I've been soul searching a lot lately regarding my gender identity and some days, I feel like my mind is spinning with all of these terms, many of which I know don't describe me, where others may fit on Monday but feel miles away from my heart by Wednesday. It's an overwhelming feeling that can only be compared to playing a game of darts, only instead of points, each space on the board is a gender identity, and just to make sure you're as confused as possible, you've been given a blindfold and spun around a few times to ensure as little accuracy as possible.
When I had my re-awakening back in December of 2016, I had absolutely no clue as to who I might be. Was I male or female? Was I just a crossdresser or actually transgender? These thoughts and feelings can really fuck your head up even on a clear-minded day. I started therapy and spent a lot of time working on figuring out where I truly felt I belonged on the gender spectrum. I found an amazing support group, and getting to know so many amazing people from all over said spectrum helped me learn a lot about not only myself, but also about the community in which I had become a part of.
"BY THE END OF SUMMER 2017, I HAD HAD A FULL EPIPHANY AND WAS ABSOLUTELY SURE I WAS A TRANSGENDER WOMAN"
By the end of summer 2017, I had had a full epiphany and was absolutely sure I was a transgender woman. I would seek hormone therapy and begin transitioning to achieve the female body that I knew I was meant to have. However, at the same time, I knew that despite the transition that I desired, I did not have any plans on surgically altering my body for the sake of my femininity. I didn't have the hatred that many others felt towards their genitalia nor did I have an aversion to using it for pleasure. Part of me would always wonder, like many others wonder and fear, am I "trans enough?" Could it be that some of my own positive feelings towards my body could exempt me from achieving my goal of being who I truly want to be?"
In January of 2018, I began a diet leading up to March when I underwent gastric sleeve surgery to finally take charge of my weight issues, and as of July I had lost an incredible 110lbs since New Year's Day. Physically, I feel great… I function better, mostly due to the decrease in aches and pains through my body that the excess weight put so much pressure on. I sleep better at night, meaning that I have more energy from day to day. And finally, when I look at myself in the mirror, the overwhelming feeling of disgust towards my reflection has faded away to a mixed feeling that lingers somewhere around content.
Many of these mixed feelings have been increased due to a recurring conversation with my wife; who has become my biggest supporter in finding my true place on the gender spectrum. In the last few months, it is increasingly rare for her to refer to me using male pronouns, to the point where I don’t even think she realizes that she does it anymore. It makes me incredibly proud to watch her own mental transition, as a little over a year ago, there was an overwhelming fear that my gender identity could lead to the demise of our marriage. Despite these changes, the one dilemma occurs due to my overall appearance, more specifically, in my work attire.
I work in a business professional environment, and despite my entire office knowing about my planned transition, I have yet to reach a place of self-comfort where I am prepared to appear femme in front of them. Therefore, five days a week, I put on a suit and tie and head to the office; and on most mornings, my wife enjoys watching me get dressed and cannot help but express how handsome she thinks I am. Of course, this opinion of hers was present even when I weighed nearly 330lbs, but now at since the loss of so much excess, the feeling has only intensified. So every morning, she looks at me affectionately and expresses her opinion of my appearance, then immediately apologizes for using male-based terminology. Every day, I tell her that her calling me handsome really doesn't bother me, but still, the conversation repeats again and again.
Something did begin to weigh on my mind however, and it wasn't the comments about being handsome; it was the fact that the term didn’t bother me at all. I enjoyed being called handsome just as much as I enjoy being called pretty when I'm presenting feminine, maybe even more. Some of that may be due to the dysphoria, that when I present, continues to whisper in my ear that I look ridiculous and that the positive reactions are nothing but bullshit, "they're only telling me that I look pretty in order to make me feel better about myself, they don't really mean it;" however since my weight loss, I actually feel handsome. I put my suit on every morning and even before my wife begins her morning routine of compliments, I stand in the mirror wrapping the tie around my neck and I smile at myself, at the way I look, at my pride in following through and combating obesity, I like the way I look since losing weight.
This whole mix of emotions culminated recently at a BBQ with a large group of friends from the LGBT community. My wife and I got ready to go to our friend's house, packing a small bag because we knew that we would be spending some time in their pool. I had a men's bathing suit on under my jeans and a standard white undershirt. I debated bringing an additional t-shirt, as it was always a habit of mine to wear an undershirt in a pool or even at the beach, partly due to the negative feelings caused by my weight, partly because of my skin's tendency to instantly go from ghost to lobster when exposed to the sun. Then of course, there were the gender factors that added to the issue of my “shirtlessness”; firstly because if I was a woman, then I couldn’t just go walking around with no shirt on, secondly, because of the issue of my hairiness.
"AND SUDDENLY, PART OF ME FELT LIKE I HAD WAY BACK WHEN MY JOURNEY BEGAN, WHO WAS I? WHAT GENDER WAS I?"
So we packed up everything we needed, headed over to the BBQ and when it came time for us to head into the water, without even a second thought, I pulled my shirt off and went for a swim. It was an odd moment when it had actually occurred to me what had happened, that I was now wearing nothing but a pair of shorts in front of a group of friends who have only known me as somebody who identified female. And suddenly, part of me felt like I had way back when my journey began, who was I? What gender was I? How could I be female if I'm happily exposing my hairy chest in public?
I spent a bit of the week that followed reading about gender identities, I felt like I was back at square one. But ultimately, I realized something important, that my gender identity doesn’t really matter. I don't need to identify one way or the other to be myself, or to be happy, because who I am is just that… who I am. No matter what genitalia appear between my legs or what my chest looks like with no shirt on. Despite the hormones running through my body, I am me, and as long as I am happy, that's all that truly matters.