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Working on the ‘Inside’

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reflectingOne of the things my psychologist had commented on about me was that I was ‘working’ on the inside first and that now I was coming to the point where I was ready to work on the outside. I have seen a few (very few) others that were like me in this regard.

My partner and I were just talking about my situation.  I explained that my memory of school, where innocent questions were met with brutal force (Catholic school nuns), was a really huge event that modified me greatly – and that this was not a single event but 8 years of school.  That affects people in different ways: some take it that something is wrong with them, others just blindly give in, some fight it and are constantly in trouble, or there is me – I saw and recognized the ‘game’, how to play it and what the rules were.

I also knew that to survive, I not only had to play this game but that I had to keep ‘me’, my true beliefs and my being, private.  Anything that was being told or taught, I had to be sure to critically analyze and make sure it fit in with ‘my’ views or the world – eg. it had to make simple sense.  Life in an ultra conservative northern town in the 1950’s did not allow for even the possibility of a transsexual existence – let alone gay or lesbian. These concepts were not even known – at least to the general public of that time. Somebody that was strange or different (in just about any way) was simply queer – that term was not a gay term then – it just meant different – but the stigma was horrendous. The effect for me was like the school:  play the game but understand your own truth.

However, what was my ‘truth’?  There was nothing in that society or environment that even hinted at a self-identity that did not match ones birth sex – or anything that was transgender or gay/lesbian. Those things were censored from all news outlets – remember back then all channels were local, even TV when that finally came – same with the libraries. I was different, I fit in with the girls but I sure looked like a boy. So in my wee little mind the ‘game’ I learned in school applied to this situation worked its way like this: I was a boy but I had these ‘extra’ capabilities that allowed me to feel, understand (and be understood) and be part of the girls – actually part of both sexes.

This had the effect of layering on all these masculine traits and habits (testosterone did its share…) as I ‘played’ the game of being a boy/man. But inside I carried all my feminine traits, buried, but like school, these were kept inside as my own ‘truth’.  They were not labeled as such – because I did not have exposure to the full truth – to me they were just these added abilities/feelings/senses that no other boy seemed to have.

So, coming full circle, here I am:  these layers are peeling off and we are discussing internal and external transitions. I’m about 3 weeks away from starting HRT and reading/pondering these autobiographies of post transitioned women who are now dealing with being a woman internally – thinking, feeling, responding to the environment as a female.

Where am I?  Well, of course only time and transition will tell, but especially within the last year, I can tell when I did something ‘male-ish’.  Usually at the moment it’s happening I can tell.  I have told my partner and my psychologist a lot of times that I was definitely a women (I say I was very Si today or I had a Sifan day).  I don’t say that much any more because the majority of the time I am now coming from my womanhood.

I do agree with my psychologist (her statement above that I started out working from my internals).  From my childhood I learned to be appropriate and to that extent when I’m presenting as a male – I use those mannerisms.  I really enjoy when I am presenting as a woman, as for me it is natural and I can just allow myself to be ….. free.

Some of this understanding came from Second Life – a virtual world where as my avatar I can immerse in a world (and a society) fully as a woman.  Once I found a voice modulator that would change my masculine voice to a feminine one – it really opened my eyes!  Suddenly, there was my full range of expression, the giggles, the highs and lows, the intonation that was hidden in the male voice.  It was ‘me’, it was the me that I knew was there, it was freeing.

THAT is what transitioning means for me – allowing the real me, my truth, to come out, to be seen and heard. Allowing me to interact with the world (and vice versa) the way I want to, to express my ideas and thoughts and feelings with the full impact how internally I try to, but becomes so buried in the masculine persona as to be muted and unnoticed. It’s like living inside a box, voice muted, plain features, muted expressions, on and on.

Since I have come out to the people I work with, I’m more able to be myself.  However,  because I’m pre-HRT and still presenting as a male in public, I’m careful to stay within those bounds.  But I do push the boundaries slowly and within what I believe is their comfort levels.  For example, I carry a purse and wear a bracelet.   Each month before I actually transition at work (about 6 months from now), I plan to ‘up the ante’ – still presenting as a male.  For example, getting my ears pierced, shaving legs and arms, wear more androgynous clothes, changing style of flippers/sandals, etc.

All of this allows me to be more of myself and allows me to shed more and more of the male persona that I had built up over my lifetime.

Working on the inside …….

About sifankahale

I retired from an astronomical observatory and now live on the Oregon coast where I teach astronomy and give talks and presentations. I am enjoying astrophotography, kayaking and hiking in beautify Oregon.

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