Thursday, April 29, 2010

Shadow Games

My lapse in posting recently was contributed to the fact that I was out of town the last several days.

Each spring I tag along to a conference in our nations capitol, since I love the area and at times have strongly considered moving out there, I don't mind going.

The interesting thing is after making the trip for several years I could not go last year.

A number of issues arose that just prevented it from happening.

So it had been two years since I had gone.

Which coincidently is right after I started seeking help about my condition along with right around the time starting to make physical changes.

Quite simply the people I usually see and interact with there had seen 'him' in his truest form.

Something that will never happen again.

Really back then I was 20 pounds heavier. I had just decided to stop cutting my hair so it was still very short. Hormones were not even in my vocabulary yet.

Needless to say a number of people who had not seen me since then and were used to 'him' were quite surprised.

I heard the following:

"OMG, <His Name>!!! I totally didn't recognize you."

"Holy shit! You look different!"

"Wow! That is <His Name>?"

"Where is he? Seriously that's him?!"

I'm sure I can come up with others if I thought about it, but I think you get the point. Usually these comments were associated with some fantastic facial expressions.

However I am noticing a few things about myself.

I am normally a social person. I love to meet new people, talk and chat with them. Most people consider me bubbly and friendly.

Though I am far more social as me than I am as 'him'

For the most part I am, though I am cautious as to how well I want to get to know someone beyond that.

However I was loathing doing anything in large group settings. There were times as I walked into the room I felt like I was about to have panic attacks.

The issue is being that I am still mostly in the closet, now that my appearance is changing it is harder to hide what is not only going on with the outside. It also becomes difficult to hide what is happening on the inside.

I don't really fit into the boys club anymore. I can make a few jokes here and there. My sense of humor has always served me well. Yet when they start talking guy stuff I am sure my eyes start to glaze over. It is then that I have to really pretend that I am interested.

Factor in the fact that there were a lot of students that were invited out by the organization. Now this is a female dominated profession. If I were to guess it is 65/35 in membership. So a lot of the students were women, whom we tagged along with on Monday night for a run to the bar.

It was agonizing.

These girls fit who I am, late 20's dressed well, having fun and reveling in being themselves. While I had to look on. It just isn't fair. I honestly feel like an outsider in both worlds. I don't exactly fit in with truly with either one at this point in time. Though, obviously, I am in more inclined favor the group of women.

Never mind I had to keep my mouth shut about fashions and other things.

(I mean really a business suit with flip flops to meet your congressional representatives? That is beyond tacky.)

I was even not wanting to spend time with smaller groups. Two friends of hers whom are very nice. Met up with us during their down times we hit a few of the museums together. I always stay polite and friendly but I don't really want to build any friendships as 'him' right now. Since I feel they will simply collapse later.

Imagine my chagrin when later they told my partner in crime, while they were doing the business portion of their visits, that they missed having me around and thought I was a lot of fun.

*Sigh* If only they knew where the fun part of me came from.

On top of all that I find myself doing something else.

I am actively avoiding my reflection while I am out in public.

I am not sure what it is. It might be cause I don't like what I see right now or that fact that I know it is getting harder and harder to present people with what they think they should see. Rather then what I am.

Maybe it is easier to maintain the illusion of being a guy when I am not visibly reminded I don't look as he should.

Remember this is the reason I avoided doing a lot of things to look different when I was younger. The idea was the more I looked like a guy the easier it would be to act like one or at least cover up for the miscues and oddities.

This seems to be true as I am finding it harder to do this as I change.

The other thing that was upsetting some of the people we were with was my avoidance of getting my picture taken. I feel this has a lot to do with what I just talked about.

I don't want to be reminded that I am not physically me yet along with he looks a little weird.

Really I was turning down standing in the shot quite often. Not to mention I flat out stepped out of a few of them when someone was trying to catch me standing somewhere.

I overhead the comment of "He has issues."

I hate that I might be disappointing people who might like having 'him' around but at the same time I do want to become to close to people when I am simply pretending anymore.

In the mean time I find myself trying to step back into the shadows so as to not draw too much attention to 'him'. I am starting to think it might be a preliminary response to the fact that 'he' will be going away.


Halle said...

Living in the shadows. That's us all right.

As one who tries to maintain the public appearance of being male, I understand so much of this. It is the worst of seeing a group of people only once a year or longer; they really notice the changes in your appearance and attitude. Your whole presentation is changing because you are allowing yourself to become a new person who does not fit that old image at all.

