TranSutton - One year in
TranSutton’s Transition - 04/02/2017
This is a follow-up FAQ conversation with my fictitious friend Juniper. Juniper and I discussed my transgender outing last year. She’s supportive, follows me on Facebook, but still has some questions about what transitioning means in regards to me. You can find that conversation here.
Juniper: Holy crap you look and sound different! How have you been?
Sutton: I’m fantastic! Incredibly wonderful. Completely exhausted, a bit socially anxious, but every day this last year has been some sort of adventure into the unknown.
Juniper: It seems like you’re doing great, and that there’s been a lot of change going on.
Sutton: I giggle to myself when I think about the amount of change I’ve gone through in the last several years. There’s been so many new experiences, life changes and challenges. Mostly I've taken on a “this is going to make a good story” sort of attitude.
Juniper: That’s great and all, but, where’s the beard?
Sutton: Believe me I know. I thought by now I would have the beard equivalent of a Sasquatch, a baritone like Morgan Freeman, and muscles like a Clydesdale.
Juniper: But, it doesn’t look like you have much facial hair coming in at …
Sutton: I’m going to stop you right there. I know. It’s coming, it’s there, it just happens to be blond and fuzzy. Turns out that could take years, not just year.
Juniper: Well, how about dating?
Sutton: I’m on month ten of a year long dating sobriety goal. I dated a bit last year and it served as an obvious distraction from myself. I’ve been purposefully avoiding romantical situations so that I can focus on me. Semi-boring, but totally necessary.
Juniper: So no casual…?
Sutton: Moving on. And please stop stroking my hair.
Juniper: Ok. Ok. How long have you been taking the testosterone?
Sutton: As of this very real, in person, not-made-up conversation, I've injected ’T’ into a thigh every other week for the last 14 months. Preferably my thighs.
Juniper: Oh, it’s an injection?
Sutton: Syringes, vials and all. I try to fake myself out by counting down and stabbing on 2 instead of 3, which doesn’t actually work. Or I think of all the fun changes it’s brought me and then I happily stab away.
Juniper: You look different but you don’t like… loook different. Does that make sense?
Sutton: Absolutely. I look in the mirror and see the same me I’ve always seen but with minor changes that seem to be adding up into big ones. Somedays it’s as if aging and testosterone have rubbed away years of mirror grime and I get to see me. Other days I look in the mirror and am disappointed. I see a scared girl. I see a stranger, or a reminder of who I was. I wish I had facial hair, I wish I had a more square jawline, I wish, I wish, I wish… But then I’m reminded that the entirety of puberty doesn’t usually happen in the course of a year. And if it did, it would be incredibly overwhelming to make some of the mental shifts that change comes along with.
Juniper: What do you mean mental shifts?
Sutton: There are infinite times a day when I have to reference myself by my old name (doctors, credit cards, etc…), a memory is revealed in a whole new context or am mis-gendered (meaning referenced as ‘she, her or hers’). It’s as if I’m in a constant conversation about being trans, and depending on the situation I jump in and out of it or try to forget about it. Either way, it’s mentally taxing.
Juniper: What about the mis-gendering, is that still happening?
Sutton: I don’t think I’m passable yet. Most strangers ‘sir’ me, some are trying to figure me out, and friends and family are 60/40 in favor of man-ing me. I try to remind myself that one day I will be completely passable as a man. A MAN. To the outside world I’ll look like any other privileged, white dude living in an RV park… (insert some sarcasm here).
Juniper: What’s something that’s postively surprised you?
Sutton: Besides everyone’s overwhelming support? I’ve been excited about the veins popping out in my arms, or how when I don’t shave my face for a few days I can feel hair on my upper lip. I’ve been surprised at how much I look in mirrors compared to any other time in my life. I avoided mirrors as much as possible and at one low point I covered up every reflective surface in my apartment with sheets and blankets. Apologies to my girlfriend at the time. Getting ready in the morning was probably tricky having to remove sheets from mirrors in the bathroom.
I've always been attracted to men but I downplayed it because I didn't understand it. I figured it out, I'm a dude, attracted to dudes. I never wanted to be a straight lady with a guy. That wasn't necessarily a surprise to me, but others...? Whoa. You would have thought I outed myself in a larger more dramatic way than saying I'm trans. Turns out I played 'Lesbian' very well.
Juniper: Has anything changed negatively in your life?
Sutton: Unfortunately, yes. I’ve always run a bit anxious, but my fear and anxieties have definitely heightened. I think about my safety in relation to being visibly queer, living in an RV and trying to navigate social situations. As I become more passable it seems like my 'target' becomes smaller, and I become more comfortable. For example, in regards to the RV I had wanted to start a traveling blog, social media feed, but realized I don’t feel safe putting my Instagram handle Motorhomo.co on Bernice. Someone could see me parked, find my feed, realize I’m a big ol’ queer and then … what? I don’t know. But these are things that I have to think about and be aware of.
Another example is RV park showers. When I began the RV plan I had anticipated being able to use public locker rooms for longer, hotter showers. Sometimes I find it hard to muster the courage to go into private men’s showers. No one will see me naked, but what if they do?! All I want to do is shower, clean my dirty dirty bod, and run out of there as fast as possible. (Clothed, I run out clothed. Not naked. In case you were visualizing the situation.)
Juniper: So do you wish you would have come out earlier in life?
Sutton: Part of me wishes that puberty #2 had happened earlier in life, but then I remember that all of my experiences have led me to this and I couldn't have gotten here sooner. I had a therapist tell me that it would be years before I would be comfortable coming out to anyone. The time between when I realized this was my absolute truth and when I came out publicly was only about 6 months. When she said years, I thought, ‘I’m not wasting anymore time.’
Juniper: I know I asked last year, but if I’m straight and I find you attractive, what does it all mean?
Sutton: It means you find me attractive, you are attracted to a transman, the end. Everyone’s definitions of their own identities are their own business. Also, I’ll reference my very purposeful dating-sobriety and please remove your hand from my crotch.
Well Juniper, on that note, I think we can call this a wrap… I’m sure you have other questions. I’m very open about what I'm up to so feel free to ask. I will do my best to answer you honestly, or tell you that something is a bit of a line-crosser. So far there haven’t been any of those, but I have to practice my boundary setting somewhere, right? And please, put your shirt back on.
I’m well into figuring out what kind of man I am, which isn’t that far off from who I’ve always been. I’m a sensitive, handy, outdoorsy, soft, and humorous kind of guy. Basically I’m a queer lumberjack that sobs at weddings, fixes things with duct-tape, smiles at everyone and loves giving hugs. I’m thankful for everyone who has shared my story, that has sent me positivity, and has shared in my excitement for this new chapter in my life.
Here’s to many years of celebrating the anniversary of sharing my deepest secret with the world and to the outpouring of support that’s followed!
-Sutton Sy Belyea
This conversation is in regards to my own transition. I cannot speak for anyone else’s experience but my own, and my interpretation of it.