Three years ago, I started taking testosterone as part of my transition from female to male. I currently live and interact with society as male, rarely discussing anything related to my gender identity or experiences with the people around me. However, this doesn’t mean that I have completely buried my past.
I went home recently and had the interesting experience of going through my old clothes in my parents’ basement. I found some of the feminine stuff that my ex-girlfriend pressured me to buy in late high school because she wanted me to look more like a fashionably androgynous lesbian and less like a twelve year-old boy. I tried one of my old, clingy v-neck shirts on to amuse my wife and mom, demonstrating with my broad shoulders and abundant chest hair that more than just my gender expression has changed since I last wore that shirt. I have to say it was a bit odd to pass some of those clothes on to my wife, particularly since she never knew me as someone who would’ve worn anything even remotely similar to the stuff we unpacked. How many women can say the nice new clothes they got over break were hand-me-downs from their husband? It’s just a little bizarre, even though at this point I should be used to reconciling my past with my present.
I’m only really realizing how much my past influences my current perspectives, primarily because my transgender status isn’t something that is taken for granted (or even known) among the people I’m in contact with day to day now. Just as it’s strange for me to look back at myself as having once worn feminine clothing, it’s strange to interact with the world without that being common knowledge. I’m in a class where we are expected to write about our unique perspectives and unpack how our personal experiences impact the way we view the world. This makes being stealth (not open about being transgender) difficult, because I feel like it is inauthentic not to share how being trans has influenced me because it is one of the number one things that defines my perspective (directly and indirectly). I look at gender, sexuality, privilege, oppression, and a million other things differently because of my life experiences being raised a woman, out as a lesbian for most of my teenage/young adult life, transitioning, and now living as male. I can’t even begin to write anything without touching that. I’m queer, but I’m not living a visibly queer life. I don’t even know how to share that with others and still remain stealth and honest. In many ways, my perspective is being erased, even though I’m stealth of my own free will (mostly). I considered taking my professor aside and explaining to her my situation in regard to the class, but I just don’t know her well enough to feel comfortable doing that. Besides, it isn’t terribly pressing and I know I can get by.
Someone online recently asked me if I think that transition ends or if we are constantly transitioning our entire lives. I really think I’ve hit a point in my transition where I have most of the body stuff sorted out, although I still have dysphoria and things aren’t perfect. I don’t really track my changes much and taking testosterone has become a chore. I’m in this stage, though, where I really feel like I’m emotionally transitioning. I’m exploring and sorting out my place in the world and generally just dealing with the aftermath of physical transition. Things move so quickly and single-mindedly with testosterone and top surgery and everything else that its now time for me to just slowly reintroduce myself into the world. Suddenly, noticing new facial hair and researching how to change my legal documents doesn’t dominate my life, so now what? I think this, even more than when I was pre-T and figuring out my gender identity, is the time for me to step back and really think about who I am as a person and sort out where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going.