This transition is starting feel a bit like I’m an inter-dimensional traveler in a science fiction story. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch of my ever vivid imagination (have to have one to write sci-fi/fantasy novels, right?) but in some ways that’s how I feel. Every time I dress up and go out into the world as Emma, it’s like I’m taking a brief trip to another dimension, one that’s amazing, exciting, and rapturous. There are amazing sights, and the air around me smells sweet and fresh. Time seems to work differently in this other-worldly place, and I feel as though I could stay there forever, but I know that I can’t, so I’m forced to make the trip back. Upon reentering this world (the world of Robert) I’m immediately struck by the suffocating drabness of everything. Time slows down again and I’m filled with a deep sensation of longing to go back to that other place, and each trip makes this sensation all the more pronounce. It’s literally becoming harder and harder to come back to this “real life” experience of Robert, an early transition, partially in the closet sad person.
I know it might be a bit confusing for me to refer to myself as both Emma and Robert, but in all reality I am living a double life. Because I still must present to my work as Robert, I cannot see myself as fully Emma yet. When I dawn the full regalia of Emma, clothes/wig/makeup/etc. I only get to temporarily suspend Robert from my mind. Robert goes away and I get to be completely Emma, but so far those trips into the dimension Emma are short lived, and the more frequently I go to that place, the harder it is for me to come back.
Yesterday was my typical Wednesday session with my therapist (which had actually been cancelled, but due to lucky and forgetful happenstance, we were able to meet anyway), which meant that I got to dress up as Emma. I left work early, orchestrated a quick wardrobe change, and became Emma, the skirt wearing transwoman extraordinaire (and OMG I loved my flowy, flower and polka-dot patterned skirt. Don’t worry, there will be pictures of it soon enough). I got to show off my new wig, which my therapist just loved. I asked her if it was strange to see me with the wig and she said that it actually felt amazingly natural to see me like this. She even went so far as to comment that the only time it was strange for her to see me was when I still had facial hair (Side note, I have a laser hair removal consultation scheduled this Saturday, so facial hair is soon to be bye-bye on a more permanent basis).
During the session we chatted about the bookstore adventures I blogged about a few days ago, and she assigned me additional homework. This time it was a simple addition of doing the same thing, or something similar to the bookstore adventure, except to try to prolong the time out in the world even more. I was excited at this new homework because, as I’ve been alluding to, these brief periods of Emma-ness have been truly amazing and fun. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do but I will inevitably blog about it.
We wrapped up our session and I took my leave. Taking to the street to walk back to my car was much less anxiety inducing than the week before because I had the wig on (it’s amazing how much my dysphoria diminishes with the wig on, I strongly recommend getting one to any MtF’s thinking about transition or in early transition). I walked with my head held up and a bit of swagger in my walk (AKA trying not to kill myself in heels). I got in my car and took to cruising through the streets of Minneapolis, eager for as many people as possible to assume I was a woman. I drove from my appointment to the pharmacy (more on why in a bit) and when I got out of the car to go into to get my prescription something amazing happened to me.
There has not been a point in my life where I truly felt proud or happy with my reflection, as I’ve described in previous posts. Part of that displeasure in my reflection often manifested in the worst fashion when I caught a glimpse of myself unexpectedly in public. You know what I’m talking about, you walk past a building with highly reflective windows or through a store that has mirrored pillars. Those occasions were always the most traumatic for me and often would drive me into a downward spiral of self-loathing. Well, yesterday was the very first time I had the opposite reaction to seeing an unexpected reflection.
As I walked into the pharmacy, I looked to my left and was delightfully surprised to see this tall, relatively thin, long-haired, well-dressed woman looking back at me. I wish I could adequately describe the glee and pride I felt knowing that that woman was me. I felt so happy and so excited at that random reflection that by time I actually entered the pharmacy building, I felt like I was on top of the world. I looked good, and I felt amazing to have looked so good (I know, this probably sounds so narcissistic, but dammit Jim, a girl’s gotta feel good about herself sometimes!). Instead of walking through the waiting room for the doctor’s office (pharmacy and Doctor’s office are in the same building) worried about what people were going to think about me, I didn’t care. I was looking good and there wasn’t anybody who was going to tell me otherwise!
