Post Transition Arrival
I had a friend recently tell me that I “got everything I ever wanted.” Meaning I had achieved my goals of transitioning and meeting the kind of man I was looking for. I found it interesting and for some reason almost offensive to hear it put that way.
It seemed to trivialize my journey. A journey that was a lifetime of struggle, doubt, fear, pain, and depression. I felt like she was saying, “It was so easy for you.” Let me assure you, this journey has been anything but easy.
I knew from my first conscious memory around age 4 that I wanted to transition. At four years old in the mid-1960s, this was a uniquely strange and ambitious thought. Why I imagined that possibility at such a young age is hard to fathom especially at a time when most people had never even heard of such a thing. But there it was. I fantasized about transitioning every day since then for some 48 years until I found the courage and the means to actually follow through with it.
What does it mean to live that long knowing that one day you plan to transition? It means a lot of things. It means looking for signs of the possibility in everything you see and hear. Every movie about cross-dressing, every song that references androgyny or taking that “walk on the wild side,” Lou Reed sang about. Secretly sneaking home to watch a talk show with female impersonators, stealing a lipstick from my mother’s vanity or a bra and panties off a neighbor’s clothesline. It means shame, deceit and self-loathing.
It means entering into every single relationship including those with your own family anticipating a day when they will disown you when you “come out.” It means keeping things shallow and distant for reasons you can never say to anyone even though you’re dying for a person to be close with. It means isolation and a profound feeling of alienation.
It means endless dead ends and hopes dashed as you age and become more and more masculine and looking in the mirror is like a slap in the face. It means trying to “cure” yourself with ultra-male pursuits, military service or extreme religious beliefs, or austere philosophy. It means hoping a relationship with just the right woman will be everything you require and somehow satiate your own need to feel feminine as a voyeur to their life.
It means failure. Failure as a boyfriend, husband, father, brother, and male role model of any kind. It means constantly feeling like a fraud. Knowing that what you show the world is the opposite of everything that you are.
It means taking risks. It means going shopping for women’s clothes when you know people are looking at you like a pervert or freak. “Size 11 pumps?” It means going into seedy, clubs or bars in scary parts of town and mingling with sex workers, pimps, johns, and drug dealers just to find others like yourself. It means possibly losing everything. Your job, your marriage, your friends, your family, and your children.
It means taking all of those bumps and bruises, self-doubt, insults and embarrassment, and persevering anyway. It means taking drugs without a prescription or doctor's orders. It means buying them in Mexico at a pharmacy where the staff mumble “Jotito” under their breath and giggle. It means hiding and smuggling those same drugs across the border.
It means being divorced and outed by your wife and girlfriends. Being blackmailed and threatened by people you love. It means cutting yourself off from everyone you know and everyone you thought cared for you to make yourself whole.
It means painful and expensive cosmetic surgeries and procedures followed by serious and complicated life-altering abdominal surgery. It means long months of recovery and dilation every day for the rest of your life. It means pouring all your money into something without any financial return. It means giving up buying a home and accepting insecurity. It means lowering or changing your career goals. It means moving a lot and accepting less and less and less to survive. It means possible homelessness.
It means inadequate and uneducated or even disrespectful health care providers. It means being told that “our practice isn’t qualified to take care of your needs.” It means being told, “we don’t rent to Transgender women.” by potential landlords and judgment from other LGBTQ community members.
It means digging even deeper and still trying. Still going forward even though you know that the odds of passing and simply living without constant judgment are almost zero. It means being told that the prognosis of your voice surgery working is 50/50 and doing it anyway.
It means hundreds of hours of electrolysis at $70-$100 an hour. It means still plucking and shaving. It means maybe not ever having a completely feminine hairline. It means walking out the door every single day trying to not worry about being “clocked” or called out or ridiculed for being Trans.
It means being brave.
It means building your confidence up enough to try and find someone who can love you as yourself. It means dating men who just want to fetishize you. It means rejection and possible violence from all men. It means being crazy enough to go on a straight dating site and tell a man that you’re Trans only after the first date. Knowing that you would never have had a first date if he had known. It means being told, “I’m not into that.” Or sometimes something much worse over a dozen times before you meet someone who surprises you and says, “Okay, let’s see how this goes.”
It means crying during intimate moments because you never thought you could ever find something so simple and so right. It means just being a woman in his eyes. It means living your life as a female partner in a relationship after almost 60 years of trying.
So yeah, Perhaps I do have everything I hoped for. But not without profound challenges, disappointments, heartbreaks, anxiety attacks, mental breakdowns, and loss of hope of ever arriving here over and over again. There were seemingly insurmountable barriers at every possible juncture. But I kept climbing and climbing over those razor-sharp obstacles until I could actually see my goal on the other side. And I did finally, finally, incredibly, shockingly make it over to the other side and arrive. Yes, I did. In answer to my friend’s flippant comment, “YES I FUCKING DID!!”