Transgender Math: Counting up and Counting Down

Counting has seemed to take up a lot of my time since I started transitioning. First it was counting the days to the psychiatrist, then to the endocrinologist. Counting how much it was going to cost to change my name and then how many places I would need to contact to have my new name on all of my identification. I counted down the days to graduation and another arm surgery, then counted down the days to my first shot of testosterone. I started counting the weeks and months since that first shot, the days to my surgical consult and then to top surgery. Now, I am counting the weeks post-surgery, looking to count the wait to revisions and the weeks to finally getting a hysterectomy.

All of this counting keeping track of weeks, days, hours help pass the time and kept me distracted while I moved through the awkwardness of a second puberty. I have had other things to count as well, things that haven't been so pleasant. How many times did I just want to give up. How many times was I completely paranoid. How many times did I second guess myself, thinking that maybe I was just never going to be "normal". How many times did I correct someone when they called me she or forget to call me Marcus? How many times do I still go to bed homesick for the mountains? How many friends turned their backs? How many times did I have my heart broken on one way or another because I am transgendered? How often do I wish I'd known earlier? How many times did I wish I wasn't alone in this complicated journey far away from my family living in the middle of the fucking arctic?

Thank goodness the worst of the transition is over, and if someone ever tells you it's not that bad it's because they are on the other side. The funny thing about pain is that it fades with time. You won;t remember how hard it was to punch that needle through your own skin after the one-hundred-and-fourth time. You won't remember the name of that guy or girl at work that made you feel so self-conscious. You probably won't even remember the name of your endocrinologist after a few years. There are a few things that will probably leave scars less obvious than the ones on your chest: the family member who refuses to respect you with your new name, the friend who could no longer relate to you, the partner who tried to be supportive but couldn't, the ass at the party who thought it was their job to tell everyone about your transition.

The other thing you count is money. How much does it cost to transition in purely financial terms? That number is different for everyone. I am lucky that I live in Canada where a LOT of the funding for FTMs is covered by the government. I didn't pay to see an endocrinologist, or to have top surgery. I won't have to pay for a hysterectomy or for my hospital stay. Testosterone is covered by my drug plan at work, the minimal amount i pay out of pocket covers the extra 20% and the cost of syringes and needles. I paid for my own travel to and from the hospital and the hotel. I paid the initial consultation fee for the plastic surgeon and if I can't get revisions done here by a general surgeon then the cost for that will also have to come out of my pocket at some point.

The best part of counting though is all the number ones. There are so many firsts you get to experience and really appreciate that most people never will. The first time you can walk into a washroom and NOT have people stare or tell you you're in the wrong place. The first time you are acknowledged as male over the phone or in person. The first time your mom sends you a card that starts: To a Wonderful Son, the first time you visit with your father and don't feel anxious and get into an argument. Your first driver's license that has an M as the gender marker. The first time you see your new chest, the first time you go swimming without a shirt on. The first time you wear a shirt and tie after top surgery. The first time you can walk past a tall building without imagining what it might be like to step off the roof.....these are all great events that most people never experience.

I have a lot more firsts to come and a lot more things to count. I am really looking forward to the first time I step into a university as a graduate student, the first time someone falls in love with me for the man I am today, the first kiss of a new lover, the first time my writing appears in print, my first solo art exhibit, my first moustache, my first teaching gig. There is a lot of counting in my future, now tell me what you've been counting?


Looking Back, Looking Forward.

The first Christmas I celebrated after I started my transition was spent away from home as a newly single guy. It was pretty lonely. I didn't feel anything but miserable and that feeling lasted well into the new year. I was a pretty sad sack this time last year and even though I had a lot to look forward to I couldn't see past the immediate misery of everything I was lacking instead of realizing what was all around me.

I sit here now a year later and look at everything I have and what will be happening in 2012 and I feel like I have grown up yet again. Transition is definitely a journey in its own right but over the past year I really feel as if I have definitely defined who I want to be. I have a loose plan to become that man.

Being on my own for the past year has been a challenge but has really helped me become a man in my own right. I have been single for the first time since I was 18 and I am surprised at how much I have accomplished. I have had to trust myself to make my own decisions and deal with the consequences or successes of each decision. I have had to choose my own path and decide on my own future without the influence of responsibilities such as a partner, a mortgage, or children. I find I am in a position a bit unique from my peers many of whom are busy raising a family. I am at a point where the world is my oyster, a point most people experience at twenty.

Looking into the year ahead, I want to build upon the confidence and success I feel I have accumulated so far. I have made some wonderful new friends over the past year and hope to strengthen those ties in the upcoming year. I have stepped up to take on new responsibilities at work and hope that will offer me not only some financial security but some new experiences and maybe even a little bit of travel as well. I have a few opportnities to expand on my art career and I plan to maximize those in any way I can.

All in all the past year has been challenging but successful. I hope to have all my medical procedures completed this year including revisions to my chest to fix the dog ears under my arms as well I hope to finally have my hysterectomy. I have pending referrals for both and hope that both can be completed quickly and without incident. I will try to be more diligent in writing this year but as things slow down and become more routine I find there is less to discuss with regard to transition. It doesn't take long for a new normal to establish itself and for the preoccupation of your own transition to wane.

So here's to another year of adventure and success, challenges and lessons. Good luck to everyone and thanks for reading!