Since transitioning, more and more truths bubble to the surface as the weeks and months tick by. Having come up on the three-year mark, I've noticed some trends, assumptions or misconceptions that I thought I could address and clear up. Rather than writing from the "don't do or say these things" voice that speaks for everyone and no one, I'm writing to YOU about ME.
Did I not cover something else you're interested in hearing more about? Do write me a sentence with the subject line: OTHER TRUTHS and your question. I'm collecting ideas and questions.
Here we go!
- I don’t identify as male
That's right. I don't. Since transitioning, I do identify as a transgender person, because that's what I am. If there was a third socially acceptable pronoun to use, one that was widely used and convenient, I would choose and use it. For now, I tolerate "he/him/him" because it feels more right than "she/her/hers". Many people keep commenting on my pictures putting me in the "other box" but it's not who I feel or know myself to be. I wasn't female before and I'm male now: I was ALWAYS transgender.
2. My family does not support me or my decision
Someone came up to me at a panel I sat on and congratulated me on all my career and personal success. "Your mother must be so proud," she said. Unfortunately, it's not so. My family severed communication with me around 2009 and haven't really responded when I've reached out since. I try to connect with my mom here and there and have hope that she'll get some support but I'm not sure. I don't feel animosity or anger toward any of them, but it's important to me that people know the truth because it's a huge part of my transition process. It's something many people fear when making a major life change and I hope my truth will help people make choices despite the opinions of others. And live lives they love despite the absence or disapproval of their family of origin. It's an unfortunate challenge, indeed, but not impossible.
3. I wasn’t born in the wrong body
While I did have a procedure to alter my physical form, I don't feel I was born in the wrong body. I lived quite happily for most of my life and then, when it felt time to change things a bit here and there, I did that. I wasn't "wrong" and now I'm "right", I'm just a bit more comfortable. Both trans and cis people use this narrative which underscores the truth of us all being works in process, especially our relationships to our physical selves. Ask yourself when your body became a battleground? The parts of my body that bugged me before STILL bug me but I'm not going to chase the dangling carrot of perfection for the rest of my life. I'm content, for now, as much as I can be on a daily basis. A bit more, and a bit less than my whole life. If or when I feel compelled to change anything else, like adding more tattoos, I will.
4. It didn't make me perfect
Just because I share my story, which is rare compared to some, in positive ways as often as I can, I am not perfect. I see people casting me in this incredibly favorable light but trust me, I have bad, very bad, days and I often feel very discouraged, frustrated and angry. It annoys me that people ask me for free advice or send me news stories of other transgender people but don't lift up my voice by sharing my blog posts or invite me to their workplace to give a training. I put a ton of pressure on myself to be rather Jesus-like about this and sometimes I let myself feel exploited or victimized or tokenized more often than is productive for me. And then I let that go and I phone a friend (trans or cis) and sauté some kale or read a book and go back to being a human being. I'm a work in progress, trying to take care of myself and treat others well, just like everyone else. Well, those who are trying to do those things, of course.
5. I struggle with being objectified.
I always felt like an ugly duckling. As a young person, I wasn't sought out for dates or relationships. I was pretty asexual throughout high school and college. It wasn't until my early 20s that I began to experience myself as "attractive" to other people. Since transitioning, I struggle to know or trust that the comments or compliments people make are genuine or coming from fetishizing me as a rare or unique transgender person. Also, it makes me sad because I'd rather be celebrated for my character traits than my physical appearance. But human beings objectify people, we sort and categorize because we are genetically and biologically hardwired to do it. And we do it for certain people who match certain acceptable cultural norms and every time someone compliments me, my heart hurts for people who don't receive the same compliments for physical traits they can't control.
6. I've never been undressed by more people.
It's true. Since transitioning, I've never before experienced so many people undressing me with their eyes or checking out my body during conversation. Having never experienced this in my former identities, I find it amusing, mostly because people think I am not smart or savvy enough to notice. A surprising amount of glances go to my chest and nether-regions and it catches me off-guard most of the time. I wonder if cisgender people do this with other cisgender people as often, if they are as deeply curious about "what lies beneath". Do they realize the wide variety that occurs with human anatomy of all beings, trans or not, and ponder it during networking events, lunches, presentations and meetups? Do they? I wonder. Interesting stuff!