Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gender Confusion

Photo by by Annie Warhol (who took it from somewhere)
I just want to say that when I was younger and going through a punk rock stage, thinking I might have a chance at becoming a rock star (until I sadly realized I had only enough talent to sing in the shower—alone) I started writing songs. They were, of course, terrible. But there's one song I wrote that keeps running through my brain. I called "Gender Confusion." And the only lyrics I penned were those: gender confusion. (I may have written more but who can remember?) They came with some awesome electric guitar power chords full of distortion. Now I'm asking,  how the hell did I know how these lyrics would resonate years later? I know I wrote it about my own state of gender confusion and the confusion I saw all around me. It was a very androgynous cultural period and I related. It just shows that I've always been on the gender edge, myself. Some call me gender queer. And I am, I suppose. But gender queer just sounds too cool for me. Still, it's far superior to the other word: confused.

Shopping for my man

Photo via Flickr by marsmet451
Just a little aside: Yesterday I went shopping. I was buying some clothing for my man (still feels awkward to say but it's starting to feel a little bit better the more I use it.) Anyhow, when he was a she, he wore men's clothes. So I always had to explain that yes – he was that she wore men's clothing but still wanted to wear men's clothing. Follow that? So this time, when the sales lady asked me about the clothing, I just used the male pronoun. And I even referred to R as my husband. It made it all so much easier. I just explained that he's not a really big guy. It felt like a hurdle. I think it might be the first time I'm simply referred to him as a key in pass. And all of a sudden I felt like an imposter Pretending to be straight and have a husband it also felt ok. R still isn't passing so this can only happen without him at the moment.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I'm starting to call R by his male pronoun. But he still passes as a woman. I mean, he really is a woman still, physically. And appearance. And it's confusing. I told him he needs to start shaving, even if he has no facial hair. Because men have no peach fuzz. And maybe he needs to force his voice to go deeper. But this is all for me, to be honest. Because it feels weird to be calling him a him when he's looking female. I hate this no man's land (um pun not intended) of being right in the middle of things. He's not really a girl, but he's not really a boy either. But I also realize this is a short term problem. Soon enough he will grow a beard, he will have his breasts, small though they are, removed. He will be a man. It is decidedly NOT like being gay. When you're gay, you have to come out all the time, especially if you don't look particularly queer (me). And you deal with reactions as they happen. Right? And these days no one cares. It's like the whole country has become cool. Nobody frankly gives a shit anymore if you're gay or straight. And trans? It's in a whole different category. It gets lumped in with gay, but it isn't really gay. But it belongs there. And at the same time, FTMs pass. At some point they grow beards and their voices deepen and no one looks at them twice. So one day R won't have to come out. I look forward to that day. And at the same time, it will be weird and awkward and interesting. (Written a few weeks ago.)

Photo by Mike Slichenmyer courtesy of Flickr

Voice changes

Photo via Flickr by Rusty Sheriff
So far, I have not noticed any major physical changes. R says he feels stronger. And I know he feels better, but I'm not sure that's the testosterone. More likely, it's just him feeling better because he's made the decision to be a man. However, the other day, our therapist said he noticed that R's voice was dropping. My first reaction? A gut check. Another physical twinge: oh, yeah, my stomach thought, this shit is real. As in, it's actually happening. Weird. I didn't feel bad, per se. Just a little shocked. I guess it's going to be like that. I am expecting that the forth shot will be a charm. I'm not sure why, but it just seems that way. In the meantime, I think he should be faking a deeper voice.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Did you see that Trans guy?

Photo via Flickr by harrymoon
I find myself looking at all kinds of guys all the time, trying to figure out who is trans. FTM's tend to pass So it's pretty much impossible to know. My FTM friends totally pass. Not sure why I do this. I thought it was just curiosity. But really I think it's about trying to figure out what R will actually look like. Last night I met someone who has lived as an FTM for a long time. Amazing guy. Compassionate, funny, brilliant, kind, charming -- and very masculine. As in there's Absolutely No Possible Way I would have figured out that he was an FTM. It was very cool and I have to admit, a little bit scary. Suddenly I started thinking about R. He's only three weeks into his testosterone. So close I don't see any changes yet. I told myself and everyone else that I will be completely fine with his masculinity. After all he's always had the heart and brain of a man. He's just been lacking a body. But that's a big thing. But there's a piece of me – a little buzzing in my stomach that says hmmm. That's all. It's just a feeling. Like a mystery has entered my life and I can't know how it will end.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Lots of kisses

