Some of the following I have written about in previous posts. Something wonderful and difficult has happened that brings a slight twist (and then maybe not) to my perspective on being a trans-woman. Perhaps it’s a nuance, most of what I’m about to write seems like what I have always been feeling and saying. However, there seems to be a deepening and a visceral understanding of my life as a result of this.
If you have been following my posts, you already know that I had my SRS surgery last month. In fact I just celebrated my 1st months anniversary. This is actually a bit scary, as months 2 and 3 are the hardest. This is when the ‘insides’ finish healing and the nerves start reconnecting and become active. The body views this as a wound and attempts to close it. I have to counter that with daily maintenance (three times a day) to soften and keep it’s form. The combination of these makes these next two months difficult and painful.
Needless to say, this means that I’m quite familiar with my ‘new’ anatomy. I put quotes around new because it is new only that it’s one month old. But here’s the kicker: it’s not new, it’s been there all along …. Now that might seem a bit strange, so let me explain. This realization came to me when I was in the hospital, minutes after I woke up from surgery. My immediate thoughts and feelings were “Finally, I’m back to the way I was” – even though I was never like this. But that was the internal visceral response I had.
I have talked about the ‘body map’ a few times before. As a refresher: medical science has found that we carry a body map located in a part of the hypothalamus. This map basically says what we have and where it is at any moment in time. It also tells us what things are supposed to feel like and the feeling those parts are normally supposed to produce. The oft used example is the person that has their arm amputated yet still feels their fingers and can tell you where their arm is located – even though it’s not there.
My experience post surgery was a huge confirmation of this body map. That is what I meant “I’m finally back to the way I was” and that this was not something new, but was always there – it was always there in my body map! My ‘new’ bottom did not feel different – did not seem new – was not strange – I was not missing something. Instead I felt normal, I felt the ‘nothing’ that everyone else feels about their parts – it’s just simply is who I am. Ask yourself, what does it feel like to have your ‘parts’? Does it feel like anything at all or is it just the way it is – that is, just you – nothing – nothing special – just is.
That is how it is now for me. That was NOT how it was pre-surgery for me:
That … is the big difference.
That … is the hardship a transsexual faces daily until they transition.
My previous ‘down there’ was not in my body map. Things did not match up to what was supposed to be according to my body map. And, it is not just the physical aspects but also the mental, emotional and hormonal aspects of the body map that were not in agreement.
Let me re-tell a couple of incidents from my youth plus another one from my previous marriage to illustrate:
As a very small boy, I knew that I was supposed to be smooth down there, I was not supposed to have ‘that’ hanging out. Ever being the budding scientist, I have a distinct memory of trying to figure out how was I supposed to urinate if it was smooth there! This is when I was around 5 years old. I had no concept of sex or what a woman/girl looked like – I just knew this was not me – I was supposed to be ‘smooth’ down there. When I was 7 years old, my sister was born. The first time I saw her ‘down there’ – well, everything came together. For the first time in my young life I knew what I was supposed to look like, what my young body map identified with.
The second incident occurred a few years after this. My mother was a seamstress – not professionally, but she created clothes for our family, relatives, neighbors and friends. Being intrigued both by the creativity but also by the mechanics and design aspects of sewing, I would watch and learn. Finally I felt that I could create and sew something myself – from scratch – no patterns, I would make my own. So I did. I made a beautiful skirt that fit me perfectly. It had a hem (I remember using this stick with a bulb on top and a movable nozzle that would squirt chalk at where you wanted the hem to be – in order to get it perfectly level all the way around), I also had belt loops, elastic around the waist plus a zipper on the side. I was very proud of my creation. I did all this without my mother’s knowledge as I wanted to surprise her. When it was finished, I waited for her to come home and proudly showed off my new creation. My mother is 100% German and very strict and conservative and was very brutal. My pride turned to shame is less than a second. The scolding and punishment and continued reminders of what I did drove any thoughts of me being a girl to be deeply buried. This was the start of the ‘layers of the onion’ and more and more layers were added to deeply bury any sense of me being a woman.
In one way I consider myself fortunate. I attended a very conservative Catholic grade school back in the 1950’s, in a very redneck conservative northern city. I was ‘fortunate’ to witness some of my classmates as they tried to assert who they were (being different than anyone else) and witnessing the severe reaction of both the other kids but also from the teachers, nuns and priests. I was an observant little girl inside a boy’s body who learned very quickly from others to keep my identity secret. This sort of sealed the onion layers for good.
Later in my teen years all that was left was a rationalization that I was a boy but with all these extra capabilities – emotions, what I liked, mannerisms, ability to understand and listen to people … the list goes on. I could not stand the playground games of the boys and would prefer the girls but I had to be careful to mix it up … I had buried my truth so deep that I no longer knew myself and accepted my role as a boy and rationalized the rest. It took another 40 to 50 years to unravel and peel back that onion.
Now, here’s the new part. This revelation suddenly came to me during a talk with my ex-wife. I don’t think I would have seen this before surgery – somehow it took being whole again to be able to see this next piece. This is a bit hard to discuss and embarrassing for me – please bear with me as I try to find the words for this ….
During puberty my body changed drastically. Testosterone was now cursing through me and creating a lot of changes that were upsetting. However, I could not figure out why – again I had a deep rationalization that I was a boy. It wasn’t the physical aspect of puberty but the mental and hormonal parts that really disturbed me. Here it gets hard for me to put this to words – hang on: one example, it’s a pretty well known fact that most men masturbate many times a week, some daily. This urge was intense and of course I hated that – that part was not me – why was this happening. I had so much shame around that but I could never understand. Of course the Catholic church drills into us that is a sin. And of course the other boys bragged about it. Why was this so awful for me? That wasn’t all – there are other incidents that I was very ashamed of as well, both growing up and throughout married life. I carried these all my life, not understanding what drove me and carrying the guilt and shame all these years.
In my talk with my ex-wife a couple of days ago it suddenly became crystal clear and I broke down crying. Hindsight is like that I suppose, but this required me to already have had my surgery in order to be able to put this together.
I was POISONED!!!!
Others have called this the “testosterone fog”. If you are a male (birth sex) and a man (gender) then testosterone is the correct hormone. But I am not. I don’t expect men to get what I’m about to say, but I think any women would and any transsexual definitely will. As a woman, having a high testosterone level, I would experience these hormone driven urges and their results and was mortified by them. Disgusted and shamed as I would witness myself in those moments and then the regrets afterwards. Again, for a male/man these are natural and congruent – no problem. But for me – this was horrible and these feelings have haunted me my entire life. But, I didn’t know why – the layers of that onion were so thick by now – I had long ago buried and lost my gender identity. Only these hints were left.
It’s only now, that I’m physically, mentally, socially, hormonally and internal-chemistry-wise finally a woman that I could solve my last great quandary that has plagued and weighed on me all my life.
As a woman – I was POISONED by testosterone!
I had to go off of spiro (a testosterone blocker) a couple of weeks before the operation – this gave me a really good ‘scientific’ test of what for me was the intensity of this poison. It confirmed and validated my views and led to the realizations that I am writing about here.
Again, testosterone is absolutely appropriate for a male/man, but I am not – I’m a woman and this has tormented me so much. At last I have come to peace with those disturbing aspects of my life that only now do I realize are part and parcel of being a transsexual woman.
I want to apologize profusely to those that I have hurt unintentionally and hope for your forgiveness.
I now understand.
I am now free.
With much aloha,