Friday, April 24, 2009
Transitioning with you
Right now our country is in the midst of a great transition and so am I. Transition is fraught with peril and hope all at once. We want change and then we don't want change. Even those of us who have been praying for change have regrets at some change. Especially when it affects us directly. That's the moment we comprehend change. You may think you are passionate and come down on one side or the other but once a transition starts to happen we realize often we didn't think everything through. We can't. We can try to be careful but someone or some program will fall through the cracks. But we have to transition. Staying where we are is not going to work. I'm in midst of transitioning my sex from male to female. I'm doing this so I can truly be what I am. Bi-gendered. Two sexes happier occupying the female than the male but still two sexes. One soul. I want to be woman because of the freedom it would give me. Women can wake up in the morning and doll themselves up and present themselves to the world as what we perceive to be a woman or they can just walk into the world with men's clothes and no make up on and most likely still be considered a woman. I very aware more than ever of the inequities that befall women. As a transgendered woman I am lower on the ladder than anyone. I'm looking up at everyone now and frankly we need to lose some weight. But women do have enormous flexibility in what they want to wear. It's perfectly acceptable for a woman to dress up in a tux and go to the Oscars. A man can't do that. If a man dresses up in a formal evening gown he would be laughed at and ridiculed. I know women are excoriated on the red carpets every appearance they make and its all a load of crap. But even someone as pretty as Johnny Depp would be slammed. Can you imagine what Joan Rivers would say? Being transgendered is an odd state of being in our binary world. I have always loved women's clothes but the few times that I tried to wear them in the last thirty some years, it just didn't look right. I didn't know why I wanted to wear feminine clothes. It didn't make any sense. But I really did. So I would put on some silky, gossamer number and it looked... well, wrong. First there was the body hair. Women don't have body hair (usually) and they're clothing reflects that. So you think okay I'll shave. I looked like I was hairless but it was very scratchy and itchy. So I finally turned to waxing but it was really painful. Especially when you're a man because if you have hair on your skin, it is supposed to stay there. To take the hair off is to deny what your body is. You might feel like you want to be smooth and hairless but your body is saying, "NO!!!" Some men can do it but very few of them were as hairy as I was. I actually didn't have body hair. I had a luxuriant coat of hair. Think Golden Retriever. And it wasn't just the body hair. I wanted to fill out the clothes. I wanted the clothes to wrap around my curves like they're supposed to do. Men don't have curves unless they are fat. I was but it still didn't fit right. I had a big butt but not a wide big butt. When I put the clothes on it didn't feel genuine. I felt like a fraud. I always have felt like a fraud but dressing up brought a new awareness of my insincerity. You can be a fraud and love everyone you love and you can function and many people would tell me I was quite a nice guy. I knew in my heart something wasn't right. I went through therapy and Prosac and other anti-depressants but I still didn't like myself. I turned to God and through a lot counseling with a very open-minded and loving minster I realized who I was. I might be transgendered. When you realize might be gay (which I thought I was) you have to go down a similar road. After you come to the revelation that you're gay then you have to decide to live an authentic life or be bullied by your own and other's fears. That's when you make a choice. Being gay or lesbian carries a huge stigma that seems to be slowly falling away. People who have gay persons in their life have now anecdotal evidence that gay people are very normal and just ordinary people. No different than themselves. Acceptance is becoming the gold standard not just tolerance. The same is true with trans folks but if they decide to present themselves to the world as they really are it is most often quite difficult to accept. Being a transsexual often makes no sense to anyone. It didn't make sense to me as I looked at myself in the mirror. I didn't look like a woman. After this revelation that I might be transgendered it was a long journey to get to HRT (Hormone Replace Therapy). A lot of mental therapy both private and group helped me to understand you can be trans and not be a pretty man. No one would ever call me pretty as a man. I was okay with that when I was a man but it can be a real buzz kill when you feel like you're a woman. But, almost immediately, after the first shot of estrogen, it felt like a switch had been turned off. It felt like this motor inside me went idle. I knew I was on the right path. Testosterone was not my friend. It fueled my insecurities and worst fears. I was driven by this hormonal and physchological imbalance and that would often lead to irrational thought and actions. Now being on estrogen is no picnic. Any woman can tell you that. But I feel I'm no longer a fraud. I feel whole. And the body hair? It's slowly falling off of me. And when I go to get waxed it's uncomfortable still but it doesn't hurt like it did (think 40 Year-Old Virgin). It took two visits and a lot of over the counter pain medication to take off all of my body hair the first time. Now it takes less than an hour. One more thing that cinched it that I had made the right decision I have a picture of me at my first Oscars. It is amazing to look at. I had been on HRT for about six months. No one could tell as my body was imperceptibly changing and I hadn't told anyone except a couple of very close friends. My wife knew all along. In this picture I look really happy because I was really happy. I'm an actor and I have taken hundreds and hundreds of head shots but I never had the look in my eyes that I had that night. My wife and my friends (that knew the truth) agreed. They saw the difference in me as well. It would be another year and a half before I would start to come out in my own little experimental show. It would take surviving a killer heart attack that would give me the resolve to finish what I started. I don't know where this will exactly end. Actually I don't think it ever will because I'll always be transitioning. Transitioning is what we all do. Sometimes we're aware of it and sometimes we're not. But if we aren't transitioning we're stagnating. As I wrote at the beginning, we all are going through a huge transition in our nation right now politically, morally and physically (stopping global warming and other green initiatives). We must make wise decisions but we should never stop a to make a decision because we are afraid. Ignorance breeds fear. hurt. We must embrace change but we must understand why we need it first. All of us. We can do that as a humanity now. With the resources of the Internet to find out practically anything and telling each other of our own personal journeys (like this blog) we can discern what is right to change. Transitioning with total conviction and understanding can make for trans formative change.