Recently, I posted a music video by a singer who came out as trans. It’s called “Got Monsters”. It’s about a young woman who is haunted by the desire to change genders. You see her being depressed in the shower, the inability to look at herself in the mirror in the bathroom. Your there when she gets a shot of testosterone at the doctor’s office. She gets her hair cut in a more masculine style. But, somewhere in the middle of the video, the line gets blurry. Are you watching a female to male transgendered person? Or are you watching a male to female transgendered person? The video had a huge impact on me. I watched it and rewatched it. But, the part of the video that I identified with most was the beginning. It starts off in a woman’s high rise apartment bedroom in a city. She awakens, looks at her arms, smiles a bit and then looks up to see, on the mirror in front of her, the reflection of a man (the singer of the song). What I got from this was that she felt normal until she looked in the mirror. It was this simple act that reminded her of what waits to haunts her. She appeared to be happy about herself until she looked in that mirror. For me, it’s a little different. About 180 degrees different.
When I was a little kid, I used to go to bed with a simple prayer. I know, right. Me, the atheist, used to pray? Yep. I would ask God for one thing. I would kneel against my bed on my knees, hands together, elbows resting on my bed, I would whisper “Dear God, I don’t know what I did to deserve this. But, please forgive me. Please let me wake up the girl I know I am. Please Lord. I ask your forgiveness for whatever I did to deserve this. Amen.” Later on, when that failed to work, I would steal the sciccors from the kitchen after everyone went to bed. I would lay there under the covers with scissors in hand near my crotch, trying to get the courage to cut off my penis. I would always end up in tears, dejectedly returning the scissors to the kitchen so nobody would miss them.
I got picked on by kids around me. And I had a hard time making friends. In response to this, I built a wall around me. I acted tough. I stopped smiling. I did everything I could to act like a boy. Doing so, every day is very exhausting. But, you get used to it. After so many years, these tactics for survival become internalized and hard to drop. But, that’s another blog post. What I’m getting at, is that by the end of the day, I’m tired. Really tired. When I close my bedroom door and climb into bed, I can let go of this facade. When I broke up with the girlfriend, I first moved into my uncle’s basement bedroom. And then into my parents house. In both cases, I put locks on the door. Not to keep anyone out when I wasn’t there. But, I felt safer, and easier to relax while sleeping. I’m not saying I didn’t trust my parents or my uncle. It was just the only way I thought I could relax.
I don’t have locks on my doors now. But, I still have little things I do to get myself to sleep. One of them is to bend my legs at my hip. My body dysphoria is pretty severe. I hate looking in the mirror. There isn’t a part of my body that looks or feels female. But, what I can do is pull my legs up in bed. The result is my hip bone sticks out just a little. Enough that if I rest my arm on it, it feels like I have wider hips. I also have started to take the hair tie out of my hair. I used to leave it in when I slept. But, the feeling of loose long hair I as I lay in my bed, is more relaxing. Then and only then, can I fall asleep.
Over the next (hopefully) eight hours, I fall into a deep sleep. I don’t have to worry about holding up my defensive walls. I can relax. But, ultimately, I do have to wake up. I’ve never been the type to get up early and get a head start on the day. That’s because, it takes me awhile to get the courage to put up those walls. I used to lay in bed, depressed at the prospect of another day. The anti-depressent I take keeps the depression at bay. But, that doesn’t mean I get out of bed faster. Sometimes I don’t get out of bed until I absolutely have too. Or something might happen to make getting up easier. I might touch my face. If I haven’t shaved in a day or two, the facial hair that brushes up against my hand triggers the walls. Or it might be turning over between the covers. Enough so, that I feel the male genitalia between my legs. Whatever the trigger, I then feel like I have no choice but to get up. I have no choice but to face the world once more as the male everyone sees me as.
I shower at night, so the next step after getting out of bed is putting on my clothing. Putting on my pants is the worse. My mind is expecting no obstructions as I slide my pants on. But, the ultimate embarrassment is there. It’s always there. When I’m dressed, I visit the bathroom to brush my teeth and hair. I try my best to not look at the mirror. But, since everything I need is in the medicine cabinet behind the mirror, I have little choice. I keep a towel draped over the mirror at night, so when I get up I don’t have the jarring experience of seeing the face. But, I do eventually take it down. If I left it up, my roommate would see it. And I really don’t want that conversation.
By the time I get back to my bedroom to make my bed, I’m mostly ready to face the world. The walls are up and ready to be defended. It took many years to get to this point. And for a long time, it became so routine, that I had forgotten that I do it. But, it’s gotten harder in recent years. I haven’t given up hope that someday, I’ll look in the mirror and see me. That, instead of this sad man looking back, I’ll see a happy woman, ready to face the world. That’s what keeps me going. Hope.