Being transgender is hard. AND it was the best decision I ever made. All of this talk about the difficulties of being transgender can begin to sound a little bleak. It is important to note, in that studies cited, every individual expressed that they did not regret transitioning and felt like they were finally living as their true self. They also expressed that all of the hardship was worth the payoff and that the best times in their life were being honest about who they were through their gender transition. -- Rena McDaniel, How to Cope with Transgender Stress
Finally living as their true self was worth all the hardship.
It’s a powerful position to take, justifying whatever stress, discomfort, aggravation and challenge that being visible as trans in the world costs.
I’m just not at all sure that what I lived without being visibly trans was untrue.
And I am sure that efforts to pass as having gone through puberty as a female are untrue, however much I know my heart to be feminine and my nature to be womanly.
I know myself to have been trans every day of my life and twice on Thursday. And since the mid 1980s, I know that I have been out about that fact, My family knew since I was small, of course, but I have been officially out for at least twenty years, even if I haven’t tried to appear female bodied all the time, instead often opting for a gender neutral presentation.
Does expressing my fashion preferences make me more real than looking bland and neutral? I’m not at all sure that it does. Just wearing some truth on your sleeve doesn’t make it more real than a truth held clearly in the mind, honestly driving your choices.
I have had the experience of a therapist renowned for dealing with transpeople noting that to me, she saw flashes of my feminine heart more clearly when I was in my boy clothes.
While she was afraid I would take this information badly, a sign that my compartmentalization was failing, I understood it to be a success of my goal of integration. I needed much fewer defenses in boy clothes and was able to remove that stick in my butt and relax as who I am inside.
The ‘real, true me” has always been part of who I am and what I express. From when I was 13, I told therapists that my goal was not to be man or woman but rather to be authentically me.
This is a good, actualized spiritual goal, but the it removes the justification that so many transwomen use for appearing femaled, the claim that somehow, this expression and only this expression is the finally true expression of who I am, my true self.
I have always said that my trans expression is my vestments, my work clothes, symbolizing of my spiritual truth. I just don’t think you have to wear your robes to vacuum or run to Walmart.
I live as my true self. I just know that true self is always partly invisible somehow, whichever way I present. I show myself as effectively and honestly as I can everyday on this blog, and while that expression is the best part of my life, it is ultimately not fulfilling.
The bleakness that Ms. McDaniel talks about in her blog post is also very familiar to me. The payoff she speaks of when “finally being your true self” is also familiar, but the payoff doesn’t really carry through to walking in a heterosexist world as a visible transperson.
I wrote about the responsibility that comes with being queer in the world 18 years ago, in 1997. That was after years of trying to understand what truth actually is, working on how to juxtapose the real truth I knew in my heart with the biological truth written on my body. Both had claims to truth and both were to some degree subjective, erasing bits to make classification simpler and more authoritative.
Does “finally living as your true self” make everything a transperson has gone through and will go through alright?
I’ve been living as my true self for a long, long time now and I know it just isn’t that simple.