Based On A Conversation
An Essay From the Heart About what It Means to Be Transgendered.
Tom, a co-worker, asked me if being gay, lesbian, or transsexual is genetic or learned. I told him that some of the scientific evidence shows that it is genetic.
"You mean to tell me that a person who grows up in a lesbian home won't be influenced to be like his 'parents'?"
"There maybe some," I replied. "But the genetic make up will tell more what that child would do than the 'parent's' sexual preference. By the way, I am what you call a transsexual. I've actively felt this way since I was twelve, but I have memories of this as far back as when I was five. And like your gay minister friend, until recently, I've been dealing with this for decades."
I explained to him a bit about my condition. I explained that even as a child the other kids treated me like a sissy. In other words the boys treated me like I was a girl. I still feel more like a woman than a man mentally and can envision myself as a woman.
I also told him that, if he wanted to know more, to read the story, "Not in Vain" by Samantha Michelle. It will show what we're up against. It is more normal than what we would like to believe. Recently, I read that half of all transsexuals commit suicide. We shouldn't give into that urge. The bullies can't win. We can't afford to bury another sister or brother because of this.
I told him here are other stories and essays that would also explain things from personal points of views, such as the two essays, "Missed, Have, Lost and Hope-an Essay" and "Detour-an Essay" by Joan Banks. I then mentioned that there is a more professional set of explanations by Dr. Anne Lawrence who also went through transitioning. These stories, I told him, would explain part of what it means to be what we are.
I was reminded of and first read other stories and essays while doing research for this essay. They include "Blister" by Alysa Amene Palin, "All I want for Christmas," by Alexandria Phaite, "I know" by Kim EM, and "Peter" by Samantha Jay. I know that even my list in the notes below is only a small sampling.
"If there was a cure," I said. "I would not want the one that I would be happily male. I'd want one that would make me female, completely, including the risk of pregnancy and all that details. All I really want is to be accepted as a 'normal' woman.
"One of the fantasies for many men is to have a harem of extremely beautiful women, each one better looking than the next, and to have a different one of those women in his bed every night. It is not my fantasy. The only part of that fantasy that I would think appropriate is the concept of an extended family that would be created. My fantasy would be to be cuddled and loved by one man. That man would be gentle and loving. He would be caring for me and ours. He would make love, not have sex. There is a difference, you know, and that sex would be sensual. I would be proud to be at his side."
I realized later that that is not all there is to being a woman. It is the deeper caring feeling for others that most men never come close to achieving. It is the sharing my hopes, dreams, and experiences with other women, and they share the same with me. I'm beginning to do that with a few women that I've known for years.
I let him go back to work, and I did the same. However, I couldn't get our conversation out of my mind, even though it was short.
I thought about what we spoke about. I would not go through the pain and fear. I would not risk humiliation and being attacked by those who thought themselves as "real men" if my "condition" was learned. It is not worth the risk of losing family and friends. It is much simpler to be what society says is normal. Some say I could go on living as a "normal" man and be happy, but I tried that. Living as a man was incomplete. I even had a wife, and we have had a child through our marriage. My transitioning did not cause the divorce. That is a fact. It happened many years before I decided to finally make that change, but I believe my condition was probably a factor in our split. She never knew about this aspect of me. We are still friends and have, for the most part, the same group of friends.
There are those who say my transitioning would be a lie. They say that a model on the runway is still a man even if she had the operation. However, to me, being a male is the lie. The shell shows the lie and the mind, with its thoughts, are the truth. The shell would finally agree with who I really am. So I have finally begun the transitioning period. I feel that the hormones in me are what I need in order to feel "normal." There is also the sanity factor. I am more calm, although I never realized how hyper I was. I notice that I hum and sing more. I notice that I also smile more. Life seems better.
I act differently, though not much. There is often no male or female way to do things, just the human way. Besides, I don't do it just because it is the female way. I do it and then realize that I did it the way a woman would have probably done, not the way a man would.
The other day, for example, I was walking into the building where I work and saw this man. He was tall. I had to close my eyes a second. When I opened them I noticed how tall he was again. A few days later, I passed a man that looked liked Tom Selleck when he first appeared in the "Magnum" series. I smiled at him and said 'hello.' I guess I wanted to be picked up. Wow, now there was a difference in my thought patterns. It doesn't happen much, I treat people as people, but a female reaction happens just because it can now. Probably some of the more feminine thoughts and actions that were hidden from my male self.
I looked in the mirror, today, as my hair was almost dry. It fell down to my neck in curls. It helped me look pretty. How I wish that those curls could stay that way. Even hair spray doesn't keep that look long enough.
There is a close male friend that I like. I wish I were his wife so we can share our lives together. I've told him that occasionally. I have told him that both directly and indirectly. I often dream that he holds me close as I feel his strength. I dream we make love as a normal heterosexual couple. I dream we do things together. I know he is a very caring and loving individual. I have a need to be with him. It is a new concept for me, but it feels right. My love for him is one reason I would get the surgery, but just one of the reasons. I really AM a woman inside. He could be the added bonus. Nice bonus, though.
