Looking Around The Table

The holiday season is a time for family get-togethers. Christmas day I spent with my mum’s side of the family, Boxing day with my dad’s side, and last Saturday with family friends. They’ve been friends with my parents since they were at school and I’ve grown up with their son as a ‘cousin’, so they feel like family. At all of these gatherings I found myself looking around the table and doing  a mental count of family members I’m likely to lose if I were to tell them I’m not a girl.

There were certain moments that stuck out for both good and bad reasons on all evenings.

Christmas Day

On Christmas Day I wore a t-shirt with a button-up over it. The t-shirt was patterned heavily and disguised my binder pretty well. After our meal, I was in the kitchen getting a drink with my cousin when she turned to me and asked quietly “Are you wearing a binder?”. I took a long drink, steadied myself. “Why?” I asked back. “Just wondering” she replied, “so, why do you wear it? Do you just want to look more androgynous?” I told her that I don’t know, but it makes me feel comfortable and I’m figuring stuff out. That I feel like I’m old because other people know when they’re a kid and I didn’t. That I feel like I’m faking my gender for attention. There was a pause.

“I don’t think you’re faking”

I hugged her.

“You do whatever makes you feel comfortable. And if you ever want to use a different name, just say. I don’t care, you’re still the same person”

*****

My dad commented on the size of my boots, and asked if they were men’s. When I said yes he laughed, joked that “She wears men’s shoes as well as men’s clothes”.

I couldn’t help but think that if I was a boy wearing dresses he’d be far less accepting.

*****

My uncle said that it was funny, you could see the divide in the room with the presents. All the women got toiletries, all the men got alcohol and chocolate. I gestured to my pile and nudged him. “I’ve got both” I said. “Not many bath things in there though” he replied. He was right, the majority of my gifts weren’t pink or girly at all. That made me happy.

I’m pretty sure that my cousin and her mum would be fine with me. My sister too. My grandparents and dad…not so much. My other aunt I’m unsure on.

Boxing Day

We played the game where you have a post-it note on your forehead and have to guess the person after dinner (I can’t remember its name). Because there were so many of us (I think there were 16 people) it was hard to remember the questions you’d asked when it got back around to you. There were several instances of people forgetting the answers to the questions and thinking that their person was the opposite sex, which led to comments “not unless she’s just come out of hospital” and “not the last I heard”. It made me uncomfortable, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t meant in an offensive way.

*****

My dad asked my great-aunt about her uncle and why he’s so different to the rest of us in terms of the way he speaks and how cultured he is. She was telling us his story and said that he told her years ago “I’m not gay, you know”.

“Not that it matters at all. A person’s a person and it doesn’t matter who you love as long as you’re happy”. I love her so much.

This side of the family I found hard to predict, although I’m 90% sure they’d all be completely accepting (but would probably make jokes because that’s the kind of banter that occurs when we all get together).

Saturday

I haven’t had a job in almost a month now so I’ve been spending a lot of time working on my Etsy. When my aunt asked what kind of things I make and I showed her, she pointed at the trans flag and made a comment along the lines of “You’ll do well if you can get into that market. It’s a big thing in America” which made my skin crawl. I don’t think she meant it to be hurtful, but to me it just sounded like she was calling it a trend. She was telling me about how she watches I Am Jazz and that it makes her so happy that such a young child is able to transition and be happy…but then she came out with

“You can’t tell she was born male. She has a friend though that started to transition when they were older so you can tell that he was”

Yikes. Again, its coming from a place of ignorance, not hate.

My cousin’s friend has only had girlfriends but is bisexual, so the family were saying how its him looking for attention. My cousin stood up for him and said that he believes him which the adults sneered at slightly. Then I said that I’ve never had any relationship and asked what that makes me. They then conceded that history doesn’t mean anything (though I was internally laughing because my history totally represents my orientation).

Looking around this table I saw no split (other than my dad). They’re all accepting of people in conversation so I hope that would hold up to real situations. I get the impression that they wouldn’t be openly judgemental at least.

 

Overall my Christmas was pretty good and I had a lovely time seeing family that I don’t often see throughout the year. I don’t know how accurate my read of my family is, but I like to think that I’d keep the majority of them if I decide to come out.

