Before I started hormone replacement therapy a year ago I had a lot of hopes, wishes, and, admittedly, expectations. I knew there would be physical changes (though slight, due to my age), but what I was really looking forward to was my brain changing.
Maybe not my brain, exactly, but my outlook. Like I’d find a new place in the world. That my natural female inclinations might magically rise up and set me on the path to what I’ve always considered to be my birthright.
But a funny thing happens when you suppress, bury, and deny your natural interests or inclinations for more than half a century:
They become unnatural.
My natural inclinations may have never really left me, but I find that they are dry and neglected and unnurtured. Which leaves me treading water out in the middle of the ocean at times, wondering how I should feel, and who the hell I am.
I didn’t get a chance to do anything young girls or women do. I essentially missed my entire life. Or the life I thought I should have had. The life that felt natural to me when I was there on the verge of being conscious of who I was in the world.
I’m nothing special, millions of gender nonconformists have been robbed of their birthright in the past. And even today in these times we believe are so enlightened, the suppression and shame, and mockery continue, keeping huge numbers of our fellow humans in the shadows.
When my nurse practitioner was doing my first intake and establishing gender dysphoria, etc., he asked me a question I’d never thought about directly. And I gave him an answer that had been hidden from me for 55 years. He asked when was the first time I felt different?
A simple question, but what came back to me almost instantly, was the first time my kindergarten class was told to line up boys on this side, girls on that side. Probably not something that happens anymore, but I recall it happening a lot.
The teacher told us to line up, and I went and stood in the girl’s line. I didn’t think about it, I just felt like that was the line I belonged in. The teacher’s disapproval – I seem to recall she thought I was kidding around – was the first little bit of repression that I remember.
I learned not to join the girl’s line that day, but that didn’t stop me from feeling like I should be in the other line. No matter what we were lining up for. I felt like shouting, “Wait, I need to learn what the girls are going to learn!” But those doors were closed to me.
Much more discouragement was heaped on me over the years. Every time I’d adopt a female kind of pose or show a traditionally female interest, my parents or schoolteachers would shoot it down. Shoot it down hard. It was the 60s in Minnesota, which was kind of like the 50s everywhere else.
Anyway, repression aside, hormone replacement therapy has indeed changed me. I can feel the stirrings of those minor physical changes, but more so, as I’ve mentioned in other posts, I feel the emotional changes.
A tidal wave of emotional changes. Like all of the emotions in the world are piled up and quivering just under the surface of my skin. They break through strongly and often. Flooding me. I’m learning how to come to grips with that, or accept it, and I really don’t think it will be this dramatic and all-encompassing forever.
And at the beginning of this, I said I didn’t exactly expect my brain to change, but I’m not sure that’s true. And it certainly hasn’t exactly turned out to be true. I think it has changed. Is changing. In a very unconscious or subconscious way. Meaning my interests are changing. What I find important or interesting is changing.
The empathy and emotions that I’ve walled off and refused to cultivate (because they were too dangerous), are now growing stronger, making me – not more of a woman – but more of a human.
And maybe that’s the real first step. The rest of it is just gravy.