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Who do people say that I am?

  • Posted on October 13, 2012 at 8:07 am

These are not moments of doubt, but such utter self-conviction it matters that it is shared. But can anyone else really understand who I am?

I work in an office of men, so sometimes the conversation is jokeily blokeily. It isn’t offensive, though sometimes a bit close to that edge. Would they really say those things if the majority present were senior women? I find myself reacting not differently (I always hated the way men talk often about women), but more overtly. And it leaves me wondering if I am accepted as being ‘the woman who is really a man’. So it’s OK; she will understand, and maybe join in. She’s been there, she’s not sensitive like real women.

Sorry guys. I am not one of you, and my relief at not being one of you is profound. It is a thankfulness that I cannot describe. I haven’t become misandrist, and I don’t see you as misogynist. No, you are just still in the mindset ‘male as default’ – the obvious supremacy of the male. Women are just like that. Men are just like that. Aren’t they?

I don’t feel humoured, I just know there is a point where people give up following you. For all the courage they say I have to be different (do I have a choice?), or to set an example in going for what is true to myself against all odds, I feel that they will always say: ‘Andie? Yes she’s the transsexual. Used to be a man.’ Not a real woman. Not really who I say I am.

The same happens when people talk about relationships and love. There are those who expect me to seek romance with another trans* person – well it would just be easier, wouldn’t it? And aren’t you being a bit transphobic if you say you wouldn’t? Or those who have said I shall always be ‘somewhere in the middle’. And I try to reply that I am not part of some community that lives together out of a sense of shared identity or for self-preservation; that I am normal, that I am a woman, just one with a different history.

The more I follow my truth, the more my past dissolves. I had a recurrent dream the other night, only this time I was playing the same part as a woman. Even when I have shaken off consciousness, I no longer perceive myself as a man. What could be more lovely?

And yet I still feel, when other people relax their thinking, they do not do the same. They are really very good indeed with pronouns, the acceptance, the inclusion – mostly. And yet am I really ‘one of the girls’ to the women around me? Or still, underneath, ‘one of the men’? Or just an honorary guest for both?

What will it take, I wonder, for people to look at me and see who I am, not as something changed, but as the essential, genuine, whole me? To go beyond their rationalisation of what I have gone through, and not to need a rationalisation at all, just to be seen as who I am.

I have elsewhere remarked this week a shared observation amongst trans friends: that social transition (the whole-life leaving behind of a gender identity you were given) increases your gender dysphoria rather than relieving it. At one level you are doing everything you can and feeling a fulfilment you could never have imagined. You don’t even feel certain parts of your body any more for most of the time, and other parts you become very much more aware of. And then you catch yourself in a mirror undressed and know something is still dreadfully wrong, and can do nothing.

The people I am waiting for at a gender clinic see people like me every day. We are physiological males or females wanting surgery to change that. They see us, they go home, they have lives to live. I don’t think they can imagine what it is like as months and years go by, to feel worse each day we present and live more confidently. Outwardly they see a success; a ‘real life experience’ going well, following the pathway. There are too many of us to cope with, and anyway, we aren’t ill are we, so what are we complaining about? But inside I am thinking: every day you go home, and my referral forms lie yet another day in your intray, waiting for someone to transfer paper to computer, computer to diary, just to let me know the day you will begin to talk to me – a bit of me is screaming louder just to be heard. For who I am.

Who do you say that I am?