Between a rock and a hard place.

I’m in an unforgiving state of mind. I feel like I’m not at peace with the cis-gender world any more. I often I find myself angry or frustrated about the injustice in the lack of privilege that becomes me after going this far in my transitioning. Angry about how I’m punished by the binary gender system for not passing or not being good enough as a man, just like when I never was good enough as a woman.

Beyond the gender borderline is a place of loneliness. Separatistic safe-spaces for women have now closed behind me. That I’m still gendered female by others sometimes and have lived most of my life as female doesn’t matter. And with the norms for masculinity being as unforgiving as they are, my weakness is what makes me disqualified as a man. But off course, weakness has no gender, we all experience it.

If I’m to go on the advice from other transgender men around me, I’m at a breaking point right now. I’m on a miserable place, where I will be waiting until others decide that I’m ready to go further, to a point of no return. I have sacrificed so much to come here, but all I can do right now is wait and question why I’m doing this if it hurts so much.

I have closed my world around me for protection the last six months in order to create my own queer safe-space. My home is my castle now. I don’t watch television or talk to strangers because I get so angry with all the transphobia I see and by how I never seem to be included anywhere. I don’t date much, I don’t travel, go to any larps or party’s. Im alright but I only do the easy things, only what I have to in order to keep things afloat.

One of my most recent strategy’s have been about getting a travel companion for this part of my journey, not to be so lonely. I’ve adopted a dog and it is a dream come true. His name is Basilard. He is a 1,5 year old Irish wolfhound, huge, beautiful, loving and awesome. He is excellent company and raising him gives me something else to focus on, something as important as it is rewarding.

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Tomorrow is my second name-day as Emil. After a day of field research and interviews for my essay, I think I will be celebrating it just like last year with my pack, a group of close friends that have become like another family. The study I’m working on is going well and the dog makes life more fun, but I’m still between a rock and a hard place right now.

/ E.

Claiming masculinity

“It is not necessarily to be strong, but to feel strong.”

Primo Levi

I’ve been thinking a lot on this, what makes me strong and what makes me feel strong.Transitioning makes me strong quite literally because there is a constant resistance and a constant struggle from my side. Resistance and endurance is what builds strength, both at the gym and in your everyday life.

When I feel masculine, I feel strong, I feel good about myself. That is not the same as thinking masculinity equals strength or that femininity is opposite to masculinity.

To transition from female to male has so far been a lot about claiming masculinity. About stop being ashamed of the parts of me that I’ve always liked best, to keep doing the things that I love to do or start doing things I’ve always wanted to do. But fun as it is, claiming masculinity is hard work. Some cis-genderd people tell me “just be yourself”. Well, off course I am. Yet I feel like anything I do is read as a stereotype nowadays. I take that as a proof for the male gender role to be limiting as well.

Then I decided that I’ll just have to work with stereotypes for a while. Playing with or simply accepting stereotype expressions of masculinity is exactly what I need to do. And I might just as well start documenting it for me to look back at later on.

So here is a gallery of relativity fresh pictures from my everyday life, claiming masculinity. You cannot miss the stereotypes, but I’m not going to excuse myself or shy away from those any more. I’ll use ’em until they break or stop feeling like stereotypes. In that way, I can make room for many ways to be masculine.

#claimingmasculinity

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Getting dressed, yesterday. This is my binder, disguised as a black tank top.

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At the hospital where I train to be a speech and language pathologist.

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At the gym.

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At a party.

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In the 14th century, at war.

At an adventure.

At an adventure.

/ E.

 

The Gatekeeper

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This morning before my meeting, waiting nervously outside the hospital.

I was nervous about today’s meeting, but not in the way people seem to think. I’m not afraid to tell my story or to meet new people. I’m not worried about being denied the medical care I ask for. I’m not afraid to be questioned, I’m well prepared for that and just waiting for an opportunity, for someone to ask and listen. I wont be speechless, quite the opposite.

