Hello World! Part Four.

I stopped taking my HRT a week ago on December 21, 2011. I’ve done this twice before on my journey.

Unlike the last couple of times, this feels more like a stop than a pause. This has been building for a while, and I finally reached the point where I had to fully confront the fundamental question for me: was I willing to give up everything for this transition?

My answer was no.

It didn’t matter that the answer was no because of the fears and self-doubts, real or imagined, about family, friends, work, acceptance, and rejection. Fear and self-doubt and can be confronted, ignored, embraced or pushed through. But they really don’t matter.

What matter are the truths. The truths about myself.

I’ve learned that transition is a funny thing. For many, myself included, fears and doubts rule the early part of transition: Will my family and friends reject me? What will I do if I get outed when I’m not ready? How in the world will I ever fit in? Will anyone ever love me for who I am? I’ll never be attractive. People will always wonder about my big feet.

These fears and doubts are corrosive. Worse, they are distractive from seeking the fundamental truths of self that are required for a successful transition. They’re decoys and ultimately irrelevant to discovering self-truth unless you see them as guideposts directing you towards the areas you need to confront.

Often, I’ve had to look at others’ guideposts to discover my own. I’ve been to group meetings, met for lunch one on one, traded email, talked on the phone, Tweeted, and blogged over the better part of a year now in an effort to meet other people like me in order to expand my circle of friends and learn and share.

It sounds clichéd, but what I’ve learned is that we’re an incredibly diverse bunch. From teenagers to septuagenarians, artists to truck drivers to doctors to students to unemployed, rich to poor, well-adjusted to mentally ill, happy to angry to sad, we’re all just people trying to find our way forward with something that ranges from something celebrated to something that is shamed.

Across all the boundaries that unite and divide us simultaneously, I’ve learned that there is something we share that slices through the external and self categorizations that our community so often squabbles over.

We all need change. It’s not optional.

This change expresses itself differently for all, but it’s there nonetheless. From those that push on society to change, to those that chemically or surgically change themselves, to those that change their clothes, it’s really all the same.

We’re uncomfortable. Uncomfortable with ourselves, our bodies, how the world sees us. The discomfort ranges from soul-crushing pain to gentle annoyance, but no matter what, any amount becomes agony and torture when there is no end in sight or the end seems too far away.

So we change to be more comfortable. We have to. We. Have. To.

We’re not role-playing. It’s not a hobby that can be set down and returned to or not. It’s intrinsic, and the discomfort doesn’t go away until we change.

That was first truth I found.

But changing can be hard. It’s been hard for me. A little change? A big change? This is where I’ve foundered and flopped about on now for months.

I wanted my relationships to family not change, but they have in big and little ways, positive and negative. I worked to understand privilege changes I might experience with transition. I came out to close friends who I’ve hid this part of me from for years and years. I started HRT. I grew my hair out. I incorporated more women’s clothing into my daily wardrobe.

For all intents and purposes, I’ve been in transition, a big change.

As I’ve contemplated the biggest change – transitioning from being seen as male to female – I’ve had no clear answer until now.

As I’ve talked to people, read their stories, and surveyed the academic literature, I kept tripping over a truth. The truth is that those that successfully transition male to female are female or female enough to live that life. It’s really quite simple, but it’s what I’ve always butted up against.

My personal truth is that while I have strong affinity and desire to be female, I don’t intrinsically believe myself to be female. At least not yet, because I believe myself to be somewhere in between.

This has been the second truth I’ve found.

The third truth is that I am either unwilling or unable to give up everything to affect the feminine. No matter how much I want it, no matter how much I’ve liked what the hormones have done for me physically or emotionally, I can’t let go of what I do have for what I could have.

This is now the second time I’ve come to this point in my life – the brink of transition and then stepped back.

And now…and now…I don’t know.

I am unwilling to go back to where I was. I am unable to go to where I’d like to go. It’s time for a new map and a new compass.

I do not and will not regret the HRT experience, even if it ends up destroying my marriage, which it looks like it still might. I had to learn if it was the right thing for me.

But if you’re reading this and are married, especially with children, I’d caution you to answer either of these two questions in the affirmative before starting HRT: are you really a woman or are you willing to give up everything to be seen as a woman by the rest of the world?

