‘Dentity Crisis

What the Hell am I? I know who I am, but what I am seems to change intermittently. I am human. I am trans. I am what is known as a MAAB (male assigned at birth), my driver’s license calls me Thomas, but I go by Tori whenever possible. I am transitioning from male to female but that means different things in different places.

I could get my name changed and my gender moved from M to F, just by filling out the paperwork, paying the fee, and waiting in line, at least in Hawaii. The only prerequisite to get my gender changed on my ID, is I need a doctor to confirm I am on hormone replacement therapy. I was born in Utah though, so I have to jump through their hoops in order to get my birth certificate changed. That means a doctor has to write a note confirming I have had, “The surgery”, my doctor tells me I only need to have, “A surgery” and believe it or not, there are quite a few options available but they all involve castration. So, in one state, I can be female, and in another male. People REALLY care what is going on in a trans person’s pants.

Why would I want to change my ID? Well, for starters, things like banking, bars, speeding tickets and air travel require identification. Not only do these places and things require ID, they expect your ID to look like you. Let’s look at air travel. I would have to dress male, and show my bald spot, whenever I fly with my male ID. If I were thrown in jail, that gender marker would determine which population of prisoners I was dumped with. At a bar, what if I just showed the HUGE bouncer my male ID, which bathroom is now safe? The bathroom issue is awkward enough, imagine throwing alcohol into the mix, and the one big guy paid to protect you, now knows you have a male ID! So many horror stories I hear happen in bars. Fortunately, I spend much less time in them any more. When I do, I tend to go to LGBT friendly bars. I do miss my dives, but better safe than sorry.

Why would I want to change the name on my college degrees and my birth certificate? I can see these retroactive changes may seem extra weird for cis people, but these documents are helpful to get changed for background checks when applying for jobs. I may not always want my trans status to be known in a professional setting. This is particularly important to trans folk who do not wish to ever be known as trans. If I ever get to that point, it is a ways off. The fact is, I get clocked (people can tell I am trans) frequently, so I have taken this awkward time to embrace my trans/feminine side. If people know anyways, why hide it?

Well, why hide it? I tell you, it is rather frightening at times for people to be able to know something very personal about me from a distance. I certainly feel safer when strangers, especially men, see me as male or female rather than trans… but trans encounters are becoming the norm. Then, even tolerant people start to wonder, am I a transvestite, a drag queen or a transsexual? How should they treat me? What should they call me?

Social situations are frequently awkward as Hell. I am a social creature AND I need the practice. Being self conscious is contagious. If I am self conscious and I walk into a new situation, then people do not approach me. When I notice I am repelling people, I get more self conscious… and so on. It behooves me to enter new situations with a friend or two in tow. Then, I have someone to talk to… it really eases things.

I dare you readers, to try breaking the ice if you ever see someone shrinking away from a social situation, be they trans or not. It is so nice when someone quickly walks up to me, treats me like a human first and a woman second, and just shoots the shit with me. It is also rather rare. That said, it is up to me to get over it. It would be really nice if I could just walk up to strangers in a social situation, and do the same… and I really struggle with that.

So annoying! Gaaaaaaaa!!!

Blending in is really starting to matter to me, although a part of me likes the attention I get for being trans since it supplements my developing lack of ability to be social. If only all the attention was good. More often than not, it is positive or indifferent, but people express their distaste frequently enough to mess with my mojo.

Am I speaking English here? Do I sound crazy?

I work on things like my walk and my mannerisms. I slowly work on my wardrobe and practice makeup. Too bad I need a bit more makeup than I would like just to cover my beard shadow. Less is more with makeup, especially when you are new to it.

The crazy and obvious thing is, when I just don’t have a fuck to give, neither does anyone else. Passing only seems to matter when it matters to me. On those rare occasions when I have something else on my mind, the world just works like normal around me. So, practice makes perfect. I have played a male for so long I never had to think about it.

Now, I have to work on how I walk, how I take someone’s hand. I have to think about how I eat at a restaurant. How I sit. How I stand. Posture.

