Monday, February 14, 2011

What if? Wasted Youth.

Sometimes, I wonder what would have happened if I had told my parents that I was transsexual when I realized it.  I guess if I had said I was really a girl at the age of seven or eight, they would have told me no, that's wrong, and I would have accepted it, not knowing any better.  I knew a lot at that age, but it was mostly from reading the encyclopedia.  There was no entry for transsexual in the 1972 edition of the World Book Encyclopedia!

What about when I actually knew what was "wrong" with me?  It was probably around 8th grade that I spent a lot of time at the University library in between music lessons reading the books in the sexuality section.  I can't begin to describe the surprise and elation in finding out there were other people like me... and the depressing realization that we were "deviants" according to more than one text.  Still, there were vague descriptions of gender changing hormones and surgeries that fired my imagination.  So, what if I told my parents then, at age 12, that I was a transsexual and that I wanted hormones and a vagina, and I wanted to live as a girl?  Strangely enough, I don't think it would have affected my high school life all that much if I had come out.  I was already something of an outsider, with very little social life outside of school, and my in-school life was almost completely based on my academic abilities, music, and the fact that I was just a generally polite and innocuous person.  I'd occasionally get called names because of my race, but they were never really threatening.  Maybe I'm looking back with rose-colored glasses, but I don't think most of that would be different if I were going to school as a girl.  Oh, back to my parents...

Have I mentioned that my parents are semi-traditional asian immigrants?  Considering their derisive reaction when I suggested that perhaps I might want to go into music as a career instead of becoming a doctor (actually ended up doing neither, haha), I don't think a declaration of transsexuality would have been taken seriously.  As a good "#1 son" I certainly wasn't going to press it, and I would have just repressed it as I mostly did anyway.  The only difference is that they would have probably kept a closer eye on me and I wouldn't have had those few home-alone opportunities to dress in my mother's old clothes in the attic.

So basically, it's a waste of time to consider "what if" I had tried to come out sooner.  I wouldn't have.  That's the way I grew up - I wasn't the strike-out-on-my-own kind of kid.  I did what my parents told me.  I do still wish I could have transitioned young, before so much male-ness kicked in, so maybe I would have had more easily passable features.  But I know that is just fantasy - given the circumstances and the times, it just wouldn't have happened for me.  I guess the only possible plus side to telling them when I was a kid is that they'll be less surprised when I finally do tell them.  But that's a whole other problem for another day's blog post.


  1. Wow. If there’s ever a post that struck a nerve, Viv, this is definitely it.

    I’ve asked myself that same "what if" question, although in a different way. I always knew there was something ‘different’ about me, but I had no idea what to do about it. Sadly, my first exposure to the idea that I wasn’t alone was through a phone-sex advertisement in the back of an adult magazine I was too young to be reading. Not exactly the most empowering way to begin a journey, but it served to open my eyes.

    The term ‘transsexual’ was completely unknown to me – all I had to begin my discovery was a censored photo, the acronyms TS/TV, a slow dial-up connection, and text-only internet browsing. Like you, a significant aspect of my search for identity came via the library, although mine was more through science fiction and fantasy novels that safely explored alternative genders than through non-fiction. I certainly looked for those texts, but our library just wasn’t that progressive.

    Until my mother discovered my hard-earned collection of clothes, makeup, and shoes, it never occurred to me that there was anything ‘wrong’ or ‘deviant’ about it. I knew I was different, but it was my mother, her hysterical reaction, and her refusal to talk about it any further, that introduced me to the concept of shame. I don’t wonder so much about “what if” I had come out sooner, but more about “what if” I’d been allowed to develop and progress without the introduction of such negative thoughts.

    It’s taken me nearly 20 years to overcome that one moment of confrontation but, with the love and support of my wife, I’m slowly erasing the damage and exploring what it is to be me.

  2. Wondering "what if?" is not too bad as long as it avoids regrets or recriminations. It can actually be fun fantasizing, then moving on and dealing with life as it is, and life as it might be...


  3. Sally - for much of my younger years, I was unaware of trans-themed literature, but I always gravitated toward books with girl protagonists. I think my first trans-themed book was Robert Heinlein's Friday. I read a lot of Heinlein back in the day - that was the one with the old man's brain transplanted into a young female body, I think. I remember it had a woman in a half-zipped jump suit on the cover of the paperback version, and I was rather embarrassed to check it out at the library. I think I read that one over and over just dreaming of the day when I too would be able to hop into a girl's body.

    Halle - I agree entirely. Not much sense in dwelling on the past. It is good to muse on it now and then to inform decisions in the present and future though.