The following are details about why I chose to abort my gender transition. (See my writeup under May 24, 2002 for full details about what brought me to this.)
Only recently have I been able to articulate why, exactly, I chose to stop. However, I'd been having some serious doubts since the very first day I decided to do something about my gender issues, but I never told anybody about it, not even my therapist or my best friends, mostly because the doubts and other issues were so complex and I was really at a loss for words on the subject.
First and foremost, I was quite aware that I'd been born male, and no amount of surgery, therapy or HRT could change that. I knew that I wasn't simply the stereotypical "woman trapped in a man's body," but I wasn't totally comfortable with my maleness, either. Of course not. As anyone who has known me long enough will tell you, I do have a somewhat feminine demeanor, which is often mistaken for an outward expression of homosexuality, which of course is not the case. The more I was told this, the more I thought about it, about transsexuality and so forth, but I never figured I'd do anything about it; it always seemed so extreme and drastic to me.
When I began seeing a therapist in November 2001, I told her just about everything I was feeling about transitioning... except for the doubts. I guess I really didn't realize that I even had doubts at that point because everything was so new, and I suddenly had a purpose and something to do with my life, something to aim for. However, as I recently came to realize, in the back of my mind I was doubting that I would be successful, or happy, or untraumatized, or completely destitute from paying for surgery when everything was all said and done. (read: post-op.) I also had some quite superficial worries, like, "would I be pretty," "am I really feminine enough to pull this off," "what happens if I'm never able to get another date," and so forth. When I started hormone replacement therapy in January 2002, just as I was about to take my first dose of estrogen, I thought, "after a few months of this there will be no turning back... are you sure this is what you want to do?" I ended up sitting there with a glass of water and the estrogen pill for about an hour debating myself internally. In the end I took the pill. And I took the pill every day thereafter, until four days ago, which, incidentally, is about two weeks before the effects of HRT became, for the most part, irreversible. (i.e., permanently sterile, permanent loss of (male) sex drive, etc.) Whenever I took the pill after that I couldn't help but think disjointedly about what might happen in the future of my transition, what would happen if something went wrong with it, or what would happen if I decided that I wanted to stop for some reason. Because of this the transition was always a traumatic thing for me, however happy I felt about it at the same time. I was happy to be proceeding with it, but... I didn't know what to do with the doubts I was having. I didn't even really consider them doubts, really... just kind of slight hesitations. I thought that might be normal for transsexuals in the beginning stages of transition, but I never really thought to look it up anywhere, despite my rather large collection of bookmarks for sites about transsexualism and gender dysphoria.
I couldn't get it straight in my head that something was wrong, until Annalisa asked me if I thought that there was anything wrong last week. Without her intervention/concern, I most likely would've just kept going with the transition, possibly end up very unhappy and totally broke in a few years, just stagnating along with something I really deep-down didn't want to go through with. I was so scared. So scared that I couldn't really even ask anybody what they thought about me during the transition, or ask them if they had any doubts. My parents expressed some doubts, but of course I didn't listen to them because I wanted to do my thing and not worry about them thinking I was unhappy, so I just presented an air of knowing what I was doing to them, and to my friends, and to anyone who asked, really. I was scared and hurting back in the recesses of my mind, and generally, when I'm scared and hurting, I shrivel up inside and nothing comes out.
In summary, my biggest reservations, fears, and doubts, put forth in a bulleted list for your reading convenience:
- Would I be happy during and after the transition?
- Could I ever totally remove the male parts on the inside of me, through surgery, HRT or other means?
- Could I ever become completely, totally, and in all other ways female/feminine?
- Would anyone consider me attractive ever again? Would I?
- Could I ever be honest with anyone ever again? Could I be honest with myself?
- Could I afford any of the surgeries I wanted? (SRS, scalp advancement, rhinoplasty, chrondolaryngoplasty, breast augmentation (if necessary))
- What would happen if I lost my job mid-transition and was unable to get another due to my appearance?
- Would $whoever ever speak to me again?
- Would I eventually have a nervous breakdown of some sort from unresolved hesitation, doubt, and fear?
- Would I be in a state of terminal gender limbo if I ran out of money?
So you see, there was a lot going on in my head, but I really didn't know what to do but continue with the transition. It seemed safest, which probably sounds stupid based on the doubts enumerated above, but that's the best I can do to describe the feeling.
Thank you so very much, Annalisa, for saving my sanity. I wouldn't have been able to do it without you. :*