On the Nature of Bravery & “Slow” Progress

My long silence on the blog is due to making very little progress with my transition (stay tuned, big news on that front later in this post). It’s been a tumultuous time for trans people in general, however. The current administration has abdicated its authority to protect trans kids in our school citing “state’s rights,” something that seems very important to them when it comes to protecting vulnerable kids, but not so important when it comes to legalizing marijuana. We’ve also lost more trans women of color to murder, which is heartbreaking and terrible.

And since my intent with this blog is, quite selfishly, to talk about me and my transition, not trans issues at large, I’ve stayed silent here and very active on FB (and to a lesser degree, Twitter).

And hey, speaking of my transition, you know that the trans in transgender is not referring to my medical transition right? I am a transgender woman, meaning my gender – female – does not match the gender I was assigned at birth – male. I am choosing to undergo medical transition because I suffer body dysmorphia, but if I were not to make that choice, I’d still be a transgender woman with a transgender woman’s body. Gender and biological sex are frequently – and erroneously – conflated and we have more and more scientific evidence that biological sex is every bit a social construct as gender is.

Anyway…

I have, over the last week, stepped up my presentation quite a bit – as you may have noticed from the last two photo posts. The wig and makeup help me a lot psychologically and socially. I feel so damn pretty and it transforms my entire mood, my confidence, and my tolerance for distress.

People have told me that I’m so brave for coming out as trans at the age of 49. And I appreciate the sentiment, I truly do. But I don’t see this as being brave. I’m finally me, I finally am making slow steps towards becoming more me. I’m finally able to hold my head up and meet the world, eye-to-eye, and feel more prepared to deal with whatever it throws at me than I ever did before. I’m now cataloging my painful childhood memories of abuse and filing them away as resolved, all with very little distress and none of the lingering anxiety that marked my previous attempt to do so.

If anything, what took bravery was what I went through for 49 years before I managed to sort out what was going on. Meticulous self exploration, revisiting childhood trauma over and over, trying to make sense of things, trying on labels that didn’t quite fit and undergoing endless hours of self examination to figure out why. Bravery, to my mind, is experiencing the extreme discomfort of fear and moving ahead anyway.

And with the realization that I am a trans woman, I no longer experience the extreme discomfort of fear. Sure, I have moments where I worry about a social interaction with a stranger becoming inappropriate, or even dangerous. I have some moments of mild discomfort when I enter a bathroom in a new space for the first time. But compared to what I experienced daily while trying to identify as male, this require very little bravery at all.

Finally, after weeks of frustrating phone calls about waiting lists at various clinics that can prescribe HRT (hormone replacement therapy), I struck gold! I had resigned myself to waiting the 3 – 6 months before I could begin HRT and four days after buying myself a wig and getting a makeover and makeup tips from MAC to help offset my increasing dysphoria, I called and scheduled an appointment at a recommended clinic for this upcoming Monday! This will be a consultation only, but I have every confidence that I’ll be able to start hormones very soon.

Although it has felt like very slow progress at points over the last several months, in the context of spending the last 49 years trying to identify as male (and not doing a great job of it), things are actually moving along at a decent clip. And while I’m eager for the changes hormones and surgeries will bring, I’m thrilled at the prospect of spending the next 49 years correctly identifying as a woman.