Roots: When did transition begin?

When and where did my transition begin? Let’s take a journey through time and explore.

It’s the 16th of December, 2011. I’m shaking as I inject myself with estradiol valerate for the first time.  A whole new life is about to begin.

But what about my transition? Where did my transition begin? Did it begin here, at this first injection? Or did it begin elsewhere? Let’s go a bit forward before we go back.

It’s December 2012. I’m about to see my grandmother for Christmas, for the first time since beginning Hormone Replacement Therapy. She tells me that she prayed for me. When she prayed, she asked God to watch over me and begged him to stop me from undergoing HRT if this would lead me to anything other than happiness. God never stopped me. In fact, my existence has seemed blessed. I consider the power of prayer and understand my grandmother as a religious person for the first time in my life. I fully realize what it means to talk to God. This is the greatest Christmas gift I have ever received.

I found peace in this moment. Was this feeling of peace the beginning? I’m not convinced. Let’s forgo the future for now and look further to the past for our answer.

It’s May of 2004. I’m telling the person I love with all my heart and soul that I am gender dysphoric. She accepts this about me and loves me in spite of it. She facilitates the social and lifestyle changes I will undergo over the next several years leading up to and beyond HRT We’ll eventually go our separate ways in the world, but in this moment, my gender is realized upon the world and is interpreted and responded to appropriately. This hasn’t happened since I was  12. It feels so good to live again.

Is this where my transition began? Let’s go back even further.

It’s 1996, I’m 13 years old. Puberty has begun. All of the other girls around me are getting their periods and I don’t quite understand why I’m suddenly being treated so differently. The female groups I grew up with have split off from me and we’re suddenly, and shockingly segregated from one another. Reactions to me shift in everyone. The world becomes a completely different and ugly place. I’m a pig in a chute. I don’t belong here. I can’t exist here anymore. I refuse to exist this way anymore. I become a ghost. The world never sees me nor hears me. I am unable to impact reality in any meaningful way. I find solace only in voracious reading and solitude.

I realize in this moment what Gender Dysphoria is. Great distress is born from the incongruence internalized between my body, mind, and soul. Is this where my transition began? Maybe not. How about this time we go back…. Back to the Future™?

It’s 1998. Hello, world! The internet is here and my parents hook up the modem in our house for the first time. This is incredible. I discover multitudes of social spaces in which I can be myself and I set about doing so in every one of them. I am reacted to here in ways that make sense to me. It feels so good to be myself, but whenever I step back out into the real world, I continue as an apparition, unable to be seen, heard, or understood.

Did my transition begin here? Let’s take another trip back.

It’s 1990. I’m 7 years old and stranded after school after my mom had issues with the car. A teacher offers to take me to the community Boy’s club with some other kids. I’m confused but I accept. I’m bullied relentlessly once there. The males occupying this space know something is wrong with me but they don’t understand what and neither do I. I feel like a monster for the first time. I avoid spaces like this like the plague from this moment onward.

Did my transition begin here?

Or maybe it was 1987, I’m 5. My mom begins babysitting for a girl named Sarah and another girl named Kaycee. They are my best friends. I am a happy little girl playing with Easy Bake Ovens and dolls. Sarah tells me about Charlotte’s Web, her favorite book her mom’s been reading to her. I can’t wait to learn to read. Charlotte’s Web becomes my favorite book as soon as I do.

Did it begin at 5?

Or was it at 4 in July, 1986?? I’m in Florida on vacation. I’m a small blond haired person. Men on the beach tell me what a cute little girl I am. My mom reacts strangely. I don’t understand.

Or maybe did it begin at 3? I’m experiencing my very first memory. I’m sitting in a sink full of water that is sloshing all around my body. I become aware, for the first time that I have a body. The world suddenly begins becoming more tangible to me. I begin becoming familiar with objects and form my very first, most basic understandings of reality. I don’t know what any of this is, but it seems great. I look down at the water and catch a glimpse of myself reflected in it. Who is that?

What if it was when I was 2, when my mom dressed me up in frilly clothes and had a professional photographer take my picture for the first time.

Could it have been at 1? Maybe Soros funded birthday cake manufactures to inject cakes with chemicals that turn the frickin’ kids transgender and my first ever taste of cake poisoned my mind against my body?

We’re running out of room for time travel within my life’s experience. We could go forward I suppose, but no, let’s go even further back.

