Coming out to one’s Parents, Part 1

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I’ve recently been asked to advise a transsexual girl like me, as to how I suggest she come out to her parents. Her parents are very conservative and socially not all that civil. For example, they tend to rant and rave. This combination of attitudes on their part has made her understandably hesitant to come out to them.

There’s enough to say on this subject to fill a book, but it’s important to have a realistic idea of what “success” means.

I suggest that a good standard for success in coming out to your parents is where you look back at it and can say “I handled that as well as I reasonably could have.”

The key point is that you can’t control how your parents will react. You can do the best you can, and the rest is up to them. Whether they embrace you or disown you, it doesn’t reflect on how well you handled it. (I’m not saying this lightly; I was embraced by my mother and disowned by my surrogate dad). It’d be great if your parents accepted the news rationally, but that adjective doesn’t describe most parents’ approach of a “coming-out” conversation.

You simply can’t control how they react. You can do the right thing as best you can but possibly, given their mindset, they’ll react negatively anyway even if your approach was exemplary.

So if your standard of success incorporates how they react, i.e., something you can’t control, anticipating the conversation might be very stressful for you.

As to more specific guidance, I propose that as you look back on that conversation, you should be able to rejoice in not having violated your own standards of honesty, independence, rationality, justice and integrity. That’s success. If they also happen to accept you, that’s a bonus.

A good analogy is how the US declared independence from Britain. The Declaration of Independence was carefully drafted and much-debated. Then and now, it’s an exemplary way of approaching this sort of thing. It’s so exemplary that when Rhodesia declared its own independence from Britain in 1966, their announcement was very similar to the US document of 1776. In the case of both the US and the Rhodesian declarations of independence, the audience behaved atrociously.

In the case of the US, King George refused to even read the document, and then declared war on the US. In the case of Rhodesia, Harold Wilson, the PM of Britain, didn’t declare war directly but he enabled a communist dictator to take over Rhodesia. Fourteen years later, he succeeded and now the place is a shambles.

Even though in both cases, the recipient reacted abominably, you can hardly place the blame on the announcement that triggered the animosity. The same principle applies to you coming out as a t-girl to your parents.

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Should a Gay or Transsexual Person Tell?

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I grew up in several countries, mostly in South Africa. When I was in high school, the teachers exposed us to a wide variety of authors. Most of them I didn’t like. By far the author whom I disliked most was an Afrikaans author named Van Melle. Handsome chap, yes, but I don’t like his work.

I had the choice of getting a miserable grade in Afrikaans literature, or grinding my teenage soul through the depressing world view of this author. Its somber atmosphere hung over the various short stories that comprised the book that the class was being tasked with working through. I got an “A” in that class but I kinda wonder if it was worth it.

One of the stories is named “Just in Time.”  As I recall the story: an aging lawyer has a law firm in a small town. Early every weekday morning, he packs up his lunch, puts on his business suit, and heads out the door. Before doing so, he says “good-bye” to his wife, a nice lady who is also very advanced in years, and whose health is failing. She’s bed-ridden. She brightly wishes him well, and off he goes.  In the evening he’s back. He doesn’t go into much detail about his day. She’s not surprised; such events would be covered by attorney-client confidentiality. Even so, he exudes the air of a successful attorney and his wife is happy for him, and proud of him.  He’s a caring husband, and they spend pleasant evenings and weekends together. And every weekday morning, off he goes again.

What his wife doesn’t know is that he ran his business out of money quite some time ago,and the two of them are living on his meager and almost-depleted savings. He has no office. He’s let it go long ago, since he couldn’t afford the rent or utilities. Every weekday, he wanders the city streets all day, or sits in the park, for enough hours to come home late enough to maintain the illusion that he’s had a full and busy day as a successful lawyer.

He doesn’t know what he’ll do as a fall-back plan when the money runs out, and it’s almost about to happen. There is no plan B. He’s on auto-pilot, focusing all his energy on getting through every day, maintaining the illusions for the intended benefit of his wife.

As to the illusions, they’re pretty far-reaching. He’s not a successful attorney with his own office, any more. There is no office any more. He’s not successful any more. He’s not even an attorney any more.  He’s just someone who puts on the clothes for a role that he feels he should play because that’s the image he’s created and someone else is buying into. If his wife is glad that he’s a successful lawyer, then in fact she shouldn’t be. But, most of all, if his wife thinks he’s happy, then she shouldn’t be, because that’s the biggest illusion of all. He’s stressed out and utterly miserable. The closeness in their marriage is fake. There is no shared vision of the world. There’s only the facade of one.

