May 16, 2013

The Persistence of Identity

dali_watchLabels, names, and identities; these are things that have been haunting me of late.

I maintain three identities right now: Workplace Him, Weekend Him, and Her. I spend my week as Workplace Him; and since I go straight to see my kids most evenings, Workplace Him persists. When I finally get back to my apartment at night I get to be Her, if only for an hour before I sleep. On weekends, I sometimes get to be Her for a whole evening or sometimes an entire day; but whenever I leave the apartment I have to be Weekend Him. And even though Weekend Him is starting to take on elements of Her (see “The Purse”), Weekend Him is not the same as Workplace Him, and neither one of them is Her.

Of course, both of Him share a name. But when I’m Her, I take on a different name, Ali, even though there’s no one around to speak it to me. And online I’m Ali moreso every day [His blog and Twitter account have been more or less dead since March, and the Facebook profile is much less active]. But when I talk to myself, even in my moments as Her, I often still call myself by His name. It’s just so reflexive, so ingrained.

I find myself asking, which one is the real me?

This split-ness has engendered in me some reluctance to embrace the common labels. I know what I am; I’m well past the stage of denying it. But I have to spend so much of my day as Him that it is sometimes hard to think of myself as transgender or a transwoman. I am a fat man in a dress, not a woman who was born in the wrong body. Just look in the mirror! You’ll see that it’s true!

I am programmed with 37 years of Him, and I am forced to execute my programming for most of every day, all week. And I am beginning to hate every minute of it.

This past weekend was Mother’s Day, and Weekend Him ended up in a familiar family situation: playing the role of dad, of son, of brother. In the middle of it all, my daughter asked me, “Daddy, what do you want us to get you for Father’s Day?” Because that’s still my day, for them. For Him.

For now.

“Honey,” I told her, “You don’t have to get me anything for Father’s Day.” Because really, I don’t want anything. I’m not looking forward to Father’s Day. It will just be another reminder about the hot mess that is currently Me.

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  • Looking back when I spent most of my time being her instead of him I cringe at how much energy it took. Just thinking about it exhausts me. And I don’t know how I did it for so long. Be kind to yourself. Know you will get to a space where it will all tip into you being her more than him. And when you do, it will all be worth it.

    • Thank you for sharing that. Yes, it does take a lot of energy! And I’m oh so paranoid of “slippage” (like when I forgot I was wearing a bracelet last week before work and walked in front of a full classroom with it on … ).

  • Oh dear, I know how it is, I actually had the question of what you want for my birthday asked to me. That Secrets in Lace gift Card, thigh high nylons, pretty pumps, silky blouses came to mind. I broke down and said a hardware store gift card. This way, I can by the thigs for the home and keep the money for lingerie shopping! Too bad we have to think outside the box! We do what we have to do…..

  • Ali, don’t forget you will always be a dad, even if you are full time Ali. I would have thought that fathering children would be a matter of pride, even if you are a woman!

    • It’s not that I’m not proud of being their dad. I just don’t know how this dynamic will change over time. Plus, let’s face it — presenting as woman and having the kids calling me “dad” will probably raise a few eyebrows! Not that I won’t be “read” as a transwoman anyway ….

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