What it feels like to be a Male-To-Female Transsexual, Before, during, and after transition. How it touches the soul, and How it affected my life.
Initially, the trouble with my body being the wrong sex was just…troubling. My mother told me stories, before she died, of the difficulties toilet training me, of getting me to deal with plumbing I felt unhappy with. I remember how kindergarten gave me my first taste of the shame I would be indoctrinated with over my life, of ridicule by adults and my peers. Back then, in early childhood, I knew something was wrong, it caused me embarrassment and a little shame, but I always felt that it would work out, if I just hoped and prayed hard enough.
From the earliest I felt different, because I was not like those I was supposed to be kin to, boys. I was quiet and gentle and they were rough and loud. I liked to draw and read, to paint and play with stuffed animals making little homes for them and myself, I did not fit in with my supposed peers. I felt outcast even in kindergarten, and I had a difficult time understanding fully just why.
Girls would often not include me, which I also did not understand, so the best definition of what it felt like for me to be a transsexual child would be Outcast and Confused.
As I approached puberty, the exclusion from both boys and girls increased, as each had reasons for avoiding the shy strange child I was. To boys I was weird because I liked girlish things, and to girls I was icky because I was supposed to be a boy. When they did include me, they wanted me to play the role of ‘daddy’ or ‘boyfriend’ or other such role, and I would only be willing to play ‘mommy’ or my usual, the ‘baby’ in games of playing house. In every activity my gender dilemma affected me. If I wanted to twirl on the monkey bars I was ridiculed because only girls did that, and my stuffed animals were taken away by my vile father, fearful of my love for them.
Eventually, I had to find a way to avoid persecution, for my difference increasingly resulted in physical abuse from the boys. I was threatened and beaten, called a fag and a queer, and constantly humiliated. I found an answer in Science Fiction, and my substitute dolls were little soft rubber monsters for which I would build not houses, but elaborate spacecraft. Science was just cool enough to be barely acceptable, and sometimes I could avoid persecution under the disguise of being an expectedly odd ‘Brain’. I used my intellect carefully to make myself fit that role as best I could, but I never was able to find real safety. My home-built starships had all the amenities, such as domed gardens and bathrooms, and I imagined elaborate relationships for my little toy friends. The boys that would play with me wanted to create adventures of conflict, but my stories always had my little monsters visiting peaceful worlds filled with gentle creatures who just wanted to be friends. The girls that would play with me sometimes let me play with their dolls, but then would ridicule me for it later.
The feelings of being a prepubescent transsexual might best be summarized by Hiding, Substitution, and the pain of Physical Abuse.
By puberty, I knew shame very well indeed, and feared the names and violence applied to me. Increasingly I tried to deny my true self, and felt that my gender identity was something to be disgusted about. Puberty brought a rush of sexual tension, and with it the most awful horror…sexuality.
The awful incorrectness of my body now seemed to have a will and mind of it’s own, and I felt devoured and possessed as if by some alien bodysnatching spore. I withdrew into the back of my own mind, and for the next decade and then some, would feel as if I were in the back row of a dark empty theater, watching helplessly as my life was lived by another.
Male hormones were like a poison and a terrible drug to me, they brought madness and sickness. I felt terrible all the time, poisoned by sweating, nervous twisted lust. The hormones made sexual feelings flood my mind, I could think of little else. I masturbated like a monkey in a cage, constantly, loathing the act but tortured by the uncontrollable drive. I felt like my constant nightmares, of being trapped in the backseat of a car, rolling to doom, down a steep hill.
The feeling of being a puberty stricken transsexual was for me the feeling of being possessed by a demon, the feeling of being out of control, with the only help in withdrawal deep within my own mind. It felt like I was being raped by my own flesh, turned against me and possessed by an alien will.
The agony of this drove me to near madness. My mind did it’s best to survive, and split into two separate awareness. One awareness became a day-to-day attempt to fit in, to be what the world expected, and this version of me had little conscious acknowledgment of my gender problem. All it knew was that I was miserable, sick to die.
