The Loss of the pre-transition self

I was speaking to my ex today. She’s the mother of my two children. We occasionally sit and talk about our children now without any weird feelings or animosity. We are just two parents sharing our concerns and joys regarding our now adult babies. We respect each other and are sensitive to the other’s feelings. We don’t jab or undermine each other. We are both safe to bring up challenging topics without the other reacting negatively.

Today we discussed the loss of my pre-transition self. She brought it up because my niece and her family had just visited. Apparently, they were looking at old pictures and many of them included me as the Uncle and father I once was. My ex said, “we cried.” She was careful to add, “not because we aren’t supportive or happy for who you are now, but we did lose Jerry. And he was wonderful too.” She went on to explain that they all love Genivieve and all that I am now, but there have been changes and I am not the same as I had been prior. They were invested in the man they knew in ways even they hadn’t completely understood. It was a loss. Not a death, but in some ways similar.

I listened as she explained, attempting not to offend me and I took it all in. I won’t say it was surprising because I lived through the pain of transitioning my children and my family to the point we have arrived. There have been many tears along the way. It hasn’t been easy, but it was a necessary part of the journey. I acknowledged her loss and certainly understand. I myself hardly recognize the person I was before. My physical appearance, mannerisms, behaviors, expressions, and interests have evolved day by day over the years since transitioning into a place where I bear little resemblance to that man. He is gone. Not 100%, but enough to feel like he was someone else.

As Shakespeare said that sleep, “is the little-death,” so transitioning is perhaps a more permanent loss of a loved one while they still exist on this planet. I feel no remorse or shame for what I needed to do, but it would feel insensitive and disingenuous to not acknowledge the truth my ex-wife shared with me. Jerry was indeed lost when I transitioned. RIP Jerry.




Genivieve is a Transgender Artist living in Santa Barbara California.

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Genivieve is a Transgender Artist living in Santa Barbara California.

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