I have often struggled with how to adequately explain why I had to transition to living as a man and couldn’t be content living as a different kind of woman. Trying to explain the trans experience to people has often felt a bit like Spock in Star Trek IV when McCoy asks him about what it was like to be dead. Spock replied that it would be impossible to discuss without a common frame of reference. The experience that your body is so completely wrong is so foreign to most people that there is no common frame of reference. And when I say wrong I am not talking about the common feelings we all experience about how we don’t like this or that about our bodies. I have those feelings, too such as wishing I could lose more weight or wishing my calves weren’t so bulky. I am talking about a feeling of having parts of your body that don’t belong there at all and having other parts completely missing. I am talking about looking into the mirror and not being able to recognize yourself because what you see is so different than what your brain keeps telling you should be there. It is a cognitive dissonance that becomes physically painful to endure and almost impossible to explain. Try to imagine, for a moment, a time when your body was the most uncomfortable you have ever felt in your life. Now step into that experience and wear that feeling for a few minutes. Feel into how uncomfortable it is and how you could crawl out of your skin to get away from it…. Now imagine living that way every waking moment of your life. It is this internal pain that drives a trans person to the point that their only options are transition or die. It becomes a matter of survival.
I could no longer survive living as a woman. But I am finding it even harder living in this in-between place. I am comforted by the knowledge that this is a transitory state and I won’t have to live this way for the rest of my life. It doesn’t make the actual living in transition any easier, though. I have come to find that even in the safest of places, with good friends or among other trans people, my level of discomfort with my body, specifically with my breasts, is worse than ever. There is no relief to be able to just be myself without care or concern about my body. I recently spent a wonderful weekend with a group of other trans guys. These are all guys who don’t judge me on how my body looks and they all completely understand the discomfort I have with it and yet I found that I spent a considerable amount of time attempting to hide or minimize my breasts. When my wife and I went to the opening of Pride, I also found myself constantly trying to hide them, even though no one would have given me a second glance based on how I look. So if other people don’t care, why does it bother me so much?
78 days and counting.