It’s been several months already since I last found it worth writing about myself… I had so many realizations coming together that it would be difficult to enumerate them in any logical order…
I continue to buy any new book, fiction or non, that pertains to the issues of trans people. The latest that I found greatly illuminating was Gender: A Graphic Guide, by Meg-John Barker and Jules Scheele. It is very detailed, and at the same time simple to read. It helped me realize how growing up being asked by your adults and culture to hide your preferred gender can become your self-destructive story in your head during your entire life.
This coincided with conflict with specific people, and I wondered why it affected me so much. I realized that the other person was fitting my story of a person who requested of me to “man up.” Conflict was calling the male in me, and it seemed the other person expected to fight at that level. Later I figured that they had their own reasons to be so assertive, it was not about them. It was that the more I felt I had to fight, the more the self-destructive voice in my head became strong. Actually a similar but more intense situation 20 years ago came to an almost tragic conclusion, the voice in my head having taken over to finish it all. But luckily it failed. In a weird way it fails once I get rid of male energy (the T thing). It works every time.
Shouldn’t I take T-blockers and that sort of thing? It has been a big huge question that comes in conflict with my own health concerns. I never take over-the-counter drugs unless the pain is so intense that I cannot function normally. In fact I think that youth of not finding relief from adults has made me indifferent to pain. Yet, I am extremely sensitive to pain that is deliberately inflicted. In other words, if I have a headache, I will seek my own ways to fix it quietly (it is often muscular), whereas I will nearly faint if I see a needle coming at me. Last year, I had an accident that required a trip to ER, and I had to tell myself to surrender because there was no way to just go home with an open wound.
But I’m finding I am demonstrating the power of having positive experiences on the mind. You will find there’s science behind it, in the works of people like Rick Hanson, and near me at the Greater Good Science Center… What I discovered was a positive environment for me to practice a satisfying activity. For me, it’s been sewing, and I am so lucky to have found a sewing studio where I can drop in and try various projects while being surrounded by people who so far have only given me positive reinforcement. I always say that it’s great because I can always undo-redo, but more important to me seems to be that I have been accepted in a mostly women environment.
Why would that be an issue? I explain it by the fact that I grew up with rather negative feedback from my mother and my grandmother. More recently, I became aware that some cisgendered women don’t like trans women, and in my head it just fit my rejection story. So repeating several days of a positive experience among women has allowed me to wipe out that story. Combined with the realization that someone who seems upset with me may just be upset with the entire world and not particularly at me, the anger in my head subsided. It’s a success story!
In recent days and weeks, I find people (mostly women) smiling at me on the street. I had taken the habit to avoid checking people’s reaction to me (so not to absorb negative energy), but something may have happened that I don’t know. It may just be that I am more relaxed in my own identity. I’m not conscious of a change in appearance, because I have been wearing a dress (and leggings) on a daily basis without fear for a while now…
That also changed, the filtering of what I will wear indoors vs. outdoors. It is now a matter of how I feel when I get up, and the temperature! There are no more second thoughts before stepping out, imagining how others will perceive me. It’s a very good feeling, actually.
That led to another realization. I was trying out a shirt I sewed from a very nice Japanese fabric, and saw me passing before a mirror. I saw that I looked like a transgender woman, but that image, maybe a year ago, was how I didn’t want me to be… There’s a sad side to it that it means I was judging others unfairly (I thought the only acceptable trans woman would be passing 100% of the time), but that was also blocking me from affirming my gender at my more advanced age.
Who knows what is happening, but I have this experience to tell that it feels like my body does not generate the male T when I’m having positive and feminine experiences. As I see it, it rises only when needed (in a subtle and unconscious way, when I feel I need to fight). It has been very calm, recently, and that’s a good thing.
I didn’t mention the holidays… Having to meet many people who tell me their lives, while I seem to be unable to tell them mine. Of course, they try to look indifferent to my changes in appearance. I wouldn’t like to have to defend myself in any way. But it felt invalidating at the end (add to it that I’m always someone’s host). It felt good to be back in my positive, affirming environment. I don’t feel like traveling at all (a good thing: I can avoid the new virus).
Your posts are always so thoughtful and thought-provoking! I’m glad to hear you’re in a good place right now ☺