It has officially been 30 days since I had my first shot. 39 days, if you want to get really technical, because I’ve been putting this post off for days. I’ve been putting it off intentionally, because I’ve been afraid of it to a certain extent.
I am overall thrilled with my transition thus far; I have the greatest support system someone could possibly hope to have while going through something like this. I haven’t faced much by way of opposition, at least not by outside factors. But this post will not be the sunshine, rainbows, and “my life is so wonderful” post you might think should come around this point.
While I am happy overall and wouldn’t change any major decision I have made so far, I feel that it is also important to be honest. The fact of the matter is, this is an overwhelmingly large change in not only my life but in the lives of everyone who interacts with me on a regular basis. And while it’s true that they are also going through a transition to a certain extent, this really is mostly about me. And that’s okay; I’m allowed to be a little selfish here.
My first experience with any negative aspect of this journey came in the workplace. This was the one place that I hoped it wouldn’t; in fact, I went into this thinking that I could effectively “turn off” anything related to my transition while at work. I knew that the hormones would effect me and that I would be going through a second puberty, if you will- but I told myself that I would be able to be an adult at work and then when I went home I could be a moody teenager. It became very apparent to me very quickly that this would not be the case, and it came in the form of a small outburst that caught everyone, including myself off guard. I am fairly laid back in the workplace, or at least I was. All this took was one misplaced comment and I was loudly exclaiming that I was going through puberty. It’s humorous now, but it certainly wasn’t in the moment when the bossman was looking at me like I’d sprouted an additional head right in front of him. Regardless, it prompted me to panic and request a meeting so that we could all discuss what is happening and how I’m processing (or not processing, incidentally) all of the changes that are beginning to take hold.
I am unable to focus on anything for more than half an hour or so, whereas before I began hormones I could sit down and work on a project for 8 hours solid without even batting an eyelash. I get agitated very easily by too much stimuli at once, where I could once tune out even the loudest of interruptors. I get sidetracked very easily, and my short term memory is, at times, on the same level as a certain lovable little blue fish in the Disney universe. I don’t process things as quickly, and it takes me longer to work out the solution to a problem or come up with an answer.
These are all side effects that I didn’t prepare for, because I thought I would certainly be able to work through them quickly and efficiently. I was sorely mistaken. Luckily, I have an incredible management and HR team behind me at work, and out of the meeting came a fairly successful combination of several workarounds to the struggles that I’m facing. They have also been wonderful in checking in more regularly now that it’s been made clear just how much I was struggling. I didn’t want to admit that I needed to figure out a new plan, because to a certain extent, I felt weak. I didn’t want anyone to think that I was less committed than I have been, or that I don’t care about my job any longer, because that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Once work was sorted out for the most part, I settled back in for a week or so and things were fine. And then, last weekend happened. Friday night rolled around, and I was reminded in no uncertain terms that I was born biologically female. Mix that emotional roller coaster with the dysphoria that was stirred up, and I was already a mess. Saturday morning I went on a short adventure with boy twin number 2 to the grocery store. When we went to check out, the clerk made a comment about just how alike we look. We started to laugh, because that’s actually something that has begun happening more frequently as of late. We do share several physical features that are incredibly similar, and we have very similar personalities to match. At one point, she made the comment, “you could be brother and sister.”
In that moment, my whole world stopped, everything got quiet, and I realized for the first time that though I feel as though I am miles away from the person I was born as, I am not quite as far from that person as I thought I was. It was the first time I had been truly misgendered in public, and I was devastated. It hurt more than I would like to admit to be referred to as a female. This was the first time it actually upset me, but I haven’t been able to stop thinking about how bad it made me feel for days.
Fast forward a few hours; we had a great day watching movies (and napping, if we’re being honest- we had stayed up until 4 or so talking on my couch), and then everyone convened at my place so that we could go out and celebrate that I was officially 4 weeks on T. At some point, we started watching videos on Facebook. There are some old videos of me before I came out where I was involved in a lip-sync battle, as were several of the people in the room. We decided to click through them and give them a watch, because they are extremely comical.
Looking back on it, and after speaking through this with several people, this was a terrible idea. At the time, though, I had no idea that it was going to trigger me the way that it did. I didn’t know until we were already clicking into my old videos that it was going to be one of the most difficult things I’ve ever come across. By the time I realized it we were so invested in the videos that I didn’t want to put an end to the fun we were having. I watched myself on that screen, but for the first time it didn’t feel like me. I got up and walked away at one point, because there was a particular video playing of me lip-syncing to Dolly Parton’s (love you, Dolly!) “9 to 5.” dressed to the nines in a dress, heels, and a blonde wig. I couldn’t watch it. It made me so physically uncomfortable that I felt sick to my stomach.
When that video was done, we moved on to Youtube, where I found an outdated channel I used to have with my roommate. In the spirit of having fun, I pulled up one that doesn’t make me uncomfortable- our lip-synced (are you noticing a pattern here?) version of “I’ll Make a Man out of You” from Mulan. From there, a couple of older videos played. During one in particular, one of my friends made a perfectly innocent comment of “look how happy you look.”
That comment threw me into a tailspin I wasn’t prepared for. All I could see when I looked at that video was how unhappy I was, and here someone was looking at me thinking that I was the exact opposite. It made me realize how large of a front I was able to put up. I constructed walls that I forgot were there, and put on a brave face every day to show people how happy I was, when really that was the farthest from the truth. Someone recently told me, “the clowns are always the saddest… and those who go to ridiculous lengths to be silly and smile and bring levity to life are often fighting for their own.”
This stuck with me throughout the week, and continues to stick with me now (as I put on my battle armor to finish the post that I’ve been trying to write for almost 7 days). The thing about this statement is that it so accurately describes what I was feeling in most of those old videos. I was never actually happy, never felt 100% content with my life. Instead, I worked hard to be okay; I was so desperate to actually be okay that it became my standard operating procedure to go out of my way to show just how happy I was.
This week was one giant struggle after another, but I made it through. It took several conversations throughout the week, and several people checking in pretty regularly, but I made it through. I would love to say that I bounced back quickly and that I am back in the “I love everything” mindset I had been in before this setback, but I cannot do so. I have to remind myself daily that I don’t have to love every day of this journey.
I just have to take it one day at a time.