Photo via Flickr by by taylorpad212
Last week, I had trouble with the testosterone injection. It hurt R and didn't go in right, so I told him I wanted to go back to the clinic to get retrained. For now, I'm leaving out the clinic name and location (for the meantime I still need to protect our identities). But you know who you are. R was reluctant because he thought I was doing fine. But hell, if this is an injection he's going to need every week for the rest of his life, I figured it wouldn't hurt to get it right. He agreed. So the person who gave us instructions is a wonderful woman I will only call A right now. She wouldn't mind me publicizing her name but (see above). She's a beautiful woman, with perfect skin, beautiful silky hair and a gracious, wide smile (don't worry; I don't have a crush!) So when I first met her, it took me a bit to realize that she, too, was transgender.  And that just made me feel relieved. You know. She understood. She's so gentle and patient, repeating instructions, not laughing (when she really should have) when I stupidly gave myself a needle stick, and guiding us every step of the way. But my favorite instruction: before I actually give the injection, A tells me, "Now, tell him you love him." I do. Happily. Then she tells me after to kiss him. "Lots of kisses." And I do.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Photo via Flickr by pmbell64
I've been writing a lot about my fears, my worries, my concerns. It's how I process information. But tonight my friend L reminded me about something else: bravery. To quote her, what R is doing, transitioning and changing his biological gender to his true gender "is really fucking brave ... it's so brave." And L is right. R is fucking brave. He spent his whole life living life as people wanted him to. I'm not going to go into details because they really don't matter (and because I want to respect his privacy), but it's the same story a lot of trans people tell: they tried to live as the gender their body appeared to be. They really did. They did everything. And by everything, I mean everything. But it wasn't right for them. The more I think about it, the more I think it's a form of torture to try to conform to what the world thinks you should be. As a gay person (and we'll use gay like queer here) I know what it's like to try to make myself into something I'm not to make others happy. Ultimately, I've made choices to follow my heart. Fortunately for us (the world) being gay is just not that big of a deal anymore. People hardly notice two women together. But trans? It's where gay was 30 years ago (and yes, I'm making up the number 30 but you know what I mean). It's still weird to people. It's still shocking. But I say this: R, you are my hero. And yeah, you are so fucking brave.

Are you Barbie or are you Ken?

Barbie and Ken photo via Flickr by by Cat Sidh
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out: If you're a man and are born in the wrong body, it would feel wrong. Every day. I completely get it. Intellectually, at least. But I also admit that I don't empathize completely (different than understanding) because I've never felt 100% identified as a woman. I did take ballet. But even when I did, I always wore all black (a requirement of the school) and more to the point, wanted to be a male ballet dancer, who wore his tights outside his leotard and got to jump and leap. I was muscular and loved it. I also was a tomboy and I also played with Barbie. I guess I was always down the middle somewhere. So when people say, imagine waking up one day and discovering you were in the wrong body and how horrifying that would be, I understand. But I can't totally relate. I think if I woke up one day and was in a man's body, I'd probably be OK with it. I'd miss being a woman. But I don't think it would feel completely wrong. For me. I think gender is like sexuality. We all fit somewhere on the spectrum of how female or how male we feel. Like the Kinsey scale.  And I respect that if you're at the far edge of male and find yourself in a woman's body, it would be pretty Kafka-esque.

Monday, December 10, 2012

When will the T take effect?

Photo by by chicagogeek
This is a note you'll see recurring here. But the thing I want to know is when will it happen. When will R start feeling things? You know. Testosterone-related things. When we went for our first injection, two weeks ago (feels like a lot longer), the nurse, when I asked specifically what changes will I notice, said in a charmingly thick accent, "He will get horny." She said it shyly, knowing that the term "horny" was far superior to its more clinical cousin, "aroused"and yet, somehow a strangely juvenile word to use. Horny is just a word I put away, for the most part, at adolescence. It's not that I don't get horny. In fact, one of the side effects of gender dysphoria for R has been his disconnection with sex. So he's already more libidinous. So that's great. But he's still the old person I fell in love with. I've been reading other blogs that talk about some of the changes that they didn't prepare for—body smell, hair—you know, stuff that biologically makes a man a man. Will I be OK with it? I'm trying to remain open to all of it. Yes, I love R for who he is, but attraction is also important. So I'm trying to stay true to both of us. frankly, I'm excited by the changes to come.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

If you're transgender then what am I

Photo by Cea
For most of my adult life, I've been identified as a lesbian. I choose these words intentionally because I personally have never felt comfortable with labels. Mind you, I don't have anything against labels, per se. But none seemed to fit me well. While all of my relationships have been with women, I have had dalliances with men—and enjoyed them. So does that make me bisexual? I always thought so. But this issue has forced me to really explore my sexuality. It's way more complicated than I can get into in a post. But the weird thing will be when R starts passing. Will that make me straight? It probably will in the eyes of the world. And I think I'll be OK with that. But who really knows? I've grappled with identity my whole life and at my age (let's say I'm well past my 30s) I frankly don't really care anymore. At least not today.

