Because it took me a long time to "come out" even to myself, I missed my chance to stop puberty by a good ten years. A lot of damage has been done that can't be undone. There are both subtle things and big things -- shoulder width, arm width, hand and foot size, height, facial hair, and a penis large enough to cause unfortunate bulges. Estrogen pills and testosterone blockers are great for getting rid of body hair (not facial hair), but you don't assume every dude with smooth legs is a woman. And for a newly transitioning person, every shade of stubble is like a punch to the gonads -- which, by the way, we aren't super comfortable with either.
That creates a very real fear of not being able to "pass." That's made more difficult by the habits we've built up all our lives. It took me a long time to get used to my new name, and I felt like a liar for months when I introduced myself as "Christina." Sometimes when I'd meet someone new who I liked, I'd introduce myself by my very masculine birth name -- half out of nervousness, half out of habit.
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"Sorry for the confusion. Bricksmasher McBeardsmith died a long time ago."
Most of the work I've had since coming out involves dealing with customers, over the phone and face-to-face. This means being constantly misgendered, thanks to the lack of clarity in the phone line and my relative inexperience at sounding like a girl. Yeah, your voice stays the same -- some people are as good at faking the voice of another gender as Hugh Laurie is at pretending to be American, but transitioning doesn't come with acting classes.
But eventually, I stopped feeling like a liar when I told people my name was Christina; now it feels like I'm lying when I use my old male name. At first it was weird going out in public -- and it still is, because I still have thousands of dollars of electrolysis to pay for -- but nowhere near as bad as when I would do so dressed and acting as a guy. Walking around in the sun in a sundress is literally worth living for, because it feels so goddamn right. The words that always play across my mind are "I feel so free."
That's something I had never experienced before without the aid of drugs. But now I can look at myself in the mirror and like what I see most of the time. If that doesn't sound like much to you, well, that's the point. People like me have to travel a long road just to get to a point most of you take for granted. And many of us never make it at all.
When not being distracted by her new female bits, Christina Hitchens likes making video games, talking to friends, and working on her autobiography. You can check out her utterly incomplete blog at http://thebigideacollider.weebly.com, or you can email her.
Robert Evans runs the personal experience section of Cracked. Find him here on Twitter.
For more insider perspectives, check out 6 Awful Lessons I Learned Transitioning From Female To Male and 5 Shocking Realities Of Being Transgender The Media Ignores.
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