Honoring Change

Trusting Gender Identity

A phase – a temporary process of discovery – can be a liberating period of one’s life and lead to genuine growth.  By honoring “phases”, we allow children a safe space to change their mind or change their identity without backlash, repercussion or the infamous, “I told you so!”.  Dismissal of phases invalidates one’s ability to change.  You might unknowingly send messages that a child is worthy of support and belief only when their identity is not a phase.  We are teaching kids that identities must be set in stone and that gender must be permanent in order to be valid.  This is a ton of pressure on a child to inadvertently expect them to know at age 5 for example, exactly who they are going to be for the rest of their life! [Read full post here]. 

Today I want to expand on this topic about which I previously wrote. 

First, I want to reflect on my own coming out fears.  One concern that held me back most was – What if I changed my mind?  What if I decided one day that I wasn’t trans- that I no longer felt like a boy? In my mind this translated into:  What if I made a mistake?  What if I decided that I actually felt more like a girl and people used me as evidence that transgender people are wrong?  What if they used my uncertainty against the entire trans community to paint trans people as crazy, wishy-washy, and going against nature?  What if they used my indecisiveness as proof that god doesn’t make mistakes?

As I write these words, I cringe to even put them out into the universe so I want to stress that the myths above are not true!  Nevertheless, these ‘beliefs’ float around the general consciousness through the media, books, and political and religious scare tactics that can quickly be eaten up my confused, grieving, or searching parents.

When did this become the dreaded scenario?  When did being uncertain or changing one’s mind become such a bad thing?  When did changing one’s mind become the determining factor as to whether or not gender-questioning persons would be validated? 

The bigger the decision, the more certain people expect us to be.  The less certain, the less people are willing to validate one’s identity.  This puts trans people between a rock and a hard place because the truth is that the bigger a decision, the more likely one is to be uncertain!   Ever quite a job?  End a long-term relationship? Not an easy decision.  You probably did not feel 100% certain. 

To clarify, being trans is not a decision but telling people and coming out are.

Can we remove the stigma that comes with changing one’s mind (frequently called “de-transitioning”)?  Parents, loved ones and even the medical community expect trans people to be certain before they can be believed. 

Let’s stop this.  Figuring out any part of the identity is an ongoing process.  One’s gender identity can and might change and that is perfectly okay.  We are not static beings; we evolve, we transform, we shed old skins, we grow.  If you can let go of the unfortunate and limiting belief that gender at birth is written in stone, it makes perfect sense that like the brain, the body, the spirit, and the mind, gender can change.  Gender is a product of all of the above and in addition, a societal construction.  The neurons of the brain develop then deteriorate, the body ages, the spirit twinkles and dims, and every aspect of society advances, undergoes modification and revision.  Many believe that sex and gender are the two constants but sorry, there are no constants in life.

Reversing course does not mean a mistake was made.  It does not mean that the child, the parents, the therapist or the doctor were wrong; it just means that the person is insightful, self-aware and brave enough to enter a new stage of development AND they trusted you enough to share that process.

Life is an endless cycle of transformation.  This is inevitable so embrace it without judgement.

Insistent. Persistent. Consistent.

Supporting a Gender Non-Conforming Child by Thinking Outside the Guidelines

“We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.”
― William James

Insistent.  Persistent.  Consistent.  Community standards generally use these descriptions of behavior as a guideline or indicator that a child is serious about their gender identity.

That being said, the absence of insistent, persistent and consistent articulation of one’s gender identity does not necessarily imply that a child is cisgender and not transgender.  It worries me that, if a child does not fit this guideline, they may be disregarded.  I was none of these – ever.  I was inconsistent, wishy washy, and unsure.  I am still trans. 

Backtracking or showing uncertainty and hesitation is normal.  One day they may feel like a boy then a girl the next day.  Many people do not have a clear path.  It can be confusing to watch somebody present feminine one day then masculine the next but there is no right or wrong way to do gender or be transgender and many people need to experiment with what feels right.

 It is okay to feel like a man, woman, neither or both.  It is ok to not know.

