I have battled fear my whole life. As you might imagine as a gender non-conforming person growing up in the 1960’s, I had a good deal to be afraid of.
My coping mechanism to manage both my fear and my gender issues was to create a cocoon where I would be safe. It kept me safe but at a cost. In later years, that coping mechanism morphed into a wicked sense of humor.
Fast forward 40+ years and I shed the cocoon and am exploring my life for the first time as me. It is wonderful, exciting and liberating. It’s also terrifying.
I feel sad, angry and disappointed in my search for work. The people who before would welcome me with open arms are now suddenly busy, or polite but not helpful. Adding to those feelings is the universal praise for my work – just not a desire to hire the person who did those things. That is frustrating. To have people say what a talented, creative person I am, or how much they enjoy my writing, or how funny my radio demo tape is – all are nice things to hear, but don’t put food on the table.
In the daily journal I keep, I started marking off the number of days since I shed all vestiges of my male identity and began presenting as female 100% of the time, no matter what. The “No matter what” part seems obvious to me now, but back then it wasn’t. There were times I was really scared.
The first day I went full-time was also the day I lost my job, so it’s one of the happiest days of my life and also one of the worst, all at once. I’d only been on hormones for about 3 months by then, my hair was not very long at all and I wasn’t all that confident in my presentation, so going to places like the auto repair shop where I had to interact with people and then sit in a waiting room was pretty frightening to me. I might be OK if I walk through a crowded supermarket, but if you have 30 minutes to stare at me in a well-lit waiting room, I’m going to get read.
I did it anyway.
Even using the restroom was intimidating so I often just held it until I got home.
So as I look at that number of days since day one that is in my journal, I also am reminded of just how long I’ve been out of work. 290 Days as of January 26th, 2014. I’d just as soon get back to work and instead look at that number as something positive, representing something that I’ve fought for and accomplished.
The point of this post is not for me to bellyache. I’m sure I’ll be fine. (I sure hope so!) The point I’m illustrating is for those who are reading this who are either just beginning transition or are even just considering it – the message is, be sure. Because transition is the hardest thing you will ever do, and then some! There are so many things you won’t think of.
I would never try and talk you out of it, not if that’s who you really are. Just be ready and go into this with your eyes wide open. You stand a good chance of losing everything. Prepare yourself for that, then, when you don’t lose everything, celebrate what you have!
One thing you will have for sure, is YOU. There will be many times when you are afraid. Do it anyway.
I now know 2 trans* girlfriends who kept their marriages. That is awesome. I’m sure there are more, but the majority, don’t. I just witnessed another divorce being finalized this past week from someone I know. Sitting in the clerks office watching the process saddened me because I remember the day I got married and thought it would last forever.
You will have doubts – everyone does. I just talked to a girl today who wonders about her appearance and her voice. It will happen, that day will come.
As I enter my second year on female hormones and near one-year living full time, so much has changed. Physically, mentally, emotionally and legally, pretty much everything in my life is different from one year ago, even my legal name and gender. Much of that has been new and exciting, but a lot of it has been unpleasant. Like anything else in life, you treasure the good things and use the rest as valuable life lessons. You have to “Just Keep Swimming.”