The other feeling, ‘being an outsider in both worlds’ as you say, is such a familiar feeling. Envy of the women having fun and ‘reveling in being themselves’ is too. I sometimes wonder how long it will be before I hear comments about my preference of social groupings in mixed situations. It gets harder and harder to pretend the 'guy' talk is really interesting.

I can really understand how much you might wish ‘he’ would go away.
We need to be strong to choose our own time and method.

What if we just hang with the women and let people think what they want?

No solutions, sadly, just empathy.


Melissa said...

Kelli, this is such a great post! I can relate to what you have written on so many levels. Oh, how many times I have been in similar situations, experience the exact same emotions! It's the curse of living in gender limbo.

I remember back in 1990, I took a job that required a lot of personal interaction with all kinds of people related to my work. The trouble was, almost all of them were men. This was a good six or seven years after I had accepted the fact that I was transsexual. Even though transition was not an option for me, I still did all I could to realize the woman inside of me. As you can see from my profile pic, I don't have classic masculine looks at all, and when I began to pluck my eyebrows and go clean shaven with long hair, I was told by a co-worker, that I looked like a girl. This, even with my facial shadow. (I hate using the word beard, when talking about myself.)

When I took the higher profile job, I soon realized through all of my interactions with these men, that they were getting paranoid around me, because I looked so genuinely feminine to them. That in turn made me uncomfortable, and I began to have panic attacks. Sadly, because transition was not in the cards for me, I had to regrow my beard (that hated word!), just to calm all of these poor homophobic males down, so I could go to work in peace!

The point of this long winded reply is just to let you know that I know exactly where you are coming from, and that you have my heartfelt sympathy. Just hang in there girl. Unlike me, you are actually transitioning while on the job, and doing it while you are still young and very pretty. I envy you!

Melissa XX

Jessica Lyn said...

While I am not as far along as you yet, I know the feeling of pretending to be a guy. I've never been interested in sports so I can't talk about that, I don't want to go hang out in bars, I don't want to go try to pick up girls, so trying to fit in with the boys is very hard for me most of the time. And with letting my hair grow out, I can only imagine whats going on in their heads about me... not starting HRT yet though means they probably don't have a clue, but I can only turn down their offers to hang out with them so many times before they start to wonder.. maybe if I'm gay, you knows.

I have no idea why I'm blabbering on about.. what I really just wanted to say is I think hiding in the shadows is probably more of a tell tale than not hiding. Having your picture taken sucks right now I know, but at least you look more like a girl now than you did on those previous trips and I'm sure you must have gotten a few photos taken then, right? And whats going to happen next year, they'll all know about you if you go again anyway, so at least they'll have seen it coming.

Kelli Bennett said...

Wow, I didn't realize I was going to generate passionate responses like this. Thank you however it means a lot that I get these thoughts out and others actually understand them.

@Halle: I have thought about just hanging out with them, but I never truly feel included. I had this issue in Middle School when I tried to do the same things. I got to socialize with the girls but I always felt I was being precluded from it since I was...well...a boy. The other side of this is it is almost like self torture since you know you do belong but aren't going to be accepted. At least just yet. Also, Welcome.

Now I should add something important here. Next year is up in the air. Policies within the group and those running it has soured her desire to participate. Considering what I know, I don't blame her. I think she will return to it, and sooner rather then later, but I am being told she might want a break from it for a few years. Perfectly understandable.

Second, I know I haven't mentioned that part of my life much, but with my transitioning this current arrangement isn't going to last. I give her credit for what she has allowed me to do but going forward she doesn't want it as part of her life. Though she has expressed interest in remaining friends. We shall see but sadly it is coming to an end.

Last, by this time next year I plan to be living full time, or at least in the middle of some really major changes. My guess is if I were to even attend trying to do him would be impossible. Plus if I am living full time I am not going to play him just for anyone sake. Once I give him up I am done.

So if they didn't figure it out this year. They well know for sure next year. That could pose some issues. It might be best if I didn't attend then since it might be too much of his old life slapping in me in the face too soon.

Jerica Truax said...

Hey girl!

Your description of watching other women get along and have fun made my eyes glaze over as I went back to last 4th of July. I was in mid-suppression mode at the time and we went to a 4th of july party my bible study group put on. At the party, there were a couple women that were dressed beautifully and chatting it up and I was so depressed...I kept thinking 'that should be ME'.

Hang in there!


<3 Jerica