Category: Me and My Identity


relax in my heartOk, perhaps not buy. I’m not that skint yet. ‘Who will have’ may be closer to the mark, in all its senses. I have been on the dating ‘market’ for around a year now, and I’ve got to admit that twelve months on, it isn’t getting any easier. I’ll be straight with you here – I am not looking for love again (too painful) or a long-term relationship (too expensive…and painful). Just, you know, a date. And whatever that might lead to. I’m not proud.

My problem is this. Whilst I find my own sexuality, body geography and gender identity perfectly easy to grasp, that certainly isn’t the way other people see things. In short, in my experience**: lesbians have found me attractive until they find out I identify as male (too much of a man). Straight women have treated me like a pet eunuch: a non-threatening man who they can giggle about periods with. But definitely not sleep with (not enough of a man). Gay men have found me attractive until they find I have my original plumbing (not enough of a man). Straight (or, in my experience, bi) men have found me attractive if they are allowed to pretend I’m not really a man. If I emphasise my gender identity, they bail (too much of a man). I have been turned down for numerous explicitly and implicitly gender-based reasons, and it’s starting to jar me off.

**Oh, and before anyone gets their underwear in a twist about my broad, sweeping and stereotypical generalisation of people into four categories, I am talking about my own experience, and yes, I am aware that they are broad, sweeping and stereotypical generalisations. This is a blog, not a gender seminar. And in truth, I’m not quite such a big old sl*g that I’ve been hit on by every facet of the beautiful gender kaleidoscope.

Perhaps I have shot myself in the foot, cut off my nose to spite my face, or chucked out the baby with the bathwater, by undergoing a physical transformation. I have a masculine build, no breasts, but I retain the genitalia I was born with, by choice. Arguably, I have created a physical self that is so different from the norm that people need to think hard about what they are seeing. And when people think hard, that tends to be where the trouble starts. I have been told that I have led to people questioning their own sexuality (hurrah for enlightenment, boo for me going home without a shag). I try to be candid with people about who and what I am, and this has led to some slightly awkward email dissections of “what’s what and where”, which probably aren’t the best prelude to a fabulous date. Maybe I should just ‘wing it’ and hope that the surprise factor doesn’t get me thrown out of the bedroom, or worse. As an aside, did you know that in some countries, the shock caused by finding out that someone is trans* is actually admissable as evidence in court in defending battery and murder. Nuts.

So what on earth to do? Honesty has always been my policy, and I can’t imagine doing things differently. Perhaps I should just worry less what potential partners think – after all, if I’m not their bag, baby, there’s not a lot I can do to convince them. I know that some folk deliberately seek out trans* men, but as a very ordinary chap, I’m loathe to become someone’s fetish. I’ve been advised to seek out partners amongst the ‘Queer Community’, which is all very well, but I live in rural Norfolk. Plus, I’m not entirely convinced that that’s the niche for me.

Labels are dangerous things, and I prefer to avoid them. If asked to describe my sexuality, I say ‘mostly gay’, which tends to elicit a smile, but is as close to the truth as I can find in a couple of words. I find women beautiful (well, most, anyway!) but I’m not really looking to get cosy with them, if you know what I mean. But who knows? Gender comes in many hues, as does personality and, well, everything, so I’d be silly to say I’d never date someone based on something so fluid.

Of course, I never really anticipated that I would be in this position. I had always rather pooh-poohed the problems of dating as a trans* person, because I was sat blithely in my long-term relationship. Well, karma came back to bite me there, and whilst my ex is now happily engaged to the person for whom she left me, I am, at the age of 42, clumsily single and singularly clueless.

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its-not-the-beard-on-the-outside-that-counts-its-the-beard-on-the-insideI once swore that I would grow a big bushy fisherman’s beard once in my life, just because I could. Sadly, nearly three years of testosterone has failed to nudge the follicle pixies into action, and what scrawny facial hair I have would never make it onto a Fisherman’s Friend advert.

I have hair on my stomach, hair on my shoulders, even hair on my chest (if you squint hard…) but my face remains, for the most part, silky smooth with a hint of fluff. I see pictures of guys who have what I would call ‘proper’ man hair within a few months of starting T, and I am filled with envy. Even a teensy bit of bitter resentment. So why not me? And why does it matter?