The other half of my consciousness became dominant only when it was safe, it waited to become me when ever the opportunity to be alone arose.
Alone, my true self leapt panting into full consciousness, desperate to seize a moment to be itself. It was inevitable that my dressing up in my mothers things would become tarnished by that dreadful sex drive that owned my body utterly, and the endless masturbation became entwined with dressing as a woman, at least for a while.
Nearing my 20’s I had begun to finally have some slight control over the impulses that rode me, and once again became able to separate dressing from the need for sexual release. I could once again simply enjoy, for however brief a time, feeling somewhat close to being my true self. One fine night I simply sat in a rocking chair in my favorite nightgown and watched the rain, a blessed eternal time of utter, peaceful contentment.
Then as soon as the moment was no longer safe, as soon as discovery became imminent, my mind slammed down the steel shutters, and I literally had no memory of what I had just been doing.
This schizoid defense mechanism is the closest I ever hope to be to true madness. I comprehend that it was the way my mind found to survive an unendurable agony, but it was a frightening and disturbing guard.
No sane human wants to be utterly alone, and I still had some shed of sanity left. Of the lovers I had at that time, all were female, and I did my best to fill the role expected of me…but it was very difficult. My sex drive found release, at first, but what I most deeply wanted was an eternal, committed relationship, something few other 18 year olds of my time seemed to want. In coping with the sex I was driven to engage in, the only way I could deal with the soul-rending horror of using those accursed organs I possessed was to distance my self increasingly from the act. Eventually I was all machine inside, carefully memorizing and calculating the exact behaviors that would please my partner, with no thought of what was happening for my own lizard brain. If my partner was satisfied, perhaps they would like me and stay with me forever. It was a reasoned transaction. It became like playing a video game or pinball, as I used intellectual techniques and trained motor control to rack up a performance score measured in orgasms per hour on the fleshy console I played. Of course this kind of distancing cannot last without self destruction, and soon I was incapable of ‘performing’ -for that was indeed what it was- any more. Impotence was a relief, for it spared me from this special hell of squirming wetness and reptilian compulsion. To this day, because of this agony, sex is all but anathema to me, and I am essentially asexual. Being sexual at all brings back some of the awfulness of those days, and flashback shrieking horrors in my soul, but happily, I now possess almost no sex drive at all. This is a magnificent benefit to my comfort, but frustrating upon occasion for my spouses. I do not know if I will ever be able to feel good about sex. It hurts so much less -and feels so wonderful- to be an angel. It seems that being innocent and childlike is my safety and my salvation.
The feeling of young adulthood as a transsexual was for me best described by Schizoid Denial and Crumbling Survival.
When I finally had my catharsis, and awakened, when the cleft halves of my split mind rejoined, when the pain finally brought me to the point of facing my self or welcoming death by my own hand, I knew Purpose.
Fully, consciously aware of my lifelong torture, armed with a definition of my condition, and clear on what I must do to save my own life, I began a Holy Quest to redress the unendurable fault of my birth.
Transition was enormous pain, and required every ounce of will and strength I possessed merely to continue one day to the next. All about me was hostility, and the loss of friends and family. My sadness was oceanic. Even so, I have never felt more alive, for I was facing life and death square on, for a Holy Purpose, and driven by that Purpose I felt invincible!
As my flesh, under the gentle but powerful magic of female hormones, began to change, as my sex drive fell away and the driving demon that possessed me was exorcised, I began to feel light as air. Sylphlike, I floated on wings of hope, and knew peace in my body, my mind and my soul. Oh, the difference! Where male hormones made me feel poisoned and sick to die, driven by sweaty-dark aggression, female hormones made me feel innocent and pure, filled with light and gentle contentment. I felt cherubic and new born, and I knew in a matter of weeks that my choice was correct.
