Power Relations II

powerstruggle

I actually already published the Part II of this post, but after reading it again, I feel it needs some revision (complete rephrasing). The problem with this topic is that it is very easy to fall into the tyrant-victim trap, where one person is exploited by the other and how unjust and unfair this is.

Obviously there are many relations in which this is actually true (think relation between abusive parent and child). In everyday life though, power relations tend to be much more nuanced and barely noticeable, which is exactly why it can be so hard to discern them (and address them).

The dynamic I addressed in my last post basically rested on an assumption on part of the provider. In these cases, the provider assumes: I know what´s in their best interest, because I studied this topic, and because I am established in my field, having offered this service countless times.

Of course when the client goes along with this, there is no problem, and there is no struggle of any type. Yet sometimes, a client will also have a degree of expertise – namely people who have recurring experiences with particular providers and are informed about the nature of their own problems.

These are clients who will try to give advice to their provider, and will want to engage in an equal relationship, where both sides share power and adjust to each other. In my experience, these providers are not only true professionals in their field, they are also relatively rare.

Here´s where I think that most providers, having settled in a routine, are happy to remain in that routine, and not so happy about any “laymen” who challenge their position as the sole authority. Here is where I also think the power struggle actually starts.

More on that in Part III.

 

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Just Some Dude II

lebowski

In my last post, I described how there´s an incongruence between how I view my (past) self, and how others view my (past) self. I feel like I have always been male – albeit in a deceitful package. Therefore, I don´t really think of myself as transgender, or as FtM. I see myself as transsexual.

The distinction I´m making lies in the fact that although I was never actually female, I did have physical features that fooled me (and everybody else) into thinking otherwise. When I came out, the first thing I realized was that if I wanted to be seen as myself, these features had to go.

I view surgery and hormones as a medical treatment to become who I am, not as a transition (or a departure) from opposite gender. In order for that to be true, I would have had to have been (oh dear God) female in the complete sense of the word: physically, but also mentally and emotionally.

In keeping true to my own sense of self, I am happy to go through life as (you guessed it) Just Some Dude. I don´t want any special status, I am uninterested in being a phenomenon – I am in it for the sheer, boredom-inducing normalcy of it. Because this is the first time I have ever felt normal.

I guess that´s new and/or unusual information to some of my cis-gender friends. Their efforts to understand my point of view are awesome and I know well-meant.  But my point of view is really much the same as that of any guy. And, like any guy, I like to feel like I am just that.

Having to see myself as “female to male” (i.e, transgender) is painful because it forces me to acknowledge a time when I felt genuinely, often unbearably unhappy. The term also implies a change and departure in gender that in my experience never actually happened.

So yeah. Rather than feeling fragmented into two separate (old and new) selves, what I´d like is to just exist as Rowan, and forget about being anything other than that. That´s a mindset that will make me happier, more confident, and more optimistic about the future.

 

Just Some Dude

thedude

I´d hoped to go to bed more or less early this time. Ah well. It “ain´t gonna happen”, so I might as well tell you why I´m awake. I was interfacing with my smartphone, my new source of empty entertainment – specially at times when I should be relaxing and enjoying peace of mind.

A friend of mine and fellow night-owl texted me. “We should get together some time soon“, he said. Good plan. We set a date, then drifted off into some unrelated conversation. “A colleague of mine at work came out as trans”, he said. He was surprised about how honest she (the colleague) had been.

“Okay”, I said, “good for them!”. Other than that I really didn´t know what to say. I mean, I don´t know her, so that´s pretty much end of story, for me. Can´t say that I can relate to her because well, other than some pre-manufactured hormones we might have nothing in common.

Can´t say that I feel a particular fellowship with them because they´re trans“, I said. Which my friend understood. He said, he was drawing comparisons as a way to understand the feeling, really. I told him it´s like being a dude except you have a prosthetic dick, which sometimes feels a bit emasculating.

There´s more to it, but when it comes to gender, I really want to be as black and white as possible. Why? Because I´m done being a chick, and now I´m a guy. It´s as simple as that. Being “female” was really some sick prank God pulled on me – slap some breasts and ovaries on me, and pretend I´m a woman.

Any pretenses were wiped away with the discovery of my true identity. This is who I am, and this is who I always have been. The past – insofar as it is defined by gender – completely ceases to exist, and when I think of myself in the past now, I see a young guy. Herein lies a complication.

Namely, others have a different recollection of me. Insofar as gender is concerned, they do think of me as “female” to “male”… whereas in my mind, I´m male without testosterone to male with testosterone. Therefore, not really transgender… nor FtM. The only thing that makes me “trans” are my surgeries.

Read on… in part II.

 

 

 

Minoxidil Day I

beard1

Considering it´s been only two years on testosterone (on July the 26th), I can grow pretty decent facial hair. I already had a bit of a goatee going on Pre-T, which started to spread at about six to eight months; after came the neck-beard and then finally sideburns at about one and a half year in.

I have an okay soul patch (patch below the lip), but any hair on the upper lip has been reluctant to sprout. It is sprouting alright, but barely visible and lingering only on the corners of my lip, which gives me an disorderly look. My practice has been to trim it  before it gets out of control.

Basically, I can grow a beard… it just takes a very long time. Generally, a boy will start to develop facial hair in his teenage years, with real beard development kicking in much later, mid-twenties to early thirties. So I could just sit back and wait about ten or fifteen years.

But I am thirty now. Also, I missed out on having a beard my entire life. Among a lot of other things, like those wild early twenties and gaining experience with girls. So I have decided that I have earned this. Whether the beard decides to show up or not is up to my genes, but I have good faith in it.

