07 July 2010

My Birthday As Myself

I am one year old today!

To be exact, I had my surgery one year ago today.  The time has passed much more quickly than I ever imagined it would.  Somehow that always seems to happen after important events in my life--or, at any rate, events that are important to me.

Some of that, of course, has to do with the fact that we're older after each event, as we are after any sort of passage of time.  The more time spend on this planet, the more quickly the time ahead moves by us.  It's simple arithmetic:  One year is a smaller portion of a 50-year-old's life than of a child who is only five.  But I also think that because major events, for many of us, mark stages of our lives, those events widen the distance between ourselves and our past and bring us closer to our futures.  I think that happens whether the event is a graduation, marriage, divorce, death of a loved one, birth of an offspring, beginning or ending a career, or any number of other things with that can change a person's circumstances.

I also believe my perception of time is shaped, in part, by the knowledge that unless I live longer than 99.9999 percent (or thereabouts) of all people, I will have lived more time as a male than as a female.  That is to say, I will have spent more years as Nick--in the sense that families, friends, co-workers and others knew him, the law defined him and I projected him--than as Justine.  Even though I feel freedom and confidence that I never felt before my changes, I am very acutely aware that I have only a limited amount of time, at least in life as I know it, as the person I have always been in mind and spirit.

What I've just described, I realized for the first time as I was describing it.  I wonder whether other transsexuals feel anything like it.  If they do, it might explain why some change everything, or at least everything they can change, in their lives after their transitions and surgeries.  Some move to new cities, or to or away from cities generally.  A few move to other countries; still others change jobs and careers, whether or not by choice.  Many also get divorced; at least I don't have to worry about that!  Others marry or remarry, or take up with new partners.  

Nearly all--at least the ones I know--re-evaluate something or another in their lives.  It makes sense; after all, that is what each of us has to do at the moment we face the truth about ourselves and begin to think about what we will do about it.  Along with that, of course, we have to re-evaluate our notions about sexuality and gender--our own, and that of others--and some of us have to examine our attitudes toward those whose gender identity or sexuality resembles whatever we were denying in ourselves.  In my case, it meant examining the homo- and trans-phobia I absorbed (sometimes transmitted to me unwittingly)  and cultivated out of sheer desperation.

As you can imagine, you really do find out who your friends--and, equally important, your allies--are.  It also fine-tunes your bullshit detector.   There are some people, particularly in English and other humanities departments, who want you as another token for their collection--butch Filipina bisexual: check; one-armed Native American with learning disability: check;  tranny, check.  Perhaps I should be more understanding and indulgent than I am, but sometimes I really do get tired of listening to people who try to simply must show how much they really do understand and empathise with me after taking a workshop about what I live every day. 

On the other hand, what I've experienced makes the friendships and other relationships that have endured--and the new ones I've made--all the more meaningful and pleasurable.  Even more important, though, is that I am learning to find pleasure in my own company and--now I'm going to say something I never expected to say!--beauty in who and what I am, and what I've become.  Some of that has to do with having a body that more closely reflects the person I always have been.  But it also has to do with the fact that I have had to develop, and draw upon, wells of strength, knowledge, wisdom and beauty I never knew I had, much less that I could develop.  Some people gave me all sorts of reasons--no, I take that back, they tried to intimidate me with their fears about--why I should not undertake the transition I've made, and why it would never work or why it is wrong.  And, when I was in the Morning After House in the days after my surgery, I was among other people who endured such experiences and won similar kinds of wisdom.  For that matter, such a person performed my surgery!

Anyway...One year has passed since my surgery.  It is a year--already!--and it is only a year.  I am a year old, and a year older--and older but a year:  a year past and a year in coming.  And, I hope, another and another and more to come.

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