Apprehension and hesitation to move forward can exist.  Trans people, even children are acutely aware of opening up a can of worms and there is no way of knowing how people will react, how their lives will change, if friends will be accepting, how they will navigate schools or which restrooms to use.  Sometimes even if their present way of life is not gender affirming, it feels less scary to stay with what is most comfortable.  Often, trans people test the waters before moving forward.  As stressful as it is, you are under their microscope as they feel out your level of acceptance.

Your child does not need to be 100% certain for you to validate and believe them.  Rarely in life is anybody 100% certain.  Another scenario is that kids can question gender, even go on hormones or blockers then decide that was not for them.  This does not invalidate transgender people nor does it mean that the child or parents made a mistake.  On the contrary, it shows adaptability, flexibility and growth.

It might help to remember that at this point/age nobody is making permanent decisions.   By letting a child present as the gender that they feel they are, you are giving them freedom to be themselves, not forcing permanent change upon them.  Children are able to know themselves better than adults think they do.  By the age of 2, children have a concept of gender.    

Especially as adults, when things feel difficult, we want to be certain so we can feel validated in our decisions.  When things are changing, we want definitions so we know how to orient ourselves. We create labels so we know how to relate to each other.  We follow guidelines so we can avoid being wrong. 

Remove labels, definitions, certainty and expectations and what we have left is movement through time and change. Have faith and believe in the ones you love as they are in this moment.

Honor their identity as it develops over time.  This builds unconditional love and a foundation of resiliency.  With that foundation the future is manageable no matter what it brings.

Broken, We are Not

Transgender people aren’t having a hard time because they are transgender; they are having a hard time because society has decided that being transgender is a bad thing.  People have drawn a conclusion in order to organize their own world and transgender people are caught in that crossfire.  People bought into this negative view but we can opt out.

You are not a failure.

Just because you are transgender, does not make you broken- you do not need fixing.  There is nothing wrong with you.  You are a human in the wrong physical body, but with the strongest, most precious soul and I see you and you are beautiful.

You are not your thoughts and you are not other people’s thoughts.  They can tell you that you are crazy; they can tell you that you are wrong.  You can tell yourself that this is too hard or that you are not worthy of being the person you desire to be.  Or, you can practice watching these thoughts come in and go out and let yourself be worthy of life. 

Be impeccable with the words you speak about yourself and others because those words become the general consciousness of society.  Every time you define, judge, criticize and belittle yourself, you are contributing to the creation of the same world that hurts you so much.

Perhaps we can not only have more compassion for other people but for ourselves.  Today, tomorrow, and every day thereafter, that you wake up and decide to continue your existence, be gentle with yourself because you are brave.

This society has an obsession with gender and they’ve got it all wrong.  Hate is just a by-product of society’s obsession to force gender into a strict binary.  Your physical body serves to carry your soul.  Your soul has no gender.  Energy has no gender.  Your higher self has no gender.  Your existence is paving the way to less rigid, more accepting standards of gender and our culture just hasn’t caught up yet; you are ‘ahead of the times’ and people just need more time to grasp an understanding.  This world needs you to be different.  Otherwise, who is going to change the world?

Somebody out there needs you.  Be the person you needed when you had nobody-for someone else.  Love yourself unconditionally so that this world can be a less hateful place.

Being Transgender is Not a Phase

Is Being Transgender “Just a Phase”?

Let’s change the negative language and therefore, the stigma of being transgender.

Is this a phase? Parents commonly ask when their child comes out as transgender.  It is most likely not a phase.  More on this here: https://www.hrc.org/resources/transgender-children-and-youth-understanding-the-basics  For most parents this news usually comes as a shock but likely, the child contemplated their gender for a long time.  Nobody wakes up one morning and, on a whim, decides to flip their entire world upside down and switch genders.

