A number of people have mentioned to me, upon reading my recent update, that things seem to be going fantastic with me. And in a sense they’re absolutely correct. However, lest I mislead, I feel I need to add just a bit of context to the vibe of that post.
Things are going fantastically, wonderfully, amazingly better than I ever expected they could… as far as my transition itself. I am not exactly living the life of Riley. I’m pretty sure most people wouldn’t trade the life they have right now for my “fantastic” life in transition. It looks pretty darned good to me because I can measure it by my previous misery. I worry some people don’t understand that context.
I mention this because there seems to be a lot of horrible advice being given to gender confused people out there which plays far too casually with basic quality of life issues. So I thought it might be helpful for me to put “fantastic” in my world into context for others.
In my world things are fantastic because…
- The spouse I have always loved, have always been faithful to, and with whom I share three children… didn’t leave me or divorce me.
- My children still love me and include me in their lives.
- I didn’t lose my job.
- My parents have not disowned me.
- I am able to go about basic daily tasks in public without being regularly mocked.
For those who aren’t familiar with many transition stories, you might take this stuff for granted. Shouldn’t everyone be able to assume count on these things? Why is this even worth a mention?
But for those more familiar with the average gender transition the above list probably looks like I’m bragging. There’s not a single item I mentioned above which is a given for a person in transition. In fact I’m pretty sure I’m in a distinct minority for at least three of them. Possibly all five.
Gender transition rips away everything you might have once taken for granted. I can say that until I’m blue in the face but most people can’t grasp exactly what that means. It means you’re tasked with rebuilding your life from the ground up.
It starts with an inventory like you’d imagine having to take after surviving a natural disaster. Did you have a spouse and family? Better check to see that they are still there. Friends? Better track them down to see. Place to live? Check again. And, again like in a disaster, often unseen damage has been done to the foundation. Things that seemed solid upon the initial inventory can teeter and collapse later on when you don’t expect it. My initial inventory went well. A still took lot of hard work to repair things that were obviously damaged. Later on I suffered some unexpected losses, cursing myself that I didn’t notice the cracks in the foundation earlier. But all in all, I consider myself one of the lucky survivors.
After the initial inventory you have to look into the things that constitute living, rather than simply surviving. You’re like a stranger, dropped into the middle of someone else’s life. How many of the things around you still make sense now that it’s YOU sitting in the middle of all of it? In my own case I’ve found myself looking back into my late teens and early twenties when I started making the decisions which would shape my life. So many choices were made out of a desire to meet certain gender role expectations and to hide my true nature. Now I’m living a life built upon the consequences of those choices. Does it all really fit me any more? Sorting it all out is perplexing and leaves me feeling very much the confused teenager once again. But, in my case, it isn’t wildly wrong. Some minor adjustments here, a few larger ones there, and I think I’ll have a good and fulfilling life. Considering the odds, that makes me feel fortunate. It doesn’t mean I’m there yet.
My point is, I’m not measuring my quality of life by conventional standards. I’m counting things others take for granted as huge wins. I’m not doing this because I assume my life must suck. I’m doing it because it’s not realistic at this time to measure myself by non-trans standards of well being. Transition requires a forceful reinvention of an entire life. It’s a gut-wrenching process during which every aspect of your life is continually at risk. If you come out of it alive, that’s a win. That’s not my philosophy, that’s reality.
Right now I’m still in the midst of my reinvention. I still feel like an outsider looking in on a lot of lives that look so close to what my own should look like. It feels more and more natural, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still struggling to emulate the appearance of normalcy. Because my emulation doesn’t entirely suck, things are going better for me than others in my situation. But the emotional part… feeling like I belong… that’s still a ways away. And the distance hurts. Every day.
But hey, I have hope. It doesn’t feel like I’ll never get there. It just feels like it’s going to take years… and this is after spending years to get this far. I heard a fairly well adjusted trans woman say it took her about seven years to feel like she was truly finished with her transition. Even though I’m a ways from there yet, my gut tells me that time period seems about right. I’m pretty sure I’ve got the basic stubbornness to see me through. But I’d hate to imagine someone who went into this for the wrong reasons observing their own state of life about now.
And that’s the deeper context for my transition at this point. I’ve got a lot behind me, but loads still ahead. The day I’m simply comfortable in my skin, and no longer think of myself as a trans-anything but rather just a woman, that’ the day I get to use the same standard of “doing fantastic” as the rest of the world.