A Year and Change

In late November 2014, I discovered that I am a transgender woman. In March 2015, I began speaking to a therapist in pursuit of hormone replacement therapy. In September 2015, I received my spironolactone prescription. In October 2015, that was joined by estrogen, and in May 2016 by progesterone.

It has been 17 months of being Alyssa, in place after place, until the only pretending left was for government files. There are steps in my journey I am stalled from taking, trapped in bureaucratic hell and financial purgatory. But when I look back on where I was then, and what I look like now, they don’t feel quite so urgent.

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A Year and Change
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Stealth Is Not Safe

CN suicide

There are many places where I won’t go. I hate moving, in general, and would gladly donate a kidney to whatever demiurge could reconfigure the universe to render this unwholesome task unnecessary for achieving any of my goals ever again, but that’s not what this is about. There are many locales where it is plainly unsafe for me to be, on any of various axes, and I intend to particularly avoid relocating to those places. Right now, that includes the United States, despite overwhelmingly better career prospects there than I seem to have where I am. This unsafeness is not something I’ve had an easy time getting a number of sympathetic people in my life to recognize, and it comes down to one crucial error: they think stealth is safe.

“Stealth,” for the uninitiated, refers to pretending one’s gender doesn’t bear the adjective “trans.” It means pretending to be a cis representative of one’s gender, to have been recognized as a member thereof for one’s entire life, and to have never borne a different name. “Going stealth” means hiding a large chunk of one’s past and papering over the resulting gaps with denial and occasional lies. This was once medically mandated for transgender women, who were expected to leave their hometowns and live somewhere where no one knew their history. And it doesn’t work. Continue reading “Stealth Is Not Safe”

Stealth Is Not Safe

Cracking the Closet Door: Covert Transition

The time between one’s first questions about their gender and the resolution thereof can be anxious and scary. Transition is a big deal, and contrary to the bigoted idea that it’s something we do on a lark or for fun, most of us agonize over that decision for a long time, for many reasons. Many of us fear how our social environs would react if they knew we harbored such questions, and especially how they’d react to us deciding to transition. Another lot of us figure out what we’d like to do long before we’re comfortable doing it, and must exist in that dysphoric hinterland until our circumstances free us.

For this in-between group I inhabited for years before I recognized where I was heading, there are options. There are many ways to explore one’s gender or assuage dysphoria until one feels safe acting on it in larger, more visible ways, discreetly and at one’s own pace. What follows is specifically from a transfeminine perspective, but will contain occasional nods to transmasculine variants.

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Cracking the Closet Door: Covert Transition

When It Crashes

Things are about to get very difficult for us.

I’m near the end of my Ph.D. studies.  What should be a time of, if not hope, at least anticipation is a period of constant dread, because of two things I’ve learned.

My supervisor is, in all likelihood, signing the form he has to deliver to the Department of Biology indicating what his financial contribution to me next semester is going to be, and everything he’s said to me since the beginning of last semester says that that amount is about to drop from about $6300 to $0.  He has “incentivized” me to get my degree this semester by hanging the specter of his half of my salary no longer showing up in my bank accounts if I take any longer than that, because the stress of homelessness and lapsed prescriptions somehow does not get between scientists and their work.  I won’t know until he tells me, or I ask the department what he sent them.

But that’s small potatoes compared to the latest development.

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When It Crashes