There are different degrees of intimacy in one’s life. Broadly there’s family, friends and community. When we identify ourselves as trans there is an impact on all these people, greater the closer they are to us.
Acceptance has little to do with politics or religion, at least in our close circles. Such has been my observation, not only in my life but others who have taken the same journey. For some there is this questioning and second guessing that happens. How could I not have seen this? My brother, sister, father, mother, son or daughter is embarking on a one way ride, what if they change their minds? How can I understand what my loved one is going through. What if there’s a cure in the future.
I think it was hard on my sister that she had not known more. She hadn’t seen any signs of my being other than a boy and then a man. After all, I married and had a child, and was a father to her. She asked me many questions, and just had the hardest time balancing doing the right thing and true acceptance. Such is what I think I saw in her.
She is a good person, but we are very different people. The stage of a kind of denial was still there when my spouse and I had Thanksgiving dinner with them in 2013. I had just started hormones the month before.
She asked me “what if they can cure this in ten years”. My answer to her, as it is to family members of a #trans person who might be reading this was quite simple. In the short term there was no other option, and a long term cure, if such a thing were even possible would leave me happy with my choice. I told her honestly that after so many years I would be comfortable being a woman and simply wouldn’t choose to #detransition.
Why do I think this is impossible? Perhaps I should say implausible in the next twenty or thirty years. “Fixing” this would require modifying the person’s brain. There is an ever growing mass of evidence that #gender variance is truly a matter of the person’s brain and body not being in sync. Claimed “fixes” such as conversion therapy may force someone into denial, but does not cure being trans or being gay.
How did it go unseen? The fact was that I was hiding myself and was also in a form of denial for many years. If I couldn’t admit it to myself, how could I possibly tell others. There were signs, but nothing that would have pointed to me being a zebra as it were. I was highly verbal, sharing my emotional state, hardly a male characteristic. I had issues with sexuality for years before I came out.
The truth was that it was always obvious to me that I was trans, I just thought I could hide my core and live my life.
For those who think this is some kind of result of environment there are several reasons to discount that aside from what are often extremely early signs of a child being gender variant. The biological issues I mentioned are one such indepent sign. Those brain differences are not correlated with sexual orientation or the use of cross sex hormones.
Another thought I have, although I’ve never seen this talked about is that it might be another form of #intersex. Intersex can result from genetic variation as well as inactive androgen receptors (see partial and complete androgen insensitivity syndrome) and other reasons. Why couldn’t it be caused by some variation on this?
Another huge piece of evidence is what has happened due to the treatment of intersex children. They have traditionally been altered and raised as girls. However, a substantial percentage (much higher than the incidence of trans people in the population) spontaneously declare themselves to be male.
There is furthermore many cases where the child was discouraged from expressing their gender variance or just lacked any sort of unusual environmental influence.
For those who want to understand our feelings I would say that it is impossible to really, fully understand how we feel. It is a situation that is unique. Instead, empathize that trans people are supremely uncomfortable as they are without intervention, and try to just understand the pain. We rarely torture ourselves with not fully understanding other problems, this is just not very different.
It may also be helpful to remember that the cure is much better than the alternatives. The rate of attempted (and successful) suicide among trans people is really quite shocking. Wouldn’t you rather your brother become your sister if the alternative is a graveside service?
It often seems to those close to us that the “cure” is so extreme. At the least it usually involves #HRT, but many need reassignment surgery to be comfortable. More would do so if it weren’t for money issues, and will as exclusionary clauses in medical insurance.
The most important thing I can say is that we don’t need your understanding as much as we need your love and support. We need your tolerance for a difficult time in our lives, one which often causes an inward turning at the exclusion of the care of others. In that it is not so different from other serious conditions. Let us be thankful that in modern times there is an effective way to treat this.