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what I want

Caryn brought up a very valid question in one of her comments recently which was at once very simple yet also paradoxically deeply complex: what do I want?

To answer this you need to realize how much of what you want has fused itself with what one should do. Thus, the longer one has lived in a male role, the more challenging it is to separate duty from desire and, even if I have eliminated massive quantities of guilt over my life, it is quite clear not all of it is gone. There is also of course fear of rejection and needing to explain to the hundreds of people who know me that post transition things have changed just a tad in my life.

What keeps me buoyant these days is the advancement by contrast with my previous life before self acceptance. However I am not sure that living two lives is even sustainable in the long haul; not to mention that I am increasingly comfortable moving about the world as Joanna.

This is not about wearing pretty clothes everyday (which is nice) but more about achieving an honest reflection of who I am so there is nothing to hide. To not need to think about which voice to use on the phone or what name to give which can at times be a bit schizophrenic. Many trans people have done what I do now before transition and they ultimately feel more relaxed after they come to a baseline where everything coalesces; my recent meeting with Halle being a case in point. Therefore, what I want will need to be separated from the rest like one does a series of tangled cables. In the process I think and reflect and breathe without haste and devoid of panic.

I have always been and continue to be at my core a deeply shy and private person who has struggled with what to do about something I was made aware of very early in life. I have addressed it with a slow and deliberate response after years of ignoring it in the only way I have been comfortable doing. But it now turns out that self-acceptance is only the first part of the journey with the next bit knowing where the resting point lies which I am not certain isn't the hardest part. Does one make a wholesale change or stay somewhere in the middle? it is amazing how much gender dysphoria colours your life and leaves you scratching your head. It does not get better with increasing age either.

The other day I was walking with my 18 year old son and I brought up the question of whether he would be ashamed of me if I ever opted for transition. All he could say was that he would not be but that it would take some getting used to which impressed me how my ex and I could have raised such an intelligent and perceptive young man who I am so glad will not have to face a life with dysphoria.

Recently a new company contacted me on LinkedIn and after some back and forth discussion I told the CEO I was trans and expressed to her that part of my thought process these days, besides wanting to begin slowing down drastically or even stopping at age 60, involved reflecting on whether I needed to transition. Without missing a beat she just stated that they are a very inclusive company and to call her any time on her cell which she provided. I am meeting with them just for an exploratory discussion in the near future which may lead to nowhere. What is more relevant, however, is that it will be Joanna who meets them which would have terrified me in the past.

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Comments

  1. Hi Joanna, it’s striking to me now to be writing as something like a big sister. You’ve provided such help to me, perhaps I can now help you.

    I certainly understand how hard it is to sort out ones feelings. Our emotions automatically try to protect us when we sense danger, in this case rejection, perhaps ridicule, and hurting or disappointing others we love. Fear is a very powerful emotion of course, triggering so many physical and emotional reactions. But you know all this and have gone so very far. Even now, coming out to a potential employer... amazing!

    Of course I can’t advise whether you should transition or not, and if you do, what that means for you. What I can suggest is to think about how you’d feel if next week for some reason you find yourself dying, looking back on your life. Will you be sad and berate yourself for not going further in your exploration and, perhaps, transition? I know I would have and now that I have I feel calm and at peace like never before. If I find myself dying I will just wish I’d done all this much earlier but aware that it wasn’t to be.

    This phrase has helped me at times. I memorized it and repeat it as it gives me some calm: “Whenever we feel fear it means we’re up against some kind of wall... on the other side of the wall is some kind of freedom.”

    You’ve gone over so many walls, Joanna! You must know what I mean. Perhaps there are more for you to scale to more profoundly and fully experience your own freedom. Best wishes!

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  2. You have indeed been helpful to me Emma and your path has been similar to mine in that you resisted until you could resist no more. I am happy that you are in a place to live more authentically. I am not worried about myself as much as about disappointing others. What makes it easier of course is being on my own but still there are thoughts you are letting someone down. I do feel very happy these days though which helps me immensely to sift through emotions

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    Replies
    1. After writing earlier I realized that I had forgotten to talk about guilt. I had an email exchange with my therapist on this over a year ago. He reminded me that one is born trans and there is no shame or guilt in that (which I know you know). Thus: compassion for others whose boat is rocked by my transition, yes. Guilt, no.

      As for letting others down: conversely, I believe we are demonstrating the beauty and joy of coming into our to be our authentic selves. This is hard for everyone, cis and trans. Perhaps through our examples they will see a model that they can emulate.

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  3. You are also correct that feeling fear is connected to facing some sort of wall which the other side of which could represent freedom. Let's see...

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  4. Joanna, you are absolutely rocking your transition! Again, I am just an observer of your mind through the words you allow me to read, but I hope you spot that while your approach is slow, deliberate and methodical, you nonetheless walk your path with pinache and verve, style and art. You shine when you are in touch with what you want. When you sport a new look and share it with us; when you grant us a peak at your treats for yourself, like handbags or shoes. I especially enjoy your perspective as a musician - your passion for the singer/songwriters of the 1970s; your disdain for the dulled and malnourished mass-produced 21st Century pop. These are all aspects of "what you want" in your mental landscape.

    Keep rockin' it, girl! You'll find the prism that separates the colors from the white light of your mind, and which you like best. I truly believe that.

    And by the way, on the off-chance, however slim, that you appreciate Post Grunge or Numetal, take a listen . . .. I find it empowering myself . . . . take from it what you will. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDOEqQjgQwk

    --Caryn Bare

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