Perhaps I should clarify here – when I said ‘for the most part’ silky smooth, I didn’t admit to the wiry growths sprouting from the lower part of my chin. Little clumps of hair that need chiselling off my chin, rather than shaving, and which resolutely refuse to join together into anything that might be recognised as a beard. I am surprisingly fond of my chin hair, to the point of not wanting to shave it off at all, rather letting its wiry strands form into some sort of portable art installation. It’s not that I don’t think it will come back (it does, in record time) but because this is one of the few things I have that hints at masculinity. Of course, many women have facial hair, so it probably doesn’t help me out that much, but I like to think that someone trying to work out whether Mark is short for…Markaret?…or not, might be swayed by my luxuriant chin sprouts.

I don’t come from a particularly hairy family, so genetically I am not predisposed to looking like Blackbeard. I didn’t start testosterone until I was nearly 40, so that may also count against me. Let’s face it, I am just me, and just like everything else in transition, it’s silly to play compare and contrast with anyone else. I am mostly very happy with who I am and how I look, and that, folks, is all that matters. HOWever, my lack of facial hair, combined with my (still) rather high-pitched voice, does make it hard for me just to fade into the background. I don’t like to stick out, and looking and sounding unusual for a man does become tiresome.

I may never be able to grow my fisherman’s beard, but I’d love to be able to manage a funky goatee. Or even a soul patch. Basically something that looks deliberate. As I mentioned earlier, it is mostly (though not all) those who identify as men who grow, and style, facial hair. I like to think that fewer people would misgender me if I have a ‘tache.

So what to do? I shave off the wiry bits, and the fluff, reasonably regularly, as I understand that this may finally persuade the follicle pixies to wake up and smell the Brut. I eat healthily, take my testosterone like a good boy, and short of going back in time and changing my entire genetic heritage, I don’t think there’s a lot else to do. Transition is a waiting game, and I may just have to buckle down and be patient. Or I could cheat and persuade one of the cats to sit permanently on my chin…

accountability-savage-chickens13 years as a teacher have left me thoroughly prepared for target setting. My New Year’s Resolutions are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Not for me the “I will be a better person” type resolution. Oh no – I have lists, tables, negotiated steps. Will my resolutions work out? No guarantees.

I took delivery this morning of a set of weights, with the intention of losing the lard I’ve put on in the last 5 months, and regaining my ‘gym shape’. They’re still sat looking heavy on the hall floor, while I find things to do to avoid opening the box…

I am having the healthiest online shopping order I’ve ever bought delivered tomorrow. To give you an idea, the first three items are celery sticks, seed mix and oat flower, lavender and chamomile teabags. Given that my body is currently groaning and moaning about the amount of fat, sugar and alcohol I’ve squeezed into it during the Festive Season (oh, ok, let’s be honest here, since July), I’m quite looking forward to reverting back to healthier eating.

I am, however, the Prince of Planning, the Emperor of Procrastination – the Demigod of talking the talk, and yet the Baldrick of walking the walk. I’m pretty sure that I will end up healthier than I am at the moment, but whether I’ll stick to all those SMART targets? Well, I’ll keep you posted.

Health aside, there’s something much more important I have resolved to do this year – to apply for my Gender Recognition Certificate. For those of you outside the UK, this is the way someone like me can apply to be legally recognised as male, and be issued with a new birth certificate. It’s a clunky process, has some costs attached and for me, at least, can be an emotionally challenging bit of paperwork to face.

I know for a lot of people in my position, apply for their GRC is the first thing they do having lived as themselves for two years, the legal minimum recognised by the GRC panel. For many trans* people, going through this legal process is hugely important so they can finally be properly recognised, and hold a new birth certificate. I’ve been procrastinating – not because I don’t think it’s important for me, but because it scares me.

Like my weights in the hall, I have metaphorically been staring at the boxes for nearly 3 years. I’ve read through the paperwork umpteen times, decided to get going gathering paperwork as evidence…and done nothing.

