Boiled in Oil
Part Two: Broken Promises
The View from the Mirror
January 9th, 1993
It is twelve minutes til midnight on the first anniversary of my sex change surgery last January in Trinidad, Colorado. For some time I have noticed little attitudes of mine that made me aware my subconscious had set this date as a milestone: perhaps a dividing line. All life is transition, but that is a collective made of many smaller transitions that have beginnings, middles and ends. The transition I began on August 1st, 1989 ended today.
Feeling female is one thing, feeling like a woman is another. After surgery, the first comes easy, the second takes time. All throughout this year I have had my ups and downs in thinking of myself as a woman such that it is simply a thing known, not needing to be constantly regenerated and shored up.
Though the peaks and valleys are largely binary (you are or you aren't) their frequency has stretched as the year mark approached, and I began to see that my inner self had set this date as the flatline time. This process has accelerated exponentially as the day drew near. Each week I slipped more easily into the unconsidered knowledge of which gender cloaked, no, FORMED these bones. The clock has struck the witching hour, and woman I am all.
This morning was a lazy affair: waking my daughter for a girl scout outing. My spouse and I took her to the junior high school where the event was held (us unshowered, unmadeup and disheveled). On returning home, we put ourselves together, then spouse and son went out for haircuts and I awaited a family friend who was bringing a replacement Christmas present for my son.
The friend arrived at one, followed shortly by spouse and son. An hour later spouse left to bring back daughter, just as my boyfriend arrived for an afternoon together. Spouse returned with daughter. A very strange scene: family friend, son, daughter, spouse, and lover all in the same room.
I kissed the family friend good-bye, then kissed my spouse the same, then kissed my lover hello and left with him for his place. We ate Jack in the Box tacos (four for me, eight for him - his with water and scotch). Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was played on the VCR and we snuggled on his bed.
Somewhere in the second act, we lost our clothes and intertwined. We had been snuggling lovers before my surgery just as I began transition. Now, instead of man and "wanna be" woman it was man and woman sharing the bed. Still and all, there was not a condom to be found, so petting was my limit with him this day. "Mister Happy" (as he said) wanted to go to "Happy Land", but "Mister Happy" wasn't having any without a raincoat.
Still a wonderful time: to be held, protected, squeezed and fondled. His leg heavily draped over my abdomen, cradling my head in his strong arms.
It was time to go, and we dressed (easy for me as I wasn't wearing underwear) and stopped to talk to his father who lives in the front house.
On the road a Scottish comic monologued hysterically from the cassette: I nearly cried so funny was he. Some minutes hugging to last the week in his car, then to the porch, kiss hug and squeeze, then 'cross the threshold, family bound.
My daughter had made her first cake yesterday to celebrate the family party I suggested for my anniversary. We ate that, played some games, made popcorn for the whole family, hot cocoa as a special treat for my son.
He and I had a wonderful conversation in the back room while he played a computer game. I had felt farther and farther from him lately, due to m gender difference - and some animosity I felt as his need of a role model I could not provide. The now me had killed his dad, and taken that model away.
But now we talked, adult like, about jobs and jerks, and deal-making, girls, careers and self-esteem. We touched again as soul-mates and reweaved the family fabric. How does one respond - lost father, second mother? This does not have a name, this new relationship, but it does have a purpose which is quite clear if you avoid using words to describe it.
Star Trek special sale on the Cable Shopping Channel, and my daughter's hamster escaped. Fortunately the dog was in the backyard. I found the furry creature exploring the corner of her disordered room.
It's late now, the special day is already a memory. And here I am, arbitrary milestone behind me, Melanie, female AND woman.
January 13, 1993
A rainy day in California. In fact, it has been raining most days for the last two weeks. After taking Mindi to the orthodontist, I dropped her at school, then continued on to Los Angeles Valley College, where I have registered for the Spring semester, beginning next Tuesday.
It's been fifteen years since I was in school, and, of course, last time was as a man. I look at that word, "man", and find it funny the way its "feel" has changed. I quite honestly feel the word describes one of "them". That is part and parcel of what I expect to find as my new college experience.
I was always so embarrassed and ashamed of my "inadequacy" as a man, that I never joined in any of the Reindeer Games in school. Let's just hope my nose shines as brightly, 'cause Rudolph would've been shit if he didn't have an innate talent to compensate for his difference.
But that' not quite fair. At the moment I don't really feel different at all. In fact, I suppose for the first time in a classroom setting, I feel the same. The same as what, you ask? Well certainly not the same as who I used to be, but alike with the other women in the school.
Therein lies the essence of the big picture at the moment. I had described the day after my first anniversary to someone as being like a pioneer who crossed the frontier, crests a final mountain to find a green valley below and says, "This is home." The effort now is into exploring this wonderful new world, not looking for others.
So, the activity continues with the same vigor as before; just the direction has changed. I've gone from linear to relative in how I order my life. I find this coincided nicely with the deadlines that Chris and Steve had set for developing the remaining portions of the Theory. Everything ended with '92 and began again in '93.
Just as my personal gender journey has switched from progress to enrichment, my career has shifted from goal-oriented to direction oriented. Between the 1st of January and the 9th, all my goals were either met or canceled.
You see, I always looked to the future for my satisfaction. I would direct the dark horse feature film and become a notable director. I would write the great book and become a rich author. But every project I completed (and I completed them all no matter the cost or hardship) every project brought nothing for all the effort invested.
The Story Theory was a goal, and even Mental Relativity itself: I wished to completely finish the theories and use them to show what I could do; what I HAD DONE. But these goals vanished with the new year. Chris' deadline was the 31st of December, and we finished at 6pm.