If your answer isn’t yes to either of those questions, put down the pills and seek solace elsewhere.

To those that have reached out to me over the past year – thank you, thank you, thank you. You have helped me in some of the darkest hours of my life. Your support has been humbling and inspirational, and I will be forever grateful for your compassion and I stand ready to assist you when I and where I can.

To those that I have seen break out of their cocoons and move forward to live the lives of the women you are – you rock! I’ve seen how hard it has been for you and I’m deeply moved at your resilience and determination to find yourselves. You’re strong women, and I have immense respect for you.

To those just beginning their journey – safe travels and may you find what you are seeking.

Now, I close this chapter and begin a new one. My story is not yet at an end, but at a new beginning.

I’m changing again and I can hardly wait to find out how.

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About cistotrans

A Seattle-area trans woman seeking a happy spot to stay at along the path of transition.
This entry was posted in coming out, family, friends, HRT, mental health, observations, opinion, personal history, politics, self-acceptance and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Hello World! Part Four.

  1. For whatever this is worth, I support you. You've nailed it: you have to do what is right for you.

    I like what you said about deciding if transition is worth it. I'm married, though without children, and I accepted at the outset that the price of my transition could include my marriage, my family, and my job. The first and third proved to be safe, but as it now stands, I've lost at least a third and likely two thirds of my family for that reason. There's a hell of a lot I would give up to have them back, but one of the things I wouldn't is my transition. It does remain worth that price for me.

    From my heart, I wish you nothing but success on the next chapter in your life.

    Like

  2. Becca says:

    I gave up HRT after 3 months and again at 12. There was a reality to face though. either I tried to turn away once again with another 'distraction therapy' or face my truth that the inner pain would never be sated until I started again. It was as much my wife saying this as me – I was happier and more content on HRT and I should never give up again. It took smother 12 months, when my emotions settled down and my second puberty subsided, before I really understood that truly this was a one way street. Taking HRT whist trying to maintain the male facade I think, for me anyway, led to much doubt. It was the 'try me and see' concept that confused me into thinking I had a choice – I actually don't and didn't. There is no other way for me. 

    Do i feel intrinsically Female – I guess I ask what does feeling female mean. I don't find a definition that allows me to comprehend. I have a male body which I hate, Testosterone has caused me much pain and lots of anger. My upbringing has conditioned me to act in certain ways and show so many male attributes, mostly done without thought. If you asked me 4 years ago I would say I am male, same answer two years ago but now I am not sure. I don't feel truly female but I have left enough of the male behind to know that I am not really a male – however I am gendered.

    My inner self hated the male so much that something had to change. Despite the initial confusion that HRT brought I now love so much how it's changed and continues to change me 4 years on, both physically and mentally. I am sure that if I started living full time now and learned how society expects me to act I would tell you after a few weeks that despite what parts of my body tell me, I was 100% female. I do also think that it might also make me reconsider my answer as to whether I was male 4 years ago. Would a true male willing take HRT?

    Yes I am married and no I don't want to give up everything. Few people know me but that will change and it may come with some cost. My wife and I have managed to maintain our love but if I took the big step all bets would be off. As she says – we would have to see. 

    As you said, those were your truths and your methods may vary as the saying goes. I just hope you find a path that works

    Becca

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Elizabeth says:

    And what's wrong with being in-between? The Enterprise crew encountered plenty of tri-gender species during the last ~45 years 🙂

    The point is, we love you and support you, whatever path you walk down. Whatever you do, though, don't disappear on us. I, for one, would still like to know how you are doing, occasionally, if you feel like sharing 🙂

    Big, big hugs! And much love,

    E.

    Like

  4. Jenn Ifer says:

    Danielle, Becca, and Elizabeth, thank you for the well-wishes and support. This is an extraordinarily challenging time for me and my family. We're all trying to find the right way forward for each of us.

    @Elizabeth – I don't think there's anything wrong with being in-between, but it can be very hard and it does generate confusion for me and those around me. I don't plan to disappear – I think there's a lot for me to talk about in the middle space.

    Hugs, J

    Like

  5. Tricia says:

    If you ever need someone to talk to / vent with I am here for what it's worth. Thank you also for your support! Much Luv&Respect!

    Like

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