Ah. It’s nice to have this week off-platform. I should enjoy it while I can. February and March have 8 weeks total of back-to-back classes. While most are online or in NYC, I do have 3 trips (at least) to do: Edison, NJ; Burlington, MA (just outside of Boston); and Chicago. It’s not that it’s 8 weeks of classes or work but rather it’s 8 weeks of being “ON” (super happy and helpful regardless of life) and at least 3 weeks of travel in there. To say that it could be potentially draining is an understatement. Now, don’t get me wrong. It is ok to have this as it means I’m working and will remain important enough to keep working. But it is making it hard to schedule doctors appointments and such for my next stage of life. It’s tricky to balance it all but I suspect things will work out as they should and in the order that they should.
It does highlight cis-privilege versus trans folk. Not too many cis-privilege individuals I know have to worry about when to transition, will work be ok if they transition, etc. I sometimes catch greater glimses of this privilege while other times, not so much. I have yet to face full-blown, in-your-face discrimination about who I am and what I’m becoming. I suspect I may be lucky — or perhaps blind. Not sure yet which. I’m also, as a more likely reason, very early in my transition and the nature of my job allows me a lot of leeway. That all said, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen or couldn’t happen. A few months ago there was a study I had commented on about the differences in pay after transitioning between MTFs and FTMs. I had to chuckle when I ran into the same quote, yet again, below:
I think that the general framing of the article in the mainstream media is as a cautionary tale to transgender people. Like, “before you have that ‘sex change,’ think about your job.” Which is amusing on some level because the group of people who are NOT surprised by this article are transgender people. What I have seen in my research is transgender men and women spend a great deal of time agonizing over how a gender transition might affect their careers – they don’t need a reporter to tell them to think about the possible outcomes.
— Author of Trans Workplace Study Speaks Out, Bilerico Project
I’m not interested in letting economics be the deciding factor as to whether I transition or not. It does become, however, a factor in how quickly I can transition. Having a job with some disposable income does become a deciding factor in how long this process can take. For me, it’s been a bit of a rather speeded up process — almost as if I’m making up for lost time. While I do worry about whether I might lose my job over this or that I might suffer financially (both of those would be reasons to sue and the corporate policy has been demonstrated to me to be favourable to me to stay the same or increase on merit than anything else), I cannot let it hold me back. I have lots of other opportunities elsewhere and in that, I consider myself luckier than most. I have pondered what I’d do if I did lose my job (and thus, my visa). I think I’d move back to Ontario and start over there, with maybe a new career all together. Even if unemployed, I’d at least get SRS covered there under OHIP (as archaic as it is — maybe I should move to BC and crash at a friend’s place). And I’d want to continue down that path more. My aunt and two of my doctors have both expressed concern over whether I’d regret the decision (the doctors wanted me to understand that once I go down the path of surgery there is no going back).
I don’t think I’d want to go back. A friend, in an online discussion about cisprivilege, recently and very succiently, put forth a comment about her path that pretty much sums up what I’ve been feeling:
The reality is that every transperson I have ever known or spoken to (with the exception of those who were able to find help, acceptance and transition young) did their utmost to fit in, to BE the gender their sex said they were. We have all fought and struggled NOT to be trans. To accept our bodies as right and to make our gender identity conform. I fought tooth and nail NOT to be trans. I fought nearly all my adult life. I had no reason to want to be trans. I had everything to lose and nothing to gain. Nothing to gain that is except myself. This was a battle I waged until I could not fight anymore. I fought until I reached a place where I had a choice – I could accept I was female and begin transition, or I could kill myself (a solution I contemplated for more years that I care to admit). I knew it wouldn’t guarantee any sort of instant happiness. But I did achieve a level of being complete. Of being at peace with myself. When the battle raged there was not a single moment, not a single second, where it wasn’t being fought. Regardless of what else might be happening at any given second there was a part of me always engaged with fighting myself.
Simply “accepting” the body you are born with never works. You cannot change the essence of who, or what, you are INSIDE. However we CAN change our bodies to bring us closer to congruence with our identity. That IS medically achievable. One analogy I can give is that being trans is similar to having a total body birth defect. A birth defect that can be corrected. Just as a cleft palate can be. Maybe the person born with a cleft palate will never look the same as if they had never been born that way. Maybe they don’t NEED correcting in order to live. But correcting that defect VASTLY improves their quality of life.
And she is right. I bolded and emphasized a particular part that really says it. I fought against who I was for so long. I never fully understood what I was fighting against, why I had this battle inside of me or where to go. I have no desire or need to go back. I never saw myself as feminine or a woman. I never felt comfortable being identified as that (and now, as I transition, I find myself even less comfortable with it). I know a lot of trans guys feel a sense of calm once they start T shots and more confident with every shot thereafter. I’m very happy with myself finally. I have no desire to commit suicide or anything like that. I’m actually enjoying life for once. I can honestly say that if I died tomorrow, I’d be ok with the last couple of years of my life where I really found myself (not that I’d be happy that I haven’t finished the rest of my life — I have so much more to live for now than ever before).