Tuesday, 13 July 2010

It's not the winning, it's the taking part

    This piece forms part of a series of guest posts on the theme of transition published at T-Central. I've published it here a few weeks later though buried back in the calendar on the day I wrote it, because I'd like to be sure I have my own copy should anything happen to T-Central's archive.

    You can find it on T-Central by clicking this sentence. 

    When Calie asked me to write a piece about being a non-transitioner I was reminded of the quote attributed to Zhou Enlai, the 20th century Chinese politician and diplomat. When asked whether in his opinion the French Revolution of 1789 had been a success, Zhou is reported to have remarked that it was too soon to say. I'm self-declared in my aim to avoid transitioning to the female role, but only my obituarist will be qualified to comment on whether I achieved that aim.
    At different times recently I have been shocked by people close to me accepting of their own volition that at some time in the future I will inevitably lose my personal battle with gender dysphoria and have to seek a medical solution, hormones and possibly surgery. Hearing this from my mother or my wife brings mixed emotions, sadness because I'm doing it for them as much as myself and  relief that if I ever do reach the precipice those around me will still be there for me. A throwaway remark from my wife in a conversation about skincare - "When you have the hormones you'll have fewer zits then!" I am ashamed to say brought tears to my eyes, "When", not "If".
     So in this light, why don't I go back to the doc and ask for a referral to the Gender Identity Clinic? After all, I've passed the first hurdle and thanks to the NHS it's free so I only have to ask and wait my turn. Simple, putting aside my height and passing issues for a minute I may have used the word "Accepting" in the paragraph above, but the truth is closer to "Resignation". Two of the people I care the most about in the world do not want to lose me, my wife doesn't want to lose her husband and my mother doesn't want to lose her son, and the fact that they care about me enough to accept that transition is a possibility does not change the fact that my doing so would hurt them. I know this is a contentious point in our community because there are many among us who have been to Hell and back trying to hold it all together but we will have all encountered people who plough ahead with little regard for the effect on those around them and I have no wish to join their ranks. It's no use saying "I'll still be me!" because to them I won't be, I'll have been replaced by an oversized and let's face it, rather unattractive middle aged woman who looks enough like the me that was to remind them of what they've lost every time they see me.
    To be in this position and decide to stay as bloke you have to have some damned good reasons. They are the rocks you cling to when you have a bad week and you feel yourself being swept towards the edge and they are the rope ladder you inch your way back up towards safety. But to fully understand your resistance you also have to examine your conditions for capitulation and be prepared to accept that at some point they may be met. The main one is pretty obvious, the brain says "Mostly girl!" and my body disagrees, but that alone is not enough. If my wife ever left me I'd still have this conversation because the rest of my life would be a long time to have regrets. Someone in a very similar position to me though not AFAIK in the blogosphere and who made a different choice a decade ago said to me a few months back: "Only do it if you absolutely have to", and I took her advice to heart. For me I guess that condition would be met if I found myself returning to contemplating suicide, having been there in the past I think I'd be better placed to support my wife as an unconvincing woman than a dead bloke, something she and I are in agreement over.
     In reality though there is no winning and losing in this game. It's important to face this head-on because it is unfair to tag someone who's fought this corner as either winner or loser no matter their outcome. Sure I've used words like "lose" and "capitulation", but "winning" and "losing" implies that one path is a good one and the other is a bad one. Can living as a sometime-crossdressing bloke whose bouts of depression and girl fog take a toll on those around him and his ability to earn a living really be described as "winning"? No more than becoming an unconvincing and probably lonely woman causing similar heartache to those around her can. I can't think of a route that leads to a sure-fire "win", but neither do all routes lead to "lose". Staying as a bloke for example isn't a complete "lose" in my case because I guess I'm fortunate that at least physically as a big bloke I'm rather good at it on the outside. I have simply tried to pick the path that leads to as little "lose" as possible for all involved.
     It would have been too easy when writing a post about not transitioning to enunciate the day-to-day grind of coping with it all. But others have already done a far better job of that than I have and since I mostly follow their advice it would be pretty pointless to rehash it. What I've tried to explain here is not how, but why I continue to sample the myriad joys of gender dysphoria when compared to many others I am in the fortunate position of having both as accepting an environment as I could reasonably hope for and a readily accessible(though not perfect) healthcare regime just waiting for my call. Because sometimes, even to me, it all seems rather crazy.

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