I am transgender. I am in the process of physically transitioning into a man after living for many decades as a woman filled with shame, guilt, confusion, depression and dread. My transitioning has been filled with sunshine, fresh air, freedom, truth and acceptance for the first time in my life. For the first time, I can finally truly be the person that I am. It has brought me an amazing sense of joy, contentment and peace within myself.
The journey of becoming myself has been a very long and crooked road that had many wrong turns, potholes and dead ends. During the journey, there were also pit stops as well. I still have baggage, but I am carrying a much lighter load these days.
I began to realize that I should have been born in a male body after serious reflection on my life and trying to make sense out of it after my mother passed away and my daughter became an independent adult. I was exhausted from the old ‘scripts’ in my head that told me I was stupid, incompetent, ashamed of what I thought and felt, and scolding ‘scripts’ that kept me frozen emotionally. I saw myself like an onion, and when I began peeling back the layers, I came to the realization that I really was in the wrong gender body. I was surprised by this core fact, but also not surprised. This became the place where I could begin a new life.
My journey, then, began with the onion. And I had no clue what to do when I came to the realization that I was transgender. Although this is a huge fact to realize, it is an entirely different thing to know how to proceed. I did have a choice. I could ignore this new information about myself. After all, I had lived many decades the way I was. Or I could find a new way to live. Not only did I have to do that, but I had to try to find words to be able to talk about it. When so much of myself had been hidden for so long, (even to me), it is difficult to know how to express these new/old thoughts, feelings and ideas.
Besides trying to verbally express these ideas, it was the need to check (and double check) my past with this new-found information. This meant reflecting on my past with new eyes. I have been continually remembering past events of my life. For the first time, I can look at my past with a fresh perspective. And I continue to do this process.
I wondered if I just thought I was transgender without really being a true transgender person. Did my parents just really want a boy and convey that to me emotionally? Had I been sexually abused and blocked out all memory of it? What would I gain by physically changing to a man? What would I have to do to actually do that? Is that even a ‘thing’?
By exploring my past, I realized that many of the uncomfortable, confusing, guilt and shamed parts of my life were actually primarily transgender related. I have come to realize that dating men (and even being married to one for four years) felt so awkward and uncomfortable because I am actually a heterosexual man. I don’t hate men, I actually really like them, because I am one. However, I am not sexually attracted to them. I had thought that I had to like men in a sexual way because I was in a woman’s body (I grew up in the 1950’s).
I have to say that two of the most important things I have done for my transition is to find a good therapist to help me better understand being transgender and secondly, to meet other transgender people to talk to. This has given me the words I need in order to express my thoughts, emotions and give support to my journey. It is amazing how much I now have to say about being transgender and transitioning. The peace that I felt the moment it was clear to me that I had finally found myself was so profound, that I had no choice but to continue toward doing more substantial things towards transitioning. Deep in my soul, I knew that I was on the correct path. And I became greedy for more clarity, more peace and more sunshine.
So I had a new beginning: new words, and release of old, useless, worn out, damaging baggage. Now what do I do? I had thought when I first went to therapy that my therapist would have some sort of a certificate with an official stamp to certify my transgender-ness. She did not have one of those. But what she does have, are words and guidance to steer me through the quagmire of my past that would lead to a new, brighter future. Each physically outward step that I have taken puts me closer to feeling in synchrony with my inside self. Wearing men’s clothes feels right, not carrying a purse feels right (what a relief) and cutting my hair into a man’s haircut all felt so wonderful and natural. It was surprising how easy it actually was to make those changes. I did, living as woman, love shoes and jewelry. However, I was shocked to learn that my jewelry, even though it was expensive, now means nothing to me. In fact, I now believe it was a prop or part of a costume for me to prove to others and myself that I was a girl. I did love my shoes, but I had a talk with them, and now we’re good. I was able to get rid of them, too. Men’s shoes can be mildly exciting. Even cutting my shoulder length hair turned out to really be no big deal. It has been such a relief to shed these outward affectations of gender.
