I’m writing this post right before the election. I’m trying to stay optimistic, but I just want it to be over. No one I know will admit to voting for Trump. I’m sure some of them are lying to me. Part of Making America Great Again is making America straight (and cisgender) again. It will never happen in New York, no matter who wins, but there will be a backlash in the conservative states.
I’m voting for Hillary, without much enthusiasm. I’d rather be voting for Bernie, or for Elizabeth Warren, or for Obama. I’m a little embarrassed to be lumped in with Hillary’s “what a great moment for women” supporters, but I’m in, fingers crossed. I am repulsed by Trump, and by the angry straight white guys, contorted with hate, who attend Trump rallies. I do not want to be like them. It rattles my sense of my own masculinity that so many men support Trump.
Most days I feel like I’m OK the way I am, in the middle, masculine enough. Then I get Ma’am’d. Or Donna and I are called “Ladies”. Then I think about the unopened box of testosterone gel in my dresser drawer.
Some days I feel that I am in a gender stalemate. Not ready to move forward, unwilling to stay in the same place, needing to do something else, but I don’t know exactly what. I don’t want to push myself to change pronouns or take hormones just to get some traction. I’d like those decisions to come organically, not out of frustration or as a reaction to being Ma’am’d.
To buoy (or boy) my spirits I made a list to remind myself how much things have changed in the five years since I first started to think about being trans. Despite the negativity, I’ve got reasons to be cheerful. Here is the list:
- I’m glad I changed my name to Jamie. Jamie is the right name for me. I feel like a Jamie, even though I still turn my head every time someone says “Amy” even when they are referring to someone else.
- I feel entitled to wear what I want and to buy clothing that I like, without apology. I can honestly say that I wear men’s clothing because I feel better when I wear it. I don’t have to claim half-truths to justify it (better pockets, sturdier, less restrictive, etc.).
- I feel better about my body. I lost weight and I had top surgery. When I look in the mirror (when I am dressed) I see myself and I am content with what I see. I don’t feel dysphoria at home or on the street. I do experience it in women’s spaces (bathrooms and locker rooms) and I try to avoid them.
- I’ve stopped apologizing for transitioning, and for not following the standard transition narrative. It is my body and I have the right to do what I want with it. I’m not going “half-way”, I’m going “my way”. I’m not a traitor. If someone has a problem with my gender identity or gender expression that it is their problem not my problem.
- I’m happy that I worked through the name change and top surgery issues with Donna, even if it slowed things down. I’m thankful that she overcame her transphobia and anger and now supports me and is an ally for transgender rights/liberation. I’m happy that we went through this together.
- I don’t feel embarrassed or awkward when I am Sir’d (I despise being Ma’am’d). Neither fits. I don’t correct people when they address me using either term.
- I live in the real world instead of inside my head. I feel my feelings more and I stuff them down/numb them out less. I don’t overeat out of anxiety and I rarely drink to quiet my thoughts. I am tempted to every day, but I am able to resist.
- I’m a little less shy and somewhat more talkative than I used to be.
- I respect the struggle of all people who identify as trans. I used to judge other people’s transition decisions. I didn’t understand how difficult it is to live as a transgender person, and how many obstacles there are to transitioning (financial, medical, social, legal). I didn’t get that it is a constant struggle. I get it now.
When I think about where I was five years ago, I can see how much progress I’ve made, and I can dredge up some hope for the future. For me, that is a reason to be cheerful.
Notes: Reasons To Be Cheerful is a pop song by Ian Dury and The Blockheads, from 1979. It’s a list song, or stream of consciousness song, similar to It’s The End Of The World As We Know it by R.E.M. (1987), but slightly more upbeat.