The Fallacy of “Just a phase”

A phase (used in this way) is generally something one chooses and gets instant gratification out of despite going against norms or expectations.  Nobody chooses to be trans; they are born trans.  Being trans can be hard; nobody gets instant gratification and benefit from discrimination, misunderstanding, or feeling unsafe.  Living in the wrong body and attempting to explain that to people is never conducive to instant gratification; it can be confusing and scary.  Even if one experiences no dysphoria (dysphoria is not a requirement to be trans), there are still uncomfortable conversations and interactions to be had and the process of transition is long with many hoops to jump through.

The Negative Connotation Of “Just a phase”

To question whether or not something is “just a phase” can many times carry a negative connotation and implies a form of self presentation that one needs to grow out of like the terrible twos phase or the rebellious teenage phase.  Nobody ever says “he’s going through the all A’s phase” or the “employee of the month phase”. 

Many parents feel a sense of guilt about their child coming out – How could I have not seen this?  Did I do something wrong?  How could I have caused my child this pain?  Being transgender is not inherently a bad thing that must be outgrown or a phase that one hopes will pass.  Parents should not be made to feel as if something tragic just happened after their child comes out. 

Let’s re-frame how we view being trans! One of the best forms of support is to change the negative language and therefore, the stigma of being transgender.

The media, the politicians, the bullies will portray trans as something to be ashamed of but you can refute this and empower your loved one by believing them and endorsing their self-awareness and reflection!  When your child, your partner or your friend comes out to you, they are a light to be celebrated; they show immense bravery and trust to share their authentic self.  Conviction in one’s truth is not something to feel guilty about.  Rather, feel proud that you can teach strength and belief in authenticity!

Re-frame “Is it a phase?” to mean something Positive

A phase – a temporary process of discovery – can be a liberating period of one’s life and lead to genuine growth.  By honoring “phases”, we allow children a safe space to change their mind or change their identity without backlash, repercussion or the infamous, “I told you so!”.  Dismissal of phases invalidates one’s ability to change.  You might unknowingly send messages that a child is worthy of support and belief only when their identity is not a phase.  We are teaching kids that identities must be set in stone and that gender must be permanent in order to be valid.  This is a ton of pressure on a child to inadvertently expect them to know at age 5 for example, exactly who they are going to be for the rest of their life!

On the other hand, your child can change their mind and still be trans.  They may take five steps forward and 20 back.  They may retract and go back into the closet and this indecisiveness (or appearance of indecisiveness!) is normal.  Coming out to family is scary.  Coming out to yourself can be scarier.  Gift them space to discover without letting the non-linear timeline de-legitimize their process.

How can we be certain something is or isn’t a phase, anyways?

Yet another perspective is that the “Is this a phase question” is moot.  We cannot know in this moment if something is or isn’t a phase.  It isn’t until looking back in hindsight, once the phase “ends”, that we can call it a definitive phase.  Have faith in the present moment. 

Celebrate diversity and their ability to change as so often adults forget how to be this free!  Thank your child for their open mindedness in finding their own authenticity even if it makes you uncomfortable.  Or, better yet, also ask: Why does this make me uncomfortable?  How can I work through this for the betterment of my child and myself?

How could you know for certain if something is a phase?  Is the gamble of thinking you know your child better than they know themselves worth the risk?  By honoring your child’s chosen pronouns and name, buying them gender affirming clothes and toys you lose nothing except your own comfort and security and they gain a hero, an advocate, a supporter. 

For older kids, even hormone blockers carry little risk and merely put off puberty.  It’s a way of buying more time as families navigate a plan of action.  More on Lupron myths here: https://medium.com/@carolly/dispelling-the-myths-about-puberty-blockers-3a132119faca

Believe. Have Faith. Trust in the unknown

When I realized I was trans, everybody had some explanation as to why I saw myself as a boy instead of a girl as if they knew me better than I knew myself.  Unknowingly, even those with the best of intentions tried to talk me out of being trans while I longed for somebody to just believe me.  In the absence of belief, we feel invisible.  Nobody can predict the future.  The greatest support you can offer is to have faith in the person you love when everything ahead of you is unknown and no matter how scary it is, walk forward into that unknown holding hands.  Your belief, love and faith are the life-saving iron shield between your child and the cruelty in this world.

