Saturday 18th July 2015 was the first anniversary of the day I changed my name to Blake.
Happy Blakeday! I also found out that 18th July is Hunter S. Thompson’s birthday, which is cool.
That day, I was repeatedly misnamed by someone who, it turned out, did know my new name, but was drunk and had forgotten. She apologised, and I let it go. As I get further on in my transition, I am increasingly aware that changes take time. I also re-met an acquaintance who was not aware of my transition, so I had to come out to her and her boyfriend. 73 days on T, and explaining why I changed my name: wasn’t it OBVIOUS? No, it wasn’t. So I explained. Read More
So I got on the T-train.
Here we go…
That’s how I’m trying to think of it – a long, slow, but continuous journey. Even when I’m asleep, the train’s still moving. I’m getting there.
It’s hard to be patient. I keep comparing pictures of my face, trying to spot the difference.
After needing to talk to friends about my experiences in other parts of my transition, I’ve found it surprisingly hard to talk about testosterone. Maybe it’s because lots of other things – names, pronouns, titles, identities – are social concepts that need to be spoken in order to work. In a way, it’s a relief not to feel pressure to somehow ‘make’ this work. The T’s going to do its thing whether I talk about it or not.
On the other hand, starting T meant giving up on the fantasy that I’d wake up one day and everything would just be right. That I could do this on my own. That if only I tried hard enough, I’d be a cis guy. The bad news is, that isn’t going to happen. The good news is, there are other ways to go about things, which do work. Not perfectly, but they do work.
I’ve heard people describe trans people as unicorns, but I think I’d rather be a pegasus. Biology was not on my side, but I’m a pegasus boy – here I go, growing my wings.
Queer library, testosterone and pegasus.
[CN: transphobic slur]
I remember, when I was five, being the only afab kid who didn’t cover their chest when we changed for PE.
I remember knowing that boys and girls were exactly the same, because I was exactly the same as a boy.
I remember my £1 plastic football that popped on a thistle, and my dad buying me a real football.
I remember watching Terry Jones’ The Wind in the Willows, and reserving my admiration for Nicol Williamson (Badger)’s widow’s peak.
I remember being disappointed that my new birthday bike had flowers painted on it when my friend Ben’s bike had jaguar paw-prints.
I remember climbing trees, and building Airfix planes.
Mmm, the smell of Airfix glue. And being too impatient to wait for the glue to dry before adding more parts, and ending up with a wonky plane. Which flew from my bedroom ceiling anyway.
I remember being ill when I was a kid, maybe five or six years old. I had a fever, and to see if I was delirious my mum asked me, “What’s your name?”
I thought about it. I started to panic. “What is my name?” I cried. She told me all three of my names, my first name, my middle name, and my surname. I still remember the relief as I heard them, as I recognised them, and realised that I had known them all along. “Oh,” I said. “I knew that.”
Tonight my phone rang, and someone I didn’t know called me by those same three names, but this time it was the opposite of a relief. I froze. I was aware of myself sitting there doing nothing, my mouth open, not responding. I didn’t know what to say.
I’ve read that some trans people have always dreamt about themselves in their identified gender. Normally the question of gender identity doesn’t arise in my dreams – I’m just me – but last night, somewhere in the trajectory of a narrative about an entanglement with a morally dubious lounge singer, I looked in a mirror, and saw my dream-brain’s construction of me, post-transition. What I saw was, more or less, this:
David Mitchell as snooker commentator
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of David Mitchell, but I don’t think I could honestly say that this is his strongest look. So here are a couple of suggestions, brain: if you’re going to imagine me in five or ten years’ time, couldn’t we go for something a bit more like this:
David Hockney, by Cecil Beaton, March 1965 – NPG x14108 – © Cecil Beaton Studio Archive, Sotheby’s London
Joaquin Phoenix in Inherent Vice
Or, you know, maybe even this:
Robert Downey Jr vs lederhosen
Meanwhile, when I’m awake, I’m seeing myself in the mirror as a guy much more often, which feels great. Once again, the dream-brain just needs to catch up.
Since transitioning socially, I’ve had fairly regular anxiety dreams in which my hair has grown back to shoulder length and “turned me back into a woman”.
Again? Damn it! Where are my clippers?
Last night, however, I had a new kind of anxiety dream:
I’d used the wrong public bathroom. Unfortunately, there was no show-down as pictured above, just a sense of guilt and embarrassment. But at least my dream-brain seems to be working out where I’m supposed to be.
In other news, thank you to the pharmacist who “ma’am”ed me repeatedly this evening; the dysphoric feelings helped me switch off the self-doubt for a while.
(CONTENT NOTE: SELF-HARM)
I’ve been reading (well, listening to audiobooks of) Stephen Fry’s autobiographies; Moab is My Washpot was wonderful, and I’ve nearly finished The Fry Chronicles. At some point (in the latter, I think), Fry talks about finding a teenage diary in which he had poured scorn on his future, grown-up self, condemning the adult that he thought he was doomed to become as a stuffy, emotionless conformist. This reminded me of a discussion on Russell Brand’s radio show of Richard Madeley’s comment to Morrissey on what would happen if present-day Morrissey could meet his younger self: ‘You’d strangle you, wouldn’t you?’ While Brand and his co-host, Matt Morgan, delighted in the absurd proliferation of the second person singular pronoun, I was wondering which ‘you’ was which. Would old Morrissey strangle young Morrissey for being so consciously odd and flamboyant? Or would young Morrissey strangle old Morrissey for having become such a staid old fart? I’m not sure if teenagers feel things more acutely than adults do, but I recently found something I wrote seven years ago, when I was nineteen. I don’t know if I recognise myself in this pretentious detonation of emotion; the person portrayed here seems like someone else, yet I remember some of the intensity of feeling. I’ve published it here unchanged: a museum piece, a memorial to another one of ‘me’s that I no longer am.