To a certain extent, the way I was living before did make a difference. I was in a civil partnership, so going through the process of being recognised legally as male would have caused a lot of upheaval. In the UK, a civil partnership is only currently permissable between two people of the same gender, so we would have had to dissolve our partnership before I could be granted a full Gender Recognition Certificate, then either marry as man and woman (which neither of us was that keen on, but which it’s fair to say would have had the biggest impact on my partner) or just carry on once more as unmarried/unpartnered. There was a time in our relationship where we were planning having a child, and the implications of our relationship status on whose name went down on the child’s birth certificate, and therefore my rights as a parent, was a serious factor impacting my decision to seek legal recognition of my gender.

Those factors aside, I have never been one to try and pretend that the past hasn’t happened. I feel strangely fond, and extremely protective, of the girl who is named on my birth certificate, who struggled for so long to work out why she felt so ‘wrong’ in this world. No, that doesn’t mean I am not 100% sure that I am Mark, but it does make me reluctant to erase any part of my past. A new birth certificate is what I need to achieve legal standing as a man, but I do not wish to be disrespectful of my old birth certificate, let alone pretend it didn’t exist.

So I’ve been staring at the paperwork for a very long time, and finding things to do instead. For those of you who are curious, I need to:

*Have proof that I have dissolved my civil partnership.

*Provide evidence that I have “lived in my acquired [*see below] gender” for at least two years (eg: driving licence, payslips, bank statements, utility bills, etc.). Apparently 5 or 6 documents will usually do. [*NB: ‘acquired’ is not my favourite word, as I don’t feel it reflects my experience or that of a lot of other trans* identified people, but it’s legalese]

*Give evidence of all changes of name.

*Provide 2 medical reports – one from “a doctor [or] psychologist specialising in the field of gender dysphoria” and one from my GP “including specific details of [my] treatment”.

*Send a cheque for £140 (this does vary for people on lower incomes).

So as you can see, it’s not actually that arduous a procedure, but I’m still sat staring at all the paper, and doing not a lot. Financially, I just need to find the fee, any charges my doctors will make for a letter, and, of course, the cost of the dissolution of my Civil Partnership. The ironic thing is, of course, that now I am no longer with my partner, I’d have had to face this at some point soon anyway. Well, there’s nothing like necessity to sharpen the resolve.

So let’s get all teachery on myself. My biggest New Year’s Resolution is to apply for my Gender Recognition Certificate. Is that Specific? Yup. Is it Measurable? Yes – I’ll either have done it, or I won’t, or be in the process of getting bits of paper together. Is it Attainable? Well, others have managed it, so let’s hope so. Is it Realistic? Yes – I’m not planning on jumping off the moon here. Is it Time-bound? I’ll be honest and say that I don’t know how long the whole process takes, but I should probably aim to have all my bits of paperwork ready to send to the Gender Recognition Panel by a specific date, so let’s say, for the sake of argument, 1st April 2014. April Fool’s Day.

Why do all this? A big part of me says that I don’t need a bit of paper to say I am who I say I am, or a Gender Recognition Panel to recognise my gender, thank you very much. However, to quote from the Ministry of Justice website: “If you are successful in your application for Gender Recognition, the law will recognise you as having all the rights and responsibilities appropriate to a person of your acquired [sic] gender”. I know exactly who I am in myself, and it would be nice for that to be recognised on a legal level. Not just the rights, but the responsibilities too. And that is why I have to make this New Year’s Resolution work.

Happy New Year, everyone – let’s hope 2014 is better!

IMG_0881[1]It’s certainly been a while since I ventured near my WordPress account. I’ve had all sorts of guilty feelings about not writing, and an equal number of depressive-type thoughts along the lines of ‘What have I got to say, anyway?’ Silly Mark. Lately, though, I’ve started doing what I’ve done in the past for this blog…thinking thoughts, noting them down and pondering if I might be able to say something interesting about them. The Muse returneth.

Life has been what is politely known as ‘a challenge’ for the last few months. I have been living alone for the first time in many years, in a slightly chilly flat, watching the world go by, and being entertained by the antics of the people I can see out of my window, not to mention rather ‘eccentric’ neighbours. I’ve done my best to bury my hurting head and heart in work, though I wouldn’t recommend trying to be polite and perky to complaining customers on the phone for  5 or more hours at a time as an antidote to feeling sorry for one’s self.

