The last month has been pretty transformative.
I’ve started chipping away at the mountain of Self Work that has been present in my life for much too long now. One of the great blessings of top surgery has been the fact that I now have the time and the energy to devote to this process; before top surgery I was mired in an exhausting and unrelenting cycle of depression, dysphoria, and anxiety.
I still don’t love myself the way I want and need to. That’s okay, though; I know that I will get there. A huge part of this process has been learning how to be more patient and compassionate with myself. I have a long-standing habit of holding myself to impossibly high standards and then loathing myself when I fail to meet them.
Learning how to truly love myself is hard. There is so much to unlearn, so much internalized transphobia and homophobia to dismantle. There are so many deep-seated issues to deal with. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed; how do I know what to tackle first? The internalized transphobia? My dysfunctional relationship with my father? My body image? My other insecurities?
I am committed to this, though. I am committed to myself. I am committed to dismantling this house of old wounds, one brick at a time. I’m committed to building something new and powerful, with my love for myself as the foundation.
As I’ve started this journey, I’ve been surprised to find that my love for others has expanded in step with my love for myself. The more I cherish myself, the more I cherish the friendships in my life. The more I appreciate myself and my abilities, the more I appreciate others and the things they have done for me. I think that I feel more full of love now than I ever have before, and that’s a beautiful feeling.
It’s not all easy, by any means. I’ve had some really rough days in the last month. I’ve had days where my frustration makes me want to throw everything to the ground and walk away. I have days where I just don’t care, days where I don’t want to do the work because I don’t want to do anything, period. I try to just let myself have those days, to value them as part of the process instead of seeing them as a backslide and feeling guilty and angry at myself. It’s on these days that I am able to practice the art of forgiving myself and being compassionate with myself.
It’s on these days that I am reminded of what it means to truly be committed to myself. That I will see myself through the hard times and be a better person for it on the other side. That in my darkest hours, I can trust myself to pull through.
I am committed.
While I was on Tumblr the other day, I came across this quote from a femme who had just gotten married:
“I was going to say I didn’t know what I did to deserve this love but really, I do know. I honored myself and I made a conscious decision to stop settling for less than I desired and deserved and loved myself in a way that commanded that kind of love back.”
Emphasis is mine.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about self-love.
Specifically, I’ve been thinking about how I still have a lot of work left to do in that department.
I had something of a revelation over breakfast the other morning: When I come across someone, whether platonically or romantically, who understands, accepts, and supports my identity and my physical expression thereof (i.e., my choice to have had top surgery, etc), I tend to automatically think that that person is a great, wonderful person. I tend to automatically feel lucky and relieved that they are able to “get” me. Granted, these people often are wonderful people whose company I thoroughly enjoy, but it is very telling that I feel that these people are automatically worthy of some kind of praise and gratitude on my part just for liking me the way I am.
When I ask myself why this is the case, I don’t like my answer. I like it even less because I know it is true and I don’t want it to be.
…It’s because some part of me, deep down, still feels fundamentally unworthy of love. Some part of me still feels like I’m weird and broken and wrong. Some part of me still feels like it takes some kind of act of god for someone to really love me just the way I am. Some kind of act of god for someone to truly love my gay-boi, butch self. Some kind of act of god for a lover to find my chest not just acceptable but great and sexy.
When I find people who do seem to be able to appreciate me in some or all of those ways, I almost instantaneously feel quite attached to them. I put them on something of a pedestal. I let them get away with things that I wouldn’t let others get away with. When we have conflicts, I am always looking for what I did “wrong” and being quick to apologize for those “transgressions”.
I look at the person like a rare, precious gem that I am oh-so-lucky to have in my life.
In other words, I take a person’s ability to love and appreciate me as I am as some kind of exceptional quality of that person, rather than seeing it as the bare minimum of what I should expect from everyone.
I don’t know yet what to do with this revelation. I don’t know yet how to love myself truly and completely. I don’t know yet how to work through all of this internalized transphobia that makes me feel like I am unworthy of such basic respect and care.
I do know, though, that I am going to commit the next year of my life to figuring this out. I’ve decided that 2012 is going to be my year of being committed to myself, my year of being committed to learning how to love myself in the way I deserve to be loved.
I don’t know where this journey will take me, but I do know that, for the first time in a long time, I feel like I’m on exactly the right path.
As I mentioned in my last post, things have been quite chaotic for me lately. I found myself feeling quite off-kilter and uncentered since the year (and especially the academic semester) started. So off-kilter, in fact, that I had to force myself to take a moment to step back and assess what was going on and how I had gotten to a place where I was feeling so overwhelmed all the time. And, even more importantly, how I could get myself to a place where I was feeling centered again. Where was the balance in my life?
So, being the analytical, science-type that I am, I created a list of guidelines, for lack of a better word, to help me get back on track. Things have still be stressful since I’ve been trying to live by these guidelines, but not nearly as much as they were. I’m feeling more peaceful in general.