He has confided in me that occasionally he imagines himself to be female. It is not an all-consuming thing for him like it was for me before I finally made the decision to change. But I'm afraid that, like he once said, "the dam may break." If that happens I'll be there for him when the pronoun becomes "her." That may hurt me, but I do love him, so what he needs will come first.
Over the last year or so I have met others like me and have begun friendships. One of these friends helped me work through some anger to find the love. I thank her for that debt that I could never repay. I have been guided by that love concept since.
I have found courage lately, through a friend of mine that has become close enough that we call each other sisters. She has challenged me to make those tough decisions. She says that I should tell my parents that I am their daughter. She says that I should tell my synagogue that I am transitioning, and let my friends know. I know she is right, but I am still afraid. Fear is a tremendous emotion.
Maybe I should let my friends and family know. I have noticed that some of my friends have subconsciously started treating me like a woman. There are not major things, but little things like being asked to play Ma Jong with the other ladies. It is trying to work out a real way for me to be part of sisterhood at my synagogue. It is one the women at work who talked about her daughter starting to develop breasts and called them "bumpers" while I was there. She realized I wasn't exactly a woman got embarrassed and laughed. I showed her my painted nails and said, "Don't worry about it." Part of the rest of that workday I was explaining. Perhaps these are ways to welcome me into the sisterhood. It has gained me insights to my soul. I hope to get more.
Another insight was gained when a sister author suggested to me during a time of writer's block that I go to a mall and follow some people and listen to what they say. Among the groups of people that I listened to were two husband and wife pairs. I noticed that both men dominated the conversations. I asked her later if this was normal. She told me that it was.
Later I thought back fifteen years ago to the first time I tried transitioning. I was a real estate agent then and I was invited to sell a waterfront house. The owner was proud of the Italian marble that he had installed that I would rip out as soon as I could if I owned the place. He kept dominating the conversation. He hardly let me speak and didn't let his wife speak at all even though I tried to get her into the conversation. I guess men really do that. I still do that often to, but it is from fear of being alone. That also scares me.
I stopped the first time partially because of money, and partially because I didn't like the "homosexual" feelings that I was having. I eventually came to terms with those feelings because I realized that it is normal and natural for a girl.
I am a chicken. I used to fear that others would find out. I used to fear what others would do if they did. I feared possible social ostracizing and as a result I was standoffish. I feared physical and verbal abuse like I had when I was a child. I used to fear the loss of friends and family. I used to fear what would happen. Now whether anyone else knows or not is unimportant because I am me.
There has been occasion to talk about being female with my friends, family and acquaintances. I talk about it as frankly and openly as I can. So far everyone I've talked to about it has accepted me this way. I hope that it continues, but I still fear that someone I need to accept me will reject me. Yet being a woman is part of that I am. Accepting that fact makes it easier to talk about it when the time arises.
In the last year I have been pushing education at my synagogue. I also took the time to reward those who have learned their studies. Those who have taken advantage of this learning have learned that learning is its own reward. I couldn't have given them a better gift. Their knowledge is my reward. It is a Jewish thing to improve education especially in the synagogue, but it is also a woman's thing.
For the most part I still wear some male clothes. There are female clothes that are gradually taking their place. It is almost one item in, so there is one item out. I would be better with that, except that I am a pack rat. I would wear more feminine clothes except that I am afraid. I don't wear a bra, yet. My breasts are too small. Why can't I be better endowed? Soon I hope.
I was dressed more feminine recently at a major mall near my home. I was standing near the food court when a young man told his child to watch out for the woman, meaning me. I smiled. It made my evening.
Others are beginning to see me closer to the way I see myself. People open doors for me now. I find other courtesies from strange men that are reserved for women, like offering a hand. It is interesting when I encounter it. I am not used to reacting like a woman, and at times, have to remind myself what to do. I say to myself "I'm not an invalid." I am beginning to relax with this and accept what others do for me because of my new sex, and realize that it is their kindness that I am accepting. In the end, though, I am changing and have found myself calmer, more at peace with myself, and I like myself better. In some ways this change has freed me. This is right. This is not the lie. I am more me.
This is dedicated to all of us who have transitioned, are transitioning, or thought about it. I would especially like to thank those people that I mentioned directly and indirectly in this essay. For more information by Anne Lawrence go to www.annelawrence.com/trw/
Partial list of stories and essays:
"Not in Vein" - Samantha Michelle
"Missed, Have, Lost and Hope-an Essay" - Joan Banks
"Detour-an Essay" - Joan Banks
"All I want for Christmas" - Alexandria Phithe
"Does G_d Make Mistakes?" - Terry L Sakel
"If Only" - Lorraine Davis
"A Kind of Love Story" - Serenissima
"Blister" - Alyssa Amene Palin
"I Know" - Kim EM
"The Letter: A True Story" - Terri Martin
"Dream Weaver 1: The Well" - Deanna Lea
"Peter" - Samantha Jay
"The Letter" - Janet Jean
“I Am Luka” — Heather Rose Brown
I know I missed some excellent stories and essays. Please forgive me.
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