Dysphoria Or Euphoria It’s Your Choice! ~ or ~ Turn That Frown Upside Down!
Turning Point #1: You are not alone.
Yes, being disappointed when you look in the mirror sucks. Not being able to play with the kids you want to play with sucks. Not having your body, and your life, develop the way you want, sucks.
When ya got gender issues, well, it just sucks. You wish you could change it, but at first you don’t know how.
Here was my first major turning point toward a happier life:
It’s hard to imagine these days, but there was life before the internet. When I entered college, BBS and email “gopher” programs were in their infancy. I did have a computer. It was a “luggable” 8088 suitcase-size clone. It had a HUGE 20 MB hard drive. It did not, however, have any “internet connectivity.” At that point, there probably were a few computers at my school that had this capability, but they were for “serious research.”
So one chilly night sophomore year, I went down to the library. It was a big, 5-story, ultra-modern structure that held about a million volumes. Today the entire contents of that library could probably be condensed down to fit on your iPod.
The point is, I had to walk my ass down there. A blast of dry heat and that library smell of paper and must and stone floors and bureaucratic order hit me. I always found that smell comforting, almost titillating. I marched over to the bank of white computer terminals that allowed you to search the library catalog. (I’m not THAT old.) I paused.
That year, I had gotten a single room because I knew I wanted to keep crossdressing, although I couldn’t figure out why, and at my 80’s party school, I didn’t dare ask anyone. The only information I got was from daytime talk shows, and that was information I simply did not want.
I looked around furtively. No one on either side of me as I basked in the glow of the green CRT. I typed in: “transvestite.”
Lo and behold, there it was.
Richard F. Docter’s 1988 book, “Transvestites and Transsexuals.” And the library had it. Right there on the 3rd floor. I had already done so many papers I knew the section of the library just from the Library of Congress number. My breath quickened and heart rate jumped as I wrote down the location on a piece of scrap paper and quickly ESCaped back a few screens so no one would see what I was looking for.
All I needed was one of my hard-drinkin’ weightlifting, metal-blasting floor buddies to come up from behind and surprise me. I took the stairs and started to sweat a little bit at the temples. Thank God the hormones stopped that–well, for the most part–I opened the door to the third floor and looked down every row of books until I got to the human sexuality section. Another quick check to see who was around. In the age of the John Hughes movie, if someone saw you in this section of the library there were going to be questions. If I had had a concrete answer or two at that point, I might not have minded.
I saw the book. It was a wonderful bright red with big, plain white type on the front. Anyone could read the title from across the room. I grabbed it from the shelf, stuck it behind a notebook, and ran into bathroom. Yes, the bathroom. I slammed into a stall and sat down. My heart was racing, my breath shallow–not from being found out, but from the chance that I might find out what, or who I was…
I cracked open the book. I skimmed a few pages, I went to another section. In the little snippets I was able to digest through the fog of extreme anxiety, I saw stories. Stories that sounded like mine. There were others like me. Exactly like me. Oh shit.
I slammed the book shut.
Within a few weeks I had found a trans group in my small college town. I met my first transsexual woman–at least that I was aware of–and it all became clear…
I started to have a path laid out before me. I still had no idea how I was going to pay for any of this stuff, but at least there was a path.
And dysphoria had turned into euphoria. I was not alone. There was hope.
Next week: The cheapest part of my transition is still the thing that I value the most.