I made my way into the pharmacy and stood in line like a model might stand for a photoshoot. There was a Somali man in front of me and he definitely stared at me for a bit longer than he probably would have otherwise, but his expression didn’t seem to indicate any degree of disgust or displeasure. If anything I think he was just stunned by this tall ass lady who’d just walked in behind him and may have even checked me out, which I won’t lie, was kind of flattering. I’m not attracted to men at all, but if a presumably straight cis-male is finding Emma attractive enough to check her out, then I think that can only be seen as a good sign.
Being passable is a huge thing in the Transgender community, but my aspirations to be seen as or assumed to be a woman don’t come from a desire to hide or promote the idea that I was born with a female body. I aspire to look more like a female because it makes ME feel good to be seen as and assumed to be female, not because I want to pretend to be something I’m not. I am not afraid at all (well, maybe a smidge, if I’m honest) that people are going to discover that I “used to be a man” or anything like that. I have no plans to expunge my first 28 years of life from the record so people just know me as a woman. I am proud to be a transwoman. I am proud to be someone who was born in a male body but to have a female or mostly female gender identity. I’ve gotten to live both sides of the fence, and that perspective is worth more than my weight in gold. So please do not mistake my enjoyment of a presumably straight cis-male checking me out as a woman as some aspiration to conform to society’s standard of gender legitimacy.
Sorry, felt a need to expound on that point before continuing the story. So, after getting checked out, I went up to the counter and told the pharmacy tech the name on the prescription. She was legitimately confused for a few seconds when she saw the name Robert and looked up to see this 6’3” blonde lady in front of her, but her confusion was short lived. The puzzled look quickly morphed to a knowing, and I would even say an impressed smile. She’d seen me at least 4 or 5 times before, always dressed as Robert, so I think she was happy for me to see me dressed as Emma (the Rx clearly states that I’m taking estrogen and this clinic/pharmacy does a great deal of work with the trans community, so I’m sure this isn’t her first encounter like this).
I paid for the pills, spoke briefly with the pharmacist about the new Rx, and then went on my way back out to the car. As I mentioned above, I have decided to make the switch from using the Estradiol patch to going onto estrogen pills. I was having a rather adverse reaction to the patches which were causing me to develop very itchy rashes where the patches were; rashes that didn’t go away for days at a time. I will try to document here if there are any side effects of switching from one method of delivery to another, but today is the first day on the pills so I have nothing to report yet.
I left the pharmacy, still feeling fabulous and pretty, and drove to pick my wife up from work. The whole drive back to our house was filled with me smiling to myself as I recalled that random reflection I saw. It just made me so happy and I just wanted to go out into the world some more. Sadly I couldn’t convince my wife to go to the mall to buy clothes, so we just went home. that’s when everything turned for the worse.
Taking off my clothes and wig, was like I’d been transported back to some horrible reality I didn’t want to be part of anymore. I wasn’t Emma anymore, but had become Robert again, and the emotional fallout of that transformation was pretty intense. I didn’t want to be Robert again. I didn’t want to wear boy clothes and have short hair. I didn’t want to be a guy again. I felt like a child who had been forced to wear terrible clothes and an awful hairdo to school for picture day, despite how uncomfortable and dorky they were.
My therapist warned me that it would become harder and harder to go back, and I was feeling that right away. Getting up and coming into work this morning was as difficult as it ever has been because all I wanted to do was come in as Emma. My therapist has always warned me that the day is quickly approaching where I won’t be able to tolerate the going back at all; that the distress of having to return to the world as Robert will be too great a burden to bear anymore. I can feel that day approaching. I can feel my need and desire to come to work as Emma growing ever stronger. I don’t have a plan for when I’m going to do that now, but I believe it is coming within the next month or two. I want to have at least the initial laser hair removal appointment behind me before I commit to it, and I desperately need additional clothing to wear to work. Three outfits and one pair of shoes is simply not enough, but my disposable income is limited, so it might be awhile before I can accumulate the necessary clothing for the transition. All I know is that once you start going out into the world as the gender you’re meant to be, going back becomes harder with each trip, so be prepared for that if you follow in my shoes.
Well, my darling readers, that is all I have for today’s episode of the Life and Times of Emma Extraordinaire. Tune in next time for some more random stories from transgender town! =p::