/ mental

What Now?

For two years (and change) there has always been Something Else To Do. At the beginning, it was utterly terrifying things, such as talking to doctors, coming out publicly, taking meds to completely and uncomfortably change my body...

Over time it became things that still scared me in different ways.

Firsts - first time going out presenting female (although for me it was more of a slow process), first time introducing myself with my new name, first time doing interviews or TV since transitioning. First time flying (and therefore going through airport security) since transitioning.

Then there was bureaucracy. Changing names. Gender changes on medicare databases. Forms for the same thing on my passport.

It's astounding how many things I wouldn't realise were 'firsts' until I did them. Even small things like wondering how it'd feel to have shopkeepers gender me correctly. (Spoiler: it feels absolutely perfect, and I hope everyone gets to experience that over time.)

They had varying degrees of discomfort, but regardless, there was, for me, always Something Else To Do.

Over time that reduced, as there was less and less to do that was new or particularly uncomfortable. The early physical discomfort of medically transitioning began to pass, too. I got used to my changed body.

I looked at a picture of myself from precisely a year ago, and for the first time looked at this old picture and went, "Oh, hey, look! It's me!"

I didn't see some fascinating exhibit from the Museum of Past Physical Iterations of Elissa... I saw a girl who looked very much like me. Same face. Roughly the same body.

It made me smile, realising that the most intense of the HRT changes were indeed behind me and that... life was becoming normal.

But there's a down side to this, too, and it's a rough thing to recognise.

I wouldn't go through early transition again for anything - it was uncomfortable, scary, and I'm glad it's over. But when there is always Something Else To Do, you get used to that being the new normal.

And when it's gone... I realised I was left with something: Now what?

I have a lot of personal issues, fears and residual issues left to work through, same as anyone. That's going to be tough. But unlike the gloriously itemisable aspects of medically transitioning, what remains is esoteric and subjective.

Without a thousand things to tick off a list, I'm left in my own head, and while it (and my life generally) are much nicer places than they were before I transitioned, on some level it's still a lot easier to make do physical things and tick things off a giant list than it is to unpack personal fears and slowly work through them.

While I don't miss and would never want to have to repeat the early stages of medically transitioning, it's hard not to miss the relative simplicity of it. (And if you recognise just how complex and - for many of us - scary medically transitioning is, that should say something.)

So here I am, sitting around, feeling like I've at least largely accomplished what once felt like an impossible task, and I'm left staring at the rest of the things I need to work through and they somehow seem even more impossible.