I paid a visit to Sean Drummond, my department chair, yesterday and told him of my plans to transition — the world didn’t collapse; instead, he was very supportive and said things like “I can’t imagine anyone will have any trouble with this.” He was inquisitive without being nosy, asking about my schedule, what it’s like, whether there were any other transitioning TS’s on our campus, and that sort of thing.

By the time we were finished, he said the pace of disclosure and transition to the higher ups (i.e. the college, provost, HR, and other offices) would be entirely up to me and he’d be with me every step of the way. Our next step will be to meet with Dean Wilson (she’s the dean of our college) in January or February, or whenever I’m comfortable. As for pragmatic things, he said our university has no experience save what we just formulated this year for an undergraduate undergoing transition, and that policy is that however you’re presenting, then that’s the bathroom you use. I asked if we might explore whether this student policy might be extendable to a faculty one, and he said he didn’t see any reason it shouldn’t.

I gave him True Selves and She’s Not There for light Christmas Vacation reading, pointing out that Jennifer Boylan has lived, and has written about, my life, more or less (same age, same number of kids, same profession, etc), so if you understand where she’s coming from, then you more or less get where I’m coming from.

But that’s not the point of this post — it’s just prelude. Sean is the first non-medical, non-psych, non-family person with whom I’ve spoken about being transsexual, and it took a lot of steeling myself before I could walk down the hall, down the steps, and into the main office. As I did so, trance-like, I was completely aware of the flight-or-fight body responses, the heart beating, adrenaline pumping, breaths coming faster and shallower — so I deliberately did some deep breathing and some moving around to try to defeat these instinctive reactions. During the hour-long chat with Dr. Drummond, I was hyper-aware of my being there, occasionally with one little voice popping up from time to time to say “what on earth are you doing sitting here? Get out and run!” and the other one saying “this is so normal and natural — it’s going great, so keep disclosing things to him.” I was hyper-self-conscious, but I suppose there’s no other way to be in circumstances like these.

I had wanted to recall every little detail, write it all down like a play. I had already pegged this as an important dialog that would do a lot of things for me: move beyond self and family and medical establishment and into the public sphere, concretize things that are floating around vaguely, and hopefully feel a sense of great progress. However, when I finally left, I realized I was completely drained, feeling neither elated nor fearful, but kind of numb, kind of forgetful.

I wonder if the intensity of the experience, whether flight or fight or great trauma or whatever other term might be appropriate, messes with long-term memory. If I work really hard, I can reconstruct pieces of the conversation, but I’m afraid the transcript in my head is hopelessly garbled.

When I told her of this feeling, Mary looked at me with a “duh” expression and said that’s just like childbirth — the body forgets traumatic experience, and while this certainly wasn’t childbirth, it did involve a lot of angst. So I don’t know if I’m normal in seeing the whole thing as a blur or if I’ve subconsciously blocked out this very important meeting

Maybe it’s going to sink in later that I’ve opened up a whole new line of transition, that of the bureaucracy and the workplace, and that it’ll have its own momentum as I try to align everything for a summertime full-time living experiences. But for now, it’s like a dream, neither frightening nor happy, just some images and some words that were very real when I was in the midst of them, but that are now just snippets.