My Misery

I can’t go too deep into myself very often because it hurts too much down there. It’s where the deepest traumas live, where the pain goes when I have to push it away for just a bit because I can’t cope with it. It’s where the question of “Why did I have to be born this way” lives, along with a few others along that same line.

But sometimes I let myself go to this deep, dark place and sit down and look around. The traumas are all so familiar to me now, as I’ve explored most of them in therapy at various points in these last seven years. The questions are so much harder, though, because there’s no answers that I will ever like. The answers are things like “Biology, just because, karma, past lives.” Biologically, the material that made me was XX, not XY, I assume. Perhaps there’s some weird genetic thing yet to be discovered. But something happened somewhere in this process because my brain is decidedly NOT XX. There’s only so much about a person that socialization can override. A child who won’t be put into a box that they know they don’t fit into cannot understand that the adults around them honestly believe the child belongs in that box and just needs more exposure to the things those box dwellers should like and love.

Something happened to me. Was it hormonal before I was even born? Is it something about my soul? Am I a genetic mutant? (Full disclosure, I would love to be a genetic mutant, but it needs to be something cool that gives me powers like X-Men.)

One of the things I wish I could tell the transphobes of the world is that so many of us try our hardest to fit into the box we are supposed to want to be in. In their minds, we should just “accept” how we were born and get help for our “obvious mental issues.” Well, T-Phobes, I worked alongside a metric shit ton of you and you would not have classified me as having mental issues. I seemed perfectly functional to you, if not slightly masculine. Or, if you got to know me really well, extremely masculine. The military was a good fit for me, that androgynous world where we all wear the same uniforms more dependent on our job than our biological sex.

Why does accepting who I am mean fitting into narrowly defined criteria of liking things I have zero interest in and wearing clothing that has always made me uncomfortable? Or, if you’re good with me wearing men’s clothes, and being interested in “male” things, why do you care what I do to my own body? Is it really all that inconvenient for you to call me something different once I change my name?

The funny thing is that I get misgendered more often than not and I have most of my life. And by misgendered, I mean according to my XX chromosomes. I get “sir, hey man, dude, and bro” way more than anything else. I have noticed that if I am in a group of women, it’s sometimes ladies, but more often the very general “guys.” It’s a great way to prevent misgendering to just use “guys.”

Once I have top surgery, I really think that I will only get misgendered once I talk. And maybe not even then. My face has always seemed very masculine to me, which led to a lot of self confidence issues when I was trying so damn hard to appear like an XX. No matter what I did, no matter how much makeup I let someone put on me, I always felt like I was in drag. ALWAYS. Was I the only one who saw myself like that? I’m not sure. But one very revealing thing I can say is that anytime I have let someone put makeup on me for a special event, it made me cry. Every single time. I do not look like me. I look like a freak, like a boy in too much makeup. There was never a time where I felt happy about how my face looked in makeup. And when I see pictures of those few times, I cringe inside. I look like a freak. What do other people see in those pictures? A totally normal girl with a totally normal amount of makeup? Or a freaky boy with makeup?

In relationships with the XYs, I always felt ugly, out of place, and definitely completely unattractive. In relationships with the XXs, I felt confident, happy, and attractive. I like myself more with the XXs, and my confidence is so much higher. Why is that? Why can’t I just see myself as myself, without defining it based on my relationship? Why am I unattractive with one, but attractive with the other? This isn’t a common problem that other people have, is it? It seems to me that when I am trying to fit into the world in which I don’t belong, I know that I am an imposter. I know that I don’t belong there and I see the ugly facade of someone trying to be something they aren’t.

I recently saw a picture of me from college. It was the soccer team picture. It was shocking to me how much I looked like my younger brother. I remember liking how I looked in college. Other than the first semester, all of my relationships back there were with XXs. And I had this weird problem of totally straight, never questioned their sexuality before straight girls chasing me around. I held hands with a couple a few times, but never did more. I was in relationship and behaving poorly every time, but it astounded me at the time and it astounds me even more now. Why did I force all of these straight girls into a questioning phase that they hadn’t been in up until they got to know me? I feel 100% male in my soul and I feel like some people can see that. Sometimes even when I tried my hardest to be as feminine as possible, I would still end up being one of the guys. It was generally with the guys that I considered my closest friends and neither them nor I felt any sexual energy between us.

I knew myself better when I was five than I do now. I would have emphatically told anyone around me that I was a boy and they would’ve thought it was cute and funny and then they would’ve felt compelled to point out to me that I was indeed a girl and maybe I should be sweet and quiet and sit nicely, instead of rolling around on the ground like my brother was. I rarely listened to that nonsense and only sat quietly when my brother was also forced to sit quietly. But would I have wanted to be raised a boy? To have been socially transitioned and given puberty blockers when the time came? I don’t know. It would’ve changed some things, I am sure. I don’t know if I would’ve been happier that way. Doors would’ve been closed to me that I breezed through easily, like joining the military. But maybe I could’ve excelled at sports like I wanted to but wasn’t allowed to do. I do feel some jealousy when I see older teenagers who are on puberty blockers and got to choose their new name and feel like they are living their best life. I don’t really think the decision should include anyone but the parents, the doctor, and most importantly, the child. Do some kids regret choices they make? I guess?

Honestly, the only reason I can sit here and even debate if I would’ve wanted to transition as a kid is because I have lived this full life already. I have seen where decisions I made took me, and who has come into my life. To think about such a major change at a young age would mean that my entire life would be undone and it would be a life I can’t even imagine now. It would mean giving up people I love and cannot live without. It would mean these 4 children never existed. And the me who sits here typing this never existed. If I had been born decades later and my parents were cooler and transitioning had been available to me as a child, with no knowledge of what was to come, than yes, I believe I would’ve wanted those puberty blockers, thank you very much. I wouldn’t have felt any sense of loss of this life I have actually lived, because it would’ve been the imaginary life I couldn’t have even conjured up instead of this imaginary puberty-blocked, early social transition life that I can’t conjure up.

So what did I miss out on? Sports, respect, exposure to things I had to push into myself with no help, toxic masculinity, having children without destroying my own body, being someone’s dad, friendships with men without there being more to it and jealous wives overriding it, and not spending most of my adult life wasting my energy being a fraud.

But I gained an amazing wife, amazing kids, an amazing military experience in the Air Force, a life changing college experience at a women’s college, a military retirement that now includes VA compensation that will be enough so I can choose if I want to work again, and a very unique outlook on life from being two-spirited like I am.

But it’s time to step back out into the light and away from this deep, dark place of pain. Remember, I can’t sit here too long or it will overtake me and make me wish I wasn’t living at all. Only short bursts of time down here so that I can keep pushing forward, alive.

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