It feels good to be past the one year mark. From what I hear from my trans friends that are going through or have been through transition, most of the emotional changes and a majority of the physical ones are now over and things stabilize. That’s how I feel right now too. Of course time will tell – I’ll have to revisit this one year from now …
The biggest challenge I have yet is my weight. I’ve lost about 30 pounds since I’ve started. I have to lose another 6 but I would like to lose 11 more pounds. That gives me a leeway for the surgery requirement. It’s very strange that when I was 30 pounds heavier, I did not feel fat at all and it was sooo easy to lose weight. Now, I feel fat, I have a little belly, even though I’m 30 pounds less. I do have a smaller frame. It is now very hard to lose pounds – I no longer care that I’m losing weight in the wrong places (my breasts are getting smaller etc.), I just want those pounds gone!
The countdown is on! Today is 60 days away from GRS (surgery). Like I’ve responded to those who have been asking recently – I’m ‘not’ looking forward to the surgery – I’m looking forward to about 3 weeks ‘after’ the surgery when I’m recovered enough to start my new life in earnest. Even then I won’t be at anything near running speed. But at least I hope to have my head above the water by then.
One of the women at work caught me in the kitchen and asked me a couple of questions today. First she complimented me on how much I have changed and that I actually look much younger! She asked me what it feels like now. I told her ‘normal’ and that before and for most of my life I felt like I had to conform to what was expected of a male and that I could not just be me. I said that now it’s mostly a feeling of freedom – I can just be myself. I also said that I’m in a unique position to be able to experience the differences between male and female and it is huge. But we didn’t have time to go into that much further. Maybe I’ll enter a post just on that sometime in the future.
Lisa and I took a beautiful ride on the sw shore of Maui around to Kaupo today. I felt ‘extra’ feminine for some reason. Was a great day to be a woman. Lisa had to go pretty bad so when we got to the top of our favorite hill back there, we parked and walked up and just down the other side – enough so that no one would see. She went first – I gave her some napkins to clean up. Then it was my turn – she asked if I wanted some napkins before she remembered I still had boy parts down there. We laughed about it. She said she had forgotten that I wasn’t physically a woman down there yet and said she actually had visualized me having a vagina! I guess she is truly seeing me as a woman now!
A very good friend of mine from back in my college days got back in touch with me recently. He had some very good questions and I thought I would share my responses. These are questions I get asked now and then and perhaps this will help others understand trans* people better.
The first was a comment about memories and the person I was. For some people, they morn the loss of the ‘former’ me. My response:
That was a great time we had back then, I also have many wonderful memories. Those memories along with all of my past don’t and should not go away – they are a part of me. It took my ex-wife a while to understand that as well. This does not negate nor dismiss those. It can be hard to understand, but I was ‘this’ person I am now – back then – and all through my life. What and who you knew ‘as’ me – the ‘me’ of today – was all along. What is changing is ‘presentation’. The latest science on this (both medical and psychological) define these as completely separate: birth sex, gender, presentation and preference (as in partner). A person can be any combination within these – one does not pre-dispose any other (trans* people have the same ratios of hetro, gay, bi, etc. as the normative cis population). Of those, latest research shows that only presentation is societal – the rest a person is born with (there is a lot of false beliefs out there claiming nonsense).
I was ‘trained’ to be a man – I think I did a pretty good job of it. Society back then did not allow for anyone like me – it was just an impossibility back then. Like so many things in my youth, I learned to adjust and to live with it. Like many other trans*, I over reached in order to prove I was who society said I was supposed to be. Don’t get me wrong here – I am very grateful for what was, including being married and fathering two wonderful men.
It took a long time to unravel from all of that. I started almost 10 years ago. But it actually started even longer ago when I became a professional instructor and then director of the international technical training for the corporation I worked for back then. I was much more effective than both genders in that trade. My style and philosophy of training matched that of a female. That was 20 some years ago and laid the groundwork – the crack in the dam.
Can you imagine your entire life – knowing something is different, that you do not match who everyone (parents, school, friends – everyone) says you are and not knowing why. I knew I didn’t fit in and was not quite like the other guys. I also knew I matched more closely to the girls I knew. But I also knew that physically I was a boy. There was life long confusion and dysphoria.