Being Transgender from a More Spiritual Perspective

I’ve been on a more spiritual journey for a while now – getting into yoga, meditation, ecstatic dance, astrology and getting closer to a group of inspiring, spiritual people. 

The past three years (or more) have been defined by massive preoccupation with the outer, physical body, gender and ego and the next curve in my journey of transformation, is reducing my attachment to those identifications.  The past six months have been defined by inner transformation, during which I peeled back layers upon layers of subconscious motivations, limiting value systems, and attachment to my identity, to reveal a more soul level existence.  Below I delve into this introspection on an emotional level:

I feel naked- my soul is naked, bare- reinvented for all the world to see, tiny expanding cracks that make ripples of uncomfortable change- vibrations through the rest of my body.  I’ve been turned inside out and the parts of me I hid from the world- subconscious and ineffective behavior patterns, every emotion that I directed outward that had tiny strings attached to the deepest inner workings of the soul, are now pushed under a glaring spotlight- ironically, my spotlight, the one I pretended to dance under, like everything was ‘fine’ as the person they wanted to see.  Now my ego crumbles in slow motion. 

City of me pulverized by quaking earth.  My whole body quakes.  Cloaked in vulnerability.  Pull the sash and unravel further, my rubble.

Pieces of skin and its shell, sloughing off and all I see is my skeleton now.  Going deep inside myself, traveling, traveling, and the air is getting thinner and must remember to just breathe.  I don’t know who I am anymore but maybe I never did- maybe we aren’t so tangible or definable as to “be known”.  I’m tripping over the tiniest stones in that means-to-an -end.  I’m missing them, the sparkling ones that would have reflected back to me what I truly look like and the dull, jagged ones that would have made me look even harder.  Maybe I don’t want to find the boundaries of what separates me from everything else because it’s a misleading construction.

I’m facing myself and I feel alive.  And it’s OK that I feel infinite emotion.

Relinquish control.

Detach myself from labels.

Decipher the person from the persona.

Let go of the person to feel energy as a part of others.

Connection to everything around me.

So raw, I perceive this world with x-ray vision into the consciousness of humanity.

Underneath these false structures that kept us categorized, competing, contrasted, belief systems are decomposing.

I see embarrassing facades – false concrete upon which society felt secure in kidding themselves.  Superficial connections, insecurity, and comfort zones have dissolved and I’m balancing on only one toe but learning to feel every cell grounded in the earth.  World, I won’t protect you anymore, at least not by weaving you a false safety net.   I’m giving myself fully to you –and in raw, unrefined form, embracing spirituality with trembling feelings, I invite you to walk, not behind me, not in front of me, but beside me…

As a transgender person, I am grateful for these opportunities to examine the existence of my inner and outer body- all the superficial characteristics that make up sex and gender – facial hair, hips, genitalia, muscles and body shape, but now, it is time to examine where my soul is going – the soul that has no sex and no gender.  I am just energy; we are all energy and all this energy is connected. 

I will continue to post writing from the past few years because I believe it could help others in all phases of their journey.  By no means, am I invalidating the transgender existence by rendering the physical body or gender irrelevant; rather, I believe that connecting to a higher version of ourselves (beyond the physical body) can enable us to be more content in any stage of the transgender journey despite perceived physical limitations.


I want to change the collective consciousness.  Here in the west, we define, validate and value ourselves in terms of how we look on the outside as opposed to contemplating the spirit or the soul.  We are obsessed with a maligned materialistic view which emphasizes the differences between things – humans are separate and therefore unequal to animals; humans are separate and therefore unequal to nature; “male” is separate and therefore unequal to “female”.  Here, differences are the defining factor and as a transgender person, thus far, my entire existence has revolved around these limiting views – I am either male or female or somewhere in between (but still a definable point on a spectrum as if male/female energy are even tangible); I either “pass” as the correct gender, or I don’t; my body does or does not conform to stereotypical “male” characteristics; trans people are different and separate from non-trans people; my genitalia makes me one of only two sexes – male or female; my ego expects people to reinforce how I see myself and that is how I validate myself.  Alienation is the result.

