I had meant to tell Nominatissima about my transgender feelings for months before we even started dating, but it had been such an enormous secret that I had kept buried for so long that I just simply couldn’t force the words to come out, no matter how well I would lead up to them. Understand: there was no doubt in my mind that she, of all people, would understand, but…I suppose I was just afraid. Afraid of feeling naked, and weak and exposed; afraid of how it might change her opinion of me.
So I couldn’t. Not all at once.
A few days after we started dating, I managed to let slip a fetish for women’s clothing; not for wearing it, just for the clothing itself (and recall that it had become deeply fetishized in my psyche, simply because of its forbidden nature*). She found this amusing, and started describing her outfits in detail and showing me photographs of particularly interesting garments.
Then, after about a month and a half, I confessed to her that I enjoyed the thought of wearing such clothing as well. She understood, and promised to let me wear some of hers when she visited in the spring. And so she did, although the situation wound-up being rather awkward, since this fetish, coupled with my asexuality (of which I only gained definitive proof right then and there), made Nominatissima think that I was more interested in her clothing than I was in her. I managed to explain to her, albeit with some difficulty, that this was not the case.
Nominatissima’s visit coincided with my twenty-second birthday. It was with horror that I realized that that day upon which I had seen myself in the mirror for the first time had now been literally half-a-lifetime ago. And here I was, still essentially frozen in time, unable—no, unwilling—to move on with my life. Rather ironically, I realized that what I needed to do was to “man-up” and admit what I was.
“You know,” I told Nominatissima one day while we shared a private moment, “sometimes I wish that I was a woman.”
“I thought as much,” she replied, and kissed me gently on my forehead.
The truth was that when I said ‘sometimes,’ what I in fact meant was ‘almost all of the time’ (which I think Nominatissima implicitly understood, but she didn’t force the issue).
Shortly thereafter, she went away to Japan for a month. She apparently spent some time meditating on the situation while she was away.
“James…Have you ever considered transitioning?” she asked me over the telephone, once she’d returned to her Hawaiian homeland.
Transitioning. I’d never heard the word used in a transsexual sense before, but it was contextually obvious what she meant. In fact, I had thought of it before, but only in an abstract way.
“No…I don’t think I want to do that,” I replied. “It seems so difficult—and the results aren’t always the most satisfying, from what I’ve seen**. Besides of which, I’m not trans.” (This was a lie that I’d been telling myself at around this time—I claimed that I was merely a ‘transvestite***’)
“Okay, I was just asking.”
There was a pause in our conversation. “If I ever did transition—and this is just hypothetically speaking, you need to understand, because I’m not going to—but if I ever did…would you still love me?” I asked.
“Of course,” she said.
Needless to say, after the conversation ended, I took to the Internet, reading up on what was involved in MtF transition; some of the physiological effects of hormone replacement therapy—thinning skin, most notably—made me feel so queasy that I had to stop reading****.
“I could never transition,” I told Nominatissima a few days later, apropos of absolutely nothing. “Your skin thins out; the thought of it makes me feel dizzy.”
“Good thing you’re not trans, then.” She commented.
After about a month, I managed to get past my disgust, and read more on the subject. My online conversations with Nominatissima continued regularly, except every so often I would randomly salt the conversations with unprovoked talk about transition—specifically, why I absolutely, under all circumstances, no questions asked, would not do it. And then, of course, I would finish off by asking: “but of course, if I did do it…”
I’m not honestly sure how Nominatissima managed to put up with all of this.
*And, as you might imagine, now that I am free to wear women’s clothing whenever I please (which is always) the fetish seems to have faded entirely; which is a very good thing, when you think about it, because that would be no way to go about in public.
**I think that I actually used the words “uncanny valley” at some point; a nice bit of internalized transphobia for you.
***A behaviour which, of course, also falls under the trans umbrella, but I didn’t know that at that point.
****This is yet another reason why I’d make a lousy biologist: oh organic life, why must you be so gross?