How Did You Know?

Let’s call this the pre-Black Friday, two-for-one Blog post.

So, remember my Dad from earlier? He kind of needed some explanation a couple days ago; he was way too successful at pretending he was OK. He and Mom and I had a talk. It occurs to me that what was said there might be good to have out in the open.

I started with the basics- it isn’t about XX or XY. Science figured out in the last 2 decades it’s WAY more complicated than that. Not only are there multiple combinations beyond those 2, it’s not even about those chromosomes in some cases. Allele pairs on the chromosomes control the release of testosterone at different times in development that set not just primary, but also secondary and even tertiary sex characteristics- this was discovered almost on accident by autism researchers. Then there are all the genes they’ve isolated that seem to have the power to totally override the chromosome pairs (SRY, WNT4, RSPO1). We can’t just assume that this set of bits = this chromosome pair anymore, and even if we know the chromosome pair, it doesn’t really tell us anything all the time. Science kept going after we all finished school and it turns out (like so many other things), what we were told is wrong.

But this is my Dad. He needs to know how it affects me. I told him how unhappy I’ve been my whole life, how out of place and wrong I’ve always felt, and how hard it has been my whole life to control the rage that’s always there. And I cracked and the tears started when I told him about the time that so many of you have heard from me already, working on fixing a computer (after I had started herbal testosterone blockers) and breaking down in tears when I realized I was sent the wrong part*. I wasn’t throwing it across the room. I wasn’t breaking the ailing laptop over my knee. I wasn’t slamming my fists into the table. I was crying. And it felt SO. GOOD. when I realized that I wasn’t angry anymore. I wasn’t furious at the littlest things. I was at peace. My body is not designed for testosterone. It can’t handle it. It doesn’t belong here.

I pointed out to him all the ways I was not “male”. I’ve always been more comfortable around other women. I’ve always tended towards expressions that weren’t “mainstream masculine”. My voice never really dropped. It was always hard for me to put on muscle mass. My skin has always been comparatively softer than most men’s. He saw all that.

“It’s just hard”, he said, “because the world is changing and I’m from a different time.”

Maybe, I said, you could see it from another angle. Be glad I’m alive now and not, say, this age in the 1960s, with even less societal support. Be happy I am in a place and time where I was more easily able to figure it out and set about to addressing it. Be happy I can find my happiness. Be happy it didn’t take me 90+ years like the WW2 vet who recently came out.

His retort to my mother’s and my examples (since he thinks in these terms) of the “not very male” parts of me is to counter with more “male” (in his mind) things.

“She was never an athlete like you”, says Mom.
“Kind of was”, he said.
“Dad, I joined the swim team to hang out with girls in bathing suits every day after school.”
“No, no, wait, you played hockey with us”, he offers.
“Girls play hockey, Dad. Like my sister, who also played with us.”
“Not in my day”, he grumbles, half-heartedly and somewhat defeated.

My Dad is still trying to move beyond what I had to move beyond- the idea that this is something shameful, embarrassing, or wrong. It’s none of those things. It’s a fact of my biology. For some reason, not everything came together chemically as it should have for me. There was probably either too much testosterone at this time or too little at another. Either way, the specifics of the root of it are irrelevant. I know now. I can address it. I can’t change my brain and endocrine system and all the other things that are out of balance. But I can fix the chemicals. I can push down the ones that cause problems and bump up the ones that make me normal. That’s the thing, I think. Being trans isn’t abnormal. My normal is just a little different. If your system is compatible with your normal, that’s great. My system is a little wonky. I’mma fix it now.

Make no mistake, as much as he’s struggling, my Dad has made it very clear that he loves me and accepts me and is trying to come to terms with all this. I may not be his daughter in his head yet, but I am his child. Nothing can change that to him.

*  Ok, on first pass edit I notice this is really funny- “sent the wrong part”!!! Totally unintentional; keeping it in bc it’s comedy gold. Also, WordPress needs a footnote system.

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Full Speed Ahead

A month ago, the next step of my transition was scheduled for “some day”. I was coming up on 2 years of my self-assembled herbal HRT regimen. I had clothes and makeup but I rarely got dressed and never bothered to try with the makeup. Heck, I still had a full beard. It was like a security blanket. I was afraid I’d be seen as “too feminine”, and the beard made sure that wouldn’t happen. I’m still not sure how much of that was embarrassment and how much was just not wanting certain people to find out yet. I guess it’s immaterial now.

So, here I am, pretty much totally out, getting ready to step out of the house as me for the first time (not sure what I’m waiting for, to be honest). 2 weeks ago I would have said full time was “In the future”. Now I think it might be sooner. A lot sooner. But that leads me to 2 big questions- Why? and What is that going to change?

