Welcome to Trans-Scription

Hello blog-trotter, and welcome to my transition blog :))

Even though a multitude of blogs exist out there that deal with FTM transition, I write as an Indian, transitioning in India and dealing with Indian society, which can sometimes be very comforting, sometimes agonizingly interfering.

If this is your first visit, I suggest you start with the oldest post first - the walk-through I have slipped into the posts goes in that order and takes you through my life from toddlerhood to transition.

I also plan to include tutorials and discussions. I look to you, reader, for your opinion. If there is something you would like to share, questions you want answered or a comparison of situations, please let me know via the comments. I ask only that you do so with the understanding that I may choose not to answer - if I do so, it will certainly be for a good reason.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Personal transition & learning to pass

Let's pick up the thread at age 15 from my previous post - I had just understood myself to be a heterosexual transman. I had still not begun attending Jr. College (plus two/higher secondary school) and the only 'dress' I wore any more was my school uniform - it was a skirt and blouse but, somehow, it just didn't count. Now that I think back, I had probably blocked it out; like I block out a lot of other things. All of my non-uniform clothing was unisex or 'tomboyish' but nothing overtly masculine. I also sporadically cropped my hair or grew it out a few inches, depending upon whether my mother or I had won the battle of wills. So, you ask, how did I go from being perceived as & called 'tomboy' all the time (HOW I hated it!) to passing almost all the time? Read on, dear reader, read on.

Yours truly began reading about medical transition all in the wrong order - the order that information was available in, in search results. The first procedure I read about was genital reconstruction - phalloplasties or metoidioplasties of various kinds. Ill-informed and naive as I was, I was obsessed with the idea of being a guy 'down there'. I would voraciously scour the internet for information and, more importantly, photographs for hours on end, fantasizing about the new organ I would have. I also came across information about androgen therapy & the various kinds of mastectomies. I owe transster.com and it's then members an immense debt of gratitude for making available post-surgery pictures that gave me hope and an understanding of possible and impending changes to my own body that only 'after' photographs can provide. The same goes for guys who have shared their 'series of changes' photographs while changes brought about by androgen therapy were manifesting, something I intend to do as well. Unfortunately transster.com no longer is, but there is another resource that has been growing - TransBucket.

So, there I was, a tomboy for all anybody cared, with big ideas in my head but no outlet to express or implement them and no way of knowing what resources I would require or ever be able to access in order to achieve my dreams. Classes began.

I had done poorly in the Secondary School Certificate exams and was unable to get into the college of my choice in the Science stream - I had to settle for one in a remote area on the outskirts of Mumbai. In hindsight, I think it was for the best - I was able to satisfactorily integrate into my peer group to some extent but was the oddball, which is true today, too, except I am now proud of it ;) It also gave me an opportunity to ease into male-domain dressing. A college uniform that started out as blouse-shirts & gents' trousers (I still shudder) evolved over the course of two years to gents' formal shirts and trousers or jeans. All this in a social circle so far removed from my own that I am constantly grateful I don't have to face any unpleasant reminders of another horrendous period in my life. I had not yet started living as male full-time. In trains, I still travelled by the ladies' second class or the ladies' luggage compartments (in the latter, school-age boys are permitted) but I avoided using public bathrooms - in the two years I was at that institution never once did I use the facilities. Time passed. I did too.

Degree college. A new set of people to establish an identity with. I resolved to not use my birth name - I picked what I thought was a unisex nickname - it turned out to be a girls name also, but not as obvious. In time, even my professors learned to call me by no other name. No one asked me why exactly, but they all seemed to understand that my birth name offended me in some way. I had not started binding yet so even though I dressed male all the time and had started using only the gents' compartments in trains, my identity was constantly under the scanner; no one asked me to my face - I was known to have a temper, an acid tongue and no qualms whatsoever in unleashing either - they didn't dare. I was still using female pronouns - even though I had figured out my identity, I still hadn't the nerve to come out. Someone cracked a hermaphrodite joke on me during a lecture once - my professor countered with a relevant quip about so-called supermales (males with an abnormal number of sex chromosomes) and shut the person up. A friend once told me he thought I was transvestite - I told him I wasn't and explained the difference. It didn't matter - most people had accepted me as is. One or two even spontaneously used male pronouns with me but it never caught on with the others. Another friend, while explaining some Political Science terms to a classmate, used me as an example for 'non-conformist'. It was a unique way to put it and I had a really good laugh about it. Time passed. I did too.

I had a month's vacation before I could enrol for a Graduate degree course. I had decided long since that I would take a break at this juncture, work, save, transition medically and then resume my studies. BOY was I wrong!

I found work at an outsourcing firm. By the end of the first week at work, I could not stand being perceived as female/gender-unknown any more. Luckily for me, week 1 was voice training and most of the candidates simply dropped out, leaving me as good as anonymous. I started binding in one of the worst manners possible - with crepe (Ace) bandage (more about this later). I introduced myself to everyone with my chosen name - the one I plan to adopt officially - and they instinctively used male pronouns with me. I had mastered the art of getting just the right haircut in order to appear male (as opposed to as a short-haired woman). The only give-aways were my voice, which I then began to modulate, and my chest, which, of course, I had started to bind. By the time my 'physical reality' became apparent to the others, it was too late to change over to treating me as female. Thus followed the three best years of my life yet - being addressed & treated as male and, more importantly, viewed so. Time passed. I did too.

I left the company for my own reasons. I had spent 3 years and achieved nothing. Other than an unsatisfactory visit to someone who made made-to-order pressure garments (in the hope that I could bind more comfortably), the occasional psychiatrist visits and a consultation or two, I took no steps to change my life. Whether this was due to inertia or latent depression or both, I don't know. I had put on more weight over the years and binding had become more difficult and less effective than it originally was & it didn't go unnoticed that I hadn't any facial hair growth or a manly (or even boyish) voice, but I was still passing almost all the time, and that was a huge consolation in itself. So what if random strangers in the train asked me what school I went to? I was still addressed in public variously as bhaiyya*, beta*, uncle*, dost*, etc. At least my friends and family were now cognizant and supportive of my identity. To my niece, I was her uncle, to my sister, her brother, to my parents, their son. I had the confidence to speak of myself with male pronouns (in Hindi and Marathi), something I always avoided by using incorrect grammar when speaking these languages. However, it was time for some concrete action; I was ready for the next step & began rethinking my strategies.

(*bhaiyya = brother; *beta = son; *uncle - in India, one always addresses someone significantly older, whether related or not, as 'uncle' or 'aunty' as a mark of respect; *dost = buddy)

In my next posts, I talk about how I went about investigating my options for medical transition, the ups and downs, and I bring you up to date almost to the present.

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