I’ve had some gender fatigue the past couple of weeks, and I feel like I’m starting to understand other people’s desire to just move on from this part of their life.
The fatigue nearly dragged me down last Thursday night, when I seriously considered stopping my HRT, purging my women’s clothes back into containers and getting back into in the firmly male zone. It all felt too hard and overwhelming, and I felt like I was heaping self-inflicted pain upon myself and my family in a selfish quest to be something that I’ll never be able to attain. It took me about 72 hours to work through these feelings and thoughts, and I learned something about myself in the process.
What set this off was something that normally would have inspired me: seeing a trans woman out to dinner at a restaurant with her boyfriend or husband. I’m about 99.9% sure she was trans, since while there is no secret handshake we all share, there is “the look” of mutual recognition we do tend give each other.
The back story is that life has been incredibly stressful for over a year. Multiple deaths in my wife’s family, career uncertainty at work, in-laws getting divorced, a treatable, chronic medical condition with my 5-year old, and my gender journey, which has caused marital strife. We all know the myriad ways in which gender non-conformity with assigned gender creates stress for us and for those around us as we seek to remedy it, and I’m living my share now.
As I’ve contemplated transition, I’ve come to realize that a good chunk of my fear revolves around not being interpreted as female by others. This is powerful juju to me, wrapped around all sorts of stuff I’m still trying to deconstruct and understand. If I knew with certainty that I would be interpreted as female 100% of the time post-transition, I’d start sprinting down the transition path instead taking the meandering stroll with lots of that pauses I’m on now.
When I saw that woman at dinner, I knew I’d never be interpreted 100%, because there were physical attributes of her that reminded me of me. The height, the chest size, the facial structure, the gait.
To be clear, I’m not casting aspersions towards her at all. I’m pretty sure that to the rest of the room, she was just a woman out to dinner with her companion. She was just a focal point for rattling a deeply held desire, and I reacted by thinking that this whole transition thing is hopeless, and that I’d end up divorced, lonely, and only desirable to chasers.
Those thoughts and feelings were the ones that drove me to nearly chuck my HRT pills and de-transition what little I have done so far. The thoughts swirled in my mind that night as I tried to get to sleep but I knew that I should just sleep on it before doing anything radical.
Friday morning, bleary and tired, I faced the question: take my pills or not?
I took them, and by doing so I answered a larger question, de-fanged another fear, and gained an insight into trans self-help group dynamics and the intersection of personal self-awareness.
The larger question that I answered was if I felt I was truly on the right path or not. It may be uncomfortable, but I haven’t figured out a better path yet, so best to continue.
The fear I de-fanged was around passing. The logic I self-presented to myself above is external; it relies upon others to define my self-esteem and identity instead of relying upon myself to do so. That’s totally backwards. Any transition I do is ultimately for me, to make me a happier person, not other people. Do I want to avoid ridicule and awkward situations? Who doesn’t?
But since I can envision myself as a happy person, how other people see me, male or female, is, at the end of the day, irrelevant to self-acceptance and self-love. As a side bonus to this, I also identified the desire of being interpreted 100% female as an unrealistic expectation and it’s another thing for me to look out for when making my decisions going forward around transition.
The insight was that going to group never would have triggered these feelings for me because (almost*) everyone there is trans, so I blend into the group, making it that much harder to see how I might/might not blend into the general populace.
During this mini-freak out, I almost ran out of Estradiol, because I was hesitating about calling in a refill. Once I did, I discovered I didn’t have a refill on the prescription and needed a doctor’s visit to get it refilled. Luckily, either my doctor’s office called in a refill or the original prescription had a backup, because I was able to get it refilled today and won’t have to skip a dose. Whew!
* Allies, friends, family, etc.