This is such a relief now – it explains so much for me and as they say – it hits the nail right on the head. I am very happy now – this is a huge load off the shoulders. This may sound strange, but one of the largest dysphoric situations was being addressed/treated/spoken to as a male – especially in public situations. To be mistaken like that was hard. That’s not who I am. By changing my gender presentation to be consistent with who I am, makes all the difference. The standard explanation (which is totally wrong however, but it does put this into perspective) is to image you wake up in the morning as female but with all your memories, responses, actions, beliefs etc. remaining male – and worse – no one believes you. You are relegated to live your life from this point on as a woman. Well, reverse that and that is me – only without the explicit knowledge of what underlies this until recently. So, ya – like 1000 times better now! Not just happiness but quality of life, spirituality, knowing and accepting myself – and the list goes on.
A lot of people have mentioned that my ex-wife and myself had one of the most wonderful marriages and they just can not understand how this could have ended:
Hummm, how can I say this ….. I’ve had a lot of people say the same thing about my ex-wife and my relationship. It was a wonderful and great period of my life. I’m very grateful and celebrate what we had. Like all relationships there were wrinkles and cracks under the surface that were not visible to anyone else. Perhaps the saying “the bigger they are the harder they fall” has some bearing here – not sure. Two things I can say: there’s a lot more to the story and we are both in a better place today then if we tried to stay together. In no way does this negate my ex-wife’s and my life together – I cherish those times and memories and am very glad I was given that time and experience.
Regarding societies stereotypes:
As you can imagine, this is a very difficult and highly personal thing. I too had to overcome a lifetime of misconceptions and stereotypes and then to embrace who I am knowing that the majority of the world still carries those. Not exactly the cup of tea I needed … but we are dealt a hand and are committed to play it. If nothing else, this should attest to the seriousness of this and speak for the determination to transition. Even in spite of these, it is that important and necessary!
Lisa came along at the right time and not only accepted who I was but embraced it. This is difficult for her as she does not see herself as lesbian, however, society now does. You can imagine the confusion However – one nice thing about being older (and hopefully wiser) – one sees through that and instead embraces their true selves. After all, is she really a lesbian? Her preference is for males, her love is for me, regardless of gender. And does this make my ex-wife a lesbian? After all I was born this way, therefore I was a woman all along …… You can see the difficulty with our current language and the assumptions inherent within ! As a society, we need to start transcending this transphobic misogyny and get real.
Keeping pictures of the ‘former’ me from the past:
As for pictures of Steph (I admit – even I talk about Steph in the 3rd person) – I’m glad you are keeping those – that is so nice! Let me re-emphasize: who I am now – I always was: as Steph and now as Sifan. I’m proud of my life and celebrate ‘all’ of it. I’m not out to deny any of it – it all goes into the ‘me’ that is here and now. That is the one part of that analogy that is so wrong (“imagine tomorrow you woke up as a woman”) – this is not a bad thing – nor something I regret – nor was living my life as a man all those years. It just simple ‘is’ and it is my life’s story. Would I have rather been born cis (same birth sex as gender) – of course! Given that I’m trans – would I have rather transitioned back then – of course! But this is my life and even with this, it is a wonderful life. Now, it’s just that much more wonderful !
I’m hoping this helps others (trans* and friends of trans) understand just a bit better.
With much Aloha,
Hi Sifan, you look great in that dress – very nice photo. Thanks for sharing your thoughts in this post. I will, in turn, share with your sister. I am sure your sincere and truth filled articulation will help others and family to understand. We are enjoying a lovely summer – went swimming in Lake Michigan yesterday – not as warm as Maui and no colorful fish – but refreshing. Much aloha to you and Lisa too. Mary
Nice to see things progressing so well, Sifan.
It is interesting to read your blog and great that your life in transition is so wonderful. I relate so much to the comment of layers of maleness falling away like an onion, I feel that too, there is so little of ‘him’ left…. and I am only part-time TS.