Trans troubles.

yesterday i went to my psychologist. we talked.

actually as always, i talked and talked and he just patiently waited for me to lose my breath to speak his always authoritative and insightful thoughts.  which is why i go to him, every two weeks. because i trust him and he’s smart and helpful and means me well.

i’m on a short leash. i’m bipolar, i’m depressed, i show psychotic symptoms, suicidal ideation has been part of my entire life… lately, not as bad and also lately, worse. up and down.

he asked me a question and it felt like being pushed off a cliff. he scared me.

i left, went to attend the Transgender Day of Remembrance observance at City Hall. by the time i got there, i was so disillusioned. i walked among all the silent people holding candles, staring at the Transgender Community up there on the stage, looking for one that would bring me in, welcome me, see me. then i left.

no one saw me.



lately. for at least two years, i’ve had severe anemia, major problems with digestion, and lately, an extremely painful condition that drove me from work onto disability a few weeks ago.

lately. for the last two and a half years, on a ’round-the-clock rotating schedule at work, my circadian rhythm gave way. in the last 18 months, i haven’t slept longer than 3 hours at a time, and not more than 6 hours a day.

lately. during that time i worked in a closed dark room with just one other person. we were locked in there with giant screens on all the walls, watching and waiting for a petty theft, an error on the card tables, a sucker punch, a stolen cell phone, a grabbed ass… surveillance observers in a casino. voyeurs. as a Man, i was privy to all that one might imagine i would have been privy to. the constant subtext of sexual innuendo, the superior attitude, sitting in contemptuous judgement of a 24/7 crowd of strangers that we knew by name, by habit, by drug of choice, by amount lost. by last occurrence of marital discord, last unwanted pregnancy, last cash advance… taking snapshots of people in embarrassing situations to show off at shift change. hearing all the sexist, homophobic crap. yukking it up all night and all day long, in that frigid, dark, locked room.

lately, i came out. a euphoric, cathartic release. gradually, fading into the light. coming out, up and beyond… beyond the shadows of stunted growth, of limited options, of denied feelings… away from the cartoon vision of myself as a “sissy slut” into the real world, a person like everyone else, a whole person… no longer a “Man” person.

lately. running into a wall of discrimination, humiliation and treachery at work. i thought that the glow of truth was strong enough to shield me, but i think i got hurt. i think i went into a long manic episode. i made so many changes so fast people couldn’t believe it. inside of four months, i had a new name and gender. all my legal papers, my bank account, my car registration… all adjusted. i had completely altered my dress and behavior to be the Woman i always wanted to be in all aspects of my life. just like that.

lately, i won the fight with my Boss and kept my job… but the price was i lost the “friendship” of the co-worker Men. they told me they were nervous now, they felt inhibited, uptight that i might take offense at some smutty remark, which comprised a major part of the small-talk banter repertoire of these, after all, Men. “…you know Terr… uh… bronwen… you’ve heard me say all kinds of things in here… and you know me… you know i’d never say those kinds of things in front of my wife, she just wouldn’t understand… so now i just feel like i’m in here with my wife all night and i can’t relax…”

lately, meanwhile, for the first time in decades, coming out brought me new friends. friends once again started to become part of my life. i found people to sit and talk with and laugh, to share insights, to gossip and argue with… Trans/Intersex friends that encouraged me to write, to sing, to play my drum… to be pretty for and with. friends that i spent every minute of my 53 consecutive off-work hours every week with. i drove there and back every weekend, 120 miles round trip. i put my makeup on with my mirror balanced on a stack of cardboard boxes in the living room where i slept on the floor.

lately, an entire world came into existence, bloomed, and faded. i was and now i’m not, part of a Transgender Community. i was, and now i’m not, sure about what i am. i thought Transgender Women were interested in Women, in being Women. i thought that meant Transgender Women would be concerned about what it meant to be a Man. how could you transition if you didn’t know from what to what? i thought we would all be doing a lot of work understanding why and whether and what the differences were. what they should or should not be, what we were going to make of ourselves besides copies of what had kept us all trapped.  i thought Transgender Women would be interested in their former HIStory as Men, interested to know what it was that they knew that they weren’t. how that might affect how we became and what we became. what is a Woman? i thought we’d all be interested in Feminist analysis, in listening to those most critical, those least interested in defending the status quo. i thought we’d be radicals.

lately, i lost my mind. severe anemia, sleep deprivation, disillusionment, fatigue from fierce effort to defend and win my rights. an anal fissure. suicidal ideation. self-inflicted physical wounds. broken shit. depression. isolation. finally, blow outs at work, me on the floor writhing in pain alternating with me smacking my closed fists into my head bitterly denouncing the entire human race at my desk and swearing to hang myself… written up. on probation. writing on the wall.



