Milestone 1: First Appointment

22 12 2007
So I just booked my first appointment with a psychotherapist! I’m VERY excited about it! This represents a much more concrete step toward transition than any I’ve experienced before. Previous steps have been gradual, like a gradual shift to publicly identifying as male in various social circles, slowly getting used to signing emails as Jacky, etc. Before that even, things like exclusively wearing men’s clothes and packing soft 24/7 didn’t feel like they were related to transition because, at that time, it just felt right and I was undecided and uninformed about the possible reality of being transsexual. So . . .yeah . . . the past week has been spent looking around for a psychologist/therapist, getting recommendations, etc and now that an appointment is booked I feel this sense of anticipation. Part of me is resentful of this Western model of classifying gender variance as a disorder. But that’s the system I live in and this process is what will allow me to achieve my goals of hormone replacement therapy and an eventual legal name change. I still think it sucks that one cannot change the sex on their birth certificate without having sex reassignment surgery. Why do I need to modify my genitals to have the right to have official documents that reflect what I look like in general? Am I going to spend my life getting searched at customs every time I want to cross a border because my passport says F but I have a male appearance? 

Anyway . . . the last bit of ranting notwithstanding, I’m very excited and optimistic.

Re-visiting the past

22 12 2007

(Originally written about one week post-decision) 

When I think back to my early childhood, I remember looking like a boy. My mother kept my hair short with the idea that it would be thicker later. People would often mistake me for a boy. My dad, who worked as a plumber for a community of Hasidic Jews in downstate New York, even used this to his advantage when he needed to take me to work. It was forbidden for him to take me there alone, without my mother there, since I was a girl. But since he could pass me off as his son, things were fine. I remember beaming when his boss, the grand rabbi, asked him: “Is this your son?” Sometimes, he would let me help him with his work. I got to clean fittings. He would look at me with pride when I said things like: “I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty like my brother!”

During this period, when I was under 8 or so, I often visualised myself as a boy or emulated male role models. I would dream of being Robin Hood. Or I would tell my family to call me by a male name, like “Bernie.” Bernie was a friend of the family who had a son named after him. I thought the son was cute (he was a teen at the time) and decided I wanted to be like him. My family thought it was odd but they humoured me.

I didn’t like to play with dolls, except for one that had a phone, and it was more about the phone than the doll. I had stuffed animals though. But mostly, I loved to play with trucks, tractors and matchbox cars.

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November 2007 – A decision is made

22 12 2007

And shortly thereafter, I start to write about it. This is what I wrote about a week after I made my decision (which had actually been making itself over the course of many years):

If coming out to oneself as transsexual marks the beginning of transition, then I suppose I am just beginning. However, if transition begins with the onset of questionning of and discomfort with one’s physical sex and/or culturally prescribed gender identity and presentation, then I’ve been transsexual from the beginning.

I remember looking into the term “transgender” (TG) about 4 years ago (late 2003) after answering a survey aimed at lesbian and bisexual women. I had self-identified as bisexual for nearly a decade by then and had been out for a number of years. While responding to the survey, I noticed that there was as alternative to “female” under gender: “transgender”. This was a brand new term for me. I had heard of transsexuals (TS), and even met a couple, but . . .transGENDER? Being an anthropologist and being well aware of the difference between sex and gender, I put two and two together and figured that maybe transgender referred to someone who changed their social identity without necessarily changing their sex. This idea appealed to me and I was fascinated with the idea that I no longer had to limit myself to “female”. It felt good.

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