And I have to do it all without thinking about it.

Oh, and I have to practice my voice. This means I am constantly listening to myself. Have you ever had to listen to me? My God, if you ever have, I am SO sorry! Really though, women are so much more musical with their inflection, softer in tone… much less chest resonance… and I haven’t even started to talk about pitch. I am a baritone, and for my voice to easily pass, it really needs to be in the low alto range at the lowest. This means, I have to practice speaking all day at near the top of my musical range while being more musical, and softer and using fewer resonators.

Remember Tori, to squeak the, “Choo” when you sneeze, “A-choo!” Remember to raise the, “Hem” when you cough, “Ahem”.

And I have to do it all without thinking about it.

My parents try to help. “Wouldn’t it be easier, if I just dressed like a guy? Or a butch lesbian?” They frequently ask. Absolutely, it would be easier. It would also be easier to be born cisgendered rather than trans. I love casual clothing, I love wearing jeans and a t shirt. Men have it easy. Getting ready now takes for freaking ever.

But, if I count as a lesbian, I am surprising myself to discover I am much more of a lipstick lesbian than a butch, if you are ok with those generalizations. I find I like clothing, dresses, skirts, leggings, shoes… oh my God, SHOES! I want to wear them? Why? When it really comes down to it, it is because I finally GET to.

Learning to be a woman can be a full time job and sometimes, I just need a break. I usually do not work on my movements and voice all day, every day. It is tiring, humbling and exhausting.

Transition has already turned me inward (not the surgery, sickos, I mean like, introspection). It is hard not to pay attention to every little thing all the time, because every little thing is already changing due to hormones… emotions, tactile feelings, color perception… oy!

And I love damn near every single minute of it!

So, I don’t really know exactly what I am from one day to the next aside from always being me. All I really know is it has been thirteen days since my last hormone shot, and I will be a lot happier tomorrow, after I see the doctor. I am really running low.

Woman in training,
Tori

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4 thoughts on “‘Dentity Crisis

  1. “I” love your title. Well done, leaving out the “I” 🙂

    Speaking of speaking, I appreciate what you wrote about your voice. As I watched the new Hobbit tonight, I noticed how guttural the men’s voices were; as hyper-masculine as their aggressive characters.

    I somewhat understand how hormones affect your emotions, but tactile and color perception? I’d like to know more about that.

    I sympathize with the ID card issue. It is one that I cover in my most recent post. I hope you will join the conversation.

    Thanks for sharing here.

    • “‘Dentity Crisis” is the name of a play by Christopher Durang. I would love to take credit, but I must give credit where credit is due. I am an actor, so many of my titles are theatrical references.

      “The Hobbit” often used effects to process the voices of the actors, and many actors just gave their voices a gruff, Dwarven tone, which is easy to do with a low pitched voice.

      How do hormones effect tactile and color perception? That is perhaps a bit of a placebo due to the dysphoria being lifted by hormones, but there is science behind it. Female skin is thinner, more translucent than male skin, this simply puts the nerves nearer the surface. Women are typically more sensitive, emotionally and physically. As for color, well, men are much more likely to be color blind, and a remarkable number of male to female transitioners notice color perception increases with extra estrogen. You mention in your blog that women are more colorful. This is simply not true. Like most mammals, with humans the males are more colorful. Their skin can tan more, and their face can flush more. Women just tend to wear more colorful clothing nowadays. Color perception may be linked to picking a mate, and it also, may be related to the ability to gather. Many of a male human’s strengths, like improved spatial awareness aid in hunting.

      Of course, these things I say are generalizations, not universities.

      I will go into more detail with my answers in a future blog post, as you have inspired me to write a lengthy entry.

      Aloha,
      Tori

      • Clever use of the “plagiarized” title anyway. I still give you credit for that.

        Thanks for your explanation of skin and retina differences. You make great points about male humans being more colorful. I would add that body hair also makes them more colorful.

        I am glad to inspire you. I look forward to reading more by you 🙂

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