Hello my darlings, I hope you have been well. Today is a big day for me, although I’ve only just realized the significance of it. September 28, 2014 is a day that will forever be a day of remembrance for me.
You see, 1t has been exactly 1 year, to the day, since we began this transformative journey. Exactly 1 year ago today, we awoke from a peculiar dream in the early hours of the morning and were forced to face a truth we’d been hiding from our entire life. Robert was really a we, and we were really something much closer to female than male.
As I go back and read over the words I wrote on October 6th, 8 days after the dream that changed everything, I am struck by how much has changed over the last year. In some ways I can scarcely recall what life was like before all of this happened, yet I can still vividly recall the fear, anxiety, shame, and uncertainty I experienced upon realizing that I wanted to change genders. At the time it seemed like such an insurmountable task, not to mention a little insane. People just didn’t really do that. Sure, I’d met a few people who had, but they were such a small minority, and they seemed so sure of themselves.
I can remember how confused I felt and how unsure I was that this was even a thing for me. My transgender friends had all seemed so certain that they were supposed to be their identified gender, but I didn’t feel the same way. Was I really a girl? That was the question I kept asking myself over and over again. In many ways the answer was a resounding yes, but in other ways there was a hesitation. Eventually this question evolved to look more like: Am I just a girl?
Through some much needed self-exploration, guided in great part by Auntie Kate Bornstein, I eventually realized that the reason there was some hesitation was that I was, in fact, both male and female. I discovered that there really were two of us inhabiting this body, and that together we were both male and female, and yet something entirely more or different. There was no real word in our language to describe who and what we were. Transgender was a great place to start, and non-binary was even closer to the mark, but even still there is no accurate descriptor for our gender. We made our own, calling ourselves a non-binary transwoman (one word) and felt a degree of relief knowing that it was okay to be something new and different.
So, what has the last year taught me/us? For those who’ve been tagging along for the entire journey you probably know that I’ve learned an enormous amount this year; far more than the few preceding years combined. I’ve also gained or been given so much; Freedom being one of the greatest gifts so far.
The freedom to be me, to be myself, to be the person I want to be has been just unbelievably fun, exciting, and rewarding. I have learned to see the beauty I have inside of me in a way I never could before. I have learned to look at and overcome the shame I felt and inflicted upon myself. I have discovered the power of forgiving yourself for mistakes. And above all else I have learned why it’s important to love yourself and to believe that you are worthy of good things.
I spent so many years hating myself and believing I wasn’t worthy of love. I felt broken on the inside and believed that there was something wrong with me. The thing that was wrong with me, however, was my belief that I was wrong or bad for who I wanted to be. It was only when I could really look at myself in the mirror and see Emma begin to emerge as the months went by that I realized she had been there all along and my shame about her was misplaced. She was not to be ashamed of. We were not broken. Perhaps broken apart from one another for a long time, but never broken.
I have felt my soul begin to mend as I have stepped into this new life as Emma and have felt the renewed spirit of love and infinite possibilities surround me. Overcoming my greatest fear gave me the momentum to make huge life changes and to fix a lot of malfunctioning portions of my life that I had previously been content to leave in their degradation.
I have gained so much in the last year. I have gained confidence. I have gained self-esteem. I have gained assertiveness. I have gained personal empowerment, and I have gained a voice. Never again will I be timid and meek Robert, so unsure of himself that he will not stand up for the things he must. I am now a force to be reckoned with. Instead of timidly hoping for acceptance I have learned to demand and assert my acceptance. I am who I am, and no one can tell me otherwise. Not my family, not my friends, and certainly not society. I have gained a solid self and now know what I want to do with my life. I will not be ignored and I will make a difference.
Although I have gained much, I have also lost much as well. I have lost many friends. I have lost the respect of those who refused to accept me. I have lost the love and admiration of family members. I have lost a strong bond with my mother. I have lost the man I used to be. Although Robert is still part of this collective we, he is also forever gone. We will never be Robert again. We will never live as Robert did. We will never think as Robert did. And we will never love quite the way Robert did.
We have lost the firm foundation that Robert constructed for himself and have been forced built a new foundation. This foundation is more solid and more capable of holding up the life we’ve begun to build, but the remnants of what was is still buried beneath this new foundation.
We have lost the privilege that comes from being cisgender. We have lost the acceptance that comes from conformity. We have lost the ability to be invisible in the crowd. We have lost the ability to be considered “normal” and must now take on the burden of being an “other” or “different.”
People stare at us. People say mean things to us. People treat us as less than human. People mock, ridicule, and degrade us. People hate us. Ours is not an easy life. Ours is not a smooth path. Many things that once were easy have now become truly difficult. Much that was simple has now become forever complicated. Much that was complicated has become tragically simple.
Our body is different. Our mind is different. Our heart is different. Our life is different. We are forever changed, forever altered by this past year. We have felt the greatest joys we’ve ever known and the deepest despairs we’ve ever seen.
We have taken a new name, a new place in the world, and we have made it our own. There are no limitations here, no borders to stay within, no expectations to live up to. We are who we are supposed to be, and we have paid a heavy price to achieve that.
We have known joy. Love. Happiness. Confidence. Excitement. Eagerness. Fun. Peace. Kindness and brilliance over the last year.
We have also known sadness. Loss. Despair. Pain. Anguish. Anger. Rage. Heartbreak. Frustration. Entrapment. Suffocation and the fading will to live over the last year.
In the end, however, we have found beauty within and we will never hide it again. We will shine for all to see so that others know what is possible when one overcomes their fear and live a life true to oneself. The inessential has been stripped away, and what remains is the raw, unfettered will to live this fleeting life to its greatest potential. We will achieve great things. We will tear down barriers. We will fight for what is good and right. We will be victorious over the pressures to conform. We will display beauty and confidence outside the margins, outside the borders, and beyond the limitations of the gender binary. We are Emma, and this is just the beginning.