Authenticity and the empty bed

  • Posted on June 21, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Sometimes I just ache for loving contact and touch. I knew it every day for over thirty years, and gave the same freely and with real affection and love. This has been a real cliff edge, and as much as I accept that my marriage is over, I am haunted.

This week my black dog has been prowling, asking for walkies, claws clicking on the floor, and looking at me with doleful eyes. My black dog arrived the first night I descended into the awful realisation that I had shed my pretence of being male where I was loved and desired, into a place where I was sufficiently female to be unlovable but insufficiently female to be desired. That place, where I might never know love and intimacy ever again was my greatest nightmare. It was then my black dog chased me to the brink and I seriously considered that all meaningful life had come to an end.

Dramatic, isn’t it? Of course not. It isn’t any different from a million other lonely women who either don’t want a man or can’t find anyone attracted, or can’t communicate their feelings lest it break a friendship. So I don’t count myself exceptional, and among fellow transsexual women, this is de rigeur.

‘Count your blessings!’, I am told. I even tell myself. And yes, my life is richer now than ever in many ways. But I don’t need to be told this, as I have explained in previous blogs, and tell over and over, the explosion of reality for me that transcends everything else, is my sense of authenticity.

Yes. I am real. I feel whole and normal and complete (well, almost – give me another year!)

And ready. Ready to love and be loved and feel wonderful, and share life and wholeness with another. Wow! It’s amazing! But I am standing alone on an empty stage and the play is elsewhere, the lights are out, and I am not in it. I have a feeling that if only I can find the right stage I may just be mistaken for an extra, so long as my lines are convincing. But I have the feeling that my script just isn’t the right one any more.

You see, this is my script and I don’t want someone else’s.

Probably the worst underlying thing about being born transsexual is that only another transsexual really gets it. I am reminded by the way accepting friends act and speak, that their acceptance is simply that – and they still don’t fully get it. It’s in the handshake you get when the woman next to you gets an air-kiss. It’s the explanation of how you never had to grow up with the vulnerability of being a girl. It’s the male banter as if you aren’t present as a woman, that you will ‘understand’ because you ‘used to be a man’. It’s the comment: ‘I shall always think of you how you used to be’.

My history will haunt me for ever. I am neither ashamed nor embarrassed by it, but it just isn’t normal is it? I was reminded robustly by a friend that I don’t exactly present as your average lesbian. Real lesbians grew up as women facing male presumptions and female vulnerabilities and judgements. I, on the other hand, was fully socialised as a man and took all the privileges – so don’t expect any sympathy there (mate). You can never be a real lesbian with that kind of background. It seems even wearing a skirt and being feminine is in itself surrender to male dominance and betrayal of some lesbian fundamental. And yet I really don’t (at least as yet) feel that I could let the average man into my personal space. I think it’s partly because I’ve seen male attitudes, the male psyche (which I don’t feel I ever truly shared), and behaviours from the inside, being expected to do the same, and experiencing men in the absence of women.

‘Why don’t you find another trans person? They will understand you much better!’ As if being trans defines your personality, your philosophy, your tastes and abilities, and makes you all of a kind. Ginger hair? Go join the gingers! Does that sound any more or less reasonable? It’s as if people feel safer if I don’t get too close. My authenticity is, in this way, questioned or denied. Real people, this way; less real people: over there please.

So despite my complete sense of authenticity, the world is full of well-meaning people who insist on labels that simply are inadequate. *Sigh*. It seems we’re back with the ‘what’ being more important than the ‘who’. Nothing pronounces this more than dating sites. Blokes browse my profile (no money exchanged yet so there are no exchanges) despite ‘F seeking F’ – and women either explain their lesbian past or ‘only seek friendship, nothing more’.

I’m a person! I’m screaming inside. Where can I find another person for whom our pasts and our unlearned selves are far less important than who we are now? I only want to love and be loved!

OK, you’ve had enough of the apparent angst. So have I. But what is so wrong with yearning for love? Having the capacity to love, care and commit, and finding that your labels don’t qualify you for being wanted and trusted is truly awful.

Because authenticity seems to count for less.
Because what you are makes people defensive, lest you change them by being too close.
Because in the end I had to choose between authenticity and the love of my life.

And that, dear readers, is the case of authenticity and the empty bed.

It all leaves me wondering if I would have really got to grips with and faced authenticity (and how many people do) were it not for this. Most of us have an idea by the time we are adult, of how life goes. We adjust expectations to reality all the time, but we lose bits of ourselves all along the way. Life is like that, this is how it is, never a bed of roses, you have to compromise, count your blessings, please others, keep your head down, it isn’t the end of the world, there are many people worse off than you.

And yet this real-I-sation for me, this truly knowing with awe and wonder, that I am meant to be like this, is a wholly different awareness than I have ever had. And it isn’t just about my gender, it’s about my sense of self. And it means that I will never allow my authenticity to be compromised ever again. Is that why I don’t know the script any more?


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1 Comment on Authenticity and the empty bed

  1. Rita says:

    When I read this I just had to post my response. When I transisioned I did so with the idea that I would run the big risk that I would lose everything. I never wanted to tell someone you have known and been with over half of my life, “Dear I think I maybe a Transsexual,” But I did. I knew that something was different from most people I knew and yet I did not want to know what that difference was. Why would I want to choose to be an outcast of society? I did not want that in my life and yet I have. I decided to choose life and let the chips of life fall and go from there. My wife choose to stay with me even though everyone may think she is a lesbian. My wife saw the signs and she questioned me, “What is wrong with you? Are you gay?” I at first had no answer and later I did not want to answer it until it came to the point of life and death. That was almost year and a half ago.

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