From my wonderful girlfriend’s journal. Amazing to watch as she goes through her own transition of sorts. Posted with permission of course – Alli xoxo
I went to counseling once in my life; a whole three sessions. I had a thirteen year old kid die in my trauma room. An overdose. He could have been my youngest sons brother. Even their social and medical history was similar.
After a long code and resuscitation effort I found myself sitting in a cold hard plastic chair next to this child’s father. A hard working blue-collar man who, as a single father, was doing the best he could. I sat next to him, numb. A single mother who was doing her best to raise a child who, like this man’s child, was unique.
I don’t know when it happened but I found myself holding his hand as we sat staring at his dead child together alone in a sterile room no longer sterile and clean. Evidence of our efforts everywhere in the form of blood, strewn about medical equipment, and garbage as sterile packages were thrown to the floor. As we do with all patients after a failed resuscitation effort – we try to pretty them up. Wipe away the blood that has oozed from their mouth and nose as we have crushed their internal organs in an attempt to restart their hearts. Sometimes despite your efforts you just cant make them look any less brutalized. So we sat staring at his brutalized child. I, the person who was responsible for so many of the visible injuries.
I held his hand, this stranger. I remember his nails vividly. Hard working man’s hands. The kind where they’re stained black at the nail line from endless days of hard and dirty manual labour. I focused on them to stop myself from crying. I didn’t want to steal this moment from him.
I remember him telling me it’s okay. I think he knew I was on the edge and he, through his own overwhelming grief, recognized my grief. All I could squeak out in that moment was, “I’m so sorry”.
I knew if I said more I’d lose it.
He said, “I know”. He squeezed my hand and then got up and left. I sat alone for a few minutes but time isn’t a luxury you have in an emergency department. The next trauma could be only moments away.
I took his son to the morgue after I placed him in a white sterile body bag. The bag far too large for his young body.
I was numb at first but that eventually began to wear off. I was struggling.
I went to counseling at Allison’s suggestion. At first it was a typical what could I of done better, what did I miss, who was to blame? The session quickly turned into what was really bothering me. My underlying feelings of guilt related to my being a single mother and not always being as present as I want to be. I work….. a lot. So we dove down the rabbit hole of who I am…
By the end of session three my lovely counselor, who I have come to realize was exceptionally perceptive, asked me the question, “Why do you need to be okay?”
“Because I have to be”, I responded. “What if your not”, she replied. I had nothing. I have to be. There isn’t another option. I’m the strong one. The calm and quiet one. The one who solves the problems. The one who doesn’t have the luxury of being herself. If I am selfish enough to be me then what? “Why aren’t you lovable as you?”, she asked. I never went back.
I was not ready to dive down that rabbit hole.
I was born in the late 70’s, a child of the 80’s and a teen of the 90’s. It was an interesting time to be alive. Although I’m sure every generation feels that way.
My generation took women’s studies in high school. We radicalized feminism and fought the oppressive system that fought to keep women well below the glass ceiling. I identified at a young age as a feminist. I despised inequality. I hated being told I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. I wore men’s army boots (far too large for me) and a man’s leather jacket. I was as good as a man. I was smart, I was strong and while I identified as female I was a feminist and masculinized myself as such. Being female and liking female things was almost a sign of weakness. Lesbianism I viewed as masculine feminists who hated men. But it never felt natural to me. Transgender people never made sense to me as a result. If you were a lesbian and hated men then why did some women want a penis? I knew there was something wrong with what I thought I knew. The puzzle pieces didn’t fit together.
I’ve always been a nerd. I remember watching Star Trek TNG and identifying so strongly with Dr. Crusher. I had a total crush on young Wesley as well. Wesley has sweet and kind but tough and courageous too. Not a stereotypical gender role for a young man. Dr Crusher was feminine but also strong and courageous. Then came the X-Files and the typical gender roles of the hysterical unrealistic perceptive woman and the sensible strong man were very reversed. Mulder was sensitive and intuitive and Scully was again strong and powerful but still feminine…
Over the years I have continued to identify as a feminist but my brand of feminism began to change. I continued to believe that feminism is about equal rights but that it’s more about what makes everyone unique being of equal value.
Rather than everyone being equal and trying to make myself as good as a man I realized the true inequality lay in my uniqueness not being as valued as what was stereotypically valued in our patriarchal society.
