Back when we had new babies, things changed so fast from week to week, but somehow still felt slow, and like every change must be permanent. During every week with a newborn it seemed like things changed as much as in a regular month or a regular year.
And things feel like this now. I can’t possibly sum up the changes that have happened in the last week, the context feels so different now than my last post that I’m not even really sure how to talk about it. And yet, in some other ways, just like with a baby, not that much has really changed.
I’ve been fighting, hard, against putting a trans/FTM identity and medical transition on the table as real options, as something I might actually be, actually want. Genderqueer, sure. Some sort of something somewhere on the spectrum just so long as I don’t really do anything permanent, OK. I would list all the reasons why not to Gail, to my friend J, mostly to myself, frantically jumping around from reason to reason why not. Cutting J off whenever he asked a question that cut a little too close. But absolutely none of those reasons why not (and there are some really good ones) were actually coming from inside me. They were coming from my head, and all of this? The changes, the wanting, it’s coming from someplace else, someplace really deep in my body, someplace I didn’t even know was in there, but has come alive, all at once, with a lot of force.
So about a week ago, I went ahead and said it, first in writing to myself, then in writing to Gail, to my friend J, and then out loud to Gail, that yeah, I might actually want the whole deal. I might actually want to be a guy. Scratch that. I do want it. Right now, today, I want it a whole hell of a lot. If my life were a lot simpler, if I could figure out how to keep my job or how in the world to handle this with my kids, I’d just go ahead jump on the train right this instant.
I keep hedging though when I talk about it, leaving room for the feelings to fade or weaken (I still keep kind of hoping), for the possibility of feeling sated just a bit farther down the line. And that might happen. People say the extreme intensity evens out. But more and more it just feels like hedging for show.
And as soon as I really said this, really let it be, the frantic buzzing and fighting in my head just flat out stopped. I felt better. I focused easier at work. For a few days that is, until the new pressures started to build. Sex got harder, I think because the stakes just got so much higher. Part of me just really didn’t want to want it anymore. Because if sex is part of what got me into this mess, how about we just go back to the old way? We did work that out, but it was strange to feel this sudden relief of going ahead and saying what I want, but then to feel the pressures build again in response, even in the one area we feel like we’ve kind of got this figured out.
And then yesterday, out of the blue, my kids get in a big debate over “whether Mama is a man or a woman” (my toddler insisting on the former, my kindergartener on the latter). Well, it was sort of out of the blue. We’d seen a trans guy at an event, and our daughter was asking about him. Gail was reviewing gender manners with her later (It’s OK to ask politely what pronouns to use — and at the event we were at it is really is OK — but don’t interrogate about why). This prompted our toddler to start reviewing just who is what, and he spouts off “Yeah, yeah, Ima is a woman. Leigh is a Girl. I am a boy. Mama is a man.” Then the older one pipes up “No! Mama is a woman! Ima tell him!” and they launch into a giant escalating back and forth debate while A and I sit there like deer caught in the headlights.
We don’t lie in our family. Sure we might leave out some info that isn’t really appropriate for kids, but it’s a pretty high bar to make that cut. As in, when our kid asked if we left her money or the tooth fairy did, we told her that we did (after checking to make sure she really wanted to know the truth). There was no way for me to brush this one off completely. If I just said woman, especially after they had clearly caught me off guard, believe me, my kids would remember. I eventually managed to choke out, with relative calm, that “I’m kind of some of each.” My daughter, the older one, looked shocked. Just utterly shocked, but she went with it, and things moved on.
I checked with her later though when I was calmer, and asked if she knew what I meant. Her response was “Yes Mama. I understand. You like to wear Man clothes, but you are a woman and you want to stay a woman.” That last emphasis likely stems from her understanding of our friend J. Because of conversations we’ve had with and about J (with his blessing), she knows that some people are born as girls but later become boys/men and she knows some of the machinations, both of changing names/pronouns and of medical/surgical alterations, so when she said that, she confirmed what I suspected, that when I said “some of each” she immediately understood I might transition. So, I told her I was still deciding, and she entered her plea that I should still be a woman (she’s been known to hope that her little brother is trans so we we can be an all girl family, so this isn’t necessarily a surprise). And she’s been chewing on this a lot. She’s clearly bothered by it. She brought it up again tonight. I pray I’m doing OK. Gail claims I am.
I really didn’t mean to talk to them about this already. I thought I had more time, and that I would have more figured out, but I feel like the universe is really giving me a swift kick in the pants on this one. Over and over. I at least thought I’d have talked to a therapist so I could get some kind of minimal orientation to what might be the right approach to take with the kids (I do have an appointment for next week with someone, this is no small feat for a whole host of reasons). I’m terrified I’m hurting them, but I also know my daughter is doing the beginning of the work she’ll need to do, even if I don’t change much more than I already have.
So this is where I am. In some ways I’m in the same place, only now instead of leaning against the door with all my might, I stepped away a little, and the door seems to have flown off it’s hinges. We’ll see what next week brings.