Fear of seeing myself Pre-Transition
It’s hard to admit, but I have a very difficult time looking at old photos of myself prior to transition. It’s shocking. Even jolting. There’s something horrible and visceral about it. It’s also hard to believe that that person was ever me. It’s as if I’m a creature that had an ugly fifty year larval stage before going through a metamorphic change to adulthood.
How strange and sort of sad. To not want to see images from 50 years of my life. Fortunately my childhood was pretty rocky and we didn’t have smart phones, so I’m not burdened by the abundance of images of myself younger people are. But I still come across photos from time to time. Each time it literally feels like a cold slap in the face and I am forced to remember. “Oh yeah, there was a life before this one as Genivieve!” As if I’m in a science fiction movie where the protagonist lives multiple lives and occasionally has flashbacks of a former life on another planet.
The saddest part is that many of the images also include my children. I was their father. I was very happy and proud to have that role. They still honor me with that title. Each of my two children asked me how I wanted to be addressed after transition. I said, “I am and always will be your father no matter what my exterior looks like.” They’re both considerate about changing “Dad” to “Gen” when we’re in public. I am extremely blessed by having such wonderful children. But still, looking at old photos of myself with them is shocking for me. Videos are even worse. Something feels inherently wrong about that, but I can’t help it. That person was deeply depressed and when I see images of him it reminds me of how bad I used to feel inside.
Not surprisingly, my boyfriend doesn’t want to see photos of me either. I’m glad to keep them from him, but that also feels strange. I don’t want his mind poisoned by the knowledge that this woman once appeared outwardly male. He clearly feels the same way. And I wasn’t just male, but sort of “Uber” male. I won’t get into the details but it’s no surprise that people I knew well before transition don’t recognize me. I just want my new relationship to move forward on the timeline. We both want it to work, but is it a major fault that we both want to pretend like I have no past? Like some mythical animal I imagine myself a creature that hatched as a complete adult 7 years ago.
It’s hard not to notice how problematic and dysfunctional this thinking is, but it’s how I live. The oddest part is that I accept it as my life. I am who and what I always wanted to be. If I have to do some occasional psychological gymnastics to make sense of my situation, I accept it as a worthwhile trade for a happier existence. A little constructive self deception for a better reality? I imagine it’s not really so unusual!