Category Archives: Authenticity

Getting Over The Shock

trump-shockI thought I was mentally prepared for a Trump victory, but I was wrong. I knew the odds. I knew he had a chance. I’m glad he didn’t win by a landslide. I’m glad he didn’t win the popular vote. I can’t believe he won the election.

I’m trying not to pin the blame on anyone. I don’t find comfort in saying if only Bernie Sanders had run, or if only James Comey hadn’t sent the letter about the emails on Anthony Weiner’s computer. I have a deep anger at everyone who voted for Trump, everyone who stayed home, and all the people who tell me “Don’t worry it won’t be as bad as you think.”

I can’t gauge how bad it will be. It looks like all the worst aspects of American history wrapped up in one administration. I look at Pence, Giuliani, Bannon, and Gingrich and I think about the Comstock Laws, the Palmer Raids, Executive Order 9066, the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, COINTELPRO (FBI Counter Intelligence Program), and the Patriot Act. I think about the Justice Department ignoring burning crosses and lynchings, ignoring the police shooting at “rioters”, ignoring the murder of trans women.

There is a good chance that Trump’s appointees will define being butch, queer, transgender, or gender non-conforming as “un-American”. Deviant. Degenerate. Perverted. It happened in Russia under Putin. It could happen here. I am expecting to hear a lot more right-wing Christian propaganda. I am ready to fight against FADA (First Amendment Defense Act). Continue reading

Reasons To Be Cheerful

transgender-for-hillaryI’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: Continue reading

The Werewolf of Venice

grand-canalBy the time you read this post, Donna and I will be on a direct flight from New York to Venice. It is a trip we planned to take last year, to celebrate her recovery from open heart surgery, but cancelled when she broke her ankle. Right now, the trip is more of a challenge than a celebration. Donna has less energy than she would like, and is anxious about walking long distances. We are both a little apprehensive about the little packets of testosterone left behind in my sock drawer, but we are going to try to not think about them while we are away.

Almost as soon as we became lovers, Donna tried to get me to go on vacation with her. At first I resisted. I didn’t understand her desire to travel, and it was expensive. She persisted. I was so infatuated with Donna, and felt so lucky to be with her, that I gave in.

Venice was the first place we went to together. I don’t remember why we chose Venice, but I was smitten.  I’m excited that we are finally, after over 30 years, going back to Venice, together.

I prepped for the first trip by reading guidebooks and regional cookbooks. I went to a store in Little Italy and brought home the cheeses and cured meats of the Veneto. I drank only northern Italian wines for months before we left. I read Italian novels and learned to count in Italian to 100,000 (before the Euro there were 1400 lira to the dollar). I didn’t want to look like, or act like, the stereotypical crass American tourist. I didn’t want to embarrass Donna. I didn’t want her to wake up and realize that getting into a relationship with me was a big mistake. Continue reading

Informed Consent

green-lightI walked out of my appointment at Callen-Lorde, on Thursday morning, with a box of 30 packets of 25mg of 1% testosterone gel (Perrigo brand, expires 5/2018) and a signed Informed Consent form.

The week before the appointment I kept flip-flopping. When I walked in, I didn’t know if I was going to bring it up again. I didn’t know if my new Nurse Practitioner even remembered that was why I came in a year ago, when I had my intake with her predecessor, but, right after she asked me how I was feeling, she asked me if I wanted a prescription. I squeaked out “Yes.” She said my blood work looked good, my cholesterol was down, and if I chose to use hormones she’d monitor my progress and work with me.

She took out the Informed Consent form, and quickly ran down the risks: increased cholesterol, increased number of red blood cells, acne, and increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and liver inflammation. Then she read me the irreversible body changes: deepening of voice, facial and body hair, fat redistribution, and male pattern baldness.

I signed, she signed, and another Callen-Lorde staff member signed as the witness. It took less than two minutes. She asked me if I wanted to set up a follow-up, and I told her that I wanted to wait a while before I started, if I started, and that I’d set something up when I had a plan.

Before I left, I asked her if she had other clients who took low-dose testosterone and how they fared on it. She said that everyone was different, but that it was not uncommon to start on a 1/2 packet (12.5mg) and wait and see what happens and how it feels. The gel is slower and less of a shock to the system than injection. It is matter of personal preference, but she hadn’t worked with anyone who regretted starting. Continue reading

What I’ve Learned From Women Who Detransitioned

boxing-butchHow does someone decide between living as a butch lesbian or a trans man? What if you make the wrong choice? What if neither identity feels authentic?

These questions stick with me through my journey. At first, and still to some extent, I was envious of trans men who were absolutely certain they wanted to transition. Who knew they were men. Who wanted everything to happen as fast as possible. Reincarnation. To make a clean break with their past.

I watched videos and read blogs. Some were too pat. Too insistent that everything was fabulous. They weren’t struggling, except to get coverage for top surgery. They proudly documented their changes on testosterone week by week. Then I watched a video about going off testosterone. They stopped because it didn’t feel right. Because they didn’t like how they felt on it.

Each detransition story I’ve heard is unique, but the unifying message is that they didn’t feel authentic being a man. It felt false, they didn’t recognize the face in the mirror, or they felt they’d lost their soul. Some accepted they were transgender, but were closer to genderqueer or non-binary than male. Some went back to butch. Some (re)embraced being female and gender non-conforming. Continue reading

Mx. Fix-It

Gender-ObsolescenceI miss transistor radios. In the summer, I’d lie in bed, trying to stay awake, listening to the radio station of the New York Mets. Lindsey Nelson, Bob Murphy, and Ralph Kiner gave the play by play. They held out hope that somehow, someway, the Mets could turn it around and win the game. I held out hope that somehow, someway, I’d wake up and be a boy.

Transistor radios were magical. Portable. Cheap. SImple. They had an on switch, a volume control dial, a tuning dial, and an earphone jack. I still own a variety of boy toys that play music. My iPod and iPhone are the current pocket size devices that keep me connected me to my past.

For the first time in my life I am having trouble keeping up with technology. Not just computers and smart phones, but appliances that have too many bells and whistles. Unless it is made by Apple, I am no longer able to look at the box, unpack it, and go right to the quick-set-up-guide. I am doomed when the first step is to download the App and go into product settings.

I’ve always been good at setting stuff up. Cribs, IKEA furniture, stereo systems, or computer networks. I’m careful, I’m logical, I’m diligent, and I read the instructions. Lately, I’m afraid of turning into the angry old man who rails at the sales clerk that digital files are the devil’s handiwork and that nothing will ever sound as sweet as an analog LP (i.e. a vinyl record album) and a vacuum tube amplifier. Continue reading

The Seductiveness of Masculinity

Prometheus and the Eagle

Prometheus and the Eagle

When I identified as a butch lesbian I envied other butches who were more masculine appearing than I am. The butches who were taller, slimmer, squarer, and more muscular. The butches who were mistaken for teenage boys, who had no curves, and looked natural in black boots and motorcycle jackets. I knew I couldn’t pull it off, I knew that if i tried I would look like a pear-shaped dorky wanna-be. Better to look like a butch nerd.

Before the transmasculine support group at The Center starts, while we are siting around in a circle, I compare myself against everyone else. I’m trying to suss out who reads as female, as transitioning, or as male. I pay attention to clothing, facial shape, voice, and beard growth. I know I am ranking all of us, with female at the bottom and male at the top, with pre-T lower than already on T. I’m hoping that I’m in the middle.  Continue reading