10 February 2013
Going Through It Again
Today I was talking someone who’s related to me but not part of my “nuclear” family. (I won’t get into the implications of that term!) He’s a couple of years younger than half my age. We talked about one thing and another; he mentioned some high-school friends he’d recently seen. Then, he told me something I was not expecting from him, or anybody: “I’d really like to go through puberty again.”
As someone who experienced puberty “again”, I didn’t know whether to laugh, argue with him or react in some other way. Before I started my transition, I simply could not imagine myself going through puberty—or, more precisely, what it meant for me—again. For a long time, I wished that I didn’t have to experience it at all.
The difference between the way I used to feel about my puberty, and his wish that he could experience his again, could be summed up as follows: He told me that in his puberty, he experienced his first attraction to a girl. “I knew I was straight. Nothing has ever made me happier,” he claimed. On the other hand, my puberty meant—to my horror—that I was becoming a man.
For a long time, I was angry about that. Not only did I have to become a man—at least by the definitions that were accepted at that time—I had to deal with sexual feelings that I couldn’t reconcile with being a man or a woman, at least as I understood those terms at that time in my life. Because I didn’t have what academics call a “frame of reference” and a vocabulary to describe my feelings in a way that would have made sense to anyone I knew at the time, having those feelings was even more bewildering and terrifying than seeing my pubic hair grow around a sexual organ I didn’t want.
I wouldn’t want to go through any of that again. However, I am thankful that I did. When I went through my second puberty, in my 40’s (when I started taking hormones), much of what I felt made more sense to me—and was even cause for joy—as a result of the changes that came during my early teen years.
One of the things I realized was that in puberty, the emotional and mental changes are even more important than the physical ones. So, while I was happy to see my breasts grow and the lines in my face soften, I was even more thrilled to not only experience the giddiness and crying jags, and new depths of feeling about everything from songs I heard on the radio to a Shakespeare play, and to feel my senses open in ways I never imagined on walks and bike rides. Best of all, I had ways of understanding those things, and the fact that I wasn’t developing new sexual feelings as much as I was able to more thoroughly experienced the ones I’d had since my first puberty.
Still, even though I am glad to have experienced my “second” puberty, I cannot understand why my relative, or anyone else, would want to re-experience his or her pre-teen puberty. Then again, my first puberty brought me into a part of my life I’d never wanted to experience, while my relative got what he’d hoped for when he experienced what will most likely be his only puberty. At least I got what I’d hoped to have from my second.