt such welcome, acceptance, and dare I say it, love, that I left in a mist of sheer gratitude. I had asked the whole group, that if any felt so minded, I would welcome anyone to track me down and call by during my coming absence from the dance. I do believe they would even stretcher me there simply to lie in the midst of the dance if necessary! But I shall be very sensible … And I know some will call round, and it will be lovely.
Some understand why I shall be away, and I do mean understand: that this is a fundamental and life-affirming thing for me, and that it will finally change important parts of my psyche. Some, not knowing the reason, have been afraid that perhaps I am fighting cancer, and I can only reassure this is not life-threatening, but something I have waited a long time for.
So as I face this uncoupling from my gender dysphoria, I have a small dilemma: to tell one who does not know, why I shall be away, places me in the category of transsexual (‘used to be a man’), where I do not want to be. Even this blog blows my cover, if that is what I aspire to. Uncoupling is not denial, though. It is just that this step is a very final and transforming one. It was my decision to ask for it and to go through with it, and is solely my responsibility.
Why this matters
I had imagined that everything would be smooth and gradual, a daily ‘getting there’. Then last week, I told of realising my body had changed more than I’d noticed. The summer clothes from last year and before just don’t fit as well. Red is a colour I can wear with confidence. I checked my bra size today. You know, I last did this properly when I didn’t have boobs, and had to buy some! I got the smallest cup size bra I could, and silicone fillers to fit that. When I didn’t need them any more, I simply went for the smallest cup size I could find online (40A isn’t in the shops much!) and it was OK. But today I am 38B, and that just feels more normal. And I tucked a favourite skirt waistband in a bit too.
It does just feel like getting more normal again. I don’t mean to say that being transsexual is not normal (other than in the statistical sense of average), but that I am a woman in a very normal way.
Last night I was chatting to a number of women musicians from Australia about bands, and countries, and travel and all the things we have in common. A year ago I would have been wary about being noticeably ‘different’, but nowadays it is only in reflection that being anything other than normal enters my mind. Being trans is a state of being I am leaving behind, and others are forgetting it too. This is good.
After the coming-to-terms and acknowledging the fear of surgery itself, a few weeks ago, things have changed. There is so much to prepare for, so that my return home is as straightforward as possible. Some will go against the grain out of sheer practicality, including ready-meals and a microwave oven, but only for a while. Right now, under the duress of zero hormones, I could be feeling down. My body and facial hair are unrestrained by oestrogen, and it annoys me! My moods may yet change and I may become irritable. I do know already that I shall be glad to be back on the pills.
Instead, I feel excited. I really, really want this, and I am almost there. I feel full of energy, and above all, incredibly empowered. That’s right, I, a transsexual woman who has come through serial psychiatric assessment and intervention, to live in a world where both women and transsexual people can be disadvantaged, having lost everything that meant most to me, without lasting financial security, and with no loving relationship, feel empowered. Remind me, as I struggle through the first month of recovery: I am strong.
And so I am expecting further change in the next six months, as I grasp this final uncoupling, this last big thing that has been holding me back.
I have met with my former wife a couple of times recently, so uncoupling still has a ring there too. I know I feel no differently about her than I ever did. I also know that there is no echo. This has all been too strange, and it is not something she ever has to come to terms with. I am still here, all of me, though released. It is unexpected; I look different, I ask directions, I call the waitress over; I am a woman. But not loved. Uncoupled.