Sometimes lately (and it’s not all the time), I don’t feel very real. You may laugh all you want and retort that I’m wrong, but what I’m feeling precisely is this: although I’ve left George far behind, I don’t feel particularly like Joyce (whatever that’s supposed to feel like). Naturally, one can’t force how one feels, but I wonder if part of the problem is the difference between what I imagined it would feel like to be Joyce and what it’s like actually being Joyce.

All outside observations aside, I find myself wondering what is the barrier to achieving that feeling, and it seems to me that such a feeling must be bound to be tied up in expectations. In other words, I wonder if I’m thinking of being Joyce as a choice between “either” and “or” (i.e. I’m either all woman, or I’m not real).

Logically, I find this all very funny because I know there is a large spectrum of reality between “all woman” and “nothingness,” and I tell myself I should just feel being myself right now, and be done with it. But this isn’t about logic, is it? It’s about feeling, and I can’t pinpoint whether this feeling comes from my head, my social circle, or my body, or maybe a bit of all three.

Let me be specific with you because this isn’t so much of an existential problem as a bodily one. What I know is that I am increasingly frustrated with my body, especially my hip-to-waist ratio. I guess I always pictured Joyce as voluptuous, but when my pants keep falling off of my non-hips (which is pretty funny when I look back on these events), I think I feel less than legitimate.

One voice in my head tells me that I have to try to let that frustration go, and embrace Joyce as she emerges because this feeling has nothing to do with trans*issues, but plain old body image issues. As I’ve learned from talking honestly with women this past year, everybody wishes she were just a little different: bustier, less hippy, thinner, and so on.

However, another voice tells me that my frustration (and my “let it go” remedy) isn’t nearly so clear cut, that while I’ve had years to imagine Joyce in a particular way, those imaginings were never terribly concrete, and that it’s perfectly fair to want the body to match the inner image.

The fact of the matter is that unless I want to have more surgeries, I may have to learn to live with what I’ve got. I will never have child-bearing hips from which to hang skirts and pants, but as my friend Violet often tells me, I have to learn to rock the body I’ve got. I like the sound of that — now I just need to learn how to do it.