In a way, the man cares deeply for his wife and knows her health is failing, but he prefers to spend 40-plus hours per week wasting time to foster an illusion — rather than spending that time with his wife, enjoying her companionship, keeping her company or tending to her. Maintaining the illusion is so absolute a premise that he is willing to forego all these alternatives.

The author is skilled at his craft, and so although I don’t like his work, I have to confess that it’s good art.  He immerses the reader thoroughly in his depressing mindset (not that I needed any more of that, being a transsexual gay Afrikaans teenager in a government school in South Africa was depressing enough).

Anyway, in the story, the man sits around worrying about what to do when the money runs out. The author explains the man’s mindset as totally unconcerned with his own situation, but greatly concerned about the effect it’ll have on his wife. He can’t even begin to figure out how to break the news to her. So, his mind doesn’t even go there. He’s miserable and it’s a misery steeped in inaction, except for the energy allocated to maintaining the illusion.

He looks at his watch. He’d pawn it but then his wife would notice that and wonder what happened to it. And, he doesn’t want to raise even the hint of a suspicion that might endanger the illusion.

He sees that it’s time to go home. With a heavy heart, he makes his way home. Today isn’t the day when the money runs out. It’s still some distance in the future … but it’s not far away. He knows it.

For whatever reason, the man doesn’t even consider the possibility of doing anything else, however minimal, to earn any additional money in the 40 hours when he’s away from his wife. It’s too much of a departure from the illusion, and so his mind doesn’t even go there.

Home he goes. He walks in the front door. Every weekday, he performs the same ritual when he gets home. He takes off his jacket, puts the kettle on, etc. Then, he goes into his wife’s bedroom to greet her after being away all day. Today, he does so again.

As he enters her bedroom, she’s quiet. She’s not asleep. She passed away at some point during the day. He falls to his knees and weeps, an immense feeling of relief overwhelming him. She died just in time, before his savings had run out — hence the title of the story, “Just in Time.”

* * *

To our credit as a species, we are born with the capacity for reason, and without irrationalism implanted in our minds. It takes two decades of bad parenting and government-run schooling to break down the healthy mindset that children initially have. The literature class was no exception of this process at work. Even in as irrational a culture as an Afrikaans government high school, the teenagers in my class still had enough of a reality-based mindset to react very negatively to this story. There was much rampant opinion to the effect that this man was, to put it bluntly, a dumb-ass.

It took much convincing on the teacher’s part to pitch the author’s point of view, that really this could also be seen as someone who was sweet and caring. The teacher wasn’t all too interested in the analyses that maybe the man could have come up with a better plan had he involved his wife in the brain-storming process, and maybe they could have lived more frugally and pawned some items and made the money last longer and be more. Even though he was not a young man, he had much experience and to presume the job market was totally closed to him in every respect was unreasonable too. But even if it was, then he might have been a much nicer husband had he spent his weekdays with his wife, reading together, chatting, playing cards, swapping massages, having sex, reminiscing, whatever. Most likely the wife would have preferred truth and intimacy, by being told what’s going on, even if it wasn’t a happy financial situation. And his business failing doesn’t detract from the fact that at some point, he had indeed been a successful lawyer with his own office. I could go on and on.

Certainly, if this is the sort of mindset that’s championed as a laudable standard, it goes a long way to explaining the general societal meltdown that has been happening in South Africa, where the governmental focus has for a long time been long on fostering illusions and short on focusing on facts.

Much as I dislike the psychological implications of the man’s actions … how he evaluated himself (not worthy of his wife’s view of the world) and of his wife (not deserving of being trusted to handle the truth), my main problem with it is philosophical: its disdain for facts.

I like an approach that deals with facts as facts. For example, it might be socially more mainstream if I were straight, but the fact of the matter is that I’m not. I’m a girl who likes girls. If my enthusiasm for rainbow emblems bothers someone, to where in person or on social media they wanna unfriend me or disown me or whatever, that doesn’t make me any less gay. And no, nobody stuck a probe into my head and had it light up in rainbow colors. And I didn’t go have a dynamic MRI while looking at pictures of naked girls vs. pictures of naked guys. It’s a fact that gay people exist, and the best evidence is introspective, and I have enough such evidence to tip the scale and to conclude that I’m gay. In fact. .

