Archive | July 2013

So much done, so much to do

I look back over the last 15 months and realize how much I’ve accomplished internally, as myself in coming to grips with myself. The externals haven’t changed as quickly as I’d like but I’m coming more and more to grips with who I am and where this road is leading. And I’m happy despite being shunned by some of the people I loved most in this life. I’m sad at the same time but I know that I have to be true to myself, that I can no longer go on living the lie they expected me to live, solely for their sakes. And that if me being honest and authentic drives them away, I will mourn that loss but not let it deter me from finding myself.

There are days I look in the mirror and smile at what I am beginning to see. There are days I look in the mirror and despair. The thing that gets me most often still is the facial hair. I can’t do much about the male pattern baldness other than see how much grows back under HRT but the facial hair I can address and now it’s a waiting game. I want to have the funds for two consecutive trips to E3000 in Dallas saved before I start with them because then I can save at a rate that will keep that process moving forward regardless of other events. And I’m almost there. I need to start thinking about scheduling a first visit with them.

I also keep delaying doing my eyebrows or getting my ears pierced. I’m not exactly sure why. I know I am procrastinating on those things. It’s probably fear or public rejection and I need to work through that.

I can pull on a wig and I like everything I see, except those eyebrows and the facial beard shadow. I really think that addressing those will make me feel a lot better about myself pretty quickly so from here it’s a matter of resolving to do what I need to do.

And as an addendum to my prior post, about how we as a community can’t “go back”, I would add the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

I aim to treat everyone around me as kindly as I can. But I will not stand idly by while someone tries to suppress me or those like me. When I see trans youth thrown onto the streets by their parents and hear their stories of being unable to find housing or work and being forced to choose the world of drugs and the sex trade, my heart breaks for them. And anyone who says they deserve that fate is someone I’d rather not know anyway.

As a community, we can’t go back

Recently, a transgender child in Maryland was profiled in a few news stories, showing the positive aspects of affirming a child’s gender identity. And shortly after these stories appeared,  a hate group (the American Family Association) began publicly urging that Tyler’s parents be prosecuted for “child abuse” by allowing their child to confirm his gender identity.

Generally, people are accepting but the small yet loud groups like AFA cause problems for those parents who are simply trying to allow their child to figure themselves out. Yet there are some people who, as trans themselves, believe that we don’t need to be publicly visible or politically active. Yet these small minorities have successfully, for years, denied equal human rights to gays, lesbians, and bisexuals as well. And now that we’re more publicly visible, we have become the latest bogeyman of the radical right.

Further, that genie can’t be put back into the bottle. The old way of doing things, sliding under the radar, whether we think it was better or worse, does not matter any more. We can’t go back. More and more health professionals are dealing with more and more transgender individuals who are not choosing to live lives of depression, fear, and mental anguish. And this means that more and more of us will be visible. So the argument that people should have done this or that or gotten this step done before that step (none of which is consistent with advice from medical professionals) is simply an attempt to walk backwards to a time when trans folk were just less visible. And that is not going to succeed. We’ve been noticed by the haters.

We now have two choices – allow them to strip us of rights, to prosecute us for daring to be ourselves, or we fight back. If your position is one that says we should not fight back, legally, politically, and socially, then your position has become one of passively allowing them to try to strip us of our rights, and you are exhibiting signs of internalized transphobia. You’re afraid of who you are, of being seen for who you are, and so you side with those who would dehumanize you.

I’ve met trans folk who identify as right wing Republicans. They mouth and say the same things as these “social conservatives” about everything, including GLB people, except themselves. Somehow, they’ve convinced themselves that they are different, special, and won’t be targeted, dehumanized, and attacked by the radical right. Yet the evidence is right there, in all its public glory, that the radical right is now very aware of those of us who are trans. They’re not going to stop. They’re not going to give up. They are going to keep pushing now until we win these legal battles clearly and authoritatively.

Some trans folks can pine for the “good ole days” when we were mostly not noticed. But we cannot go back. It’s not going to happen. So choose and choose wisely. Either fight for the rights of all trans people, including yourself or be prepared to see yourself ultimately outlawed and criminalized. Because, as the evidence above demonstrates, that is exactly what these people want to do to us.

A Realization

My spouse has been out of town for several weeks visiting family elsewhere. And during this time I came to a startling realization – I am as alone today as I am when she has been here anytime over the last few decades. To be honest, that loneliness has been my own fault, due to the wall I erected around me to keep me safe from the world. It has only been in the process of beginning my transition that the wall has begun to come down. I won’t kid myself and claim it’s all the way down nor do I expect it to ever be all the way down. But now, unlike before, I am actually letting some people see inside that wall for more than just a tiny glimpse.

Realizing that I’ve hidden behind this wall all these years makes me also realize that I’ve not truly lived life but instead existed day to day. I need to reach out more, exist less, and live more. Learning to do that will undoubtedly come in fits and starts. This is one of the things that I suspect older trans folk discover – learning how to not hide from ourselves. It also makes me wonder what a relationship would be like if I could be truly open and honest with someone. At my age, I don’t expect to be fortunate enough to find out but I’ll never say never.

I am also finding that my outlook is slowly changing, from one of a “glass half empty” to a “glass half full” perspective. Part of this is, I believe, the effects of estrogen on the brain and finally getting the right “fuel” rather than the wrong fuel. The random rage episodes seem gone. I worry less. And I am thankful for more small things than I ever remember being.

This makes me miss my mother even more. Was it just last December that she was taken away from us? I regret never being able to come out to her. I really believe that she would have understood and been accepting, after getting over the initial shock.

All of this makes me wonder how much more my perspectives will change as time passes and I become more and more at peace with myself finally. I hope the last 30 or so years of my life are more than the prior 30 years of mere existence.