The first time through puberty I knew what to expect to a certain degree, tits, menstruation, zits, weepiness. There were bad films, questions scrawled on scraps of paper and put in a box during health class, bad drawings, terrifying images of childbirth, and embarrassment. I was going to become a woman despite my disappointment and protests. I experienced migraines from the intensity of hormone fluctuation. But my friends were all going through the same thing, the feelings of awkwardness and the need to create an independent identity. We were all growing, leaning to deal with our emotions, and swimming the shark infested waters together. I knew where I was headed despite the fact the boys' beach looked like way more fun.
There are a couple of things about this puberty that are different than the first time...besides the hair growth, dropping voice and muscle development. I am alone. I have no one to share this experience with me. Almost all of my friends are all settled in their bodies, in their identities, and busy doing things like having babies, buying a house, travelling the world, having successful careers. A few other things are different as well.
I don't remember people asking me about my genitals when I was twelve. How much pubic hair have you got? Are you satisfied with the aesthetic of your vagina? Do you want to get breast implants? These are not questions I remember being asked during my first puberty. I never enquired about the size,and shape of a penis, or about the masturbation habits of my male friends. But now that I am an adult going through a second puberty, people feel compelled to ask me these things. Most of the time I don't mind explaining to people how things work with hormone therapy and transitioning. I think it is important to educate people because being informed about something makes it much easier to understand and therefore more difficult to hate. I don't mind if someone is asking to understand for their own transition. But simple curiosity does not give you the right to ask me about the most private parts of my life.
You can ask me if I would be willing to answer some questions and depending on how well I know you I might indulge you. How would you like it if I asked about your sex life, details about your genitals or sex life, or the private parts of your relationship? If you are going to ask me questions of a personal nature related to my transition here are some things I would hope you would consider:
- Consider where we are. Is this something you would ask me in a grocery store, at the wal-mart, in a pub, or at a party? I might be willing to talk to you but not in front of a bunch of other people. Consider who else may be around. Please don't put me on the spot.
- Don't ask me questions when you are drunk or otherwise intoxicated. I understand you feel less inhibited when you've had a couple but seriously, if you want to know have the guts to ask me when you're sober.
- Do some research. Google shit. Look it up. Wikipedia. Do you still need to ask me about the physical effects of testosterone or has your curiosity been satisfied with a little internet research?
- Do you know me well enough to ask me this? If you don't know my favourite colour, the name of my dog, where I used to live, what my art is about, or one thing I am really really passionate about, you don't have any right to ask me about my puberty because you don't know me.
- Ask yourself why you feel you need to know. Is it because you want to know about me or because you need something to talk about with your friends? Are you speculating about it whispering about it or talking about it behind my back without knowing anything about me? If that's the case, don't bother even talking to me about my transition. Your compass is broken.
A couple of my friends are trans (hi boys!) but have already completed the hardest part of their puberty, they are swimming miles ahead of me and the shore is in sight for them. I have tried to follow my own rules when asking them questions about their transitions. I know how awkward it is to be asked these questions and frankly some of it is none of my business. My friends have been extremely generous sharing information with me. We have had conversations that only trannies can appreciate because we have shared many of the same, often painful, experiences. We are brothers who have survived or are enduring a second puberty. So please, remeber the words of great mothers everywhere: think before you speak. Sometimes silence is golden.