01 May 2010

After Being a Transwoman

I was still fairly woozy for a good part of the day today.  I could stand up and walk, and by early afternoon, I was able to ride my bike to the farmer's market on Roosevelt Island.  It's not much of a ride, but at least I got some much-needed fruits and vegetables.  I'm still amazed at how plentiful and good the strawberries have been so early in the season.  My mother said that, according to the folks at her local farmer's market, the weather caused the crop in Florida to come in later and coincide with the California harvest, which usually comes a bit later.

Still, I can't wait for the local strawberries, cherries, blueberries and pears.  Local, here in New York City, usually means southern New Jersey, central Pennsylvania and upstate New York.

The other things I love at the Roosevelt Island farmer's market are the mushrooms and, in the summer, the corn.  The mushrooms--which include huge white ones as well as nice, meaty Portabellos--are, by far, the best available around here.  I think they come from Pennsylvania.

Whenever I buy mushrooms, I think of something Tammy and I visited in the Loire Valley:  Le musee du Champignon. I never would have believed such a place existed until I saw it, and I cannot imagine it anyplace in the world besides France--specifically, the part of France in which it's located.  So...If I were to die tomorrow, I'd die as a woman who visited the world's only mushroom museum.  Yes, my life would be complete!

I suppose that my transition and surgery have made my life complete, or as whole as they can be.  After all, I feel complete, or at least whole.

Maybe that's the reason why I'm writing less and less about my own transition, surgery or other things related to my gender identity, expression and formulation, if you will.  Maybe there is not as much to say about those things as there was a few months ago, not to mention a year or two ago.  I started this blog to "count down" the last year before my sugery; after the procedure I decided to continue it in order to document the beginning of my life as an "official" woman.  Now I'm experiencing fewer earth-shattering, life-changing events and fully experiencing (and writing about) utterly banal (Notice the last four letters of that word!) events like colonoscopies.

And now here I am, months and years and streets and countries removed from...what?...whatever came before this journey I've undertaken.  There are some people to whom, and places to which, I couldn't return even if I'd wanted to.   I think now of the time I visited Elizabeth while she was teaching in a Turkish university.  Riding down the Aegean coast near Priene, I realized there was nothing to do at that moment but to ride down that coast, past the ruins of ancient cities that were once as important in their era as Florence and Venice were during the Renaissance, Paris through la belle epoque, London in the Victorian era and New York since World War II.  Priene, after Ephesus, on the way to Miletus:  there was only that march; so much else was behind them, behind us and before me.   I recall having a vague feeling that Elizabeth was already part of my past--that, actually, she had been for a long time, though I didn't want to admit that to myself.  She had been my best friend once; she was my best friend for a long time, and I went to see her because I wanted that person I'd met so many years before at Rutgers.  What's ironic is that she was the same person, really,and that ultimately would be the reason why she and I could not remain friends.

But for a moment, when I stopped at one particular spot--where a mountain seemed to drop directly into a cove--I felt, at once, that there was only a journey ahead of me precisely because so much was already behind me:  so much that simply could never again be as it had been.  That particular spot remains one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen, and I said to the driver, only half-jokingly, that any man who wants to marry me has to propose to me there.

Yet, oddly enough, I felt a bit like Jean Valjean in Montreuil-sur-mer:  I had come to the edge of the sea, with nowhere else to run but, at least for the time being, no reason to run even if some part of my past--specifically, someone or something that could expose me--were within sight but out of sight, which was exactly the reason why that person or thing could be so dangerous.

They are all gone now, as is almost anything else that could have undermined my transition.  Gone, too, are the fear and anxiety I had about not "making it" or "reaching the other side."  Of course, I now worry some about what comes next, but I also know that so much is past.

In some odd way, one thing that is past, or is passing, is my life as a trans-whatever:  transgender, transwoman, transsexual.   A couple of days ago, a former student of mine, whom I hadn't seen since I had my surgery, asked me how I felt.  I told her I felt great, which is true.  Still, it seemed odd:  I had to think about what it was that I was supposed to feel good, bad or otherwise about.  Indeed, I had an operation.  I've recovered physically and I have female sexual organs that function in every way but two:  menstruation and reproduction.  Now, it seems, I am not someone who's had the operation or even who was once a man, or lived more or less as one:  I am a woman, albeit one who's had some experiences that differ from ones other women have had, and who might be a bit taller, bigger and uglier than most.

Whatever I am, I'm not quite the prof that student had last year. In other words, I'm not the tranny prof anymore:  I'm just another boring female faculty member. That student, when I saw her again, seemed to like me for the same reasons she did last year.  However, there are a few profs--including one whom I've mentioned before--who, ironically, have become more distant from me now that I have more in common with them than I had before.

It could be that they simply didn't want to accept me as a woman.  When they knew me as the tranny prof, they had an easy label for me.  Now, not so much.

Speaking of labels:  I expect this blog to contunue, at least for the time being, even though I no longer refer to myself as a transwoman.  Some who have known me as one will always see me as one and, among other LGBT people, I will probably have that identity as a T--unless, of course, they start to see me as an L or a B.  (Some people have called me another kind of "B" that rhymes with "witch.")  But I am still developing, and will probably continue to develop, in ways that have been shaped by my experiences as a transgender.  Plus, one might say that I am a transwoman because I have become a woman by means different from those of most women.  So, in that sense, I can still write about the times of a transwoman, even if those times are passing.

1 comment:

Velouria said...

I think what you need is a cycling blog. It would consist of two strings of narrative: your current cycling experiences, and Nick's memoirs from Back in the Day. It would be tremendously useful, as well as the most existential cycling blog ever.