transitioning. identifying, communicating, being accepted, being doubted, being confused, being welcomed, being seen, being heard, being creative, being misunderstood, being respected, being different, being taken for a…

transitioning. realigning, reflecting, projecting, critiquing, improvising, inferring, intending, being loved, being wanted, being ignored, being insulted, being a disappointment, being disappointed…

transitioning. playing, singing, feeling light, feeling free, feeling right, feeling easy, feeling home, feeling good.

transitioning. caring about all that more than anything. always in the back, in the front, on top of, all over my mind. my free, true identity. my life. my heart.

transitioning. beloved new world. beloved holy sense of integrated self. undivided, beloved. beloved community, beloved us, beloved infinite you and me, beloved we, beloved eternity.

transitioning. undoing, demolishing, sweeping up, not settling, insisting, unbecoming. striving to say, striving to precipitate, striving to conjure, striving to ease into it, striving to avoid repeating, striving to catch a star, striving not to go it alone.



identifying. Transgender Woman, pansexual, former sissy slut. happy, alive, confident. open, inviting, including, intruding, belonging.

identifying. celibate, lonesome, yearning, discouraged. not passing. not even wanting to pass. insisting, investigating, invalidating, intimidating, incorrigible.

identifying. refusing, recruiting, unrealistic. irreconcilable contradictions and conflict. accusations, insinuations, exhortations. arguments, insults, inconsistencies.



i tried to be clear. since the first time i talked with the doctors at the Transgender Specialty Clinic i was referred to (a sanctuary of love and competent, compassionate help. at last!).

i tried to be clear. my discomfort was with being a Man. my stomped on, stamped out self had always secretly yearned to be a Woman. my Radical Lesbian Feminist Mom had been and continues to be a primary influence on me (RIP). clear that i wanted to — HAD to — free my gender identity so i wouldn’t be confined by male supremacy to be someone i couldn’t stand that anyone should have to be.

i tried to be clear. i had run out of tolerance for Man, Men… the dishonesty, the violence, the denial, the selfishness, the exploiting, the disingenuousness, the ignorance, the arrogance… i was ready to do whatever i could to stop being a Man.

i tried to be clear. i LOVED dressing and being recognized as a Woman.

i tried to be clear. i never said i thought i was a female. i explicitly said that i thought my penis was just a form of clitoris. i said that i understood myself to already be a form of female and that all i was doing was expressing my maleness as i felt it was meaningful and true for me. but i think i was supposed to say, “yes, i think i am a Woman”… as if i had said, “i’m not a male anymore”.

i tried to be clear. i tried to say that i thought it was patriarchal male supremacist delusion that created the illusion that the differences of male and female were the most important distinction, the obvious criteria for ranking and categorizing in the male supremacist Hierarchy of privilege.

i tried to be clear. i tried to say that i saw the “gender expression” part — the Women’s clothing, the makeup, the hair, the nails — as being a matter of style, a creative activity, expressive far beyond the stunted limits of the Man identity that i never accepted or did with any particular interest anyway.

i tried to be clear. the more i came into the light, letting myself behave and dress and be seen as a Woman, the more fun i was having. the better life felt, the less i wanted to die.

i tried to be clear. i got this.

i tried to be clear. and now, less than a year into HRT, my doctor wants to know if i think what i’m doing might more an effort to be a better Feminist than to be an “assigned male at birth” Woman. yesterday as it came time to end the session he stopped and asked me seriously:

“when we first began talking a year ago, would you say that you felt like your identification as a Transgender Woman was stronger? how much of your idea of what you are doing, do you think, is primarily motivated by your effort to reject patriarchy?”

i tried to be clear. so… yesterday when my doctor asked me this question it wasn’t because he didn’t know what i had been clear about before. but i guess to him i wasn’t clear when i came in yesterday.  i was even less when i left.



heresy. they tell me “Transgender Women Are Women!” and i agree… or do i?

heresy. they tell me they’ve never been Men, they’ve never been male… but i have, and wont forget or deny.

heresy. they tell me they’re Women, but they don’t know much about what Women have said, have to say… Feminist Women. Free Womyn, with scars and lessons to teach us from the down side of male supremacy, from the survivor’s side, from the rebel’s side.

heresy. gradually getting the sense that i’ve said something wrong, that what i’m exploring isn’t appreciated, that it’d be better if i just let this crazy talk go before someone calls me out as a TERF-lover, or a TrendyTrans, or just some kind of mixed up dude who’s hopelessly confused, not Real Transgender.

heresy. realizing that in the straight world of shopping and gas stations and banks and landlords and neighbors… in that world, there is no question about “what i am”.

heresy. realizing that i feel least understood and most rejected by Transgender Women i meet online and in real life.



