Today is an important day. It’s pajama day at my daughter’s preschool. She wore her Batman pajamas. It’s also a day for me to showcase my special super power: invisibility.
Today is Transgender Day of Visibility. Small problem is that I am still slowly inching out of the closet. I woke up this morning wondering if today was a golden opportunity to come out widely and publicly on Facebook. Then my blood pressure went up and I felt light-headed.
I decided to transition only after choosing a name. For months, I had thought of several names, tried them on intellectually, and finally felt I found “the one” when the name Austin came to me. Austin worked because I could see him when I looked in the mirror–the young-looking androgynous reflection responded to that name with a boyish smile. Having a name immediately gave life to the male figure inside me. Austin became a golem I was building in my closet, to be breathed to life when the form was sufficiently complete. Austin was the specter of the man I could become. Let there be Austin and there was Austin.
Yesterday I did my first 1 ml shot (full dose biweekly). By the time I went to bed, I was convinced that nothing at all had happened over the last month. Looking at the pics this morning, I see some small differences, particularly in my fat distribution. Not sure if this is from vitamin T, or being vigilant about diet and exercise over the last month to lose the holiday weight. As it turns out I actually gained four lbs over the last month. Must be muscle and water gains?
(Disclaimer: I’m not a mental health professional, so this is not a clinical description of dysphoria. You can find that here.)
Defining gender dysphoria isn’t easy. It manifests in so many ways–anger, social anxiety, depression, shock, delusion, disjointedness. Before I had a name for it, I assumed it was an insecurity of the variety everyone experienced. Nobody loves their body, right? Everyone wishes people could see them differently. Everyone winces at the sound of their own voice on an answering machine. If these things are normal, how was my discomfort with myself special? What is it about being trans that makes living in the body you were given untenable?
It’s about context. Dysphoria is a shadow, and your assigned gender is the sun. When gender shines brightest, because, for example, you need to get a manicure for a relative’s wedding, or join a women’s work association, or participate in Girl Cabin 8’s performance at the summer camp talent show, the shadow of dysphoria is darkest. Sometimes the gender sun dips behind clouds–because you’re with someone who accepts you as you are, or you’re in the mosh pit at a punk show with the guys, or you’re walking alone on a summer evening listening to music. But here’s the tricky thing about dysphoria (bear with me through the long analogy), at any moment, the sun can emerge from the clouds and leave you staring at a very long, dark shadow.