Thursday, March 15, 2012

Transition Isn't Destructive

It's been my experience that most people I've come out to have been pretty supportive when it comes to starting to use the correct name and pronouns and treating me as "one of the guys" - the social part of transitioning. But the one thing that consistently seems to make most people uncomfortable is the physical transition - the actual medical intervention that will help me change my body into how I really feel. People tend to see it as destructive - that I will be "cutting off" my breasts, that I will be "destroying" my body's estrogen in favor of pumping it full of testosterone, that I will be "mutilating" my genitals to make them how I want. But it's not that at all. All the medical interventions are reconstructive. Just like refurbishing a building, some things will need to be removed to update and improve the building. To me, my current chest feels like an asbestos-laden back room that needs to be completely torn out and rebuilt. Yes, the process is somewhat violent. There's the cutting of flesh and spillage of blood and removal of parts. But those parts are malignant - maybe not physically, but emotionally. It's hard to explain to cis people how it feels to have a body that you can't identify with and you can hardly stand to look at. I don't see some parts of my body as anything more than a type of tumor. I even have minimal feeling in certain erogenous zones because of my brain/body disconnect. Sometimes I find it hard to believe how much better I feel when I hide these parts with binding or augment them with packing. I think it's just the shock of having my body finally be closer to what I feel it should be. It's healing, it's wonderful and I hate how I feel if I'm not doing it.

But the healing that occurs while in transition comes from more than just final medical intervention. Before I started my transition, I hated my body. I cut myself frequently and deeply from the time I was 11 years old until around the time I turned 20. I didn't know why at that time, but I just felt so distant from my body that I couldn't feel anything. I dissociated alot as a child and often was in my head playing out my little daydreams where I could be who I wanted. I developed a chronic pain condition three years ago that caused sometimes incapacitating pain and pain medications could barely put a dent in it. I ate horribly and I drove myself into the ground with no sleep and I only showered once or twice a week (gross, I know).

But when I started socially transitioning (along with packing and binding), that all got better. I stopped cutting and hurting myself entirely and rarely even get the urge to now. My pain has been better and can now be managed by a non-narcotic oral medication. I'm eating better and smarter and sleeping better and have a regular shower schedule. I'm living "in the now" (I hate that term, but it's fitting) and looking excitedly towards my future. It's amazing how much my life outlook and attitude about my body has changed from even six months to a year ago. I want to take care of myself, and I want to work out and I want to get better. I've never felt like that before.

I still get dysphoric about my body, particularly at certain times of the month, but overall I am encouraged because I know there's a light at the end of the tunnel. I have the option to start testosterone soon and that will make a huge permanent difference for me physically and emotionally. In a year or so, I can be eligible and able to afford top surgery, which will eliminate most of my dysphoria about my chest. I've decided to put off bottom surgery until it's improved to a point where I can have a reasonably large working penis (it's not quite there yet).

I am not sure where I'd be now had I not decided to start transitioning a few months ago. There were times where suicide definitely seemed a viable option for me. I can't help but feel that transitioning, in it's own way, has saved my life. And I just can't see how anyone can find that to be destructive.

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