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A concerned friend and mentor recently said to me: “I hope you have eyes in the back of your head. Be careful out there!” With the current political climate and my intentional visibility as a Transgender advocate, I’m not running away. But I am scared as hell! I can kick someone’s ass . . . not out of defiance but defense.

I own the person I am and defend my community with confident, articulate purpose.

The people that are threatened by gender fluidity are scared because it's not recognized and threatens the existing roles within the family culture. I'm not gender fluid. I’m binary. I'm a woman. I can only stand up and say look at me. Do I look scary? Does the way I talk scare you? I ask you to think of my gender confirming surgery like any other correctional surgery. It corrected something that was not right with me, caused me confusion, and unrelenting physical and mental stress and pain. This surgery allowed my body and mind to heal. My binary female identity has aligned with my female body now that I’ve transitioned. No one can deny that I’m a woman, except those that want to point to my birth certificate, and say I altered my God given identity.

My friend had to relocate to another part of the country. She had to start over after being forced out of her job because of her gender identity and transition. Her challenge to me: “If I told you, you stood to lose it all if you transitioned, would you have done it?” I said “I’ll take the chance.” Now I’m not so sure I would have taken the red pill.” The red pill vs blue pill is a reference in the movie “The Matrix”. The Matrix is the gender binary. The agents are transphobic. The red pill itself brings an awareness and then rejection of the status quo. The blue pill doesn’t challenge.

I transitioned and I did lose a lot. . . my family, my friends, my job teaching Saturday morning martial arts at the dojo for 30 years. Except for my wife, and my job as a trade union pipefitter, I lost everything. But I had to keep my secret (40 years) through my pipefitter work years till I retired, and then another 16 years before I told my wife. My love for my wife weighed in more than the betrayal she felt. But it took a tough three years for things to calm down.

The majority of my life was spent hiding in fear for my life. There was no clear path but I knew nobody wanted to know my truth. I took it slow, and distracted myself with hobbies, and studying the martial arts.

When you are caught up in transitioning, it dominates your daily thoughts. I felt incomplete, and ashamed to admit that I was transgender to anyone. After my attempted suicide, I decided I had to live in this male body forever. I would find a way to make it work. I found love, got married and for 56 years kept my secret. As time went by, there was more news in the media about gender transitioning. The more aware I became, the more I saw it as my path. I actually witnessed a transgender woman transitioning over time, from a distance, while at work before she came out. I started living part time as a female and telling the people who meant the most to me first. My wife was first, and foremost the most important person in my life and still is.

I have a friend whose child had socially transitioned at a young age. Studies have shown we know our gender is different from what was assigned to us at birth. I knew at 5 something was definitely wrong. And so did my friend's child. They are now almost 6 years into the transition and a decision will have to be made now that puberty is on the doorstep. This young adult has no interest in being involved with the LGBTQ community because this child is not interested in gender fluidity but wants only alignment, to live the gender they know they are. (I am using gender neutral pronouns to protect their identity and gender identity). I have watched them from the time they started to now and they are absolutely no different than any other child. Isn’t this what we want in the trans-community? That kind of fitting into society seamlessly.

I recently was involved with a Transgender Day of Visibility. One of the people to volunteer to help was a trans-girl, a senior in High School. She decided to stand up for Trans Rights by being Visible. Those rights and her ability to live the life of a transgender person are now being threatened across the country. I had the opportunity to talk with her about growing up in the gender she identifies as and has been living for years. Who is so blended into the fabric of society that you wouldn’t know her assigned birth gender. Both of these adolescents are growing up to be happy and accepted in society. And will have fulfilling lives as adults. What more could we want for them than that.

There is an article by KFF: The Kaiser Family Foundation since 1948 has been a non-partisan source of facts and analysis. They have been heralded as the "most up-to-date and accurate information in health policy.” This sheds some light on what being transgender means in our life.

My pre-transition time or when I was in the closet. I avoided anything that would associate me with who I was hiding. So, once I transitioned, I sought out an LGBTQ center for support and hoping to find guidance for my journey. I had always been an outsider. Never fitting into the male camaraderie thing. At the support group with other trans people we had in common the feeling that the center was a steppingstone, a way station on our journey not a place that we would be seeking, let’s say permanent membership.

So many people I have met in the LGB community can’t understand this. The passing through of trans people in the organization. Every trans person I have known has done their part to help the next generation. Most disappear wanting the peace of leaving behind their past and living authentically seamlessly through the rest of their days.

My pre-transition life feels surreal. As if it wasn’t my own. My memories are like you would remember of a best friend. When I say my name given at birth, it feels strange. Like a childhood nickname that I outgrew. All of this is mine but not mine. I hold onto them to remember why I am here today.

I experienced the distancing phenomenon once I started living 24/7 as Simone. Distancing is a popular coping mechanism that involves separating yourself from a situation. During this distancing comes the mourning period, where family and friends mourn the loss of you. It’s surreal in a way. It’s almost as if you are a ghost watching them mourn. All of this happening right before your eyes.

The loss each of us goes through is different. Sometimes it’s all family and friends and you start anew. For others, you get regulated to the invitational D-list. Invited when no one else is around. I had my fair share of losing the people who meant so much to me in my life. And the distance between us.

I can hear my friend saying. “I’m not so sure I would have taken the red pill now.” I can sympathize with that. Because it has crossed my mind more than once. Because It’s a choice between: daily misery and acceptance or euphoria and ostracism. (social exclusion).

There is an excellent article on this in the Vulture by Andea Long Chu.

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