It’s October 20th, 1983. My mother is in labor. She’s expecting a girl. She plans to name her Brooke. In the last 9 months leading up to this moment, she had been hoping for a girl and was told by many that it looked like she was going to have just that based on the way she was carrying me. Doctors agreed with this assessment and offered ultrasound confirmation but she refused, wanting to be surprised. Now, in 1983, she pushes me out into the world and her heart is broken by not receiving the daughter she had hoped for, but is immediately mended by the idea of guiding a boy into the world, so that is what it is decided I am, then and there. She scrambles to come up with a name. A soap opera is on TV. I am hastily named after an actor on the show. A façade falls over my existence.

Did my transition begin in my mother’s hopes and the world’s initial perceptions of me?

Where did it begin?

16 thoughts on “Roots: When did transition begin?

  1. This would fit with my general attitude toward pretty much everything. Definitions are all socially imposed; at best, mostly useless, at worse downright damaging. Nice start!

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  2. Not at all. Just give me minute to pull my thoughts together…so I guess starting from the more general perspective, reading this post has lead me to contemplate the nature of transition itself. As a clinician my habitual landing spot re:transitions relates to the the various phases we experience throughout the lifespan i.e. infant, child, adolescent, etc. It was only when I began to explore, in an effort to understand, gender dysphoria that I came to view transition in terms of identity. That being, from one gender identity to another. And that, not an event, but rather a process. Enter this post. It has prompted me to consider the very real possibility that in this context we are not dealing with transition at all; but rather the accommodation of and/or adaption to the reality of a situation; an evolving, or dare I say, inflorescence of a state of truth. And thoughts of this ilk Ella, tend always to lure me to the spiritual realm….but that’s the subject of a future paragraph.

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    1. That’s so very insightful. Thank you for sharing your perspective. I think that the truth is it can happen differently for everyone. For me, it’s been something that’s always been with me. I was aware of myself as a girl when I was a girl and the same awareness was with me all through my transition into womanhood and is still with me now, well into my adult life.

      I’m of the mind that the concept of self is an infinitely complex one (as all concepts are) though the concept of self is one we will put considerable more effort into understanding and it’s good that we do, because that concept of self becomes our subjective filter of the world. It becomes like a prism through which we view the world, by placing ourselves into our conception of it and viewing the way that conception is experienced through our concept of ourselves as it exists in our world.

      One of the conditions to that self is bodily experience. All of the bodily experiences I have had throughout my life have compounded into my social and psychological experiences to form my concept of self as female. It’s the only way I’m capable of understanding myself and thereby is also the only way I’m capable of understanding my world, because all of my experiences of it are filtered back through my self-concept.

      Another layer to this is that self-concept (nor again, any concept) is not in a fixed state. You can always deconstruct parts of yourself and/or test out new self-conceptual elements and see how they fit into your worldview. This being the case, it is very much possible that one could develop in either way, either via as you say, infloresence of a state of truth, or of an actual transition, where one might strip themselves of one aspect of their identity and reconstruct a new aspect.

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  3. Ah yes….and it is in fact this contemplation of self, more over, of the true self that, in my opinion, must have it’s origins in the spiritual realm. But before I go there may I ask a question? Do you remember your dreams? And if so who are you in your dreams and is that who you have always been? Ok, that was 3 questions…

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    1. I am in agreement with you. Whether you look at it as a just a mind or something more akin to a soul or spirit, the sense of self is driven by something that exists beyond our bodies. We all have our own unique essence which we channel as we externalize ourselves into our movements and impacts on the world. Perhaps that comes from God or some other external consciousness or perhaps it’s coded into our DNA or perhaps it really is just forged from our experience, but in any case it’s something I acknowledge to be real and far more important to humanity than anything to do with our biologies, though each of our biologies is also unique.

      No matter how you look at it, being that we have that unique essence, our experience of the world, ourselves, language, symbols, and yes even dreams is unique. We all have our own interpretations of these sorts of experiences and fill them with our own meaning, which I believe comes from that essence I’ve been blathering about.

      I’ve been thinking about dreams a lot lately as I’ve been engaged with a very interesting book by Nimue Brown called “Pagan Dreaming” which is written from her Druidic spiritual perspective on dreaming which takes a very practical approach to the understanding of dreams. I’d highly recommend it if you’re interested in dreaming generally.