Physically there are other issues that take on a larger meaning. Finding a doctor to administer hormones was a hurdle. As a post-menopausal woman, putting any hormones into my body seemed radical. Testosterone has made me feel like a new person. I’ve also had a double mastectomy and it all feels so natural. I’m scheduled to have ‘bottom’ surgery in a few months. I’m waiting for that with excitement and anticipation. I’m also getting hairier and I love that my face now feels like sandpaper.
It has been amazing to me that all of these changes have just made me feel more comfortable with myself. For the first time in my life, I am beginning to like my body and even my face and can look at myself in the mirror with some satisfaction.
Along with all of the physical and emotional changes I have been going through, I have had legal issues to deal with. I legally changed my name and my gender through the courts, social security and for my driver’s license. I have also had to change my name on property, car titles and credit cards. My latest legal change was changing my birth certificate. I cannot believe how fabulous it makes me feel to see that now my birth certificate matches my true gender. My parents, although both deceased, gave birth to a bouncing baby boy. I think I’m going to frame it.
One of the most difficult issues facing a transgender person is coming out to friends and family. All of the areas of transition that I have mentioned, affect me personally. But the one issue that effects everyone that I know are friends and family. They are important for everyone’s life and every transgender person has to deal with this. There is no way to predict what the reaction of another to the news that I am transgender. As I become more and more physically like a man, discussions were going to be needed with others emotionally close to me.
My first major concern was coming out to my daughter. I have no other immediate family members. I was actually not ready to talk to her about it (I didn’t really have the words, yet) but I told her that 2018 was going to be an unusual year for me. For some reason, she assumed that I had cancer, so we wound up leaving a really great New Year’s Eve party so that I could tell her that her mother was really a man. It went better that I could have hoped in my wildest dreams, and she has been a huge support for me. She even allowed me to be at her wedding in a tuxedo and had me give a toast to her and her new husband. She and her then fiancé insisted on staying with me after my double mastectomy surgery, and plan to help me after ‘bottom’ surgery. I am even grandpa to her cat. I almost declined going to a family reunion because I didn’t know if I wanted to have to ‘come out’ to 40 people that I really don’t know all that well. I did tell a couple of my cousins, they insisted that they still love me and insisted that I attend. I did, they do and they treated me like a guy, but talked to me like I was their cousin. I know that I am lucky, but there is no way I can predict how people will react to me being transgender. I had one ‘friend’ who told me in the nicest possible way that I was going to hell and that being gay and/or transgender are two surefire paths to never having God’s forgiveness or love. We are no longer friends.
I realize that I have forced people who are friends and relatives to deal with their basic beliefs, question sexual orientation in themselves and how they feel about it in a close association with a transgender person. My daughter went to therapy herself, and questioned her own gender. She told me that she is now glad that she doesn’t take her gender for granted, but she knows she is female, likes it and knows exactly who she is.
I really like that. I have made people evaluate their beliefs and feelings towards something that is incredibly radical in many people’s minds and very difficult for cisgender people to understand. There are several things that I know about my journey. It has been extremely rewarding, but also extremely difficult. I am still physically changing and still evolving and learning new things every day. Being transgender is unique and complicated. No person without gender orientation dysphoria would ever go through this amount of chaos to change. And every transgender person that has made changes in their life knows and understands the joy of evolving and growing in ways they can’t even predict, when taking a journey to find and become themselves.
There is an ancient Greek myth about a man named Tiresias who was changed into a woman by the goddess Hera. After many years and children later, Hera relented and changed her back into a man. Greek myths helped people to understand the natural world. Most people are only one sex, but transgender people get to experience both sexes, a very rare and special thing. We see the world from a very unique perspective. In the myth about Tiresias, the gods and goddesses later had an argument about who had the most sexual pleasure – men or women. They decided to ask Tiresias, of course. He declined to give a definitive answer. As a transgender person, I know that what matters the most is just finally being able to be comfortable in my own skin and my realization that for the first time in my life, I am finally free and able to feel like one, whole unified person. And that alone is worth everything.