When you can name your fears, you can bury them

Therapy is essential to this human’s long-term health and well-being.

I was an unwilling patient as a child.  My “therapy” in those days was a form of abuse, a term which I don’t use lightly. My mother wished to control me, to manipulate me, and to put my rejection of her inappropriate relation with me onto me…and to get me medicated.  

Thank goodness we grow up, develop agency, and find independence.  And for some of us, the ones who are not too far gone, we can begin the long arduous process of healing.  

“We spend our first decades of life with our parents and the rest of our lives trying to get over them.”

Woody Allen

I include this quote from Woody Allen not without a hint of irony. It kind of puzzles me the universal truth in that statement.  Surely, the universality of this statement is problematic.  Is this a social ill?  Or are we just flawed as a species.  Why does it take so much work to just be?

What happened?

The other day I stopped taking hormones.  There was a trigger.  I went on a date with someone I’m really sweet on. And we lay on her bed giggling like a couple of teenagers with that weird, nervous, sexual energy that arises before anything happens, where you are paralysed by delicious possibility.

One of the things we had discussed early in the evening was whether I had banked my sperm before beginning my transition.  The answer?  No.

Why not?

That is what I kept asking myself from the moment we discussed it.  When I did make a decision, and I really did think about it, I had lot’s of reasons.  It was a well-thought-through decision.  But suddenly I couldn’t remember them anymore.  I asked myself, “what on earth was I thinking?!”  

She noted that it seemed a good idea just generally.  An insurance policy.  And in truth, she is right.  All the women I seem to be meeting and dating are at that age.  They want to have children.  As a former man who has sired and raised beautiful children, there has to be some level of attractiveness to that.  We are perhaps wired to seek parenting on a sexual level.

In other words, I became worried that not being able to have children would mean that many of the women who I am finding mutual attraction with will not want to be with me because children is not an option.

Why did I make this choice in the first place?

I don’t remember all of the reasons, but the principal ones have stayed.

I have beautiful and wonderful children already.  They are the most important thing I have ever done, the most fulfilling, and they suffuse my heart with joy even when they don’t.  My mother described having children as like having “an open wound”, and I knew what she meant the moment our first child gave light.  But it is a kind of wound of love which feels more delicious than life itself.

As the child of multiple marriages, I understand what it feels like when the first family (of which I am part) is/was abandoned for the new family.  I am aware how pernicious favouritism runs into adulthood…it doesn’t stop.  And that certainly hurts.  As a parent, I wouldn’t want to do that to my children.

The next reason had to do with transition.  When this debate was rising in my mind, I had already been taking phytoestrogens for a year.  While these are mild, I couldn’t help but wonder of their effects.  More importantly, I had been low-dosing bootleg oestrogen for a few months, and while it was not feminising me overtly, I could feel it inserting its delicate tendrils into my ethos.  That meant that my sperm, libido, all of my masculine sex drive and power was under duress, besieged.  The fortress of my divine masculine had already been overcome; its walls breached by those little pills.

Saving my sperm would have meant stopping this process, this journey.  I might have had to wait for 3 months, 6 months.  It takes time.  The truth is, I couldn’t wait one more minute.  

In the end, I didn’t even research the process, what it takes, where to do it, how much it costs…Instead, I went to see an endocrinologist and get hormones for Gender Affirming Hormone Therapy (GAHT) on the same day.  To have come from being occasionally suicidal to that point had taken a lot of “work”: therapy, BDSM, reading, exercise and diet changes, the passage of time.  I couldn’t wait anymore, had been waiting my whole life.

What else contributed?

On their own, this feeling might have been easy to manage.  I reasoned, “if not her, then someone else,” and finding love with someone who is supportive and accepting is very much desired.  Very much.  Someone who is kink loving and trans loving.  It feels at times that this is a smaller and smaller pool of people.  And it felt suddenly at the time, that ruling out women who want to have children is a severely limiting factor.

I can’t help but think that my wife’s own selfish desire to define herself as feminine by projecting her needs of me to play out the performative masculine, also played out in our relationship with our children.  She found herself in her motherhood, but that shut me out in many ways from the nurturing aspects of my own nature.  It forced me into a role, and out of the family home (we had a family business that could be largely conducted from home) because she refused to work but also wouldn’t temper her needs for a grand lifestyle.  And this applied to the business we started together as well.

What we gained in nice vacations and a nice home I very much lost in relation to having a partner who was a partner, but also in relation to having the nesting bond with my children that I might have had more of.  Doing it again with a different partner would offer a chance for something different.

