I’ve thought a lot about what I wanted to say today. I’ve thought so long about it that I’ve practically ran out of time to write it down. I’ll admit that I’m still not sure what it is that I have to say. Or, more honestly, how to say it.
It has been a little over a year since I came out to the world as transgender. I’d like to say a lot has changed in that time, but really?, not a lot has. And yet everything has changed. Mostly in how I react to the everyday experiences of life.
I think there is some kind of expectation that when you come out of whatever closet you’ve been camping in that your life is going change in some radical and fundamental way. And it does. But no one ever really talks about all the things that stay the same–or how they change so slowly you don’t even see the shift from one shape to the next. We don’t see the stories of how after the shock and awe is over…you kinda just have to get on with life.
Which is made a bit more tricky when you still don’t know what that life is supposed to look like.
Some (foolishly naive) part of me expected that coming out would solve if not all of my problems, then at least a good few handfuls of them. I spend too much time in bookland, probably, wherein my coming out would be the catalyst for my grand adventure of love and daring-do. Life, unsurprisingly, doesn’t seem to work like that.
Being transgender is a balancing act, for me.
When people think about transgender individuals, we tend to imagine the two extremes. The beginning and the end. Coming out and then finally “passing.” All the messy middle bits are the just the struggle transgender people must go through in order to finally be free and happy and whole. It’s the bit of the motivational YouTube video where you get the fastforward of selfies showing the change from one extreme to the next.
As someone who still looks like a before and not an after, it can be a bit disheartening.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have body issues, and most of them not even related to gender-dysphoria. Being not all that comfortable or ready to undertake steps to medically transition, but also knowing that there isn’t a whole lot I can do to make my body appear more masculine without that medical intervention, means that I can’t really stop being misgendered every time I leave my house. So while I am mostly comfortable in my skin while with my family, every interaction outside of that is going to be a struggle between coming out to random strangers, or just accepting that this is how things are just going to be. ‘Till…whenever.
To be transgender but not currently transitioning is complicated. To say the least.
Applying for jobs, using public restrooms, even just navigating introductions as to my exact relation to family members (Yes, she is my mom No, I am not her daughter…cue confused look from the audience) means I have to constantly weigh just how much I want to come out to every person I meet.
Is a name enough? Chris can be short for several feminine names, so it doesn’t garner very many odd looks. But what if they ask me what it is short for? Does it really matter to the nice nurse that I am my mother’s son and not her daughter? Do I really wanna get into the whole reason I want my hair cut short–and no, thank you very much, I’d like to avoid a “cute pixie cut” if at all possible. And, yes I know my clothes are not “guys clothes” but astonishingly enough when you come out it does not come with fucking prize money to buy an entire new wardrobe so I’m just making do with what I got…can I please have my pumpkin spice latte now?!
(That last one might have just been in my head. And the result of caffeine withdrawal.)
I am not the kind of person to get all twisted up about honest mistakes by people who really have no way of knowing better. But it isn’t their reactions to me, so much as the constant reminder that I am in a lot of ways no different from before I came out. That I am inching my way along this tightrope and the end is a fucking long ways away. Maybe one day this me will be nothing more than a split-second selfie in the YouTube motivational video of my life…but that’s a long time coming. If I think about the end, focus on some far off point, I start to lose my footing because I can’t really see how I can ever get from here to there.
I don’t know how other people do it. How they navigate this path from one point to the next. They all sure seem to have a better grasp on the logistics than I do. It probably doesn’t help that I have never been good with change, either. But I am starting to see, after a year of being so conflicted and ashamed that I am not moving at the same speed as everyone else around me, that it is ok. That this is where I am right now, and while it is not all that far from where I was last year, it is better. And I don’t have to measure myself against other transgender people in order to decide if I can be happy or not.
When it comes down to it, what I’ve learned in this last year is that the journey from here to there doesn’t actually have to be all about the end. The right here can be just as interesting and just as important as wherever I end up a year from now.