There are three thing that I really do believe had they been different my transition would have worked.
If I had had more money. I think if I hadn’t gotten so dirt poor so quickly after coming out as trans, and surgery had been quicker to get, then I would’ve gotten that surgery. And if my breasts weren’t there, and the outside of my thighs were sucked out a little, I’m pretty sure I’d still be trans. I’ve met some other detransitioned women who did get their surgeries, and they’ve still found good reasons to start living as women again, so who knows?
If I was a skinnier person. Being a non-passing trans person is really, truly a recipe for out of control social anxiety. But if I had a body whose fat distribution wasn’t so prominently female, and testosterone had more of a chance to let its effects shine and I passed quicker, I’d probably still be trans.
If I was younger. Rich and skinny would’ve both helped me pass, but I think if I’d been about a decade younger I maybe could’ve suffered for longer with being a non-passing trans person. Young people are great at suffering. That’s why they can do crazy things like move to New York or pursue recording careers. Young people can hang in there through poverty and being treated like crap way better than older people can.
You hit thirty and the quality of your mattress becomes really important. Your access to your morning routine is paramount. A boss that doesn’t shit on you, an early bedtime, a sane commute- the personal frenzy that begins when these elements are not in place for a person in their thirties is pretty intense. But young people- they simply do not understand exactly how bad their bed is, their boss is, their commute is. They fundamentally do not understand how uncomfortable their lives are. This is why mothers are so bewildered when they visit their college age children- you’re sleeping on an air mattress? All the time? You’re going in the dumpsters behind grocery stores for your food? This is a good time for you?
In a lot of ways I simply wasn’t tough enough to go through all the deprivations associated with turning your life upside down to transition. I think I would’ve been tougher about, or more blind to, the deprivations at 20.
That’s the rock, and here’s the hard place: I wouldn’t have even gotten the idea I was trans if I didn’t find womanhood completely impossible. If there had been even one aspect of the mythology of what a woman can do that I was like, aces at, I think it wouldn’t have occurred to me I might be anything other than a woman. But like, I’m too selfish to be a woman. I’m too angry. I’m not caring enough. I can’t deal with men. I certainly can’t sustain the attraction men may feel in response to my physicality once I open my mouth. I’m too emotional to be a woman, weirdly. (I really did think my emotionality was a symptom of me being trans- I thought I got easily upset because I was in the wrong gender.) I don’t like scented candles. I don’t like scrapbooking. Any social hierarchy of women I’ve ever been in, like at my all-girl’s high school, I’ve always managed to opt out. I’ve always been so clearly not a contender for top girl, in a sitch like that, that I’ve been able to occupy some other kind of role. A sorta boy role.
But then you get around men and you realize occupying a sorta boy role in an all female space is way different than occupying that role around men. That’s not a role in male space. From an outsider’s perspective the gender roles in men’s space are very simple: men, faggots, and women. There’s men you work with, men you beat the shit out of, and women. Look, that’s just what it looks like to me, if I’m wrong about the gender roles available in male spaces let me know.
It’s hard to know with this stuff when I’m out of line. All I mean to say is I find meeting the expectations of womanhood such a daily stress I pray literally every day nowadays. Figuring out a way to divert the dude staring at me at work without losing my shit. Figuring out a way to turn down the guy asking me on a date without saying, “I find you scary.” Figuring out what to do when everyone at work thinks I’m stupid, because I am making a lot of stupid mistakes, because the dude staring at me at work makes me nervous and I act like a classic flaky woman when I’m nervous.
I guess it’s the fear. How to deal with the fear I’m so aware of. How to be a good person, and an effective person, when I feel so freaked out by male attention. Sometimes I work the patio at my restaurant, and if I put my hands on my hips and stare off into space, as I like to do, the men driving past will literally crane their necks and yell. Which maybe to some guys sounds like a compliment, but I just feel watched. Like even if we weren’t moving to a surveillance society, if I’m out of my house I can feel fairly certain there is a man around me watching me. And I don’t know a thing about him, and I don’t know what he’s thinking or what he thinks a good time consists of. And I know some men think doing some real nasty shit to women is a great time, so…there you go. I just……performing femininity is great for my bank account, it’s great for my tips, it’s the right economic choice. And being out of my house performing femininity means I often feel watched and freaked out about being watched.
So it’s all impossible. None of the options good, no right way to go. Just get your ass to work and pray a lot.