This is actually quite bonkers to me when I think about it, but I’ve been living out and openly transgender for three months. As they say, I’m full time, but I still prefer calling it “being live.” Or, even more simply, “living.” Three months isn’t really a long time, but it’s hard to believe it’s even been that long. It still feels like something that just happened last week.
So far, the most surprising thing is how much of a big deal it _hasn’t_ been. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a big deal for me, but for my friends and coworkers it’s been pretty much a non-issue. No one treats me any differently than they used to at all. For the most part, everyone is very good about calling me Amelia and using my correct pronouns and getting that I’m a woman. Other than that, nothing’s changed. Being transgender generally doesn’t even come up unless I’m the one to mention it. It makes me feel accepted and it’s certainly better than the alternative, but I often feel my experience as a transgender person is sort of erased. To a certain degree, I _do_ want to talk about it. The wannabe activist in me wants to talk about trans issues and make more people aware of the kinds of things transgender people deal with on a daily basis, but I don’t want to be that friend who is always talking about the same things over and over. I don’t want to be annoying about it, but I want to live visibly trans.
Along similar lines, when I see people I don’t see every day I secretly hope for them to comment on my appearance. I kind of want to hear things like “you look great” and “you’re really beautiful.” Looking in the mirror is tricky and I still focus a lot on my flaws, so a confidence boost every now and again would be helpful. The problem here, though, is the flip side. When I do get complimented, I start to feel incredibly awkward; I don’t know how to take compliments. Part of me wonders if they’re being genuine or just trying to be nice. Another part of me wonders if there’s a part at the end of the sentence that they though but didn’t say, like “…for a transgender person.” All of me struggles with how to respond. For a somewhat egotistical person, it’s kind of hard to believe how much trouble I’ve always had accepting compliments.
Another huge surprise for me is the almost complete lack of transphobia, transmisogyny, and sexism I’ve directly experienced. I expected a lot of this. I knew transition would mean giving up the male privilege I’ve had my whole life and I expected it to be a whole different world. For the most part, people seem to treat me like they always did. I know these things are not only out there, but incredibly rampant and built into our society. I still fear them and, sometimes, expect them, but they’ve yet to show their ugly faces for me. The only exception to this has been two men who have creepily tried to hit on me in the past few weeks. I actually don’t know how to feel about this. You’d think I’d be happy to not deal with it, but I mostly feel guilty. Other trans women deal with these things, why don’t I have to? I’m not special, I don’t want to be. It’s only been three months and I live in a rather progressive state–even if we have a horrible, backwards-thinking governor–so I know it’s just a matter of time, I guess.
A big thing I _have_ been struggling with, though, is not feeling like I belong anywhere. When I hang out with my male friends, I feel out of place, especially if I’m the only woman. They’re my friends and they don’t seem to care what my gender is, but I don’t feel like I can relate with them. Back when I was living the lie and pretending to be a guy, I at least tried to relate. Around my female friends and coworkers, I sort of feel like an impostor. I still feel like I don’t belong and I’m just being humored by being included as “one of the girls.”
Likely, this is mostly in my head, but this lack of belonging anywhere is something I’ve dealt with my whole life. I’ve never felt like I belonged. When I was in high school and got really into the indie-underground music scene, I thought that would be where I belonged. I made some awesome friends and really put myself into it. I ran a small venue for live music, was Head Music Director of my college radio station, and was very active in online communities centered around music. I enjoyed all of this, a lot, but I still never felt like I was actually a part of it and I didn’t feel like I belonged. It still felt like a mask I was wearing. Unfortunately, I don’t feel much different in this regard now. I’ve yet to find any sort of circle of people where I really feel like I fit right in.
All of that said, there is much more on the positive side of things than there is everywhere else. I do finally feel like I’m closer to just being myself. I’m much happier with me. I feel as though I’m living a more honest life and I feel comfortable in who I am. I’m becoming happier and happier with how I look with each passing day. Every day I see a little less man in the mirror and a little more woman; my masculine features are noticeably disappearing. While it still happens from time to time, I rarely feel any dysphoria these days.
With most of what I want out of transition behind me now, my life is starting to return to a state of normalcy. There is no more “in between,” there is just me. There is no more holding off on things because of transition. My name is changed, I have my updated license and passport, and there is no longer a question of where I’ll be with myself at any point in the future. I can make plans for things more easily. I’m also getting to a point where I’m less concerned with making sure I look my absolute best every time I leave the house. If I want to go run out to get Starbucks or grab a bagel, I no longer the need to make sure I have makeup on and my hair is taken care of. I’m becoming more easily identified as a woman without everything being perfect.
I’m starting to feel like a real and normal person. It’s awesome.
The downside to having fulfilled most of my transition plans and goals and being happy with myself is I’m starting to examine other things in my life again. I spent close to two years working on fixing this one really huge problem in my life and I mostly ignored the other ones. Transition doesn’t magically fix everything in your life. Now, I’m starting to think about the other things and they’re made worse by being so much happier with myself and in a much better place. Things like my living situation and career are moving back to the forefront of my mind. I’m also feeling held back by life a lot now. I feel like I freed myself and I want to explore the world as me. I talk about this a lot, but I want to get out of New Jersey and I want to move somewhere new. I want to live in a city. I want to explore new things.
I think the sum of all this basically comes down to being a whole lot happier with who I am. When I made the decision to go through with transition, I knew it was the right decision, but I didn’t know what was on the other side. Living my life the way I always felt I should be and looking back, it’s confirmed for me how much of the right decision this was. As I often mention, life is worth living now. I had a lot of reasons why I didn’t transition earlier in life–I’m going to write about these soon–and two of the biggest were thinking it wouldn’t actually make me happy and it would be too hard. Neither of these fears were true at all. Transitioning isn’t exactly easy, but it’s a lot easier than living a lie was. I’ve been incredibly lucky that my transition has been very easy and mostly free of the hate I was scared of. And most importantly, it has made me happier.