Earlier today, I was interviewed by someone from the Chicago Gender Society about my upcoming remount of Trans Form. We were discussing my history, things I feel proud of, things I regret. I said that I wish I’d transitioned earlier, but I’ve been trying to remember a realization of mine: Everyone wishes they had transitioned earlier.
I’ve been told, by trans people in their forties or fifties, that I’m “so lucky” to be able to transition when I am, with the support I have. And that’s absolutely true. But it would have been nice to be able to transition ten years earlier. That’s true, too.
I imagine that, whenever you realize you want to transition, and begin that process – be it at six or sixty – you’re going to say, “If only I’d transitioned earlier!” Because being trans is about realizing something isn’t quite right, and going about fixing it. And even if that something is only wrong for a few months, it’s still wrong.
Continue reading 'If only I’d transitioned earlier'»
A life map is a visual representation or walk-through of one’s experiences. It needn’t be linear, though that’s often easiest, and can be an interesting way to access or discover new things about how you (consciously or unconsciously) think about where you’ve come from, where you are, and where you’re going. Here’s part of my life map, done a few weeks ago as an exercise with my director:
Becca's Life Map
And so, a tour of my life map.
Continue reading 'A Life Map Tour'»
This post was prompted by an article in Yoga Journal, given to me by my mom, called “Forgiveness Heals.” There will be a companion post, a writing exercise about forgiving myself, sometime soon.
I’m sorry I stayed silent too long, spoke too softly to be heard, gave in too quickly.
My kindergarten classroom stretched along an endless hallway. There was a finger-painting station, a corner with cardboard building blocks, a book nook, a playhouse with a kitchen. Trim along the ceiling had numbers, one for each day of the school year, and we would hold a little classroom celebration every time we hit a number ending in zero. We sang, and drew, and played tag at recess. Once a week, I would leave the class and go down the hall to talk with the school psychologist. Even then, my parents knew something was wrong.
I’m sorry I didn’t tell her – in her office with reassuring colors and a calm far removed from the kindergarten class – that there had been some mistake, that my bowl-cut should have been reserved for a boy, could I trade in my button-down shirts for pigtails, please?
Continue reading 'Apologizing to myself'»
The saga continues!
- Are there advantages to being a woman as opposed to being a man?
Advantages for who? For me, yes: I’m happier with myself and with my body, enjoy wearing clothing and makeup, enjoy being perceived as a woman.
For someone who identifies as a man? Probably not. I think women – in general – have more clothing and presentation options today than men. That is, a woman can present from relatively butch (even going so far as to wear mens clothing) to super-femme, and still be a ‘woman.’ Men, on the other hand, have fewer options for clothing/makeup/etc without having their ‘man’ status questioned. But those are all subjective; being a woman isn’t “better” than being a man, just different.
But it is better for me.
- Are there advantages to being trans?
Being trans gives you the opportunity – hell, forces you – to think much more in detail and at length about your own identity and gender than being cis. I feel like the choices I’m making about presentation and how I gender myself are a lot more conscious than for many of my friends, and I’m doing so with more intention. They haven’t had to think about their own gender, and so many of them haven’t. (Or, hadn’t until I forced them to by transitioning and talking about it at great length!)
Being trans has given me the opportunity to dive into the trans and queer communities both on- and off-line, this blog being a big example of how I’m doing that.
Is all that worth the pain and difficulty of being trans? I’m not sure yet; I’m still too much in my transition to make that call. But I’d be lying if I said there were no advantages to being trans. At least, I’ve had a few places where I’ve been able to make lemonade out of lemons. I’m just hoping that I’ll ultimately feel that way all the time, not just every once in a while.
- How did you know you wanted to be a girl? – what influenced your decision to transition?
That’s a tough one to answer. How did you know you wanted to be a girl, anonymous questioner? (Or wanted to be a boy?)
For me, it wasn’t so much that I wanted to be a girl that I knew I wasn’t a boy. I imagined being a girl was better, I hoped it was right for me, and I wished I were a girl. But I wasn’t positive that it would be until I did it. Maybe a good analogy would be the question, “How do you know you’re hungry?” Well, because you’re hungry! It’s a state of being, something you know you are or you aren’t. I didn’t know I wanted to be a girl because I liked dresses or makeup or dolls. I knew it because it was true.
