Once upon a time, an Aspie went to Halls. But not just any Aspie. The Aspie-est, anti-social-est, pedantic-est Aspie ever to walk the Earth, with a T-shot on top. And who was that Aspie, you (probably don’t) ask? Good question. The answer, of course, is this one right here.
Suffice to say it’s been an eventful week.
I survived the parental panics, travelling through the torrentials, the instructions at the entrance getting lost in translation (read: my senses jumbled up everything I heard), and the hell of forced solitude. Yes, that’s right, solitude can be hellish even for those who enjoy it sometimes. Don’t even try and understand the logic there; there’s a serious risk of brain splatter.
And now I’m all moved in, after an incredibly painful run-up, with nothing better to do than to type about it, apparently. So that’s what I’m doing.
There’s a more detailed post to come on exactly what’s been happening this week, but I’m too exhausted to go into it now. For the moment, the short version. Monday, I met with my Personal Tutor in hope of sorting some things out to prevent the second year from becoming one long continuous panic attack. And I left feeling reassured, which I’d not been expecting; still, watch this space. Wednesday was Adventure Day, where I did a recce of my Hall’s surroundings in hope of reassuring myself further. For the most part, it worked, although I got lost on the way back (don’t even ask; I’ll go into that one later).
And Thursday was Panic Name Change Day, where I met with the Dean of Students – and didn’t have a panic attack beforehand, despite the opaque door and lack of clear instructions, I’m proud to announce – to sort out my name change and gender change on the uni system. Also went better than expected. Then the next three days were spent packing, panicking and puking, mainly, because I’m just that cool.
Herein lies my problem, while I sit here and think about it far too much for my own good. I have to do that sodding coming out thing again. People I know from school know I’m trans, my family know I’m trans (and those of them who don’t will have an interesting surprise when they next see me and my voice has broken), and the odd person from uni already knows as well, when I’ve had the chance to bring it into conversation (not an easy one, I know. “Yep, the acid’s over there, and by the way, I’m not female, despite some evidence to the contrary. Pass the acetone, please.”), but the vast majority of people I see daily at uni do not.
But my voice is deeper now, and I’ve not had much of a chance to go into details with anyone other than my Personal Tutor and Aspie Mentor. For all I know, my explaining that I’m trans to the few that I already have done has been taken in the opposite direction, and they think I’m transitioning to female instead of away from it; I never really got much feedback. I don’t really know what I’m doing, as it’s easy enough when you can hide behind a computer screen, but when you’re seeing people all the time, if you don’t say something, questions may well be asked.
Yes, even if you’re an introverted social phobe like me, intrigue can still be present, even if you’ve spent the year hardly speaking to anyone. And it scares the hell out of me.
I don’t know how to handle “normal” conversations, about the weather or the latest lab report; they’re hard enough, but at least there are guidelines to follow. Don’t go too far off topic, don’t talk so loudly or forcefully that you spit on anyone, don’t headbutt or punch anyone, and don’t forget to smile, and you should be fine.
But there are no guidelines here. There’s no Trans Handbook. And if there were, I’d imagine that the section for my gender would be the tiny, crumpled few pages at the end that no one could be bothered to type. “I don’t have one but prefer to be gendered male rather than female if you can’t avoid gendering me completely, which would be nicest” is kind of a hard one to explain, even to myself most days.
Maybe people won’t notice the voice. Maybe I’m being paranoid as usual. Maybe I’ll go so long without a conversation that no one will even need to refer to me by name. The trouble is, that’s a hell of a lot of variables, and I don’t deal in possibilities.
I’ve not even considered the possible reactions. Everything I’ve done so far in my transition has been to make life easier for others as much as possible without nullifying the purpose of transition. My first name was a parent-pleasing exercise; the jury’s still not out on how successful that has been. My transitional route was to avoid as much paperwork as possible for others. I’ve been putting off a hell of a lot of stuff to avoid putting others out, and while I expect nothing from people other than to accept the changes and not make it harder than it already is, I’ve had very little support so far.
There’s the typed kind, which is always nice. And it’s been sanity-saving much of the time, more than you all realise. Then there’s the verbal kind, which has much more effect when I’m there to hear it. But there has been virtually nothing practical in terms of support, other than by the specialists themselves. I’ve yet to meet another person who respects my choices enough to deal with me in person.
I expect it, the Bad Reaction. I have to stop myself from adding on the get-out clause when coming out: “It’s OK if you can’t handle it, just let me know.” I expect to be excluded, avoided, and isolated. But I expected that anyway, really, trans or otherwise.
All the way through last year, I hated myself for not having a Group, or a Friend Circle. Despite enjoying my own company, the presence of others’ mutual enjoyment of each other’s company rubbed in the fact that I didn’t have that option even if I wanted it. And occasionally I would peek past the Pessimistic Curtain to realise that actually, it’s not all that surprising that I don’t have People if I use a separate (isolated) entrance to every lecture by choice, and avoid every tutorial because we’re expected to talk in front of others, and spend so much of my Lab Time panicking that I rarely notice what others are doing, and then rush home as soon as I possibly can (I was commuting from home that year, remember) without acknowledging anyone around me. I had to admit that I wasn’t exactly helping myself.
But still, interactions will happen. And no one really knows me well enough to have to put up with the task of understanding my gender (a feat in itself) and respecting it. I don’t want to have to keep “Oh, and by the way”-ing people who really just want to be kind, when they have better things to do.
And I still don’t know how to go about it. If anyone figures it out, let me know…