I dug up my old band's EP cover recently (pictured) while discussing my 'woman' days with a mate, as evidence I enjoyed frocking up and wearing heels. It's interesting when people see photos of me before transition.
I used to feel sad, because people would see photos and say (before I was 'out' as trans), 'You looked good then, why don't you dress like that now?'; 'You should wear makeup more often!'.
Aside from frustrations about what 'women' are expected to look and act like, it was all too hard to explain trans at the time, or my changing identity. It was an isolating experience.
I also felt sad though, because I missed looking 'womanly' to an extent, even prior to chest surgery and hormones. I still miss it actually, a lot.
Occasionally on my off days as a man, I feel oaf-like, clumsy, clunky and non-erotic. Put together with blocks instead of curves. Everyone can be susceptible to wanting thinner days, younger days or fitter days when it comes to their bodies. Sometimes I want for 'female days'.
It's an odd feeling to experience because it is uncommon and there are few souls to share it with. The thing is, there is such a typical 'before and after' framing of gender transition in the community and media. You see, I don't feel an absence looking at pre-transition photos. They are of me at a particular point in time when I liked being femme. When I enjoyed the attraction of straight men, lesbians and queer women.
I don't see a ghost, but occasionally I see a twin that went missing in action. I don't view this as 'transition regret', as some alarmists call it. The biggest regret I have, though, knows the confusion, shame and self doubt that shadowed my eventual acknowledgement of being 'different'.
It's hard to identify the exact moment the shift occurred, when androgyny, and then a butch identity, crept back into my life. That same 'non-woman/non-girl feeling' I had in childhood. However it did return, and with a vengeance. It created a path my gut told me to follow. With this has come a new life and goodbyes to some previous parts of myself. It is what it is, and it's the best thing for my long-term health.
I still carry aspects of this woman inside me. I still benefit from her friends, her achievements, mistakes and lessons. I hope to keep learning about life in new and different ways growing older, as a more physically masculine person.
You have to re-learn a lot of things as a social, sexual and intellectual being when the world casts new eyes on you. Often when I make my way around through life these days, I wonder what it means to be a man. It will be an interesting journey venturing into masculinity, with an even more changing physical appearance. But I have to say (speaking for myself) that this journey is only really a journey for me if it is travelled with a past.
Gavriil Aleksandrs is a committee member of Transgender Victoria and the TGV communications manager. Gavriil is also a practicing social worker and a drum playing *Pomeranian Dad*