I know, everyone says I seem wiser than my years…
OK, so today is my first birthday in my identity as Sophia. Before I was Sophia, I had a boy’s name.
In some respects I was so different to how I am today that it’s rather hard to identify with my old self. “He” feels like a different person.
In the spirit of this event, I’m going to make a quick retrospective of the year.
I actually started transitioning a month or so before “officially” living as Sophia.
This began with little additions of feminine attire to my presentation, in order to build comfort and prepare the people who knew me for what was to come.
I had also changed my name and sex to female on Facebook some months before that, but I generally allowed or encouraged people to assume I was doing it ironically. I might have even fooled myself I was doing it ironically in the beginning.
For a while my little feminine flourish was just wearing a flower in my hair. I got some surprised and mildly disparaging comments at that, but I just smiled and said little in the way of explanation. A while later, I started adding progressively less and less ambiguous female clothing to my look. Finally I was wearing blouses every day combined with gender-ambiguous trousers.
This gradual change ended when I at once I began wearing skirts, putting on makeup and beginning to change my voice. I lived like that for just a couple of days, before the feeling arrived: now. With trepidation and determination, I changed my name on Facebook from “Andrea” to “Sophia”, and wrote up an announcement:
So I’m Sophia now.
I’m no longer being ironic about it or pretending it’s a game: I’m actually, really, changing my sex.
I feel I need to make a disclaimer that this might not be forever, because otherwise I feel like otherwise I’d be held to that expectation. That said, it does feel very right for me now and is more than just an experiment or a game. It’s possible after trying this out I’ll eventually end up in a more moderate form of self expression, but I’m less and less certain of that. Still, we will see. I do reserve the right to go back on this if I want to.
I also might not stay Sophia as it’s still a provisional name. If, as I think is possible, I’ll be this way for a long time, I need to have the right name, so I’m still thinking this over. It could well be Sophia though.
By the way, please do not worry, if you’d be inclined to, as impulsive as I often am I’m not going to throw myself into surgery or anything at all that I can’t go back on. If I do anything like that it’d be after years of deliberating and second, third, fourth guessing myself way after I would have normally considered myself certain.
This announcement is in fact 2 and a half years in the making. It’s been a very slow process of deliberation to get to the point where it feels good to get out there and tell people what I want to do and be in such a clear and public way.
I’m okay with you taking your time to readjust to this change and I won’t push you too hard to call me by my new name or the female pronoun, at least not for the moment. Please do take me seriously and try to get your head around this in your own time, though.
I could do with clothes and advice, if anyone has any they can give me. 🙂 Or buy me a gift voucher for H&M. You know you want to. :p
Love you guys, anyway, and I hope you all take this well. Hugs to all, and if anyone has any question or anything they want to talk about, just get in touch.
This received 56 “likes” and 94 comments. They were all so positive. It was wonderful. (You can read the original and its comments here).
So as you can see, at the beginning I was really not so sure that I was going to remain Sophia. I started out with the idea that it was an experiment, just to see how I would feel doing it and what I would learn.
Obviously, it turned out to be much more than that, but I guess this helped me get over my initial resistance, which was frankly immense.
The first week of living as Sophia I was basically wandering about in a daze. I kept missing appointments, I left my keys in my house, forgot what day it was. Emotionally it was like a train had hit me.
I started out very, very intense, and very radical. I tried to do everything at once (except take hormones — and I made unrealistic schedules for that, too). I was juggling learning makeup, with practising a female voice, with finding female clothes however I could on a limited budget. In fact, from the very first day I refused to touch a single item of my previous wardrobe.
The timescale I had in mind was incredibly unrealistic. I was hoping to pass as a woman as much as possible without doing anything irreversible in the space of just a couple of months.
I was impatient, partly, I think, because I was so very self conscious and uncomfortable with what people thought of me.
One month after starting my transition, I went to Opencon Catalonia, a polyamory convention in the Catalonian Spanish countryside.
It was trans friendly, for sure. The polyamory community usually is. However, I was soo insecure about my identity, so very constantly aware of it. I introduced myself as trans in the welcome circle (to applause) and warned people that I couldn’t keep my feminine voice going all the time and for them to be understanding.
My whole life was like this. So very aware all the time of my trans-ness. Always uncomfortable in case I wasn’t passing perfectly or wasn’t acting like a woman should in one way or another.
The probability of emotional burnout loomed and I began to scramble to find ways of slowing down my process. And I managed to after quite a few months, though it really was intense going.
I started to deliberately not do everything I could to pass as a woman. This was about six months into the process.
Particularly, I stopped covering up my beard shadow with makeup. This changed how people percieved me a lot. And I didn’t mind, I wanted to get comfortable with that.
One year into my process now, I’m quite a lot more comfortable than I was, though I still feel a bit insecure about it sometimes. I’ve started putting more effort into doing what I need to do to pass as a woman again, though this time more for me than for other people.
In this time I also began to learn not to “try” to be a woman, but to just be myself, which was womanly enough.
