And She Was

In August 1985, Talking Heads released the single “And She Was”, from their album “Little Creatures”.

I used to get this really funny feeling inside when I’d hear that song. I didn’t have words to describe what I felt, but I felt more like the woman that the David Byrne was describing, than the narrator of the song, and I felt ashamed.

When I came out in February last year, and then started HRT on the 31st of March, I chose not to socially transition. As I wrote in that post, I wanted to see what effect it would have, whether it would improve anything, or if I’d spent a decade barking up the wrong tree.

As the year came to a close, it seemed like I was feeling -generally- better. I felt like I was happier, but there was something else going on that was just slightly out of focus, that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

On Christmas Day, I saw it clearly, and I’ve sat with that realisation for the last few weeks. I’ve had trouble with Christmas Day (and other “event” days and parties) for decades. I’ve always felt like I was separated from everyone else by some thick pane of glass. Present, but not able to take part. Every Christmas Day, I’d check out part-way through the day, either retreating to my computer, or hiding in a book, or on social media. Abandoning my wife to clean up after everyone. Notionally physically present, emotionally absent.

It was in that evening that I realised I’d been present all day. Involved, part of the events. I did much of the clean-up. I played card games with my wife and our kids. I had nothing to escape from. It was so effortless that I hadn’t noticed.

I felt whole.

That night, for the first time, I noticed that I felt whole. No longer like a passenger in the body of a man who was me-but-not-me, and his life. I felt alive, like I belonged in my own body. Like that moment when you realise that the hiccups stopped a while ago, I realised that the overwhelming sense of incongruence that has tortured me for decades was gone.

Treating a cisgender man (a man whose sense of gender aligns with their physical sex) with feminising HRT (estradiol) is known to result in gender dysphoria.

Treating a trans woman with feminising HRT, reduces gender dysphoria.

My gender dysphoria has reduced immensely over the past year, since starting HRT.

And so it is, that I have accepted that I am a transgender woman, and I no longer feel ashamed of that.

As such, I am choosing to socially transition.

Choosing a name for your kids is hard, and we did it five times. Choosing one for yourself is a whole different world. I didn’t dislike my birth name, Warwick, but there’s no feminine variant.

I went through many names both for my first name, and my middle names. My middle name was my father’s name, and I chose to keep that, but as the feminine. I also took the name my mother told me she had planned to give me as a second middle name.

I finally settled on a first name; while I didn’t plan it this way, when I was reading up on the etymology of my new name, it turns out to be a variant of the first name that both my maternal and paternal grandmothers shared, which gives me a lovely sense of connection to those who came before me.

A week ago, I pressed submit on a web form with the Birth Registry in my state of birth, and applied to legally change my name.

Today, I received notification that my application has been approved.

From today, I am Alyssa Rendell.

But to my friends, I was Waz, but you can call me Allie.

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