Integrate and Differentiate

Welcome to 2021, y’all. A big ol’ New Year’s hug from this Okie Hippy chick. I had the good fortune to video chat a very dear friend and kindred spirit yesterday, and as usually happens, our conversation triggered deep thoughts about my progress on this grand adventure referred to as a ‘transition’. It has now been 15 months since I began, nine months as my genuine self and six months on HRT.

During these times I have been rearranging and even purging my life. I’ve worked toward building my place in the world with fair success. I’ve worked as hard to eliminate my birth self just as diligently. As if this isn’t a big enough task, add the process of grieving for the loss of my life partner 14 months ago, and and readjusting to life on my own. Okay then, you get the picture that I’ve done a lot of juggling, as have most of us.

Right between the two year end holidays, I found myself in the midst of a filthy clean up job at home. I found an old pair of dungarees, a flannel shirt, and ragged tennies from the ‘old days’ so that I didn’t ruin a nice tunic and leggings. Bingo – job done! I thought to myself, ‘That was a wise decision.’

En Femme Style

It became clear to me that ‘purging’ the leftovers from my birth gender may not be my best course of action. What if I am losing or discarding some attribute that is to my advantage? How can I really function without ‘Him’ (not a ‘dead self’, not an ‘old self’, or some other variant… simply Him). After all, He taught me everything I know well, 99.5 percent of everything. I would be helpless without Him.

I see this adventure as one of Integrating and of Diffentiating.


This is a process of bringing together, blending, synchronizing, of joining together as a functional whole. We begin to acquire new, often foreign skills and knowledge, we learn mystical concepts such as how to live as a woman, or live as a man. We absorb lessons and advice, experience and mistakes, triumphs and setbacks. It took me almost 66 years to learn to be Him, and I was quite good at it, while I’ve been learning to be Carly for scarcely a year. I admit, I’ve learned a lot, but I don’t know much.

On the other hand He knows a lot. A LOT!  He is well established with a solid foundation and a take charge attitude; He easily takes charge even today if I’m not careful and alert. Truth be told, He is responsible for me being here now. How can I ever purge that? And he’s not going to go away, after all, ragged dungarees and tennies demonstrated that. When it comes right down to it, I am thankful for Him and I love Him. He is an example to me of strength, endurance, commitment, and loyalty. I can no more purge Him than I can discard my left leg. My job is truly one of joining together as a functional whole.


A process of separating, sorting, clarifying, or purifying. Similar characteristics are brought together, and non similar characteristics are relocated. We differentiate a jigsaw puzzle by separating edge pieces from the pile and sorting color groups together. We integrate the puzzle by fitting the pieces together to make the picture emerge.

We do the same type of thing in our transition. We learn to fit together what we bring into the change and add to it the lessons and skills we acquire over time. We make use of old points of view, opinions, feelings, etc., until we learn a more effective way to live. We will gain more and newer lessons as we go on. As our new life abilities emerge and become natural, we begin to choose how to approach life. We can begin to separate old patterns and habits that don’t ‘fit the picture’. We can continue to feel scared, anxious, or distressed about our life situation, or we can learn to feel confident, to embrace our life and our self as a gift, someone worth being loved and accepted.  We can then decide to discard the toxic and grab on to the joy of being genuine, real, strong, each of us beautiful in his or her special way. We can cling to an amazing love for ourselves, and then give that love to others.

At present, I choose to keep Him around. Sometimes, He knows exactly what is needed when I don’t. Other times, He is completely clueless. I’ll take His advice, if it seems wise.  I’ll ignore Him if I think that’s proper. I want my life to be integrated and free of contaminants. So, I’ll absorb characteristics that enable me and discard those that don’t. Integrating and differentiating.

The bottom line is that the life I desire is mine to develop. I am able to benefit from many sources in order to bring this about. There are those of you here at TGH, and what a blessing you are. There are family and friends who accept and assist. There are professionals, and support groups, and sometimes complete strangers to teach me.

And there is me… the part of me with 66 years of practicing life, and me, Carly, who is new, ignorant, but capable of great achievements. I can integrate my life into a meaningful whole and discard the remaining fragments that aren’t part of the picture. I’ll get to where I’m going, thanks to the help from all of them.

So can you!

As always, thanks for reading this article. Thank you for being here, and for being you; I wish you each, all the peace and love you can handle.

Love ya!  Mean it.


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I am now 2 years into my brand new life and life style. I think I have had a wonderful time on this adventure, and I still look forward to the rest of the ride. After a lifetime of hiding, I am doing what I needed to do years and years ago, an I think I am doing it with class. TGH has been integral in helping me stay balanced and healthy during this time. I am thankful and grateful to the guy that was here before me. He taught me so much that I needed to know to be able to do this with confidence. He will never be a "dead self": He will be cherished and praised for what he gqve me and prepared me to do. I hope to be able to share my life and my experiences during this adventure, and maybe even make some lifelong friends and be an encouragement or a support for other women on this journey. I wish you all the best love, peace and satisfaction you so well deserve. Carly

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Lawren Peace
Lawren Peace(@lorie2fine)
11 months ago

Carly, This is a wonderful article that expresses so many of my sentiments about accepting Him in this world. I feel very much the same. I think of it in the context of the 2 Spirit designation for Native Americans. I don’t hate Him or wish to erase all that came before Lorie. There’s a LOT of good stuff that I cherish. And there’s a LOT of joy in expressing my authentic self now. As a matter of fact, instead of finding a name that is vastly different, I’ve been toying with using a shortened version of my given name.… Read more »

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