The why is simple. It’s Kaitlyn. Say “Hi” to Kaitlyn, everyone. She says that I’m the one that did it all, that I’m the one that girded my loins and set my chin and marched forward. But, really, the difference between now and a month ago is her. She saw me as me. Not “the real me inside”, not “the me I will become”, not “the potential me”. Always me. And this is not to diminish the role of those who have known for awhile and been overwhelmingly supportive in every and all ways, because I would not have gotten as far as where I was a month ago if it wasn’t for you all. But this last step into really being me . . . it took a different kind of push. It took being seen. And then, it was like a snowball. I pulled the trigger on the estrogen supply that I was presented (it will be a month on Nov 29). I started dressing more again, and that validation that it had always provided me came rushing back. And I went further- I shaved, and I took all that makeup I had been slowly acquiring out and actually used it. It didn’t start out that great as some of you know and is chronicled in posts here, but I’m getting the hang of it. And I started coming out to more people. I don’t know why I crossed that line on telling my son’s mother; I had been really nervous about that, not knowing how she felt and how it would go (that blog post is a few back). Once she knew, I told my friend who is also the Cubmaster for my son’s pack, where I am also a leader.

That brought a challenge, and ties into the, “What’s going to change?” He was supportive, if not a bit overwhelmed by a situation he never thought he’d be in. But he needs me to talk to the pastor of the church that charters our pack; it’s up to the Church to decide my fate as a leader or not. We have no idea how that conversation is going to go. At first I was upset by the whole situation. I wanted to be in control of my coming out. I wasn’t ready to deal with the repercussions of coming out to the people in Scouts. Some are my friends, and I wish I could tell them, but not everyone is going to be OK with this, and it needs to be handled properly. Basically, for the good of my Pack, I might need to step down.

But I realized since that might not be bad. I had spent so long hiding and dragging my feet with each phase that I simply accepted that I’d take my (excessive) time with this, too. But Scouts is the only reason I’d be waiting now. I think I might be ready to go full-time. It’s MUCH sooner than I expected, and much sooner than I told my son’s wife and my friend. When I told them I didn’t know when, I meant it. Now I know I want it to be sooner rather than later. But it might mean losing Scouts.

And I realized as much as that would hurt, I need to be OK with that. I can’t keep hiding. Not only for myself, but for those Scouts, including my son. I’m not living the Oath and the Law hiding. I’m not being truthful if I’m holding back. I’m not setting an example and modeling the behavior if I’m pretending to be a man. I’m a woman. I’d be more than willing to make a few accommodations so it’s less jarring for everyone. I’m not about to run out and replace my uniform. The “male” uniform shirt is kind of unisex anyway. I can deal with not wearing makeup or crazy nail polish to Scouts. I’d still be me. Not sure what we’d do about the name, but if that’s all we have to iron out, I’d be fine with that.

But I don’t think it’s going to go that way. I think in the couple weeks since I told the Cubmaster, my change in attitude has me in a place that isn’t going to be compatible with our Pack. And I’ll miss them terribly. But, I’ll be living authentically. I’m going to do my best to explain to the Pastor that I’m still the same Scout leader I was a month ago before anyone knew. Heck, I’d even be willing to keep a Facebook account under my old name just for Scout stuff. I understand that some of the people in our Pack simply will not get it. But I can’t show my son and my Scouts that the right thing to do is hide who you are to make life easier.

They Can’t All Be Wins

Non-descript boatneck tee from the women’s section at Kohl’s.
Leggings.
Ballet flats.

My son didn’t even notice anything different. I was taking him back to his Mom after a long weekend together. But it was different. It was the first time out of the house in all women’s clothes.

It barely even counts, honestly. It’s well past sundown, raining, and I wouldn’t even have to get out of the car when I got to the store parking lot where we meet, halfway between our respective houses.

But it kinda counted. Because I was out of the house in clothes I didn’t hate. I was out of the house in MY clothes. I was out of the house as me.

As an aside, I took my daily diuretic late today. Usually I take it mid-morning and it keeps me back and forth to the restroom for a good 4 hours. But, I planned for this. I went before I left. Easy-peasey. Until I got there. And I had to pee*. And I suddenly realized that I was about to have to cross a milestone I was NOT prepared to cross. I was on the phone with my rock in these matters. She assured me I wouldn’t get clocked. She assured me even if I did, no one is going to call me out on it.

But I didn’t believe that strongly enough. I didn’t think I had worked myself up to this. It’s too soon for this step (“They all seem too soon”, she said), yeah I might be getting better with makeup but I’m not wearing any and my shape isn’t fooling anyone, just no no no.

I can’t.

But I can’t go in the men’s room, either. Not like this. Not when I’m this close to being me.

So I held it. Until I got home. One milestone at a time, thankyouverymuch.

 

 
*(“It was less easy and more pee-sy” says my ever-present support. She’s silly.)

And with that, I’m out

Last night I leapt my final hurdle.