I was starting to resign myself to the life I’d begun to carve out – my flat’s not so bad, and I’d only have to work in the office for another 20 years to get a half-decent pension. But now everything has changed again – the cat is, as they say, amongst the pigeons.

I have been offered the job of personal assistant and carer to a gentleman with a spinal injury. I’ve know him a little while, and we get on, and he’s looking for someone to live with him, do the stuff he can’t, enable him to do the stuff he can, cook, clean and generally be a modern-day Jeeves. I’ve accepted. What, let’s face it, do I have to lose?

However, moving AGAIN means I am currently surrounded by boxes for the second time in 4 months; I am trying to wrangle my paperwork into a recognisable format; trying to work out how to get greasy blu-tack stains out of paintwork, and generally going a little bit mental.

I have a week and a half left of my office job. I’ll miss some of the people I work with, but generally I’ll be a happier bunny for not donning ‘officewear’ every day and dealing with all the difficulties that working in a customer services setting brings. It’ll be good to work in a completely different environment, where I can be me. I know that a change of career scenery won’t solve all the problems I’ve had recently, but you never know. Maybe when life stomps on you, you need to take the hint.

So will I be back up and blogging more regularly? Yes, I hope so – I don’t promise my previous weekly or fortnightly offerings, but it’s about time I embraced by inner Blogmonster again. After all, in the time since I last wrote, people don’t seem to have stopped visiting, and I’m now up to 40,105 post views, which is altogether awesome!

I’ve been sorting out my driving licence today, and got some new photos done. I also, in my search for bits of paper, found the last one I had done, 3 years ago. I was pleasantly surprised by the changes – they’re subtle, but definitely there. As I am convinced, every time I look in the mirror, that I haven’t changed a bit during this journey, sometimes it’s good to see that the change is there, and possible.

 

Rainbow FishIt’s been a long time since I last blogged. I’ve been trying to think of things to write about that aren’t a) me bleating about how lonely I feel as a singleton or b) an obvious attempt to write about something other than a).

I have now been officially single for 7 weeks. I have spent much of that time purchasing household goods, drinking rather a lot and thinking of things to do to fill the hours. It’s funny that, thinking back, my partner and I rarely ‘did’ things together to fill the evenings, but somehow having someone else in the house makes the hours go by faster. So I am now reading more, trying to force myself to sit down and watch TV and films (I’m not good at settling in one place for too long), colouring and accepting any invitations that come my way for social interaction.

I’m not a big ‘go-er out-er’ but even in my current state I recognise that talking to people is probably Rather A Good Thing. It would be easy to become a hermit, but I’m quite sensible really, and try to get out of the cave when I can. I’m not even quite such a Facebook Fiend as I was. I’ve not really had the get-up-and-go to engage even with social media with any sort of sparkle. Plus, of course, the temptation to stalk is high, so I’m best keeping my typing fingers to myself for now.

I am fortunate in having very good friends, and my family have rallied round in true family style. With the best will in the world, though, I really wish people wouldn’t say things like ‘There’s plenty more fish in the sea’. You see, I don’t really want another fish. I was quite happy with the Rainbow Fish I had, and I can’t imagine finding another sea creature quite like her. You don’t live with someone for over 8 years without becoming used to the way their scales glint in the sunlight, the way their fins move, the way they react when they’re dancing with the shoal, or when a shark approaches.

That’s not to say that I can’t imagine that at some point in the future a passing haddock with a glint in their eye may tempt me. But at the moment I cannot imagine trusting a new fish, and more immediately, I cannot face the prospect of having to explain myself, my gender identity, my sexuality, my physical peculiarities, my head space and my habits to anyone else. I’d got too comfortable, perhaps, and starting again is terrifying.

I am assured by the very lovely people in my life, both ‘real’ and online, that given a few months I’ll start to feel better and want to peer out of my patch of sea-weed and check out the passing traffic. In the meantime I shall be concentrating on keeping well and keeping on swimming.

chickenroad2It’s been a tough old week. July 12th marked two years since I last saw my daughter. I sent her a card saying I missed her, and that I’d like us to get to know each other again based on who we are now, not who we were 2 years ago. I’ve not had a reply, but to be honest I didn’t really expect one. Still, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and processing, and I know that whatever happens with her, I’ve done nothing wrong and I must, above all, be me. Beating myself up for being myself will get me nowhere. I have a little mantra when the internal pain starts to knot up too much: I Am Who I Am, And I Will Be Who I Will Be. Cheesy, perhaps, but it works for me.

