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I went to CWC for a couple hours today, and it was reasonably enjoyable. I went on the walk with the walking group, and everyone was at a loss about where to go, so I played tour guide and took them on a ramble up to North Gate; recommended that they all try the excellent (and cheap) split pea soup at the nearby Stuffed Inn; took them to see this bizarre, tiny, 2-story wood-shingle building/shack thing (which has suffered significant fire damage since I was last there!) out in the bushes north of the East Asian Library; and took them to see the 40-foot-tall T. rex (and other, less impressive skeletons, though the Pteranodon suspended over the T. rex's head is also pretty cool, with its gigantic head and tiny body) in the Valley Life Sciences Building. It was a pleasant walk, and the weather was sunny but not too warm. Perfect.

Then I spent a while talking to a friend of mine there who is currently in the early stages of transition (male-to-female): taking hormones, developing breasts, and struggling with how to look the way he wants to (I'm using the male pronoun here because he currently seems nervous about identifying himself as female at this point.) when he's a man in his fifties with less hair than he would like and a nervousness about being judged by others for his changing body, his increasingly feminine clothing choices, etc. It doesn't help that he's schizophrenic, and so has some minor problems with paranoia (despite taking medication). I tried to encourage him to do what makes him happiest, what he feels is the truest expression of who he is inside, but I know it's easy to say and a lot harder to do. I wish there was more I could do to help him, since he seems to be having a hard time, but I think all I can do is let him know that I support him and don't judge him and want him to be happy ... and that he might want to consider scarves if he's self-conscious about how his hair loss impacts his gender identity.

In the afternoon, I got various house-type chores and tasks done. Very exciting.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 24th, 2012 04:37 am (UTC)
Take your friend wig shopping! There are some great places out there that have very reasonable prices. ($50-100 dollars) Good hair can make all the difference, and very good hair can be undetectable.

I'm wearing a wig in this icon. Can you tell?
Apr. 24th, 2012 04:47 am (UTC)
I actually did mention the wig option, but he seemed hesitant about it, though I couldn't figure out for sure why from what he was saying. He's feeling very hesitant about doing anything that might be perceived as overtly feminine, anything that might draw too much attention. I don't know if scarves would be less so than wigs, but they might feel less like he's trying to "pass," with the potential for embarrassing failure to do so. Maybe wigs seem too much like he'd be "pretending" to be a woman?

I think having both (wigs, scarves, and maybe some other possibilities, too) as options might give him some room to consider what might feel most comfortable to him. Right now he doesn't seem comfortable with the current situation, but doesn't seem entirely comfortable with changing it, either. It's a pretty scary prospect, I imagine. He's in a tough situation, but I hope it will get better with time, support, and experimentation to see what works for him personally.
Apr. 24th, 2012 06:55 am (UTC)
He could always wear the wig around the house, just to get a feel for it. Spending time looking in the mirror and getting used to it, etc. If he's really serious, he should spend lots of private time trying to look pretty and feminine (or however he pictures his ideal self). Confidence for taking the new persona out in public will come later, and much more slowly.

My ex girlfriend completed his F to M transition shortly after we broke up, so I'm a bit familiar with the process. I also have several transitioned friends. Of course, every has to handle things in their own way.
Apr. 24th, 2012 07:12 am (UTC)
He said that he enjoys looking more feminine when he's alone at home, but then gets an unpleasant jolt when he sees himself in a mirror, becaus he doesn't look the way he feels (and doesn't like the way he looks). I think wearing the wig at home is a great idea, and I'll suggest it next time I see him. It might make those mirror glances less jarring, and he won't have to worry about anyone else's reaction to the wig.

As for how serious he is, in our conversation today at one point he waffled a bit and awkwardly said he "isn't quite sure about this whole thing." I'm trying to take him at his word about that, but the fact that he has chosen to take hormones (apparently he has been taking them for a year now, though he did not develop any obvious physical changes until very recently, and he hadn't come out to me or to the community at large until the last month or two) and also the fact that he seems to be working fairly hard to overcome his fear of people judging him so that he can look and behave the way he wants makes me think he's more certain than he says. I'm guessing that he's shying away from defining himself (as transgender, as female, whatever) because of all these fears he has about what it will mean for his role in society. But that's just my guess, of course, and I have no idea what's really going on inside him.

Thanks for the suggestion about wearing the wig at home! I think that might really help him.

My closest friend (aside from Shannon, of course) is an MTF woman, and I've also spent a fair amount of time with some of her friends who are also MTF, but they are all fully transitioned and have been for years. When I first met Lisa (the close friend), she was out to everyone except her employers/coworkers, and so -- depending on who was with us -- she was sometimes called Tom and sometimes called Lisa, sometimes dressed in more masculine clothes and sometimes in dresses, but she was completely out to me and our group of friends, she was living most of her life as a woman at that point, and so I didn't know her when she was going through this kind of struggle for identity. I'll ask her if she has any ideas about how I might help this other friend, but I assume that -- just as every person is different -- every trans person's transition is different, so what helped Lisa might not help someone else. Still, she's very educated on the topic, so she may have some helpful advice.
Apr. 24th, 2012 09:34 am (UTC)
Reading back, I just realized how f*cked up it was for me to say "If he's really serious." I knew it felt odd when I wrote it, but it just hit me what was wrong about it.

EVERYONE is serious, no matter where they are holding in the gender/queer spectrum. Where he decides to go with it is irrelevant.

Sorry for sounding judgy or dismissive. It was an unfortunate choice of words.
Apr. 24th, 2012 11:16 am (UTC)
but then gets an unpleasant jolt when he sees himself in a mirror, becaus he doesn't look the way he feels (and doesn't like the way he looks)

If it occurs to you/seems appropriate, tell him that is not a phenomenon exclusive to trans people! Goodness.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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