Monday, February 27, 2006

And the Poodoo Hits the Fan

I believe it's over. After two years of going back and forth between "I want to live as a woman", and "I want to stay with KJ", it's finally coming to a head. I hate to say it, but I think our marriage is over. And our friendship looks a little iffy too.

I have seriously screwed her over, and I don't know what to do about it. She has no real friends right now, and no prospects for another relationship. She has a skin condition that makes her feel less attractive, and other medical conditions that require my insurance. She has a stress condition that prevents her from working full time hours. We don't make enough money for her to get her own place. Which is fine with me, I have no problem supporting her for as long as she needs. But I don't know if we can live together as friends, when she can't stand the sight of me. She doesn't even have any family she can stay with.

But that's the way it's been since the problem began. My biggest reason for trying to stay male has always been, "KJ needs me". And on some level, I've known for quite a while that whatever I decided, only one of us would be happy. I just can't make a decision that I know will destroy KJ's life. Which it will on so many levels. However, I don't consider it a "decision", but a resignation. This vicious cycle is going to eat at us both until we deal with it.

But after the talk we had this morning, I don't think there's any going back to the way we were. Which might be a good thing in the long run, but it sure is painful now.

I honestly have no idea what to do next. Neither of us really have anyone to talk to. Sure, I have several online friends, and some boards where I can vent, but it's not the same as speaking to someone face-to-face. Even my next therapy session isn't for three weeks. But as bad as I feel for myself, I feel twice as bad for KJ, who's the real victim here.

Why doesn't life come with an instruction manual? And why can't we return it when we discover it's defective?


Back to Normal?
I may have been hasty in my last post. Things are gradually returning to normal between me and KJ, and I'm back to "I want to stay with KJ." It's nice to be comfortable again, but the whole thing is just a vicious cycle. Am I going to obsess about this forever? Maybe it would be better if we just split; then I could figure out my gender issues without outside temptations. Meaning, if I choose to stay male, I would know that I'm doing it because I really am male at heart, as opposed to doing it just to stay with KJ. Of course, if that happened, I don't know how I'd live with myself.

Friday, February 24, 2006

She Says / Memories

She says: "Up until two years ago, when your father died, you never had a female thought. You never wanted to be female, you never thought about it. Now, all you want is to live a different life, since you can't cope with this one. So you picked a life that is as different from this one as possible."

That is the bottom line of her POV, and she can't get past it. She believes that my mind has invented false memories just to support my current decision. I don't know how to react to this.

On the one hand, I have the natural desire to prove her wrong. On the other hand, I have to consider all possibilities, even if I think they're crazy. The memories aren't made up; I could probably even dig up witnesses. The real question (to me) is whether these memories are actually significant, or just the type of things that all little boys go through. And besides, you could pick and choose anyone's memories and use them to prove anything you want, maybe I'm only remembering what I want in order to prove my point.

Otoh, I don't know if my past is important at all, since the important part is how I feel now. To me the proof that I'm transgendered is the simple fact that, while I've spent a lifetime trying to find my identity, the thought of being a woman is the only fantasy that has ever given me real joy. I can think of nothing else I want more out of life. I simply can not imagine living the rest of my life as a male. Even if I'm wrong, I'm going to obsess about it until I know for sure.

But still, my past does help explain my present. So I'm going to sort through some of my memories, and organize them here. I'll probably going to keep adding to this list as I think of things. I dwell a lot on the fact that I played female characters during playtime. Personally I think that it fulfilled the same emotional needs that most transsexuals achieve through cross-dressing.

> I have several memories of my mother telling me not to hold my hands in certain ways, or sit certain ways, etc, because it made me look effeminate. Of course, lots of little boys act effeminate. But to me, the behaviours my mother tried to prevent seemed exceptionally natural.

> Video games. My favorite video games were the ones where you could select your character. I would always pick a female. Some examples include Gauntlet, Quartet, Street Fighter 2, Super Mario Bros 2. My all time favorite video game series is Metroid, which I probably never would have even played if I hadn't heard that the main character was a woman.

> I remember one time when I was a child - I don't remember how old, I was probably still in elementary school - my parents and I were eating dinner at the Golden Dragon. I don't remember what my parents were talking about, because I wasn't really listening, but I remember my dad saying, "I believe that above all else, homosexuality is a sin. If you can't accept who you are..." etc etc, that's all I remember. I didn't yet know the particulars of homosexuality, but I did know what I thought to be the definition: "A homosexual is a guy who wants to be a girl." My Dad's statement really made me angry, but I didn't say anything. At the time, I wasn't completely sure why I was mad. On some level I knew I wanted to be a girl, even though I also thought it was a silly idea. But I sure didn't want my dad insulting my personal feelings that way.

> In elementary school, when all the other boys were shunning the girls, I was their friend. I naturally made female friends more easily than male ones. Probably second grade or so, I remember the boys saying, "Hey, if you keep hanging around the girls, you're going to turn into one!" I replied, "I want to be a girl, because they mature faster."

