He Asked for It

So my pronouns are a point of contention lately.  Previously, I have stated I was content with feminine pronouns.  That’s no longer true.  I’m not even sure it was true at the time I stated it.  The thing is, I want to try to be content with my identity before I go changing it.  I wanted a female chest to be enough, but it wasn’t, and never was.  And the more I look at my gender identity, the more I uncover parts of it I am unhappy with.

And so the pronouns need a good squinting at.

I don’t like female pronouns.  Period.  I wanted to be okay with them because they make the most sense to those around me, and so I am able to avoid confrontation.  Using male pronouns, or rather, merely rejecting female pronouns puts my identity and its “other” status front and center.  People may miss my missing tits, but they can’t avoid my non-traditional pronoun choice, whatever it may be.  And this scares me a little bit.  But I didn’t start this blog, am not getting this surgery, to start tiptoeing now.

So I consider my options: female is out.  So it’s male pronouns, the singular “they,” or no pronouns at all.  I’m not considering the gender neutral ze, as it sounds archaic and not at all like english.  To my ear it is a kind of foreign I don’t feel comfortable claiming, nor is it very functional.

The “plural they?”  Sorry friends, I didn’t get a Masters Degree in English to turn my back on its rules, rules that I find sometimes frustrating but still love.  There is no singular they in English: they is always plural, and confusing as hell in a conversation when we try to make it singular in usage: “Eli went to the store; they’ll be back in a half hour.”

“Who did Eli go with?”

Ugh.

So male pronouns turn out to be my practical, best option.  But I have to fess up: they also turn out to be my preference.  I like being called he, and feel he fits my identity most closely of all the pronoun choices.  This choice will ruffle some feathers, yes, and will out me as trans in almost every conversation, but isn’t that kind of the point?  There is a lot of push and pull in coming out, be it as trans or as gay or as a Twilight fan.  You want to hold on to the the ease of your pervious identity, but living an easy life is not always living an honest life.  If I’m being honest with myself, then I am, as I have said in the past, much more masculine than feminine.  So there you have it, I am a trans man.

That wasn’t so hard now, was it?

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

Rite of Passage: My First Suit

My best friend is getting married in June, and I am giving a speech on his behalf at the reception.  So, in addition to preparing for surgery, I am also preparing to attend a very important ceremony.  Note my surgery is scheduled for May 25th.  The wedding is June 16th.  This will be my new chest’s first big event.  This will be the first time my family, and many of my old friends, will see my new body. So I want to look awesome.  So I need a suit.

I have never bought a suit, never had my measurements taken.  I needed a trusted friend to go with me to purchase said suit.  Enter G.  G is a grad school buddy who has a kind manner and a playful approach to life.  He is a great writer–I admire his work and work ethic.  I admire his manner.  I admire his height.  I knew he would be the right man for this job: he had no problem with my name change (he knew me first by my birth name), and has always been very supportive of my evolving gender identity process.

So I felt good about asking him to accompany me to The Men’s Warehouse to buy my first suit.  I recognize this to be an important rite of passage in every young boy’s/trans boy’s life, and so I went with him alone.  Originally I had wanted K’s sage fashion input, but she and I agreed it was important for me and G to do this together.

There is something in G’s voice when he calls me Eli, something in his tone when he refers to me as buddy, that I recognize as respect–not like gangster respect, more like camaraderie.  It’s recognition: he treats me like one of the guys, or one of the people, but knows I don’t want to be treated like a lady.  It is his willingness to look past cultural norms for my birth gender and see the identity I prefer, and to acknowledge me in that way.  And this is what landed him the Men’s Warehouse gig.

A co-worker of mine has a friend who works at the Warehouse, and he was going to be there, which put me a bit at ease.  Since I am not on T, I feel a bit uneasy, say undeserving, in male-specific spaces, and so the fact that I had a “friend of a friend” there made me less nervous about potential embarrassing situations.  But when G and I walked in we found out that this person was late, and may be out for the day sick.  I got a little concerned at this prospect, but it was the store manager who ended up helping us, and that put me back on track.  He was friendly, knowledgable, and professional.  My femaleness only came up once, in the form of me pointing out hips, and the manager was quick to point out one of his male employees who had a “ba-donka-donk” and said many men have hips and weight in the rear to deal with when it comes to suit purchasing, so my body shape was not a problem.

