Sunday, February 15, 2009

Another Recurring Epiphany

Gender is most often not the problem.

For decades I thought the being transgendered was the major problem of my life.
It's not. If anything, I can list it amongst those things which make me interesting.

I say this as a caution to those who think that a full acceptance of their right-gendered selves or that going through a physical transition will be the solution of all their problems. It may solve a problem of self-esteem, but I can say with confidence that in either of my gender identities, the true banes of my existence still persist.

To wit:

1. Attention Deficit Disorder - it's real, and it can be a royal pain. Imagine life as being a party, a really loud party, and you are trying to carry on a conversation through a cacophony of voices and stimuli. If you do focus, you focus to the exclusion of everything else, and very often upon a detail that, in the long run, is insignificant. My world, then, is like a never-ending "Where's Waldo" book. It can be mitigated by a cup of Yorkshire tea (the Red Bull of teas), and a calmly-composed "to-do" list. (If I don't lose that list...and those phone numbers...and that email address...and that work order number...)

2. I'm a Project Slut. I'm just a girl who can't say, "No." And, unfortunately, unlike Ado Annie, I'm not talking about sex. It may be the legacy of an unpopular childhood, but I have this insatiable need to make myself useful - to the detriment of my own projects.

Now several very sizable chickens have come home to roost, and I've only just been able to squeeze out the time for this posting.

So... Would these propensities vanish were I to transition? Bluntly, no. They are the ingrained behaviors of half a century. (Oh Lord, I've never put it that way!) They will be mitigated only if I consciously discipline myself. But they are not attached to gender. Of course, these problems are my own problems, and I can't put this template upon anyone else, but I will say this: As we explore our gender nature, we should explore the entirety of our selves. Our transition to our true selves may be a the fulfilment of part of our beings, and may well clear the way for further mental, emotional, and spiritual growth, but some major aspects of our selves remain unchanged and must be dealt with separately.

(I come out of this with the feeling that I have belabored the obvious, but at least it explains my absence over the past month and a half.)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to try to find that "to-do" list.


alan said...

Having just read a post elsewhere using Frost's "path not taken" as it's metaphor, I have to wonder if all the distractions and events that conspire to keep us from our "to do" lists are not Fate intervening in our steps on our own paths...


Gillian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gillian said...

There was a stupid glitch in my last comment. Here it is properly edited:
Actually, I'd go to another writer. I feel more like Marley's Ghost: "I bear the chain I forged in life!" My list and chain are of my own doing, forged from a lack of mindfulness - making too many commitments. I wish I COULD be diverted from the list, but whether I lose track or not, the tasks are still before me.

In other words, to paraphrase Porky Pig, I've buttered my bread, now I've got to sleep in it.

Angel said...

Yes it's true... many do seem to assume that transition is a magic bullet that will cure all of their problems, and are disappointed when they find that those problems still exist afterward. It may indeed cure some of the problems - problems directly related to or stemming from gender dysphoria itself - but as so many have seen first-hand, it also has the potential for creating a whole slew of new problems (divorce, job loss, alienation, etc.).

Abby said...

Hi, girl! What a pleasant surprise on a Sunday to see you posting again, if only just this one.

Transition did not change any of the poor work habits that I've struggled with most of my working life: lack of motivation, difficulty getting started, and difficulty staying on task. (My gender therapist thought I might have ADD, so I tried Ritalin and one other med for ADD. They didn't help; they just made me hyper.) However, transition made my work life easier, since I am now happier and much more able and willing to engage life in general. Now, if I could get a job doing what I'm truly passionate about - protecting and advancing trans, and LGB, rights, life would be wonderful. It hasn't happened yet, but I remain hopeful.

In the meantime, I've got a couple of projects I could use some help with. Are you available? ;-)

Lori D said...

I was wondering where you'd vanished , but I gathered that you were busy with another project! I was right! Fixing the gender incongruency doesn't change our vices either. In fact, it might enhance them. My work performance is much higher now. I can imagine seeing you taking on even more projects than you do now!

Gillian said...

Angel, all we have to do is look at our friends' blogs to see the real-life trials that face transwomen (and transmen) at ANY stage of their journey. And then look at the problems faced by cisgendered women in general.

I remember talking with the headmaster of a boarding school where I used to teach. I was concerned that I couldn't properly counsel kids against the use of drugs because I'd never used them. (At least not when everyone my age was using them - my own experiences with perscriptions is below. How's that for a confession from a baby boomer?) He said that the wise person learns from his/her own experiences, but that the wiser man learns from the experiences of others. That is the value of the blogsphere.

Abby - Ritalin made my heart race. Dexedrine allowed me to give fantastic first period lectures, but then I crashed and burned and then couldn't sleep. Welbutrin made me feel like I was about to have a seizure any minute. And Strattera made me impotent and dry-mouthed and caused painful urination. I'm a walking PDR: if it has a side effect, I exhibit it. Good, strong, English tea in the morning and a Coke in the afternoon help to keep my head together.

And you nearly got me. I was almost ready to ask you what you needed help with when I realized you were joking.

You were, weren't you?

Gillian said...

Hi Lori.

I can't imagine myself being more embroiled in anything than I am right now. If the thingy I'm working on right now pans out, I'll be quite wealthy in my dotage. If it lasts any longer, I may not have a dotage to be wealthy in.

There's a story that goes with it, which I'll relate some other time.

Anonymous said...

Spot on! My to-do list is a mile long so why have I spent two weeks helping a girl friend re decorate and now i am getting ready to fly a thousand miles to spend two weeks gardening!!!! for another. No time to think about T. Too busy living again.

Missed you.


Heathercam said...

Your observations resonate with me too. To quote a far less lofty sage "no matter where you go, there you are". (Who says nothing of value came out of the 1980s?)
My personal journey continues, but must be a part of the bigger challenge of charting a course in a rapidly changing world. I never want to lose sight of my journey of self-realization, but I know there are other pressing matters that must be attended to concurrently.
Perhaps in a multithreaded/multitasking world, a touch of ADHD may be a useful trait. :-)

Samantha Shanti said...

You know, we got started on this trip down memory lane, on the phone, and I'm still snuffling about. I didn't say it at the time but I do remember thinking it when I read this post the first time:

"Spot on!" Transition of any kind doesn't do much for the rest of the things in life we all have to deal with. It's just one of any number of things that may or may not in the end improve our lives.

But in the end, any number of things, can lead us to changes in life we'd never have expected. You who have touched my life with such amazing healing and growth through a single conversation we had on the phone, I met you here. And for this, I will always treasure this blog, because it lead me to you.

You changed the course of my life way more with that one conversation on the phone than my "transitions" such as they were did. Because in the end, I moved through whatever changes "transitions" brought me. Be they transition from one apprent external gender to another, be it from one state of being, or state of residence to another, in the end, they were done and my life has gone on.

So transitioning from one state of residence to another, which is appears now predates our friendship is 5 years in my past, but you are more real, vital and wonderful to me than ever before.

And I thank you, again for all the beauty and light you have directly or indirectly, brought into my life. I love you Gillian, you rock!