Sunday, March 29, 2009

Ode to a Tattered Cloak

 It is rare for me to get philosophical when I write a blog.  I know in my head what I think, but mostly I don't ever try to put it into words. So my blogs are generally just me, talking about events and the associated raw emotions.  

But I have been thinking about a phenomenon related to transition today and while not profound, I think it has changed a small part of my personal philosophy in ways that for once, can be expressed in words.

I came out once, over 5 years ago.   There had been no outward signs and it was a shock.  Even after I told the people close to me, I didn't really reach out. I never showed them who I was.  Everything I said or did that brought discomfort to those I love gave me guilt, so I held it all inside even as I was attending therapy.  Just the same dim eyed, depressed looking, low speaking boy is what I gave them.  It was the closest I could be to what everyone expected of me.  

And so after counseling for several months, I came out to my parents and friends with my intent to transition. The response was still shock.   They could not see that part of me, because I never let them.  

When I contrast the responses back then, to the responses from those who have found out about my transition now, the differences are drastic.  My ultra-conservative aunt and uncle who found the packing slips are treating me well, and have decided to be supportive.  A friend they told also seems completely comfortable around me.  

Dad seems to understand what I need to do. Though Mom and I have not discussed it directly, we are getting along very well with her knowing I take hormones every day. 

 This time last year, when I first started coming out, two good friends became the center of my support structure, immediately realizing that I was doing the right thing.  Even farther back when me and my fiance broke up over this, she understood that it was real. She was the first one who really  believed me. And her support sustained me through those times when I was otherwise alone.

So, what makes this year so different from five years ago? I think the answer is simple. It is all about being genuine, and living true to yourself.  It is about telling the truth and baring your heart and soul every day so that people can see who you are. 

 When I came out the first time, I held on to the old masculine persona that had kept me acceptable to my peers and family. It was like a cloak I was used to hiding in. However, this time I needed to be myself so much, that I let that cloak slowly slip away.  

And as the cloak that I had wrapped myself in for protection in childhood slid from my shoulders,   I began to see that it had been outgrown.  Without it constricting me, I could move freely, as I had before the laughter of children forced me into the tight fisted, muscle tensed march I had used since grade school to seem more male.  I could speak my mind, without fear of sounding over-emotional or too sensitive. I could cry freely.  It was as though I had tossed away this tight and tattered shroud to bask in the air and sun for the first time.

And now, when people see me, they do not see that empty eyed, smile-less boy any longer.  I think if they are of an open mind, they see some one with an easy smile, and eyes sparkling with purpose; someone who's movements and actions are naturally light and delicate.   I think at this point I unabashedly bare my soul, and those who know me well can tell that it is the spirit of a woman.

Most transgender people have worn such a cloak.  To some, it never feels natural, and they see it for what it is.  Yet they are afraid to cast it aside because they remember the shame that caused them to take up the cloak, and can't imagine facing the laughter and ridicule again.  

I think one of the most important things we can do in early transition is put away the act a little at a time as we become more confident about expressing what is truly inside.  As kids it hurt. But as mature adults strong enough to face transition, we have to be tough enough to deal with it. Some will understand us. And some will not. But there is so much more to being a woman than the physical aspects, and clothes, and pronouns.  Many of the little forms of expression that we can claim for ourselves while forced to live as male, mean more than we realize.  And getting that glimpse into our soul, seeing the contentment and happiness that comes with those little freedoms, can help others to see us for who we truly are. =)


Leslie Ann said...

You have a way with metaphors, Shan. I've still got my trusty cloak, rarely caught without it, though you've seen behind it a few times. I can testify that you no longer bring yours to our meetings, though I hear you traded it in on a cape... I'm glad to see some serenity coming your way, gorgeous.

Chrissie said...

Lovely thoughts, well expressed...

Anonymous said...

That was truly a beautiful blog...almost poetic, filled with emotion, revelation, hope, and renewed happiness. You said so much. I'm already sensing a change in your demeanor, your confidence, and outlook. It's like it's all coming together for you. I can't wait to hear even more heartfelt, feminine thoughts, as you progress. We're right here with you dear.

Sorry I'm a little late to the blog, I need to develop a habit of checking Blogspot every day...or maybe I'll subscribe by email so I won't miss anything. Thanks for your comments on my flikr pics. I was so taken by the beauty of the southern belles. I've seen them in years past but for some reason it was special to be around them as Suzi. I can only daydream of ever being as pretty as them and having the opportunity to wear such a beautiful

Have a good week...keep smiling. :)Suzi