I have been looking into Minoxidil for quite a long time now and there were always reasons not to get it, among which the finance aspect. However I got a small break where that´s concerned and so I decided to go ahead and purchase it. Not easy, considering you can only get it with a prescription.

I asked my doc but she wouldn´t go along – even when formulated as a hairline issue – she thought it was a kind of snake oil (sold for profit, rather than effect). Minoxidil has been proven to work, both scientifically (for receding hairlines) and not so scientifically, on beards.

Thankfully there are other ways, so I looked for it and found a seller trustworthy enough to buy from (I went on a site similar to ebay, be sure to check their reviews and whether their information/bank account/telephone number has been validated). I got myself six bottles, enough for six months of use.

I will update here from time to time, though in the first months of use there probably won´t be much to document, as the hairs go through a shedding phase and new follicles have to “instate” themselves. Things should start to show some change after the four month mark – I´m excited!

Power Relations I

maze

My throughly defeating encounter with the dentist on Friday exemplified, once again, how impossible it can seem to pry yourself loose from people who have power over you. Or from people who think they have power over you. The dentist is just one example; I´ve dealt with a lot of people like this.

The frustrating thing about this, is that aside from you,* there are not that many people who are actually aware of the permanent and constant power-struggle between small players, by which I mean you and your health-care professional, you and your employer,you and your telecom provider.

Evidently, the degree of power-play between you and any authority depends on a bunch of different aspects. But generally speaking, you rely on them as providers. We put our faith in these people and assume that they have our best interest at heart. And maybe they do.

The dentist who drilled my teeth – and consequently, my self-esteem – may have had my best interest at heart. However, it seems more plausible (to me) that she thought she did, and therefore anything she asked from me was completely justified. Even if meant ignoring my warning.*

Here´s a question I have been asking myself. How do you get someone to see where they go wrong, if they think their approach is the best one they can offer? In her mind, it makes perfect sense to be mad at me, because after all I rejected her approach and put my own best interest first.

As if I know what´s good for me. Strange as though it may seem, this conflict of interest exists with innumerable people who provide services. We don´t hear much about it, because a lot of people are happy just receiving the service the person provides. And that´s fine.

Problems arise when clients demand an individual approach; when they want to be seen as persons who have distinct personalities, problems and backgrounds; and who wish to give some guidance to the provider, instead of being guided. More on that in a later post.

 

Cavity Time III

innocence

In my last two posts, I wrote about the dentist and how my visit there triggered old defensive mechanisms. An attempt by the dentist to stick a rubber expander in my mouth, contrary to my wishes, offset an alarm in my head, in turn startling the dentist, who felt threatened by my reaction.

In my own experience it all makes perfect sense. If I say “no“, it means I don´t want something to happen. In my experience dentists – and some other medical professionals – tend to work their own routine – thus having learned to ignore “no” and just going ahead. Not cool.

I left the dentists´ office in a hurry and found a comforting place among a bunch of bushes in a park. My nervous system struggled to make sense of the incident, attempting to understand why she´d purposefully crossed my boundaries, making me feel like I´d been violated.

I could not find it in myself to find any love for me – having been made to feel as vulnerable and worthless as I felt as a child – not worthy of being heard and respected. I knew that if I did not seek out a friendly face, I would self-harm. I texted a friend in the area.

My friend wasn´t home, but having lunch at a place nearby, so I went there. My friend – unknowingly – pulled me out of the instinct to self-harm and brought me back into a world of regular activities, work and leisure. We had lunch there and afterwards I chilled in the cemetery for a bit.*

Back home, I still experienced some kickback from my episode, but thankfully not too much, and I have recovered relatively unscathed (which is surprising considering similar past events). With one cavity left to go, I am on the lookout for a practitioner who respects me, rare animals though they might be.

*Strange as it may seem, cemeteries are surprisingly relaxing – specially if the cemetery in question is covered by a foil of beautiful trees, and host to an array of cool animals like squirrels and birds. 

Cavity Time II

stopboy

In my last post, I wrote how visible tooth decay finally encouraged me back in the dentists´chair. I had not been in two years, and if it hadn´t been for impending root canal decay, I wouldn´t have returned at all.  Halfway the appointment, the dentist grabbed a rubber expander, waving it inches from my face.

“I´m going to insert this in your mouth now”, she said. I replied I would rather not. Last time a dentist made me wear one of those, I went completely crazy and suffered suicidal thoughts for a week. “Just wear it“, she said, and tried to shove it into my mouth, now firmly shut.

My internal alarms went off instantly and I brought my hands up to my face to swat hers away. In an instant all my senses were roaring, sweating, my heart drumming away and my nervous system ready to fend off any further attack. She backed off, and despite protest, I sat up in the chair.

Dissociation set in, and unable to process the experience, a thick blanket of fog entered my brain. I asked for permission to wash my face. “You cannot go home, we aren´t done“, she replied. In the middle of my fog, I barely understood what she was saying. I requested permission again.

Finally she let me go. Thankfully for me, the bathroom was downstairs. I sprinted down there and jumped up and down in the bathroom, trying to regain clarity, splashing my face with water. As the fog receded, I went back up, and the dentist finished her work.

When she was done, she looked at me and asked me how it went. I was about to explain to her why I´d reacted the way I did, but she was having none of it. She interrupted me instead and told me how violated she felt, having me as a patient. She said she didn´t feel safe.

Read on for the conclusion!

Photo credit: predragphoto77 / Freepik