Imagining the Future

When I was a child I could not imagine the future. I could not picture myself as an adult. What I might look like, who I would live with, or what I would do. I drew blanks.

I knew what I didn’t want to be. I didn’t want to be a girl. I didn’t want to be like my mother. I didn’t want to marry a man and have kids. I didn’t want to be a wife. I didn’t want to be a career woman in a skirt suit. I didn’t want to grow up. I didn’t want to do the long list of things that my mother did to get ready. I didn’t want to bother with pantyhose, lip stick, eye liner, foundation, perfume, hair spray, or nail polish. I didn’t know there were other options.

I survived by resisting my mother’s attempts to make me look like or act like a girl. I survived, but I did not thrive.

I thought in double-negatives. I didn’t do what I didn’t want to do. This is not the same as doing what you want to do. Whenever possible, I didn’t do the girl stuff. I dragged my feet and resisted. Sometimes I didn’t do anything at all. I stayed in my head or I read.

All of my fantasies were about being a boy. I kept the cognitive dissonance to a minimum by not fantasizing about being either a man or a woman. I didn’t want to grow up. I didn’t want to be a blank.

Trying to get comfortable is not always easy.

Getting comfortable in one’s body is not always easy.

I didn’t make a lot of compromises. I didn’t twist myself into a pretzel to make other people comfortable. I figured out what kinds of jobs and workplaces to avoid. I learned that if you are really good at what you do most people will cut you some slack for being eccentric. Others will not be able to get past what you look like, no matter how good you are. Some people don’t like butches.

I do not regret being a butch. I regret that I didn’t let the trans out earlier. That I lived for so long in the land of “I am not” instead of in the land of “I am”.

My life would have been different if had I been permitted to say what I wanted without fear of reprisal or punishment. I’m no longer afraid, but I still have trouble imagining my future.

I want to be free from dysphoria. I want to feel comfortable in my body and in the external world. I’m not there yet. Changing my name and getting top surgery both brought me closer. The next sentences all start pulling back into the “I don’t want” construction; it is a struggle to re-write them. To turn resistance into initiative. To turn “I don’t want to transition into a man.” into “I want to continue my transition at my own pace and in the same direction.”

Notes: I’ve stalled out on thinking about testosterone due to the high cholesterol count (282) on my blood test. Right now all I can say is that I want to get my cholesterol down so I can have free choice. And that sometimes I hate being middle-aged and having middle-aged problems.

25 thoughts on “Imagining the Future

  1. RonaFraser

    Yes. Thanks for writing that – it struck a chord. I often feel stuck in my life, and that could very well be a reason why: my narrative is always about what I DON’T want to do or be… Kinda makes it difficult to move TOWARD something. Hmm.

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Hi Rona, glad to hear from you again, and glad this resonated with you. I’m not sure how after decades of therapy I never managed to phrase it this way, but I’m really trying to figure it out – otherwise I’m stuck in the trenches just holding my ground – not a good life plan.

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      I think of you as very clear about what you want! I do feel better when I manage to stop thinking about who I’m not and focus on who I am, and I think that will make it easier for me to keep from getting depressed about the state of my transition.

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      1. Fredrication

        I do know what I want – nowadays. It’s been a hell of a journey to get there though, and I still have to fight to keep that state of mind. I still have to learn how to express what I want to other people…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The Final Rinse

    Good observations. Or more on point: not untrue observations.
    My cholesterol was over 300 at one point, but I did manage to get it down, over a period of years. Of course, the estrogen did help. 🙄 It is probably wise to hold off on the “T” until you get your lipids down. But, now you have a really big reward for meeting your goals.

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      I sort of set myself up for it by just assuming that my blood work would be fine (I know too many 22 year olds who got T within two weeks of making their appointments). I expected that my count would be as low as it was 10 years ago because I eat a way healthier diet now than I did then (when it was 160). And there is nothing, nothing, that would make me take estrogen.