When we follow outward appearances back to the source, we see that everything is connected and born from the same consciousness.  If we can veer our sense of identity away from the ego which perceives itself as separate from the soul that sees only unity, we can exist with less suffering (which is the natural order of the universe) and realize that we are inherently enough just as we are in this moment.

Will I Regret Testosterone?

I worried for years that taking testosterone or “transitioning” could be the wrong decision.  What if NOT taking testosterone is the wrong decision? 

What if I came out to everybody then changed my mind? What if this was a mistake but I had permanent changes? What if I looked in the mirror and hated the person looking back at me?

The fear of regret keeps me up at night. 

I’ve been waiting all these years to feel 100% sure.  I’m starting to realize that I may not be able to figure all this out; I can’t predict the future, only create it.   Taking a leap of faith and letting go of the attachment to good or bad [decisions] might be the only way forward. 

We are allowed to change our minds! In fact, we do this every day.  None of life is set in stone and permanent, not even life itself.  Our identities change and are fluid throughout life so why the overwhelming pressure to force a permanent decision in regards to transitioning?   Gender can be fluid.  Gender can shift.  We stay in relationships until they no longer work.  We stay at jobs until they no longer serve us.  Transitioning does not have to trap us! 

Every day I wake up and decide who I want to be.  I get to decide if I want to continue taking testosterone or stop.  Do I like the changes or do I not?  Am I happy with my decision or do I need to update my course?  Changes happen slowly; nobody goes to sleep one night and wakes up in the morning with a full beard!  In other words, I have time to process the changes on testosterone.

 The unknown is scary.  Maybe some things just need to be scary for a while – scary until they are no longer scary.

I started testosterone on December 19, 2017, a decision that ended up being the best decision I ever made.  I never second guessed myself after that.  Today I feel liberated.   

I knew that if I didn’t try it, I’d always wonder what it would have been like.  I didn’t want to die one day having missed the opportunity.  That would have been the only real mistake.

Positive Perspective for Parents of Transgender Children

“I don’t want my child to be transgender because I don’t want them to have a difficult life.”  This is one of the most frequent things I hear parents say once they realize their child is transgender.

 Parents grieve “the good life” for their child, assuming that trans people all live hard, sad lives of abuse and discrimination, devoid of any normalcy or happiness.  While no doubt this is unfortunately true for many, there are plenty of thriving trans people living successful lives, with fulfilling jobs, healthy relationships, and even families of their own.  Nonetheless, it is in the general consciousness being trans equals a doomed life and in fact, many children will live up to this belief that they absorb from unknowing parents. Nobody knows how their transgender children would have grown up had they not been transgender so grieve that idealistic life you envisioned for them then release it with a kiss into the atmosphere where it can recycle into something even better. 

While we all need to advocate against transphobia, discrimination, and violence, we also need to let go of the assumption that being transgender is synonymous with an inevitable “bad life”.   Nobody is destined to have a bad life. 

Let’s flip the switch and change the language. 

What if your child could live a meaningful, fulfilling life as a transgender human being?  What if you, as the parent could be their foundation, their rock, their unwavering support that strengthens them enough to rise above challenge or circumstance? 

Happiness resides in the mind.  Don’t take away their power of personal choice.  Empower your child with belief that they will live a happy life if they choose.   Teach them that they are not a victim of circumstance.  Teach them that their differences are superpowers. The rest of the world just hasn’t caught up to them yet!

Show them that they have the power to teach others how they want to be treated.  Let them believe that they can be the change they want to see in the world.

Think back on something you are most proud of – was it easy?  Probably not.  Many of our most powerful moments and greatest accomplishments were born out of towering obstacles or deepest sorrows.  Naturally, parents want to spare their children from discomfort of any kind.  What if that were actually possible? How would they learn to be strong?  How could they be constantly pushed to expand their own potential?

