The Uncanny Self

This morning (here in Bangkok—yesterday evening, I suppose, in her home of New York), Masha Tupitsyn posted a photo of herself, with the accompanying text, “Today I wanted to remember what I look like. It’s been a while.” We then had this brief interaction on Twitter:

Uncanny indeed. It is uncanny to look in a mirror and see a face that looks less like but feels more like the only face I’ve ever known. Things are still fluid and undefined. My face is still pretty swollen and I don’t know quite what it’s going to look like when I’m fully recovered. But right now, I can look at myself and see the things about myself that I’ve always felt connected to—my mouth, my eyes—and it feels as if I can see them somewhat more clearly than I’ve seen them before, like they’re part of a painting that previously was in a frame that obstructed my view of the work, and that the frame’s been changed so that now the work is at least a bit more clearly visible. 

I’ve long felt like an exile in my own body, the pain of gender dysphoria driving my soul into retreat, so that I’ve gone through life distant, detached, almost as an out-of-body experience. And how can you fully connect with others when you’re not even there, inhabiting yourself? During the past few years, I’ve fought to reclaim myself, to inhabit my own life, and things have been much better as a result. Right now, I feel like this was a hugely important step on that journey of finding a home within myself, like I’m letting light into places that have too long been cast in shadow, like I’m seeing myself clearly for the first time.

About ten days after surgery.