We, each of us, have a story that tells how we become who we are as adults and as the people we are today. These are some of my signposts. Some are subtle, but most are not even close.
As I transitioned I lived my life again. I recalled times, thoughts and events from twenty, thirty, forty, even fifty years before. I remembered self exploration in the bath growing up and the disappointment of there being no vulva. This was, if I recall rightly, well before I was ten.
I remember the prayers to God to fix the horrid mistake that had been made in making me male. The pleading, the wishing, the despair. I remember the intense curiosity about all things about women from underwear to menstruation. I remember finding an anatomical sketch of a woman’s vulva when I was seven or eight.
I remember being taunted through my youth because I didn’t act quite right. (and for being a smart ass) I remember being seventeen and fairly buff from working in a grocery being called mericon by the hispanics working in the produce department and later finding out it meant faggot.
I remember reading a book “Son of Man” by Robert Silverberg, the first book I read that explored gender at all. Later books like “A Stranger in a Strange Land” and one or two others by Robert Heinlein that further explored the subject.
I remember that one of my first, if not my first orgasm was what I now recognize as a female orgasm. That was hardly ever repeated until now. That diffuse intense feeling of pleasure that I yearned to repeat.
I remember being in college, naked in bed with a girl and being more curious about her vulva than driven to have sex. I remember the excuses I told myself. Finding an excuse at the end of my senior year to stop at a friends instead of following my then girlfriend to her room and probably the loss of my virginity. Nor were these totally alone as opportunities torpedoed by my psyche rejected the direction my intellect wanted to go in.
I remember my father telling me how he was ok with homosexuals and later being terrified of my travelling to Greenwich village with two women because someone might beat me up for being gay. Only now do I realize he thought I was gay.
I remember reading about Walter Carlos becoming Wendy, and I remember passing her at the Boston MacWorld Expo just a few years later and thinking to myself that she looked good. That might have been the first moment I realized transition was truly possible. Yet transitioning in 1984 was unthinkable.
I remember trying to put aside being transgender to be a good married man, and actually succeeding for maybe fifteen years. I remember being sneaky about learning about SRS and hormones on the internet after that, carefully erasing any trace of it from my computer before going back to bed at 3AM.
I remember arguing with an insane feminist friend of friends in our apartment when my daughter was a young baby when she said I could take hormones to breast feed (it really was insane), but there was a part of me that yearned to do just that. But I said it would destroy a man to do so (it would of course) and was therefore a crazy thing to do just to nurse a baby.
The insomnia as depression started to grab me and worsen. The sexual disfunction as my mind rejected being a man. The failed attempts to work around that with viagra, cialis and shots of testosterone to make up for the missing T. The decent into deep depression after my father died.
I remember awkward questions to my wife about her experience of sex and a real lack of understanding of why I would ever want to know. Fantasies that I could imagine what it was like. Fantasies of being the one made love to.
The awakening from grief to find out why I was depressed as I constantly ruminated on transitioning, my pain and increasing inability to function in any role. The hope and fear of prostate cancer. The relief of finding out I was clean and the horror of realizing I was going to have to say “I need to be a woman” out loud to someone before my head exploded.
I remember April 22, 2012 waiting through a ritual committee meeting barely able to follow it as I melted down inside. I grabbed my rabbi and told her in her office. I melted into a gallon of tears and words that nobody could understand and the pain of knowing how much I would hurt those I loved. How I no longer could shield them as I had for more than ten years from my real self, my true self, the person that was not her husband, not her father, not her brother.
I remember holding my wife’s hands and telling her and then comforting her against thoughts that sought to make her blame herself. I remember us both sobbing and crying. I remember telling her that the marriage had been real, that I loved her (and still do) and how very, very sorry I was for not being strong enough.
The suffering through months of therapy and antidepressants to just reach a semblance of normal. The indecision on whether to do what I needed to do. The relief at doing it, the pain at the pain I inflicted by doing so.
I remember the day I went full time and finally, after 57 years being myself. The first steps that would lead me out of despair.