I suggest Men’s Warehouse as a first look for trans guys when purchasing suits: they will measure you (and keep your measurements in their system for easy access should you go to another of their locations), they have a tailor on staff (very important for those of us who are shorter, or have more hips than cis-men), and their suits are mid-ranged in price.  This is a great place for a first suit or a starter suit.  They offer free steaming and pressing for the suit for life, and while there is the downside of buying a suit from what I would consider a “less trendy” retailer, this is a great place to start, with a fair selection of styles and colors and good price points.

I was very satisfied with my experience there, and how I was treated–that is, no differently than a male customer, as far as I could tell.  And it was great to have a cis-male friend with me: not only did it put me a bit more at ease, but also he asked questions that I either was too nervous to remember to ask or didn’t even know to ask: he had me sit down while wearing the pants, to check for comfort in the waist, he asked the manager about the return policy, and took me aside at times to check what I was thinking about certain styles or colors of the suits the manager was suggesting.  He was a great friend to have that day.  In fact, I am very thankful to have G in my life, and want to publicly (if not semi-anomously for him) thank him here.  G, this trip together meant a lot to me.  Thank you.

In the end, I left with this suit, in grey.  I look nothing like the model, but when do we ever?  Yeah, it was the manager’s idea, but it was brilliant: the boy’s section offers shorter pants that need very little tailoring, and a better fit for jackets as well.  In fact, in my case the jacket didn’t need to be altered at all, and the pants only need some letting out in the hips, no adjustments for the length was necessary.  Also the price came way down: I could buy two boy’s suits for less than the price of one men’s suit and needed far less tailoring.

We will be returning to pick up my suit on May 11th–and I might post a picture or two on here of the complete ensemble, once my shirt and shoes arrive in the mail…

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

Some Recent Links of Note

The blogs I follow have been posting some great links lately, and I wanted to gather them here for anyone poking around my blog.

First, from transbeautiful we have this great story from MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry, Transgender in America.

Cece McDonald, who was mentioned in the Harris-Perry video, needs our help.  If you would like more information on her case, go here.  Or go here to sign the petition to drop the second degree murder charge against her.

Next, My Transgender Journey linked to an exciting article on a recent EEOC ruling regarding workplace discrimination in the trans community.  Metro Weekly reports that the “EEOC ruling that gender-identity discrimination is covered by Title VII is a ‘sea change’ that opens the doors to employment protection for transgender Americans.”

The blog of the National Center for Transfgender Equality also has some great information on the EEOC ruling here.

And last but not least, The Pink Agendist is in the process of getting Project ProteKT off the ground–go here to learn more about his fledgling queer youth resource, and how you can get involved!

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

The Countdown(s) Begins!

Today is one month to the day until my pre-op appointment with Dr. Medalie.  We will meet face to face, and face to tits.  We will make the final Peri- versus DI- method decision.  Then, two days later, so long tits.

And two days ago I got a package in the mail from his office detailing where and when my appointments take place, what to do the night before surgery (don’t eat, don’t drink, [and for good measure I have added “don’t sleep”]), and I also received a sleek brochure from Marena ComfortWear, in which Valerie (Dr. Medalie’s secretary) has bookmarked, circled, and highlighted the garment I am to pre-purchase (she has also noted that I am to buy the black, not beige model) and bring with me to surgery, because I will give it to them before they knock me out, and I will wake up in it after my tits are gone.

Some of the Countdowns I Have Going in My Head:

-19 more work days until we leave for Cleveland, which means

-32 more days until surgery, which means

-8 more weeks of binding (four weeks of the regular misery until surgery and then I’m guessing about three more weeks after surgery in this little beauty.  Actually, I have gone back to just the old sports bras until surgery, having given up on binding due to the abrasions and cuts and general pain and discomfort that was causing.  With the light at the end of this tunnel so near, I can deal with an extra half inch of shelf protrusion until the end of May.

And so now I am spending some of my time during the day thinking about all the things I have to look forward to after surgery.

The Following Things I Anticipate Greatly After My Chest Is Reconstructed:

-The feel of my guitar against my body

-The fit of my clothes

-K’s hand on my chest

-My hand on my chest

I also find myself thinking things like “this is the last rent check I will write with tits,” or “this is the last case of cat food I will buy with tits,”  which are silly commentaries but fill me with joy nonetheless.

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli