Therapy is about discernment. You basically take what you are feeling, and try to put it into words so as to understand it.
Sometimes I think this is a fool’s errand. Feelings often don’t have words, and forcing them into word boxes could be doing them a serious disservice. Nonetheless, language is all we’ve got until the day they figure out how to run a cable from one brain directly to another (at which point we’ll probably all need new friends).
Transition therapy, therefore, is about discerning the whys before even getting into the hows.
Today I took a trip with a bunch of children and a handful of grown-ups supervising. Most of the other adults were women, and I looked at them trying to figure out what exactly would be so different if I were presenting as a woman at that very moment. And while the social interactions would certainly be different (no doubt more awkward), I attempted to figure out what would be different inside me. That is, I wanted to figure out (again) what I thought I would be gaining by changing this fundamental sense of who I am to the world.
First a couple of “not”s. The clothing would feel physically different, but it’s not about that. I got over the thrill of the clothing a long time ago (it’s still there, I suppose, but the moment has definitely passed). I would probably see things from a different perspective and maybe take a different approach to the people around me, but it’s not really about that either, at least not in its root. That seems more like a benefit than a reason. In fact, the clothing also seems more like a benefit, too.
But I came to realize, through a series of little mind jumps, that the primary personal difference is that the outside of me would more accurately project the inside of me. Put that way, it seems so simple, right?
I looked at two women in particular. Both are very beautiful, but in very different ways. And neither of them looks the way I imagine I could look (except in my dreams). Also, neither was wearing clothing that I would necessarily choose for myself. Both were dressed casually, wearing winter coats and hats over jeans and simple shirts. Each had a colorful scarf, and plenty of subtle feminine touches visible.
But the thing I saw clearly was that each was projecting, through those choices, a personality which is congruent (presumably) with who she is inside. Neither was trying particularly hard (which is an unattractive quality to me), they were just being. And when they bought the clothing they were wearing, they may have selected from the female side of the clothing binary, but from there the choices were entirely personal.
The clothing I wear as a man does, to a degree, accurately reflect my male persona. And it studiously avoids anything which might suggest the existence of a female persona. To do so would be to cross into effeminate man territory, where I am decidedly uncomfortable.
But the real change which has happened to me over the past two years is the realization that this whole process of denying and covering is dishonest and ultimately hurtful (primarily to me). And all of that descends from the fact that, as I’ve perfected my male persona over my adult years, I’ve also cultivated and perfected my female persona. But I’ve locked that one away, taking it out only when I’m alone.
When my actual transition desires started, I’m convinced it’s because that female persona had gotten sufficiently strong that it needs to be expressed — in the open, in the world. The male persona has, and this idea I’m just starting to explore, seemingly run its course. It has been a cocoon which I’m ready to shed.