Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Written Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Editorial note: posted retroactively on July 6, 2020, with only minor edits.

The earliest memory I have that I can definitively label as gender dysphoria happened in early fifth grade. I remember standing in the spartan nook that pretended to be a bathroom, in the [house my family lived in at the time]. I don't actually know how long this took, but it felt like five eternities at least. With nothing but a second-hand comb and the trickle of water from the sink, I fought an unending war with my hair.

I just wanted that fucking mess to stop looking wrong. I was two decades away from being able to describe why it was wrong, but I didn't know that, and it didn't matter. Nothing I could do made a dent in the gnawing void of terror I had begun to feel. That shit was busted, and I didn't understand why, but I had this weird sort of foreboding sense that it was going to stay busted for a really long time.

I more or less shook it off... well, less, I suppose. I'm still dysphoric about my goddamn hair. I hated haircuts since forever. For a while I "explained" it as a latent phobia of shitty electric hair clippers. But even years after I'd ever actually had a bad experience with clippers, the very idea of someone touching my head remained horrifying. Fuck barbers.

To be clear, the very last time I went to a barber, I only went because of an extended pep talk from a very lovely woman who I was intensely interested in having a lot of sex with. [Spoilers from the future: it never worked out.] In the six-odd years since, I have exclusively cut my own hair.

Of course, by itself it isn't much, but I've been able to recognize that same emotional tinge in other memories, too.

I remember being upset for years as a kid that my arms were skinny and not muscular. What I'd done a pretty good job of not remembering is the point when I noticed my muscles bulking up finally. I should have been thrilled, by all rights, but I mostly just felt vaguely uncertain, and eventually tried to just forget the whole thing.

My voice has been a point of contention forever, too. I remember feeling awful through the entire process of it changing - but I assumed that was supposed to happen, since everyone seemed to expect it to feel awful. And then I remember the point where I sounded deeper and people commented on it... and that was worse, somehow. I remember half wishing I could still sound not-like-a-teenage-dude, but not really knowing how to comprehend that feeling. I remember finally resolving to never sing again, because it always just seemed to make me feel like shit.

I pretended to be kind of progressive or some shit for a long time - rah gender roles are evil, blah blah whatever. But it never really meant a whole lot to me on any significant level. I didn't really even comprehend how far I had to go. Since I've understood that I'm trans, it feels like that whole arena has completely changed for me. Wearing frilly underwear and squealing like a cat-girl is suddenly totally an option. I would have previously claimed that I didn't believe in the gender normativity bullshit, but for whatever reason, I treated a lot of things as off-limits. There's a weirder tangle in here than I think I'm going to unravel right now, but one way or another, now I really truly don't give a fuck about doing things that aren't "male enough" because fuck you, I'm not male in the first place.

I actually feel free, now, to just do things that I like to do. I'm really loving the sense of freedom and the thrill of discovering me, and whatever makes me feel amazing.