In general, the whole thing isn’t as complex as I thought. In terms of posture, it helps to not sit with my legs splayed out and to stand a bit straighter (but the latter is not really necessary). In terms of language, the only thing I’ve really changed is to stop saying “man” at the end of my sentences (e.g. “that’s so cool, man!”) and using someone’s name instead. As for gestures, I just needed to let my natural femininity flow, which was rather a relief. The tone and timbre of my voice are things I’m still working on.
So all of these things are really rather simple. I also wear women’s clothes and try to cover my beard shadow with makeup. Besides that, there really isn’t much else I can do until I take hormones.
The thing is, in the beginning I didn’t see things this way. Being a woman was such a big task. I was constantly analysing or second guessing whether something I did or said was female enough. It was incredibly taxing and draining.
All this, I think, came from insecurity, a fear of not passing as a woman — and a fear, too, that I was somehow “not trans enough” or not really a woman.
I was often asking people if they thought I was actually a woman. I wanted external confirmation. Not such a good idea. I eventually came to realise that unbiased people were few, and the only one I could trust to know my feelings in the first place was me.
And yes, I was thinking constantly about whether I was really trans. It was an obsession. I wanted to know so I could take hormones, and I wanted to take hormones soon. So there was a lot of emotional pressure on me to find out.
I thought about it every single day. Literally. Probably every single day in a row for about 9 months. Only then did I start to cool down a bit.
My questioning process culminated at the 9-month mark with three sessions with a great therapist, a psychic reading and an intense journalling session which left me certain I had no logical basis for denying my feelings anymore. Afterwards, I kept the results to myself for a whole month before feeling comfortable about sharing them with the world.
I did so in my last post about my transition.
In the beginning I was uncertain that I was trans. Now I am certain. I thought it might be an experiment. Now I know it’s much more than that.
I was incredibly insecure about how people saw me. Now I’m quite a lot more comfortable with it. I was constantly trying to pass. Now I’m okay with showing imperfections in my presentation, though I’m growingly spending more energy on it again for my own sake.
I was doing my process incredibly fast and was hurtling towards burnout. Now my pace is much slower, though I think I still could work on taking things a bit more easy.
It’s been quite a year.
One thing I’ve noticed that screwed with me a lot was the idea that trans people always know they are transgender since the moment they can first speak. It’s a pretty common misconception of trans people, one I started with and found hard to shake for quite a while. It was also probably one of the most common criticisms thrown my way.
I guess that if I didn’t have this misconception, I could have known I was trans much earlier, or not have had such a problem accepting it. The truth is a large percentage (I think around 50%) of trans people don’t know they are trans for quite some years of their life. We are doing people a disservice by hiding this fact.
The media prefers to focus on the other sort of trans people, the ones who knew it ever since they were born. I guess because it seems more dramatic, and also perhaps because it could seem more legitimate to some, less like they are “choosing” it and more like they were saddled with it since an early age.
What I want to know is why should it matter if I’ve chosen it or not? If I affirm myself as female, I want people to respect that, whether or not I think I’ve always been female. It shouldn’t be that hard, people.
Another hang-up I’ve had was about sexuality. I thought in the beginning that trans people would have a similar proportion of straight, bi, and gay people as compared to the society at large. I worried, in fact, that many lesbian trans women might not be “really trans” (whatever that means).
Now, I know that trans women are more often gay and bi than normal women: the ratio is about 1:1:1, in other words, 1/3 straight, 1/3 bi, 1/3 gay.
So me liking women is no longer a threat to my self image as trans (…and it should never have been, come to think of it). I feel rather normal as a trans person now, rather than fearing I might be a freak or secretly somehow a fraud.
I still think I am bisexual, though I no longer clutch to that out of insecurity in my trans identity. And I’m now open to eventually finding out that I’m not. I don’t care either way. I’m trans, and that’s who I am, whoever I want to sleep with.
It’s helped me a lot, too, to hang out with other trans people. I wish I could have done it more from the beginning. It dispels so many fears, so many insecurities to see others like you. And the trans social network is also still currently the best way of getting information.
Overall, I’m really happy with how this year went.
My personality changed a lot; I lost a lot of aggressiveness and anger which seemed to stem from defending against people who thought I wasn’t manly enough. I discovered new joys in life, happier sexuality and friendships, and lots of answers about myself.
I’ve also learnt an incredible amount about what it means to be a man or a woman, and about the social conditioning of both. I’ve embraced feminism like never before, finally “getting” things I never got, now that I could see them from this new perspective.
People seem to respect me more now. I’m more authentic and seem less like I’m struggling to cover up my inadequate masculinity. I think they perceive that on some level and appreciate it.
It was hard but very rewarding. I think I’ve become stronger as a person and, of course, a much better expression of who I really am.
For the future, I’m hoping to chill out even more if possible and just take things one day at a time. I always want to do things fast (an indigo trait) but I have to accept that this dimension of reality just doesn’t bend to my will as fast as I’d like it to. Well, with time, perhaps, I can learn to flow with that and even enjoy it.
I’m nervous and excited and impatient to see who I’m going to be in one, two, five years time!
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