Wednesday, October 28, 2015

10-28-2015 Entry: Being Accepted as a Woman


Hello my darling readers! I hope all is well with you and that life is treating you well. I hope you are continuing the ongoing battle against cis-hetero-normativity and are rebelling against gender norms whenever possible.

Today, however, I write to you about something that’s started to happen in recent weeks. It’s hard to fully explain and it’s been such a subtle/gradual change that it was difficult to tell how much progress had been made until it hit me yesterday.

So, as most of you know, I am approximately 8 months into my HRT journey and I have now been living fulltime as Emma for about 4.5 months. In that time I have gone through a lot of good things and a lot of hard things, but there is something different about my life that I didn’t necessarily anticipate. What I’m teasing you with is the newly found discovery that people treat me like a woman.

I’m sure you are like: “Ummm, okay? Wasn’t that the point of transitioning?”

And you would be right, but you wouldn’t understand what I actually meant. What I mean is that I always expected that some people would treat me like mostly a woman, a lot of other people would treat me sort of like a woman, and a few would just be assholes about the whole thing. What I did not expect, however, was to have so many people accept Emma and include her as part of the girls without hesitation, awkwardness, or even really a second thought; for them to truly treat me like I was just a regular cisgender lady.

Let me give some context. The “aha!” moment, as one of my professors calls it, came yesterday in class. The class has 11 students and none of the students are male. In this class there have been several occasions where attention was drawn to the fact that there were no “men” in the class with us. This always felt nice, but was too impersonal for me to really get excited about. It’s one thing to respectfully not be included in a wrong category, it is something entirely different, however, to be included in the (mostly) right category intentionally.

We were going around the class doing a check in (because in therapy it’s important to be aware of your own wellbeing as well as those you are helping) and I got to go first. I said my piece about feeling overwhelmed with school and work during this midterm season but that I was glad to be doing it. The next few girls echoed these sentiments. Upon reaching the third or fourth person after me, one of the girls said something like, “It’s just like all of the other ladies said; it’s an overwhelming time” and while saying this she gestured directly at me.

Wait… did that just happen?

I was one of the ladies… and there was no hesitation. No unspoken asterisk next to that title. No inferred “sort of” in her tone. There was nothing like that at all. In her eyes I wasn’t a lady*, but instead was just a regular lady. I’m not sure I can explain how much that touched me and moved me. I was a lady to her, and to everyone else who accepted her words and echoed them again and again. They all kept referring to us and me as female. They accepted me without condition or pretense.

And this kind of thing has been happening more and more. I have had a great number of new people enter my life since I started living fulltime, and almost none of them know anything about Robert. Some know I’m trans* like the girls in my class, but none of them saw Robert. That person doesn’t exist to them, all that exists is me, Emma, the lady. One of my new friends who read the 1 year picture entry even mentioned that it was strange to see the old me because, to her, I was only ever this new me. She had only known me as Emma, the woman.

I have several new coworkers (because this place has a stupid amount of turnover in employees) who only know me as Emma. They don’t know that I used to be Robert and certainly didn’t ever work with me as Robert. They see me as Emma. They treat me as Emma. I’m just one of the girls to them.

I understand now why so many trans* people end up with entirely different social circles after they transition. It is so much easier to be accepted by someone who never knew your old self. Those who did know you before will always have the image of that person somewhere in their minds. Even if they accept and love you for this new person, you are still that old person to them in some really permanent ways; especially family members. My mother will likely never accept me as Emma without still seeing me as Robert in a major way. My dad, who has been great about this transition, will always still think of me as his son. My wife, who has been so amazing with all of this, will likely always still think of me in some part of her mind as the man she married instead of who I am now.

I believe this is why starting over is so common in the trans* community. In order to thrive and grow, you have to pull up the anchors of your old identity in order to really move forward. I’m not saying I’m cutting off all of my old friends and family, but I’m definitely finding that my new friends and adopted family are much more welcoming and accepting while many of the old friends and family are not.

In many ways it’s not their fault. They had no say over whether or not I was Robert or Emma, so it’s difficult for them to see me as anything but the person I used to be. Sadly, though, I am not that person anymore and I cannot tolerate being seen that way anymore. I’m not Robert and never will be again. I’m an asterisk-free “lady” in my new life and in my new social circle.

I just feel so happy with this acceptance. I love walking around and having people see me as a woman. I love having men be all nice and hold the door for me (that shit did not happen when I was seen as a man, let me just say). I love when people I don't know refer to me as a woman. I love when the bus driver** calls me ma'am or miss.


Additionally, I feel so thankful for the people who’ve been there for me. Now I actually have hope that this can be my life one day if I want it to be. I can be just one of the ladies if ever the time comes for me to pass the baton of transwoman extraordinaire to another. I love being out and proud, and that’s not stopping anytime soon, but I’m also loving being just a girl. Nothing special, nothing different, just a regular lady.

To think, I spent so many years being afraid of this life, and now that I’m here living it, I couldn’t be happier or more at home in my mind and body. I love being Emma in a way I never could as Robert. This decision to transition is by far the best thing I have ever done for myself, and as I do research into studies on transition, I’m finding that this is the case for so many others too.

I explored the cave I was afraid to enter, and I have found the treasure I sought. It is a treasure beyond value and it can never be taken away from me. I am Emma, and I am a lady. =D

-Emma


**(That bus driver is awesome, btw. He almost deserves an entry just to himself honestly. Just imagine the most friendly and chipper bus driver you can, and then make him like 30, give him blonde hair, a beard, and aviator glasses... actually just look at this picture and you'll get the idea: http://cache2.asset-cache.net/xc/521490879.jpg?v=2&c=IWSAsset&k=2&d=jXtao3rqk5bn68eYhw55R5wbGB8yp1zs310Zltg2ZkIjLvtmHtz8a03avu405qhw0 I won't post it directly because it is copyrighted and Emma doesn't want to get sued but he looks a lot like that)

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