11.24.2013

Alive and Well in the Afterlife

Harvey Milk, (May 22, 1930 – November 27, 1978)
Since completing my transition insofar as surgeries are concerned, I have been struggling with the before and after: life before transition and life after. The completion of my hysterectomy has made me come face to face with the reality of being a transsexual. I am grappling with exactly how I want to exist in the here and now as someone who has experienced the world as a woman and who is now un-learning some of that to live in it as a man. It's odd to be learning about men from this perspective and I see what misconceptions some women have and how so much of what I thought I knew is completely false.

I now exist in the after world in a sense: after surgery, after hormones, living the post-trauma of gender dysphoria. Here I stand in this remodelled body navigating the paradigm shift that is my new reality as a man. I no longer feel awkward, I don't feel shame about my body, I don't feel like I need to cower inside baggy clothes or "act" in my every day life. Behaviours that were previously considered "inappropriate for a lady" are no longer anything to be ashamed of. I can just be. I don't have to make excuses or feel like a liar. Every time I see the shape of my body in a t-shirt, every time I catch a glimpse of my emerging moustache or hear someone refer to me a "he" or "him" I feel good. But sometimes when I hear myself referred to with male pronouns I panic as if someone has found out my secret but that must be some sort of leftover fear, a programmed emotional re-run from years of being taught to be ashamed of wanting to be a boy.

I've posted a lot about becoming a man and what that means. As I learn more about what it means to be a man and work on becoming my own man I realized something else: I have to decide what kind of transsexual I want to be. Am I going be in the closet living quietly as an an anonymous face in the crowd or am I going lead by example and be a role model for those who still need an example of a regular boring trans guy, not a celebrity or guest on an entertainment talk show. Regular folks, your neighbours, coworkers, community need to see that transsexuals aren't something to fear. It was Harvey Milk's speech about gays coming out that sits in the back of my mind, that makes me think I have an obligation to be visible so that it will be easier for others in the future:

Come out to your relatives... come out to your friends... if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your neighbors... to your fellow workers... to the people who work where you eat and shop... come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake. For the sake of the youngsters.....


"That's What America Is," speech given in San Francisco on Gay Freedom Day (1978-06-25)

I am sure there will be days when I want to just blend in with the crowd and days that I will need to face fear and stand up for those who aren't ready. I haven't been very good at that in the past and it's something I'll be working on in the future. I'll keep you posted.