Talking with my metamour recently made me think of and reread my Gendered History series. I feel like it implies that now, I’m completely happy in my body, that I don’t ever question my gender or my pronouns or my presentation, that I never wish I were something different, that I don’t ever have any negative thoughts related to my gender.
Spoiler alert: that’s not true.
I have breasts and a vagina with all the internal sexual organs typically found with a vagina. As many other ovary-owners have experienced, my internal sexual organs do not always play well with others, namely me. I am told that many cisfemale people find that their menstrual cycles influence their mood, their energy and spoons, and how they feel about their body. Take that and multiply it by not being female. I buy products marketed to women. I take medications marketed to women. I read pain-control and other articles written to women. All this when I’m already feeling physically crappy AND experiencing the height of dysphoria as my breasts make themselves more noticeable and my vagina waves a red flag.
I feel exhausted, dysphoric, in pain, and completely othered 25% of my post-puberty life.
Binding full time is dangerously unhealthy. Binding is made more difficult for me specifically by various medical concerns and sometimes by physical job requirements. My voice is too high to be taken as anything but female unless I’m binding and wearing my hair a certain way (which is not my preferred style); then I’m taken for a prepubescent boy and asked where my parents are. I have hips to end the world, I’ve been told, and binding doesn’t change that. I don’t have infinite income to buy a new tailored wardrobe to hide my hips artfully, and I don’t know that I’d spend the money on clothing if I did have it.
I feel restricted by voice, by body shape, by health, and by society’s expectations into accepting unintentional misgendering every day of my life.
I live with depression and anxiety, among other psychiatric difficulties. I see an older cismale psychiatrist who believes that “transsexualism” is a disorder that should be treated with electroshock therapy and has no issue with telling me that. I see a cisfemale therapist who is accepting but not supportive; she will use genderqueer to describe me but insists on binary pronouns for everyone I know, even to the point of guessing on a set of binary pronouns with no information beyond a name for someone. When I was in an inpatient psychiatric ward, I was surrounded by people who had never heard of nonbinary genders and didn’t want to hear about them – patients and staff alike. In the intensive outpatient setting following that, I had a wonderful therapist who actively tried to support my gender and corrected other staff on my pronouns, but she struggled constantly not to default to binary pronouns.
I feel captured by the way people were raised to think and speak of others every day, slapped in the face by society’s unwillingness to ask about gender and pronouns before assuming, by society’s unwillingness to admit it doesn’t know everything or made a mistake or is just plain wrong.
I know who I am, by and large, but I still doubt it. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and wonder who I’m trying to kid, claiming to be something I don’t appear to be. I sit there and think that most people are male or female, therefore I should be, too. I notice that I’m not following the “usual” transition path and doubt that I can really be genderqueer if I’m not planning on using hormones at any dose and don’t have a surgery date or even a surgery plan. I think of the times that I have felt like I could be female and decide that it means I’m not genderqueer; I think of the times that I have felt like I could be male and decide that it means I’m not genderqueer.
I feel paralyzed by the “usual” and constantly unsure if I am who I say I am, even though I put up a solid and brave front and in my very core know my reality.
Being trans makes me completely miserable. I’m dysphoric, restricted, captured, paralyzed, and othered nearly all the time. My mental illnesses are blamed on my trans status, and some days I think it might be true. Being trans doesn’t help the depression; I am told constantly that transness makes one less than and other than and undeserving. Being trans doesn’t help the anxiety; I see physical assault and sexual assault and deadly violence towards my trans siblings all the time. I question everything, trust few, and hate the way I look, I feel, I think. If I could choose to be trans or not to be trans, I would choose not to be trans. There is no doubt in my mind of that.
I feel like my only current choices are to be proud of my transness and live with the misery or hide my transness and be miserable in the closet. I won’t let society tell me to hide who I am, though.
It is okay to doubt. It is okay not to like being trans sometimes. It is okay to wonder and question and feel like absolute shit. All of this is normal. You are not alone. I may look like I have it all figured out, and I do have at least some of it figured out, but I still doubt myself and hate myself and wish harder than imagination that I were cisgender or at least a binary gender.
Stay with me through your doubt and misery. Stay with me through my doubt and misery. We will get through this, together.