> Barbie Dolls. Of course I never had them. I sometimes played with them at my cousins' house, and secretly wanted some dolls of my own, but I never did. I did have the Star Wars 12-inch Princess Leia doll, which I loved to dress in different outfits. Which is why all my other 12-inch Star Wars dolls spent all their time naked.

> The first time I specifically remember role-playing a girl (other than just playing around with balloons as breasts as a joke), was in probably third or fourth grade. I was playing GI Joe with a bunch of boys. I wasn't even into GI Joe yet, but the only other thing to do was play an actual sport, and I hated sports. These boys were acting out specific issues of the comic book. In this issue, a female character (the Baroness) is riding in a tank which gets blown up. For the part when they acted out that scene, they had me play her part. They weren't thinking about the gender, they just need a warm body for a couple of minutes. Part of me felt weird that they were asking me to play a girl, but just for a second. I remember trying to get "into character" by trying imagine a female's motivations (I was a bit more into RP than the other kids). After the scene, which was mostly me standing there for a second while my tank exploded, I felt different. For the first time I knew that it was _okay_ to pretend you're a female. It's like the first time you use a curse word, and realize that the ground didn't open up beneath you dropping you straight into Hell.

> I had a next door neighbor, "CB". He was a couple of years younger than me, but we still played together a lot. I remember I gradually started playing female characters more and more often. We played "Voltron" a lot, and sometimes played the princess character. At first I felt embarrassed about it, and would sometimes play the other characters just so he wouldn't think I was weird. But I don't think he had a problem with my playing female. We also sometimes invented our own characters to play, and I would make up females ones there, too. I specifically remember one called "Malta", based on a character from a bad animated movie. My version of Malta was a sci-fi fairy. She had wings and a laser gun, and blue hair. Anyway, Chad moved away shortly after that.

> Other friends & female characters... I couldn't get away with it with all my friends. Either I sensed it made them uncomfortable, or it made me uncomfortable acting that way around them. My friend "SO" didn't even want female action figures around him. He wondered why they even made female figures. After all, he said, GI Joe is for boys, right? Why would any boy play with a female figure? But "SO" was the worst of them. With most of my friends we would each play with three or four figures at a time, and I'd just have one of them be female. If any of them noticed I favored the female figures more, they never said anything. As far as live action playing went, I would force myself to play a male on those occasions.

> Playtime with "JS". My childhood friend "JS"and I often played female characters, both as action figures and as ourselves. Some of the standouts:

- Boushh (Star Wars). Our play was a lot deeper than that of most children. Instead of just running around shooting at each other, our stories would have complicated plots, romances, and so on. It was with "JS" that I started playing the character "Boushh", the bounty hunter Leia disguises herself as in Return of the Jedi. In our version of the Star Wars universe, Boushh was her own character, and Leia had just stolen her outfit when she went to Jabba's Palace. My Boushh was a female bounty hunter in a universe where male hunters were the norm. She wore the disguise to hide her gender, so that she wouldn't lose the respect of other bounty hunters. "JS" would play as Boba Fett, and over the course of play Boba would somehow find out she was really female, and eventually they would fall in love. We played that same scenario over and over, in many different ways.

- Lizard Woman. This was a "Flash Gordon" figure of a reptilian woman. I don't know how this started, but we would pretend she owned a gas station for spaceships, on a backwater planet somewhere (we used the Star Wars Dagobah playset for the station). I loved that action figure, and would often make clothes for her out of balloons.

- Cat Club. Something I made up. It was like GI Joe, except the good guys were cats, and the bad guys were dogs. All our characters were original creations. "JS" and I each had a male character based on ourselves, but we also each had a female character we would sometimes play.

- Diana (V). For a while, our favorite TV show was "V". We especially liked the two evil ladies, Diana and Lydia. I would play Diana, and Jason would play Lydia.

- GI Joe - Several good female characters to choose from here. I especially liked the Baroness, Jinx, and Scarlett. However, remember that these are selective memories. I also spent a lot of time playing Snake-Eyes, who was male. However, what drew me to Snake-Eyes was that he wore a mask and couldn't speak. There was a lot of mystery about his character. He could be anyone under that mask.

- Pathfinder (GoBots). I always loved Transformers and other robots, but it was hard to find a female role in the genre. The GoBots cartoon, despite its stupidity, still attracted me because some of the robots were female. My favorite was Pathfinder, who could change into a UFO. Generally we preferred Transformers to GoBots, but I would still use Pathfinder when we would play with Transformers.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I Hate Myself

(whiny rant alert)

When I look back from the future, I think this weekend will be a significant dot on the timeline of my life and marriage.

On Friday, I called one of those Laser Hair Removal places and set up an appointment. I've always wanted my facial hair gone. The only thing I hate worse than shaving my face, is having a beard. And I always have 5 o'clock shadow, even immediately after I shave. And my skin is so sensitive, that I always cut myself no matter how good the razor. I've tried electric razors, but they just don't shave close enough. The point is, the appointment has nothing to do with my transgender issues. At least, that's what I keep telling myself.

