This has become one of my longest posts so far, but I figured it was time to tell my story which I have been posting in pieces until now.
How I came to write this piece or the story behind the story, began a few months ago, at my spiritual home with my late beloved for well over a decade. When I asked the organizer if I could be included in a women’s circle that was forming with women who I have known before my transition, at first, I was accepted by the organizer, but days later she called me to say she had thought about it and felt that this group would not be appropriate for me. Now, before the group even met, I was excluded. Although I disagree with her position I can understand her thinking. She said she might consider bringing it up before the group to decide. I never heard anything further so I can presume she probably didn’t follow through. Even if she did, because of the lack of any feedback I can only guess. Essentially what she appeared to be saying to me, in so many words was that I was being excluded before the fact for not being “woman enough.”
Although this her decision seemed to be based on a presumption or pre-judgment before the fact, I doubt that it will not be seen as prejudice. so-called acceptance of me much closer to just being tolerant. See my post “Tolerance” does not equal “acceptance”.
I am sure any natal woman or natal man, for that matter, has no idea what it is like growing up not being able to “fit in” within either gender, especially in the awkward years before and after the onset of puberty. For me, it was especially awkward because around the age of 12 I developed breasts which I attributed to being on the heavier side and even through all attempts to build upper body strength I could never achieve a flat chest nor turn my flab into muscle.
On another note, my mother often commented that I had unusually wide hips for a boy and could never seem to fit right in boy’s jeans or slacks and heaven forbid, girls jeans or slacks at that time had the zipper on the side instead of the front. I tended to wear jeans high waisted with a belt as I see some elder men do which when I look at it now, makes me want to laugh out loud. My beloved used to laugh at me too, so I guess we are now even.
In gym classes, I was so ashamed of my naked body that I had to wait until the other boys were out on the gym floor before I could take off my street clothes. More often than not taking a shower with the other boys was next to impossible and I often didn’t shower at all. I was called to task more than once by my gym coach, sometimes on behalf of a female teacher for my B.O. which added to my shame. The only unit of gym that I ever enjoyed but never particularly good at was shared with the girls in school clothes which was Square and Ballroom Dancing because I didn’t need to use the locker room at all.
In Junior High School, the seventh and eight grades we all took science for half of the year and for the other half the boys took Shop and the girls took Home Economics classes. Believe it or not, I really missed being with the girls and wanted to take “Home Ec” but of course, it was not an option. The only thing in which I exceeded and had fun with in both years of Shop was sewing my own shop apron as our first project in seventh grade.
In High School in Japan, where we lived for about 18 months I played on the JV Football team which was one of the only extracurricular boy’s activity available to me. With so many boys of Japanese-Hawaiian descent, I was big and heavy by comparison which gave me bulk but not necessarily strength. I was the second heaviest boy on the team weighing in at 155 lbs. In the states, I weighed less than the average lineman who often tipped the scale at 220 lbs or more. You can probably imagine that getting dressed and undressed and showering after practice was often a nightmare, and I followed the same practice I did with gym classes. You can see a picture of me in my uniform with my Mom and our Japanese maid which I posted on “I love my Boobs.”
Another serious problem developed where I could not relieve myself at school while any other boy was in the boys’ bathroom and was often late for classes. One time I had to serve in detention afterschool along with two friends when we were caught with some other boys who were smoking between classes.
My mother took me to the family doctor for all kinds of tests which all proved inconclusive and I was left with the diagnosis that it was just the pangs of puberty but I believe it was because I was a freak that no one could understand, not even me.
The only date I had in HS was a blind date to a Jr. Prom that was arranged by a friend from my earlier days who I had been out of touch. In college, I had one date with a girl in my freshman year and one in my Senior year and in my Sophomore year I had another date arranged for me because I bought tickets to see Simon and Garfunkel who performed for Homecoming. I was ashamed to go by myself or even with another guy because I was expected as a guy to be dating women and having intimate contact with them. My freshman year roommates even offered to hire a prostitute so that I could get a taste when I told them that I was still a “virgin” and had never dated any girls in HS.
Because my father was a geo-physical scientist for the US Government and having two brothers who excelled in science and math, I was expected to excel in both math and science according to the gender bias of being a boy. I wasn’t until I was a Junior in college that I wanted to change my major to Studio Art, too late because my student deferment from Selective Service, the draft, would expire the following year whether I graduated or not. I am regarded as the artist of the family and many times when money was tight a some of my framed pieces became Christmas presents and wedding gifts. Christmas as a holiday with the family came to an end when my beloved was diagnosed with cancer in December 2010. The last time I spent Christmas day with my family was in 2009. Christmas since my transition began seems so insignificant to me.
In the spring of my Senior year in college, I was called up to take a pre-draft physical because my lottery number, 50, had passed. As far as I knew, it was a fargone conclusion that I would be drafted, right at the high point of the Vietnam “War”. Standing in a line in under shorts and shoes was bad enough, but the thought of sharing a barracks and training with other men was unimaginable. I was already registered as a “Conscientious Objector”, not a particularly good place to be with a rifle in hand and being shot at by an unknown enemy. Fortunately, providence stepped in and because President Nixon called a temporary halt to the draft for 9 months so I and another 10,000 lucky guys where never called to service. Still, that 9 months of having my future in limbo forestalled moving forward to seek employment in my field of study, Broadcast Communications, I would never fully recover for the rest of my entire working life. Every career path I chose after that were predominately male oriented and I was terminated from most of them because I “just couldn’t fit in.”
Last Friday, I attended my first gathering with a Meetup group called “Girlfriends of Santa Fe.” No one I believe knows that I am transgender except one of the organizers, who I knew previously. unless my relationship with any of them goes beyond the group, I intend to keep it that way at least until I leave or get back from my epic trip to Bangkok next February. I had a wonderful time and I not only did I fit right in, I ended up talking to one woman for a hour after everyone else left. I am my own woman now , and with my beloved gone and my son on his own, I have little to no attachments to my past, and I can live virtually as I please. I am a fully grown, mature woman who is respected for who I am and not by any other measure that says I am or I’m not “woman enough.”