Everyday difficulties can bring empowerment and strength; living as transgender can bring empowerment and strength in monumental proportion. 

I know many transgender people who have come out, transitioned, overcome obstacles and went on to become successful leaders, speakers, advocates for minority communities, while enjoying marriages and happy relationships.  Transgender kids can grow up to be doctors, husbands, wives, and ministers all while moving through life in their most authentic form.

Consciously and intentionally envision the life you want for your transgender child, not the life you are scared of.  Imagine your transgender child, happy.   

As a newborn baby, you swaddled them.  Never stop taking them into your arms. Your child just wants you to see them as genuinely as they see themselves.  Celebrating your child’s authenticity is the most precious gift!

What Does it Mean to Be a Man?

Navigating the nuances of what it means to “Be Man Enough” and creating our own definitions

Today was one of the best days of my life; I played pick up soccer with the guys, AS a guy.  “Hey dude”, “hey man”, “he”, they all said.  They saw me as one of them, as one of the guys.  It was the best feeling in the world.  Living as I was meant to live, I felt on top of the world.  How well I played!  Being slightly older, I still kept up with them.  I scored the most beautiful goal and as I watched in disbelief as the ball flew into the back of the net.  It was like a god had come down from the heavens and handed me this most perfect moment in the correct gender, so perfect in fact, that it completely outweighed any sadness or struggle I’d ever experienced as trans.  The guys high fived me and continued to marvel my goal even as the game died out and we parted ways.  Drunk on a high that no drug could even begin to touch, I basked in the glow of this gift wrapped in rare golden ribbon. 

Somehow in the back of my mind, I still doubted myself.  I kept thinking, any second now, something would give me away as a girl.  That had been more exhausting than the game itself.  My mind was fatigued from being hyper aware of how they interacted with me – trying to figure out how I was being gendered, and being tensely on guard in case I was misgendered.  Then, this whole beautiful experience would have been shattered into a million little pieces.  Inside I would have been crushed as my expanding yet flimsy identity dissolved into mere memories forever.  Had the hormones worked enough? Was I passing as male?  Sometimes I couldn’t tell!

I realized that I had no idea how to be a guy. 

I feel like a guy inside.  I see myself as a guy in my mind’s eye.

Thing is, I am a guy who has only ever been socialized as a girl. 

What do guys talk about?  How do they speak?  What kinds of expressions do they make with their faces?  What kind of gestures are made with their hands?  What inflection do they use in their voices?  How do they posture their bodies and in what circumstances do they make eye contact or avoid it all together? 

What are the nuances of the social code by which men live amongst each other?

I’m starting to consistently be gendered as male but I’m afraid of being “found out”.  Being trans in the “androgynous” stage is like constantly living undercover and every moment being afraid to get called out as a fraud- “You are really a girl!”  That fear hangs over my head in every social interaction.  I’m constantly afraid to say or do something wrong, breaching the social code of men -laugh at the wrong time, speak in too excited of a voice, apologize or say too much, and someone is going to realize I was born a girl, then think I AM a girl.

I contemplate this for a while and reason with that irksome inner voice.  I AM trans.  I WAS born a girl.  Stop feeling like an imposter!  Am I a guy?  Yes.  Am I a cis-guy?  No.  So why worry as passing like a cis-guy?  Over time, I have no doubt I’ll be given the opportunity to be socialized into the male world but that is just that – an opportunity – bits and pieces of which I am entitled to take or leave.  Living as female, I shunned social norms, gender norms and any aspect of socialization I did not agree with. 

No doubt there will be small socializations like greetings and speech mannerisms that I’ll pick up and no doubt, there will be aspects of male culture and masculinity that I’ll reject completely.  I’ve always chosen to be unapologetically ME in life and gender will not change that.  In fact, I’m in a unique position to be so beautifully free and walk both sides (and in between) of gender and grow exponentially.  Maybe I’ll be an odd, slightly off, different, unique guy and I want to embrace that.  I am becoming more ME every day and I’m doing that for myself, not to perpetuate a specific male stereotype and certainly not to further toxic masculinity or unrealistic expectations of what it means to be a man!  I’ll analyze and question everything just as I always have.  I’ll just be transforming, changing, redefining, and every day this happens, I’m less attached to a concrete, definitive version of “I”.  What can be more liberating that that?

