dariaphoebe: (redhead)
"Slow down," she told me. "You sound really excited!" As we chatted, I barely noticed the sting in my ear. Instead, I concentrated on the calendar in front of me. "January 17th," I repeated back as I blocked it out. Another click: All day. A blue block appeared on the grid to remind me.

Hours earlier, I'd spent a few minutes having some marks made, and then a needle driven, through my ear. Once, then again. He advised me to take deep breaths as he penetrated it. I deadpanned, "I'm wearing a corset. There is no such thing as a deep breath," which caused him to pause and chuckle. As he slid the tiny bars through the newly-formed holes, I acknowledged what I knew: "This body is finally mine to inhabit."

The corset arrived in Pittsburgh while I was away. I'd worn it nearly daily since that time -- even to bicycle -- thus pinching my waist to an even fiercer hourglass than the one exercise and hormones had graced me with. Seeing the person in the mirror slowly take a form I could acknowledge as myself was uplifting, even in the moments where life was otherwise crushing. I pushed hard, doing all I could to make the vessel ensconcing my consciousness into a home. I needed a place to be mine, and the only space totally within my control was the one ending at the exposed surface of my flesh.

The course I was plotting for myself, combined with my marginally-improved fortunes, gave me a little leeway. There would still be much to accomplish before the coverage which would pay my way was ready, but I knew I'd get there. If today my body was mine, it was time to do what I wanted with it. As I worked, the phone rang. After the customary greeting, I offered a succinct summary of the question I'd emailed. Her answer cleared the path ahead, and I assented. She replied, "We do the vaginoplasties on Tuesday. How about the 17th?"
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
I hadn't managed to get out the door as early as I wanted for a ride, but as I rushed to get ready, I remembered to take my twice-daily pill. A gulp of water sent it down with a minimum of its vile, chalky taste. I set my phone up to track my ride, dropped it into the pocket of my dress and took off.

It was the first day I'd gotten out the heavier exercise dress. With the colder weather, I figured it would see a lot of use soon. Two days before, heading to see a show many friends were performing in, I figured on similar weather. I had a dress which needed minor mending, a floor length, shoulderless gown. Upon doing so, I carefully pulled it on, and laced myself in: no mean feat given the back lacing and no one to help me. But I quickly came to the conclusion that its fit at the waist would keep pulling it further from my shoulders, a wardrobe malfunction in the making. Crushed, I pulled out a different dress, a simple red frock which hit above the knee.

I'd come to an uneasy truce with my body. I didn't hate it, but it wasn't quite what I wanted it to be. But here I was, riding up the hill that a few days before had prompted a man who'd taken a break from restoring a nearby house to express his awe that I was conquering the hill. "Every morning," I replied with the breath I could spare, as I pumped my fist in a moment of savored success. Today, passing that point, I nearly passed out when I stopped breathing for a moment to clear my ears of congestion. But I caught myself, and kept going.

That night, talking about what we were wearing, she looked at my little red number, and remarked that unlike me, she didn't have the body for a dress like that. Still stinging from the dress I couldn't pull off, I'd completely written myself off, personally devaluing my efforts.

Much like my ride, the dress wasn't as pretty as I wanted, but the odds anyone but me noticed my falter were almost none.

Step 83: keep a level head about you. Not every fault or flaw is a catastrophe.
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
I bent over to collect a pot from under the table, and my boob fell out of the black dress I'd put on knowing it wouldn't show any spills while I was cooking. No, it didn't flop out of the decolletage. It fell on the floor. I winced and tried again, having it fall once more before figuring out how to place it so it would stay where it belonged.

The body I have is one that's covered in skin, plastic, nylon, silicon. It's held together with suction, adhesive, elastic bands, and prayers. My ovaries, or what functions as them, are taped to my flesh. My hair is held to my scalp with a glorified rubber band. The skin disguising the facial hair which hasn't managed to die yet is from a concealer pen and a foundation compact. 18 or so wakeful hours a day, it's the only body I know. In 41 years, it's the closest I've felt to at home inside myself since the days of prepubescence. Small wonder I've been awkward at presenting myself at so many opportunities in the meantime. How can you show someone you're interested in who you are when you can't show yourself?

My therapist, as I pointed out my body's failure to efficiently cool itself and the debilitating effects that has, offered that I should probably see a dermatologist, and proposed that she could find a recommendation for one who was transgender-friendly. That moment was one where I realized the gains I'd made in confidence: "As long as they're not actively trans-hostile, I don't care. This is who I am. They can deal with it."

Step 38: being an imperfect human should not prevent you from loving who you are.
dariaphoebe: (redhead)
"You seem so much happier." It's been said more than once. I don't get it. When I quit CMU I felt like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. I didn't feel miserable anymore. But somehow, life is better. I don't have to hide who I am anymore. I didn't realize it was such a burden. I guess it was.

Before and after Easter service, at least 3 people tried to be welcoming, thinking I was new. I suppose it's not surprise I stick out. They asked if I was new. No, I was married here in 2010. They all still seemed happy I was there. Am I unusual?

It's come up elsewhere, not in reference to me, people laying blame elsewhere about the hand they were dealt. The idea that no benevolent god would do this to you.

I can't tell you this is more a challenge than others face. I'm pretty sure it's not. It's different, to be sure. Is it really worse than any other illness? It's basically a lifelong, non-life-threatening glandular malfunction. It's inconvenient. Oh well.

Of course I'm happy. I don't hate my body. It's not quite one I feel at home in, but that's only different from most others because of particulars. I have more people on my side than I probably deserve. I feel obliged to get up and do us all proud. Do the best I can today, probably not good enough, and then fall over until I get another chance tomorrow. I will probably never get to my destination. But nothing is discouraging me from continuing to try.

Step 30: keep going. There will always be adversity. You will never get there. You can always get closer.

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