New Boots

I’ve wanted a pair of military-style boots for a while since I only ever wear trainers and a pair of shoes that are (slightly) more formal would be handy.

In an online sale, a pair I’d been admiring was half price: £29.99 instead of £59.99! I jumped at the chance and ordered them, and spent the 4 days waiting for them to arrive like a kid waiting for Christmas. They arrived today and they’re absolutely perfect, everything I hoped they would be (I mean the lining on one is slightly damaged meaning that the spongy filling is poking out a little bit, but its not going to spread).

I also ordered a few bits for myself while I was doing Christmas shopping at an online store that sells branded items for a fraction of the price. Riding the high of my boots I tried on the t-shirts. Two fitted perfectly, one was tight around the hips. Strike 1. Moment of disappointment that quickly passed because this happens all the time when you try on mens clothes.

The pair of board shorts fitted perfectly and did an excellent job of covering the curves but as I was looking at my reflection I got hit by how my face looked. It was not the right face. Strike 2. I wanted to cry, to stare at the face until it changed to how it should look. Breathe. Collect yourself. Tell yourself its just because you messed up your hair under that hat.

The button up looked great, especially tucked into my jeans (otherwise that too was tight around my hips), but that meant that my butt was more visible- I tend to wear a t-shirt or something that hangs to at least partly cover the curve. Strike 3, you’re out. Sit on the floor with your head between your knees.

The jumper I got is great. I’m wearing that and the boots as I sit here with a mug of hot chocolate that is probably 50% mini marshmallow. Someone said in a YouTube video that once you accept that you’re trans/decide you want hormones/surgery the waiting really begins (I can’t remember who). I didn’t realise how accurate that was. I guess now I’ve come out to myself though, so everything’s a bit different.

The problem is that I don’t know if I want to take hormones, its a big step that I’m not ready for. But I don’t want to live like this. And I know that I’d be so much happier with a more ‘masculine’ figure. With facial hair. With a deeper voice. But I’m scared.

At least I have the boots though. They’re great and I feel so powerful and confident when I put them on. It’s the little things.

 

Do I Want Surgery?

Something that I’ve been thinking a lot about recently is my family and how they may react if I came out. Also I’ve been thinking about jobs- my current contract runs out soon and I’m going to have to find something else. It’s got me thinking that I’d probably actually prefer to be passing as male before using male pronouns, at least to strangers. I feel like my family would take me more seriously too. In addition,  I got emailed a link to a guide to sexual reassignment surgery by junomedical a few weeks ago.

This led to me sitting down and really contemplating what I want for me, and what I want for ease of acceptance (which I talked about in this post). The guide was useful in that in broke down all possible procedures that are available in a concise bullet pointed list, which a) opened my eyes to procedures I didn’t know existed and b) gave short but effective definitions for things I was aware of but had never looked up the details of the procedure as it wasn’t something that I felt I wanted. If nothing else its a good starting point for anyone who would like more information on either FTM or MTF procedures.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I will probably consider starting HRT at some point in the future; the fat redistribution is something that I would really like (I’ve never liked having a butt or narrow waist), and facial hair would be pretty neat. Actually, just a more masculine face would be great. I’d like to like my voice for once. But it’s not something that I feel is right for me right now.

With regards to top surgery, I’m undecided. I’d like a flat chest, but I’m not sure how I’d feel about the loss of a part of my body. I don’t know that I’d be happier with scars than a slight chest. I think this is largely due to the fact that with regards to my chest I experience gender euphoria much more often than gender dysphoria, so its not at the forefront of my mind unless I wear my binder and see myself, if that makes sense?  Bottom surgery is, at the moment, not something I can see myself being interested in. Genitals freak me out and I tend to ignore them as much as possible- which would be quite  a lot harder with external anatomy!

If I decide to have surgery, I’m pretty sure I’d save up and go privately- I’d feel bad for using the NHS. The junomedical guide I was sent showed the variation in cost in different countries- I knew that American healthcare was expensive but the bar chart was a shock! I think personally I’d stay in the UK so that I’d be close to home, but for other people looking abroad may be the better option.