- What do your family and friends think? Did anyone give you moral support in making your decision?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am spoiled, blessed, privileged, and thankful that my friends, family, and coworkers have been so supportive during my transition. I’ve had people (family, mostly) react in a confused way, but I’ve never had anyone who was important to me act in a negative or intentionally hurtful way.
My experience, however, is the exception. It’s (unfortunately) not the rule. But I’d like to work toward a world where my experience – of the people important to me being supportive and enthusiastic of my transition – is the norm.
Something has been bouncing around in my head. From Picture Frames, a post from Cedar’s blog Taking Up Too Much Space, written in response to my show Trans Form :
What I realized, when I heard [in Trans Form] about the photo albums, and the pictures on the walls of her [Rebecca’s] parents’ house, was that these were the memorabilia of an occupation, held onto and commemorated by its collaborators (witting or unwitting). Yes they represent a historical “truth,” a “past” one does not want to “deny”–but so do guns and chains and whips and bombs, and you don’t see them in the family photographs. Well, not if you were on the receiving end, anyway.
That concept, viewing photos or keepsakes of my past as “the memorabilia of an occupation,” finally clicked with me today.
This past weekend, my dad and I were talking about my depression. I was saying that I regretted not transitioning earlier, and he was saying he was sorry for not doing something when I was younger. Seeing something, noticing my unhappiness and its cause. And he said that, with the more tangible problems my older siblings had, it was easy to see me – with good grades, friends, a voracious apatite for books, no small skill at playing piano – as the ‘normal’ child. The child who didn’t need ‘fixing.’
And I realized, as Cedar indicated, that where we find ourselves today is not simply a result of the “truth” of history. It’s a result of how that history is viewed.
Continue reading 'Escaping an angry photograph'»
It recently occurred to me that within the next few weeks – January 5, to be exact – I will have been living as Rebecca full-time for a year.
I’m not sure what to make of this.
Continue reading 'Anniversaries'»
The first night of tech for Trans Form was last night, and I’m kind of a mess.
(For those of you who aren’t theatre people, tech refers to technical rehearsals, where lights/sound/etc are set. It comes before dress rehearsals and/or previews, the final rehearsals before a show opens.)
The show is going fine, although I’m planning to head out of work early tonight and finish up some sound and video work. And yet, I’m really scared about it opening on Friday. Not simply stressing out, but scared. And, after thinking about what parts of the show terrify me, I realized I’m not just dealing with stage fright (although there’s some of that) but with some deeper internalized transphobia.
Continue reading 'Internalized transphobia'»
I just finished re-reading Boylan’s I’m Looking Through You, and it’s brought up something that’s really been on my mind lately. From page 256 of the hardcover:
Shell looked thoughtful. “I don’t know, Jenny. About ninety percent of the time, you seem like the happiest person I know. And then, every once in a while, I”ll catch you looking out a window like that. I don’t get it. How come you’re so sad, if you’re happy?”
“I don’t know, Shell. I said. I mulled it over. “I get tired sometimes, of being different.”
I wiped my eyes. “It’s like, I went through this whole amazing change, and at last I feel content, at last I feel whole. But what about that kid I used ot be? What about all those memories? That’s the one thing they can’t give you in surgery: a new history.”
I’ve been having a really hard time with that: how do I reconcile who I am now, who I want to be, with who I was?
The weight of that history, of the twenty-plus years I was living as male, feels like it’s overwhelming the ten months I’ve been living full-time as Rebecca.
Already ten months? Only ten months?
Continue reading 'Reconciling regret'»
I was a boy, growing up.
At least, people saw me that way: I had a boy’s name, boy’s clothing, wore swimming trunks to the pool or the beach, had a Bar Mitzvah (however grudgingly), changed in the boys’ locker room before gym, wore a suit and tie to important family occasions, participated in Indian Guides (however briefly), had my hair in a buzz cut every summer for years, played on the boys’ teams after school, lived in the boys’ section of the dorm at college, was never taught how to put on makeup…
Looking through old photo albums, or at the pictures on the walls at my parents’ houses, it’s clear – boy, boy, boy.
Continue reading 'I was a boy, I was a girl'»