Saturday, October 27, 2012

Longed for events and the number 13

I was married aged 21 but at age 13 life seemed like a long corridor going on forever. When I finally began to enjoy school in my final year, suddenly graduation day seemed to loom up out of nowhere. Some events surprise you with their suddenness, others never seem likely to happen and then creep up on you unawares. Now, after seven years waiting for a milestone event to appear it has finally come around at last, indeed I could hardly believe it when I returned home and found the long awaited envelope lying on my door mat.

Longed for events can become a huge part of our lives, not only the event itself but also the process of , yearning and expectation that goes with it. When I was in my late teens it was trying to find that big love of my life, in my late twenties and early thirties it was longing for a baby. At those times I seemed to be either surrounded by those who had already paired up or who were expecting babies. At this point I could be rather cynical and say that these days the same couples seem hard set on divorce or hoping that their twenty something year old offspring will move out and get a job. For a number of my friends the longed for event is a achieving transition. One by one, they seem to have undergone GRS and moved on.

The letter on my doormat was from Charing Cross Hospital, London. I now have a pre-op assessment on the 5th of March next year and my admission date is set for the 9th of April 2013. Whilst it was not unexpected, I hadn't imagined I would have a date anytime soon. Things here in Wales generally happen in years, not in months and I only saw the consultant at Charing Cross in September this year. Now I've accepted both dates and am trying to plan out a careful path through this next phase of my life. As I work in a College it will mean disappearing from professional life from Easter next year until the start of a new College year, Wow!

Until now, my focus has been on earning a living, being a Mom and trying to deal with bits of anatomy no woman should ever have to live with, unless on her favorite guy! Now the horizon has changed. I have a fixed point in sight and it's an unusual feeling. I have a mixture of absolute elation at having gotten a surgery date, trepidation at forthcoming surgery and concern about how the rest of my lovely family will cope.

For a girl who enjoyed her thrirteenth birthday on Friday the 13th I guess big changes in my life seem to cluster around the number thirteen. Problems at school and difficulty coping, kicked off big style around my thirteenth year as testosterone began to have it's devastating and unwanted effects. Double it and I decided to make a big change of direction aged 26; I uprooted my life in North East England and made the trek back to College to do a four year post grad degree. Triple it to 39 and I'd quit my Project Officer job to become a College teacher, quadruple it to 52 and I finally met a Psychotherapist who would take my case seriously and actually help me. You could call it all superstition, I hope it isn't. My life just seems to have turned out this way. Just to be sure though I'm including 13 studio tracks on the CD music album I hope to finally complete next year! Well maybe...

I can't predict the future, I can only guess. I'm looking forward to a period of resolution of the tensions inside me and finally felling like a whole coherent person. It's been a rough and sometimes deeply lonely journey so far and mentally painful. I need a break from all that. Yes, I know that undergoing surgery and recovery will be painful too and not without their own problems. I've known that all along and yet I am so glad to have reached this place. As Fall 2012 comes around and the year plays it's outtro I'm wondering exactly how all these changes will leave me feeling come this time next year.

Well, I'm going to find out :)



Saturday, October 6, 2012

Stereotypes, Stealth and Plasticine

Stereotypes are incredibly confining. There is a tendency to define a group by ascribing them characteristics they don't all necessarily have and to see everyone and everything in terms of how different they are to others. Categorizing in terms of separation and difference leads to exclusion and reasons to hate or dislike. These things are as prevalent in the LGBT community as anywhere else. It should be a colorful rainbow of diversity but sometimes some of the colors seem to shine more prominently than others. In reality there is a beautiful continuum of difference and attitude running through all of us: There doesn't have to be an artificial boundary where LGBT ends and STRAIGHT begins.

In Kindergarten and Elementary schools over here they have a kind of modeling clay called Plasticine. It's oil based. I only have to smell it and I'm back in my days as a teacher. It comes in many pretty rainbow colors. At the start of the year the colors are all separate and the kids make strikingly colored little figures who stand out as glaringly different; a bright orange dog, a blue girl, a pink man. As the year progresses the colors blend, no longer separate but still identifiable; the pink man has a trace of blue and yellow. By the years end, the clay is one homogenous green-grey color....Thinking about it now, I know that I'd hate to to be one of those homogenized individuals but I'd also hate to stand out painfully & sharply from from all the the bright pink guy.

I'm Trans. I've spent much of my life in denial and trying to blend in. Now I'm getting to that point where I can see the possibility of completing my transition and moving on. Being lucky enough to pass most of the time, it crosses my mind that it would be nice for once to just melt into the background and get on with my life as a woman. Yet I know that in a way I AM the bright blue girl, sticking out like anything. If I'm out in the Gay Village in the heart of the City I'm happy to be exactly that color; part of one bright rippling rainbow. In institutions like a School or College where everyone pretends so hard to be dull grey-green, there's a problem. Sticking out, you're a role model AND a target. Dare not to blend absolutely perfectly and you're STILL a target.

The students I help in College all have disabilities or differences of some kind. In spite of our best efforts they sometimes become targets too. It is wholly undeserved. Sometimes the differences are obvious and there's nowhere to hide, sometimes they are hidden and it is possible to pass as 'normal' (whatever that is). For those who can hide, they find safety as long as they can keep their secret. Tough for those who can't. You can end up feeling a little guilty about being able to hide when others are being picked on.

Homogeneity is safety and comfort but it can become a sort of a prison. We want to define ourselves as individuals yet still have a place to belong. Is it possible to be out and Trans and have both? Does going Stealth mean you lose some of your individuality? I'm not sure I know. I once thought then when I completed my transition I'd melt away into the background and be just another woman, plain Jane, now I'm not so sure.


Jane x