Not long after the shit hit the fan, I was sitting across from one of my friends who was a Christian Counselor. (I knew a lot of Christian Counselors via the organization that trained me in Pastoral Care. I was shocked at how many of them immediately cut ties with me when they found out I was transgender. This woman was literally the only one in Louisiana who maintained contact with me.) She was explaining to me that, according to the research she had done into a more inclusive evangelical counseling perspective, the “experts” were advocating that I do as little as possible to express my gender in the way that I wanted. She told me it was the only way the church would ever accept me.
I took her advice to heart, even though I had walked away from the church with a middle finger held up behind my back while I smiled at it. I just wanted people to accept me and, if being myself was too much to ask then I would limit myself… I had four decades of that under my belt, so I was used to it.
I wore as few feminine things as possible for the first few months of coming out. My public gender exploration only went as far as getting gender-neutral eyebrows, painting my nails, and wearing women’s jeans. Everything else stayed under my outerwear or in the trailer I called home.
Two years later, looking back, I would say that the advice I was given, while well intentioned, was absolute fucking bullshit.
Let me ask you a question: How often are you asked to not be yourself?
I guess most of us limit ourselves. I know women who wish they could color their hair blue or get a septum piercing. They don’t in order to keep the peace. I had one man confess his love of flowers to me and then tell me he couldn’t share that with other straight men for fear of being shamed. I know someone else that wanted to quit their sales job and work in a restaurant but they didn’t because they feared not making as much money.
My limiting of myself looked different that most of yours. For me, it was less about my job or my fashion and more about my body. I wanted breasts. I wanted hips. I wanted thinner eyebrows. I wanted outfits that matched my gender identity.
I decided this year that I’m done limiting myself for other people’s happiness. Unless reincarnation is a thing, we only get one go around on this ride. I’m tired of spending my time on life’s rollercoaster worrying about what other people think of my reactions to the ups and downs. I want to scream if I’m scared, laugh out loud at the fun parts, and throw my arms into the air.
Also, I guess I’ve just hit the point at which hiding takes more energy than being myself. What that means, for me, is that I’m transitioning. It’s a huge fucking step that I’ve been wrestling with for two years. All of my excuses to not transition have fallen away. I couldn’t hide behind my marriage after it ended. I couldn’t hide behind the church after they told me I was leper and I walked away from their moral code. I couldn’t hide behind my kids when they were so accepting of me. I was just hiding for the sake of hiding and that has become exhausting.
I took my first doses of testosterone blockers and estrogen last week. I’ve found myself smiling more this week than I have in a long time. I stopped by my old Whole Foods and one of the women there told me I was glowing. Yes, there are already people who look at me sideways when they notice my mascara or tinted lip balm but my nightmares still haven’t come true. I’ve only been called a sinner twice in the last two years. No one has pointed at me and laughed yet. Most people just ignore my bending of the gender rules in order to keep the peace.
I’m writing this blog post for a few reasons. First and foremost, I write because I love to write. I feel a deep pleasure as I find the right words to express myself and tell the story. Another reason I write is to make sense of what is happening in my head and own my narrative instead of letter other people write it. Lastly, I write for you.
I’m inviting you into this intimate, formerly hidden part of my life and challenging you to join me. Stop hiding whatever piece of yourself it is that you fear. If I can do this, then you can get that piercing, proudly talk about the flowers, wear the crazy shirt, or come out. Yes, there will be a cost but it costs less than it does to give away a piece of your heart for someone else’s happiness.