Sometimes I wake up in the morning and think, “Oh shit, do I really have to be trans?” Sometimes I wish that I could put this genie back into the bottle and go back to being a female faggot who had not yet claimed trans and never decided to use male pronouns. Not because these were the wrong decisions, but because they were the right ones. Because, in many ways, the process of transition is much more difficult than the experience of being gender-fucked pre-transition.
Even as I ask this question, though, I know that there is no going back. My initial wobbles — feeling like an impostor when I asked to be called “he” or fearing that others would never believe that I could be trans — are past. A little more than one month after beginning to use male pronouns, I feel unambiguously that people are making a mistake when they call me “she” or “Ma’am”, I feel that they have entirely the wrong idea of me when I can tell that they see me as a woman, and I am able to announce unabashedly that I am trans and that I go by “he” as a simple statement of fact. It feels comfortable and right when people treat me like a guy or when trans guys address me as another trans guy, and I can’t imagine giving this up to be female again.
As nice as it is to have gained this confidence in my identity, it is also scary to know that there is no going back. Especially since the place where I’m at now is so more difficult than I had anticipated. I had hoped that I would be able to simply enjoy the affirmation of having folks in my queer community call me “he” while being seen as “she” by the world at large. After all, I had been going by “she” my entire life, and it hadn’t been all that bad! But once I admitted to myself that I was trans and male-identified, once I claimed that publicly, and once I experienced what it was like to be recognized as male, a switch went off inside of me. Now that I know what’s right, I can no longer stand to be called “she” or “Ma’am”, to be seen as a woman, or to be assigned female social roles. Going by male pronouns has exacerbated beyond belief my awareness of the discomfort and wrongness of situations in which I am perceived as a woman or a lesbian.
Discomfort and paranoia is the air I breathe every time I walk out the door. Sometimes it is heavy, sometimes it is light, only slightly humid, and sometimes I forget about it entirely. But I know that it could descend on me anytime. Every social encounter holds in it a shard of danger. And so I find myself acting like a stiff, monosyllabic straight dude in the hopes that people won’t treat me like a woman, won’t say “Ma’am”, won’t “correct” themselves if they gender me male. I find the details of my appearance that fail to read as male more and more depressing. I can’t believe how young I look.
There is sadness in this atmosphere too. A growing sadness at not being able to translate my maleness into my appearance, at not having the body that would enable me to act like the effeminate faggot I am, at having to contemplate the start of my new job with anxiety and apprehension rather than excitement and celebration.
I can’t imagine living the rest of my life this way. Granted, one never knows, it is always possible that I could “lighten up” and begin to not care how others see me. I could hone my appreciation for the absurdity of life. I could find that being seen as male at work helps alleviate my dysphoria.
But I somehow doubt that any of these tactics will work. Even when I am amongst friends who treat me as male, I feel sad that my body does not match my identity and abjectly grateful that they are willing to see me as male anyhow. In other settings it is becoming intolerable to not be able to non-verbally communicate that I am male. To be in a body that makes my effeminacy all but impossible to express. To have to constantly deal with people misgendering and mis-ageing me.
Starting testosterone therapy is beginning to feel less and less like a choice, a possibility, and a desire, and more and more like the inevitable next step, because there is no other livable option. No going back and no staying put. No way to go but forward.