One of the problems I'm increasingly dealing with is the feeling of being 'other'. Of not quite fitting into a category that most people can reconcile and that many people can't quite feel comfortable with.
It has nothing to do with 'passing' or being treated socially as a woman - although that's its own problem, and it has everything to do with the differences between myself and most cis women.
Some of this isn't unique to the trans experience, but being bombarded with ads for tampons, contraceptives and a total barrage, because of my age, of "shoudn't you be having babies?"
Well, no. I can't. But thanks for reminding of of an experience I can't ever had.
I'm torn between feeling genuinely happy - elated, even - for friends of mine having children, and feeling a deep sense of sorrow. It's not even so much the desire to have children as that I've always been jealous of women who can bear children. The idea of that deeply personal, intense experience sounds amazing to me, despite the discomfort and pain.
Like I said, I'm fully aware that I could well raise children, but I can't help but shake the feeling that the experience might not quite feel 'right' for me. I'm not sure why. Perhaps I will different in future.
A friend of mine who's spent their life torn between a few different cultures told me yesterday that they feel a sense of not quite 'belonging', and that it was a huge problem for them. Not quite fitting into Australian culture, not the other cultures they've been a part of most of their life.
And I found I could empathise very well with it. Partly because I was raised in semi-rural Australian / near-urban culture and didn't quite feel I fit in anywhere. I'm sure dysphoria didn't help, but I got so used to learning things and being asked if I was English because of my 'accent'. I don't have an accent that should stick out that much in Australia. Of the three general Australian accents, mine is what I've learned is 'cultivated Australian'. In short? The closest Australia has to receive pronunciation.
Between that and being teased for not being 'manly' to the point where I began to pretend to be masculine, just to fit in, and I always felt quite alone.
It's a step further now.
Much of the time with female friends, I feel fantastic. I feel like our experiences and the way we relate to things emotionally is much, much closer than anything I've had with people before. And yet it's hard not to be constantly reminded of little differences. Even social - being raised male and coping with dysphoria without any idea what that was has had profound effects on my personality. I won't ever have the experience of being a young girl growing into womanhood.
Even now, transitioning with hormone therapy - "a second puberty", isn't quite the same. It's faster, for one. If anything, based on the side effects it's closer to (in a twisted irony) pregnancy than puberty. Then of course there's the strange experience of having massive body and hormonal shifts as a mature adult. I can feel myself slipping into childish behaviour sometimes, no doubt due in part to the huge effects hormones can have on your emotions.
I can see myself doing these things, sometimes in embarrassing ways, and yet often can't quite stop myself.
It's not quite as simple as spending time with my trans friends, either.
Our experiences are all wildly different. The way we feel, the way we present, our varied ages and experiences before we transitioned... we're as unique as any group of people. I can find people whose experiences I can relate to sometimes, but even then there are limits.
I hear about trans women standing up to pee, and it still confuses me a bit because I can't do that without often feeling hugely dysphoric. But for many others, that's not a problem.
And this is constant. A feeling of not quite belonging in any one category, or one little subculture.
I get invited to a Hen's night, and instantly get this feeling that I wouldn't quite feel comfortable there. No more so than I ever did being invited to Buck's nights.
Sometimes, I relish these unique experiences and prefer to think of it as a sense of uniqueness. But other times, I just feel lonely. Even around other people.
I'm just glad I have a lot of the friends I do.
Nothing helps as much as my girlfriends who accept me completely and make me feel good about myself.