Thursday, 4 May 2006

Annus Mirabilis

Definition : A year notable for disasters or wonders;

It was at about 4pm, exactly one year ago. Whatever I was using to keep the male act going, well, it ran out.


No warning. No indication that it was going to happen. I was sitting at the keyboard, busily thinking of model compiler architectural issues, happy as a lark, when I said to myself "I just can't do this any more."

My next thought was "Who ordered that?" Where the heck did that thought come from? After 45 minutes or so of just sitting at my desk, trying to get my thoughts in order, I went and told the company's CEO that either I was having some form of mental breakdown, the mid-life crisis from Hell, or I was actually a girl, and had been all my life.

Well, I was a key member of the project team, everyone was depending on me. If I'd had a mental collapse, they'd have to do some pretty fancy footwork.

But it didn't affect my work, as it turned out. Just my body.

That's the weird bit. My metabolism went haywire, and we still don't know why. The picture below tells the story, and the Hormones I started in August had no effect on my blood hormone levels - we don't know why. Anyone familiar with the mechanics of Transition will know that things just don't happen that quickly, anyway. One year on, we can definitely say we have no idea what the heck happened. Similar cases have been recorded, but as far as I've been able to tell, nothing where it happened quite so rapidly.


There are two top contenders for causative mechanisms:
  1. The same thing that caused my Transsexuality has caused some as yet understood interaction with hormone receptors at the cellular level, or something equally odd.
  2. The psychic stress and total repression of my condition has led to one of the most spectacular pieces of psycho-somatic phenomena ever recorded.
Whatever, we don't know enough yet to do more than take measurements.

Here's the record of everything I felt comfortable putting down in my blog, which reflected my thoughts and feelings about the issue. Psych students could no doubt find out more by looking at the complete archive, everything I posted about before and after, devining meanings hidden even from me.

Other relevant links by other bloggers:
Guest Posting : The Male View
Tim Blair - The Female Brain

My peculiar journey is only just beginning, too. Transition - the journey from presenting as one gender to the opposite - is a task that takes years, even for younger Transitioners. For people in their 40's, it takes over half a decade. So there's much more still to come.

One thing that has mystified and delighted me though. You see, when I started this, I was being blown willy-nilly, I knew not where. I knew things would never be the same, but I certainly wasn't confident that I was "truly" female, whatever that meant. I just wanted to be me, whatever that was.

The most surprising thing is that my inate femininity is so strong, so obvious now! Oh yes, still learning, still got a long way to go, but any doubts have long since been dispelled by mountains, veritable Everests, of Evidence. And it feels so natural, so right, as if I was born for this. Which, as it turns out, I was. All I've had to do is learn to relax, to operate by instinct and to cease pretending.

Will I ever be an "ordinary" woman? Hardly. I've never experienced the hormonal surges of pregnancy. My chromosomes remain unalterably 46xy, and few women can say that (though more than you'd think). Moreover, any somatic female, biologically normal, brought up for so long as a male, with male hormones coursing through her body, well, she would never be the same as her sisters.

There's a school of thought that says for Transition to be complete, it's necessary to abandon the whole of the previous life. To cut oneself off from family, friends, to move from your usual haunts, and to take on a complete new identity and career. For a Transsexual Woman to become just a Woman, it's possible that this is necessary, though I doubt it.

Well if so, I don't value "just Womanhood" that highly, and I never did.

I intend to be what I wanted to be, way back in 1968. Not an ordinary woman, an extraordinary one, and not just because I was once Transsexual. More importantly, I wish to be a pretty decent human being too, that's something I was always able to aim for. Well decent anyway. Who knows, maybe pretty one day too.

I'm working on it.


David Heidelberg said...

Hi Zoe,


I have a personal question for you - It is often implied that the achievement of orgasm is essential for emotional and physical wellbeing.

Firstly, so you agree with this assessment? And secondly, are you able to achieve orgasm?

Feel free to delete this question if it is one that you aren't comfortable with.

Zoe Brain said...

Absolutely Essential? No. But I'm sure it would make it easier, far easier.

As for embarressment, well, if you're not embaressment-proof before transitioning, you soon become so. It's an essential survival skill.

As for Orgasmic potential, my sexual response was always female. I had normal-ish male peripherals, but female device drivers hard-wired in the brain. I never needed Viagra, but I've never ejaculated as the result of intercourse, and no doubt never will. When I did ejaculate, well, relieving a full bladder was a similar, but more pleasant experience. A genital sneeze, that's all.

That didn't stop me from being my son's biological father, but it took technical assistance.

One time, at a "Bull session" when the ethanol had flowed freely, I frankly didn't believe the guys I was with when they said they were usually "spent" after less than 45 minutes. But I've been told 30 minutes, or even 15 is closer to "normal". That latter figure freaks me out, I cannot imagine it.

In terms of stimulating the pleasure centres of the brain, rather than an "emotional high", the new, improving and evolving body is far better. There is no comparison. I do prefer not to think of my genital situation though, and avoid all physical contact there.

I've had a few climactic experiences nonetheless, my skin is so much more sensitive now, and the new erogenous zones work far better than anything I've had before. They feel natural, I can just relax, exist and experience. There's no longer the disturbing mismatch between physical sensation and body image.

Orgasmic intercourse? No, never experienced that. I think I came close once, in 1983 as I recall.

But ask me this question in 12 months. I'm 6 months away from SRS, and 6 months after that I may have healed enough.

80% of women are genitally orgasmic after SRS, and the surgeon I've chosen has an even higher rate than that. But frankly, it's not such a great drama, and virtually all were genitally orgasmic beforehand. Maybe I just don't miss what I've never had, and probably never will.

What I have is far better than I ever imagined possible. That a human body is capable of feeling that... Wow.

David, all I can do to explain is ask you to imagine how things would be for you if you were in a female body. But still with a male brain, wired up for male genitalia, and without the neurologically female "device drivers" to handle the sensory data. Even when making love with a person you loved deeply, I doubt you would be able to relax and let things happen. It would feel terribly wrong, un-natural, no matter how much you might enjoy it in an emotional sense.

Not all TS people feel this way. My hypothesis is that my brainstem, the area controlling body image and sexual response, is more feminised than most, and more so than the rest of my thinking gear. But really, we don't know enough about the situation, I can only go by subjective assessments and my own personal experience.

Hope this helps.

My thanks for the congratulations, by the way. That's appreciated.

Zoe Brain said...

An addition from 18 months later...

I'm not so much orgasmic as ORGASMIC!!!!!!!!. Things match, my body knows what to do, it's so... natural. Wonderful. I had no idea. Like my dreams, but better, and reality.