4.29.2011

A One-Sided Story

Six blind men were asked to determine what an elephant looked like by feeling different parts of the elephant's body. The blind man who feels a leg says the elephant is like a pillar; the one who feels the tail says the elephant is like a rope; the one who feels the trunk says the elephant is like a tree branch; the one who feels the ear says the elephant is like a hand fan; the one who feels the belly says the elephant is like a wall; and the one who feels the tusk says the elephant is like a solid pipe.
                                ~Ancient Indian Folktale
 
Half a story is really no story at all. Half a story means you miss the sub-plot, the dramatic irony, the thing the narrator doesn't want you to know. Half a story is akin to half a truth– or half a lie I suppose, depending on how you look at it. I have been learning about this lineage of truths and half truths for along time but have never been more painfully aware of them until attempting to cross the fuzzy line that separates the genders.

It drives me crazy when people make assumptions about something or someone after hearing only one person's opinion. Unfortunately we are taught that behaviour from the time we are born; your parents are always right, the teacher is always right, your boss is always right, the customer is always right, and soon we stop having to think for ourselves. If your friend says I'm an asshole well then it must be true. You don't even need to find out why, or if the story you've been told as to why I am such a jerk is true. You don't need to know my side. Your friend has done all your thinking for you.

It seems the first person to disclose something is the one with the authority and everyone else has to prove otherwise. Think of Copernicus trying to prove that the sun was the centre of the known universe and not earth....no one believed him but eventually....well you know. So why is it that people are still in such a hurry to believe what they hear before substantiating it by simply asking a question or doing some research? Do you want to find out my side of the story or just keep on thinking I'm a dick? We used to be friends but now you don't even talk to me. Remind me to reciprocate that respect.

This has been bothering me for a while....(obviously).  I have been guilty of the same crime. I am trying to break out of this habit by getting both or more, sides of a story before I form my opinion. What really sucks though is when you realize that people are going to believe what they want and they aren't really obligated to ask for your side of the story. But anyone who is is a true friend will not be afraid to confront you and ask you for your side, your version of events, and as a friend you should be doing the same. Nobody wants to be the bad guy but it doesn't take long for someone to save their own skin (or face) at someone else's expense.

It's hard to admit when you're wrong. Particularly for us Leos.

It's happened to all of us at some point. You know that something has been said about you because people start acting differently towards you, conversations stop when you walk into a room at work, acquaintances no longer look you in the eye, you are no longer extended invitations to events that you would have normally attended, and some people you once called friend are now way too busy to stop for a quick chat when you meet them on the street....on the weekend.

If you're trans you KNOW what I'm talking about. Being the subject of gossip is something I suppose trans people have to get used to, particularly if they live in a small town or participate in any small community like a church or a school or club or even at work. It is pretty difficult to go into hiding to transition and come out the other end of it unscathed. It's not like you can just get on a plane a woman and get off the plane in another city as a man. You just can't. and even if you could snap your fingers and have your body match your identity, you will lose things. Important things. You will lose people. People you love. It hurts. It hurts a lot. But as a matter of survival it's akin to chewing off your own foot. That really hurts too but not nearly as much as knowing you will die stuck in a trap.

4.23.2011

Eleven Months on T

Only one more month to go until I celebrate my one year anniversary on T! As you can see from the photos the chin hairs are coming in pretty good! That little chin beard is about a month's worth of growth...Come on moustache!

Acne: This month things have been a bit up and down. Some days are better than other but I have noticed that the more fat and dairy in my diet the worse the acne is. I have been trying to drink more water and cook healthy meals at home. I take my lunch to work and have drastically reduced the amount of greasy food I eat which has helped a lot.

Body:
Whatever weight issues I thought I had last month are quickly disappearing. Even though my body fat is distributed differently I don't feel chunky. Sure I could afford to lose a few pounds who couldn't but it's winter and it's frigging cold so I would rather keep the insulation even if only for a little while longer! I've been doing push-ups every day to try and build up a bit of chest muscle before heading into surgery...only two more months!! Can't even begin to explain how excited I am about that. That will be quite a shock to the system and I am sure that with the weight literally off my chest things like going up and down stairs and stretching are going to make me way less self conscious. I expect my posture to improve with the absence of breasts!

Injection: Everything is going swimmingly with this. Aside from keeping the cats out of the bathroom Sunday mornings, I haven't had any troubles with my injections. I am diligent in making sure I wash my hands, swab the injection site and the top of the vial with alcohol before injecting. Since the vein incident I never forget to pull back on the syringe and watch for blood. Once in a while I get a little bruise but other than that there's been no issues.

