The following is a few weeks later. Our friend S took me out for some pampering. I’m leaving out the piper’s price, such is life, as protection to guilty and innocent alike.
Dear diary, most of today was lovely. My friend S and I went and were made over (you can not quite see it in the new avatar) and we were stunning. Then we had lunch and all that nice lip gloss was gone. Sigh. But the rest was still there. It was really nice being pampered and being naughty buying silly expensive bits of powder and such. One new experience down for the day.
Then we went shoe shopping which is always nice, and then down to the mall so I could find a belt (skirt was falling down, sigh) and a wallet, since I’ve been using my, um, guy wallet all this time and it really won’t do. So we go to Macy’s. The interesting part here is I really need to find a restroom by now since we started the day around 11 and it was now about 3pm. So we find the restroom which is a large public ladies room, so I was back in a public ladies room for the first time since I was perhaps six. Fortunately nobody seemed to notice or care.
Then her home and tea.
My first time in a ladies room and a real milestone. I confess I was a bit terrified. Ah well.
That was really the first interesting day I had as Rachel. Doing multiple things, going to a bunch of different places, having a meal as well as picking up S’s vacuum cleaner at a repair shop.
In May, my wife talked to her mom about me. The initial reaction wasn’t extreme, at least it didn’t seem so. Except it actually was. To say I could show up as Rachel when I hadn’t yet gone full time was not entirely unreasonable. Of course, there hasn’t been even the possibility of setting foot in her apartment since.
The months of May and June were very topsy turvy. I was coming into a decision about transitioning. My therapist and my friends and my family saw mixed signals that didn’t completely resemble what I had going on inside my head.
Inside my head I wanted to transition. It really never changed, but I also wanted comfort and family and I wondered if I could survive without the transition. It just didn’t feel right in my gut.
Externally the two sounded equal, internally nothing of the sort at all.
Then there is the transition matter to consider. When it comes down to it I guess I’m more than a bit frightened on multiple levels if I’m really honest with myself. I’m drawn to wanting more, but I’m afraid of losing who I’ve always been, my relationships with all of those who surround me, the respect of people I value and cherish. I fear being ugly and ridiculed and simply never really being very acceptable. And before you all say it, I know most of this is irrational. But some of it is real, I would lose influence at my job and would almost certainly lose my spouse who I’ve been with for 30 years – her adjusting to my changes might just be impossible. Perhaps even short of transition.
I’m not sure there’s a future that I’m truly at peace in. Staying just as I am I get to wake up each day with a new surprise of whether or not I’m struggling in my skin. Most days it seems pretty minor, some days not so much so. I took a shower this morning and it just seemed like some appendage down there.
For those who read those paragraphs and are thinking of transition, do think hard. If it’s the right thing then do it. But you really need to want it and need it to do it. Every fear I had came true.
But as July wore on it became clearer that I needed, not wanted to transition and had to live with the consequences. Too I was going to have to deal with those issues that plague transitioners. A particularly good piece of advice from my friend J on the forums which has been so true for me:
Feeling “genuine” is something also that takes time also. It is just a matter of getting out there and presenting as you wish to be known. At first you will feel awkward and like everyone is looking at you and clocking you. Not the case. Most people have thier own problems to deal with and will not even notice you. Lesbians will clock you every time, gay men, not so much. That is just the way it is…
She wasn’t totally right about being clocked, but that was mostly my good fortune, not her lack of insight.
My therapist suggested a trial run living day and night as Rachel. My wife was going with her family to their yearly vacation that I had long ago stopped attending; I really wasn’t that close to them in many ways. I went instead to Provincetown, a safe place to be LGBT+ if ever there was one.
I spent a few days there, and had a nice time, went on a whale watch, nice conversations, walked around, sat around, and did the things tourists do. Then I came home and continued to live my life as a woman with a break on Friday to lead services until Monday morning next when I had to go to work. All in all about eight days in female mode.
Sometimes I’m an incredible idiot, but there really wasn’t a good time to tell my wife my decision. I talked with her a few hours after she was home from vacation and she predictably blew up. The truth is that it would have happened the same way a day later too and she had to have known the likely news. Still, the difference between knowing something might happen and it actually happening is a world apart.
I told her I had a ten week hiatus until I’d start hormones. It would give me time to be completely off the testosterone I was still taking before they started the estradiol. That also was to assure myself and my therapist that my trans feelings would persist. I also took that time to meet with a second therapist to evaluate my moving on to transition.
I wanted to take every opportunity to see if I had another option short of the whole ball of wax. I really did not. My depression was continuing and transitioning promised some relief. Do be aware that depression is a biochemical process as well and is likely to not be completely relieved by hormone therapy and transition.
Here I’m willing to give a concrete piece of tangible advice. As cruel as it may feel, making a decision such as this cannot be a joint decision with someone who may be hurt. Especially if satisfying them will hurt you. You will place them in a horrid position:
- If I say yes, go ahead and transition, I’m asking you to hurt me and not valuing my self, or I’m saying to go ahead knowing I’ll need to do something to compensate that might hurt you
- If I say no, don’t transition, I’m hurting you by removing the thing that will bring you peace, and by doing so will bring resentment. That decision will possibly roll forward into a separation anyway.
But if you make the decision, they are free to make their decision too. You aren’t forcing their hand and are respecting their autonomy. At least that’s what you have within your power to give them.