I write this having had a conversation over the phone with my mother who was trying hard to understand where I am coming from. It's hard, from my perspective, to explain how I feel to someone who has never felt what I feel, putting me in mind of the Prom composed by the Pet Shop Boys about Alan Turing and that quote they lift from Andrew Hodges's biography: "do you think what I feel? Do you feel what I think?" As an endpoint I suggested that she read this blog, she was a little uncertain but I have now shared the link to a few of the posts on here and so, well: hi, Mum.
|Hey, Mum. When you called I was applying|
eye-shadow. I tried to capture it on photos
but have failed. This is the best I could do
with FaceApp making me unrecogniseable.
And, no, the honest answer is no. Or, rather, I cannot. If there was a button or some sci-fi method of making it happen, then sure, yes, of course. But no such thing exists. Surgery wouldn't make me a woman any more than anything else could, in the reality I experience there is no method to make someone a woman or a man. Nothing. However, I would be hesitant to call myself a man. I could no more become a woman than I could become a man. And, as it stands, I would argue that I am neither as society understands the concepts. Which brings me to the next point: I would like to occupy that societal space of being recognised as coding female or 'woman'.
Hormones can make one more emotional, did I want to have a cycle and be given to bursting into tears?
Apparently so. But I have known many women. And not all women fall into such stereotypes. In society the people I know who perform the gender of 'female' can cry, sure, but most of them don't seem to. Physically they have a 'cycle' and, yes, I get that this can be debilitating. Again, if there were some sci-fi method or button to press where I could make myself have such a thing and experience it then, even knowing all the negatives and horrors, I would do it. But not because of the cycle, if you see what I mean, but because it would allow me to understand society's view of what a female is more and it would allow me to more easily code as female in society with that experience. And, again, my aim is to code female enough that no one look too closely - or, rather, they see the presentation. Now, I am aware of my privilege here and have spoken of it often: I code male and that means that I have never truly felt in danger on dark nights, walking cycle paths under street lights or even going out alone. I have always been able to rely on society's penchant for leaving men alone when they can avoid confrontation. Women do not have that luxury. I would be giving that up, I would be in danger. But more, because as much as society has an issue with women it has it double with trans-women.
|Can you even tell here?|
Grey mixed with deep pink up top,
flesh tone beneath.
Oh, and mascara.
Goodness, my hair is a mess.
I have said it often, I am more or less at peace with my plumbing. I don't hate my body. Or, rather, not in the sense that I have heard some say when describing dysphoria. I have always been put off by what I saw in the mirror, it has never matched what I thought should be there, I guess. I have never had a clear image of what that should be, by the way, just that what I saw wasn't it. It wasn't until I got the FaceApp on my phone earlier this year and played around with it that I got glimpses of what I was expecting in the mirror all this time. And, yes, hormones would absolutely result in physical changes. I can't explain that rationally or logically - but I have said it before and I shall repeat it: having a stuffed bra feels right to me somehow. That's it. I have no better words nor clever phrases, just that feeling. There are surgeries that I know of, but I am no fan of surgery for any reason. Not that I wouild refuse life-saving surgical intervention, far from it, but it's the sort of thing I consider last if at all in day-to-day life. I just... don't think about it. Not ruling it out, but nor would I see it as a go-to.
My mother remembered reading Little Women and wanting to be more man-like or mannish, like Joe.
I have never read Little Women so I can't really comment. But, no, I don't want to feel 'womannish' or be 'effeminate'. I mean, I kinda already am the latter in some ways, it's part (part) of the many reasons I was bullied at school for so long and a principle reason I was so careful to present as 'boy' as possible in clothing, hair cut and everything else. No one ever said I was effete when they targeted me with bullying, but I knew that was a potential avenue and did everything I could to prevent it being a reason for being targeted. I couldn't alter many of the reasons I got bullied for, but I could avoid adding to them! I mean, I read the Beano for many years and recognised that Walter and the softies got bullied (and it was assumed they kind of deserved it) because they were not manly enough. They were wet fops, effete and weaklings. And, thus, I knew to keep my thoughts on identification with girls under-wraps.
So, what did I want?
|This photo was what made me believe, even|
a little bit, that maybe, just maybe, I wasn't
going mad. Ha, my hair still isn't this long.
I recognise that what I want and what I can achieve are very different things. If I could, I would alter time itself and be born 'female' enough that I would be assigned 'female' at birth and then live likely as a tom-boyish girl. I would realise I was a lesbian. I would still face bullying, discrimination and probably face greater challenges than I do now. I would lack that privilege that saved me from countless assaults and allowed me to access academic halls that would have required greater effort as a girl or woman. I would have had to work more and harder to achieve what I have academically and financially, such as it is, and I would likely have had even less luck in relationships than I have enjoyed so far. It is very likely that I would have gone with a man because that is what society expected and I may even have been pregnant by now. It is very likely I would have passed undetected as ASD for longer and may still not be diagnosed, with all the issues that this entails. But this is not what I could achieve.
So, what do I want?
|The earliest photo I have of living|
without the disguise. Or, rather, presenting
more as I expected.
I mean, beard aside.
For the longest time I said I wanted an end to me. I wanted to obviate the self and be a shade. Whatever I did to my flesh jacket and clothing I would still be the same hateful lump of barely formed human shit staining all that came into contact with it, the stench trapped in the pores and unable to be removed. Whatever the outward performance I would still be the same small-minded and useless waste of flesh on the inside, good for nothing but the funds on death. Not suicide, much too logical to embrace that option, but hoping, praying and waiting for death. I can't say yet with confidence that I don't want this any more, not yet, but I am beginning to see that there is another path. It sometimes gets lost in the dark, as I flail in the fronds of pines in the inky night, but it is there now. I want to explore this path more, I want to see where it takes me. Maybe I can find what it is that will make me place value and worth in who I am and myself. Maybe I can find out what makes Joanna smile so much when she is glimpsed through FaceApp. Maybe that can be the me I wear. Or, rather, maybe I won't have to wear anything at all, in that sense, because I will be myself. Yes, that is what I want, I want to not have to wear a persona, a mask, so much.