I came out to my “ex” wife (we’re technically still married because we just never bothered to shell out the money to address it).

I was so nervous. I was sure it would be horrible. I was sure she would be angry, hurt, deny my validity, any number of horrible outcomes.

I may have an issue with catastrophizing just a bit.

She was amazing. She listened as I stumbled through the mini-speech I had prepared, and she nodded and kept her facial expressions positive.

“I don’t love you”, she said, “so I don’t care. But you’re my friend, and our son’s parent, and so I care about you.”

We discussed practical matters- she wants to do some research and wrap her head around it, decide together how to talk to our son.

“I can’t say I suspected, because it never occurred to me, but I guess now that I know I can kinda see that it makes sense. But I’m glad that you are taking control of your life’s happiness, and I’m proud of you. Give me a hug.”

She’s not a hug type of person.

I have nothing to hide from anymore. I have no secret to keep. I am out of the closet.

Change of Plans

I can’t pretend so much anymore.

It feels worse every day. I understand dysphoria a lot better now than I thought I did. I don’t know how people do this for years. But I can’t do it any longer. I’m not going full-on full time, but I’m not going out of my way to hide anymore. I’m comfortable presenting as female to andro, and by the end of the year, that’s what I will be all the time. The past few weeks, moving quicker through this, I feel so alive. So me. So authentic. I can’t go back into that shell.

My Poor Dad . . .

Moving into the apartment at my parent’s house because of my health brought a few issues with it, not the least of which was I would either have to go deeper into the closet or come out to most of the rest of my family. My mother knew, and she was the one who told my Dad for me. He was fine with it, to the extent that he understands it, which he doesn’t.

But he’s trying.

But it’s so funny.

The other day I threw laundry in the wash. It was mostly panties, camis, a few night gowns . . . pretty much all “girly” stuff. My mother is the only other woman in our household, and my tastes (especially in my undergarments) are way more frilly/lacy/racy than hers. There’s a gentle knock on my door, and it’s my father. He’s mostly stopped calling me old childhood pet names like “butch” since I’ve been out to him, but sometimes he forgets himself and self-corrects mid-syllable.

“Hey, bu . . . , uh, Was that your laundry? I put it in the dryer but I didn’t start it because I know you don’t like the heat setting I use and I didn’t want to . . . ”

“Oh, yeah, it is, sorry. I totally forgot, thanks. I’ll finish it.”

“Oh, it’s OK, no problem, I just wasn’t sure if it was yours, because it . . . . um . . . . I just wasn’t sure.”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen my father blush before.

So, today, after getting off the phone with my brother after yet another conversation that makes me question our genetic connection, I jokingly stuck my head in my parents’ room to tell my Mom, “Your son is a moron.”

“Which one?”, she asked with a smirk.

“Well, it turns out you only have one.”

“Oh, yeah! Sorry, that’s true, isn’t it?”

 

I think my father squeaked. Gotta love him, he’s trying so hard, but the 1950s machismo is still strong in him hahaha

Accidental Affirmation and Every Day Low Prices . . .

The first time, I didn’t think I had heard him correctly. He was just a customer walking by, excusing himself bc he didn’t see me there on the mobility scooter.

“‘Scuse me, ma’am”, without even really looking up. I don’t think that counts.

When the lady at the service desk said it, I was sure she was going to correct herself. When I replied, I figured she’d apologize. She didn’t. OK, so, she’s just going to fix it as we continue to interact. She didn’t. Throughout the long interaction as she tracked down my internet pickup order that wasn’t technically there yet, and ran it through the system so I could officially accept delivery, she said it 7 times. I counted, you see. Because by the third time it really dawned on me what was going on, and I was in a really big moment, with Laura, the kind older lady at the WalMart service desk.

This wasn’t one of those common events, that used to bother me and then later in life amuse me, where I’d get what I thought was mis-gendered, often in drive-thrus or on the phone. There was no awkward apology and shift back to “sir” this time.

A manager was putting up Christmas sale signs. “Already?”, I lamented at her.  “Oh, yes, ma’am. Can you believe it?”

The cashier “Ma’am”‘ed me 4 times during our conversation about her sick 2 year old and my now 8 year old who was born 3 months premature in danger of the same things she was facing. She called herself a single mom and said “You know what I mean!”. Not exactly, honey, but thank you.

The cashier who came to help me with my bags and offered to take them out to the car- “No thanks, but if you grab me a cart I can leave this scooter inside and walk them out myself.” . . .

“Yes ma’am, of course!”

The 3rd cashier came running after me with a bag that the previous one missed when loading the cart for me.

“Ma’am! Ma’am!”, she shouted.

I knew she was talking to me. Boy clothes and no makeup obviously, not even having yet attempted to be “me” outside the safety and confines of my own home . . . .

She was talking to me.