So, to keep myself accountable, I thought I’d share my list with you all:
I. Keep up with my academic responsibilities.
- Get organized.
- Go to all classes. Period.
- At least attempt all homework, period, even when it seems so difficult that I feel discouraged after trying to work through the first problem.
- Go “super scheduled”–this means planning out my days down to each hour.
II. Build and maintain local friendships
- When I was trying to figure out where in my life my needs weren’t getting met, I realized this was a huge issue for me. In 2010 my best, best, best friend and I had a falling out. Later that year I started dating C, my most recent ex, and transferred to a school an hour and a half away. Because C still lived in the city I’d just left, I found myself spending all my weekends there. Accordingly, I never really had any time or opportunities to build friendships here. I found the same issue springing up with dating OB, as she also lives an hour and a half away. I miss having close, local friendships. I need close friendships. Committing myself to maintaining friendships also forces me not to isolate myself, which is something I’m prone to as a rather shy butch who also happens to live alone.
- This also means getting involved in various on-campus organizations, which is a good way for me to connect with people. So far I’m working on getting more involved in the GLBT group and the Women’s Issues group.
III. Maintain Mental Health
- There are a lot of aspects to this for me. The main one is making sure I have enough other things to do to balance out my school stress. Obviously this ties back into the whole building-friendships objective.
- Get enough sleep.
- Eat well.
- Exercise (I’m on week 2 of the hundred pushups program right now, and hopefully I’ll be adding some cardio soon! Ugh, I don’t know why I am so ridiculously averse to cardio.)
- Work on healing old wounds. This subject deserves a whole post in itself, so I’ll elaborate on it later.
IV. Keep Blogging
- That’s right, dear readers. This is definitely a priority for me! This blog, my tumblr, and my youtube are all really important to me. They help me connect with the queer community that I’ve never really had locally. Don’t get me wrong, there is a sizeable queer community here, but I want to connect with butches and femmes and all sorts of other queers who want to talk about gender identity, feminism, trans issues, and the whole myriad of issues I hold near and dear to my heart. I also want to do what I can to be available to other FAAB (female-assigned-at-birth) folks who are not male-identified but struggle with gender dysphoria. Being able to connect with them has been a really wonderful experience so far.
Alright, I suppose that’s it for now. What about you, readers? Are there any particular guidelines you’re trying to live by right now?
First off, I’d like to thank Butch Wonders and Bookish Butch for mentioning my blog on their blogs! I really appreciate it! I’m sure that everyone who has seen my blog is familiar with Butch Wonders already, but if not go check her out! She even has a series on butch-butch dating! 🙂
And thanks so much to everyone who has taken an interest in this blog so far! I know I’m behind on replying to comments–hopefully that will be fixed by the end of this week.
I apologize for dropping off the face of the, uh, blog for a while. This has turned out to be an extremely demanding semester for me, academically. Not that I didn’t expect it to be difficult, mind you–I’m an engineering major, my semesters are always difficult. I wasn’t expecting to start feeling like I was already falling behind in the second week of school, though.
I’m finally getting into a place where I’m adjusting to the pace, but my life has been pretty chaotic for the last month and a half.
So, as far as major blog updates go: OB and I are no longer seeing each other. I realize this seems quite abrupt to many of my readers, given the nature of my last post about OB. We hit quite a bit of turbulence in January, and just as we were getting that resolved, my intense school schedule forced me to take a step back and give myself a reality check in terms of my ability to juggle a romance and/or FWB situation and school and all the other things in my life I need to attend to right now (I’ll post more about the latter later).
I know that’s all a bit vague, but that’s all I’ll be publicly sharing on that matter, out of respect for my privacy and hers.
As I’m sure you can infer, this also means that I’m currently not interested in the dating scene, and I expect that to be the case for at least the next several months. So, I apologize to my readers who are looking forward to more stories of my experiences in the butch-butch dating world–those are going to have to wait for just a bit.
I’ve had all sorts of blog ideas rolling around in my head for months now, and I’m hoping I can get to at least a few of them over the next month or two. Given my academic commitments, I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to post, but I’m hoping to post at least once a month from here on out.
Alright, folks, that’s all for now!
This is a compilation of resources for female-assigned-at-birth (FAAB), non-male identified people who want top surgery. This document will include a list of surgeons who are willing to perform top surgery on genderqueer/non-male-identified people, as well as a list of blogs of people who want top surgery or have had top surgery but are not male-identified.
This information has been collected from a variety of sources. If there is something you see that needs to be added or corrected, please let me know. I want to make this list as comprehensive as possible!
The re-bloggable, Tumblr version can be found here. Please reblog it if you have a Tumblr – – I want this information to reach as many people as possible.
