My first year on hormones and why I refuse to be ashamed of being trans
I’ve been doing a lot of reflection lately. Sparked by my first anniversary on hormone replacement therapy last week, I’ve been taking stock of where I am now and where I was last year.
(top image Top image of MJF one year ago [left via Eddie Stathopoulos] and this month [right via Margaret Garyantes])
Last year, I stuffed a pushup bra with inserts that I had bought at target, I tucked in my old band t-shirts to try to make them form fitting, and wore women’s jeans. A year ago I had gone one year without a haircut as I was slowly getting the people in my life to adjust to my new name and pronouns, and I was doing a lot of stand-up comedy about hating my body and the fact that I didn’t want to exist.
Seeing that in writing makes me feel like a cliché, but that’s not the worst thing in in the world.
The last two years have been an ongoing process of learning to allow myself to express and exist in the ways I’m most comfortable with, despite the conditioning that I had growing up; the conditioning that told me if I acted on my wants and needs of expression, that I would still never be who I want to be.
Of the two years that I’ve been transitioning, the one that I’ve been on hormones has progressed more rapidly.
For me, the changes in my body have made it easier to allow myself to express the way I want to, despite the anxiety my conditioning instilled me with. As my body fat has shifted, it’s become easier for me to wear a dress because I know that when I have it on I’ll see my curves under my dress that have shown up in just the past year.
Feeling more comfortable within my own body and having another year under my belt has changed my perspective on my transition as well.
The largest change is the fact that my goal is no longer to pass as a cisgender woman. I still think the same thought to myself when I’m frustrated from being misgendered, “I just want people to see me as a woman,” but that thought has taken on a different meaning.
I still want to be gendered correctly, but as I’ve come closer to where I want to be and grown more comfortable with myself along the way, I’ve learned that my frustration is not with the fact that I’m transgender. My frustration is with the confines of the society around me and the feeling of being trapped in by it.
For this reason I refuse to be ashamed of being trans.
So much of transitioning involves encountering people along the way who do not approve of your existence or the fact that you’ve decided to work toward living genuinely as yourself. These encounters leave a horrible taste in my mouth, knowing that these people are disgusted by my very existence.
But the lasting effect that these experiences have left upon me is the fear that if I were to “pass” then I would encounter people who feel the same way, but are accepting of me simply because they cannot tell that I’m trans. The idea of getting close to these sorts of people and letting them become important to me, all the while, never knowing if they would accept me had they met me mid-transition is an unacceptable way for me to go about my life.
I refuse to re-enter a closet. Remaining visibly trans is a great way of weeding out assholes.
Though visibility is not always a positive. Our community has gotten an abundance of media attention over the past year, from Caitlyn Jenner coming out to the plethora of bathroom bills making their way through several states’ legislatures. As a result, strangers will more often approach me at shows and take the opportunity to express their views on the subject to someone that they view as an embodiment of these issues.
Many of these people mean well, and are superficially supportive of the trans community, but these conversations are not for me.
I know that they are not for me because when I try to engage these people in discussion, either by proposing another idea, or even challenging one of their ideas around gender, they will always say something to effect of “yeah, sure” and then go on saying whatever they were already going to say. It’s really an incredible way of acknowledging that I said something without considering it at all, and it makes it abundantly clear that they are having this conversation entirely for their own sense of self righteousness.
But beyond other people’s misinformed opinions of me and my body, for me, body positivity was still a vague concept that I didn’t actually have access to. The only tool I had to combat those feelings of body dysphoria was dissociating from my experiences and burying my mental capacities in a long-held habit of binge watching sitcoms.
The idea of having a romantic or sexual partner was completely out of the question to me. I was entirely convinced that no one could be attracted to me, and if they were, then they clearly didn’t view me as my actual gender.
Earlier in my transition I believed that I would never be comfortable having sex until I had had bottom surgery. The idea of someone who I was attracted to seeing a part of my body that had been so aggressively assigned a gender that was not congruent with my own was devastating.
Though, as is the running theme of this piece, as the other areas of my body shifted to reflect how I view myself and who I am, I slowly became more comfortable with the idea of intimacy.
An experience that I previously believed could only yield dysphoria and trauma, turned out to actually help ease away my dysphoria by being with people who actually respect my gender and enjoy my parts.
This isn’t to say that I’ve overcome every insecurity associated with having sex.
I still find myself asking partners if they will still be attracted to me after I get bottom surgery and have different equipment (well technically, the same equipment. It’ll just be reconfigured), and so far I’ve been lucky to have caring enough partners who will gladly reassure me in these moments that they’d be just as into me.
Now that we’ve seamlessly begun to talk about my genitals, lets continue that trend.
Body positivity has been slowly becoming more accessible to me with each passing day.
Becoming more comfortable with sex has allowed me to fight off the societal feeling that is pushed upon you when you transition: the fear of being unfuckable.
What has helped me move toward body positivity even more is getting a date on the calendar for my bottom surgery. Even though I still have parts that I’m personally not comfortable with, knowing that this is tangibly temporary is a big help. A daily ritual of mine is checking my countdown app to see how long until “vagina day.” In this time, I’ve even been able to embrace the parts that I currently have.
After all, they’re available for a limited time only! Why not embrace them while I can?
A year ago, I spent most of my time on stage telling jokes about wanting to kill myself and making the audience as tense as possible by screaming on stage and venting all of my dissatisfaction with life. I’d then frame that tension as comedy so they could release it in a laugh.
Now, a year later, my material has shifted to the sillier side. Doing monologues as a 5-year-old who speaks to their principal like 1950’s greaser, talking about cis women who don’t understand their own anatomy, jokingly stating an affinity for fornicating with severed torsos. You know… light-hearted, silly things.
And this change in material and how I spend my stage time is a strong reflection of how I spend my time off stage. I’m no longer spewing out bile because that was only way I knew how to cope with existence. Now, after a year on hormones and a year closer to where I want to be, stand-up has become a way for me to interact with my world and more fully enjoy it again, instead of being my only way of surviving.
You can catch French when she does her stand up live this Sunday at The Basement – more info about that event can be found here.
The beauty of this production is that this new resonance is allowed to develop on its own without drawing attention to itself.September 23, 2016
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