I thought, if I was going to write a bit about my experiences on this blog, that I would give everyone a brief history of my transition story.
I came out as transgender when I was 40. I have always been a costumer, so the feminine looks I possessed were just another costume I wore. As if I was in some play or larp that I couldn’t leave.
I often refer to my version of being transgender as the quiet knowledge that I was actually a man. A soft voice that started talking to me about my masculinity when I was too young to understand why I had to use the girls bathroom instead of the boys.
In sixth grade I finagled a crew cut for the upcoming school year. My father had taken me, and couldn’t care less. My mother was horrified. When school started, that boyish appearance earned me an unprecedented level of bullying, that didn’t really stop until I dropped out of school at the age of 16.
By then it was the 80s. I had a mohawk, a leather jacket, and a home done tattoo, and could pass for a boy if nobody looked too closely. I came out as bisexual, and stomped my combat boots into my own new sense of self.
I also ended up living on my own that year. My family were abusive, and my lack of adherence to their gendered expectations, and the mohawk and combat boots were grounds for more physical abuse than my bullies at school could dish out. I had a job at 16, and my own apartment.
I think, if I had come out as a lesbian, I would have probably had more contact with the transgender men in that community, in my area. However, as a bisexual in the mid 80s? I was barred from entry to most L&G spaces. This was a time period when one of Seattle’s largest LGBT organizations were actively arguing that transgender women shouldn’t be allowed in, and that bisexuals were just people who couldn’t commit to being gay or lesbian.
So I didn’t have access to the queer community. Instead, I had access to the other gutter punk kids I ran with. Of note, our numbers included a lot of bisexuals, and people who now identify as genderqueer, trans, and out of the closet crossdressers. It’s where a lot of us “not L&G” queer folk ended up.
None of them were trans masculine though, and for some reason, I just didn’t think with my 110 pounds of tiny girl frame, I would be able to “pass”, so I continued to wear my skin like a theatrical costume.
I fell in love with my husband at the age of 19. One of the reasons I fell so hard for him, was of all the people I dated, he never once treated me like a girl. He accepted me for who I was with no question.
So at the age of 40, I decided I should revisit the gender clusterfuck, that was my life. I had begun to believe I was probably straight up transgender, with the help of the internet. I wanted to be sure though.
I decided to engage in a “be a woman” project for exactly one year. I would pursue lady pursuits, wear lady clothes, and really bust my ass to be the woman I had never been. I did this 110%.
I found, I was once again in costume. I didn’t have any joy for the things I was doing, instead I was picking out a lady-like persona. I was wardrobing this persona, and acting out this woman’s life as if I was in an elaborate larp. The lady-larp, if you will.
At the end of the year, I asked if my husband if he could love me, if I was a man. I was sure, but I needed him to be.
If he had said no, I wouldn’t have transitioned. After 25 years, I didn’t want to lose him. I also knew statistically, men don’t stay with their partners when they transition. I was terrified, because I wasn’t sure I could be a woman for him anymore.
He said he was sure he could still love me, and showed me that love by taking me out immediately and buying me a new masculine wardrobe. Hats, jackets, and shirts. Anything to help. He encouraged me to live the way I needed to.
I came out to all my friends in the summer of 2013, and started looking for an informed consent clinic. Luckily for me, in Seattle there is an LGBT friendly clinic that services our trans community well. I was a nurse for 10 years, and that helped me navigate the medical system to get HRT.
I refused to see a therapist. There is nothing wrong with me, and I am pretty political about that. That’s not to say others shouldn’t, or can’t, but for me it’s the wrong choice. There is nothing a therapist could have said that would have done anything but take up more of my time. I am far too old to spend months or years with a gatekeeper.
In December of 2013, I saw Dr. Rongitsch at Capital Hill Medicine in Seattle. I went with my husband, and an oversized sense of confidence. I was given a testosterone script at my first appointment, and since I had been a nurse, the go ahead to start injecting as soon as I got my meds from Stroheckers Pharmacy.
Never in my life have I felt so at home in my skin. As the changes came, I felt like I was no longer in a costume. Like I could finally get out of this theatrical production of “But you are really a girl”, and live my life. My only regret was waiting until I was 40.
Being this old has it’s perks. My wrinkles add to my masculinity, and I have the financial stability to buy my testosterone outright. I am arguing for top surgery with my insurance, but if push comes to shove, VISA will gladly pay it for me this spring.
I am lucky. I am extremely lucky my husband is just gay enough to stay with me. I am lucky to have the resources to circumvent any gatekeepers. I am lucky I have the genetics to be read as male by 99% of everyone that sees me these days. I am lucky I don’t have to wear a costume anymore.
I will put some articles up now and again regarding things that hit me as especially important.
It has been very interesting following your story!
I took note of one thing you mentioned: refusing to see a therapist. It reminded me of my revelations over the past couple of years that I do not trust the mental health industry (see my blog post https://tiffany267.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/desiring-liberty-was-a-mental-illness which also has links to some similar discoveries). Thought you might be interested!
I was a nurse for about ten years, and worked primarily in psych. I’ve seen the mental health profession help some folks, but for transgender people, it’s really hit or miss. I don’t think trying to wade through uneducated mental health professionals would help me in my transition.
I’ll probably still have to see a therapist next year, if I want Group Health to pay for my top surgery, but that will probably be a pass through, and not real therapy.
Thanks for sharing your story. I always enjoy hearing personal stories from my brothers and sisters. I really admire the deep bond that you and your husband share. You’re a lucky couple to have that unconditional love for each other. I am always curious though when someone says they would not transition if the other partner couldn’t deal with it how that would impact the relationship as well as the trans person’s feelings about their partner.
I lived for 40 years as a woman. I didn’t experience the level of dysphoria some transgender people deal with, so for me there was more possibility of staying the same. It also wasn’t really a threat because I know my husband, and for him my happiness is important. He has always been very open to my masculinity, and I was pretty sure he’d be happy to support me.
So happy to see that both of you are going to be blogging here! I’m very excited to see your thoughts and ideas as they come along.
Thank you. I appreciate that!
Welcome, Jello! Happy to hear your side of your story (which is a strange thing to say, but you know what I mean). My spouse, Rom, and I always say we are each other’s favourite person and we don’t think gender is much of the equation.
That sounds very familiar to us. We have been best friends since our teen years.
Interesting. Because I came out as lesbian/butch at 17, I was viewed my whole adult life as a very masculine female. I completely get the “my partner and relationship are more important than transitioning” although I think in some way once you admit to yourself you are transgender you are already starting to transition – it is just a matter of how and how far.
I hope the federal health insurance covers your top surgery, and that you don’t have to put it on that VISA card. I just got mine approved after an 8 month appeals process – I paid out of pocket and am getting about 75% back.
Congrats on getting your surgery approved!
I think you are right. I was already on my way. I just wasn’t sure what that was going to mean, but I knew I was no longer going to be able to present as feminine anymore.
I’m so excited to read your angle and your take on everything that is transpiring in your life. Thanks for sharing your story with us…
Go Jello!! I’ve been following your story for about half a year now. I can’t tell you how much I admire you and your husband. Your descriptions of wearing ‘costumes’ make so much sense to me. Can’t wait to hear more.
Oh gosh. Thank you!
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