Saturday, March 2, 2013

Gain & Loss, Loss & Gain and the Art of the Hasty Goodbye

A 19 year old me - I hated myself!

Above is the pic my daughter took recently for my Facebook page. On the left is a photo of 19 year old me! - I hated myself, well and truly. I thought that I had lost all of those photos but one turned up again today. I've lost my youth but thankfully I've gained who I am now. Male to Female: Loss & Gain; I used to consider them as so different, now I see they can be symbiotic though I can accept that not all loss is like that. Absolute loss without gain is something we must all experience at some time. 16 months ago my father died. Nobody can replace a father. There is a hole in my life there now, one which though expected is impossible to fill. While I know I gained a closer friendship with others through his loss, not all their love could fill that void.

Eight years ago, my two daughters 'lost' their father and gained a new Mom. She was one and the same person as he; more well adjusted, happier, finally reconciled with herself. She changed her name only marginally. Robin became Robyn Jane. These days, most people except for very close family, know me as simply Jane. I'm happy with the exchange but are my two daughters? yes and no. My youngest is thrilled, my eldest is a lot cooler. It's a difficult transition for them to make; gaining a Mom and losing a Dad. 'Transition', there's that loaded word that occurs so often in my life and these days. It's all about change; a neutral concept but your attitude to it can be good or bad.

We tend to process change in terms of gain and loss, or at least I do. For some it's a melange of both but for others it's all of one and none of the other. I hope that with losing me as a father and gaining a new Mom, my children have too have gained. Most people who know me now seem to consider me as happier, more positive, more smiling, more well adjusted and nicer to be with. A very few take the opposite view but they tend not to see my happiness or my family's, only an unforgivable loss; one they see me as having chosen to inflict.

Now I seem to be rapidly entering a period of my life where gains and losses are coming thick and fast. The losses are of the 'I never want to see you again' variety. I've said a hasty goodbye to the last shot of my anti-androgen medication Leuporelin; very soon, I won't need it any more. I've said goodbye to the last of the unwanted hair that I never liked anyway; to the last of my estradiol patches (I'll be on gel after surgery); to the last of my pre-surgical appointments (next Tuesday and Friday). Soon I'll be saying a hasty goodbye to bits of anatomy I've always hated; hated for the ravages they inflicted on my teen body and for what they weren't. Paradoxically there is a huge gain through all this loss because I finally get to be whole and the woman I need to be. Some look on totally horrified at the whole process. Male friends in particular see MtF gender reassignment as a loss of virility, manhood, as castration and loss of identity. As a Trans woman I'm bemused. Who do they think I am? How can they show so little understanding of what it's like to be me?

So, I'm now in the last three weeks in my day job before I have surgery on the 9th of April. I coach and support degree level students in a Community College setting. I've been ordered to clear my timetable and prioritize those individuals who are desperate to complete their work before Easter. It's a frantic scramble to get everything done. My colleagues are finding that a usually smiling and laid back Jane is now rushing everywhere at warp speed. From being a friend who normally stops to listen, empathize and pass the time of day I have temporarily transitioned into a girl with a close hard focus; mistress of the very hasty 'Hello & Goodbye. I will be so glad when Easter break comes around and I can heave a sigh of relief at a job well done. I've lost so much of my calm and poise in my rush to help my students. I hope they gain a good certificate.

All in all, these little losses are leading me closer to a much longed for gain. You're reading this now and I hope I've gained your understanding and deepened our friendship. As usual, it's helped me retrieve a sense of where I am in all of this; a sense of being on the right path, even if it is a road (very much) less travelled.

Love and Hugs,

Robyn-Jane x



  1. Yes we hated our old selves but you have to admit you did look quite cute back then, could have been worse. Reminds me of a favourite singer of the time, Al Stewart...

    Now your eyes sparkle whilst old self had that sadness I too remember...

    The rebirthing procedure is not as bad as you are imagining it will be, good luck.

    1. Thanks Caroline. The Al Stewart reference made me smile, people said it way back too. I always wanted to be compared to female performers LOL. For a while, aged 15, I had my hair in a quasi Suzi Quatro/Joan Jett style; probably good that there are no photos (at least I don't have any!), I got awfully bullied as a result. And yes there is that sadness, one I suppose that girls like us always remember. My 'girlfriend' during that period took it. Whilst clearing the last of the stuff from my Dad's old house recently I came across a photo of Ian, the boy I was also secretly crushing on at the same time. I thought I had burned them all...

  2. Once again, superlative writing - hitting all the write/right buttons content and style-wise. It's the kind of writing that would engage for a full volume... Things seem to be moving so quickly at this point, as they always do when a D-Day is within sight. What do you do to keep yourself sane? Are there words or thoughts that sustain you? Your journey is a lesson for others, even people who are not going through transition. It is a walk of endurance, fortitude, coping with sadness/heartbreak, loss, faith, hope, forgiveness, and the willingness to remain kind, loving, and hopeful that there is a better tomorrow. It sounds like your tomorrow is very bright, indeed. My best wishes and lots of love. You are the Phoenix.

    1. Thanks Monkkey, it's good to know how others receive and rate your writing. You know already how much I admire your style too. One day soon I will start on the full volume...these essays in writing are such great practice. I'm glad that there is something inspirational for others to take from all this; courage, endurance and sheer hanging on in there desperately have all been part of this. The nurse who took my blood for testing today said with a smile 'In a few weeks, it'll be a new you!' Hugs, Jane x

  3. I hope that the next few weeks pass quickly.

    You look great !

  4. Becca, thanks for the compliment. Like Ed and Caroline, your comments are so affirming. I find it hard to get used to that, there's been so long having the invalidating sort from people who had no right to criticise or put me down :)