On Tuesday, my partner sat me down and explained very gently that she felt our relationship was at an end. We had both noticed that we were starting to live parallel lives, and whereas I thought it was a blip that would sort itself out, she has apparently felt for a while that the road to happiness is not with me. Is it a transition thing? Not really, though of course I have changed a lot, both physically and emotionally. I’d like to think that this has happened because of the normal wear, tear and change that happens in any relationship, not because I became Mark. Perhaps I’m kidding myself, probably I’ll never know, and ultimately, it doesn’t really matter.

So here I am, single again after (give or take) 11 years. I have always been a bit of a serial relationshipper – I’m not sure if that was out of some sort of fear of being alone, or just good luck. I am sort of looking forward to spending time with myself after all these years, though the flip side to this is sheer terror. I’d mapped out my life to a large extent – I’d assumed that the status quo would remain into the future, but here I am, on my tod, trying to work out what the f*** just happened.

I have very good friends and family, who I know will pick me up and dust me off if necessary. In the meantime, I have to start unpicking all the details of my life from my ex (I can’t get used to saying that) and work out how to face a new future.

Here is a brief musical interlude – forgive me a little teenaged angst and head-banging.

IMG_0536Nor do I want to dress like a man. I do not want to act like a man, and I am not crazy about the idea of passing as a man.

People go through a lot of mental gymnastics to fit me into the way they view the world, and I am grateful for the most part that they do this. I have always maintained that people understand the trans* experience on a number of levels, and I try to be kind to those whose understanding is still at the level of “oh, so you’re having a sex change, then”. However inaccurate and insulting that statement might be.

I would rather poke myself repeatedly in the eye with something sharp than agree with the common suggestion that “I was born a girl and now I want to be a boy”. Not because it makes me want to shake whoever is saying it to within an inch of their life whilst simultaneously apprising them of the latest theories of gender identity. No, because of the word WANT. I do not want to be…I AM.

I do not dress like a man. I am a man, and dress what I would consider appropriately (if not stylishly). I do not act like a man. I am a man, and act in a way that is reasonably appropriate (albeit I don’t live at the butch end of Man Town). I do not ‘pass’ as a man. I am a man, whose genetic make-up means people get mixed up about his gender.

This all may sound a little incongruous if you consider that I have never agreed with gender being a binary thing. Is my statement ‘I am a man’ at odds with my philosophical ramblings about queerness and acceptance of my history? No, it’s not. I may not tick many of the stereotypical ‘masculinity’ boxes, have grasped ‘male privilege’ with both hands, or insist that feminism is for the girls, but nevertheless, I approach all the issues about which I talk and, let’s face it, life, from my own point of view, which is that of a man.

I get increasingly fed up of being misgendered because as time goes on, I feel more and more comfortable in myself, and in my rather fragile male identity. It is increasingly ridiculous to be called ‘she’, ‘her’ and ‘girl’, and every time this happens it feels like, perhaps, I really am just pretending to be something I’m not.

Fortunately, or I don’t think I’d ever leave the house, I know better. I do not dress like, I do not act like, and I do not pass as, a man. I am no fraudster or actor, nor am I deluded. I am a man.

 

MatrixBluePillRedPillI have a number of health issues, most of which will not magically disappear because I have made the decision to transition. I am bipolar, I have hypothyroidism, I suffer from anxiety, and I have gout. I get extremely grouchy if my blood sugar drops, I have a long-term problem with insomnia and I get odd aches and pains which I reluctantly believe may be arthritis-related. All in all, I am not exactly a poster-boy for good health.

Those of you who have known me a long time will know that my health ‘stuff’ has occasionally got the better of me. I’ve had time out of the workplace, claiming disability benefits when my bipolar teamed up with my anxiety to make life very difficult. I have resorted to walking with a stick when my thyroid problems teamed up with extreme stress to render every movement painful. I caught every cough, cold and lurgy going. In my last couple of teaching jobs, I took far too much time off sick, when body and soul succumbed to stress and made it impossible to do anything but stay at home and feel like a failure.