We live in a time where patriarchal western ideals are considered the most valuable. Male branded strength is what is valued. Subsequently women have been conditioned that in order to identify as women we must be the opposite of what being masculine is rather than being what women actually are. Strong in their own unique way.
I always felt unable to connect as a younger woman because I was strong. I enjoyed playing with Barbies but my Barbie was a powerful business woman traveling the world. I wasn’t planning my wedding complete with puffy white dress. Nothing stereotypical fit. I didn’t seem to fit either.
Cue a life time of hangups. I have had issues my whole life about being perceived as masculine. While I am without a doubt feminine looking, I am tall and strong. I’m smart, logical, calm, a realist, and I’m pretty handy. I too can fix things. I’m also sensitive, empathetic, kind, and a caregiver.
I remember as a young girl thinking my labia were too long or too big and because of how I was not a typical girl I wondered if I had been born partially a boy because I enjoyed science, science fiction, and dirty sports.
But I didn’t want to be a boy. I wanted to be a girl. The disconnect profound because I didn’t identify with what I had been taught girls should be.
I recently started counseling again, again at Allison’s suggestion. Apparently not being totally okay, your child being ADHD and having to fight for a proper autism assessment, your mother being in palliative care, having a high stress job, a long-distance relationship, a crazy ex and finding out your amazing boyfriend of almost four years is actually your amazing girlfriend is actually okay. After three panic attacks in two weeks I had to admit – maybe a chat would be a good idea.
I’ve found a great counselor locally who specializes in helping transgender families. Only two sessions in and I already respect her honesty and her willingness to call me out on my bullshit. While she has validated my feelings, she’s also been quick to point out my own personal hang-ups versus fears related to Allison’s actual transition.
I’ve been obsessing about two key things related to Alli transitioning. First I’m obsessed with her wanting to be with men once her transition is completed. While yes, there are some women post transition that do find themselves attracted to men, I have come to realize that this is actually about my preconceived stereotype.
I knew it was more complex than this but growing up I thought that transgender women were gay men who wanted to have a vagina to be with men and transgender men were lesbians who just wanted to have a penis.
For an educated person I have acknowledged my own ignorance because this was something I simply did not understand. And that’s okay. I’m educating myself and learning and I’m challenging my own trans…. I’m not going to call it phobia but instead call it trans…ignorance.
My second obsession or overactive concern is that I will be the ‘guy’ in the relationship because Alli is super girly I’ve started realizing. Luckily my new counselor was quick to challenge me to do some work on my thoughts surrounding this idea as well.
There does not need to be a ‘guy’ in the relationship. Again my inaccurate conclusion based on my adolescence and preconceived ideas of what relationships are supposed to look like. Perhaps my brain’s way of trying to make sense of things I do not understand and to fit everyone into my preexisting categories. Again, not a phobic thing but definitely very ignorant.
Turns out our existing relationship model which is and always has been one of total equality outside of gender roles is where my happiness lays. We’ve always been equal. She has always maintained her home immaculately alone and she’s very mechanically inclined and handy. I’ve always maintained my home in the same way and am too quite handy. I do all my own home renovations and have renovated my house top to bottom. Mostly by myself.
We’ve never had blue jobs and pink jobs. Turns out we have rainbow jobs. We all can and do whatever works needs to be done based on our individual strengths, abilities, and time available. When we discussed my dreams for the future they remained the same. I told the counselor that Alli still has to mow the lawn though. I hate mowing grass.
Each counselor I’ve seen with or without Alli has asked about our sex life and I’m generally very very shy about this topic. In fact I felt a little nauseous reading some of her older blogs in which there are some descriptive details. To me it’s no one else’s business what we do with our genitals and the fact that everyone is kinda weirdly obsessed with transgender people’s and their partner’s sex lives is kinda weird…Okay its actually super fucking weird. Like I don’t want to know if your dad puts on a black mask and ties your mom up and spanks her and to be honest I don’t want to answer questions about what we do. My answer is and will continue to be that we’re healthy in that department. We have a passion for each other like I’ve never experienced in my life and we’re getting to know each other in a different way right now. Incorporating new with old and so far it’s damn good…like reaaallllly good. Blushes**
Turns out my fears for the future after analyzing them are actually same as they were before. How do I get her home to me? How do we merge our complex lives and complex families? Her transition adds an element of complexity but the majority of my concerns are related to myself and my own hang-ups…not her. I want to joke about how of course I have made this all about me again lol…but humans are inherently selfish creatures and I have baggage.
And that is okay.