Both sides now

This was read at the Erotic Literary Salon in Philadelphia in February 2014.

Both sides now

Last April I spoke here only two weeks after a life-changing revelation. I realized I’m transgender. This piece is focusing on the social and psychological changes since then; I’ll save the physical ones (lift boobs) for another month.

I spent last summer working on dating skills, and started to develop my personal fashion style. In the Fall I withdrew a bit, and started asking myself how I felt about this new identity, how I felt in my body.

When I first came out, I was expecting to firmly ride the line between masculine and feminine. That was a short-lived wish, as I soon found myself completely unable to buy any form of men’s clothing. I figured that I might as well look the part a little better if I was only going to wear women’s clothes. After a little research online and a couple of doctor visits, I cautiously started hormone therapy last November. I’m taking a drug to suppress testosterone, and replacing it with estrogen injections.

I promised myself if the hormones had awful effects on me I’d just stop them and cut my proverbial losses. But my body has been very blasé about the whole thing, in spite of this fundamental change. She just said “Oh that’s nice. (Pause) What’s for dinner?” That could be the most important insight of all.

The psychological changes have been amazing. In effect I’m a 12-year-old girl right now – (whispers) don’t tell the bartender! I’m restarting puberty at age 50 and beginning to define myself as a woman.

Last summer I tried a little of the BDSM scene in hopes of forcing a strong release. Now I don’t need to go that route, because estrogen makes you more emotional. I’m amazed that this is seriously listed as a known side effect. And yes it’s true, so now I have to be careful when watching McDonald’s commercials.

My sex drive has mellowed a lot. I used to have to come at least every day or I’d get really antsy, but now … (meh) once a week is fine. I still thoroughly enjoy the stimulation and release, but the URGENT NEED for release is pretty much gone. I was warned that hormone therapy is partly similar to chemical castration for sex offenders, and clearly the lack of testosterone has a strong impact that way.

Orgasm used to be a brick wall that pretty well stopped everything in its wake. Now it’s a fun roller coaster hill, with hopes of many to follow.

I started to learn about makeup, so Sephora really loves me now. How many of you know what the Rouge card means? I’m so excited, my best friend just taught me how not to destroy lipstick while using a napkin.

I’m slowly defining my sense of fashion, playing dress-up a LOT, making many fun side trips to fashion places that don’t work for me, and getting a lot of very well-intentioned “feedback.” I’m past buying everything in sight, now I’m looking for more specific pieces of clothing and willing to pay for good quality.

As my gender presentation becomes more and more female, I have started seeking social acceptance in my new role. I’ve had to face a lot of very personal rejection and been pleasantly surprised when it doesn’t come. I got accepted into a women’s soccer league for the end of winter. And at the end of the month I’m performing in the Vagina Monologues at Drexel. It’s odd because I never thought of myself as a woman, just being myself, which according to our culture happens to be very female.

My transformation has begun quite literally at the hormone level. I must be officially crazy, since the nice doctor at Mazzoni Center gave me these prescriptions to treat … something. But being crazy gives me license to be myself more honestly because FUCK IT, I’m the only person I can really be!


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