Fun and Games?
|Image from Itai Aarons |
Far too many instances these days I read about someone saying being transgender or having gender dysphoria is a choice.
For those of us who have (or continue to) suffer through our own gender issues, we have never had a choice. The problems with our gender meshing with our authentic selves is much more than just thinking we could put a dress on us and the world would be so much better. If only it could be so easy. Quite early in life I learned just looking myself in the mirror as a girl was a fleeting idea. Not only did I want to look like one of the girls I envied so much, I wanted to actually be one of them. Such a radical idea was to lead me into a lifetime quest to live as a transgender woman. A term which still would be years away from being invented as I looked into the mirror.
When I look back at the whole process, it was never fun and games because the pressure was on to conceal my cross dressing from my parents and only brother who was a couple years younger than I and very curious. Very few times I remember being able to actually relax and enjoy what I was trying to accomplish. Which brings up the question, why do it? The answer is simple, because I had no choice. Deep down, something kept me driving towards being feminine, at least in appearance, It would take me years longer to learn the finer points of moving around and succeeding in the world as a transgender woman. Most of the time, the process was very painful and very few times exhilarating. I was at once guarded and afraid and out and happy on others. The night I went out to see the Christmas light display at a nearby restored mill comes to mind.
I wore my fuzziest, warmest sweater along with leggings and boots and out I went to test what it would exactly be like to see the lights as a woman. Along the way, I even became brave enough to stop and order a cup of warm hot chocolate to thaw out. The whole evening turned out to be very satisfying because everyone I encountered seemed to be nice to me but even still wasn't what I called fun and games. Plus, the twinkling lights were brighter and certainly more fun to see.
It is also not fun and games when you have to deal with the up's and down's of having gender dysphoria. Often the process was similar to taking a continual ride on your favorite roller coaster. You spend so much time effort and money to prepare your image as you climb to the top of the coaster. Then you feel the exhilaration on the first steep downward slope only to hit the bottom and be depressed again. After all, gender dysphoria is a deep dark place place to be. Especially when you combine it with a bi-polar disorder like I did. Often my mood roller coaster spent way too much time at the bottom until I reached out for help.
Just once I wish someone who thinks being transgender is a choice would have to experience our existence. Why would a person give up the gender privilege's they worked so hard to accumulate during their lives? The partial answer is it takes a person who can grasp a complex situation to accept a trans woman or man. Often we are still trying to understand our selves.
One thing is for sure, the journey for us has never been easy, is not a choice and is never fun and games.