Similarly, it might be socially more mainstream if I were a genetically integrated girl, but the fact of the matter is that I’m not. I’m a girl who was born with male plumbing. If my too-masculine attributes bother someone, to where they look at me aghast, or they wanna unfriend me or disown me or whatever, that doesn’t make me any less of a transsexual girl. And no, nobody stuck a probe into my head and had it light up as proof. And I didn’t go have a dynamic MRI for this either. It’s a fact that transsexual girls.exist, and the best evidence is introspective, and I have enough such evidence to tip the scale and to conclude that I’m a transsexual girl. In fact. .

Do I hide this? No.

And yet, the foster-the-illusion approach in the story is a close parallel to how many gay people or transsexual girl live. Their daily actions build illusions for those who are unaware that the person is gay or a transsexual girl (or both). Psychologically, the individual is miserable, and is fundamentally not the person whose life they’re pretending to live. But they will maintain that illusion at any and all expense, even if this means they are deeply miserable. As to the people being kept in the dark, they’re presumed to have the same disdain for facts, and they’re presumed to be untrustworthy of being able to handle the facts.

If you now go re-read the story, and look for parallels between it, and the lives of gay or transsexual people hiding their true nature, you’ll find many. It’s not a happy story.

Coming out to Family: Setting the Stage

Now and then I hear or read about someone complaining about how this or that family member was mean or inappropriate. Personally, I don’t see how it’s OK to tolerate bad behavior from anyone … especially family. The healthy premise behind “family” is that these are people who are supposed to be more cohesive, warm, accepting, supportive etc. than complete strangers. A mean family member is the exact inversion of what “family” is typically supposed to do.

A mean family member is violating and negating the basic standard by which family is supposed to function, and deserves to be uninvited. Such a person cannot then validly claim “but I’m family” and expect the benevolence that they’ve just undermined.

Yet, many of us somehow gloss over all of that, and we put up with bad behavior by some family members, thus perpetuating it. If you’re a transsexual girl and you wanna set yourself up for a lot of misery, then go ahead and tolerate bad behavior from members of your family. Treat them as if they have a license to be mean to you — and they will behave accordingly.

For example, one t-girl blog explains how she dreads family holiday get-togethers since family members there are habitually mean to her. I don’t think it’s appropriate for a host or hostess to be unaware or tolerant of that. But, if such a lapse happens, then if the t-girl is tolerant of all that, then she chooses to subject herself to this sort of thing. Her presence says, “I’m OK with being here while people are being mean to me.” Doing so does not make any sense to me.

I’ve left family get-togethers when someone was being mean, and I’ve chosen to avoid events where someone mean had been invited. I don’t regret it.

Another t-girl friend of mine recently came out to her family. Her timing wasn’t great since several of those present were not exactly sober at the time she made her announcement, so not everyone was thinking clearly. The less-than-happy results were consistent with that. Even so, her comments inspired me to ponder how a t-girl might best approach coming out to her family.

Key point: She’s empowered. In more detail:

1. Her presence is a privilege that she can choose to withdraw — and that she *should* withdraw it if someone is being inappropriate, and yet remains present. It’s probably not a surprise to her as to who might misbehave, and so it’s fine for the t-girl to hand-pick her audience for her coming-out speech, and to make it clear to unwelcome people that they’re unwelcome. That includes telling them so when they show up or wander in — even though they know they’re unwelcome. This is something that rude people will often pointedly do, often aided by someone who’s “on the inside” lobbying for them. Their plan is to pressure you into accepting their bullying. If you let them bully you as such, that makes no sense to me.

I recommend making a point of omitting people who are likely to interrupt or interject. Anyone who’s homophobic, bigoted or unreasonable in any other way … is best left out of the conversation completely; they’ll just try to derail the conversation anyway.

Those who will argue for the inclusion of someone whom the t-girl chooses to exclude … should be excluded too. Coming out is a delicate process. Only a worthy audience should be present.

2. The information she’s choosing to share is a privilege. It’s her right to be willing to share it only if certain ground rules are respected in the conversation.

