I just want to be seen

So I was watching BoJack Horseman this morning. I’m in Season 5 at the moment and I was watching the episode “Free Churro” where BoJack is at his mother’s funeral and is giving this very bitter eulogy based on his childhood trauma. But at the end there is this moment where he says something about how we all just want to be seen and the saddest part of his mother’s death is that he no longer has the opportunity for his mother to see who he really is. And even though I was only half paying attention, I start crying. And I’m crying again writing this out. Because ultimately, that’s what is most important to me too. I just want the people in my life to see who I really am. Not see my body or the person they thought I was based on how I was born. But the woman I truly am. And my mother is the person who I yearn to see me the most.

So when I talk about the pain of being misgendered by my family, it’s not actually about them making a mistake. It’s about the fact that when they do that constantly, it feels like they don’t actually see who I really am. They still think of me as the boy they thought they were raising. They probably still think this is a phase or that I have been corrupted by liberal society or something. And they can’t seem to successfully convert their brains to seeing who I truly was all along.

I have largely given up on my dad. I don’t think we will ever see eye to eye. But I guess I still hold out hope for my mom. And more than almost anything in my life, I want her to see who I am. I want her to embrace me as her daughter and give me her approval.

In my family, there is a middle name that started with my grandmother and has been passed down three generations in the women. It is my mom and my sister’s middle name and since in many ways, our family is not so secretly a matriarchy, it is a very important symbolic name. As I think about changing my name to make my chosen name my legal first name, I have been thinking about what I want my middle name to be. And a large part of me is drawn to choosing that name because of the symbolism. But I feel like I need to be given permission to claim that heritage and while I have gotten that from my aunt, I still feel like I need my mother’s seal of approval. And I know it probably won’t happen as long as she doesn’t see me as I am.

Most of my trans friends don’t have that relationships with their families anymore because they have either been rejected by their parents or they choose to distance themselves because of the pain that being constantly misgendered and deadnamed causes. But I keep trying to invest time into my family and I remain close to them even though it is painful because I want that closure. I want to be seen. And I truly hope that before my mom descends into alzheimers, that I get that moment with her.

A Trans Woman in a Nonbinary Body

A year ago today I wrote a difficult post asking myself “am I really nonbinary?” This week I find myself asking similar questions as I’m preparing to start hormonal transition. And I think the conclusion that I’ve come to, at least for now, is that I’m essentially a trans woman in a nonbinary body.

I have felt for a very long time that there was a mix up in the womb and my brain went one way while my body went another. I should have been born a woman or at least I would have liked to figure out I was trans when I was young while there was still a chance of doing delayed puberty. But since I didn’t, I have a body that has gone through changes, some of which are irreversible. No amount of surgery is going to reduce my 6-foot-2 frame or make my hands or feet smaller. I could go through the whole process of vaginoplasty, facial feminization, hair removal, and tracheal shaves but for me it doesn’t feel worth it. Nothing I do will ever allow me to pass, and at this point I’m not sure that trying is going to accomplish anything.

I’ve learned to accept and even love a lot of things about the body I’m in. My beard has become a part of my identity and while I might hate my testicles, I’m pretty ok with my penis at this point. So instead of trying to reverse the last 30 years, my current strategy is to change the little things that make a difference like the amount of leg and chest hair, the size of my breasts, and my gender presentation through clothing. I’ve created my own mix of characteristics that reflect not only who I think I should have been but how the years have shaped me.

My strategy certainly wouldn’t work for everyone and I am not trying to criticize binary trans women in any way. But for me I suspect my dysphoria would be worse if I was close to passing as a woman but unable to gain that last 10%. Who knows how I’ll feel in 5 years or even after estrogen begins shaping my brain. But for now, my plan is to take hormones and if my brain responds well, to have an orchiectomy to remove my testes so I don’t have to take androgen blockers forever.

Gender is complicated and so are the ways in which we choose to cope. There’s no easy way to describe my gender but hopefully this gives you a little more insight into one path.