The Transition Transmission: How did this happen?
At the height of a serious drinking problem my wife dropped a bombshell, “I’m sick of this, there is to be no more alcohol in this house from this point on.” She was telling me I had to figure myself out if I wanted to save our marriage. What ended up happening was probably not the result she’d hoped for when levying that ultimatum.
When I’d drink I’d start letting things slip out during our arguments. I’d say things like, “you get to be who you want to be,” or “I need to be flamboyant.” You could say it should have been obvious, but it wasn’t. Alcohol allowed me to feel okay expressing emotions that a man would bottle up; it offered me a glimpse of a life I wanted. Unfortunately that moment was often buried somewhere in the ether of “somewhat buzzed” to “totally wrecked;” thus, the moment was short and fleeting.
I did a lot of introspection when I was told I needed to sort myself out, and eventually I rediscovered the secret that I’d hidden since I was a child. I was a girl. I remember going to sleep every night praying that I’d wake as a girl, and that the world would act as if nothing happened. A few unfulfilled years of that and I became very resentful of God. I’d begun the process of sexual self discovery very early, and it just made things more confusing to me. Eventually I buried the girl and lamentably accepted the boy.
I still struggled to realize who I was. Feeling that I’d never overcome the limitations imposed on me by being assigned male at birth, I’d stare into the mirror and say “I’m Gay;” as if attempting to convince myself. It felt wrong, because for me it was wrong; at the time I didn’t know why. It’s not like I was oblivious to the existence of Transsexuals (as they were called back then), I simply couldn’t fathom it because it was poorly understood, and there are no resources whatsoever (we’re talking pre-internet). In my mind, being Gay would have been less stigmatized, but it still wasn’t something that felt right.
Jump ahead almost 30 years, it’s August 27th 2016. My wife and I had finished dinner; the distress on my face was obvious. I’d hoped to sit down on the couch and talk about this, but the seriousness of the impending conversation had her agitated and she wanted the drama dispensed with. In that moment she thought I was either going to tell her I was Gay or that I wanted a divorce. In retrospect, I think either of those things would have been easier for her to handle. What she got was my confession that I have always felt like a woman, and that I needed to transition.
It’s now been almost 10 months. I started counseling within a week. Wigs, wardrobe, and makeup quickly followed suit. By November 11th, I was out to nearly everyone and living and working full-time as a woman. I will admit that the expediency of that beginning transition was not fair to my wife, although in hindsight, one could argue that not being honest with myself meant never being honest with anyone; it was time to be honest.
This highlights one of the most important aspects of being Transgender; we must reveal ourselves as soon as possible. The thought here is that we may prevent the collateral damage we’d inflict on loved ones by presenting as someone we’re not. The benefit of early revelation is also early affirmation, and that will have positive outcomes on the individual and the entire trans community.
There was no hope for me as a child. Even if I could have summoned the courage to vocalize what I was feeling, the medical establishment did not have a treatment agenda for those of us with gender dysphoria; they hadn’t even coined the term at the time. However, today we have the knowledge and resources to save a Trans child’s life before puberty brings bodily dissociation to levels of suicidal ideations and attempts. These are issues that I too have grappled with for decades.
Right now, our political climate is one that is changing to marginalize us, and force us back into the shadows. There is no better time in history than now to reveal ourselves, otherwise we can only expect to lose much of the progress we’ve gained. We have the power to show the world that living our truth brings us joy, and the wonderful thing about joy is that it’s virulent. When we exist in the world grinning from ear to ear as the people we are meant to be, it will show people a light that they have directly or indirectly affected. That’s the power to change their spirit towards acceptance and love. We cannot hide and expect that the world will freely give rights to those whom are invisible.
That being said, I refuse to glaze over the process of transition. For some it can happen within years, and for others it’ll be a process we work toward until we die. I want to hug you all and say it won’t be a painful process, it won’t result in fractured families, or dead friendships. But I cannot lie, those things can happen. In those instances you need to remind yourself that another person’s disconnect from your struggle is a problem that they are dealing with. If removing them from your life creates peace for them, then it will eventually create peace for you. Be strong, and stay your course. No one has the right to tell you who you are or who you need to be. Let them worry about themselves. And never forget that if a person’s love for you has conditions, then it’s simply not love.
The compulsion to withhold your being is derived from fear, fear of loss, rejection, joblessness, homelessness, assaults, harassment, you name it. Understand that fear can control you or it can empower you. But no one ever reached the summit of any mountain while fearing they’d die before they reached the peak. We are all scaling a mountain, and I’ve got news for you; we all die at the end. So ask yourself, do you want to do nothing only to die without any sense of achievement or fulfillment? Or are you going to live your life honestly, casting aside the fears that hold you back, and ultimately reach your end knowing you’ve lead the best life you could?
I still have fear, but I know that when I die it’ll be as the woman I am, and not the man I was told I needed to be. There is a peace in that which I’ve never felt before, and regardless of where you fall into the spectrum, I wish the same for you.