Coming out to someone is liberating. It’s hard to initiate and steel myself for, but once started, it’s a great relief and even a pleasure. I reflect in a separate entry on the general characteristics of what it feels like to come out–before, during, and after. But here and now, what I’m really interested in, and somewhat baffled by, is why I sometimes feel down in the midst of all this (so far) good activity. I have yet to run into a roadblock from kids, Mary Jo, my university, doctors, or my friends and colleagues. You would think that life would be nothing but steady joy.

And yet I have these waves of being down, sometimes light, sometimes deep. Why? Maybe it’s just plain old fear? or embarrassment? I think there’s part of me that still sees this transition as a failure to wield my willpower against GID and simply keep it in check.

Good or bad, this has been the norm for me for the past two years; however, things are getting better, albeit slowly. I can’t generalize to the rest of the transsexual population and say this is what it’s like for everyone, but it’s certainly what my transsexual crisis and transition feels like. I have no idea what “most people” think a transsexual’s life is like (dear reader, please feel free to post if you have any thoughts), but I suspect that, for those who think about it at all, it may involve the image of men prancing around in drag (the “men in a dress” image), or getting their willies chopped off. Or for more thoughtful and inquisitive people, the image may involve transsexuals doing hormones, having medical treatments, talking to therapists, and dealing with society as they transition.

However, if I were to describe my “typical transsexual experience,” statistically speaking, it would be easy. Early on, it involved 9 nights out of 10 of crying, wishing it would go away, making bargains with God or Satan or whoever will listen (if anyone’s listening, which I doubt) to make it stop and let me get on with my life, and 1 night out of 10 of nervous excitement about finally doing something after 40+ years. Many months after, the ratio is much improved, only 2 days of the aforementioned 10 crying (but without the bargaining) and 8 out of 10 days of excitement and relief.

But why even 2 of 10 days? Changing your sex is considerably more complex than modifying your body, as I’ve written elsewhere. Most activities of transition are relatively easy. Hormonally, you take a couple of pills a day. Medically, you get blood tests more often. Legally, you hire an attorney and file some paperwork. Surgically, you write a check to a surgeon and let them do their magic. Dealing with your beard, you make an appointment with the laser operator and use your Visa card. Dealing with your image, you order some clothes online or buy them in a store. None of this is particularly difficult.

But here’s why I think I find myself in those depressing moments. Even though it’s easy to focus on the body, the makeup, and the mannerisms as they evolve, it’s the psyche that is getting radically transformed, and psyches aren’t like a tube of makeup or a pill. They are the products of decades of socialization, self-examination, and experience. I suspect that the different halves of my psyche are battling it out, the old one clawing at the edge of the cliff, unwilling to go quietly, the new one uncertain about what she wants. They are trying to figure out how much of the old has to go and how much can stay. They are pondering whether the new psyche really has to be that different from the old one, a mental move that sounds like doubt or ambivalence, but which is actually a necessary activity that must happen–and accelerate–as transition becomes more and more real.

All I know is these waves are unexpected, triggered by a song, a word, a hormone molecule that gets lost in my brain, or a speck of cosmic dust. Who knows? I don’t. However, I am fairly certain that all my thoughts and emotions, no matter how elated or down they may be, are important to feel and to try to understand. They’re messages from within, and they need to be translated, processed, and brought into conscious form in order to learn from them.