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Expiration Date: When Swallowing Is No Longer An Option


The fuse is lit, the snooze is broken, the point of no return is half a mile back, and the expiration date draws nigh. I think more than a few trans people are aware already of what I’m talking about. That point of time, now on the visible horizon and approaching rapidly, where we will lose the ability to function in accordance with our natal genders. It’s a pretty freaky time to be sure, and one that is different for every one of us. Some reach it through slow deterioration, or needful embrace, or even a sudden flash of overwhelming insight and clarity. How does this happen and why is it so different for everyone? I think we need to talk about this. And yes, I did title it like that just to lure you in.

It’s clear that the need for transition is different for everyone in regards to when and how it comes about. Some understand at a very early age and the knowledge wears them down glacially until every option is exhausted. Others understand at an early age and have the courage and conviction to go against everything they were raised to believe about themselves and insist on their identity before their first school bus ride. Others have no idea why they feel different and why they are plagued with physical manifestations of their own inherent wrongness. There are hundreds of variations, but for most of us they all converge on that one point where continuing life means transition no matter what the cost.

My own story is a mixture of the above. I knew young, but worked very hard to make sure to keep that knowledge well below the surface where I couldn’t even see it but for a few terrifying instances when it broke the surface. My goal, if it was coherent enough to be stated in words, was to make it though this life without ever truly acknowledging it or anyone ever knowing. I was really kidding myself with that one, but I went strong for a really long time on it. It wasn’t really until two years ago that my own expiration date appeared over the horizon, making 2011 a really shitty year.

Before that much of my life was filled with manufactured obsessions. Little habits I would take off to focus my mind on anything but my own feelings. As a child, I started collecting comic books and put the whole of my mind into the project; a massive collection that still plagues me terribly every time I have to move. I swapped out every so often to keep it fresh with a new one every year toward the end – book collecting, cooking, obsessive eBay, creating and interring time capsules (there is an art to this), getting every design of funky colorful socks (3 large drawers full), running, and finally blogging.

OK, an aside. I’m not talking about this blog, which I am just a little bit obsessive about, but my old one. When my last old friend moved from the Buffalo area, we set up a multi-author blog to capture all the old ‘glory days’ stories. For me this wound up being over 500 pages of autobiographical material, less the female side of course. At the time I felt like I was revisiting my life and codifying it firmly in my memory, an unconscious attempt to hold on to my created identity. What it really did was allow me to shed the skin of my life by turning poignant personal events in stories. It wasn’t a bad thing as it allowed me to let go of old feelings, grudges, heartaches, fears and whatnot. It is, by the way, still out there. I’m not going to link to it, but if you are for some reason interested, industrious, and very clever, you might find it, but it’s not so easy. I don’t think I used my full name at any time (the male one).

The point is that no matter what we do to stave it off, it appears that we reach a point in our lives where the inevitable simply happens. We run out of energy, mental tricks, avenues to pursue, and the fear of the consequences becomes a shadow of the former bogeyman it was. I think we all know nothing could have changed that time either. My ex often wonders she hadn’t dug so hard, it would have stayed buried. I don’t think so because it was already on its way up when she started. We have both pondered what would have happened if my dad hadn’t gotten sick and passed away. It was already rising though before he felt the first twinge in his gut. Is there anything that could have delayed things more? Anything is possible, but I truly don’t think so. I had already been twisting and turning in my body for a few years, completely unable to get comfortable. It may have taken me a little longer to figure out why, but not much.

About michellelianna

I'm a transgender woman now in the maintenance stages of transition having all the electrolysis and surgery one can reasonably be expected to undertake. While busy exploring my new world, I took to blogging about it with dubiously popular results. I don't have quite as much to say as I used to, but I'm not quite done yet either.

6 responses »

  1. I can’t reblog you, due to lack of a wordpress site, but I’ll share this with my friends on FB,

  2. I really like this piece. I’ll share, for what it’s worth, and in any case, I’m curious about other people’s stories, so maybe you are too. Offered for what it’s worth. =)

    When I was little, I knew I was different – I knew *why* I was different, and I knew better than telling my family, who reminded me at every opportunity that “you are special, we wanted a boy and we chose you” (I was adopted, and *wow* did that head trip mess me up good!) – and for most of my life, I coped with my GD by focusing obsessively on other things. Early on, I was obsessed with building things, first electronic gadgets, and then later, at age eight, software. Since then, I had worked through the .com boom, several stints at Microsoft, and much more over the course of most of my adult life. Software completely absorbed me to the exclusion of all else, and it wasn’t even about the particular project I was on for work. No, I was fascinated with theories, and compiler construction and lambda calculus and all kinds of dizzying head-spinning nonsense. As I said, I was obsessed, when it comes down to it.

    What does that have to do with comic books?

    Well, I’m not quite sure how your comic book collection went, but it dawned on me finally, that I didn’t even really *enjoy* this stuff. I mean, I did here and there at first, but what it really meant for me was *escaping*. I swamped myself with so much mental busy work that I didn’t have the space or energy left over for my GD to rear it’s head. I ran myself ragged as a means to protect myself from having to confront what I really needed to (although I absolutely knew, from very early on) This became completely clear to me in hindsight, but for a decade and a half, I was so wrapped up that I scarcely gave it a thought. Drugs – some quite serious, also played a large role in my life, and were part and parcel to all of this.

    I should mention that I was beginning to transition once in my early twenties, and I bombed (due to some of my own doing, and my fear about losing my career and income, and some other major life things, including separating from my s/o of 4 1/2 years and the murder of many of my friends in a mass shooting (seriously ) I withdrew again. This isn’t all bad as I had a Anne Lawrence treating me (google her if you like)

    The second time I began my transition was almost exactly ten years later (after a lot more drug use, including more serious drugs, and more withdrawing), and I am on that road today. The *day* I decided to transition (again) I quit my software job, and quit drugs (which I had been using daily from age 15). A month later, I had my letter, and was on spiro, and I quit smoking cigarettes (a pack a day from age 16 – gone). All of the sudden, the previous decades of my life were thrown into stark relief. I noticed what had been happening with me. I noticed *why* I had been doing what I had done. I got a menial job jockeying a register and I’m happy. I have a supportive spouse. I have a clear head, and a clear conscience Not only am I doing the right thing for me, but for everybody around me. For me, that makes this total sense, and makes transitioning that much easier. I think other people can see that, too. It’s weird, but this time around (my 2nd time transitioning) I’m getting different and more positive reactions, not only from my loved ones, but coworkers and even strangers. I don’t know how much of this is due to the world changing (and it has), or me changing, but this is all going very well, and I am very grateful.

    I wish you, and others in our situation a safe and rewarding journey as well.

    Peace be with you.

  3. Thanks for writing this. I’m there, right now, and it’s the most infuriating time of my entire life.

    • Hi Ali, I’ve got to validate that. It really is, isn’t it? I hope it gets better for you really soon sweetie. My thoughts through it were pretty much, “it might get much, much better, or much, much worse, but I’ll be me, and I’d really rather deal with anything that comes that way.” Thank you for commenting and don’t hesitate to reach out when you need to. I have that ‘contact Michelle’ tab on top for a reason in case you don’t have anyone local. Be good to yourself.

  4. I was going to reply, but I just reblogged you instead 🙂


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