It felt so wonderful to shapeshift ! Every day held promise, for I enjoyed a second childhood of soft growing wonder. I saw my hands soften and become delicate again, a sight lost to puberty. I itched sweetly inside my growing bosom, and the sea of life within my body altered it’s flow to fit the contours of my soul. I was no longer in the back of the dark theater of my perception, I was outside that metaphoric theater altogether, living life fully, as I do to this day. I knew constant hope, and the exquisite pleasure of being resculpted by the very Nature who once betrayed me. The Mother was repairing Her mistake.
Only this boundless joy and ecstasy could have permitted me to survive the misery I endured at the hands of the cruel humans around me. The stuff of ridicule, there were many days I could not face the grocery store and went hungry, because the taunting and insults of the clerks were too much to bear.
The feeling of transition was Absolute Heaven, and Deepest Hell. It was miracle and curse, release and damnation both. But I have never before or since, felt more truly alive. It was Real Magick, the stuff of dreams made solid.
Surgery was almost anticlimactic, at the same time as being utterly terrifying and hideously painful. I knew I could die from it, and for the first time in my life, I had something to live for. But I also knew I could not endure to live with those horrid organs. I loathed them, how they looked, how the worked, what they felt like. It was like having some decaying parasitic worm hanging off of my body, or a tumor that had distended to freakshow proportions.
After my surgery, after the bloody mess had healed and the stitches removed, after the Frankenstein reconstruction had finally become Human, I marveled.
I finally felt….right. Correct. Oddest of all, I felt exactly the way that I imagined that I would feel before surgery. How could I possibly know what having a vagina, labia, clitoris, -even a ‘pseudo cervix’ would feel? Yet I had, long before these things were my body, in my dreams.
Science tells us that there is a map in the circuitry of the brain of the layout of our bodies, and children born without limbs suffer phantom limb syndrome though they have never known the missing limbs, my explanation is that my ‘body map’ was female, and the cause of my desperate need for surgery. Things felt wrong because my wiring told me clearly what I should be shaped like. Now that I am, the conflict is gone, and my suffering for missing organs is absent. I possess the contours and organs that fit my internal ‘map’, and so I feel…..all right.
So the feeling of surgical correction is…normality. Finally feeling free from internal and external conflict. It just…finally….is OK.
Now, 16 years after surgery, I live my life pretty much without much thought to gender dilemma. I am fixed, I am repaired. But I will never be utterly without this difference. Unlike most women, I suspect, I cannot help but occasionally hug my own breasts, feel the delicate flower of my labia, or the softness of my skin, and whisper a heartfelt prayer of thanks for the gift of finally being me. I can never take these things for granted, they are happy birthday presents forever, reminders that I lived a miracle.
And because I have lived such an adventure, I am forever set apart. I cannot simply be an ordinary woman, because I have not lived an ordinary woman’s life. The mindless chit-chat of either the average woman, or the average man, bores me to tears, and so in a way, I am still apart, alien on the inside. And so many life experiences I cannot join in to discuss, like menstruation, or dating, or Girl Scouts, or the myriad trials of growing up as a girl. I have known all of the discriminations and limitations of being a female…and then some, for I was treated as a freak before my attainment of womanhood…but few of the joys. I can not relate to the childhood of a boy either, for I did not have one, so I have so many things -not- to say.
This difference does haunt me, and in my years of hiding until this site on the internet, I felt the most disturbing muteness, the fear of discovery, that anyone should know my shameful past. This is why I have decided to come Out, because even if my body is at last corrected, I have been altered in my soul and mind by the journey to achieve it.
So the feeling of being a post-op transsexual is for me the comfort of happy correctness mixed with the bitterness of forever lost girlhood, and the joy of remembering that I am a miracle, a shapeshifter incarnate, and that I have lived an adventure. I am at once Normalized and Alienated, Wistful and Joyful together.
This is what it feels like, at least for me.
transsexual.org/Feels.html – 2002