You’re a Super Hero

These days I’m pretty busy just living my life but I do take time everyday to reflect on where I came from and where I am now.  Most days I am in awe of the life I lead today compared to even a couple of years ago.  I’m here to tell you, if you doubt that you can flip your whole life upside down, inside out and survive it, that you absolutely can.  And, in fact, you will be a much better, happier person for doing it.  Your friends and family may fight you every inch of the way but at some point even they will admit that you are a better person now than you used to be.  Will it be hard?  Yes, of course.  Everything worth doing is hard.  Will it get worse before it gets better?  Yep, most likely it will.  Can you do it?  I have no doubt.

Why am I so confident in you?  Because I did it and I was just like you are right now.  Scared, terrified even.  Absolutely sure that I’d lose everyone and everything that meant anything to me.  Convinced that I’d have to live in my car and eat food from the dollar store to survive.  Afraid that no one would ever love me again and pretty sure that I’d never be taken seriously in my real gender.  I was the kind of person that would say, “well, that’s ok for other people but not for me”.  I have too much to lose.  I’m too this, too that.  Too old, too fat, too feminine looking, too dependent on my partner, too scared, too weak.  I didn’t think it would be worth all of the turmoil I’d have to put myself and my family through.  I was wrong.  Very wrong.

I’m not telling you to transition.  That’s your decision to make.  But I want you to know that you can do it.  You absolutely CAN do anything you want to do.  I did it and so can you.  I’m not special.

Well….

Actually, I am special.  And so are you.

You see, people like us, the misfits and maladjusted freaks of society are the most amazing people.  We’re superheros.  We grow up being taught that who we are is wrong and we get beaten down into submission until we can’t take it any longer.  I look at the general population now and I feel pity for them.  They don’t know what it’s like to grow up the way we did and have to pull ourselves out of the abyss and rise above our upbringing.  I am stronger than they will ever be because of what I’ve been through.  They whine and moan about their aches and pains and every day worries while we’re out here reinventing ourselves into the superheroes we were born to be.   Once you find your truth you are unstoppable.  Take your truth where it leads you and don’t let fear stop you.  Feel the fear but do it any way.  Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real.  Fear is a liar.  You’re not weak or worthless.  Quite the opposite.  You’re one of the strongest people on the planet and you are special in ways others can’t even imagine.  Whatever your deal is that makes you feel like a misfit, turn that shit around and make it your greatest strength.  Think of all of the crap you’ve had to deal with in life because you’re not like all of the sheep in the world.  You’re not a sheep.  You’re a fucking lion.  You’re a fucking superhero.  All that crap has made you stronger and stronger.  Your muscles are popping out every where from all the heavy lifting you’ve done in life.  Now put it to good use and start living your wildest dreams.  Be your own hero and I bet even the person closest to you that tells you this is crazy will thank you for it one day.

Heading into the Storm

storm

I didn’t stay up all night watching the election results.  Around 11pm I pretty much knew Trump would win and decided to head to bed feeling defeated and angry.  Apparently, Mother Nature was also feeling pretty nasty this morning because I awoke to a cloudy, stormy day.  How appropriate, I thought, as I made my morning coffee.  All day I’ve been trying to make sense of what has transpired in my country and in this election.  It’s obvious to me that people here were willing to over look a lot of personal flaws and deplorable misconduct in order to get the change that they seem so desperate to see in their government.  I was not one of those people.  Yes, I want change.  Positive change.  I didn’t truly think that Clinton would give us the change we need, but I also didn’t think she would set us back 50 years in our cultural evolution either.  I felt confident that she would not lead us down a road of mass destruction like I feel Trump is itching to do.

