The next part of my story follows what I realized in therapy, something I knew I had to do, I had to leave our family home. And the struggles that re-emerged regarding my gender. With an attempted attempt at suicide under my belt I realized I no longer had a choice in the matter, my body knew what I had to do and I had to leave unless I wanted to die. Hence me writing the nicest letter in the world to Clarity, a letter certainly inspired by my desire for it to be over and no arguments to come from it. I very much feel the lyrics of the Against Me! song: Even At Our Worse We’re Still Better Than Most.
You can have it all, I ain’t got the heart to fight, no,
Total exhaustion, complete breakdown. For the asshole I am
Apologies in full, please leave me alone
Pull over the van, let me out.
You all saw my letter to Clarity, she took it pretty well. We talked about how we could make this work for everyone and how this was something good, something we all needed. I pledged to stay on until the kids started school since I had been involved in the conversation about the kids not going to camp over the summer. Instead they would be with me, because, well I knew they would want that. There were only a few weeks of camp that she had booked and by the time we had this conversation and I told her I wanted to leave all the camps were full, at least all the cheap ones.
I ended up negotiating two nights off during the week, and we talked about how that number would increase over time so that the kids would see less and less of me and I would successfully transition out of the house. Those nights off became my respite and a haven for me. I got to see friends I hadn’t seen in years and restore myself more as a person. At the same time I reduced things I did in the house and stepped back from my care for our dog instead focusing on not overloading myself anymore.
This new time and freedom made me begin to feel like a real person and also opened up a space for things I hadn’t struggled with recently to come to the surface, notably the gender dysphoria that I was so terrified of. By the beginning of June I would go up to my room and feel compelled to tear of the skirts I was wearing. At this point I’d been wearing skirts 99% of the time for 3 years and that’s after not wearing skirts 99% of the time for 6 months (and really only wearing skirts and dresses occasionally for the 6 months prior to that and hardly ever before that). I didn’t have enough time to really delve into this, I was getting off one night at first and I was still spending this time with people so I never really let myself idle in a real way, I would rest for some of my day following my sleepovers when the kids were at school but you can only do that so much when you have to pick them up at 3 and be prepared for the coming night and dinner and such.
It reached it’s peak when I went to my littlest’s preschool graduation. The night before I stayed over at a my friend Library’s house and as soon as I got there I threw my skirt across the room and told her, “sorry I just can’t wear that shit anymore.” The problem was I didn’t bring a change of clothes so I had to wear this same gorgeous skirt the following day. And this skirt is just so pretty, it’s a vintage styled skirt with an beige ruffled under layer to make it poof out and the outer layer was beige, a linen type material with these gorgeous large black flowers covering the skirt. I got compliment after compliment walking around the halls of the preschool, all while being disgusted that I was wearing this truly pretty skirt. I didn’t know what to do or what to wear, I had recently been talking in therapy about gender and wanting to wear less feminine clothes while still being gendered properly, and that was exactly why I wore the skirts as a protection against misgendering.
On the summer solstice I cracked. And two memories helped me get there. The first is buying a jean jacket and trying to navigate which one to buy, a men’s jacket or a woman’s. Did I want to look like a tomboy or did that just look like a boy’s jacket. I went back and forth finally settling on this great women’s jean jacket, but not after contemplating something I’ve neglected, something I’ve refused to contemplate for years, me being a tomboy.
The next memory is an interaction between me and my oldest that Clarity interjected into. My oldest was talking about how he was bored and didn’t know what to do (because he wasn’t allowed to play on screens). I told him I understood I remember being bored a lot as a kid because I was only allowed to be on screen or watch screens for a short period of time each day. He said, “No, mine is different, I’m boy bored,” and explained further to assert that ‘boy bored’ meant he had energy and was bored. I told him, “I was a little boy too and I had a little brother so I know all about ‘boy bored.’”
Overhearing me Clarity interjected and said something to the effect of, you weren’t a little boy because you’re a girl, and you’ve always been a girl, so you were a little girl. I shrugged in frustration and said, “yeah, whatever.” But that felt like a mis-telling of my story. When I was a little kid I was a boy, that’s what I remember being. I felt frustrated but didn’t have the time to think about it or understand why this co-opting of my story to validate the identities of the little two (both trans girls) felt so frustrating.
A few hours later I went to see my friend Library and as I was about to leave she called to warn about the heavy rains and that there would be flooding on my route and she suggested an alternate route. She said she wouldn’t be talking to me on the phone or texting her it was very important I focus on driving. I said, “Fine but I need to tell you something real quick first… I don’t think I’m a girl and I’m pretty sure I’m not a boy.”
She calmly but clearly startled and aware of the weight of what I said told me, “We’ll that’s something we’ll definitely get to talk more about shortly.”
I began to drive in the pouring rain, with some streets turned into rivers and proceeded to call everyone who mattered, Majesty, Heart and my friend from Philly. No one answered but I roughly told all of their voice mail boxes with increasing confidence that I wasn’t a girl, that I wasn’t a boy and that I think I’m something inbetween. I told them I might change my name but I was unsure of what to, I might change my pronouns but I wasn’t sure about that either. And I told them the two stories above to explain why I had come to this conclusion. It felt freeing and nice.
When I got to Library’s house I excitedly texted Clarity and told her the news too. Library was tired and a little irritated that I was texting while I was there. But I was budding with new found energy and excitement over my gender. The excitement lasted for a little while and then fear erupted. Fear of what that meant, fear that I needed to change my name or my pronouns. It became terrifying. I talked a bunch to Library about this before she got tired and Clarity told me she would call me tomorrow to talk about it and that she was excited for me. She said it was an exciting new chapter of my life. I went to bed in more a state of panic of not knowing who I was or where I was going, calming myself down in time.
I was scared of the journey I was about to go on, scared of being misgendered and not knowing what gender I even wanted to be gendered as. I initially clung to a gender I had previously identified with in the spring of 2010, 4 years before I came out, genderfuck. Genderfuck is someone who fucks with gender in an intentional and often political way. I liked it because it made gender something political that you could fuck with people’s understanding of it, and thus originally it was more of a protest than my own identity. Now it felt like a bit of land I was on, like I was out of the murky mush and on ground that wasn’t where I wanted to be but it felt more secure and was honestly a good place to rest. When people would stare at me confused I could take that as an affirmation of who I was instead of an affront to who I was. I began counting their WTF looks with glee instead of with hurt like I had before.