2 thoughts on “Trans troubles.

  1. Aww Birdie. I’m so sorry to hear you’re going through this at the moment. We’ve talked on your other post about the whole patriarchy thing and I was going to comment on that today as I have some time free again, but then I saw this one. I’ve started to consider you an online friend since our poetry exchange on CDL and seeing you express this much pain makes me empathetically feel like crap too.
    The main point I want to highlight, and I’m not sure if it’ll be of any help is that people are self-centred idiots most of the time, stuck in a mode of the present where it’s just them, or thinking about the past whereas someone in need of inclusion is walking among them that very moment, isn’t that anti-transgender violence in a passive way too? I don’t participate in remembrance ceremonies and such, I just remind myself on the day to be aware of those that may need help, even if it’s just an ear that’ll listen or want to hear a friendly non-judgemental word of sympathy, maybe even a hug. I’m progressive like that. 😉

    But honestly, what if your identity as transgender is partly driven by a motivation to reject patriarchy? Are societal motives not included by default in our thoughts and feelings? And ultimately, as you say the more you felt like enjoying life as a woman, the less you wanted to die. Seriously, it’s a no brainer from that point of view.

    I know what it’s like to be on the fringes. I’m member of at least five different minorities and marginalised groups myself. Life can be tough, yet there’s one thing I absolutely love, and luckily I get reminded of this regularly due to spending my time amid a really diverse university community with very heterodox views and consisting of people from 133 countries. Unity in diversity is by no means impossible.


  2. Fabiènne… thank you for your encouragement and please accept my apologies both for possibly bringing you down with my melancholia and for this belated acknowledgement of your concern…

    i think i may have also been unclear in how i wrote about what i experienced as i walked around at the TDoR… it was me that wasn’t wanting to be seen i think.. i have a face i put on that works pretty well to keep people from risking saying anything to me… the mood i was in was just awful… i went listening to this poor angel on my shoulder telling me **”go! you need to talk to someone… there’ll be someone there you’ll see!”** …i couldn’t shut that little sweetheart up so i agreed to go, but the funk was all over me still…

    also, my doctor wasn’t off-base or anything i don’t think, he even cautioned me not to take it the wrong way… i told him that i was experiencing if not doubts at least confusion since i keep running into “transgender” ideas and dialogs and narratives and assertions and beliefs that seem so far from what i can accept for myself. and it’s true that my dialog is pretty much devoid of me talking about how feminine i feel, or how much of a girl i am now and how happy that makes me… (both of which are the most precious things happening in my life). i am always talking about existential, social, ethical problems that i’ve always recognized as being super important, most prominently, understanding how male supremacy works and how to take a part in undoing it. i’ve said here several times… i’m a male, not a Man.

    i can’t tell you why i want to dress and be regarded as a Woman, i don’t know. as i said, it just makes me feel a LOT better…

    but unfortunately, i can’t ignore that simply me acting out my idea of “being a Woman” takes place in the same social world where i do understand why i don’t want to be a Man… begging the question… if one identity in the polar patriarchal world is known to be problematic, is the other pole not also a “corrupted” identity too? isn’t the identity assigned by patriarchy to females — to be “Women” — a role designed to place a person into a submissive position? “the weaker sex” and all that… now that i claim the identity of Woman, does that put me in the same condition as other Women in a patriarchal society? do they start paying me less? do they come looking to rape me? am i battered, ignored, ridiculed, hated (behind hubris-filled smiles and cooing, condescending banter)? the answer to all of these horrors is no…

    i really don’t pass, so i think the world treats me (at worst) like a clown, some kind of happy freak, a gag person… crazy… or at best a brave person, a person that can’t be understood but who deserves credit for living her convictions. but either way, my feeling is that i am seen to be an elderly Man who has strange ideas about himself and we can all make him happy be going along with his “i’m a she if you please…”

    given that that’s how i feel myself to be taken in the public part of my life, where i’m a member of a small community, and then the rejection of my ways of understanding what i am in fact (or my perception of rejection anyway) in Transgender circles, is it any wonder that i feel really low?

    it’s hard to transition. i knew that it would be. i write like i’m at the end of my rope about it and i am… but i also know that i’m finding angels as well as hard cases. it isn’t all hard and cold. i have to stop for a minute and let the warmth from people like you, and Jack, and several others just wrap me up and hold me close and sing me to a restful sleep…

    thank you…
    ❤ ❤ ❤ birdy


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