You might have an idea where this post is going with this picture.
I’ve spent the better part of the last year questioning a lot.
For the last 4-ish years I’ve called myself pansexual-pangendered. I was assigned female at birth. I have a uterus. I’m in what looks like a hetero-relationship. I’ve done the giving birth rodeo, and 9 miscarriages. I’m busty, curvy, and can’t hide my shape. I hate this body. It never felt comfortable. I could use it, but I’ve felt like I’ve been trapped in a costume since probably kindergarten. Growing up in private Christian schools, and then going to middle school and high school in the bible belt where my town has one of the highest ratios of churches to residency ratios in the area, I was never given words for explaining what I felt.
I mean, try getting told people are going to hell for being in love with the same gender. Being brainwashed from an early age that desiring anything other than a conventional heteronormative relationship was essentially a straight ticket to hell is terrifying. Watching people be abused for crying out for fair treatment solidified that anxiety.
There are jokes that you figured out you were bi as a teenager by first watching The Mummy. That Sweater Weather makes you gay. This that and the other meme that you identify with should have told you. It’s confusing as hell. The mirror always lied. My skin never felt right and puberty belongs in it’s own level of purgatory. I liked boys in school. I also found myself “admiring” girls, because I couldn’t admit to having crushes on them, that would be a sin, wouldn’t it? Meeting the first out-gay guy in high school felt…comfortable. Like the world wasn’t so lonely, but I didn’t know why. He was bright, bubbly, and great, but I could see the depression wearing him like a second skin. He was made fun of and ridiculed. Defensive. I talked to him for quite a while one day to get a better concept of what the attraction was in being gay. To me, at the end of it, his explanation sounded like what I felt. I couldn’t understand what the difference was between his love and my love, and why his was worse for some reason. We weren’t each others type, so it wasn’t that kind of a relationship, it was just a conversation on attraction, emotions, and physical intimacy. It was an enlightening day, but I was still left in a fog of not having the words to explain me and why I didn’t feel like what the other girls in the school would giggle about in corridors and corners.
Being AFAB, liking boys was safe. It wouldn’t get me condemned. I knew what it was. I had the labels to understand what that type of relationship was.
I got out of high school. Went to college. Started acquiring knowledge, words for my feelings that I hadn’t had access to. I was still hiding. I got married to somebody that I adore to the ends of the earth and back. The relationship also fit in that tidy, clean, safe box that doesn’t get battered and bruised. I’ve talked to Wren through these years of figuring out who and what I am. He’s stood next to me through it all.
I haven’t told him, and he’ll only find out if he reads this post, but there was one moment, one comment that he said off handed one day, and it meant the world to me. “I didn’t know I was getting a husband when I married my wife.” No judgement in the tone. I don’t think it was a compliment, just a random observation he had. It’s been years since that day, but it’s that little ember in my heart that whispers, saying I’m okay.
Part of what’s hung me up this year, why I kept up saying pangendered, why I shifted to enby was the fact that I have zero desire to deal with surgery. The mirror lies and scars will not make what’s in my head a reality. There are those that go that route, and man am I happy that works for some people. After going through knee surgery, gallbladder surgery, failed tubal ligation, brain surgery, I know things can get messed up, and I can’t fathom chancing it. And so, I kept thinking, ‘well, if I won’t get surgery or go on T, then I must not fit in the trans category. I love my husband, and enjoy watching other genders, so there’s no reason to deal with the label.’
I’ve seen those comments float on social media “If you could wake up tomorrow as a different gender” and every time that comment has popped up, I’d reply back that I would. I’d take that chance. The nerve endings being correct. Everything working the way it should. That sensation. I want it. And I know, for me, I can’t have it in this life. It’s a hard pill to swallow.
I heard so much derision from people, growing up, about transgendered individuals who were attracted to the same sex. “Oh, you’re a lesbian stuck in a man’s body? That’s just being straight bro, get it together!” That was the most prominent one I can recall. Wrapping my head around the concept that physically I desperately want to be male, but also being pansexual in a hetero-looking relationship has been a trip. The amount of mental gymnastics I have dealt with pulling myself out of the religious brainwashed mire that has plagued me mentally is exhausting.
Dealing with emails from friends and family who have congratulated me on getting through brain surgery and advancing myself from that point while using the term “you’ve become a strong/courageous/admirable woman” has made me nauseous too often in the last few months. I hate having the term ma’am and lady used on me. It’s not right. I’m being seen for what I look like physically, and not what my soul is.
And accepting the fact that, to me, I don’t want to have someone come near me with a scalpel again makes it worse. I’m not sure how to explain what it is to deal with a phantom penis. What it is to have that sensation at the edge of your fingertips and it all evaporate as soon as you remember you aren’t in the correct body. Frustration is such a mild word it’s almost sarcastic in this regard. And I know that surgery wouldn’t make it feel the way I want it to feel. You’d have to transplant my brain for that sensation to fix itself.
The “Oh she’s just a woman writing mm romance and doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Throw her out.” That one’s scared me for a long time. And it never felt like it applied correctly.
I feel like I’m the sacrilege to the trans community admitting to all of this. It feels like those qualifiers that a bunch of religious nuts use to legitimize that stupid “there’s only two genders” shit that get’s blasted all over social media. I’m raising my kid. I won’t ask to be called dad or father. And I’m keeping my husband, and not asking him to see me as anything other than his spouse. And I’m not getting on T or going through surgery because I can’t deal with the medical ptsd/cost/and the fact it won’t reach the level I want it. But here I am. I’m still me. And I’m admitting this.
I was assigned the wrong gender at birth.
My pen name is Chapel Orahamm.
In my copyright pages, I am K.A. Thornton-Gibson.
I’ve written in academia, so it doesn’t take much to know who I am. Names are meaningful to me, and part of the structure of many of my stories. That has to do with being honest with people. Honestly, my name has never felt right.
Call me Chapel or Thornton. I’m pansexual. And I’m trans-masculine.