An example might be where the t-girl says: “I have some sensitive information to share and I’d like to present it without interruption. What I have to say is about 5 minutes long. Only if you’re willing to listen, and to neither interrupt nor interject, are you welcome to hear this. I’m not offering this information as the basis for a debate. I am telling you what I know. If you disagree with any or all of it, that’s fine but this isn’t the forum for you to voice that. You can debate it with whomever you like afterwards … though not with me.”

If she gets less-than-inspiring reassurances then it’s fine for her to say: “I needed to hear a good-faith commitment from you” to the relevant person. If a reassurance is grudgingly given then it’s perfectly OK for the t-girl to say “that doesn’t sound like a good-faith commitment to me” and then she simply doesn’t proceed until that other person isn’t around.

If that means she doesn’t have the conversation that day, so be it. Only when she gets good-faith assurances from every member of her audience, should she proceed.

Often in such a context she might be told to get on with it. Whoever does so should also be uninvited.

Coming out is stressful. If someone makes it harder for you, they shouldn’t be present.

3. When a t-girl comes out to some members of her family, word is going to spread anyway — including to the most negative members of the family. She doesn’t have to be the one to tell such people. Everyone will hear the news anyway, via the grapevine. The t-girl needs to include only the nice people in her audience, when she gives her “coming-out” speech.

4. A very empowering tool is … silence. Most people abhor silence. Make it your ally. If someone pushes you into any sort of conversation you don’t wanna have, they know it. If someone is being rude it’s by their choice. Such a person deserves no slack. It is OK to simply look at the person and calmly keep quiet as the seconds tick by. The other party is likely to become deservedly uncomfortable.

It’s fine to let the silence hang as long as you want. This approach is especially helpful when being badgered, offended or overrun by a pushy, impatient or bossy family member, especially one who tries to usurp the agenda and fires off questions on an unreasonable premise and/or in a demanding tone.

You don’t owe anyone an answer. If someone asks nicely, it’s OK to answer but you’re never obligated.

* * *

What a t-girl says when coming out is important, but it’s also important to set the stage.

Suggested Strategy for Coming Out

Someone nice whom I’m mentoring is about to come out. My strategic input has been welcomed. So, here’s some.

What worked well for me psychologically was to have a style that was as feminine as I wanted: 6″ stilettos, stripper dresses with just a thin thong underneath, sexy make up, gorgeous long blonde (but fake) hair. It felt SO good, like I was finally being me. It gave me confidence and joy: precious commodities for a just-out t-girl.

Problem is, I’d dress like that without much social savvy, like to Walgreens and around downtown Reno at 4pm on a summer weekday. Not socially savvy at all. But, I was so happy with being able to be me finally and openly, that I didn’t care.

In retrospect I should have been more cautious because I ran into a lot of animosity. Yes, I had every right to dress like that. But what I have the right to do vs. people being willing to play nice with me, those are two very different things. I don’t have a right to universal acceptance. I can’t go demand it. For me to get social acceptance, I have to get it voluntarily, one mind at a time. And weirding people out doesn’t exactly help as to that.

Here’s a picture of me as I looked out and about, late in 2011.

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Granted, that puts a lot of control into others’ hands. But they have that control anyway. They can decide whom they like, and why, and whether to be nice or mean. And even if they’re mean for all the wrong reasons, what am I going to for? Argue with every one and convince them I’m actually just fine and they might wanna mellow out and like me? No. That’s why choosing a culture that is open-minded enough is SO important – and then GO there.

That’s why I wanted to move to Las Vegas. I live in a small town near Reno, NV and I didn’t think in a thousand years that the people in this little town would generally be even remotely civil to me. I mean, it’s a very rednecky town. I just decided to come out anyway, and when the situation became as intolerable as I suspected would soon happen, then fine, and goodbye, off to Vegas, which is A LOT more forgiving socially. I mean, A LOT. So, t-girls of the US can, worst case, still move to Vegas. And although Vegas has casinos and shows it also has much less-glamorous work that needs to be done. So whether a t-girl packs and ships a box in the back room or a macho dude does, the box gets shipped either way. Many Vegas employers think like that. So if you’re honest and have a good work ethic, you’re already likely to get employment even as a t-girl though it might be low-paying work and you’ll be eating beans daily, not steak and lobster.

So for me, it was like a fail-safe mode. If everything turns to crap, there would always be Las Vegas. I even started moving some of my stuff to Vegas preemptively. Meanwhile, I lived as who I am, a t-girl. Even in this small rural, redneck Nevada town.

