02 November 2008

Turning, continued

Yesterday I started to mention that a family friend molested me. The first instance of it that I recalled, just a couple of weeks before I turned thirty-four, happened when I was nine. And, as I began to talk about it, I also began to recall other incidents--with this family friend, a man whom I used to see all the time in our Brooklyn neighborhood, and, later, a priest in the church where I was an altar boy.

Now, I know what some people might think: That it had something to do with my "becoming" transgender. Well, I discussed this with two therapists and a clinical social worker. First of all, none of them thinks that anyone "turns" transgender over such incidents, any more than someone "goes gay" because of an experience with the other gender--or with an older member of one's own gender.

Furthermore, my awareness that I am actually female predates any of the sexual violations I suffered. I can say this with confidence, for I spent a lot of time discussing and working through this with the therapists and social worker. The earliest molestation I can recall happened to me when I was seven; my awareness of my gender identity came before I even knew the words "boy" and "girl." And I can recall, at age five, having an assistant principal, or some adult who wasn't a parent, teacher or the principal, tell me and my classmates to stand "boys on this line, girls on that line." And I got on that line.

So, how did I get on the subject of sexual molestation anyway?

I'll say just one more thing about it for now: When I started therapy, I had thoughts of undergoing a gender transformation, about which I knew little more than "The Operation." But, I was seeing a male therapist, and I didn't think he would be sympathetic to that. Also, I somehow had the idea that it would be more honorable and realistic, which in my vocabulary at that time meant "easier," to find a way to live as a man, preferably a heterosexual one. Who better to teach me that than another man, right?

Ironically enough, the social worker I would see during the first two years I lived and worked as Justine, and the year that preceded it, is a trans man. Of course I didn't go to him to learn how to be a man. But I think in some way, he helped me to better understand what it meant for me to "be" a man, or at least to understand--and sympathise with--men, to some degree anyway. And that was when I started to feel an incredible amount of pity for Nick. He experienced the molestations and all of the psychological and spiritual torment of being a supressed (sometimes by himself and other times by the outside world) female. Yet I am the one who was starting to live a happy, if not always easy, life. Somehow it didn't seem fair.

Then again, lots of things in this world aren't fair. Hell, what's more unfair than becoming as beautiful as one will ever be while one is dying? Do those leaves that are falling know just how unfair it all is.

Now you know why some people think I'm a troublemaker. ;-) But, hey, you can't always be well-behaved, or at least what most people think is well-behaved, when everything is turning, and you yourself are turning. At least I'm learning to accept, and even embrace it all--yes, even getting a full-time faculty position at a time and by means I didn't expect it.

So that season turned, and so is this one. And the seasons of my life. At least the biggest turning of all--the one that's going to happen for me in a little more than eight months--is one I've always wanted, one that will make me more whole. Then, I guess, something else will turn, or I'll turn in some other way.

Now, before I start singing that Byrds song (which, actually, is very, very good), I'll turn in.