Over the last two months, I have felt like life has been moving quickly and slowly simultaneously. I feel like I am racing towards a goal, and yet the wait is eternal. I am both in control and not—at least emotionally. A perfect storm of emotions is weighing heavily on my soul, but I cannot always identify what is causing the waves. It’s like riding an out of control roller coaster.
After many two consults and some insurance wrangling, I was approved for facial feminization surgery (FFS) and now have an August date with a plastic surgeon. I am nervously excited about this development. Looking at my face each day is like flipping a coin. Some days, I feel cute. I see the authentic me with beautiful eyes, cheeks, and wavy hair that falls in front of my face. Other days, I cannot help but focus on the squarish jaw line, the facial hair I still must shave and color-correct out with make-up everyday, and the nose. OMG, the big nose. I can appreciate the positive qualities of my face, but I focus so much on the remaining masculine features, it frustrates me and affects my mood. I am not looking for a whole new face, but I am anxious to put it in the hands of a skilled plastic surgeon. However, I have never had major surgery before. I have never had to lie in a hospital bed attached to IVs while in pain, hoping for company, and eating bad Jell-O. The idea of recovery is a scary one, but any fears I have regarding the logistics of surgery and recovery are easily eclipsed by my need for FFS, and thus I am excited. Still, August seems so far away…
I have also begun the process of seeking consults for gender reassignment surgery (GRS). Now 2 1/2 years into transition and over one year full-time, I am beginning to struggle with the anatomy between my legs. For awhile, the idea of GRS has been a fleeting faraway thought—something I may or may not do in the future—but the need to make that change is becoming more relevant in my mind. I am tired of tucking on a daily basis. I am nervous on the rare occasions my young children share a public bathroom stall with me, as I fear I may need to answer uncomfortable questions. And while I continue to be attracted to women, I cannot help imagine what penile penetration would feel like from the receiving end. These thoughts are in my head more often than not these days. With the added political pressure that my insurance could be jeopardized by a potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the time is ripe for me to begin seeking GRS.
My anatomy is not the sole focus plaguing my transition. My voice has long been a sore point for me, no matter how much friends and family say I talk closer to an average woman these days. For the last few months, I have been working with a vocal therapist who specifically works with me to train my voice to stay in the average feminine range. She has confirmed that I do not actually have far to go; I just need to practice more to keep consistent. Each of these appointments is affirming that I can one day full present as a woman without the need for extensive additional surgeries. Woo hoo!
As I wait for FFS, move the needle on GRS, retrain my voice, and re-evaluate my hormone regimen (I keep my care team busy!), other things keep me both excited and on edge. This year has been a roller coaster year, and I am only about a third of the way through it!
Work has been troublesome lately. In the last few months, a new supervisor was hired into my equivalent position. While we need the help, rumor had it that his starting pay was significantly higher than others at the same level. This caused me great concern, as I already feel undervalued in my role. After bringing my concerns up to management, an adjustment was made for me, but for the first time since I began working there, I feel like I am being low-balled and lied to. The actions they took were not sufficient, and I now have to look at other options. With all of my medical needs, I am fearful of changing jobs, but I also know that I cannot remain in an environment that is becoming more toxic.
Then there is the mater of dating. I mentioned in my last post that I had begun thinking about dating and what relationships might be like since my wife has shown no indication she is reconsidering staying with me. Recent experiences have opened my eyes to the difficulty I will face pursuing any relationship. I feel an internal pressure to have more experiences and to test my limits. I feel external pressure to push those limits a little faster and farther than I might be ready for. And then there is the uncertainty of how actively dating others would affect that fragile balance my wife and I have formed. My body and mind are being pulled in multiple directions, and I am alone to sort it all out for myself. I have very few people to offer guidance in this department. Is this what a 14-year-old girl would be going through if she had no one to talk to about her sexual feelings? How would I know?
I feel focused and lost at the same time. On the medical side, I have plans and a timeline. The logistics of physical transition are taking shape. On the emotional side, I am without direction and a destination. The uncertainty, combined with the sheer quantity of things I juggle in the air on a daily basis, is overwhelming and stressful, and I cannot always identify which thing is causing that discomfort on any given day.
The twist and turns of this emotional roller coaster are unpredictable. The track directly in front of me is visible, but I have no idea what is around the next curve. Is it a corkscrew to upset my equilibrium? A dark tunnel to cry in? Am I about to drop uncontrollably 250 feet screaming the whole way? I don’t know. It’s all so complex. The months feel like they are going quickly, but I do not feel like I am resolving enough to be happy and get all of the things off my plate that I need to deal with. August really is not that far away, but it still feels like an eternity. I love roller coasters, but this one is rough. Everything and nothing is in my control. Lots of highs. Lots of lows. Lots of twists and turns. All just to hurry up and wait. Such a paradox! Such is life—an authentic life.