5 Things I Wish I Knew Last Year

Hormones are gradual.

That I would actually take hormones was a surprise in itself, since for the longest time I was absolutely convinced that I would never ever do that. But also, internalizing the fact that you don’t take a shot of testosterone and wake up with a full grown beard and hunky chest hair helped me put aside my irrational fears and focus on what I really wanted.

That I would eventually find my name.

For the past 2 years my name has been evolving. More recently an inkling of desperation started to creep in, fearing that I would never come upon the perfect name. Alas, the pot of gold was waiting not far ahead.

I’d get hypertrophic scars.

There’s really nothing I could’ve done about it had I known this prior to my surgery. Despite learning of my higher propensity for this, I would’ve still brushed it off as “one of those things that happens to other people.” But I feel at the very least I would’ve been more psychologically prepared for the possibility, and a little less remorse at not having the chance to deal with it sooner. Once I diagnosed the issue, it took lots of research and lost time to find a solution. And it’s something I am still dealing with today, physically and emotionally.

Urinals stink.

Bathrooms were even more of an issue last year than before. Men’s rooms can still be scary sometimes. But I have yet to get stared at, pointed at, laughed at, or kicked out of a men’s room, while I can’t say the same for the women’s. Nevertheless, while I’ve mostly switched to using the men’s bathroom in public places, I sometimes still use whichever is most convenient, cleanest, or emptiest. It is not so rare to see me walk out of one, straight into the other, and this is perfectly alright. Meanwhile, I’ve concluded that urinals are the worst invention ever – they stink to no end – and I will probably never get over their weirdness.

Deciding to come out and switch pronouns is only half the battle.

I still don’t feel comfortable coming out to people directly. I’ve come out more publicly than I had ever imagined, yet I cannot for the life of me tell someone face-to-face, straight up, “here’s my new name, please use these pronouns.”

I’ve felt relief by switching binary pronouns, but it’s still a lot of work. A year ago I was pretty caught up in the decision-making process, and feared it would just always eat at me: this-or-that pronoun, try using “they” to no avail, always unhappy at whatever people call me. As the distress upon being called “she” was mounting, the worry at finding a suitable solution only increased. Slowly this has been unraveling to a place where I am now much more comfortable with the way other people – both strangers, acquaintances, and friends – refer to me.

What are 5 things you wish you knew last year?

9 responses to “5 Things I Wish I Knew Last Year

  1. (This is an MTF-oriented list, since I am, but you can generalise much of it, I think.)
    1. Pay attention to your intuition – I had a couple of months of unnecessary testosterone misery because I didn’t argue with the doc who told me I didn’t need my anti-androgens (even though I could immediately feel my T skyrocket). He later admitted that at least a third of trans women need them on top of estrogen.
    2. No two trans people are alike – so you can cheerfully ignore any “advice” from trans veterans who couch it in terms of “you’re like me, so you should do what I did.” Pfui.
    3. There are billions of different kinds of woman (or man, or other) – nobody gets to tell you you’re not as much of a [whatever] as they are, because you don’t present the same way they do, or don’t have the same sexuality as they do.
    4. Like many other absolutist statements, “Lesbians hate trans women” is bolox. As one myself, I’ve experienced more acceptance from lesbian women than from many other trans women, so far. Test these myths out in the field before buying into them.
    5. Assuming people are on your side, and asking them in a friendly way to gender you appropriately on that basis (as opposed to expecting trouble) has never, ever had a poor outcome for me.
    May we all be more and more ourselves, out loud – this is never “selfish” – on the contrary, it’s a great act of generosity, since it gives others the permission to do the same.

  2. 1. Sexuality is ever-changing. And that’s okay, even if it drives you crazy most of the time. After going from straight to gay to pan to queer, I am less and less inclined to identify as anything at all.
    2. You can’t be happy unless you’re taking care of yourself, and you’re less likely to take care of yourself if you’re unhappy. YOU ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN YOUR LIFE.
    3. Bad timing may seem to plague your life and ruin many an opportunity, but everything plays out the way it’s meant to play out. If something doesn’t work out, it’s to pave the way for something else down the line. Today’s screw-up can be tomorrow’s serendipity.
    4. You’re the most beautiful when you think nobody’s watching. Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks of you and just do you. Also, don’t take yourself too seriously.
    5. It’s okay to not know where your future is headed, but you should probably have a vague idea. And a couple of backup plans.

  3. Crud. I hit refresh by accident before I posted my original comment. I also made a list of five things, but I thought yours was superb. Everyone who commented, too. I wonder what this year will bring you. I hope it is love, a better sense of self, appreciation, and happiness. Happiness to you all.

  4. 1. Spending time with friends is essential; finding time for them should be a priority.
    2. There ARE people who are attracted to me and who see me for who I am!
    3. It’s great to build relationships with older people (older students, teachers, community elders); they’re often really generous with their experience and they don’t look down on me.
    4. I can learn as much by discussing with my classmates (and others) as I do by attending class and reading academic texts. My peers are continually making me think further.
    5. I should be less afraid to look for work because I CAN be good at it.

    Wow, for the first time in many years, the focus of my life seems to have been non-transition related! Thanks for inspiring me to take a few minutes to think about this. Happy new year!

  5. 1. Name changes require hundreds of dollars and more trips to government buildings than one ever hopes to take: MAKE the trips to the government buildings. Do not send your birth certificate, passport, papers with your SSN, or anything through the mail. You waste money in gas. You waste good health at fast food restaurants for all-day trips into the city. You waste a nice coffee with your best friend who’s visiting across the ocean. It’s worth it.

    2. Changing pronouns is the most awkward thing. Ever. I was 100% sure that “she” was bad. I was 30% sure “they” was okay. I tried that. It turned out badly. I was 70% sure “he” was phenomenal. Worse than they. I am now 95% sure that switching was the worst decision in my transition. This is a personal preference, so by all means change pronouns if that’s your thing, but this is a “things I wish I knew last year” and that’s a thing I wish I knew a year ago.

    3. Being misgendered doesn’t get easier: I would have started learning skills to deal a lot sooner if I had known it wouldn’t get easier. Because it doesn’t get easier, but I can get over it a heck of a lot quicker now.

    4. Children are the best sort of validation: “Mommy, is that a boy or a girl?”

    5. If I want to be given what I need (mainly getting directions to ungendered bathrooms), I have to come out to lots of random strangers. It’s not gotten any more comfortable to tell strangers that I want the “family restroom” or the “non-gender-specific restroom.” I’m sure that they aren’t concerned about my gender or even why I want to use this bathroom. And I’m sure they’ll forget about me quickly. And I’m sure I won’t see them ever again (well, except the campus people). But it’s still incredibly awkward.

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