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      1. The Final Rinse

        Do you know, I have to admit that I first read your post without relating to it in any way to my own life.
        But, your reply “nothing, nothing, that would make me take estrogen” suddenly made me remember how much I myself am defined by negatives. As I have progressed in my transition, I have forgotten this. But, it has always been way more important for me to not be male, than for me to be female. The same way that you feel about estrogen is how I feel about testosterone. The idea that anyone has ever looked at me and thought that I am one of them (meaning male) gives me the willies beyond belief.
        So, looking at your negatives in a more positive light, what is wrong with saying “I may not be exactly where I want to be, but at least I am not female any more.” This marks off a kind of progress. From here, we can figure out the next step.
        By the way, there is nothing, nothing, that would make me take testosterone.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Thanks. I think it is really hard for non-binary transgender people to figure out what they want – and the system is set up to encourage either transitioning along the standard binary medical path or not transitioning at all.

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  3. Bunnies!!!!

    >Notes: I’ve stalled out on thinking about testosterone due to the high cholesterol count (282) on my blood test.

    Holy crap!!! Mine was 197 on my last blood test, and I’m a carnivore.

    Somewhere in the shtetl were a bunch of people who lived on gribenes…

    In all seriousness, you do need to get that number down first. Feed the cheese to Gracie!!

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      My last test, about 10 years ago, was 160 – and I eat less dairy now than I did then (I have just cut down my shrimp consumption and started taking fish oil) and no Trans-fats (no pun intended). Short of going vegan, which I do not want to do, there aren’t too many alternatives (pass the brewer’s yeast please). I’m thinking that some of it is menopause and some of it is hereditary, but it is just unfair. Makes me feel like I’m Ron White.

      Gracie does not need any more cheese – she gets plenty – the rule in our house is that she can have cheese as long as it is under 10$ a pound, or more expensive rinds that are too gross for me or Donna to eat.

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  4. Georgeann

    I think that one of the most difficult struggles for people (and this transcends all walks of life) is to own up to who we really are. Being able to say “I am” requires so much more courage than saying “I am not”. Best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      Thanks. When I was a kid it was my only option, but I just kept doing it because it was what I knew. When I started thinking about it, I was surprised at how frequently the I don’t want thoughts came up, and how hard it was to re-frame them positively.

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  5. Scout

    I have been having a lot of similar feelings lately. Thanks for writing this. Your first paragraph in particular is sticking with me. It is something I have felt and have heard from a lot of others on the butch/trans line. That they didn’t see themselves living into adulthood or had no idea who they wanted to be. I wonder, sometimes, if this comes from lack of representation. We can’t find any people older than us who show us who we can be (not that they don’t exist, but they are hidden from us).

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    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      There is definitely a lack of representation – and options – especially for young kids. I had all of this going on very young (4, 5, 6 years old) but no one to normalize it for me, or to help me accept that this is who I am – just people trying to get me to change.

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  6. Searching4Self2013

    Not the central point of your post, but your observation that being really good at something essentially can buy you a pass for being different really resonates. I’ve been blessed with a lot of professional success as a result of a tremendous amount of hard work. But so often that success seems to be credited foremost “in spite of” my difference, and less as a result of my achievement. I have a complex reaction to this. I’m both proud of what I’ve accomplished as a diverse personality in my field and disappointed that my diversity is the focus before my achievement. Same for my personhood. I’d so much rather be regarded first as a person with inherent value, instead of as a butch, or trans, or LGBTQI, or [xxx differentiator] person. I want to be “I am” rather than “I am not”, too. But even before that, I want to just be, not be “in spite of”.

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  7. Lesboi

    It seems I’m late to the party a lot these days but at least I’m here now. I don’t think I ever really gave gender much thought at all when I was young. I was like a bumper car bouncing off of the obstacles in my way to what I wanted and finding alternate routes to get places on my checklist. I was always too busy trying to be “successful” to think about much else. It’s only in the past 10 years that I’ve started to really delve into this subject. Before, I just knew that I liked girls and thought that was the end of the story. Boy was I wrong. I do think I had a really hard time imagining myself grown up though and this is probably the reason. I’m glad you’re trying to look at your life in a more positive light now. It opens the door to possibilities you might not have considered before and that’s a good thing too.

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