A reader writes: “Unlike some, I believe that I was born transsexual because of my sex – I had a penis, not a vagina, but my gender was female. I was 60 when I came out and am now 65. My question: might there ever be a day, a week, a month, a year when I no longer think of my transition and how blessed that I am to have the opportunity to live my truth, my life as the woman I am?
“This really isn’t a particularly big deal to me but rather one of curiosity. For myself, the answer is likely never, because I am a very out person who actively works as a volunteer in my community at large as well as the LGBT community. But still I cannot help but wonder.”
Congratulations on taking a positive view of your transition and your situation. While you feel very blessed every time you think of your transition and having the opportunity to live life as the woman you truly are, there are other men and women out there who feel very cheated and angry about having a body that does or did not conform to their gender identity. You are truly lucky that you are able to take what is, for some, an impossible and unhappy situation and turn it around to allow yourself happiness and self-satisfaction.
There may never come a day when you no longer think about your transition or forget that you are transsexual. For you, it sounds like that’s okay, and that thinking about it and remembering it are ways that help you celebrate your blessings. For some others, thinking about it and remembering it are, unfortunately, very painful and negative experiences that they would just as soon not have to deal with.
I’ve been transitioned for about fourteen years, and to be honest, there is probably not a day that goes by in my life when I’m not in some way aware that I’m transsexual. There are days when I don’t consciously think about it. There is rarely – if ever – a day when I wake up and think, “Wow, I’m transsexual.”
But the knowledge that I am transsexual is always just under the surface of my consciousness. And, of course, when I am speaking, teaching about gender issues, or writing this blog, I am well aware of it, and it is in the forefront of my consciousness. When I’m doing things totally unrelated to being transsexual – washing dishes, doing laundry, watching movies, cleaning the house, running errands, or teaching classes and doing freelance jobs that aren’t related to gender issues in any way – it doesn’t really occur to me much.
There are times when I am acutely aware that I’m transsexual:
1. As I said above, when I’m speaking, teaching, or writing about gender, transgender, or transsexual issues, or when I’m doing activist work in the community.
2. When I have to go to the bathroom in a place that might not have stalls or a toilet stool for men.
3. When I’m looking at non-trans men’s crotches (yes, sometimes I do).
4. When I can’t lift or move something that a man my age and size should be able to lift or move (I’ve gotten weaker lately and I blame that on aging, but there are non-trans men my age and older, as well as smaller than me, who have more strength due to a lifetime of exposure to testosterone).
5. When I’m around non-trans men my own age, because despite the grey hair and wrinkles, I still don’t look like them.
6. When I am interested in hooking up with someone for sex or dating.
7. When I look at my hips in a mirror.
8. When other people think I am interested in “everything trans” or that all I want to talk about is being trans.
Of course, there are other times, too, but these are some highlights.
I think there are many transitioned people out there who rarely think about it at all, particularly those who have chosen to assimilate into mainstream male and female culture and who no longer identify as or see themselves as trans-anything. They are not community activists, and there is nothing in their present life that is a constant or consistent reminder of their past.
There are others, like yourself (and pretty much like me), who either don’t mind being trans or who enjoy it, and who are able to see the positives of the situation and to take pleasure in the interesting aspects of life that it offers. Often, the only problem here is the prejudice and discrimination inflicted by society on those who would otherwise be fine with the circumstances.
And there are still others who think about it or are aware of it a lot and are very unhappy about that. They wish that they could forget about it and just go on with their lives as men or women. It’s not so much society’s view of who they are, but their own self-image that causes distress and problems.
There is nothing necessarily wrong with any of these perspectives and all are understandable. It is the last one – the one that brings unhappiness – that is unfortunate and that can be a real and serious burden to those experiencing it. It can be a reason for suicide even after transition.
I know a woman who said that it took her years to finally look in the mirror and see a woman’s body reflected back to her, even though she had, by all “outside” standards, “successfully” transitioned. Having to grapple with these inner conflicts can be the most destructive situation of all.
But as far as your question – will there be a time when you no longer think of your transition – I would say probably not, particularly because it is a source of joy for you. I would guess that, the longer you are transitioned, the more it will subside from your every-waking-moment consciousness, but you won’t forget unless you want to, and even then, it could be difficult to completely wipe it from your mind and memory.
I would like to hear from readers who are not “professional trans people” – who don’t have blogs about being trans, who don’t speak and write about it, who don’t participate in trans activist work, and who don’t see “trans” as a constant part of your life. Of course, if you are reading this, it is still there somewhere. But you know what I mean.
I would also like to hear from everyone else – what do you think about being trans? When do you think about being trans? What makes it go away – and what makes it come back? Please share your thoughts and stories.