Starting some ten to fifteen years ago, and it really is to hard to know exactly when at this point in time, I had a growing awareness of being really unsettled about my gender expression. In my young adulthood I always felt a complete fraud as a man, but to some extent I thought that might just be the newness of the label, but then I just really felt uncomfortable.
At that point I was still ok in terms of mood, but I had bouts of insomnia. Not all the bouts were related to gender, I had a job that had significant financial issues, so I always worried if the job would be there when I next arrived for work. I quite literally would get sick, sometimes seriously so, when I’d go on vacation. I never made a more intelligent change than leaving that company, it really helped my health.
From time to time I’d spend time browsing the web for information about reassignment surgery. I got to know who the well known surgeons were, and got to marvel at the quality of their work. I very much wanted to get in line for it, but then there was my spouse and our child and the impact on both of them to consider. Shame and guilt are powerful opponents and I wasn’t strong enough to see past them.
I suffered in careful silence and carefully erased my online tracks lest my spouse find out what I was researching.
As the next few years went by we found ourselves taking care of a parent in their declining years, a time consuming and tiring job. Perhaps that made the depression less evident, I probably just thought I was down for dealing with care giving.
After my parent passed away and a normal time of grieving had come and gone I found I was still quite depressed and that was the beginning of the end of my silence. Every day, every hour, constantly I would think about finally transitioning and becoming a woman. I was more and more depressed day by day, more and more desperate to resolve the internal struggle.
Finally I reached a crisis point at a deep point of untreated clinical depression and came out to my rabbi and then my spouse and found help.
If you are reading this and you think you cannot come out because of shame, because of guilt, because of what you think people will say or do, please come out anyway. Far too many of us seek refuge in substance abuse or directly try to end their lives because of these conflicts.