But, the people have spoken and like it or not, no matter how distasteful and disgusting, he will be our next president.  Now it’s time to figure out what’s next and how to handle the new regime that will be taking over the White House in just a few months.  I look at the actual numbers of the results so far and I see hope there.  Clinton actually won the majority vote.  In my simple mind that should be enough, but it isn’t.  But that means to me that more than half of our population is not aligned with Trump and his agenda.  On top of that, I personally know many people who voted for Trump who are not misogynist, racist, homophobic, xenophobes either, so I would estimate that at least half of the Trump votes came from sensible people who are just so achingly hungry for change that they saw no alternative but to vote for him.  This gives me hope.  The majority of the population of my country do not hate me and what I believe in.  We do disagree about many things, but that doesn’t make us enemies.

I do agree with the Trump people on one thing.  This country needs profound political change.  I would have preferred to see the kind of changes that Bernie Sanders was pushing for (still is pushing for, by the way).  Things are definitely going to change.  How is yet to be seen.  This defeat does not leave me feeling defeated though.  It emboldens me to be stronger and braver and to speak my mind more about the things that are important to me.  It emboldens me to live my life fully out there with no apologies.  It emboldens me to stand up for my rights and those of others and not let the bullies win again and again.  I hope others will join me and not let this election sink our ship in this storm we’re heading into.  Now is the time to come together for what we believe and make our voice heard and start our own revolution of sorts.  More than half of the country voted against Trump.  MORE THAN HALF!!!!!  Let that sink in for a moment.  We are NOT in the minority here.  We have strength in solidarity and shared purpose.  Do NOT let hate and fear win.  Fight on!  This war is just beginning.

Role Models

The question of what male role models we looked up to growing up and now as we’re transitioning showed up on one of my message boards recently and it really got me thinking.  Currently, I don’t think I really have any role models of any gender.  I look around my life and it’s not that I don’t admire certain traits of some people I know, but I can’t point to any one person and say, “I want to be like them.”  But if I think back to childhood and my teenage years I definitely had some role models.  In fact, what I find disturbing about this whole question for myself is that I didn’t just look up to some of those people, I got obsessed with them and tried to be like them as much as possible.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I was going through a complete identity crisis and had no idea who I was or I was disassociating from who I was by trying to be someone else.  I often confused some of these obsessions with crushes and thought that my fascination with them was sexual in nature when it wasn’t at all.  When given the opportunity to have sex with one of my “crushes” I quickly said no thank you.  He was confused why I would not want to have sex since he knew I had crushed on him for several years.  I was confused too.

But the thing I know now is that I didn’t want to be with them sexually.  I wanted to BE them.  Or at least be LIKE them.  I wanted to look like them and act like them and have other people treat me like they were treated.  Most of my crushes were on male pop stars of my youth.  I’m ashamed to name them because it would show everyone what a sap I was back then.  But, I’ll be brave and name a few here.  First there was Joe Namath of the New York Jets.  Sonny of Sonny and Cher.  The Captain from Captain and Tennille.  Shaun Cassidy.  David Cassidy.  My trumpet teacher from college.  The tuba teacher in college (different college).  A couple boys who played trumpet in music groups I was involved with.  All of these guys/men made an impact on me in some way.  When I was obsessing about them I would become them and in my fantasy world I WAS them.  I can look at some of my school pictures and tell you what celebrity or real life person I was obsessing about at that time.  Ninth grade picture, I’m in a navy blue turtle neck.  If I had been able to wear a captain’s cap and round sun glasses I would have.  Tenth grade I had grown out my hair and was trying to pull off the David Cassidy look.  Eleventh I was channeling one of the boys in the band and then, as some of you may remember, in 12th grade I had turned into a man with a mustache.  Haha, kidding, but my senior picture got replaced with a picture of a dude in the yearbook.  Senior pictures for girls at my school entailed stripping down to your bra and trying to keep this velvet drape thingy over your shoulders to look like you were wearing an evening gown.  Somehow I pulled it off and it wasn’t too bad.  Then in freshman year of college I was crushing on the tuba teacher who wore Frye boots and suddenly I wanted Frye boots really badly.  Sophomore year I was doing my hair like my trumpet teacher wore his and dressing like him.

Where was I in all of this?  Hiding, I guess.

There was a war going on inside me that I wasn’t even aware of.  My fantasy world was rich with all these characters I was playing in my head.  Male role models?  Umm…my uncles?  My dad that I didn’t even know?  I don’t know.  Before, when I thought I was female I would tell you that Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart were my role models.  Well, I looked up to them at least and I still do.  I could do a lot worse than to have them as my role models.  There are men I admire, of course, at least in some regards.  Hemingway, Teddy Roosevelt, Gene Kelly, John F. Kennedy.  In real life, I had a couple neighbors who were Navy men and I admire both of them very much.  One of them passed away a while back and his funeral moved me in a way that funerals never have before or since.  I’ve never seen so many grown men kneel down by a casket in Arlington cemetery (or any cemetery) and weep the way his friends did at the end of his funeral.  It chokes me up to recall it in my memory.  The Eulogy his best friend gave before the burial is something that Candace and I still talk about to this day.  It was moving beyond anything you’ve ever seen in a movie or on TV.  I left his funeral feeling like a changed person.  The other neighbor battled cancer at a very young age and it nearly killed him.  Somehow he has survived and thrived through it.  I saw family and friends from all over, including myself, come to his and his family’s aid during this trying time.  To make things worse, his wife had just given birth to twins when he got his diagnosis.  I’m happy to report that they are all doing great now and the twins are in 7th grade.  What’s extraordinary about him is not just the amount of respect and love that was poured on him and his family at that time, but also the strength and determination he showed to be here for his family today.  It was a bad time, but he always kept a light spirit and gratitude for the generosity he was receiving from others.  He’s a very humble man, yet he’s a Navy commander and is deeply respected by his peers and friends alike.  I respect both of these men tremendously.  If I have to pick male role models it would be both of them.  They are the kind of man I want to be.  And I don’t want to BE them.  Professionally, I look to several people who shaped me as a young musician and the joy and love of music that they infectiously shared with me.  They’re my role models too.

I can’t point to one single person as my “role model”.  Instead, I take the best of these people and try to integrate their morality, ethics, work ethic, value systems into my own and use that to upgrade what I already have.  People we’re attracted to are like mirrors of ourselves.  What we admire in them is already within us.  They’re simply here to show us how we could be better than we currently are.  No one person is perfect.  I admire Teddy Roosevelt for his determination, curious nature, and spirit with which he lived his life.  Benjamin Franklin is another man I admire for all of the amazing things he was able to accomplish in his lifetime.  A wiser man I couldn’t ever hope to find.  Hemingway I think of as a man’s man and ultra masculine in an old fashioned sense.  Many don’t like him for the same reasons I find him interesting.  That’s ok.  JFK, well, his handsome, youthful idealism is still intriguing to much of the population.  We all hunger for a leader like JFK again.  I’m nothing like him, but I still admire him and once upon a time I was a little bit like him.  Maybe.  Maybe in my fantasies at least.

Today, it’s scary to pick a role model or “hero” to follow.  We live in such a transparent world that someone can be a hero one day and a chump (or convict) the next.  Anybody here used to look up to OJ Simpson or Tiger Woods?  Nope, me neither.  But a lot of people did.  I used to really like Pete Rose.  Now he’s a chump.  Even a lot of my real life “heroes” have fallen off their white horse after I got to know them better.  Bill Cosby used to make me laugh and I thought he was a great guy.  Wrong!  I guess it’s best just to take the best parts of people and work with that and don’t look for one person to fill the shoes of hero in your life.  Be your own hero.  And remember that even heroes have flaws so don’t get too hard on yourself for not measuring up to your fantasy of someone else.

Brother Follow Up and Other Randoms

I finally was able to bring my brother home this past Saturday evening.  They had kept him about a week past when we thought he’d go home to observe some other, new issues he was having.  I had to put my big boy panties on and get pretty butch with them because they wanted to hold him over the weekend once again to get a sonogram on Monday, which had already been put off since Friday.  We agreed he could go home and get the sonogram done at his home hospital.  While they were “observing” him I had stayed away to try and catch up on my own life and get some work caught up.  When I arrived on Saturday I was surprised to see on his chart that they had me listed as his brother.  Feeling emboldened by my desire to get him out of there I embraced the idea of being his brother and introduced myself to his nurse that way.  I was in total male mode while I talked to her calmly yet sternly about the situation and somehow it worked.  I would not have suggested they let him go if I thought for a second that it wasn’t in his best interest.  He had sat around that place for an entire week while they ran blood tests and checked his vitals.  Enough was enough.

Since then, the hospital has called me a couple of times looking for him and I have told them I’m his brother and redirected them to his phone line.  I was definitely feeling pretty proud of myself for taking good care of him and helping to spring him from the hospital like any good brother (or sister) would do.  Pat on the back.  I want to use the word sibling, and maybe I will in the future, but somehow I never can think to say it in the heat of the moment.  I get flustered and mumble brother or sister or he’s my brother.  I need to get a grip on this because this problem is not going to go away on its own.

On another note, I’ve been having some in depth email discussions with an old work friend who I’m still in contact with.  She’s totally cool with me being trans but also curious and asks questions, which I am happy to answer to the best of my ability and based on my experiences.  I talked to her about how it’s really surreal to be seen as male all of a sudden.  It seems like top surgery really bumped me over into the male category in a very sudden way.  It’s kind of freaky and cool at the same time.  It’s taking my brain a little time to catch up with all of it though. I’m totally loving being called Mr. LastName and sir out in public.  There have been a couple younger guys (early 20s?) who have helped me in stores who seem to want to chat with me a little bit about random stuff or comment on my ball cap and that’s pretty cool.  My friend asked me how it felt to be part of a different sect of society now and I honestly don’t feel like I ever was part of any sect before, except maybe the lesbian community for a while and I assured her that I have not been welcomed into the men’s club yet.  Though I have noticed, instead of the lesbian nod that I’m used to, there seems to be a man nod that I get now and then.  Random men will nod at me and sometimes say hey as we’re passing in a store or a parking lot.  Maybe that’s part of the men’s club thing, if there is such a thing.  But, how does it feel to be seen as a man now?  Strange.  Disconcerting.  And yet, also comforting and relaxed at the same time.  Surprisingly, I used to worry that I looked feminine enough and that I might get dirty looks from women for being too masculine, even before starting to transition.  Every sir I got back in those days was a confirmation that I was not pulling off looking and acting like a woman good enough.  Now, I just go through my day being myself and don’t have to worry about passing as female anymore.  I can relax and just accept that people will see me as any other middle aged guy and pay me no mind at all.

I stopped in a grocery store this morning to pick up something I shouldn’t be eating (donuts) and on my way out two elderly ladies were coming in together.  I paused a few seconds to let them through the doors before I proceeded out.  It seemed like the gentlemanly thing to do.  One of the ladies looked at me and smiled and wished me a good morning.  It’s a little thing on both of our parts, but I could tell that she saw a respectful man when she looked at me and that made me feel proud of who I’m becoming.

I used to talk a lot about transition being also a transformation and I certainly still believe that to be true, especially for myself.  I see this as an opportunity to finally be the person I’ve always known I was, not only on the outside, but on the inside as well.  It’s a rare and precious gift to be given this chance at bettering myself and becoming whole in mind, body and spirit.  My mind has some catching up to do with my body and spirit but eventually it will get there.  There have been moments when I’ve felt like I’m splitting apart mentally and that I don’t know who I am anymore.  This has been known to scare the crap right out of me.  But, I think it’s part of the process of breaking out of the old programming and creating a new pattern for myself.  I ask myself sometimes, “who is Shawn and how is he different than Dawn?”  It’s a complicated and paradoxical question to ask oneself.  Technically we are the same person, owning the same soul and spirit, personality, body, history, possessions, talents, skills, knowledge, etc.  The differences are subtle.  Shawn isn’t necessarily a better person than Dawn.  Dawn was a pretty awesome person in her own right and set up a fantastic future for Shawn to traverse.  The difference lies mostly in the fact that Shawn is sure of himself in a way that Dawn was never able to be.  Shawn knows that people really see him.  Dawn was always afraid that people WOULD see her.  Shawn knows who he is.  Dawn was always searching for answers to questions she had never asked herself before.  Yet, Shawn has big shoes to fill in a lot of ways.  He can’t rest on Dawn’s accomplishments and just coast through the rest of this life.  He needs to make his own mark and accomplish his own goals.  This is where it starts to get really fun and interesting to see what he comes up with next.

An Epic Journey

I have a little sun room in my house where I like to sit in the morning, sipping coffee while reading or writing on my laptop.  I remember sitting there five years ago feeling desperate, alone, misunderstood, unloved, depressed, tears streaming down my face as I struggled to decide whether to start moving towards transition or not.  My relationship was near ruin and on the brink of breaking apart.  We had just built a beautiful new home that I dearly loved and all I could see was that if I moved forward towards living as male I would lose everything I had built over the past 15 years, including my partner and my pets.  My business was struggling too because I had been ignoring it for the past couple of years due to a vast depressive period I had gone through.  My life was falling apart.  I had escaped into an alternate reality to escape my life and now it was all coming to a head and there was no avoiding reality any longer.

I had to do something.

But I felt boxed in.  Every direction I looked all I saw was loss. All of my options were lose-lose.  Where was the win in any of this?  I couldn’t see any.  My partner had made it plainly clear that if I transitioned than we were done.  And if I transitioned I’d be alone, poor, probably living on a cot in my shop and eating instant mac and cheese if I could even afford that.  And how would I even attempt to transition without any money or health insurance?  This was my rock bottom and it was pretty awful.

I look back at that time now and I’m overwhelmed by how far I’ve come.  How far my family and friends have come.  How far my relationship and my business have come.  I still have my partner, my pets, my home and my business.  All are thriving.  And me?  I’m living as a man.  Sure, my partner still calls me she, but we’re working on that.  Or we will be soon.

How did I get here?  Well, my partner and I separated for a few months and slowly started “dating” each other again.  I started seeing a gender therapist who sent me to an endocrinologist for hormones who also checked other things and found that my thyroid levels were very low.  So I started taking thyroid pills two weeks before I started taking a low dose of T (androgel).  Remarkably, the thyroid pills made me feel better immediately.  My mood lifted significantly from that alone.  And then I added the T in and my outlook on life shifted 180 degrees.  In my darkest hours, alone, separated from my family, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this was all going to work out somehow.  I had no idea how, but I was 100% convinced that it would.

And the rest, as they say, is history.  My partner and I slowly rebuilt trust and our life together again.  I came out to some close friends.  I changed my name.  I had a hysterectomy and top surgery.  I went from a low dose to a full dose of T (about 2 years ago).  And now, I get called sir at drive-thrus and can walk into the men’s room without anyone batting an eye.  It’s amazing!

But before I got to this point I had to go through what, for me, was the second hardest part of transitioning (first being the initial decision to begin).  And that was being in the muddy middle ground between male and female and nobody, including myself, knowing whether I was a girl or a boy.  I struggled hard with my identity at this point.  I didn’t know who I was anymore.  Every day I could feel my old, female self slipping further and further away and this new, more masculine, awkward person emerging.  I wanted to go hide in a cave until it was over.  It was hard to leave my house and go to work, see people, interact with people I have known a long time.  I felt so naked and self conscious.  Vulnerable.  Raw.  Exposed.  My mask was slipping off and I couldn’t hide it anymore.  My deeper voice and receding hairline were giving it away no matter what clothes I wore.  There was no closet big enough for me to hide in.  I couldn’t just stay home all of the time.  This was not an option.

