Sunday, August 30, 2015

Where I Am Today

I don't talk about my gender issues as much as I used to.  No, I haven't been "cured" by any stretch of the imagination.  It's still the last thing I think about before falling asleep, and the first thing I think about when I wake up.

But as a topic of conversation, it's gotten stale.  There's nothing new to say on the subject; if I still talked about it I'd just be whining about the same things over and over.  Some of my friends are sick of hearing it, though most have been polite enough not to say anything.  I doubt my friends were very comfortable with the subject in the first place, and I don't want to make them uncomfortable.  I can't afford a psychiatrist any more.  I don't like talking about it with my wife, because it makes both of us sad.  I don't really even have any other transfolk to talk to.  Yes I know a few, but we're not close enough that I'd feel comfortable venting about something so personal.

And so, I resort to what is probably the most psychologically unhealthy solution: I keep things bottled up inside.  At least I can still make the occasional blog entry.  Since no one reads this thing, I can vent all I like. 

Okay, fine, it's been a while, so for those of you just joining us...

Hello, my name is Matt.  As of this writing, I'm a 41-year-old male who identifies more strongly as female.  If you want to catch up, click the GLBT tag on this blog and start with the oldest.  But to sum up:

I've known I had female tendencies all my life, but I've only recognized myself as transgender for about 10 years.  Before that, I had some serious misconceptions about gender and the people who got the surgery. Specifically, I thought that all gay people eventually wanted to get sex changes.  Since I wasn't attracted to men, obviously I wasn't in the wrong body.  I don't think I even heard the word "transgender" until around 2005. 

If I hadn't been raised Christian, I might have done more research.  If I the information that's out there now had been available to me when I was growing up, I might have figured out my problem early enough to do something.  If if if but but but.  It's not worth dwelling on.  I can spend all my time wishing I'd had an earlier start on the trans journey, but if I'm going to blow a wish, I'd rather just wish I was born female.

That first year was the hardest.  When I first had my trans epiphany, I was both elated and crushed.  I knew my life was going to change.  I knew there was a path I could take that would make me feel like my true self.  But I also knew that path was dangerous, difficult, and destructive. I was sure I was headed for a disaster.  Maybe I'd get a divorce, maybe I'd kill myself.  In my moments of weakness, I made some bad financial decisions that I'm still paying for today.

I spent a few years seeing psychiatrists and psychologists.  I tried a few antidepressant meds, some of which worked better than others.  Unfortunately the one that worked best also had the worst side effects.  I can't say the psychologists helped much, but it was nice to have someone to whine to.  And then my work's insurance changed, and suddenly I couldn't afford psychiatry any more.  Seems the insurance companies now consider mental health a luxury. 

I was about as low as I've been in my life.  Oddly, what really saved me was Dungeons & Dragons.  I would play female characters in NeverWinter Nights online games, and it was like scratching an itch in my head.  Getting to live a virtual life as a woman for a few hours now and then... well, it wasn't totally satisfying, but it kept me from slitting my wrists.  Eventually I sought out a real D&D group, and I've been playing ever since.  For me, playing a female character for a few hours every Saturday satisfies the same needs some transpeople get from crossdressing.

And that sums up the last 10 years.  I've been out of the closet so long I'm pretty much back in it.  In the past decade I've made several new friends who may or may not know about my issues.  It's been so long since I've mentioned my problems to my older friends and family, that some of them probably think I've "gotten over it".  But no, I'm not "cured", it's more like I'm in stasis.  If I found a magic lamp tomorrow, my first wish would still be a female body.  But I love my marriage, D&D is a fun hobby, and this solution keeps my depression at bay.

I've recently become acquainted with another MtF transperson.  She and I are very similar and very different.  I look at her and I see the road not taken.  She is estranged from her family, and has made plans to move out of this bigotry-infested cesspool called the South.  She's a lot more outgoing than I am, and on the surface seems to be very proud of who she is today.  I don't know how far along she is in her transition (nor am I likely to ask), but as far as I'm concerned she's a woman.

Like I said, the road not taken.  She seems to be so much more comfortable than I am.  She doesn't really dress en femme, and yet her appearance is obviously female.  I never figured out how to do that.  I don't feel I pass even in makeup and a dress, but she pulls it off in jeans and a T-shirt.  She seems so self-confident (though who knows what's going on inside).  So in some ways I'm very jealous.

But at the same time, she's lost her family and probably a lot of her older friends.  She feels so little connection to Nashville that she's about to move across the country.  I just don't know if I could do that.  I'm too full of fear and I just don't have the motivational energy to start a new life.

But it's a moot point anyway. I don't want to transition.  I don't want to be a transsexual.  I want to be a woman, but I want the whole package: to grow up as a girl and experience all of it, good and bad, without resorting to hormone pills or surgery.  Obviously that's only an option if I subscribe to some very specific religions.  But I'm an atheist, and no matter how much I'd like to believe in reincarnation, I can't make myself believe something I don't.

So I will take the next best thing.  Stay with the body I've got, live vicariously through my D&D characters and digital avatars, and continue to take advantage of my white male privilege.  I will enjoy my continued marriage to my wonderful wife, for as long as she'll have me.  I hate that I have to refer to her as my second choice.  It's demeaning.  But since my first choice involves reversing time and believing in magic, that does make her my first realistic choice.  I can only hope that's good enough, and that I can make our marriage worth it to her.  In a world without magic, she is everything to me.


I'm reorganizing my blog a little bit.  From now on, blogs about movies, books, video games, and other entertainment will go here:

Blogs about GLBT issues, politics, and other serious matters will go here:

Some older blog entries may appear on both pages for a while, but going forward I'm keeping the fluffy stuff away from the serious stuff.

My blog about Dungeons & Dragons and other RPGs remains here: