My first shot of T is on Tuesday. I have mixed feelings about this. I am feeling sad, and uncertain, and scared. I want the end result, but change is hard. I have gone through the pros and cons. I know I want the pros (deeper voice, more muscle, facial hair, fat redistribution), and I know the cons are minor (acne, mood shifts) or unlikely (hair loss, cancer, heart disease). I have circled around and around in my head, and the only reason not to start T is fear of the unknown. So I am going to start it, try it, and I can always go off it if something doesn’t feel right. But the only way I can know for sure is to go on it.
Some of this sadness isn’t just about fear, though. Some of it is because I am saying good-bye to the person I have been seen as my whole life, the person I have tried to be: a girl. I was a butch one, for sure, but I always checked the F box, and it never really felt wrong to do it. I never felt any animosity toward being female until I came out as trans, because I didn’t think about my gender at all until that coming out: I ignored it, ignored all the discomfort and anxiety that comes with being seen and treated as something I wasn’t because denial is easier than facing the fact that, although I was physically female, I was mentally male. But being read as a dyke was pretty close, for a long time, and I made that ill-fitting costume my home. Now, I’m taking that one off and I’m not entirely sure what I’m getting into.
So this post is about saying good-bye to that girl. Of course, many of the parts of me, my sense of humor, my intelligence, my kindness, and (some of) my insecurities will remain intact. But the world will use different hands when interacting with me as I start to be read as male. I couldn’t really begin to understand what that might feel like. I know that will change me, will shape me into some different kind of person, into a male version of this self I have been honing for three and a half decades. But I imagine I am making a bigger deal out of it right now than it will be to me, practically speaking, in the future that will become my present. The changes will happen slowly, and I will be pleased with them, or be able to cope with them as they arise.
I know I am jumping around a bit, and I do feel scattered in my brain. I want to record here that I believe T will calm me in many ways, and that my anxiety will lessen as I settle into my new body and societal role. I think some of the self-doubt and confusion I feel daily will be quieted. I think I’ll get some more confidence out of this. And because these changes will happen slowly, I might be saying good-bye to the girl I have been, have tried to be, and have been seen as, over many posts over the upcoming years. This is the start of that good-bye.
It’s strange that as I look over this post that was supposed to be about the past, I am continually making room and excuses for the future. Let’s step back and do this right:
You served me well. You were well-liked and made many friends. I learned how to speak up for myself while playing you. I learned how to be empathetic as a female-presenting person. I leaned how to read maps and take pictures and appreciate art while living in your skin. I learned how to listen in your ears. I saw the Rocky Mountains through your eyes, and went to Paris in your body.
I smoked a lot of pot with that mouth, and kissed some very pretty girls.
You hands wrote beautiful poems, and touched your grandmother’s hands. She is gone now, and my new hands will never know that feeling. Your hand shook Buzz Aldrin’s hand.
I walked through the Rodin garden on your feet. I walked up and down Chicago. I ran to catch buses and went sledding with those legs.
Those arms held your niece when she was just a day old. Those arms protected you in many a mosh pit. Your abdomen has been a place for Violet to sleep for 7 years.
Your ears have heard Pearl Jam at Alpine Valley, Ani DiFranco at the Aragon, Bill Clinton in Iowa, and the World Trade Center collapse through your living room television, clutching your knees to your chest.
Your body has been rained on, touched gently and harshly, been rested and tense. You have been tattooed and burned and massaged. You have done some things in this world, but you have hidden from this world, also. And so now I have to go.
I thank you for your service, and parts of you will come along for the duration.
Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli