Sunday, March 4, 2012
The Velveteen Tgal.
I had lived much of the common Dysphoric life with the denial, the hiding, the purging, the exploding out of the shell and the attendant disruption of everything and everyone around me. Over 15 years ago I broke my marriage, my job, and my comfort in an attempt to figure out what I needed to do to still the constant buzzing in my genderhood. I reached out in the preteen years of the internet and found information. I found articles and stories and other people. Real people who lived real lives dealing with gender issues. I thought I knew what I needed to do to fix me. I needed to move to Seattle and transition!
I had met some great people at the Esprit conference held in Port Angeles Washington. I had hit it off very well with a transitioning T-gal and a plan developed in my fevered brain to share an apartment with her and see if transitioning was my future. Off I burst leaving a wake of disruption behind me.
In Seattle I met people and entered in to the rich transgendered community. I went to meetings at the Ingersol Gender Center, I socialized with the Emerald City Social Club, I even joined Seattle's only transgender dart team. I blossomed as a T-gal. I let my hair and nails grow. I had a new identity and it was a heady time.
I also saw the sad side of many people and learned about marginalization, sacrifice and loneliness, mine and others. I read and I thought and I watched and listened. I wondered why I had to pick a side and stick with it. I wondered why confirmed transsexuals thought crossdressers didn't count. I wondered why crossdressers thought that transsexuals were crazy. I wondered what that meant about me. My ex wife made it clear that the amount of damage I left behind meant that I had darned well better pick the transition side and commit. Hmm, quite a bit of pressure from all sides. With all this it was hard to see where I was, let alone where I needed to go.
After a year and a half in Seattle I had learned a lot. I learned that everyone had their own path and assuming some else's path was a hazard. I learned that loneliness is hard and I wanted to have a significant person in my life. I learned that it rained A LOT in Seattle and it was too big a city for me. I learned that my son needed me around...
Back to the Intermountain West I went. I spent the next 7 years in what I refer to as my "Monastic Phase." I got a good challenging job and my son lived with me and I got him through high school. Needless to say, there was little time for my fairer side to blossom, but I had things that needed my attention. Much of this time was spent wandering around the mountains of Idaho with my beloved dog by my side. The gender buzz was much less and I learned about it and from it. Once my son was on his own I had, for the first time in my life, time to reflect. And I did a lot of inward searching to see what I could see.
After a long while I met someone special, a woman almost as crazy as I was! Very early on I told her about my time in Seattle and my gender explorations. She was largely nonplussed and thought that it made sense to follow your journey in life and figure out what you needed to do. Oddly, (but commonly) I reverted to a secret private T life and would use her trips out of town visiting relatives to transform and revisit the odd magic that came from seeing my femme being come out. What was different was how I felt, there wasn't the shame and guilt as much as a caution and compartmentalizing. I was the same person regardless of what I wore, I just felt a sense of grace when I was en femme. The remaining buzz became a harmonious hum. And I knew that there would be no damaging my dear people this time.
Eventually I gained the courage to talk with my dear wife about wanting to reconnect with my transgendered people and my transgendered soul. I didn't feel the burning, all consuming confusion that I did so many years earlier, I just wanted to let Dianne out of the background and into the foreground. I told her that all boundaries would be respected. I would always ensure that no one felt overwhelmed or pressed or pained. Open honesty was the framework and foundation.
She amazed me. Through it all she said, "It's still "D" (my male name) and I trust him." She said that it made sense that I wanted to go back to Seattle and visit my friends and make sense of where I had been. I had not had any contact with these people for many years so I went to Seattle for a week "as Dianne" and reconnected. I had a wonderful time revisiting places and going to new places.
Seattle is a largely safe and comfortable city for trans people and being out and about felt good and honest. It also helped to clean out some mental cobwebs and let some sunshine into some old dark corners.
After I returned, my wife "V" talked with her good friend "R" and decided that Dianne needed a coming out party of sorts. So R and her daughter and nephew had us over for a marvelous dinner (actual steak and lobster!) and conversation. They are very accepting people and they had lots of questions. R's daughter is in theater so we talked about wigs and how she enjoys "transforming" herself and changing her appearance. I told them about the trans world and gave them some insight into gender and the social and political issues that people face.
The main thing that happened for me was that they acted as a mirror. They reflected Dianne back to me as a real person that they cared for. They have always been like family to me so that day D's family began to overlap with Dianne's family.
A few weeks later V was out of town with her daughter and I went to a local transgender group meeting for the first time in about 15 years. I met many new Tgals and we all went to dinner afterwards. It was so affirming to meet with sisters and enjoy their company. The commonality let's us start out knowing each other, then we can build the rest easily. The next day I had some shoes to return and some shopping to do for decent walking shoes for a planned outing with V and R in Seattle. No shoes for this 12 Wide gal so I went home to relax. As the evening came R called me, she knew V was out of town and thought I would like company for dinner so she invited me to join her and her daughter and nephew. I told her "Dianne was here for the weekend" and she said, "Well, we're almost at the restaurant so you'd better hurry!" I freshened my face and joined them for a lovely evening. We laughed until it hurt and everyone enjoyed themselves fully. What a great surprise for the day!
What does all this mean? It means that I'm real. Dianne, the girl inside the boy, is real. The people that I care about reflect me back and let me know that they care about me. Like the Velveteen Rabbit. I'm real because I'm loved.