Even some weeks before I knew of that deadline though, my subconscious must have set my first anniversary as the deadline for transition. In any rearrangement of who you are, there must be an end to the process or you never arrive. One way to look at this is that you never stop changing, but you have to stop measuring your progress.
Its kind of a "reverse goal" to look at it this way. Rather than working toward where you want to be, you determine when you've come far enough. For me, my nebulous goal was to be a complete woman, inside and out. But when have you done that? When you pass? When you take hormones? When you have surgery? All those are milestones, yes. But they are just prerequisites, steps on the way to complete womanhood. The final step, the determinate accomplishment that rests upon all the others is so simple it is obscure: you are a woman when you feel like a woman.
You might think you are a woman at any point in the process. You might know that you were a woman inside from before your birth. But to really, I mean REALLY feel with every fiber and bone that you are as much a woman as any other, THAT requires all the other steps.
Some poor folk can get it all but the passing. They have the hormones, the surgery and the belief, but their voice and architecture give the away every time. Give them away as what? As a man. Is that to say they ARE men? No, if they are truly transsexual and have surgery and hormones, they are as much a woman as any other, but, alas, they will never feel it, for they are not accepted by others.
The luck of the draw made us male-male, female-female, male-female, or female-male to begin with, but a second draw must be as lucky to resolve the inner rift.
For me, I have been doubly blessed: first with the opportunity to see both sides of life, and then with the ability to blend into either. I have been fortunate enough to have the choice, but having made it must stop rethinking it.
That is the heart of saying "This is home". It is not unlike a marriage vow or a moral code that one imposes upon oneself. Sure, we all can change. Divorces happen, people violate their most deeply held convictions every day. But that is natural; to change, to adapt. It only becomes a problem when you refuse to make a commitment at all because of the possibility of eventual change that you get stuck in the loop and keep on making progress without ever arriving.
So my subconscious said to me, "Tie it all up, lay it to rest, its time to move on by staying put." Well, "staying put" is not quite it, for as I already said, its really just a different focus to which the effort is put. This is all well and good, yet is logic only. Where's the feeling, where is the heart? As my deadlines passed, first the theory, then anniversary, I saw my feelings change.
For my career, I no longer craved the fame and fortune, the acclaim and awe. Sure, they are wonderful things: things to be desired, but not ached for. They are no longer the purpose to which I strive in my work. Rather, I find myself strangely content to gather my thoughts in The Subversive each month and share them whoever would listen. I don't expect anything in return. I don't even expect an audience. The sense of accomplishment comes not from any response, but from having put something out that has the potential to affect others.
I have learned that the male drive is to control; the female drive to cause. Learn this and you will understand most of the difference between the two.
As for my transition, it ended on January 9th. Since that date, I have FELT as much a woman as any other, with my heart and soul. But not my mind. You see, the KNOWLEDGE of the difference between the two worlds is essential to my career. In fact, in combination with my skills as a writer, it is a unique gift I can offer. (Men strive to define their power, women to define their uniqueness).
Strange how a man limits the potential of his power by defining it, which must be something less than absolute to allow for definition. Women limit their uniqueness by describing the only areas in which to measure it. Both face paradox, for by showing what they have, or who they are, they also show what lies outside their fence; what they have not and who they aren't.
A teacher once told me that a great photographer is not noted only for what he frames so carefully in the picture, but also what he has carefully framed out.
So, if I am to be unique, but also the same, what solution is there? To be unique in reason, the same in feeling. In other words, I needed to see my experiences as one of a kind, and hold onto that as a way of defining my identity, and yet know in my heart that I appreciated those experiences the way ANY woman would have in my shoes.
Again, a paradox, but as I have found, if you do not see a paradox, you aren't looking at it the right way. As long as I held the two views together and saw them compatible, as long as I could see logic and feeling of both my transsexualism and my womanhood, I could not separate the two. But where is the paradox then? That I was both a woman AND a transsexual. And what exactly does THAT mean? It cannot be! No woman was ever a transsexual and no transsexual ever a woman. Not by THAT definition! Yet it is a perfectly fine definition since it has a paradox. Well, here's the little beauty of paradox: you can move them around. Its easy! All you have to do is change the way you measure things. You have to split one thing to bring together another.
If you take the fact of what you were and seal it to who you are, you can never escape your past. If you take the sum total of being a male on the outside and a female on the inside and seal them together, you can never pull them apart.
But what if you turn both equations sideways ninety degrees? What if you instead match up the male on the outside with what you are, and the female on the inside with who, now what have you got? Someone who sees the logic of WHAT they ARE (external reason) and the feeling of WHO they ARE (internal emotion).
That's what I did. So I don't measure my womanhood by my boobs or my hair or the smooth place between my legs. I measure it by my heart. And I don't pretend I never had different equipment. That would force the paradox right back inside myself where I don't want it. No, I was male all right: every last physical part, but the mind was female. Always.
Now I have shaped my body to "look" like female, and even function as female. But its not female. Its XY for crying out loud. Now nobody else has to know that, but I better not deny it to myself or the paradox moves back inside where I don't want it. And why don't I want it there? Because this way I can look at the inside part of myself as ALWAYS having been female and find no paradox there. And THAT is the part thats REALLY important to me. That's how I stop having to change.
So, anniversary came and went. And on the back side of it, I felt female all my life. Before, I never really did at all. I catch myself now thinking to myself from time to time, "When I was a little girl", and from the way I know I always felt, its the absolute truth.
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