So, with the knowledge that the only way out was through I made a bold decision to just come out about it to as many people as I could as quickly as possible and stop hiding who Shawn is.  I brought Shawn out into the light of day as boldly as I dared, despite my pounding heart and sweaty, shaking hands.  I stood up naked for all to see and it was terrifying at first.  But no one freaked out (well, maybe one person, but she’s better now) and the sky did not fall in on me.  I still have my partner and home and business and pets.  And now I have more friends that I’ve made through blogging and my connections in the trans community.  I have more support than ever and my relationships are genuine and honest, completely honest, for the first time in my life.  No hiding who I really am anymore.  I’m strong enough now to honestly say to myself that if they don’t really like me enough to accept this about me than I don’t need them in my life.  That, my friends, is a HUGE triumph!  I’m so proud of myself for getting to this point that I feel like I could burst.

Last weekend, Candace’s mom had a commitment ceremony with her boyfriend at the annual family reunion.  She asked me to stand up with Candace and her other daughter’s family with her at the ceremony.  She asked me if I wanted to wear what the other men were going to wear.  Yes!  I was nervous.  I’ve never been in a wedding type ceremony before and the whole family was there to watch and SEE who I am now.  Candace reminded me that no one was going to pay attention to me since this wasn’t about me.  Yeah, right!  They noticed me.  Anyway, I did it and a lot of people told me how great I look and no one made any negative comments to me or Candace.  Were they talking about me in private?  I have NO doubt that they were.  And I’m ok with that.

Changing people’s perceptions of us takes a lot of time, effort and patience.  This is a big ship to turn and it doesn’t happen overnight.  Little by little, slowly, gradually, people  start to acknowledge and appreciate who we have always known ourselves to be.  The first step is always in accepting that yourself.  Bringing that which has been hidden out into the light is both liberating and terrifying.  But, just like with anything new and raw, with enough time, light and air, it starts to feel normal and healthy.  Some of us are braver than others.  I am by far not the bravest person in the world.  Most of the time I’m wrought with anxiety, indecision and self doubt.  Most of this process has been extremely slow and gradual.  Excruciatingly slow and gradual.  But that’s the way I had to do it for my own comfort.  Every so often I put a little bit more of myself out there for the world to see and once I’m comfortable with that I add something else.  Some things are bigger than others, like changing my name.  But some things are as small as wearing a button down shirt instead of a polo to work one day.  Or wearing a binder, or a packer.  Will anyone notice?  Will anyone say anything?  It’s all about testing the waters and finding what’s right for me.  And the process continues.  I’ve been growing out my chin and mustache hair for the past month.  I’m sure people have noticed but no one’s said anything to me.  I’m just laying this on top of all the other coming out layers I’ve already set down in place.  This is anything but methodical, but in a way it is.  It’s about testing the waters and gaining confidence.  Do a little thing and observe.  Do another little thing and observe.  Nothing bad happened so lets do another little thing.  Layer upon layer upon layer upon layer.  Thin, delicious slices like a Smith Island cake*.

smith island cake

Classic Smith Island Cake

Eventually you get something that looks like your true self.  Which is continually evolving and changing anyway, so there’s always new layers being added onto the base of what you previously built.  Cake upon cake.

stacks of cakes

Transition, for me, has been more like a death and a rebirth than a transition.  Dawn was already dying when this all began five years ago.  Shawn emerged from the fire of burning down what was left of her.  I’m a better and much improved version of myself now.  Everyone who knows me can see this.  It’s not only about how I look but how much more open and authentic I am now.  I’m still learning to let my guard down, but I’m a lot less guarded and shielded than I’ve ever been before.  My walls had to come down in order to traverse this path.  I’m more at peace with myself and with life now.   I’m less angry.  I’m more patient.  My anxiety and depression is better.  Life is all about evolving and learning as far as I’m concerned.  Staying stuck and stagnant is certain death for me and that’s where I was five years ago.  I’m so thankful that I woke up when I did and had the courage to move forward into a new, uncertain future in spite of all that I seemingly had to lose to get here.  The journey has been incredible and in some ways, it’s just beginning.

 

*Note:  If you’re curious about the Smith Island cake or Smith Island itself, here are a few links of interest:

http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdmanual/01glance/symbols/html/dessert.html

https://smithislandcake.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smith_Island,_Maryland

What if?

