Fractured identity and fragmented feelingsPosted: October 8, 2014 | Author: janitorqueer | Filed under: coming out | Tags: coming out, existential, facebook, gender, gender identity, genderqueer, lgbtq, non-binary, queer, social media, trans, transgender, transition |13 Comments
For the most part, I’ve been pretty cool, collected, and patient about the rate of my (version of) transition. It is purposefully progressing at a snail’s pace. Example: it took me 10 years of deliberating to decide to try out testosterone. I have plans for other steps I want / need to take (legal name change, top surgery), but I can’t see any concrete ways those plans might be materializing in the near future (haven’t even socially changed name yet, what to tell work about top surgery?!).
Overall, this is OK. I know that ultimately I control the speed of things. It’s not that I need all these things ASAP (or, if I suddenly do, I could change my priorities and get moving!). Fortunately, it’s not about waiting on things that are out of my control: bureaucratic processes and medical gatekeepers and getting funds together. It’s not really any of those things. It’s all me, at least at this point. I need to be taking things this slowly.
Sometimes though, I get really really frustrated and just wish I were where I see myself already. At this rate, it’ll be another 10-20 years! At times, I get so super indignant that my identity feels so fractured. Why does it have to be this way? It’s society’s fault I am where I’m at! I want to be an actual person, in all areas of my life. I try to remind myself that everyone is fractured, to varying degrees. It’s not a transgender-specific thing. Everyone has their out-in-public persona and their work persona and their laid-back hanging-out persona and the really good stuff that they only reveal to a select few, etc. And at the same time, it’s much more than a transgender-specific thing. I’m too private for my own good, about anything and everything!
I just wish, at times, that I could line up all my ducks and without going through the effort, everyone would magically know that this is my name and these are my pronouns and this is how I feel and I plan on these changes in the future. I’m in limbo about my name. The pronoun situation is getting a little bit better. I struggle at times with feeling like a whole person. Sometimes I feel invisible.
Yesterday, I changed my facebook profile to match who I actually am, a little more than ever before. A small change, but it felt huge! Me ‘n facebook: about five years ago, a few friends were urging me to join. I didn’t really want to, partially because I wasn’t out to this person and to that person, and there was no one way my profile could be that would make me feel both comfortable with not being out, and also happy. I was so private about so many things. However, I thought it might be beneficial to set up a facebook page for a performance group I was a part of. I set that up as if it were a personal page (as opposed to a group page), but it wasn’t really personal at all. And that’s how it’s been for 5 years. I’ve maintained the page, updating about shows, posting pictures from past shows, etc. For a while in there, a friend and I were co-operating the page. The page is the group’s name – not my name.
However, the group has been defunct for the past two years or so. I mean, we might put on another show at any time(!!!), but mostly, it’s inactive. Meanwhile, I’ve been navigating facebook in a limbo-land. I rarely ever post. I “like” other people’s things as this group page. Profile pictures have been performers. Sometimes the profile pic is me, but I’m “in disguise.” Some people know that I am this page, and they tag pics of me accordingly. Others have probably been confused. “My” birthday is listed as the date of this group’s inception. It’s been weird and disjointed, but, strangely, reflective of how I feel in the world at large.
I’ve recently been in touch with an old friend via email and he asked me about facebook. So I “friended” him through this page. He later wrote to me [edited for length], “I assume you are “hidden” on facebook for a reason, but please know that I have had conversations with [mutual friend] and [your freshmen year roommate] about your whereabouts. Please know that “out of sight, out of mind” has never applied regarding peoples’ affections for you.” That hit me hard. I simultaneously wanted to hug him and argue with him.
I’ve been trying to improve this outlook for a while, and take charge of all these fragmented feelings. Yesterday, I finally decided to make some changes. I switched the profile picture to a pic of my face, for the first time ever. I’ve been taken aback by how many “likes” and comments this move has brought about. It feels good. I changed my birthday and my gender identity, to actually reflect who I am. The profile is still in the group’s name, largely because 1) I don’t know if I want to easily be found by any and everyone at this point. Er, I know that I don’t! 2) I don’t know what name I actually want to go by.