SURGEONS (Those who are italicized do NOT require a therapist’s letter)
- Medalie – Cleveland, OH – http://www.clevelandplasticsurgery.com/transgender-surgery
- Garramone – Sunrise, FL – http://www.drgarramone.com/transgenderflorida/ – Has been known to operate on explicitly female-identified people
- Raphael – Plano, TX – http://www.ai4ps.com/procedures/transgender/female-to-male-mastectomy/ – Has been known to operate on explicitly female-identified people
- Steinwald – Lake Forest, IL – http://www.lfplasticsurgery.com/plastic-surgery/chest-masculinization.cfm – Has been known to operate on explicitly female-identified people
- Fischer – Timonium, MD – http://www.beverlyfischer.com/default.html
- Ceber – Melbourne, Australia
- Dr. Mclean – Mississauga, Ontario – http://www.mcleanclinic.com/ftm.php
- Dr. Brownstein – San Francisco, CA – http://www.brownsteinmd.com/ – Letter requirements depend on the patient – Has been known to operate on explicitly female-identified people
- Dr. Buckley – Minneapolis, MN – Letter requirements unknown
- Katy Koonce – Katy is willing to do phone sessions with and write letters for people all over the US. Her contact information can be found here: http://katykoonce.com/contact.htm
- Ceointhe415 – http://www.youtube.com/user/ceointhe415/videos
- Weirdopal1 – http://www.youtube.com/user/weirdopal1/videos
- Ashtreechill – http://www.youtube.com/user/ashtreechill/videos – A butch who has had top surgery
- PerpetualTomboy – http://www.youtube.com/user/perpetualtomboy – A straight, female-identified tomboy who wants top surgery
- Butchinthesouth – http://butchinthesouth.tumblr.com/tagged/top+surgery
- How to Bring Your Kids Up Queer – A blog written by Paige Schilt, whose wife, Katy Koonce, has had top surgery. Check the “gender” tag for relevant entries. http://howtobringyourkidsupqueer.blogspot.com/search/label/Gender
- Transbucket – http://www.transbucket.com/ – This site provides pictures of top surgery results. A login is required.
- WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health) – This is a link to the new Standards of Care, which has provisions for gender-non-conforming people who want top surgery. http://www.wpath.org/publications_standards.cfm
My apologies for the extended absence. I’ve been wicked busy with school for the last several weeks. Thankfully, finals are now over and I can get back to writing (and, you know, sleeping).
So, I’m hoping to make a number of new posts over the next couple of weeks. There are a lot of different topics I’ve been wanting to write about, so hopefully I can touch on at least a few before the next semester starts up.
Oh, and this blog has a very special new reader– OB!! 🙂
Alright, I’m afraid that’s it for now. Hopefully I’ll have some new, substantial entries to post in the next couple of days!
Well, here’s the part where I get to put my foot in my mouth.
About not being romantically compatible with someone significantly older than me, that is.
Last Friday, I went out to OB’s place, with the intention of staying there until roughly noon on Saturday. We wound up having such a great time together that I stayed until Sunday evening.
Can I take just a moment to praise amazing butches, y’all? Yes? Good.
I’ve never met anyone quite like OB. She’s just… incredibly down-to-earth, kind, and genuine. And on top of that, she’s amazing about things like consent, boundaries, and listening – – better than anyone I’ve ever been with, in any context. I won’t go into detail, because I could easily devote a blog entry to my feelings about the subject, but I will just say that this is a major change of pace from my last relationship.
A change of pace that I desperately needed.
Only time will tell where this thing is headed. At this point, we’re just dating and taking it a day at a time.
All I know is that I sincerely hope that OB will be in my life for a long time to come, whether as a friend, a lover, or anything else.
So, I wound up going on my first date with a butch a couple of weeks ago.
Backstory: I met an older butch (who will henceforth be referred to as OB) at a club a few weeks ago. We both seemed to notice each other, and, long story short, she gave me her number before leaving with a friend. I was both very caught off guard and flattered; I’ve always been under the impression that there’s a lot more butch-on-butch homophobia within the older lesbian community. Anyways, we wound up texting back and forth, and I was upfront with her about my recent breakup and consequential lack of readiness for anything serious.
So, she wound up asking me to dinner, and I said yes. I’m so glad I did, because I had a really great time with her. I did realize that I didn’t feel romantically compatible with someone that much older than me, but we still had a really nice dinner. She’s hilarious and down to earth and just very, very fun to be around. I really enjoy her company, and I think we’re going to be good friends for some time to come.
I must say, that date was remarkably validating in terms of solidifying my attraction to butches. Sometimes I forget how much little gender play or power play things can affect me. I found it really hot that she was taking me out– paying for dinner and all that. As someone who has really only dated femmes before, this was a new experience for me. And even though the romantic compatibility factor wasn’t there, the dynamics of that date were hot. Like, I-couldn’t-stop-thinking-about-it-for-days hot.
All I could think of afterwards is “Shit, how could it have possibly taken me this long to figure out that this is what I’m into?”