Embracing the man
“Could the answer to my body discomfort be because I am really a man?” It was a very troubling and uncomfortable question to be asking myself. I was doing my best to conform to the belief that I had to be female because my body looked female. I had involved myself more and more in the Dianic wicca community in the hopes that the Goddess centered religion would help me connect to a body that always felt foreign to me. I was quite firmly establish and well respected in my religious community. I had even met a woman there that I ended up marrying. I had every intention of graduating from the priestess training and becoming ordained. I think it was the process of trying to figure out what kind of spiritual work I wanted to do as a priestess that caused me to start questioning being a woman. I had been thinking a lot about transitional journeys and how I wanted to help people during transitional times of their lives. My own experiences had profoundly influenced my growth as a person, but I remembered how difficult it was feeling so alone without anyone to guide me through.
But here I was feeling alone again in the midst of a community of women. Still trying to find my way through to some peace with my own body. Still trying to find a way to to fit in as a woman. I still believed that if I could just connect to whatever it was that made me female, it could help me feel connected to my female body. But no matter what I did I just couldn’t find it. I would listen to others talk about their shared experiences as women and how these experiences made them feel deeply connected to the sisterhood of women. I thought I must be horribly defective not only because I could not feel that connectedness, I couldn’t even understand it. I couldn’t comprehend how any of these women’s experiences could ever apply to me. I had joined this group to learn what it was to be a woman and find out how to live in my body as a woman, so it was depressing that my only chance for true self acceptance depended on finding a connection to something I couldn’t even understand.
In the ongoing internal war with myself, this was the second time a simple question threatened my entire belief system. The first time was when I asked myself, “Am I gay?” The second time was when I asked myself, “Am I a man?” The answer to this question would determine not only my spiritual path but the very essence of how I would live in my body and how I would interact with the world. It was a question I could no longer ignore, no matter what cost I would pay for the answer.
The question finally formed in my consciouness one Friday morning. By the time I could allow myself to ask the question, I already knew the answer was a resounding “Yes, I am really a man.” It did not take long before I began paying the price for my new found identity. I was about half way through the last year of the priestess training program when I came out as trans. I knew of the leadership’s strong anti-trans policies, but I could not lie about who I was now that I knew the truth. I still wanted to complete the priestess training program, mostly because I felt I had made a commitment to myself to complete what I had started. I also felt that the things I had learned through the training were instrumental in helping me find my true self. When I made an appointment with the leadership, I expected they would tell me that I could not continue, but I did not expect the level of hostility and intolerance I encountered that night. I know from their point of view they were neither hostile nor intolerant. They believed they were helping me. I was told that the only reason I could possibly have for wanting to change my body was a deeply ingrained misogyny. Society had taught me to hate women’s bodies and that is why I could not be comfortable with a female body. They said if I went through with the transition I would just be reinforcing the subjugation of women in the patriarchy. I reiterated that this was not about anyone but me and that I was just looking for a way to live comfortably in my own body. When it was clear to them that I was not going to be swayed, they turned to my wife. They told her that I would become angry and violent on the testosterone and that they had never seen any relationship survive a transition. They also told her my teeth would rot out from the testosterone. I had already done my research on the effects of testosterone and knew that their beliefs were wildly ill-informed. These were teachers that I had trusted and respected for the last four years so I could hardly believe what I was hearing from them now.
That night I left feeling like an outcast. I was not allowed to continue with the training course and was no longer welcome in the Dianic community. There were some from the community who did not agree with the anti-trans policies and were supportive of me, although they took quite a bit of heat for it from the leadership. It was very painful to go from being a respected community member to suddenly being seen as the enemy. It is still hard for me to believe that the simple act of accepting myself was treated like a betrayal of women. I just wanted to be comfortable in my own body for once in my life.
Once again I found myself forced to start over. My wife and I had already been in the process of relocating to Stockholm, Sweden so it was a good time to re-evaluate my spirituality and make a fresh start in a new country. Since moving to Stockholm I have begun to find a community who accept me for who I am. It took a series of major life changes to bring me to where I am today. But this is just the beginning of the journey to embracing the man in myself.