On April 4th I celebrated two years in my current job. More significantly for me, I clocked up two years without a day off sick. Not one. This was a personal triumph that has largely gone unnoticed, but for me it was a huge deal. In those two years I have dealt with starting testosterone (I had my first dose just over a fortnight before I was taken on permanently), had chest surgery (saved up my holiday for that) and probably had just as much stress on my plate as before. However, my body hasn’t ‘acted out’ my stress the way it used to, and I haven’t felt the emotional need to take refuge at home.

So what has changed, really? Testosterone is not magic – it doesn’t cure illness, or soothe a troubled soul. Chest surgery, whilst it made me the happiest boy in the world, isn’t a sure-fire route to health and good times. I guess that in the same way my body used to manifest my stress, depression, anxiety and general inability to cope in a physical way, it is now doing more or less the same, but for good. These days I am calmer, more able to manage the anxiety and stress (most of the time) and whilst my bipolar black dog does still up and bite me in the bum periodically, I feel more able to deal with it. As for the coughs and colds, who knows? Can one’s immune system really respond to feeling positive and fulfilled? Or maybe 5 years of veganism has actually done me some good, despite my critics on that score!

I was asked by a friend around the time I started transitioning, as a joke “Will you stop moisturising now?” I laughed like a drain, because I was never the moisturising type. Occasionally I would have a flurry of guilt-ridden conformity to what I thought, as a ‘woman’, I *should* be doing. I’d buy eye cream, body butter and ear-lobe rejuvenator, slather the stuff on for a few days, and then give up. Dry skin could go hang – I was self-harming regularly anyway, so why bother trying to look after what I had? I just didn’t like myself enough to care.

I thought that once I was identifying openly as male I would just continue neglecting my poor body, but at least feeling less guilty about it. Quite the opposite is true. These days I take far better care of my body than I ever did before. I’m still not great with the skin care routine, but it’s a heck of a lot better than it used to be. I can’t claim that the self-harm has gone away, but it’s much reduced. I get my hair done regularly, I buy clothes that fit, and flatter me, I ‘manscape’ the Enchanted Forest that is my newly sprouted hairy bits. I’ve got contact lenses. I watch my weight (successfully, rather than anxiously). I walk into a pub feeling good, not looking for the darkest corner to lurk in.

You could argue that all of this is simply down to me finally, at the age of 41, discovering that I quite like myself. Who knows if I’d have reached that realisation without ever transitioning? Either way, I am enjoying the sensation, after all this time. My sick-record, skintone and dusty walking stick seem to reflect that.

4 months before T2 years on TAs many of you will already know, I’ve just passed my 2nd Transiversary, marking 2 years on testosterone. I’ve already talked about this a bit on my YouTube channel (MrHerbertTurtle – check it out by following the link on the top right of this page) and I suppose I don’t have any super-wise words to say.

Of course there has been a lot of change in 2 years. From a physical point of view my body has changed radically. Broader shoulders, slimmer hips, wider jaw, general hairiness, greater strength: all the things that we are led to expect from taking testosterone have come to pass, more or less. Emotionally, it’s become quite hard to judge how I have changed, simply because whilst I know that my emotional reactions and general outlook are now very different, these things are now so ‘me’ that I can’t really remember how things were before. Or even if there *has* been a change.

It’s fair to say, though, that I am calmer than before, quieter, with less of a need to be included or liked or approved of. I still get stressed out, of course. I’ve spoken before about my problems with anxiety, and they haven’t suddenly evaporated, but then testosterone is just another hormone, not a Magic Potion.

I confess that when I started on this journey, I did think that by the end of 2 years I’d be ‘done’ (like that transgender popcorn I’ve mentioned before). I think I hoped I’d be more unequivocably ‘a man’, at least to look at, than I actually am. As one who still gets ‘love’ and ‘she’ on a regular basis, I look with some jealousy at the guys who just seem to slip into their masculinity like an old jumper.

I’m told this is partly because of my age. Ok, I’m no pensioner, but my body has spent 4 decades being a certain way, and realistically my 2 years on a new fuel won’t have had that much of an impact on muscles, hair follicles and other bits and pieces used to thriving on oestrogen. Everyone changes differently – sadly, as in every other facet of life, we are handed labels and expectations as soon as we identify a particular way, but our genes don’t listen to expectations. My genetic history doesn’t really scream “Big Hairy Butch Fella” – even if it did, 2 years is still a very short time for my body to channel its inner caveman.