      In my dreams, I’ve occupied many forms, some not even human or in some cases even biological at all, but when I dream of being myself, I have never not been female. I can’t say I’ve ever had anything I’d consider any sort of male-centric dream in my memory.

      Something I’ve found interesting is that pre-transition I had a much higher frequency of dreams and dream intensity. In the years following it, my dreams have become less and less frequent and intense.

      It’s become my general understanding of dreams that they represent some sort of need, be it a spiritual, physical, emotional, or some other kind of need. As my life has become more and more fully realized and my needs fewer and fewer, my need for dreaming has become less and less.

      It’s my pet theory that dreaming happens because the subconscious lingers on something while the conscious mind moves on throughout time and then when we sleep, the subconscious processes what it has lingered on and that process becomes our dreams, which tend to represent a journey between where our subconscious lingers and where our conscious resides and it helps us to come to terms with those experiences through emotional experience.

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      1. Interesting side point also is that my “inner voice” has always been female. I’m not really sure if everyone experiences a gender to the voice they use to think, but mine has always had one. I find that it’s possible for me to think in other voices also, as when I read something written by an author whose voice I’m familiar with, but my default has always been essentially what I consider to be my own voice, even before I worked out how to properly project it through my vocal cords.

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  4. Thank you for sharing. I need to process your reply to respond more completely, but I did want to say that your experience with dreams confirms something I have thought for awhile. I think it is the ‘true’ self that manifests in dreams b/c it is unencumbered by the conscious mind, which, in my opinion is the domain of the ‘false’ self.
    Thanks for the book recommendation, I will check it out. Here’s one for you if you haven’t read it already, “Why We Sleep” ~ Matthew Walker. He is the director at the sleep center at UC Berkeley so more of a clinical approach to dreaming and sleep in general, but very informative and well documented. Completely changed my attitude about sleep!!
    And one last thing…do you follow “Hidden Brain”? If not today’s episode was a really good discussion on gender. Probably not in archives yet, may be able to catch it on your local NPR station today and should be in archives in a couple of days.
    Ok, have a great day!!

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    1. I agree, though in my thinking it goes even further to say that the conscious mind is the domain of falsehood in general. That’s where information we gather about ourselves and our world resides and since we are all uniquely imperfect, what really resides there is our interpretations of that information, which can never represent any Truth with a capital “T” but rather our own subjective truths. Ultimately, our interpretation of the little light living inside us is subject to the same interpretation, BUT….

      I’m of the mind that little light exists in the spiritual/cognitive realm or perhaps on the border between there and physical reality. As such, it can know Truth even if we aren’t capable of it consciously.

      Truth is expressed to us through our emotions (to keep this tied with dreaming– emotions are what our dreams express to us and leave us with after waking) which color our experiences. If we pay attention, we can develop a better sense for what is true, especially when we externalize our thoughts. When we lie, we feel it physiologically, even if we don’t know we’re lying. Our heart rate might rise or we’ll sweat or feel ill or it will manifest in some other way unique to you. The same is true when we tell the truth, but the experience will be much more emotionally and physically pleasant/calming, even if the truth is a burdensome or difficult one. In my experience, paying attention to these sorts of emotional/physical cues improves my ability to sense truth and to prune my consciousness of falsehoods. Of course this doesn’t always guide you to truth and I do believe these are many truths we simply can’t know, but it’s certainly a beneficial tool in helping you make sense of this often senseless reality.

      Thank you for the book and podcast recommendations! I haven’t read the book nor listened to the podcast, but I’m looking forward to checking out both as soon as possible.

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  5. Interesting observations, all of them. The depth of your experience is readily observed in your writing.
    Equally observable is the fact that you are a deep thinker.

    I tend to view consciousness as something more than the conscious mind. To borrow Tolle’s vernacular I see some aspect of my consciousness as the “thinker’s witness”. You and I for example are sharing our thoughts, which are based on our respective worldviews, which are based on our subjective experience of the current space/time from birth till now. There is, I believe, a higher order of my being that observes these thoughts. It is the source of the thought “I” don’t think, but rather, thinks “me”. It transcends my experience, and my grey matter (for that matter:)
    …IT is that aspect of my being that is eternal and divine.

    I think I would like to go read ‘Humanity 101’ now. Hopefully I will see you there.

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    1. Your thoughts have been every bit as insightful. Thank you for sharing them! I hope you find my other articles equally compelling and look forward to any further thoughts you might share.

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