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Saturday, 31 July 2010

Genitals, Dysphoria and Dating

My experience with the sonogram tech was somewhat troubling, but the sting of it quickly fades. To avoid repeating it, when I'm next in a situation where such a thing might happen, I'm going to start off by saying, "In case the paperwork you got isn't clear, just so you know, I'm a man. I'm transsexual and I'm having this done because I haven't had all my surgeries yet." I think this is probably going to work out alright because it doesn't place blame anywhere except on vaguely unclear paperwork and starting with that means that it should prevent confusion before I'm confronted with it. The hearer might not entirely agree with my self-assessment, but will at least be polite (and if s/he's not, I've got recourse). Also, I should be spared the growing realisation that something is amiss.

I want to clarify something from my last post, in which I said that a portion of my bits is not functional. While the inside bits are not so great, the rest is awesome. I don't want to inadvertently start a rumour. Indeed, I'm proud of my junk, in that ridiculous way that men sometimes are. Which is not to say that I don't still experience dysphoria, alas.

I fear the sort of interaction around disrobing that I had with the sonogram tech, but fortunately, it almost never happens. When I've met women socially and had occasion to be pantless in their presence, this has never lead to confusion on their part. Indeed, one time after such an encounter, I said something about having been a Girl Guide (aka Girl Scout) and the woman was completely confused. "What are you talking about?" She had forgotten about my history.

People who have an overwhelming sense of me as a man; as I look, act and smell like a man; do not seem to look at my bits and then change their minds about that. However, I know that it's all non-standard and I feel insecure about it. I feel like I don't pass naked, even if, usually, I do. And I think this has less to do, really, with the other person than it does with my own discomfort. So when I disrobe in the presence of others, I'm not just revealing something that might cause them to re-evaluate my gender, I'm exposing something that is complicated for myself.

So, in order to be pantless in the company of another, I have to make a large leap of trust. I have to trust that they will be respectful and that it's a safe space for me to reveal something about which I have mixed feelings: that makes me happy and uncomfortable at the same time. I need to have faith in her, in myself, and take a plunge. This is profoundly at odds with how casual sex is supposed to work.

So if I sleep with somebody that I hardly know, I've already invested a rather large amount of trust in her. This actually requires very little on her part. Since I already will have ascertained that she's not transphobic, she just needs to be forewarned and interested in continuing the encounter. But, because of dysphoria, it requires quite a lot more on my part. And if I trust her, and it turns out ok, which is usually the case, then it seems like this person who I have trusted must have been worthy of that trust. Ergo she is trustworthy. And I've invested way too much emotion into her way too fast.

I think anybody that will sleep with me is awesome. I mean, this has often been the case. But not always. And, again, not so casual. So I try to form a relationship with whoever I've just slept with, whether or not this is actually, really a good idea. Because she's awesome.

This has got to stop.

4 weeks + 1 day I think that top surgery will actually help with this, despite being a different site of former dysphoria. I used to keep a shirt or vest (aka undershirt) on all the time, except when showering. I do mean all the time. I remember the first time I changed my shirt in front of my last girlfriend, because it was such a big deal for me, but not for her, of course. This is part of the reason I'm taking photos of my chest as it heals. I'm not just vain (although I certainly am that) but I want to get used to the idea of it being a neutral part of my body, infused with no more baggage than my adam's apple.

I think the most obvious answer, though, is to try a different model of dating. In the old days, people would go out a lot before they had sex. That way, they actually know if a person is really trustworthy before they have to trust them. This seems like a good model. It's not much employed by the queer community. I actually don't know typical heterosexual dating patterns, but I think people still tend to have sex somewhat early on. So I don't know if I could do this and be on okcupid, for example. (Although with it's CV-like profiles and dating as interview process, it feels so much like applying for a job anyway that I'm not sure I'm overly into it.) I don't want to wait for marriage or anything, I just want to actually know the other person first and know that putting a lot of trust in them is actually an appropriate thing to do.

The longer term solution is to reduce the level of dysphoria I have around my bits. I have an appointment in September to go speak with a shrink about bottom surgery. They rescheduled this appointment; it was originally supposed to be for two days after I see my plastic surgeon again and can quit wearing a post-surgical binder. It feels a wee bit rushed, but it's on their schedule. They asked me about this in May, when I was still waiting to meet the surgeon to do my top surgery. The faster I get this over with, the sooner it's done.


Cis people are allowed to comment on this one, but anything that either references bravery or the myth of the suffering transsexual will be deleted.


PamelaTrounstine said...

Pardón, earlier. Missed that note.

Charles Céleste Hutchins said...

Sorry about the confusion.

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