It’s been long enough now that I feel the time has come for a retrospective of the choices I’ve made. To that end I’ve dug back into the thoughts that I recorded in journals and notebooks and on various scraps of paper. Wading through those scattered thoughts, I seek to untangle the truth buried within.
I thought I knew back then how a life was supposed to unfold. Each day was made of endless string of milestones and expectations that had been passed down through the generations. Thoroughly understood by all that came before, without a single word written, they endure as if carved in the proverbial stone. This is the way your life will play out, school, love, marriage, children, grandchildren, member of a community, retirement. Respect and inclusion to be bestowed as a reward on all that follow the rules. The penalty for breaking those rules is less clear but no less substantial. I was bound for life to this contract without ever having given it a second thought.
I pick up a journal at random, its leather cover and substantial closure implies that the words within are something special; that they are worthy of being protected, of being preserved. Flipping through pages without a destination, I pause simply by chance and begin to read.
The words jump out at me, instantly recalling to mind the day they were written. A day of no momentous events, or special import. Just another day filled with what on the surface appears to be simply a collection of minutia, but what is a life if not a collection of tiny little bits which until taken together have no significance.
What I find there is a combination of wonder and excitement, none of which gave a moments consideration to how completely I was turning my life upside down. It was a time when putting Red polish on my toenails for the first time could fill an entire page. It was such an innocent time. Every day was something new.
I remember the conversations, the questions. What were my intentions after I had proclaimed the truth that I was transgender. I responded at that time that I was weighting the cost. If I lived as my true self but lost everything in the process, if I ended up in a rented room with a bare bulb hanging from the ceiling would that simply be trading one hell for another. In the end the decision was never really mine to make. Looking back, I think the polish on my toes was the final straw. It was visual confirmation that sent my wife fleeing from our home. She saw in their glorious red a statement that there was only one way forward, that I would never turn back.
Now five years later, that preordained life track has crumbled into dust, the fine print in that social contract has become apparent and the penalties for breaking the rules, to which I never gave a second thought, have made themselves known.
So what conclusions can I draw from this retrospective? First of all, coming out as transgender is painful and costly and no one escapes all of the undesirable consequences. Secondly, pondering whether I made right decision is a moot point, there was no other path I could have chosen that would not have ended very badly. So as I look back I must try and focus on the positive; remembering the excitement and wonder I experienced and the incredible people I have been privileged to meet, the amazing experiences that overcoming my fear have allowed me to participate in. The loss of friends and family and the financial burdens have been remarkably painful but since there really wasn’t a choice I simply have to move on.
Here’s to the future………