There is a question that pops up fairly often in the transgender community that I find fascinating.  I have a big fascination with time travel anyway so this question really gets my mind worked up with all of the possibilities.  The question I’m referring to is this:

If you could have been born and raised as your true gender, would you choose to do so?

It’s an impossible question to really answer.  Like time travel in general, we never know how things would have worked out if we went back and change history.  Yet, we often are so tempted and eager to do just that.  At least I enjoy the fantasy of what an amazing adventure I could have as a time traveler.  The Back to the Future movies of the 80’s were particularly fun for me and I still enjoy them.  I think they do a really good job of portraying how disastrous time travel could be if we want to keep our present lives as they are.  But if we want to alter our present life?  How many other’s lives would get altered by us changing our past?  Would it make things better or worse?  Impossible questions to answer.

time machine

Would you take a ride on my Time Machine?

 

back to future

Or is the DeLorian more to your liking?

So the question is definitely rhetorical in nature and I get that.  But, the time travel fanatic in me runs with it into a lot of fun and entertaining corners of my psyche.  I take none of it too seriously as it is an impossible scenario.  And sometimes the thoughts really get me upset and profoundly sad to ponder.  It’s all fun and games until you realize that none of it has any remote chance of ever happening.  Then the depression sets in.  And then you think about your current life and the relationships you have with people as the person you are, your job/career, the car you drive, the house you live in, your community, your identity as it stands today.  Like it or not, all of that would change if you chose to be born as your true gender.  We have no way of knowing whether it would be better or worse, where we’d be, who we’d be with, what we’d be doing, how happy we’d be.

 

So how can you answer this question?  I don’t really think you can.  Maybe if you have hit rock bottom and have no one and nothing left and your only option would be to have a do over, yeah I guess that would be a pretty easy decision.  But most of us like our lives quite a bit.  Maybe not all of it but we’re pretty happy in general.  I know my life is much better in so many ways than I ever imagined and also so different than anything I ever imagined as a young person.  I’m finally able to be who I am and I’m pretty comfortable as that person most of the time.  I’m still adjusting to it, as are my friends and family, but so far so good.  Why would I choose to give all this up?

Let’s say for just one moment that we really could choose to start life over exactly as it was but in the body of the sex we identify with.  Would you do it?  Personally, I’d go from being a 54 year old to an infant again living in 1962 eastern U.S.  Would I do that?  I’d be a boy, raised as a boy, live and play as a boy, go through school as a boy, date girls as a boy, find a career as a boy, marry a girl as a boy, have children and be a father, grow up and grow old as a man.  Would I do it?

It’s tempting.

But, here’s the thing that makes me say no.  I look at how much I have grown and evolved through this process of living my life as who I am and I just don’t see the same potential for growth in the new scenario.  Maybe I’d grow there too, but it would be in much different ways.  And then there’s just the whole idea that my life as I know it would just evaporate and go away and I have way too much invested in it to let that happen.

I want to say yes, I would definitely choose to be born male if given the chance.  And yeah, that would have been nice.  But that was not an option and it’s kind of just foolish and somewhat self abusive to even spend much time thinking about the what-ifs of life.  I admit that I do fantasize about how life would be if I’d been born male.  It’s a sweet fantasy.  But it’s also painful to think about.  It brings up feelings of regret and pining for something that could never have been and feeling like what we have is not good enough.  It’s an alluring fantasy but a deceptively painful and dangerous one too.

I think a better question to ponder is: now that we have the freedom to choose how we live our lives, who do we want to be?  For me, that’s a much more powerful question to ponder.  This is something I can actually control to some degree and take some credit for.  So now I ask you, who do you want to be now that you can be anything and anyone you want to be?  Let’s have some fun figuring that one out and making it happen.  Instead of fantasizing about the past, let’s fantasize about the future and build that in the present because that’s all we really have.  Good luck and carry on fellow Time Travelers!