Am I Transgender?

People usually think of “coming out” as an external thing – having to tell family and friends, but for me, “coming out” to myself was by far the hardest and most confusing battle and can’t be summarized in a single blog post.

Growing up, my brother and I lacked strict gender expectations from our parents.  I was a tomboy and played with barbies as well as Ninja turtles and GI Joes.  My brother played with dolls and sported long hair.  There was never anything I couldn’t do because I was a girl and there was nothing he couldn’t do because he was a boy.  The fact that I was not raised to rigidly “be a girl”, and therefore did not suffer the discomfort of not being able to do boy things, was probably the most significant reason that kept me from realizing sooner that I was transgender.  As I got older, it became clear to me that, no matter how tomboyish, butch, or masculine I was, I did not want people relating and referring to me as female; I wanted people to interact with me as male.  

Learning that every transgender person has an individual and unique path, cleared my head of the misconception that in order to be transgender, I had to fit a certain stereotype.  So many people knew they were trans from childhood, plagued their whole life by the certainty on being born into the wrong body.  Most people felt like outsiders in groups of the same sex.  I’d heard uncountable stories of sad childhoods, suicide and life-long discontent.  My life had not mirrored these same experiences.  Once I opened my mind to the idea that one could be transgender without having the same history as all other transgender people, my confidence in my new identity as a transmale, grew.

Always obsessed with weight lifting, wanting muscles, broad shoulders and more narrow hips, I chased this physique for decades which was an unrealistic dream for as long as my body ran on the incorrect hormone.  In my mind, I saw my body as male-looking and in that body, I made love in fantasies, endowed with correct “male parts”.  The masculine bodies and deep voices of men, made me jealous.  Browsing the men’s underwear isles and seeing beautifully full crotches made me envious. For a long time, presenting myself as male in society seemed daunting and even awkward but there was never a time in my mind’s eye that I did not appear male.  For 30 years of my life, I did not truly know what being transgender even meant.  The more I learned about it, the more I identified with the concept.  Having new mental constructs developed from the experiences of other transgender people and research into the medical process of hormone replacement therapy, allowed me to expand my understanding of who I was. 

Cis people- people who identify with the body/ gender into which they were born do not question their gender.  Everyone has insecurities about their bodies, but cis people do not have insecurities about their gender.  Confidence in feeling male was a series of baby steps and experimentation – playing with pronouns and name changes and seeing how those changes made me feel inside.  As a transgender guy when someone called me sir and my heart sparkled inside, those immediate reactions were gold.  Pay attention to them as something that immediate can’t be reasoned with or analyzed out of existence!  I used to say to myself, “There is no way I am trans.  I loved dolls, dress up and putting on make-up with friends.”  Our minds can always rationalize our way out of something, especially when the implications of that something are monumental! But when someone calls you the right pronoun and your heart smiles because you feel as though your true self has been seen, how can you deny the authenticity of that heart feeling?  As time went on, the discomfort of being called “she”, “lady”, or ma’am” became more apparent to me.  “She” felt like a different person, someone other than me. “He” just felt genuine.

Sometimes the golden moment is not figuring out who you are, but who you aren’t.  I knew I was not a girl nor could I live the rest of my life as one.  Wary of existing on the opposite end of the binary, subject to negative male stereotypes and gender expectations, I hesitated for a long time to identify as a transman.  Over time, I accepted my transgender identity but that did not mean that I had to adopt any gender norm that I did not value.

I truly believe there is a nagging voice in all of us that admits to ourselves exactly who we are, but layers upon layers of societal expectations, fear, and denial, distort that voice.  It’s a matter of peeling away those layers and deciphering what you want by filtering out the bombardment of expectations of who others push you to be. 

And fear, this is the true enemy. 

