Last month marked one year since I began living full-time as a woman. This has been the most liberating year of my life. I am in a much different place than I was this time last year. While much has changed, some things remain in flux.
Last year, my life was tense. I walked on eggshells with my wife. My children were adjusting to having an Amma instead of a Dada. Housing was a big question mark. Finances were an even bigger concern. I came out to the world in a two-week whirlwind that changed the course of my life. At the time, I could not predict what would happen even a month ahead.
Today, life is more predictable. Finances and housing are still critical concerns, but life seems a little more stable now that my wife & I have been rebuilding our friendship. I press on with my transition. Facial feminization surgery and vocal therapy are imminent. Even the idea of consulting for GRS is beginning to rattle in my mind.
While 2016 was an emotional drain, many significant things happened to me. I legally changed my name & gender. I celebrated Mother’s Day for the first time. I publicly told my story for the first time to a large group. I attended my first Pride Weekend. I have been flirted with, catcalled, complimented, and asked out on dates. So many new experiences!
I experienced many struggles getting to this point, but the last year has been one of clarity. Living everyday as the woman I choose to be—the authentic me I should have always been—has made me a more well-rounded person. I am markedly happier, confident, and engaged. No longer do I fear the unknown; I look ahead to the possibilities, even as resources become scarce. I am an improved mother, wife, and friend.
That is not to say the negative left me alone. Disagreements have continued over my parental title. My brother has been effectively ignoring me because he disagrees with what I am doing with my life. A rash of people misgendered me—most notably family members at Christmastime. Money problems continue to necessitate relying on insurance decisions to ensure procedures and hormones are covered by insurance.
A friend of mine warned me when I went full-time that I was in for a tough year. In her observation, people in the first year tend to have struggles as they adapt to a new life and new experiences. Even the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), who publishes the gold standard for transition-related medical care, requires that people live one year full-time in their new gender prior to being approved for reassignment surgery to ensure patients are mentally ready for a permanent change. This nervous “newbie” mentality is the reason she does not tend to date transgender people in their first year. In my case, I had done much of the hard mental work before decided I needed to go full-time, and I believe that has made the last year much easier than it may be for others in their first year. By the first six weeks, I was feeling pretty good about myself and the decision to go full-time. A year later, I have not looked back. I was clearly meant to be a woman.
Much gratitude goes to my family for its continuing support. My wife, who has struggled mightily with these changes since I first came out as questioning, has remained by my side and her ever increasing support for me has been critical to my success thus far. We still have much to work on, and we are still on a path for separation, but the love we have for one another endures at least in some form, even if those forms are not romantic in nature. My children do not question the fact that they have two mothers. My first grade son is not embarrassed when I chaperone a class field trip. My daughter is still my snugglebunny.
My closest friends continue to celebrate in my triumphs and listen in my down times. They have helped guide me and encourage me, even when I cannot attend social events due to my crazy work schedule. They meet me at 2 AM to talk at length, if needed. My neighbors (with my wife) planned a Princess Party for me to celebrate my full-time anniversary date. The party was small in nature, but it included people from overlapping sections of my life. It was a reminder that not only am I accepted in different social circles, but I have made an impact on others while simultaneously improving myself. Members of my support group validate this notion, as I have become a sort of mentor to newer members of the group who value my input and stories.
The best thing I could have ever done for myself was to transition. This year has shown me that I need not wallow in my depression. While life may throw us constant challenges, those trials are not impossible to overcome. With dedicated action, confidence, and support, even something as difficult as finding the real me and then living that life daily is achievable and rewarding. Hopefully, I can serve as an example to others as to what is possible, whether that be transitioning or motivating someone else to take action for themselves in another area of their life.