Right now to try and separate what I want from what would make my life easier I’m asking myself what would I want to look like if I was stranded on an island and nobody was ever going to see me again. I think I’d like complete androgyny. If I could customise myself like a video game character I’d have a flat chest and a bit of facial hair. A youthful male face. Based on that hormones are at the top of my list of possible steps, followed by top surgery, and bottom surgery being out of the question. But that means I’ll have to come out to the people I know, and I’m really not ready for that.

 

 

 

 

 

Haircut

I’ve started cutting my own hair since its so short, and it means I don’t have to go to the hairdresser which stresses me out. I cut my hair yesterday, using my dad’s beard trimmer (not ideal) to do the back and sides and scissors to take an inch or two off the top.

I hadn’t cut my hair in probably about two months so there was a fair amount to take off. It had been starting to bug me in the way that it was getting harder to keep in place, and strange partings were starting to form under hats.

So yesterday I stood in my boxers in my bathroom, ready to attack the mop. I started with scissors to make it easier on the beard trimmer, which although is wide really struggled (sorry dad, but you agreed!). Then the shorter hairs started to rain down on my shoulders.I ended up with it landing so it was sticking to my shoulders and chest with an almost happy trail forming as some managed to reach my stomach. Leaning my head forward to do the back made some of the chest hairs stick to my chin.

It was strange, looking at my reflection. Seeing my body with hair on it made peace with something that I didn’t realise was at war within me- it felt natural and it made sense, instead of feeling like something was off like when I normally see myself.

I finished cutting my hair, pleased with the end result until I remembered that the people at work are going to see it. I feel like it makes me look more masculine now my curls aren’t gently framing my face and are instead shorter and resting on my forehead. I think a lot of my anxiety comes from my previous job where after I cut my hair my boss commented on how it was a ‘boys haircut’ and made me feel bad about it.

Other than that my main issue is how young it makes me look. I look like a prepubescent boy (curse this baby face!) unless I put on a beanie, in which case I look slightly older. I didn’t get ID’d for the first time last night when I was wearing my beanie which I’m glad about- I only wore it to hide the severeness of my haircut as that makes it easier to look like a girl and I wanted to avoid the conversation of ‘that doesn’t look like you’ but as my cousin and sister pointed out later it does well to make me look more my age too.

Its amazing how much your hair can affect your perception of yourself. I love these moments of gender euphoria that I get when I do little things like cut my hair. It makes me more certain that I’m not just faking, which is something I worry about a lot. Yesterday I cut my hair. Today I woke up and I feel real.

Acceptance vs Authenticity

 

 

This video appeared in my YouTube subscriptions a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been thinking about it a lot, wanting to write about it but not knowing what to say.

In this video Ashley Wylde makes the distinction between Social and Personal ease- with social ease defined as acceptance and personal ease as authenticity. This difference is something I’d never considered before when thinking about my identity so I thought it was pretty interesting.

For me, social acceptance right now is being seen as female by the people that I know because I am really not ready to come out to anybody yet. But around strangers, I feel more comfortable when I’m seen as male as opposed to a masculine woman. People (moreso strangers than my family) react in really mixed ways if there’s any combination of masculinity and femininity in my presentation, so in order to be accepted I feel like I have to tone down parts of myself and present as one or the other.

Authenticity, for me, is wanting to present myself as masculine. I want to have a flat chest, to have a more square jawline and a deeper voice, to maybe have a bit of facial hair- but I don’t want to give up the ‘feminine’ parts of me. Living authentically would be tweaking my body slightly whilst allowing myself to still enjoy these things.

The balance that Ashley talks about makes sense to me: I sometimes feel like in order to be taken seriously I’m going to have to lose (or at least hide) the parts of me that don’t match up with society’s idea of masculine- my hobbies and even some parts of my personality- which may make my life easier socially but not personally.

This video made some of what I’ve been feeling make more sense to me, so even if this post doesn’t mean anything to anybody else it’s given me a deeper understanding of myself.

