I am viewing the last two years more like a clarification than a transition. I started out butch, I incorporated trans*, I am still muddling through. Either I will figure it out or I will just keep reading and thinking.
What does it mean to me (this week) to say that I am trans* but I am not transitioning? I’ve been reading the classic text, Harry Benjamin‘s “The Transsexual Phenomenon”. It is out of print (and very dated since it was written in 1966 post Jorgensen but pre Stonewall); you can download it from tgmeds.org.uk/downs/phenomenon.pdf (I would provide the link but I got bounced out of the WordPress Reader last week for linking to something that annoyed the system and I am not taking any chances this week). The is the link to last week’s post.
The simplest description of transgender is that what is “between the ears” doesn’t match what is “between the legs” – i.e. your gender doesn’t match your sex. My gloves don’t match my shoes. But it is way more complex than that.
Benjamin breaks “sex” down into chromosomal, genetic, anatomical, legal, gonadal, germinal, endocrine, psychological, and social sex (he explains his use of these terms in the book). In layperson’s terms your genetic make-up (XX, XY, etc.), your exterior organs, your reproductive organs and what they produce (sperm or eggs), your hormones (androgen and estrogen), your birth certificate and legal documents, whether you were raised as a girl or boy, what gender you feel you are, and how you present yourself.
Most people’s ducks line up and they never give it a thought. My ducks run circles around me and are a bunch of little anarchists. For years I tried to get them in order (accept being a woman and occasionally dress like one), and then I relented and let them run amok (accept that I have always thought I was a boy and dress like one). I live with the chaos better than I lived with the repression.
The dilemma is, if you accept that you are trans*, you can never get everything from genetic sex to social sex to line up. Each person has to decide, how much F and how much M. Where to start and where to stop. What feels authentic and what feels false.
So far, my compromise has been to accept that I am trans*, change my name, ditch my honorifics, wear masculine clothes (nothing new here), and reduce my dysphoria by avoiding situations that make it flare up. I don’t know how I will change in the future. I don’t see myself following the contemporary transman narrative (name change, pronouns, testosterone, top-surgery, gender marker), but I’ve already done the first thing on the list, and boy does it feel good.
Where are your ducks?