THE BLOG

Male Organ or Not, This Really Is a Female Body

09/18/2013 11:35 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Recently I had a powerful dream in which I was the subject of a complicated mystical ceremony. It was so powerful that I awoke immediately afterward and could not go back to sleep. I tossed and turned the rest of the night, thinking about what had just happened. I was myself, Danielle, wearing a white robe in a Middle Eastern-type desert. On one side were caves, and on the other was a bubbling spring. In my hands I clutched crudely shaped stones and pieces of wood -- amulets or charms.

There was a being, a personality without physical form, that communicated telepathically. It communicated to me that this was a special ceremony. This was a special, mystical ceremony of the sacred Earth spirits to make my body truly female. No, it wouldn't change my boy parts to girl parts -- I'd still need surgery for that -- but it would mean that my body was truly female.

Well, I don't know how much the dream had to do with it, but I'm convinced, a year out from my trans-woman awakening, that this really is a female body. It may have been a male body once, but I've made a lot of changes already, and I haven't finished. My beard, as well as my chest and abdomen hair, are mostly gone. I've had extensive surgery to feminize my face. I'm on estrogen; my body now runs on this female hormone, with testosterone blocked. As a result of the estrogen, I'm growing breasts. About a year into estrogen, my natural breasts are only about an A cup size, but they're growing; they're real women's breasts, and I've had my first mammogram. There is real glandular breast tissue in there. Estrogen has shifted fat from my abdomen to my upper thighs and buttocks. I now have thunder thighs. They rub together no matter how I walk, and I'm afraid to go into the woods during the dry season for fear that I'll start a fire.

So no, penis or not, this is a female body now, if for no other reason than that I'm female and it's my body.

Again, it's worth restating: Becoming a trans woman isn't about sex. I think people who are naïve about transgender issues think this is a sexual thing. It's not. It's not even close to sexual. This is about my identity, who I really am as a person. It's like the difference between eating and breathing. Breathing is something I have to do constantly, all the time. Eating I only have to do occasionally. Likewise with identity and sexuality. Identity is who I am. I can't function at all doing anything unless I know who I am. Sexuality is just a part of existence, something that preoccupies me some of the time. I can't understand my sexuality until I understand my identity with certainty. For one thing, I can't be sexual until I know who I'm attracted to. I have to be sure of who I am before who I'm attracted to makes any sense. This is really two totally different issues.

I know trans women who haven't completely sorted out their sexual orientation yet. They know for sure that they're women, but they're not sure whether they're straight or lesbian, attracted to men or women. Who I am as a person is much more fundamental than who I'm attracted to romantically and sexually. Sex and romance are way down the road from here. I'm quite sure I'm really attracted to men, but I feel I'm a ways still from following through on it as a woman. That's down the road; I'm not there yet.

Coming out as a gay man after years of marriage to a woman was actually quite difficult for me, I think because what I was going through was not so much a shift in my sexual attraction (although that did happen) as a fundamental change in my identity. I saw myself as a different person as a result of it. And of course now I again see myself as a different person. I hope that I've mostly finished with all this identity stuff. It's exciting, but it's really hard work, and it's really unnerving at times.

At the beginning I really didn't know for sure where any of this was really going. I can see now -- and it's very reassuring. But I have to know who I am first and foremost.

I am a woman, and this is a woman's body.