Something strange came to me tonight, in the run-up to this full moon.
I was travelling home through flood weather, after spending a weekend visiting a friend of mine who (although I don’t think he realises it yet) is coming out to himself as bi-gender. Sitting on the train earlier, reading a book he passionately insisted on lending me, called The Red Tent. Reading about the menarche – the young women’s first bleeding.
I will never bear children is not something I’ve felt much, though I’ve thought it much.
When I was 24, after I’d persuaded myself that a gender transition was not an option, I did (what I somehow imagined was) the next best thing: I went to a GP and asked for a vasectomy. She laughed me out of the consulting room (which was cruel of her), and told me to come back when I was older. I eventually had a vasectomy when I was 39. When I look back at this, I see my desire for a vasectomy part driven by the knowledge I was no man – but part driven by my utter certainty then that I could only be the parent my parents had been, and I swore never to inflict that on any child.
A few years after my vasectomy (by which time I was, incidentally, married), I began training as a counsellor. Somewhere in the middle of that first year of training, a lot of things began to wake in me, and one of them was the knowledge that I could be a good parent. A couple of years after that (by which time I was, incidentally, separated – counselling training will do that sometimes), I almost found myself having a vasectomy reversal, because I was finally with someone I could imagine being a good parent with. That didn’t work out, partly because what I wanted to be in the end wasn’t a father.
Tonight, it’s finally reached me, this knowledge that I’m never going to bear children. It’s something that many trans women find themselves having to embrace, at some point, those who would like to be mothers. It’s weird how some things just don’t rise up in you until they do rise up in you – and tonight, I find myself mourning that I will never experience the menarche, and where it can lead. I have a lovely young friend who, amongst other amazing things that she does, is involved in setting up a network of women to help celebrate the menarche among the young women around them. I love her for doing this. And it makes me sad that I’m outside of this experience.
If you’re a woman who has experienced this, you may perhaps be finding this sadness and desire of mine naïve, or even annoying. For sure, I have no idea what it is I’m missing (but that’s the nature of missing out on things). But there it is. I can only say: I am feeling this.
I was mulling over this feeling again later this evening, once I got home and was in bed, reading more of that book – when it suddenly struck me that I am 50, and I’m on HRT; that in a weird sense (which makes sense to me, at least) as I enter womanhood physically at last, I’m also entering menopause, which is why I will never bleed.
Menarche: mēn month, arkhē beginning. I’m here at the beginning of something, as well as an ending. Both a sunset and a sunrise. I choose to experience this as a blood mystery I’ve happened upon in my wayward journey to physical womanhood.
I can feel myself, having written all this, pulling myself in again, against some imagined derision from women born in woman bodies. But it doesn’t really matter. Biological accident, and damaged parenting, between them took away my turn at being Maiden and Mother. But I get to be Crone, and that’s been worth living for. So mote it be. I may not be the Crone I’d be if my body had walked the moon’s path unhindered to get here, but I have walked it nonetheless (oh my goodness yes), and I am this kind of Crone that I am – even as HRT makes a teenager of me. Thus is equilibrium maintained…
[…two happily found photos: Blood Sunset by AshATurner, and Sunrise With Venus by Alessio Andreani…
…and it now occurs to me just what a natural progression this is from my previous blog-thing – from the choice of celibacy to the welcoming of Cronehood…]