Wow, it’s been a while, hasn’t it. SO much has changed, yet nothing is really different. The past, however long it has been, has been very eventful, in a number of ways. Mother finished her cancer treatment, and now only needs to go for a CT scan twice a year, as everything looks good. She has most of her energy back, and is doing well. My father, hereafter referred to as AH (asshole) retired in January, and that has created a lot of new stressors, but I have planned a few different escapes from the hell hole he has created.
Why this change? I have come to an acceptance of who I truly am, and I came to it through CompHet. I have spent my entire life in denial. Growing up, I was a tomboy, and was thrilled when I was mistaken for a boy. Raised in a conservative cult, I felt bad and dirty for feeling this way. I remember my first, authentic prayers, prayed with all the fervour and desire of an innocent child of six, begging to wake up as a boy dragon. And if the dragon bit wasn’t possible, could I at least be a boy. First crisis of faith lol.
I was a voracious reader, and read lots of things that definitely wouldn’t be approved of, and were not really age appropriate. But I was a precocious child, and had my eyes opened in ways that a sheltered child could not have learned otherwise. Around nine, I learned that a person could be attracted to both men and women. Bonus!! My love of Daisy Duke was “normal” and okay.
Fast forward through many years of treatment resistant depression, a suicide attempt, constant suicidal ideation, self-harm, a failed marriage, and two wonderful boys. Started trauma therapy, too, with a wonderful, feminist therapist. Who expands my world yet again. My best friend fled her abusive husband, and started questioning her sexuality. She discovered the concept of CompHet, and shared it with me. Blew my mind! I wasn’t truly bi, I was only with men for validation because it was expected of me. Deep down, it was okay to feel repulsed by the idea of ever having sex with a man again.
Fast forward to now. I am finally confident enough in myself that I am working with a local 2SLGTBQ+ clinic to physically transition into the man I am. Will be starting hormone treatment sometime in the next two months. I am very fortunate that the universe has given me a tribe of acceptance, and that I am finally in a place where I can accept that love as well as give it.
So I guess that, in a weird sort of way, I am straight after all. And while CompHet is usually associated with lesbians, I think it can really apply to anyone who doesn’t fit the cis-boy meets cis-girl narrative.
Six years ago, when I started working with my current therapist, the topic of gender identity came up. It was acknowledged, but she advised that we put it away for then. I needed to be much more stable, and have a support system outside of just her, to be able to address it properly. This made a lot of sense to me. Obviously, it didn’t just go away, and it would come up from time to time. Always validated, and explored a little bit, then back into its container it would go. Until, it wouldn’t go back.
Many years ago, when I was 19 or 20, I had a breast reduction. This was over 20 years ago, and things were very different then. I begged and begged the surgeon to just take them off completely. She refused, explaining that there was a long process I had to go through for her to be able to do that. I didn’t understand, and was so devastated I just cried. Going from a DD to a B was a huge improvement, and yet it felt like something I needed was so close I could touch it with my fingertips, but when I closed my hand to grasp it, I fell very short from achieving it.
One of the linchpins of my journey to self-discovery was meeting a hair stylist who liked to have fun with my hair. The first time she cut my hair, I let her do what she wanted, and I walked away with a funky undercut. Loved the shaved feeling and look. When she shattered her leg and couldn’t work, I had to find a new stylist. Not one stylist I went to could get it right. They all gave me variations on the “Karen” cut, which I absolutely hated.
Then, a long time friend opened a café. One of his bar tenders just happened to own a barbershop. One evening while I was bitching about my hair, he told me to come in. And once again, the universe smiled upon me. I went all out. A number two razor on the sides and back, and the top cut short. And for the first time ever, when I looked into the mirror, I saw ME looking back. And that is when the social transition started happening, without me even really being aware of it. The next time, we used a number one razor. It was splendid. I purged my closet and drawers of anything remotely feminine. Bought a bunch of plaid shirts to wear over t-shirts. Khakis and cargo pants. Started feeling really and truly like I was finally being my most authentic self. And then I read “Tomboy Survival Guide” by Ivan Coyote. Literally, life changing. I had never even thought it possible to transition at this stage of my life. But here he was, not much older than me, going through top surgery and getting ready to start T. I have read many books that touched me, or influenced my thoughts in some way or another, but I never experienced anything at all the way I experienced that book.
The final nail in my AFAB life was the night I dreamt about my reduction surgery. And how, in my dream, the surgeon had some how “botched” the surgery, and had to remove everything, and she was crying and offering to “fix” it at her expense. And the elation I felt in that dream was like nothing I had ever felt before. I assured her I was happy with her work, signed paperwork stating that I was refusing her offer of rebuilding them. And then I woke up. For a brief, fleeting moment, the world was right. And then, there they were. And I felt a deep despair, that I would never know that joy in my waking world. I actually shed tears, a very very uncommon experience.
But then I thought, why not? You’re never too old to be your self. After a couple days of discussing it with the sister of my heart, I ordered a binder. Had it shipped to her house, so I could try it on with her there. The reason for this was two-fold. One, if it failed to mitigate the dysphoria, I wanted someone there to support me through that. As a large-chested person, I was not expecting a miracle. Two, if the results made me feel more authentic, I wanted to share that moment of joy with her. And the result was better than I hoped for. And made very very clear to me that yes, I am a man trapped in a woman’s body. And she was so elated at my very obvious elation, and so into sharing the bliss I felt in that moment, she didn’t even think to snap a photo of my stupidly grinning self when I stepped out of the bathroom, wearing it. (The only down side to it is, because all that tissue has to go somewhere, it gives me a lot of cleavage. Happily, that hides under a shirt, so it’s only a problem when it’s stupid hot and I want to take my shirt off. But I can live with that). It is now to the point that I can no longer leave the house without it, or my packer. And that, my friends, is a story for another day.
So after so long a hiatus, I hope to be back here with more regularity. Sharing my continuing journey to wellness, wholeness, and now, authenticity.