There's a comment on one of my blog entries from a couple of weeks ago that I'd like to respond to. I'd write this person back directly if I knew who they were, but it's probably worthwhile to share some of it here.
You mentioned emails from people new in their transition. I don't know how alone in your head you were once you faced who you were and needed to be, but I do know for myself. I'm totally on my own and have no one to bounce any thoughts of. Any time that I've reached out to one of the more seasoned veterans of being transgender, I get absolutely no response. It is a very scarey place to be. We often get stuck trying to validate even our own right to want a better gender role. I love your blogs and that you still reach out to us little girls, so to speak. It is ok to answer people and if needed set ground rules about not being a substitute for needed counseling. But, each of the newbies is undoubtedly in a very difficult place and with very few people they can turn to. Thanks for continuing to pay it forward through your book, website, and blogs. You perform a tremendous service to the world.
First, I do know what it's like to be alone. Alone has become a good friend.
We won't even count all the years growing up, unable to articulate all this to anyone. Or married to a woman I very much loved, starting a family, yet knowing something about myself that could ruin it all. That's a given for many of us...
Some of it was the reality of beginning the process that led to transition in 1996 or so. It was a very different world at that time as the internet had only started to connect people willing to share their experiences online. Another part was my own internal isolation, the fear of discovery, and the singificant wall I had built around myself. Those barriers were every bit as real as anything physical or tangible.
I've watched it happen over and over again - people transition, they get involved in the community to some degree, and then they fade away. Why? Because life goes on. They've moved on to other things. Their lives fill up with relationships, careers, pursuits, and the general stuff that fills the vacume left by purging the gender demons. I've been criticized for not following a similar path, as though I'm somehow stuck somewhere along the way from here to there.
Truth be told, I'm not stuck. I here for two reasons. First is that I choose to be. And second, because I can balance my other stuff and this stuff fairly well. Sometimes I'm not much of a pen-pal, or I've got other priorities that require both time and attention. Thankfully, most people are appreciative, and patient, of that and remind me from time to time to do something.
But I can only do so much. I'm not much of a pen-pal when it comes to extended conversations. I don't want to become anyone's crutch because sometimes I need to be my own crutch. I'm happy to provide an opinion or a resource - 10 times out of 10m - but I've grown to be very good with boundaries so if you ask me to call you, or answer the same question a half dozen times, or demand too much time I invariable can't deliver. I'm not alone in that.
The best thing I can do right now is live my life, and share that. The good, the bad and the ugly. It'd be easy to try to paint a rosy picture of a bleak situation, or to sugar-coat the tough issues we all face in every-day life. Putting it out there for a world of faceless strangers to judge based on their own agenda, or in a confined context, involves some risk. But the reward of remembering how I felt when Beck Allison would answer my emails, or of being wheeled into the operating room before FFS, or of feeling terror before coming out to my family and my son, or of showing up on my first day at work as Donna - those are uniquely OUR experiences. So only we can provide real-life, first-person, been-there-done-that input.
So - that's what this blog has largely become. Why? That's simple. Because that's what my life is. A blend of a number of complicated things all working together in a mostly-harmonious whole. Difficulties? Of course. Frustrations? Sure. Insecurities? We all do. Frailties? They're what make us human. But to paint a picture that either all black, or all white....it doesn't work like that. But in the end, the theme of my life has become about seizing your own destiny, not being afraid, taking risks, doing, feeling, and being. Most importantly, just know that there is life beyond a gender transition that can, and frequently does, rock your a$$ off.
I really like the paragraph that I recently shared from Dr. Anne Vitale's most recent essay on being post-op. The word she used was bittersweet. I've thought about that for a day now and that's the perfect word. The key, though, isn't whether you focus on the bitter or the sweet. It's the combination that makes it such an important concept.
So - back to my original point. Things change. People come and go in our lives. Part of being resilient is being forced to test your creativity and your patience. "Old timers" move on, and others take their places. Skype, Facebook, Meetup groups, regional conferences, supportive therapists and all kinds of other things have replaced the crude tools that we had way back when. It's all simply part of the chain.
As for me. I'm not going anywhere. I'm not as involved as I once wash, but I'll never be invisible. That boat sailed a long time ago. I doubt I'd want to be even if I could at this point. But Anne Vitale's use of the term "hide-in-plain-sight" was exactly what I've always wanted. Just to be me, without having to be any one thing but at the same time not being afraid or ashamed. That's my Nirvana. It might now work for others and that's certainly fine. It works for me and I'm the only one who gets a say.
I'm glad I can continue to add value. Who knows how long it will last? I don't. I'm just going with the flowing. Welcome to my world....
Last night a group of us from work went of for drinks and munchies. We've got a great group of people. I posted a photo of us on FB, and here's a similar but different second picture. I'm smiling more. A secret between me and the few people who read this: The reason I didn't post it on FB is because you can see thru the dress more so some of the naughty bits are more prominent. At least, it seems that way to me. :)
Speaking of naughty - there's report of an incident involving Mitt Romney during Prep School. Apparently, he didn't like some other students hair so he had some kids forcibly hold this student down while he cut the kids hair with scissors (story here). Are you kidding me? I realize that his happened a long time ago, but at what point do we pardon people for their youthful transgressions? More important, though, is the arrogance involved in thinking he could even do this in the first place. That's what I feel from him. Arrogance. Some things change. Other's don't.....
As mentioned yesterday, recent remarks by high-ranking White House folk forced the president to do something I'm quite sure he would have eventually done anyway (story here). It's being reported that Biden apologized to the President (story here) for forcing his hand. I personally think he's going to owe Biden a huge thanks later on. I suppose time will tell.
The trans-filled news parade continues. In the past 24 hours, the singer of an apparently well-known punk group came out as trans and indicated she'd be transitioning (story here), and it's already turning into another visible social education moment (see CBS story here). Argentina passed sweeping trans-supportive laws (story here). The outgoing student body president at American University came out very atriculately as trans (story here).
Finally for tonight, I'm thinking back to this time in years past. Last year on this day I had just driven 600 miles with the dogs to Charleston to start my new job the next week, and to lay the roots here that are now growing deeper by the week (blog entry). That was a year ago?!
The irony is that two years ago today I was getting ready to come to Charleston to extricate my remaining roots here after tumultuous weeks highlighted by some jaw surgery (blog entry). Yuck. It was a crazy time, and when I finally left here afterwards I never expected to be back. It's funny how that happens sometimes.
That sucked. The moral of the story: Don't forget where you've come from. It makes where you're going all that much sweeter.