Today marks 6 months on estradiol. 6 months ago I put that first pill under my tongue (I’ve since, as most of you who follow me know, moved on to injections). 6 months ago I took the first step in this chapter of my transition; this chapter of my life.
It’s SUCH a cliche, but so much has changed since then. I’m not just working with my community, but I get to represent my community. Last night I was a guest of a local production of the play, The Mermaid Hour, joining the cast on stage after the production for a talk-back session. I’m on their schedule to do so again once more before the production wraps and I’m so proud for the opportunity to represent my peers. I’m working on projects within the support organizations, organizing cross-organizational efforts, helping people coming into their own gender discovery journeys . . . it’s all really thrilling.
A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine won $12,500 for our organization. He said shortly after that it wasn’t about him, but about the work we do. I realize, though, that I’m not so noble. The work I do for my community is about me.
I went through my discovery and understanding alone. Not truly alone- I had a very small group of friends and later close family that I told, and supported me, and helped me a great deal. But I didn’t have the community. I didn’t have other trans people. I spent almost 3 years transitioning in secret, with just a few (often problematically toxic) Facebook groups and a couple of ever-closer online trans friends as my support network. If it had not been for meeting my partner, I might still be in the closet. Miserable. Lonely. Alienated. I didn’t find my community until after I was out and living as myself and not hiding. It was hard. It was grueling. It was brutal. But it made me. And now, that’s why I do what I do. It’s why I work and volunteer and push for more and more opportunities to help more of my people. Because every tear I can prevent cancels out one of mine. Every minute of anxiety I help soothe offsets one of mine. Every lonely night of wondering if you will ever be loved and accepted and mean anything to anybody that I prevent from happening because of a shared meal or a shopping trip or conversation over coffee or even a string of text messages means my nights spent like that were not in vain. I work as hard as I can to prevent and soothe the hurt because I know of no other way to negate my own. I can’t go back and find my community earlier. I can’t turn back the clock and look for help in more fruitful places. The hurt that I shouldered can’t be undone. But I can use it.
I don’t know what motivates some of the other people that work so hard to help our community, but I know what motivates me. I do this for me. I help every single person I possibly can to to make my pain have counted for something bigger than me. I do it because I already lived that pain and so there is NO reason for everyone else to do it as well.
I meant this to be a positive post, but while I’ve never been happier than I am now that I’m truly me, it’s not all positive. There’s a reality here to be talked about. I still look in the mirror and see a man; that guy I tried being for 40 years. Every 3.5 days when that needle pierces my skin I know I’m .5 mL closer to a theoretical finish line that I will never stop running towards, but never quite reach. I’m supposed to have “then and now” pictures to share, but I still delete 99% of the pictures I take of myself because I’m still battling that demon of self-acceptance and perception. I’m better than I was. I’m starting to believe most anonymous people I encounter don’t know I’m trans unless I choose to tell them. I’m starting to admit I see changes in my body. I’m learning to love my assets and refine my style and presentation of myself. I let myself be the flamboyant and outgoing and vibrant person I feel myself to be almost all the time now. Despite the struggle, there is progress.
This is the reality of my existence. I am happier than I’ve ever been. I am me. My life is full of people who care about me. I am surrounded by opportunity to help others, and I gladly avail myself of those opportunities. But it’s hard. And I don’t know how much easier it will get. This, too, is why I do what I do. If I can bury myself in positivity from helping my community and the people in it, I have something to fight with when the demons come calling.
Thank you all for your love, support, and words of encouragement. I am truly blessed to be able to brag about having such amazing friends and family. I love you all, and do not wish to imagine where I’d be without you.