What those 2 years has given me is confidence, body positivity, self-acceptance, peace and a hefty dollop of happiness. They’ve given me the chance to work out who exactly I am, and to accept that whilst I may never conform to the world’s definition of ‘manly’, at least I can live the rest of my life being myself.

 

New Year2012 was a quietly difficult year for my partner and I. Whilst there was no major drama, and nothing that was all that visible from the outside, there really weren’t many highlights or ‘ups’ to counteract the ‘downs’.  Both of us were working through a lot of personal issues, and whilst there was never any fear that our relationship would falter, there were times when we seemed to be living parallel lives rather than forming equal parts of a unit. In Will’s words, it was ‘a year of trudging’ – just keeping on going whatever happened, and hoping that we’d get there in the end.

However, we made it through, relatively unscathed, and it’s nice to look at the year ahead with a bit of hope for improvement. I was never brought up to think that things would be handed to me on a plate, though, so I’ve tried to come up with a few ideas for how I can be the master of my own destiny, and iron out some of the creases that seem to have formed in my day to day happiness.

Yes, New Year’s Resolutions. We all know they’re made to be broken, but I like to think that starting 2013 with the right frame of mind will help shape the year, and perhaps get my head in the right place to deal with the inevitable crappy bits to come. There’s not much SMART about these targets, for all you teaching or business types out there, so apologies for any fluffiness! Here goes:

1) I will be good to my body.

The better I treat my body, the better I feel about myself. I’ve been losing weight steadily over the last few months, and it’d be nice to continue that, and lose the wobbliness that is my stomach post-testosterone-induced-fat-movement. I want to go to the gym more, too, in the hope I’ll come out of 2013 as a lean mean buff machine. Failing that, I’ll just be trying to keep moving, and hopefully stop pretending that beer and sugar are food groups!

2) I will be good to my head.

I’m a delicate little flower, emotionally, and experience has proved that unless I keep a sharp eye on how much I am taking on, and how much that stresses me out, I find it hard to cope. There have been times in the past when I was so stressed out I couldn’t choose a pair of socks in the morning (I kid you not) and fortunately those days have gone, but I promise faithfully to myself that I will prioritise, and remember to say ‘no’ a bit more often.

3) Get away from the keyboard and actually meet people.

I know a lot of people online. Not that this is a bad thing – I have a support network spreading from Canada to Australia, via some pretty cool places in between. Online relationships can, contrary to popular belief, be very genuine. I met my lovely partner online, after all, so there’s proof positive that the internet isn’t just full of weirdos (she might disagree). All that said, though, I’d like to make 2013 a year in which I actually meet some of my online buddies. Perhaps not those who are in far-flung corners of the earth, but starting at home. Real human contact is good stuff, and as socialising has never been an easy thing for me, I figure meeting people I already *know* will be valuable.

So those are my resolutions. Those are the things I am going to try to do to make 2013 less of a trudge, and more of a pleasant saunter. In return, there are just three things I’d like. Call me shallow, and impatient, but if I could have these, my life would be even better!

1) Voice changes:

You may have gathered from my blog that I have been having problems with my voice. After nearly 2 years on testosterone, I still sound like a chirpy girl, and that needs to change, for both professional and personal reasons. My doctor has recommended speech therapy, which I am reluctant to pursue, as I just wanted my voice to do its own thing, but now, perhaps, I’m more willing to agree that the hormones need a helping hand. Could this be the year that Mark finds his Manly Growl?

2) Masculinisation:

What a long word for a simple thing. I always knew that starting transition at my age, my body wouldn’t just bounce into masculinity. Sadly, though it’s easy to see changes, the best I can really claim is androgyny. Whilst I don’t have too much of a problem with that as a concept, it would really help if my body could spend the next few months coming up with some more masculine pointers to help people out when they’re trying to work out ‘what’ I am!

3) Lastly, but never least, I have gone another year with no contact from my daughter. I can only hope that things will change in 2013.

Happy 2013. May it be a good one.