07 July 2013

Four Years In My New Life, Five For This Blog

Today this blog turns five years old.  And, on this date four years ago, I underwent my gender-reassignment surgery.

I could not have predicted what would result from either but, in hindsight, so much seems inevitable.  I have made and lost friends--also as a result of the gender transition that had been in progress for a few years when I started this blog.  

One thing I realize now is that I never lived more in--but not for--the present moment than I did when I underwent the surgery and during the weeks when I was recovering from it.  Really, there wasn't much else to think about.  Then again, what else can you think about when you're dilating and soaking three times a day?

Everything else I experienced couldn't be thought about; it could only be experienced.  Like looking at my vagina for the first time.  Or noticing the way my hair grew.  Or the ways in which people were treating me.

Up to the day I arrived in Trinidad, there were people who knew me from before my transition and continued the relationships they'd had with me.  Then there were those from my past who ended the relationships they had with me.  And then there were those who met me after I started my transition, learned of my history and decided that there was nothing wrong with it, or that they simply didn't care.

The people I met in Trinidad--I include Dr. Marci Bowers, who did my surgery; her then-partner Carol Cometto, who ran the Morning After House; the others who were there for surgery and the ones who accompanied them and the nurses and others who helped--all knew why I was there, and why they were there.  Being a trans person was a "given" for me, for the others who were having surgery and, of course, Marci herself.  We didn't have to reveal anything to each other; as Melanie sang in "Lay Down", we'd bled inside each others' wounds.

In brief, we seemed "normal" to each other.  We didn't have to explain ourselves or worry about the reactions we'd get.  There wasn't any anxiety about loss or insincerity; we might remain in touch after the surgery or we might not.  Whether or not we formed friendships over our shared experiences, there was no way we would lose them--or hear a lot of political correctness over how we have to accept people different from ourselves--as a result of our sometimes-paralell histories.

The day I got to Trinidad, I realized that someone who'd been a part of my life for several years had been talking to, and otherwise treating me, as if I were some sort of freak.  While he voiced support for my transition and having the surgery, he did things to undermine me along the way.  Deep down, I believe, he wanted me to remain a man--or, at least, not to have the surgery--so that I could "stick" him, as he put it.

Now, I don't want to generalize about all men who date pre-op trans women.  But I realize now that he was with me because--to be perfectly blunt--he didn't have the balls to love anyone for who he or she actually is.  Being with me allowed him to hide his gayness from people who didn't know about him, or about my history.  It also allowed him--in his mind, anyway--to feel superior to somebody.  Also, he knew that he could use me as his emotional punching bag because, he realized, that if I complained, a lot of people would assume that I was in the wrong, or would simply not care.

He says he was bullied on his way to and from school.  I saw him with his family; he and they bullied each other.  And, I realized, that is what he was doing to me.  Of course, his bullying would escalate after I returned from my surgery and ended our relationship.

At the time, I had a sort of premonition that our relationship wouldn't survive my surgery.  He never saw it as anything more than an alteration of parts of my body and couldn't understand why I wanted it because, well, he wanted the parts I had before the surgery.  But here's something I never told him because I never could:  The transition was, above all, a spiritual experience.  I  took hormones and had surgery to make it a bit easier to live in accord with my female spirit; I never had any illusions that it was going to make me into a bombshell or any of the other stereotypes of what women are supposed to be.  I knew that I was--as Vicki, a counselor at the Anti-Violence Project, put it--a self-made woman.  Actually, I think nearly all women are because there are so few who can teach us how to be anything but our culture's--or, simply, men's--notions of what women are supposed to be.  

The best things other women have done for me, in and since my transition and surgery, is to support me emotionally (as well as in other ways) and to welcome me into their spaces, into their lives.  I try to do the same; it's something I'm still learning, as I never had to understand in my previous life. Sometimes I get the feeling the man I'm talking about--Dominick--never will because he doesn't have to, and has had no one who can teach him.

Perhaps that is the way in which my transition and surgery changed my life.  Sometimes that change has been very complicated, but I wouldn't trade it for my previous life, or anyone else's.

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