Hair: I was so excited about getting facial hair I forgot that I do actually have to shave it off once in a while...at least during the week. I am up to shaving with a razor about twice a week and trimming the thicker hairs with an electric razor in between. I finally got a decent haircut and have had random hairs appear on my upper arms. Not sure what that's about but my hairline seems to have settled into its new location without me having to panic too much more. Maybe I'll get lucky and it will stick around for a couple more decades. Arm hair is growing gung-ho, and every day my belly gets a little fuzzier. I am hoping that it continues and that I will have enough chest hair to at least partially mask the scars from top surgery.

Mood: I have to say that this month my mood has drastically improved. Starting a new job, the return of longer days, more sunshine, and sporadic days with warmish temperatures have made me feel pretty good. I got home to visit my family which was a little bittersweet, a little harder on some people that I would have liked but all in all I was really happy to see my family. I ave been busy making work and getting ready for summer's arrival. I bought myself a fishing kayak so I can get out and explore more lakes and get some exercise to boot. It's all about staying sane!

Voice: I think my voice is finally settling. I no longer feel like I have something in my throat all the time. I know it will be another year or so until it settles down for good but I am starting to feel more comfortable with it and am not at all disappointed that I can't sing. Yelling is interesting. While the voice has dropped I still haven't figured out how to get some power behind it when I need to.

Other: I have been contemplating the type of moustache I want to grow when I finally have enough hair and I have decided on a stylish yet slightly eccentric handlebar; a little retro-steampunk for the quirky little boy that's been trapped in my body all his life! What do you think??

4.11.2011

Starting Over

I started a new job today and again I found myself trying to decide whether or not to disclose my transgender status. I didn't say anything at my interview like I did the last time I went for a job interview but when I went through the discrimination policy at my new workplace, gender identity was not listed in the protections. Sexual orientation, race, ancestry, religious affiliation and all the other good old standbys were covered but not gender. I decided that I needed to have at least one person to know.... just in case. You never know when an accident might happen and even though I will have surgery in a couple of months I want someone to be aware of my gender identity. If anything tragic were to happen there is at least one person who knows what's going on and who might be able to protect my privacy if there ever came a time that I couldn't speak for myself.

At my last job I didn't explain my gender to anyone except my direct supervisor and our HR person and that was at my interview. I crossed my fingers and hoped that I didn't blow it. A couple of people I knew from before obviously knew about my transition but I must say they were terrific at not making my gender anyone's business but my own.

This new group I am working with is much younger than the group I was working with at my last job. We are all sort of in our thirties and have vast experiences of the world which I find seems to make people a little more accepting of differences in general. Everyone in my office is from somewhere other than here and living here for a long dark cold winter takes an adventurous kind of spirit.  As things progress I might feel more like "coming out" as I plan to be at this job for a long time. I know how terrible it feels to have someone out you to strangers either as a topic of conversation or to make themselves feel better. Maybe the reason I'm not yet ready to disclose my gender variance is because I don't want anyone to have the power to manipulate me or decide it is their place to disclose my gender. I'm not ready to make myself that vulnerable to a large group of people at one time.

Only time will tell how things will go. Maybe after surgery I will feel more confident explaining to others what my body used to be instead of feeling self conscious about what it is.

4.05.2011

Family Matters

I went to a family gathering this past weekend and saw a lot of family members I haven't got a chance to visit with for a very long time. I was trying my best not to panic and freak out and get all paranoid like I have been lately and just went into it hoping for the best. I haven't seen any of my family since I started T almost a year ago.

My family always surprises me. I was so honoured that most of them have accepted my transition and after one or two little bumps and few missed pronouns everyone seemed to deal with it most graciously. My 90 year old grandma didn't miss a beat with the male pronouns and name change. I can't even tell you how awesome she is. That little effort showed me how much she loves me.

My cousins and aunts and uncles were so amazing. I got to have conversations about my job, my art, and life in general. I get to find out what everyone was up to, whether they had gone back to school, were getting close to retirement, or trying to decide who they were going to cheer for in the playoffs. I was nice to reconnect with people who could still recognize me in my new body and not be preoccupied with questions about surgery, genitals, or hormone therapy. It was so wonderful to have a safe and comfortable place just to be me if only for a few hours.

Being away from home has made me more self-reliant and more confident in my identity. I suppose that is partly because of all the time I have spent thinking about what it is to be me. I know who I am now more than ever and I am never going to compromise that again. I am finally feeling at home in my body and after surgery I am confident I will finally feel balanced and at peace. The life I have always wanted is finally beginning and as the pieces come together the comfort and satisfaction of my simple life will be upon me sooner than later.