Several weeks ago I transformed into a woman... semi-voluntarily. I had it all explained to me ahead of time, what was going to happen and how I should deal with it. I didn't expect it to really happen - if I did I probably would have taken Jenn's word for it and moved on, but it's true that I never would have believed any of it if it didn't happen to me. I'm living proof.
When it happened, I took as much time as I felt I could spare to get my bearings about it. Try to move through the strangeness of it all. There's the shock of finding out that magic is real, and what might that mean - which my brain filed under "things to wonder about but not expect answers." In the more immediate moment, I had pressing concerns.
As you know, Shona's body is much larger than average for a woman. When you picture men becoming women perhaps you are imagining model-pretty young things with tiny waists and large breasts, but you know very well that women come in all shapes and sizes. I myself was - am, in my normal life - a husky, bearded gentleman, so neither of us are society's definition of perfection. That doesn't mean it hasn't been a major adjustment.
I knew Shona's body very well because I dated her for years. I know her struggles as much as any partner can, and now I've started to know them much more intimately. And as time goes by I'll learn them more. To be a woman who looks this way is very different from being a woman who looks like Jenn as Paola, or some of the others I've read about (some of whom I've seen in pictures.) In some ways it's closer to being a man, but in other ways it's so very, indescribably different.
I couldn't not notice the difference between being me and being her. I couldn't help but feel the new sway of my hips as I walked around the room, the jiggle of pair of breasts if I move too suddenly, the pointed absence of a bundle of external genitals swinging between my legs. It was hard not to focus on that, but I worked to normalize it as best I could. Now, I go all day without thinking it's weird that I'm lacking my penis. I forget a pair of boobs are hanging from my chest until they knock into something. Absentmindedly, I might rub my chin and realize not only is it bare, nothing more than a few wisps have grown there in weeks.
But at the time, I really stood there thinking, "This is going to take some getting used to." Having long hair is strange. Wearing clothes designed for women - and more or less fitting into them - is strange. I am currently wearing jeans that absolutely do not obscure the curve of my hips and ass and the lack of any kind of bulge between my legs. For weeks, wearing these things made me feel like I was on display. Many of Shona's tops are not understated - pinks and yellows and colors I would not choose for myself. Tops for women often come with plunging necklines or strange ruffles or other random design elements that draw attention to themselves, where I'm really more of a basic polo or checked shirt kind of guy.
All the pockets are useless. That's nuts.
My thing is, knowing Shona, and I have this weird desire to be the Shona I knew, not myself-as-woman. I'm lucky to know a bit about what she liked wearing and how she presented herself, but that doesn't mean I am able to recreate it. What do I know about makeup? What do I even know about maintaining long, silky hair? And yet when I look in the mirror and see rough skin, frizzy hair, puffy eyes, I feel like I am failing rather than doing my best to cope with an immensely strange situation. One piece at a time I am figuring out ways to bring that person back.
Some people call the Inn "cursed", and no doubt for those unlucky enough to trip into this lifestyle, that's what it is. For me, it's distinctly not. I walked in knowing there was a real possibility - if not one I necessarily believed in - that all this was real, and took a calculated risk. What did I have to lose? The worst case scenario was that my body was transformed into that of my favorite person in the world. (The possibility that things might go awry and I would become a total stranger never occurred to me either.) That I would spend nearly a year learning what it's like to live as a woman, and then have a safety net of being able to return. I'm a scientist by trade, so having that kind of data is irresistible to me.
Put it this way. You'd be surprised to learn Santa Claus exists - but you've heard of Santa Claus.
You wouldn't be surprised by my observations of course, but it's one thing to know the difference between a female body and a male one, another to live it. For days, I spent hours just walking around feeling my thighs rub together, my hips and butt swaying, going up and down stairs to feel my boobs and belly jiggle. I think constantly about how hungry or thirsty, hot or cold I am, trying to mark it in comparison to what I'm used to from my natural body. How long I go between meals or bathroom breaks, when I get tired, what it feels like to be intoxicated or drink caffeinated beverages. I noted down a nearly hourly journal of my first menstrual period two weeks ago - it was not fun but it was very informative.
If I were more of a sociologist maybe I could observe different peoples' reactions when I enter a room, but so far all I've got is "Sometimes people don't know what to look at when they see me."
For me, this isn't something to sit around and be miserable about. It's a learning opportunity.
My main problem is... it's left me all very lonely. Perhaps I would have been better off thinking Jenn was Shona. I know it would not have been better for her but I could go through life blindly not knowing the woman I love essentially disappeared from my life, and instead I have her face to remind me. There is an emptiness in my gut where it comes to her. And now that I know she really did leave, I hope to find out what became of her, to speak to her about all this.
But so far, nothing.