I’ve been more nervous about getting very conservative questions about my relationships and the gender of my friends and lovers. I dread to be asked to elaborate my own sexual identity or my presumably unhappy childhood. I’m afraid to be judged after the questioners maybe limited understanding of my answers. I don’t want to be misunderstood by the gatekeepers that I have to pass on my journey, but that is a very real risk.

I was disappointed today, at the meeting. I was at the right place in the right time, but when the person in front of me presented himself, I realised that he was not the one I’d expected. He was just another gatekeeper, one of at the least three I’ve met so far. He’s a psychiatrist but does NOT work together with the transgender team responsible for investigation and diagnosis, only in the same house and department so I see now why I was mistaken and got my hopes up.

The procedure is that you must see a psychiatrist before you meet the team and enter the system for real. So it is a step in the right direction, but I thought I’ve already met someone like him and were done with it. I must have mixed things up during the eons of time I’ve been waiting and the long row of people I’ve met in order to get my investigation process started. As things now were, I had to answer all the basic questions about my situation, health, family and such, like I’ve done before with other gatekeepers.

Why do you want to do this investigation? was the first tricky question. It is wide open and I could elaborate on that topic for hours. But for today I was prepared with a short answer, explaining that I feel like a guy and have changed my name and pronoun accordingly. My life would be easier if my registered gender could be changed to match and if I could receive the medical care an investigation such as this could unlock.

So, it is important for you to be addressed as a man? And your name is Emil now? He scribbled something on a piece of paper, thoroughly noting this fact. I was impressed by this, he really got the point without me pushing it down his throat (I’m always ready to do that). This early in our conversation, we had already achieved my set goals for the meeting, him understanding what name and pronoun to use and that I’ve already gone a far way transitioning before we met.

How long have you felt like this, felt like a guy rather than a girl? he asked. This is important since the diagnose criteria states that you have to have felt like this for “a substantial time”. I answered truthfully that I’d never identified myself as a woman, but only lately found out that there are words to describe this, others who feel the same and on top of that – something you can do about it.

He asked about my earlier marriage – Was I married to a man or a woman? Did that person ever question their gender identity? Did I myself, during the marriage? For how long were you married? Where do you live now? In a large apartment with your best friend. What gender does your friend have? Do you live together as friends or as a couple? 

I got a bit annoyed with this, his assuming that friends don’t have sex but couples do. If he thinks it of importance whom I sleep with or not, I’d prefer if he asked directly. As it now were, I pretended not to understand what he was after. Who I have sex with and what my preferences on gender are when it comes to attraction is really not important at this early stage, if ever.

If I have a partner or not (or more than one) is of huge importance tough, I’ll need a good network and solid support to go trough an investigation process as this. But he did not ask about that, so I said nothing. Later, when we talked about my family’s history when it comes to health an heredity, I explained that my friends, partners and family are 100% behind me on this and that I feel that I’ve gotten so much closer to them trough this process, coming out as the person I really am. My intentions where to give him the information he missed to ask me about and I hope he got it.

Then he asked if I was in a hurry with this investigation thing and how important it is to me? I told him that I expect the process to take somewhere between 2 – 4 years and that it means the world to me. He marvelled at this, obviously having no idea himself that it could take so long time. But he seemed to understand that this was important to me and that I had a good idea about the time-frame.

He was confused when I used expressions such as “transition” instead of his “gender swap” or “gender dysforia” to describe the particular sensation of gender related anxiety I sometimes feel. I sighed under the weight of this never ending educational task you seem to have as a transgender person, you have to enlighten and educate everyone you meet, even within the medical care system.

PicsArt_1399056408082[1]All in all, it was a good and efficient first meeting. Now, my plan is to repeatedly and regularly call the transgender team and politely tell them that I’ve seen the psychiatrist down the hall and that I’m ready and eager to meet them as well.

I think I can be rather persuasive.