One day, I will have a name, gender identity, pronouns, and a life that is accessible and understood by everyone! I have so far to go still.
Dear Jan (hmmm, I like that name–could be male; could be female),
I just want to say that you sound very wise in your approach to your transition. We all make changes when we are ready; when it feels not only right, but necessary. And I love the way you are gentle with yourself. I would (beware free advice warning) encourage you to be even more mindful of that. Be gentle with yourself. Don’t go ‘blaming’ yourself for being where you are, and not somewhere else. You are exactly where you know in your heart you should be. That’s okay. That’s more than okay. It’s right.
Having go through the whole process (Gawd, it took forever!), I have some understanding of how fragmented you can feel at times. I will say–and this is purely personal–that for me, beginning my RLE–going full time–was a huge, huge shift. I had been living almost full time for several years, and I expected going full time would simply be more of the same. It wasn’t. It was a huge, huge relief. No more pretense. No more secrets. No more fear that ‘someone’ would find out. I felt as if a huge cloud had been lifted off my shoulders. Yes, the first two or three months were difficult. Yes, there was a sense of loss, particularly from family, but happily that was only partial withdrawal, and only temporary as they made the adjustments they needed to make. In the meantime, I built a network of loving friends around me. I gave myself permission to try things I had never tried before. I took a dance class. I joined a choir. I took up silversmithing. I made beautiful things, and I found beautiful friends. When you are ready, I want to assure you that you will, too. I am certain of it.
Trust your heart. In the end, that is the true compass of our lives.
And I promise: no more advice. You know what is right for you. You don’t need any advice from me.
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This hit me right in the heart! Thank you for sharing your warm and loving words with the rest of us as well!
Thank you for this really thoughtful reply. It’s so helpful to hear life-experience stories, and your words are going to stay with me.
Sometimes the smallest steps in life can have the most profound affects, your post here touched me. I hope you find happiness. Peace, Dexxy. x
Thank you! And you’re so right about the small things. In general, I’m happy – just tend to have my moments, haha.
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Wow, I think about my social transition and contemplating my own possibilities for physical transition–and it has gone super fast, mostly fueled by an urgent feeling of need. It does feel scary, though, to consider making huge physical changes so quickly. There is no “just” trying blockers or Danazol–that stuff gives you hot flashes and can have very big effects on your system, even if it’s just trying it for a little. But I dunno if I can deal with another surge of estrogen before my period. I don’t feel ready to try out low-dose T but the other options all seem like pretty big decisions, too! Egads.
It’s good, though, to have a reminder that things can go at whatever pace anyone needs. I wish that my own needs could move a little more slowly…
Really interesting to hear your perspective. Sometimes I wish my own needs would ramp up a little bit (as opposed to move a little more slowly) so I can stop ruminating for quite so long on every little thing! Haha.
That makes sense! I’d love to have a little less urgency. Maybe we can just spread it around a little more evenly? 🙂
After a few days with my parents in town, I know that fragmented feeling. Things that I thought that I was done with, I am dealing with still.
Sometimes these rough spots spur the growth moments.
Cleaning work helps settle the mind, and body.
Sometimes cleaning work is calming, and I definitely like the physicality of it. Other times though, it’s waaaaaaay too much time where I’m just left with my own thoughts, undistracted! Do you find this?
I have too many thoughts on this to give a straight answer. When I get super busy at work, I get kind of lonely, because I mostly work alone and I am too tired to talk to anyone when I am not working. This fall, work has been busy but reasonable, and the weather has been fantastic, so I have had some really good days at work. When I feel like I have too much time in my own head, I listen to podcasts as a distraction.
I’m so glad to have found your blog; its immensely helpful. I pointed some folks here the other night when I was at a support group because I think sometimes, especially for younger folks, moving slowly feels like doubt, which isn’t always something they want to convey when they are trying to validate their identity to parents and friends. Your blog is a reminder that everyone is allowed to move at their own pace, and that transition doesn’t have a prescribed outcome. Thank you for posting.
Wow! Thank you so much for pointing my blog out to others, people that you know in real life! That makes me feel really warm and fuzzy and accomplished! Seriously. Thank you. I’m glad to have found your blog as well – quite a bit to be able to relate about.