The Cost of Transit...
 
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The Cost of Transitioning

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Posts: 11
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(@tauriel)
Active Member     South Africa, Gauteng, Alberton
Joined: 2 years ago
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The need to transition for many of us can literally become a life or death affair. The effects on overall health, the constant stress, anxiety, and self-loathing caused by not accepting your true self can affect the physical, emotional, and mental health of trans men and women. It can become too much for any one person to deal with.

I watched the movie "Different for Girls" again last night. I'd seen it many years ago. I hadn't intended to watch a movie with a transgender theme, but it was the first time that I could put a label on who I was. I associated my feelings with those of the character, "Kim" in the movie. This was before cellular phones, social media, and the internet were accessible to everyone in South Africa. I happened upon the movie as I was lying on the couch at my parent's house. It was late at night, and I watched the movie alone. As the plot unfolded and I realized Kim used to be a boy who transitioned into an insecure, somewhat scared trans woman. I knew then that I finally had a label for what I was dealing with in my life. Up to that stage, I thought I was a crossdresser who questioned their sexuality all the time and compensated for it by pretending to be this macho guy doing all things manly. I was living in a conservative household and community, and it was scarier than telling anyone how I felt. While watching the movie, I cried continuously. I really struggled for years after that to accept the reality that I was a transsexual.

Facing your true self, in the end, is unfortunately just as costly as always trying to run from the truth. At this point in my life, I still struggle to see how much good will come from the fact that I can no longer ignore my true self.

My story probably follows the same pattern as so many other transgender women out there. Some years later, I finally told my wife and family the truth. Not one of them accepted the fact that I am transgender, insisting that some sort of trauma must have caused me to feel this way. They stuck to this belief even after telling them I've felt this way for as long as I can remember. In the end, I got back in the closet and couldn't face hurting them because of who and what I am. Besides, I was married by then with children. My family didn't deserve this over their heads as well.

I hid my transgenderism and continued with life as usual, with a few lapses over the years, which caused tremendous problems at home when my clothes or makeup were discovered. Finally, in 2009, I accepted myself for the first time, making peace with whom and what I am. I decided acceptance on its own had to be enough because my family still didn't deserve the devastation and social ridicule that having a transgender husband and father would bring on them. So, I still continued to hide the truth from the world with occasional counseling when I wasn't coping on my own. In 2018, at 45, I became very sick as the constant anxiety caused my blood pressure to spike to very dangerous levels. They admitted me to the hospital. A slew of tests was done, and I learned much about myself, which helped to shed light on some questions I had regarding my medical history. I always had a sense that something in my past medical history might have played a role in what I felt. In the end, they placed me on chronic anxiety medication, and new blood pressure meds, and life went back to normal. Everyone thought it was pressure from work that caused my health problems, but honestly, as someone who works in education there isn't that much pressure besides teaching is the one thing I used to enjoy, but also an obstacle to being able to transition.
A year later, I decided to start my transition in early 2020. I resigned from my job, started a business, and planned everything out as carefully as I could. COVID-19 ended up being the new obstacle.

My business struggled and wasn't profitable. That forced me to take a new teaching position in order to take care of my family. I have often read you reach a point where you can't continue the lie any longer. I tried to convince myself that I could live with it for the sake of those I love. I have to admit; that I am not that strong. I could not continue living a life where I pretended to be something in order to make everyone around me comfortable and help them feel secure... sadly, this realization meant my family wouldn't have a choice but to face the facts. They willing ignored it for over ten years. I am sure that my choice to transition will not be accepted by my family. I hope that my two daughters will someday accept the honest version of myself.

My family believes that being transgender or gay is a lifestyle choice. No amount of explaining, the evidence presented, or introspection will likely change their point of view. There is no anger directed at any of them. It took me years to make peace with myself. I can't expect them to accept the truth so easily either.

Being transgender means you have to face yourself. Seek help and find a way to move forward in life. Choose the path that allows you to transition. It became my necessary step in order to not fall into an endless pit of depression and despair. I feel selfish, in the light of how many loved ones will be hurt, for those that end up struggling in dealing with my reality. They didn't deserve or ask for it.

As a transwoman, I am starting a new life, but so much of what is good in the life I have built may be lost in tears and pain. I struggle with this. I wish I could make everyone understand I'm not trying to hurt anyone; I am trying to save my own life.

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(@reallylauren)
Reputable Member     Canada, British Columbia, Victoria
Joined: 2 years ago

Hi Michelle,

Oh, I'm crying. My heart aches for you. I know exactly what you're going through as I have had to make the same decision. It IS NOT A CHOICE! Do people choose the color of their hair or eyes or whether they're left or right handed? We are born this way! Tell them to do some simple research on transgenderism and their eyes might be opened a bit, but it sounds like you, as I am, are dealing with stubborn people with closed minds. My youngest brother and my daughter WILL NOT accept me as a trans woman, period, end of discussion. I've been told that they will not talk with or see me unless it is as the old person I have put to death. I have transitioned and now live fulltime as a woman, a transwoman. I am not ashamed, I am open and honest about it, and quite willing to share my story. I have, I must happily say, managed to successfully transition at my work place where I am accepted as a transwoman and treated with respect. My wife and I are now, recently, living apart, but not considering divorce. She is in her own state of transition and is trying to wrap her head around the reality of the situation, I hope we can work it out.
When it comes to family and acquaintances who refuse to accept who we truly are, it IS NOT OUR PROBLEM...It's theirs! This is where choice comes in, we have no choice but to accept and become who we truly are, who we were born to be, and we both know who those people are, Michelle and Lauren.