Who's your daddy?

We've both been having a hard time with the pronoun issue. Sometimes, It's a matter of remembering. And sometimes it's a matter of decorum. Last night we were at a small party. Only a few people knew what was going on. Since R has only taken two doses of testosterone, he still appears female. Mind you – he's never been a particularly feminine woman. Or at least he isn't now. As a lesbian, he was definitely butch. But especially in a lesbian crowd, he appears female. It's pretty awkward of me to start referring to him as a she however, if people don't know. So he's kind of forced to come out, which can be awkward (again). And if he does come out, that's definitely going to be the topic of conversation.  I called him a "she" last night and felt bad about it. But I didn't know what else to do. On the way home, I mentioned this and said it was difficult and I felt bad about it. (It's also kind of confusing to switch back-and-forth between genders.) He said why don't you just not refer to me as anything? Just use my name. I got pretty upset (unfairly) because I felt like he was being dismissive and was angry at me for having referred to him as a she. (I have problems with anger).  Later he said he understood where I was coming from. Anyhow, I wish he could simply just come out and be done with it. I wish *we* could come out and be done with it. It's not like being gay where you don't really have to tell some of the first time you meet them. Unless of course it's a date. And when you do tell someone you're gay, it rarely leads to a litany of questions like, when did you know you we're gay? (When I first came out it did, but we're at such a different place in society and we live in the gay mecca of the world.) But the trans thing? That would be a big deal.  Oh and the title of this post? I was laughing this morning because R was was cuddling the dogs And saying, "mommy loves you." Even he has trouble with pronouns.

Photo by Elvert Barnes

So am I ok?

That's what my friends ask. Am I OK? How do I feel about it. I usually take a big deep breath. Then maybe I take a sip of the chardonnay I poured before making the call. (I'm human, OK?) And then I tell them the truth: yes, I'm OK. I'm good. I'm happy. R has opened up. He's expanded. Imagine, spending six decades with this secret sitting on top of you, suffocating you, keeping you from being who you are. Imagine all the shame. All the terror. Because you happened to be born into the wrong body. Well, when our therapist told him what he's known since he was two and demanded that he was a boy and not a girl, that he was a man, something changed. Something shook loose. Shook into place. And he became the man he's always been. He became more of the man I've always loved. Even though he was a she and I thought I was with a woman. And that's where it gets complicated. Because while I've always thought of myself as bisexual, I did not choose to be with a man when I chose R. I chose him because of his smile and his charm. I chose him because of the way he looked at me. I chose him because of the way he treated his animals, the way his hand felt on my face. I chose him because I was getting out of a bad relationship with someone who was unhealthy and he was there, like a song and a flower and he was easy. Then. I chose him because he was a woman with small but beautiful breasts too. And those will be going. I will miss them. That hurts. I am feeling so many feelings. All the feelings at once. So no, I don't know if I'm OK. Yes, I'm thrilled. And yes, I'm OK. And yes, it is much. So, so, much.

Friday, December 7, 2012


testosterone needle injection
I gave R his second injection today... As an aside it feels weird to call him a him. But in my heart, I already think of him as a man. Just in a body that isn't right. We made love last night. It was passionate and wonderful. The sex gets better and better. He's really let go. And maybe I have too.

We had our friend film it. I felt like i needed something to memorialize it. We talked about the fact that we didn't film the first injection. But now i'm convinced tht having a camera there would have changed it. It was really special though. The nurse was wonderful, a trans woman. When I realized she was trans, I immediately felt comfortable. No judgements and who better to understand what it is like to be trapped inside the wrong body? She told me to tell R how much I loved him and that with the medicine I was helping him to become the man he's always known he'd be.

Empowering. strangely. I kissed him and it felt right. Like I was part of it and sending him on a journey that we both were taking together.  

Today was more difficult. The needle hurt him and i felt terrible causing him pain. he was brave though.  I had gotten cocky about how great I am at giving shots. but I think I need to practice more.