Thursday, August 25, 2011

on having fallen off the face of the earth...

Originally posted 1-4-10

This is not only my first post of 2010, but it is my first post more generally in quite some time. In my last post (way back in October), I made this vague comment to explain my lack of posting through the Fall of 2009:

“i've had four major life changes/upturnings (some good, some not so good, some a little of both) that have dominated my thoughts and time over the last two months.”

Since the start of new year is traditionally a time for recapping the previous year’s events, I thought it appropriate to be a little more explicit about some of the things that have been going on with me during the last half of 2009.

Of the “four major life changes” I was referring to, the least immediate one has been related to my day job. I found out a while back that the grant that my PI (aka., my boss) uses to pay me is not being renewed. Funding doesn’t officially run out until August 2010, so it is a bit premature to worry too much about it just yet. Plus, my PI is applying for new grants, so it may turn out that I keep my current job. But, especially given the suckiness of the economy/job market lately, this lack of stability has been generating some low-level stress in my life over the last year.

On top of that, in September through October, I became swamped by two very time- and energy-consuming matters. The first was my divorce. Dani (who is now going by the name Lily (and no, the name change is not gender-related!)) and I separated way back in mid-2008, but we didn’t take care of all of the legal stuff until the second half of this year. Things are very amicable between us, and we have developed a solid friendship post-marriage, so we didn’t have to contend with any of the drama/fighting people usually associate with divorce. And I had done most of the grieving over the end of our relationship back when we originally separated, so the divorce itself was not the intensely emotional experience it might have been if we had done it last year. However, despite occurring under relatively good circumstances, the divorce was incredibly draining. For those who have not been through a divorce before, I can’t even begin to tell you how much paperwork is involved. Form after form, each having to be filed in a specific order, many of them also having to be served on the other person. So even though we were on good terms and in agreement on how we would split everything up, it still took many months of seemingly ceaseless paper-filing to get through it all. If getting married was even half as bureaucratically complicated as divorce is...well, let’s just say there would be way less married people.

The other logistical issue that I was dealing with last Fall was getting all of my ducks in a row for my December visit to Montreal. And yes, I was going to Montreal to do the thing that trans women often do when they go to Montreal, if you get the nub of my gist. I already had my two letters at this point, but I still had to undergo a series of blood/medical tests, fill out lots of paperwork, and so forth. Somewhat surprisingly, obtaining SRS did not involve nearly as much paperwork as obtaining a divorce. But the fact that I was dealing with both issues simultaneously was really exhausting.

Once everything was finally arranged, I spent the last two weeks of November frantically preparing for being away from home for two weeks, and ensuring that everything in my apartment was set up in such a way as to make things easy for me to get around and take care of myself during an additional month and a half of healing.

I should mention at this point that I have very mixed feelings about publicly writing about my SRS. On the one hand, it is this really big thing that has taken place in my life, and its something that I’ve wanted for a long time, but could not afford until now. And like many writers, I have that compulsion (for better or worse) to write about my experiences—its how I make sense of my life, and in some cases, it’s how I exorcise my demons. So it makes sense that I would want to write about an experience as important as this. But on the other hand, I have long railed against two assumptions that constantly plague trans folks: 1) that it is somehow incumbent upon us to constantly reveal our genital status to anyone and everyone at the drop of a hat, and 2) that one is not a “real” transsexual or a “real” woman/man unless one has SRS. So I do have some concerns that publicly discussing my SRS here might inadvertently play into these presumptions.

So, for the record, I am discussing my SRS here, not because it’s my “job” as a trans person to keep the world up to date on my genital status, but because (as a writer) I have simply chosen to write about this recent event in my life. Furthermore, I chose to undergo SRS because of a personal understanding of how my body should be, not because of other people’s fucked up expectations. I respect the fact that other trans people may pursue SRS for reasons that are somewhat different from my own, and still others may choose not to pursue it at all. These are personal decisions, and each is equally valid. I have lived the last 8 years of my life as a woman who just so happened to have a penis. I am no more of a woman now than I was then. And I strongly believe that there are few things more inherently anti-trans than the notion that all trans people must pursue SRS (or any other procedure for that matter) in order to be considered a “real” or “bona fide” transsexual/woman/man/etc.

<<!-- end disclaimer...>>

Anyway, my surgery took place in early December, and I’ve been home for about two weeks now. The recovery process is long and slow, but everything has gone well thus far. I have been keeping busy with lots of DVDs, dilations, and occasional visits from friends. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to write or to get online as much as I had hoped, as it’s hard to use your laptop when your lap is on the mend...

One would think that having SRS would be the biggest recent news in my life, but that’s not actually the case. Its significance has been overshadowed by the “fourth major life change.” My Mom passed away back in November. She had a myriad of health problems over the last year, the main one being cancer of the mouth. She went into the hospital for a couple weeks in late October due to a radiation/chemo-related infection, but she never fully recovered from that. I flew in when it became clear that the end was near, and I got to spend her last few days with her, so I suppose I did have some “closure,” for what that’s worth. I grieved a lot the first few weeks after it happened, but then suddenly my SRS was upon me, so I’ve been trying to be positive and to focus on getting better for now, rather than dwelling on her death. But it’s been hard...

Anyway, I didn't want to end on a down note. The way that I look at it, 2009 was a really sucky year for the most part. But on the bright side, it’s over now. I miss my Mom, and that feeling won’t go away any time soon (or perhaps ever), but at least her suffering is over. Both the divorce & my SRS have happened, so now I can focus on my healing and on making 2010 an interesting, fun & productive year...

Obligatory new years resolution(s): To be healthy and to focus in earnest on the next book.

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