I wish you well and all the best,

Love and hugs,

Lauren M

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Posts: 11
 Lee
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(@leebythesea)
Active Member     United States of America, Delaware
Joined: 2 years ago

I get it... most of us here have been there, and some, like myself, are there now. I came out to my wife just shy of four weeks ago. We talked a little, talked a little more in the following two days, and then nothing, life moved on. I did not want to push buttons further and so I let the dust settle - as you stated, I too "got back in the closet." Then, the beginning of this week it all came crashing down. My wife said, "it's over." She wants a divorce. I tried to discuss the matter calmly, but to no avail. I am moving out. Only bright spot, my wife said she would support my journey, but only as a friend. She wants to see me being happy with who I am to be.

Sometimes we have to face the music. Life is too short for second guessing and living with regrets. I don't want to sound selfish... for I have given in for far too many years and at the end got nothing in return. A relationship is a road travelled by two people holding hands. If one pulls their hand away... then it's no long a relationship journey.

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Posts: 11
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Topic starter
(@tauriel)
Active Member     South Africa, Gauteng, Alberton
Joined: 2 years ago

Lee and Lauren thank you so much for the comments on my article. It was a very personal article and I had a profoundd need to pen down what I feel. I have learnt that we are often stronger than we give ourselves credit and moving forward is so important. If we don't we will some day not recognise the person who we have become.
My advice to anyone who finds themselves in the same boat where your network of family and friends don't accept and support you is to not waste time in build a new circle of friends and people who do accept and support you for who you are. one. There are many good people out there who will be happy to be part of our lives and it is okay to be yourself. My only regret is that.it took me so many years to realise I am just as entitled to life, love and acceptance as every other person. There is no need to ever again to hide from the world in shame.

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Posts: 9
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(@jennidavis)
Active Member     United States of America, Idaho, Victor
Joined: 4 years ago

Michelle,
There are so many parallels in our stories it is uncanny. I came out to my wife in 2004, buried it, again in 2010 and 2016. And finally 2019. My wife did not accept the fact that I am transgender until two things; she independently read up on the subject and I accepted it myself. We have had our ups and downs. Every couple will. Open communication has been the key for us and when I was trying to hide from myself I was closed to everyone else.

My favorite part of the movie is when Kim comes out to her manager and the manager said something about having her Gallbladder removed and acted nonchalant. 25 years ago I thought, that was unrealistic. Today I feel there are more wonderful people in the world than I could have imagined.
Peace and love to you.

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(@tauriel)
Joined: 2 years ago

Active Member     South Africa, Gauteng, Alberton
Posts: 11

I have thought about how closed off I have become over all the years and how the fact that I took so many years to make peace with myself also kept my wife stuck hoping things would change. Thank you for the kind response to the article.
Michelle

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Posts: 98
(@middleground)
Estimable Member     United States of America, Ohio, Ashland
Joined: 3 years ago

I've heard many transwomen say COVID put a roadblock in the way for them, but for me it was a help to make rapid progress! Being able to hide my facial hair with a mask while presenting otherwise as a girl in public was and still is quite wonderful. Yes, I too had to finally make a stand with not only myself but with my wife of over 40 years. I could no longer hide from who I truly was and said to my wife who knew I at times wore women's clothes, "I've got to move forward. I can't hide this anymore(paraphrased)." So, wearing a mask allowed me to go about my business in my feminine self much more often, almost always. I wrote and sent my "Coming Out letter," and got on with things. Wearing a mask also helped on the days where I couldn't shave - those in which I needed some hair growth for my electrolysis. So, for me, COVID was a godsend for my progression. As all, I'm very sorry for those who have suffered from the effects of COVID, even death. I have had two friends die from it, one being a transgirl who was very instrumental in my earlier understanding of who I truly am. The other was a sweet cis girlfriend who helped me in my fictional writing. So, I do pay my respects to those who have suffered the consequences of this pandemic.

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Posts: 4
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(@susanr)
Active Member     United States of America, Washington
Joined: 4 years ago

Thank you for sharing your heart full story, Michelle. Like so many here, your story reminds me so much of my past. I can relate to much of the emotional difficulties with it all. I wish you the best on your continuing transition and may things smooth out for you in time.

Susan R🌷.

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Posts: 51
(@jackier)
Trusted Member     United States of America, New York, Kingston
Joined: 3 years ago

The phrase “at peace with yourself” is what matters. Cancer has taken me on a similar trajectory, a journey of years to conclude that being true to ones self is my path as well. I fully understand that there are those that will be hurt or feel betrayed… but from past experience I’ve learned the personal lesson that those who stick by you when the chips are down… who truly value your humanity in its entirety… are the ones you are lucky to have found and will always be there for you. Like you, I’m going to follow that yellow brick road to see where it leads. And to my ears that sounds simply wonderful.

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