But, I’m now a smarter girl. I realize that I dress as I love to celebrate who I am. It’s a mentally private thing for me. And yes, to look resplendent and yet be stuck inside 4 walls isn’t as great as being out and about. But other people aren’t part of my psychology as such. Their presence or reactions as to how I look aren’t essential. I’m feminine for my own benefit.

So, I could look hot and walk around when nobody else is around and it’d be just as good — and better. So I did. I’d wait until 4 am and then I’d dress up and look gorgeous, and go walk around in my hot stripper dress, thin black thong, 6″ stilettos, and long fake blonde hair — just enjoying being me.

I walked around quiet, nice neighborhoods, to be safe. I planned things so if a car came, I could see it from far away and duck behind a tree or shrub. Yet, I was out and learning how to walk, move, and look like the hot girl I am inside. Perfect.

In broad daylight, I wore androgynous clothing and shoes and makeup that was, ideally, never more feminized than my own natural femininity. For example, in the beginning, I always wore jeans and some androgynous female tops that I found at Sears. I felt safe wearing them; they were female clothes but barely so.

As to the townspeople, most of them were totally nice to me. I was amazed. So I still haven’t moved to Vegas.

As time went by, I wore more tight-fitting jeans, and eventually more-feminine tops, and slightly more accentuated makeup. To everyone who mattered, I explained I’m a t-girl and I had prepped for any followup Q&A. So I was fearless, culturally. I always had better answers than people had questions.

And, I looked androgynous, not ultra feminine — while still having short-ish real hair, a figure liek a tree trunk, and too-male facial features, and basically male facial expressions – and a male voice, grrrr.

Why does a long-married couple look so alike? Similar facial expressions. So, after more than two years of being “out” 24×7, I have female facial expressions. It’s all integrated. Also, how I move is just naturally feminine. That’s not something I paint on or put on. It’s part of me now.

Recently I was at a junkyard where hardly anyone expects to find a female working on old, dead cars, and I had a nondescript hat on and my hair tied back, and totally unfeminine clothing, and the only makeup I had on was hidden underneath my sunglasses, and yes I have large-ish fake boobs but their shape was obscured under a huge baggy sweatshirt. And my chin and jaw are just as male as ever. And then a young guy approached me mostly from behind, and without being able to see much or maybe any of my face, boobs, etc. he guessed correctly that I’m female and he said “excuse me, ma’am …” and then asked me a question.” Wow. How did he know I’m a girl?

Because I’ve learned to exude femininity in so many ways, even little nuances of how I hold my head, move, etc. And I wasn’t on a runway or at a club where you might expect a girl. I was taking an old BMW apart in a dirty junkyard. Even there I radiated femininity so much that the guy overcame the premise that almost everyone there is male, and he figured me for a girl accurately. Wow. I’ve come a long way.

So as a t-girl synthesizes that capability to exude femininity, it makes sense to wear more make-up and more feminizds clothing. But the make-up and clothing should always follow, not lead, as to how feminine you are.

There’s nothing wrong with being a transvestite a.k.a. cross-dresser. In fact, I can say many good things about such folks. But an unfortunate stereotype for that is the cross-dresser in the Rocky Horror Picture show, with totally male features and style but heavy make-up, fishnet stockings, sexy shoes, etc. In a way it’s visually jarring, to me anyway. So when I wonder if I’m overdoing it I think of that, and then tone it down until my innate femininity is more than the femininity in my make-up, clothing, shoes, jewelry, etc.

Nowadays I exude femininity so much that I naturally wears skirts almost every day and I get many compliments as to these. And I look nice enough and feel SO happy about how my femininity integrates with my choice of style.

220px-Dirty_DancingIt’s sort of like that Mambo scene in Dirty Dancing where the blonde dancing lady’s wonderful grace and style so overpowers the mechanics of the dance steps that it’s hard to even recognize what dance that is. She inspired me so much, I bought a Mambo dance video but even though my clumsy feet at the time were the same essentially as her steps, her integration made it seem like she’s airborne, floating, magical whereas I felt and looked clumsy and plodding. So it is with femininity. Eventually it becomes integrated but in the beginning it’s difficult.

Almost every teenage girl begins by being lanky and awkward and clumsy and not as feminine as she wants to be, but as time passes, she learns more and more. A just-out t-girl is basically like a young teenage girl just getting started.