 

Working in an All-Male Environment

I have a temporary job at a factory near my house that lets parents order their child’s christmas card design as actual cards. It’s a really neat idea. I work at the end of the production line checking that the packaged orders are complete before sending it on to be sealed and shipped. There are so many temporary staff there right now, probably 30 of us working in different sections of the business, and there’s a really interesting divide. Upstairs is where the scanning of artwork happens, and touching up/editing of the pictures. Downstairs is where the cards get printed, packaged and shipped. Upstairs has more girls than guys based on who I see in the staff room in breaks (maybe like a 60:40 ratio), downstairs there are 7 guys and me.

I didn’t notice this at all for the first few days that I was working there, I felt comfortable where I was- granted they’re not Manly Men, being a mixture of gap year students and middle aged dad types- but when I noticed the people coming downstairs at break times it was weird. I get uncomfortable around feminine girls, and the majority of those upstairs are just that. I wonder what they think, if they pity me for being the only one working with a bunch of guys, or for being stuck on a production line while they work in an office but then I’m like…that really doesn’t matter. I like it. I feel more comfortable than I would surrounded by them.

I do feel kind of excluded though. Not in a nobody-talks-to-me kind of way, because they do and they’re very nice, but more of a they-treat-me-like-i’m-delicate type way. Its little things, I’ll get a smile and a thumbs up as my boss walks past or the people I work with will look concerned when I go towards them to ask them a question- which they don’t do for anyone else. I wonder if they feel weird with me being there.

Some people have a job that needs them to move around the room carrying or preparing boxes, so its easy to have conversations in passing. If our machine jams (which it does a lot), while its being fixed we have nothing to do, so the guy working next to me tends to wander about and chat to other people as they work. He went home early today and the machine jammed for an unusually long amount of time so we were told to take 5. I wandered over to other people, exchanged a few words. The general feeling I got was friendliness from the ‘dads’ and wariness from the students, like I had an ulterior motive and didn’t just want a chat.

Its nice now I’ve been there for over a week that they’re starting to include me in their banter. I think the combination of me being shy and knowing (or at least thinking) that they see me as the odd one out has made this harder than it needed to be in terms of holding a conversation. Also I haven’t been talking much because of my voice. Being surrounded by voices of a lower pitch than my own has made me far more conscious of how it sounds, which in turn makes me nervous and causes it to go higher (which is so counterproductive, thanks self).

Overall I’m pretty happy, the people are nice but I think I might be making myself the outsider by thinking that they think of me as one. A couple of people are leaving this week and I’m sort of hoping that they aren’t replaced by girls because they make me uncomfortable in a whole different way.

 

That Moment When Your Gender Finally Hits You

I’ve been identifying as not-cis for a while now, unsure of where exactly to place myself but knowing that it isn’t at Girl. There’s been this weird kind of disconnect though, where I’ve known it but not known it- if that makes sense. Like I’ve been seeing pictures of more androgynous/masculine people and thinking ‘hey I wanna look like that’ but not really taking myself seriously I guess? I don’t know, I don’t even understand it so its hard to explain but I’ve got to write this out because I have so many feelings right now.

I think the main distinction is that I forget that other people don’t see me as I see myself, and when I realise that difference its always a weird feeling. I just feel like a person. Not a girl, not a boy. A person. Who wants to look like a boy. I think.

This morning seeing my dad only wearing boxers was a kind of zap- like hey I want to look like that. He’s not got a perfect body, and so much body hair (which I don’t really like the idea of but at the same time I do?). Then I had to get dressed and nothing seemed to look right on me, not how I wanted it to.

But the real moment, the real tipping point was when I went on Facebook this evening to send a link to a friend and seeing as I haven’t logged on in a while decided to scroll down and see what my friends had been up to. What I was confronted by was pictures of them and their friends (unsurprisingly) and when I reached a certain one of a guy I knew at school something just clicked. I want that. I feel no connection to the girl pictures at all, even the ones that aren’t dressed up with makeup and such, in fact I feel uncomfortable imagining myself in the same room as them.

And when that something in my brain clicked I just stopped. My heart was racing. My palms were sweating. How should I react? Will this change how I feel about myself?

It feels like I’ve been drawing something through foggy glasses these past few months and now they’ve been wiped clean. Everything fits together. It makes sense. And it’s terrifying.