In my prior post I talked about how I spent the year before I came out obsessing over transitioning. There was really no question what my heart wanted, but things are rarely so simple. Life in middle age is complex, I had a spouse, a dependent child in college, a job where I wasn’t sure what would happen. All together I didn’t feel encouraged. On the other hand I felt like if I didn’t address my gender issues in some way that I would end up in more serious straits.
I started my relationship with my therapist by asking, can you make this go away? I knew the answer but I had to ask. I knew that I had shattered the cage that kept me from being myself and could never go back.
Then started months of work. Shame, guilt and acceptance are all difficult issues to overcome. Maybe others don’t deal with all of them, but I did. Shame built the iron bars that kept the real me locked away. Shame burned me when I wanted to say something that might have been perceived as feminine. Shame is an awful thing, and so it had to go.
To combat shame I came to see gender identity as something built into me and in particular my brain. I realized this isn’t a path I chose but a roll of the dice. What is there to feel shame about? Months.
Guilt, guilt is a damaging emotion and I had plenty of reason. Our marriage was long and she had not signed up to have her husband become a woman. It was that guilt that had kept things at bay for ten years or so. I knew it was there, but I pushed it down and piled weights on it. Except late at night when I had insomnia and read up on SRS.
Then there’s acceptance. Acceptance is a real problem. First you need to accept that you’re trans, and accepting that in your heart is difficult even though you may be denying a truth you’ve been living for decades and probably most of your life. Then you find that you need to cross dress to be comfortable, and you’ve grown up in a society that says men shouldn’t do that, that you should feel shame. When that happens it is hard to find acceptance.
Maybe you know that it isn’t the clothing that brings peace, you actually need to change your whole life, you need to transition, a mountain looms in front of you. Even after you’ve made the decision, for months and months after you’ve started hormones, you keep having to recount why you’re doing this, why you don’t have a choice or at least the other choice was to either be dysfunctional or some other terrible outcome.
As you move along this journey, one of self discovery, that is exciting, frustrating, painful, novel, and hopefully fulfilling the need you have. If you have a good mindset your expectations are limited. Transition can only address this one single issue that’s going on. It’s an important one to be sure, but it is only one. If you have other troubles, they’re still going to be there. Further, transitioning at a later age is not going to turn you into a 20 year old much less a model.
A successful transitioner is one who expects to still be the same person but without gender dysphoria, who continues to work on her other issues, strengths and weaknesses as time goes by because life doesn’t stop while you’re taking estrogen to change yourself. A successful transitioner is one who realizes that a huge part of their change is mental and not physical. The physical is welcome but is somewhat limited, but with the mental, ah there you have something profound.
After all, what makes somebody a man or a woman? It is too facile to say it’s the genitals or the presence of breasts and hips. Do the thought experiment. If something terrible happened and you no longer had your genitalia, would you not still be the gender you are now?