I was on the phone with my girlfriend C this morning, sympathizing over some pain she’s having. Aside from trying to get her to take it even easier it wasn’t about fixing the problem, it was about comforting my friend. So I’m thinking, wow, I’m not the person I was.

When I was D, I was a relatively sensitive man. I liked romcoms and cried at sappy movies. Yet I was still a guy. As I explained to C this morning, guys express connection and connectedness in different ways in their friendships than women, and generally don’t have the constant sort of contact girlfriends engage in. Yet when times are difficult there will be sharing and bonding with guys, it just takes the form of ripping down a wall or fixing the car, or some other shared guy experience.

When D finally admitted that there was something there that needed to be acknowledged, he just thought that he’d take some hormones and have some surgery and be D as a girl. He didn’t really understand and he hadn’t realized that he was in some sense a  mask for a woman that was waiting to appear. This took awhile to happen.

Slowly D realized there was this feminine voice inside that wanted out, a feminine expression that demanded the ability to be heard and seen. Yet D was still in control. I remember too well a therapy session with my wife where she was crying and I was blissfully not aware until my therapist made a  motion and I actually looked.

When Rachel first started appearing was probably when she was able to be seen and heard. I still didn’t think much of the “true self” idea at the time. I started realizing that D wasn’t really me. D was a role I had been playing since I was a teen. D protected the real me from the world and kept me safe. Yet D also kept me from being real.

As Rachel grew stronger I began to realize that she was the real me, the person who had lived hidden in a dark corner, force to speak in the darkest whispers in hopes of being heard just a little bit. Through this the words “true self” took on real meaning.

It is sad to say that D is mostly just in my memory these days. He was a useful guy to have around. I wish him well in his golden years living his days out as a cluster of neurons in my brain.

We talk about transition, and transition is important, but ultimately what we really need is transformation, that mental journey that lets us entirely identify with the gender we are going to live or are now living as.

When it comes to social interaction, it is this transformation that will tell people if you’re male or female. It isn’t a matter of hewing to some ideal stereotype either. It’s that the transformation embodies all the rules, self image, and other hard to identify aspects of being male or female. Frankly if it were just about appearance this all would be pretty easy.

Don’t ask me why or how I’ve become what I’ve become. I can’t explain it. This was  never really a conscious effort on my part. The old me wouldn’t have lit up like a Christmas tree seeing a friend’s nearly grown up daughter or a woman I’ve not seen in a year or more. What’s important to me now is much less about material things than it used to be.

I’m glad to be the person I am now. Warmer, more balanced, more concerned and giving. It is a better life to lead.


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