So for someone just coming out, I advise telling people who matter that you’re a t-girl but as far as the dynamic with them is concerned it, that aspect should not really matter much or at all, and life will hopefully just goes on. And then as to style and looks, gradually, proceed with slow feminization in public — and in private, whether indoors or out at 4 a.m. then be wild as feminized as you psychologically need to be.

Coming out, yet again

FormalAbout a year ago, I changed my name legally and also had my legal paperwork corrected as to my gender being female.

But, today, I got an email from someone way back in the past, sent to my old “male” email address and made out to my old name.

Perhaps my reply to him can be helpful to you as well, if you worry about how to reconcile a “female present” with a “male past.” I basically wrote:

“Hi,

Thank you for reaching out.

Since you interacted with me last, I’ve changed my name and email address. I’m one of the few strange people who was born with a mix of major gender attributes, and for the first few decades I tried to live as a male and that didn’t work out so well. Turns out the reason is that my brain is basically female. So now I changed all my paperwork, got some surgeries, etc.

My correct name is Aquitania Charbury though I go by Tanya. My email address is xxx@gmail.com. Please update your records.

I’m attaching a picture too so that you can put a face to the name.

Like being gay was not too long ago, being a t-girl used to be social poison and now it’s almost fashionable. Certainly in the Bay area the culture is more open-minded so I’m glad you’re there. I am normally in the Reno area but I’ve done much Bay area contracting.

Either way I’m an IT professional with lots of dev and DBA experience …

… and from then on the email focuses on the technical aspects though later on I include a paragraph of …

“Though female and low-key I tend to be very principled and assertive in my own quiet way, and I prefer substance over politics so the best places to place me would be where the culture is basically nice or at least functional. Being female, I tend to do best in female-run environments and worst in environments where much of the dynamic is based on macho chest-beating. I realize that rules out maybe 95% of clients and maybe 80% of Bay area clients.”

Your New Name — and Moving Forward

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The best IT consultant I know has observed that, too often, IT professionals know what the right thing is to do and yet it doesn’t happen. For example, they work in a programming department whose programmers rush off and write program code prematurely — before being clear on the requirements. This is a bad idea. Requirements should precede the writing of program code.

And yet, the savvy folks are hesitant to start enacting process improvements, and they try to nudge the non-caring people around them into a sort of consensus. Unfortunately, the non-caring people around them are typically a major part of the problem, so the “change” process gets bogged down. The person who could (and in my opinion, should) be taking the lead — feels frustrated.

I’m not saying you should start to pretend you’re the boss. But you ARE the boss of how YOU do things. And doing things in a logical way that you’re able to explain — that should get you rewarded, not reprimanded. Otherwise, you’re working in an unhealthy environment anyway, so — maybe it’s better if you leave.

Feeling that they’re held back by the ignorance of others is a common lament, especially for principled, smart people. They know how to make things better and yet they’re surrounded by people who passively resist, and who plod along and do things in a particular way because, hey, it’s always been done like that, don’t fix it if it ain’t broken, and all the other pretexts that people use to defend the status quo. Ayn Rand wittily referred to that mindset as promoting “the Divine Right of Stagnation.”

My brilliant consultant friend implies that if you wait for others to be sufficiently encouraging, it’s going to be a very slow, frustrating process for you. His point is that you don’t need anyone’s permission to do the right thing. Probably that’s very similar to what MLK has said. And, I agree.

IMAG1669For example, when someone comes out as a t-girl, she’s likely to be sensitive as to how receptive those around her are, and she starts lobbying them to be more receptive yet. That’s good, but that should be only a relatively minor of the process. Having the courage of your own convictions goes a long way, and so does conveying that by living accordingly. By contrast, coming across as timid or overly accommodating tends to encourage opposition.

My recommendation is to plan the journey and move along. If that means that you leave some people behind, then you do. Some of my friends and family, whom I thought likely to be reasonable about me being a t-girl … they ended up being UNreasonable, and vice versa. You don’t know how things will play out, until you proceed.

By saying “proceed” I am including “be safe.” If you’re in a hostile culture, with dangerous, homophobic bullies around — then leave. No, it’s not easy, but it’s often the best way.

