07 March 2009

In Four Months I'll Slip Into My New Gender Identity

So now we're down to four months...

Who's "we?," you ask. I guess I am speaking for both the person who is moving me onward in time and spirit, and the person who is there to welcome, admonish, forgive and adopt--or be adopted by--the one who will become her.

I'm thinking now of how the Rastafarians speak of the "I and I." Sometimes you hear it in Bob Marley's songs. He and they are referring to their corporeal, temporal selves, and to the spirit that is within them. It's one of those things that sounded really cool when I first heard about it, but that makes sense to me only now. Amazing, what changing into your true gender identity will do...

Excuse me while I change into my true gender identity. Hmm... Somehow I don't think that line will keep Dominick, or anyone else, eager with anticipation. On the other hand, I am actually saying that I'm slipping into "something more comfortable" when I say "my true gender identity." That is assuming, of course, that the person hearing either of those phrases is operating from the same set of experiences and assumptions as I am.

What did I just say? Omigoddess, I really am starting to sound like I'm in a graduate seminar! I want to slip into something more....

Naah. Don't think I'll do that. I don't think my fellow students or that prof would want to see me wearing a whole lot less than what I've been wearing to that class. I am definitely one of those 99.98% (Don't ask how I came up with that number.) of people who look better with clothes on. Of course, 100% of the people are programmed or hard-wired, or whatever you want to call it, to long for, lust over and sometimes pursue, that other 0.02%

Oh, dear. I don't want to spend the next 122 days making useless, pointless and baseless generalizations. They come to me like hiccups. But holding my breath or drinking a glass of water doesn't seem to help.

Four months...Seriously, now I'm really starting to feel the day drawing near. Almost a year ago, when I first set the date for my surgery, it seemed like an eternity away. Then, when I started counting down a year on this blog, it still seemed a rather long stretch of time. I mean, at my age, one year isn't an aeon. But it is something. Even six months--the point at which I expected to sense the imminence of the surgery--seemed like a fairly significant chunk of time. But now, four months seems like no time at all.

I know of the logistical things I have to do: get an EKG and an HIV test, buy a ticket out there, pay for the surgery and arrange for my time away and the time I come back. There are most likely other things I'm not thinking of or simply can't imagine. Will I have long conversations with friends, associates or family members? If so, will they be rancorous or reconcilitory (for me or the other person), tactful or tearful? Goodbyes or greetings? Or simply matter-of-fact, or "none of the above?"

What must I, and what will I want to, do between now and then? More important, is there something I'm supposed to do between now and then? I can't think of what it might be. Am I supposed to say "goodbye" to my life as a man? My life as a trans person? Or as Version I of Justine?

Well, I think I said "goodbye" to life as a man a while back. Actually, I said a number of "goodbyes," beginning with the one that went no further than my own mind. That was on the day I saw that woman in Saint Jean de Maurienne: the one I've mentioned in a few other posts. Then, a few days later, Tammy met me at JFK and I held her more desperately than I've ever held onto anything--save, perhaps, for the moment that preceded that one--or anyone in my life. When I held Tammy, I could feel that life slipping away from me as I grasped for it for it with more and more desperation and determination, if less tenacity.

I also realized at that moment that she was the only reason why I had any desire at all to continue living as a man. If I were to become Justine--myself--I would certainly lose her. She'd said as much earlier. She wanted that image and fantasy of Nick I presented; I wanted it only to the extent that it allowed me to stay with her. The four years I spent with her allowed me to retreat from the human race as much as was possible while living in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Being with her also spared me from blind dates set up with friends', family members' or co-workers' co-workers, family members or friends.

I moved out a year after our rendez-vous at JFK. During that time, I could feel the life I'd been living, and the identity by which I'd been living, sliding through my grasp like an eel in a dream. Every movement took me a little further around the bend that turned the current of my life away from the familiar but fallow shores to ones I could only imagine.

In particular, I am remembering the hot day in May my niece Lauren made her First Holy Communion. It was a few weeks before I moved out, and I had not talked about my situation, in any sense, with my brothers or my parents. I sat to the right of all of them, and all through the Mass, I just barely kept myself from breaking down into tears and sobs. I knew that once I started crying, I wouldn't stop: I might even fall to the floor or further lose control in some other way. And all those families at that Mass didn't come to see a grown man (supposedly) crying even more uncontrollably their babies could. And that is exactly what did happen after I left everyone and had grabbed a seat--alone--in the train going home.

This is the last time she'll see her Uncle Nick. Or that they'll see their brother or son Nicky. As it turned out, I would see them all again that Thanksgiving, after I told everyone I'd broken up with Tammy and moved out, but didn't tell them why. I was still working and living as Nick, except for a few people I'd recently met at and through the LGBT Community Center in The Village. They were the very first people in the world who would come to know me as Justine.

That February, I went to my brother's house for a birthday party and to meet a newly- divorced woman who worked with him. He thought we might like each other, he said. She seemed nice enough, but I had absolutely no intention of dating her or anyone else at that time. I let her, in essence, interview me only so that I wouldn't have to describe what was leaving me.

The next time I saw any of my family members, I was "coming out" to them. First, to one brother. To another, a couple of weeks later. And to my parents, a couple of months after that. By that time, all of my friends and co-workers knew me as Justine.

Now I have people in my life who've known me only as Justine. I wonder whether they've seen any changes in me (besides my weight gain!) and whether they'll see any after the operation. Will I, in essence, be a different Justine, or a different version of Justine, from the one they know now? Is that person they know fading from view as that same person's life is moving away from him, from her, and toward the woman who is her vision of herself?

The answers to these questions, and others, may begin to reveal themselves four months from now. Maybe it's happening already. Either way, I've a lot to do during the next four months.