Fears laid at the feet of transition

People have told me they admire my ‘courage’.  For being trans.  I have usually felt that courage is the wrong word.  We are not courageous.  We simply have no choice.  I know that the suicide statistics don’t lie.  Trans people are 100 times more likely to take their own lives than the general population.  And I don’t think this begins to reflect the true numbers, of all my lost sisters and brothers who had yet to come out, who never found their voices, who were just afraid, depressed, and stuck.  The ones the statistics don’t count.

And I don’t say that to elicit pity.  Or to even begin to imply that suicide is a threat.  No.  But it is reality, a measure of our desperation, and one that is fuelled by social discomfort with our existence.  We are a popular target in the political sphere, a small block without a voice, the perfect “other”, defenceless, alien, easy to fear.  I am beginning to understand that the ‘courage’ that I am told we have is not the ‘courage’ we actually feel.  Yes, we do need courage, but mainly it is to fight off the moments of self-doubt which arise.

Ayahuasca helped me to connect to my female self, and to let myself know that she was really here, trapped inside me, ready to come out.  I highlight the experience because it was seminal.  But there were many others, therapy included.  And in truth, when I sat with Ayahuasca for the first time, I knew what I wanted from it, without even knowing whether one could want such a thing.  And I got it.

I was already thinking “if I am female, then I am more than able to be this way, do this, wear this, act like this.”  This was just a higher form of my long-standing comfort of shopping for women’s clothes.  I learned early on that if you accept to feel shame, then it becomes shameful.  Never mind that I learned that from a female colleague who talked about the “dirty men” who came and were surreptitious in the lingerie department, furtive skulkers.  She contrasted that with the men who were there in total comfort—whether shopping for their partners or were totally open about shopping for themselves, those she admired most.  Her words were such a valuable lesson to me.

And retail therapy is real.  It is totally affirming to shop and be seen and interacted with as seen.  I’ve written jokingly about having bought too many clothes, and that is one of the ways I found out that my wife has read this blog—yes, she is the one who broke into my computer and found this diary.  We needn’t go there—every word she reads will either curse her or heal her—that’s her choice, and one that such a violation of privacy can’t erase.

But what else?

There is a lot going on.  Income uncertainty.  I don’t have a job.  I am freelancing.  My body is changing.  I have gotten to the point where rocking boy mode is not necessarily enough to throw people off the scent.  My breasts are visible to the discerning eye even with a binder on.  I can’t take a jacket off in meetings lest they see my perky nipples.

My skin looks completely different.  My body fat is redistributing everywhere, including my face.  Although I weigh the same, I look much thinner.  My boy clothes don’t fit as well.  They are all becoming too big.  My arms are getting thinner, my shoulders and neck are changing.  I am becoming a swan, a goose, no more duckling.  The ballerina giraffe is not a joke.  It’s real.

And that sparks fears for my primary current income source is in an intensely male-dominated sector, in an intensely male-dominated role.  I do so want to have my cake and to eat it, but a big part of me wonders if that is possible.  I tell myself yes, I want to manifest it, but I have social prejudice and a lifetime of self-denial to overcome.  And I feel a burning sense of responsibility to my trans brothers and sisters to try to make it in this man’s world even after having abandoned manhood, so as to show that it is possible.

My trans sisters point to how hard it is to transition late, but that itself is a reflection of patriarchal and hetero-normative thinking.  I don’t like being stared at, as life in Italy shows me every day.  But I also don’t like feeling as if “passing” is important.  I can be beautiful without passing.  Never mind if I fxxk with your head, of what someone thinks of as male or female.  It doesn’t matter.

The woman I was giggling in bed with says I look like a rock star.  My siblings say the same things.  My bestie says I look best when I am blurring the lines of gender, and that I will take time to find my style.  She doesn’t like me as much in dresses and skirts, it doesn’t “do it” for her, but it does it for me.  I love skirts best of all, and I am determined to look good in them.

I never wear makeup, wouldn’t consider a wig, even though some have suggested I try it.  No.  I just want to be me, as me.  The clothes don’t make me, they aren’t a costume, they are a reflection of my mood.

The other side to this career-fear coin was my trip to Texas.  This is doing what I do best.  But when I was there, I realised that there was no way I could have been out and actually even begun to entertain having that meeting.  No way.  And I realise, if those are the terms, then I can’t do this.  It will take more than an enlightened employer.  It feels an impossible hill to climb.

And so, I think to myself, I can’t be that role model.  I can’t handle the pressure.  Instead, I should just go and do something that is trans friendly.  Any choice is to accept a radical downgrade, at least in the short term, of income, income certainty.