At some point, my own mom was (understandably) having a hard time with the concept of her thought-to-be-son always having really been her daughter instead.

photo (14)Even so, I didn’t need her permission to be who I am, and to live as such. When it became abundantly clear to me that I was no longer providing information to her but that I was basically arguing with her, I stopped. I went on with my life and I reduced the interaction with her as much as I needed to, to keep it from holding me back. I did the same thing with other people.

Coming out as a t-girl is hard enough already. If I were to add more and more impediments along the way, at some point then I’ve made my own journey impossibly hard — and that’s my own doing.

For example, if you think your brothers and dad would never accept you being a girl, and from here on out, Thanksgiving and family holidays would be hell for you, then …

a). You don’t know until you try, and you can’t just assume the worst about them
b) If your worst suspicions come true, then you don’t have to put up with abuse. If someone makes Thanksgiving and family holidays hell for you, or even just awkward, then they shouldn’t be there, or you shouldn’t be there.

For example, this last Christmas, I had a wonderful time. I checked into the Treasure Island Casino Hotel in Las Vegas for two nights and enjoyed being in an open-minded culture. And yes, I was alone — but not lonely.

Moving forward doesn’t mean that you stop loving the people you leave behind. They’re welcome to catch up, and sometimes they do. My own mom did, and I’m glad. But by the time that the relationship resumed at a more-normal level of interaction, I’d moved along very far in my journey, and that’s the approach I recommend.

idea01I’m in the IT business (amongst other things) and some of my clients are very conservative, e.g., in the construction industry. And yet, I moved ahead. When there were two contact people at a client company, one more open-minded than the other, then I focused on the former. In general, things went well, as to the people who deal with me professionally. And whenever they didn’t, then I still kept moving along anyway. The same approach applied to my personal relationships.

A key point is that I’m not pretending to be Cinderella or the Tooth Fairy and that I’m asking everyone to please humor me by playing along. The most reasonable conclusion about my situation is that I do, in fact, have female brain wiring. If you consider brain structure as more fundamental than body shape ‘down there,’ then I’m fundamentally a girl. Everything else is less-essential, and many less-essential things can change. And for me, they already have.

The era is, fortunately, past when being a t-girl can with any reasonable premise be thought of as meaning that there’s something wrong with the person. Being a t-girl is simply a genetic anomaly — it has zero reflection on a person’s mental health and moral standing.

So_True3Of course, the most ignorant members of society would disagree. However, what they think — that really matters very little in the grand scheme of things. If you find them holding you back, then it’s time to change things, whatever it takes, so that you can keep moving forward — from living like a pretend male to living as the girl that you actually, fundamentally are.

One example pertains to changing one’s name. It’s a step that many t-girls look forward to, but for them it’s in the future. My recommendation is that once you’ve decided on a new name, then that’s your new name, period. Congratulations, you’ve changed your name. Everything else is secondary.

So, it’s never a question of “I want to change my name to Karen” but simply “my name is Karen.” If it’s appropriate then the t-girl might then add to what extent the legal paperwork and social context are aware of Karen, but that’s secondary.

Announcing the new name to the most receptive people is a good next step. So is getting a new email address.

I used to think that things became official when the judge signs the paperwork and in a sense it does, and yet in another sense, it also doesn’t.

imag0801I started referring to myself as “Tanya” and pretty soon almost everyone was dealing with me as such anyway. The judge’s signature became almost an administrative detail in practical terms.

In fact, ironically, a wise friend commented on my new name in a way that got me to thinking that perhaps Tanya is sort of overly informal for my official name, so I made my official name “Aquitania” instead — though I go by “Tanya.” By then, there was so much momentum behind “Tanya” that it wasn’t an easy change of direction.

When you keep pushing in a particular direction, things tend to move in that direction — especially when you remove from the process those who hold you back or who push in the opposite direction.

Tolerating impediments delays the process of coming out, and delaying it makes it harder. It’s awkward in the middle, very much like being an awkward teenager again. Get it over with.

If I were to come out again, I’d do it sooner and faster — and I’d leave far more people behind.

It’s Scary, I Know — But GO for it

I am charging ahead with my own journey, and I love it. In the process, I’m making contact with more and more girls like me.  Many of them are not living publicly as the girls they are. They feel ashamed or they find the process intimidating, or both. I understand how that feels. Even so, I proceeded.

The best quote I’ve come across to describe my own reasoning is:

Die with memories, not dreams

I hope to live a long time, but when it all ends, I will have lived richly and openly by my own values.