Monday, February 13, 2012

The Biology of a Trans Woman

My beautiful partner, and Derrick, and I were lying in bed last Friday night with the trusty Mac catching up on our Hulu queue. Why are you looking at me that way? It is a pretty normal Friday night for us, and no we are not old… just tired. Oh, you want to know about Derrick. It is not what you think.

Derrick sleeps with us, and he is just the cutest little thing. Relax, he is a stuffed animal. He was a valentine’s gift from my wife to me... we call him our love child.  It amuses us. We know he is a boy, because his name is Derrick, and he is incorrigible. He was named after the character from “Criminal Minds,” (I know, right?). He is not quite as buff as Derrick Morgan, but he has the same steamy gaze and is every bit as gorgeous. His girlfriend, Penelope, hangs out on the night stand. Yes, he is straight; sorry boys.

So, we were all lying in bed last Friday night watching the latest episode of Glee. One thing to know about me – you may already – is that I cry a lot, and it usually takes very little to inspire tears. It is not a happiness thing, or a sadness thing; it just is. I cry when things make me sad, I cry when things make me happy, I cry when I am angry, I cry when I stub my toe, and I often cry watching TV or movies. Glee almost always makes me cry. I hate that. This particular episode was no exception, technically. Like clockwork, I began crying mid-way through the show; but I was not crying because of the show. This is where it gets weird, so grab some popcorn and read on. As we were lying there, I realized something; I had been holding Derrick just like I would hold a newborn child – cradling him.

When I looked down at him and noticed what I had been doing, I was overwhelmed by one simple thought: “I want to have a baby.” And it was powerful. I instantly began to weep. My next thought, of course, was “where the hell did that come from?” I am almost forrrr... (ahem, ahem) years old. I do not want any more children. We already have four of them, and not one requires nursing, burping, or changing, and besides; we will be lucky if the four we already have do not put us in the poor house. I should be looking forward to Grandchildren now, not thinking about having babies! Never mind that I cannot physically do that anyway! Why on earth would a thought like that materialize, and why would it make me so emotional?

Thinking about it even now brings tears, and it is not just remembering the emotion. There are so many parts of being a woman that I will never experience, that I will never feel. I know that many genetic women complain about their bodies and the various biological functions and idiosyncrasies that occur within them. I think it is the thing that most commonly perplexes genetic women about trans women – why anyone would actually want to endure the “trials of womanhood.” I know it is one of the most frequent queries I hear from other women. But when your mind and your emotions are geared toward those parts of life, toward menstrual cycles, and toward child-rearing, whether logical or not; the absence of those experiences hurts.

Sometimes it hurts a lot.  Knowing that I will always be absent some of the most fundamental building blocks of who I am as a woman can be a devastating realization.  I realize that the p.c. sorts may take offense, but I have to imagine it is very similar to what a genetic woman feels when she learns she cannot have children, or to the hollowness experienced by a runner who loses her leg. One might suggest that the situations are different, because in mine there was no trauma associated with the condition. But I would offer that for anyone to think there is no trauma associated with living as a trans woman – or as any trans person for that matter – shows just how little that person really knows about trans issues. Every single path I had to walk to get to this place in my life was traumatic.

And the trauma is not over. There are still many hardships and painful moments to face. There are more trials, confrontations, treatments, procedures, and hopefully one day soon, surgeries. But I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue all of those, and to know that I will not be facing them alone. I may never, technically be a complete woman. The best I may ever hope for is to physically emulate the female body, absent the biological processes and quirks. But there is no mimicry in my heart or in my mind. If the best my body can do is emulate womanhood, then at least it will depict the reality of what is in my soul. I can live with that, and I believe I can do it happily.

Okay, so there is no need to freak out. I do not really want to have a baby, but the experience has really made me think. I do not know from where my mind conjured the image, nor do I fully understand what was really behind it. I am sure it is not nearly as simple as actually wanting to have a baby. That is okay though. It is just one more sign that life is right.

Take care, my friends.

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