All dressed up with no place to go

My current home is unsustainable.  I love Italy so much, but I need more than that.  I need to live in a place where I feel acceptance.  Positive affirmation does matter.  Being stared at does take its toll.  It’s hard to say fxxk ‘em when you are effectively alone fighting the battle.  It just feels easier to slip back into invisibility.

And so, that is where I found myself.  Giggles and a great night were the trigger for an avalanche of fears all of which culminated in me abandoning this path.  I thought to myself, ‘if I do this now, stop for 3 months, preserve my sperm, I might get lucky’.  I thought, ‘I will be lucky.  Male me was libidinous, I can find the masculine in there somewhere’.

And so, the day after a lovely night, I stopped taking hormones.

What happened off hormones?

Withdrawal is real.  I had a headache…that comes from the spironolactone, the testosterone suppressor.  My body has gotten used to it and it didn’t like having it taken away.  But I figured that after a week or so it would go away.

This was nothing compared to what it feels like to have oestrogen drain out of your body.  I felt rage returning.  It was like cellular anger was coming back to me.  A million miniscule pin pricks of feeling returning to my body.  It felt very familiar but also wrong and hated.  I looked in the mirror and within 24 hours, I didn’t like what I saw anymore. Rational me thought ‘surely I can’t be losing the feminisation that fast’ but my eyes and heart were interpreting my reflection in ways that said, ‘yes you can’.  The veil slipped easily.  And that was scary in a different way.

By the third day I definitely felt different in my body, and I was freaking out.  I had a random and slightly deranged conversation with a male relative about whether I could have his sperm, realizing as it was happening that I was actually crazy.  

I booked three therapy sessions, an exercise class, a meditation, a tarot reading, and lunch dates with a sequence of people who have been and are instrumental in my transition.  My main therapist, a traditional talk therapist, came through for me in such a big way, taking my appointment request on a Sunday at the drop of a hat.  Full posse mode. We must make our own posse when the posse over the hill is just a mirage.

By the time I spoke to my main therapist I was back on hormones.  By the time I met the person who saved me most directly from my malaise over lunch, I was back on hormones.

My male relative also saved me, because I discovered that there are options—that I could still “father” a child with genes which I share.  I also realised that having a child to secure a mate is all wrong—and while I do believe I have the right motives too, this would be the wrong place to start from.

The Wisdom of the Snow Queen

The person who helped me find solace in my decision, to move on, and out of the crisis is the one who I know as the Snow Queen.  If you were to meet her, you would understand immediately. She is one of my new friends, one with whom I share many interests. She is also insanely beautiful. Is it wrong of me to love that too?

I am surrounded more and more by people who are healers.  People who care for me and for my psychic energy and well-being.  She is one of them.  She is teaching me about female sexual energy, and helping me to find it in myself, to cultivate it, to respect and honour it.

She reminded me of the words I used when I first met, “I don’t want to die in a male body.”  She offered her view.  “You have lived your life for others.  You have already had beautiful children.  You have lived for them, for your wife.  That is a different era.  It is time for you to live for yourself.  To enter the age of maga, the wise woman.  It is not time for you to go back.”

And she was right.  I could feel it.

The Importance of the Journey

I am not willing to stop.  I am not willing to wait for surgery.  I am not willing to compromise on this path.  I will live out as a transgender woman, no matter the cost.  

This is the destiny that I make for myself.  I am blessed with so many new friends.  People I can giggle with.  And I don’t need to change.  I don’t need to develop an ability to “jump their bones” after a lifetime of refusing to do it.  It’s not me.

I am a rope bunny.  I am a slave.  I am submissive.  I love being with women.  I love their friendship.  I love their laughter and mercy.  I love their pain.  My pain will be different, but I will have it too.

9 thoughts

    1. Hi Alan…she is. She’s amazing. She is a gifted teacher too. We share so many passions. Food and nutrition. Exercise. Spiritual practice through yoga. Now I just have to see if she knows how to use a whip!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. ohhhhh gosh – how exciting – wish i lived closer i would ask if i can be there a) to watch her use it on you and b) to try it out for myself to be used on me and for me to use it on you – i have a desire to whip someone but have never found anyone that would embrace it – have a lovely sunday – best wishes

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Maybe one day I’ll get to whip you. I don’t think I would ever let a man hold a whip in my presence, lest he get ideas. No, a man must kneel and take the whip. That’s what men do. Good men. Bad, sad men don’t realise what they’re missing.

        Kisses Alan and happy Sunday!

        Liked by 2 people

  1. the thought of kneeling for you and the Snow Queen awaiting the whip has me alll of a quiver but it is also quite exciting and arousing – i just had to slap my hands to stop the arousal getting tooo strong. – thank you for your good wishes – t’is much appreciated

    Liked by 1 person

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