I don't want to take any steps towards changing my gender; I want to stay with my wife. But I really feel compelled to get the laser hair removal. I asked KJ if it bothered her, and she replied that the only thing that bothers her is the money. But I don't believe her.

On Monday I went to see my psychologist. We had a rather productive session, even if it was marred by one disappointment (I was hoping to get the results back from a Rorschach test I had taken on a previous session, but it wasn't ready yet). As a result of the session, a few realizations started to sink in:

1. I'm unhappy. (Duh.) I've been unhappy for years, and there's no reason to believe I'm suddenly going to be happy, when I keep living the same life I've always lived. I can either stay in this unhappy existence, or find another one... even if there's just a slight chance I'll be happier in the other life, it's better than the guarantee I'll be unhappy in this one.

2. KJ is only thing keeping me tied to this life. I would never wish her any harm, and I don't even like to think about this, but... hypothetically, if she were suddenly out of my life, I would probably start taking hormones within a month.

3. Want to be a woman, not a transsexual. Even currently married as I am, if I were to find a genie in a bottle, who could zap me into a natural female body... young, good looking, not dependent on hormone pills, six inches shorter than I am now... I'd do it in a heartbeat. But transsexuals (imo) don't live female lives, they live transsexual lives. Even after the operation, many still have to worry about "passing". The fact that there are transsexual support groups shows they're not living a normal female life. When was the last time you saw a GG (genuine girl) go to a support group for "living with being a natural female"?

Then, Monday night, we went to see Transamerica. I had a good time, but of course the movie just reminded me of a lot of my own problems. I even cried at one point, when Bree encountered her family and was met with such disapproval.

And late last night, when we were trying to fall asleep, KJ and I both had a long crying session. I was lying there, feeling sorry for myself as usual, nearly in tears. Then I heard KJ crying. So I held her while she bawled. Then I started crying, and she held me. We probably spent more than half an hour wimpering and crying and holding each other, all the while not a word was spoken (except for a mumble of "Kleenex"). Eventually we did talk for a little while, but neither of us said anything the other didn't already know.

My mind kept flashing to thoughts of suicide, anything to stop the extreme emotional pain I was in. KJ has nearly an entire bottle of prescription sleeping pills, and I kept wondering if I could find a way to take them without her knowing. Oddly, one of the things that stopped me was the fact that the pills are so expensive.

I hate myself. I hate that I've hurt KJ, I hate that our marriage may be doomed. I hate that I can't just be happy with our life together; it's such a good life. We're perfect for each other, and no two people have ever loved each other more. Sometimes I wish I'd never told her about my gender issues, and had continued to suffer silently. Otoh, if I had, I might be dead now... and KJ would never know why.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Warning - As with all my reviews, possible spoilers, read with caution.

Transamerica certainly treated transgenderism with more respect than most movies, but there's not a lot out there for comparison. The only other transgender-related movie I've seen recently was HBO's "Normal", which was decent but glossed over a some of the realities... for instance, there was no mention of the main character ever seeing a therapist.

Transamerica, on the other hand, did a lot more homework. The main character, Bree, was played rather convincingly by actress Felicity Huffman. So convincingly that I bet some viewers will wonder if the actress was actually male or female. (And as if to further confuse the audience, she has two full-frontal nude scenes in the movie - one pre-op and one post-op.)

It took me a long time to get used to her voice. It must have been challenging for Huffman - a woman playing someone born male trying to sound female. Makes me think of Victor Victoria. But her voice was so flat and monotone (think Daria), that she often came across as emotionless.

The plot in a nutshell: With just days to go before her gender reassignment surgery, Bree (short for Sabrina, formerly Stanley) discovers that she has a near-adult son. And he's in jail. And Bree's psychiatrist won't let her get the surgery until she resolves this loose end. So Bree flys to New York, bails him out of jail, and takes him on a cross-country drive. In accordance with standard movie rules, the boy starts out rebellious and disrespectful, until you find out about his traumatic past, and you gradually discover he's a sweet boy at heart.

Meanwhile, Bree, desperate to keep from complicating her life even further, avoids telling him that they're related, or even that she's biologically male. Of course the boy finds out about the transgendered part in a scene stolen from Mrs Doubtfire. Bree comes off as a bit of a jerk for much of the movie, but it is a movie about personal growth. Think Jerry McGuire, except Bree is transforming both emotionally and physically. The movie's final message - that the surgery won't solve all her problems - is one all transsexuals should take to heart.

The movie is a bit uneven, like it can't decide whether it's a comedy or a drama. But the humor is realistic and down-to-earth; not the over-the-top stuff you're probably used to seeing in movies involving this subject matter. Some of the scenes with Bree's family were comic gold, maybe a little too much so... it almost felt like they were trying to change the movie's tone halfway through.

Take away the transgender issues, and you've seen this movie before. Actually, you've probably seen several movies about parents reuniting with children they never knew existed, getting to know them, and trying to save them from their own self-destructive behavior. But there's a lot of other movie plots that have been way more overdone.

Overall, I thought it was an enjoyable afternoon. I don't know if I'll buy the DVD, but I am glad I saw it.