Fear masquerades as uncertainty towards change and reassurance in current comforts.  No matter how unhappy I was with my current body or existence as female, at least I was adapted to the current situation, at least there was safety in the known as opposed to the unknown which made no such promise.  Days, months, years passed as everyday life marches on but I never could completely get rid of the sense that something was “off”.  GIRL felt like a definition, imposed upon me by my own body and by the general consensus of society. I set out to create my own definition of what it means to be ME.

“Those who make it happen will tell you it wasn’t easy. Those who think it should be easy won’t make it happen.”

-Will Craig

What is Success Anyways?

Failure is Only Failure if We Define it as Such

Any transition in life requires that we must always remember that there is no such thing as failure, only temporary setbacks.

A great deal of time had to pass after starting testosterone before I was able to feel content with my transition.  Guys around me who had been on testosterone for half the time, sported tons of facial hair and a deep voice.  My voice did eventually drop more, bolstering my confidence but up until that point, I felt discouraged – changes felt painfully slow, barely noticeable.  I realized the nagging discontent that plagued me for the past half a year was this:  my transition felt unsuccessful; my transition felt like a failure. 

But then I contemplate: can any kind of transition be a failure while still in progress?  Can I even determine something to be a success or failure until it is complete?  But, is it even completion that determines success?  If a subjective idea of “completion” determines something’s worth, wouldn’t that render meaningless, the process of change?

An even more important question:  what does failure mean to me and by what criteria do I judge failure?  There are many criteria upon which my transition could be judged:

Do I pass in public as a guy?  Have I noticeably changed?  Is my voice deep enough for people to gender me as male over the phone?  Do I have facial hair and how much?  Am I happier?  Am I experiencing the expected changes?

I could answer yes to all these questions but I still felt as though I should be further along – I should have more hair, my voice should be deeper, my body shape should be more visibly changed.   But wait.  Says who?  Or, compared to what? 

I realized I had been comparing myself to those individuals experiencing exceptionally fast changes and basing my worth off people’s reactions to me.  Furthermore, the fact that nobody talked about my transition or commented on my changes was something that confused me.  I had no idea how I appeared to others so it felt as though my transition was not happening, that I was not appearing “more male” to those around me, that I wasn’t progressing. 

Whether we admit it or not, how we view ourselves is at least partially created according to others’ perception of us and perhaps I had been judging my progress on people’s verbal responses (or lack of).  But why did I need the reassurance of other people so bad?  Perhaps years of not being recognized as a guy made me desperate for that validation.

But, could I re-evaluate what success and failure mean to me?  If we all re-evaluated how we define success and failure, could we render the concept of failure non-existent?

Stop caring about what people think.  Stop defining the self by the reactions of others.  Better yet, I can exist forever changing without defining myself.   Can I just be a constantly evolving, transforming energy?

I had the courage to change and to me, there is no greater success.

Failure is when we let fear hold us back completely.  Failure is when we don’t try, when we think we won’t be good enough so we don’t start.  If we try all the things we want to try, we could never fail because we live in the moment and never let anything hold us back.  By keeping ourselves in a safe spot, holding onto comfort by avoiding embarrassment or vulnerability, we limit ourselves and will never know our true capabilities. 

Be bad at something but have fun anyways.  By not knowing what to say, but staying in that silence, we might hear each other better.  Allow others to be everything but perfect; show weakness and let it teach us to not create ourselves by reacting. 

Maybe this will allow us to connect on a deeper level.  In this case there is no such thing as failure, just a deeper existence.

The beginning of transition seems excruciatingly slow, in fact, a point in time existed where changes seemed so slow that I entertained the possibility of testosterone not even working, but changes do happen; hormones absolutely do their job Many small changes add up to a big, noticeable change in appearance and 1 day I realized I was being gendered as male 100% of the time.  Days that crept by in between these two time points allowed me numerous moments of introspection and perseverance.  Those days of painfully slow changes allowed me to develop a gentler definition of success and failure and now I possess more confidence in exploring the world around me.