Say goodbye to this old mug!
As, tomorrow, I head into my third transition surgery of 2017—this one being facial feminization surgery (FFS)—here is what I am expecting:
- I will look less masculine, more feminine, yet still look like me. Oh, and a bit more youthful, thanks to the face lift—sagging neck and jowls, begone!
- I will feel about myself exactly what I feel today, which is what I have been feeling about myself throughout this surgery-filled 2017.
Which has been quite surprising.
One does not know what one will experience by transitioning. One can read about the experiences of others, watch videos, and ask questions. I sure did a lot of all three of those. Yet, as is the case with everything in life—lessons I especially learned firsthand when my son died and when I went through a divorce—observing the experience of other does not come close to personally going through something.
I had watched two siblings go through divorce. I knew people who had lost children. When I experienced the gut-wrenching loss, the gigantic hole which both of these created in me, I learned that I had not learned anything significant from only observing them.
So it has been with transitioning. I prepared as best I could, and then I went and underwent stuff that was completely my own, things for which no amount of reading could ready me.
Fourteen months ago, I wrote about how Gina was deepening and Greg was lessening. This was something I expected to occur, even as I did not know exactly how it would happen. Here is that post:
In that piece, in September of 2016, I wrote this, “A very odd experience is that I view my former life as if looking at photo albums and home movies of another person . . .”
This sense remained with me for several months. It was not a comfortable thing, feeling that I was seeing another person’s life when it was my own. I am pleased to report that it no longer is the case. Sometime early this year, I noticed that it was gone. Now, when I ponder any time of my life, I experience it the same as I did before I began transitioning.
Indeed, what I have found is that the more I change—living as a female, legally changing my name, going through the three transition surgeries—the more I do not change. Not a bit. Not the person who is me.
Wrap the package how you want, the contents are not affected.
I am pleased to report that this is marvelously comforting.
As, over the course of my fifties, I grew to hate myself, I now am able to compartmentalize what the hatred was. My self-loathing was strictly due to my gender identity struggle, being a male, forced to live as a male, feeling there was no future for me as a female, yet finding the lifelong desire to be female to have deepened so much that it was as deniable as a basketball-sized tumor in my brain.
I hope you understand how that would develop into self-hatred. Of not being able to look at myself in a mirror. Of cursing the male clothes I had to put on every morning. Of being unable to scream out to the world how badly I was hurting.
That was then. It’s not now. Whew.
Removing that self-hatred, I can once again see and appreciate the wonderful, blessed life I’ve enjoyed, one full of love and achievement and unique experiences. While it would have been nice not to have had to live through those years, which were worse than my divorce and the death of my son, combined, the Lord got me through it. And Julie, my little Jesus, got me through it. And many of you, and a host of therapists and doctors, got me through it.
And I am coming out the other end of it all the same person I was when I entered it. And this pleases me because—I hope this does not come off as bragging—I worked really hard at my life, and I was happy with the person I was.
In 2013, my hope would have been that, by 2017, I would feel and look and act completely differently, so badly was I hurting in body, mind, and spirit. Now, I am so pleased that I feel and act exactly as I had before I grew ill.
So, what of tomorrow’s surgery? As for how I look, I want to continue to look like me—I no longer hate the image I see in the mirror, but I want the image to be more feminine—so my hope is that my new face will be a gently more female version of the same old-but-now-slightly-younger-looking me.
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I’m still me. Whew.
To you, that might sound like a silly thing, as in, “Who else could you be?” I’m here to tell you, I was someone else. The 2013 me was a mess; I was pasting on Greg for the sake of others. 2014 was no better. 2015 had some ups, but the downs were just as deep. 2016 was a turnaround year. 2017 has continued the turnaround, but I’d be deceiving you if I led you to believe that all of my struggles are gone.
But, wow, much progress has been made. Yea, for progress! For healing! For figuring things out! For living to tell about it!
Julie and I will head to the hospital before sunrise, tomorrow. I’ll be in surgery up to eight hours.
The plan is to be discharged from the hospital on Thursday. Thanksgiving Day. While Julie and I will not be feasting on food—we already did that with our Indy daughter and grandchildren—we will come home from the hospital and, no doubt, will let out a great big, “Whew!” like the one I just let out as I paused after typing that.
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Finally, though these days I go by Gina, I’m still Greg.
I’m still Greg.
I never saw that coming.
I’m really pleased about that.
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Right before surgery, I will take Julie’s hand and we will pray. I will begin by reciting the 121st Psalm, which is my favorite.
I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.