Nobody’s Normal

I used to think no one would really understand me.  Heck, I didn’t even understand me.  I wondered why I couldn’t just be like everyone else and why life couldn’t be simpler.  I wanted to fit in and be “normal”.  The other day I read a post on a forum I belong to from a person who was pretty much saying what I’ve felt for most of my life.  He wanted to know, in a nutshell, if others in the group ever felt like they just wished they were born in the sex they truly were and if others were also tired of always feeling like they didn’t fit in.  Oh boy!  You bet!!  Not only did I read that and nod my head in a knowing “mm hmm, yep” but a lot of other folks jumped in with their own affirmations and explanations for this not so odd commonality in the group.  Some of the comments got me really thinking about why we all want to be seen as “normal”, ordinary, fitting in, so much.  I think I figured it out, at least partly, and I want to share it with you today.

It’s because we’ve all been brainwashed from birth to believe that life works a certain way and that if you deviate from that one true path than YOU are the problem, not the system.  We live in a one size fits all society.  We’re put in pink and blue boxes from the minute we’re born and read fairy tales and watched Disney movies that only have one story line.  Boy meets girl.  Boy loses girl.  Boy gets girl back and they live happily ever after.  Well folks, there is no such thing as “happily ever after”, not all boys want to live happily ever after with a girl and some boys might look more like a girl than a boy.  I’m not saying that people can’t make marriages work for a lifetime.  They can.  There is clear evidence of this.  But, it takes a lot of work and give and take to do it.  And sometimes it sucks the life out of one or both people in order to pull it off.

I grew up watching shows like The Brady Bunch, Eight is Enough, Leave it To Beaver and Father Knows Best.  They all portrayed these perfect families with two loving opposite sex parents and their nearly perfect children.  Even when the kids or the parents did something bad it wasn’t really BAD stuff by today’s standards.  Even in the 1950s that just wasn’t realistic.  It is a nice fantasy, especially for a kid who’s life is far from perfect.  But it’s just further propagating the lies and making people feel like they’re failures when they don’t measure up to Ward Cleaver or Carol Brady.

I saw a meme on Facebook yesterday that asked if we (society) were ready for a lesbian Disney princess.  Heck yeah!  Bring it on!  We need to re-write all of those silly fairy tales out there and put all kinds of relationships and genders in them.  Why not a trans princess?  Or a gay prince?  That would be a start.  I know it will offend some people, but you know, it’s high time they wake up out of their dream land and realize that they’ve been living in the Matrix and sold a bunch of lies.  Life is not as simple as ‘if you have a penis then you’re a boy and if you have a vagina then you’re a girl’ and ‘marriage is only between a man and a woman’.  Nope!  It’s way more complicated than that and it’s time to stop perpetuating the brainwashing and lying about what our children’s futures are going to look like.  Very few of us are going to marry a Prince or kiss a frog and meet the love of our lives and none of us are going to fall into blissful, perfect love with someone and live happily ever after.  That’s all a lie.  And I think it’s destructive.

This destructive brainwashing and programming is what makes us miserable because, when we can’t conform to what society says we should be we think there’s something wrong with us.  The problem isn’t with us.  The problem is with the lies that society perpetuates to keep us all in our nice tight little confined boxes.  If one studies nature at all you can’t help but notice all of the color and variation as well as ‘abnormalities’ that naturally occur.  We celebrate four leaf clovers as being lucky, but really they are an a rare variation of the three leaf clover.  Roses come in a whole array of colors and that’s a wonderful thing.  There’s an animal rescue group in Alabama that house a lion, a tiger and a bear all in the same area because they grew up together from babies and they love each other and get along great.  Tell me that doesn’t go against nature!  People pay money to go see them and think it’s a great thing.  And it is.  But why can’t we allow people, our fellow humans, who are all struggling to just live their lives, find happiness how they wish with whomever they wish without condemning them and spitting in their faces for being ‘different’?  We can.  We just have to wake up and smell the roses and realize that we’ve been lied to our whole lives about what it is to be human.  And, for God’s sake, show some compassion and human decency for each other.  Celebrate the diversity of the human experience in all of it’s colors and glory.  Be you and enjoy your life!