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The power of friendship

I’ve been thinking about the subject of friendship and transition for a while now, but recent events and a few other blogs on the subject of friends that I’ve read in the last couple of weeks prompted me to write my own blog about it.

Early on in my therapy sessions, probably a year and a half ago, my therapist suggested that I should look for an on-line support group of some kind for people with trans issues, as there’s nothing anywhere near my area.  I ended up on CD.com, which was cool for quite a while, meeting on-line with many other people like me.  I connected with several other trans-girls there and eventually met with Teresa last year.  It turned out that we had a lot of interests in common besides the trans issues and we went to a couple of big events together, a civil war reenactment, and the big yearly airshow in Oshkosh, WI.  She went “Teresa-fied” as she called it, and I went in “dis-guy-ze”.  I learned a lot about confidence from watching her just be herself, and the best part was that no-one that we walked past or dealt with got weirded out about either of us.  No confrontations!   It got me to thinking that maybe, just maybe, I could do that also, and maybe it would even work out ok.  Fear has a way of slowing down the whole process of transition, so I wasn’t in any hurry to confront my own fears, but I now knew that it was possible.

Teresa was already in the process of attempting to sell her house in Traverse City, MI (an entire story by itself) and was looking into other places to move to, and my house was empty 4-5 days a week with me living at work so I figured “what the heck, she wants to get out of Traverse City, I have an empty house with 2 bedrooms, maybe she’d be interested in living there for a while until she figures out where she wants to go.”  So I asked, she thought it was a good idea and, in November of 07, we moved her stuff with a really big U-haul truck to my house, about 300 miles away.

It’s interesting how a person can slowly build up their courage when they have an example to follow.   For me, that’s Teresa.  She’s out there every day, just being herself, not having any problems with other people, just doing the stuff that people do, except she’s Teresa about 95 % of the time.

For those of you who’ve been following my 360 blog or hers, you’ve read about our various exploits together, with me pushing the gender envelope further and further until I could finally go out and be Amber in public.  At this point, I’m almost full time when I’m home (work is a different issue, LOL) and I intend to be full time, no exceptions, at home within the next couple weeks.   I’m waiting for my background check to come back to the courthouse so I can get my court date set for my legal name change, hopefully soon.  I’ve faced most of my transition fears, such as going to the bank, and the biggie, the bathroom, last weekend.  That’ll be part of my next blog, “the chronicles of Amber”.  The McDonalds bathroom full of women was a particular highlight of the weekend, talk about anus clenching adventures!  LOL

Anyway, back to the subject, friendship.   Never underestimate the value and power of friendship!  Come out of your shell and connect to some other people if you haven’t yet.  Find someone that you can talk to about your shared trans-issues, but also, shared non trans interests.  Hang out together, go share some anus clenching adventures of your own!  Start living again!  (and, no, I’m not talking about anything sexual, mine doesn’t work anyway.)

I can tell you that I know that I would not be where I am now in my transition if it were not for friendship!  Of that, I have no doubt!

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The Courage to be Me

Here is something I wrote on my personal blog. I thought I would share it here as well, a few of my thoughts on transition and courage. I believe, as a community, we display unparalleled courage and conviction. It is part of what carries us through, and it is this community that helps prop us up when we feel our courage falter.

The idea of courage was one that haunted me for many years. For years and years, I longed to transition, but always felt that I did not have the courage to go through with it. When I heard of or saw post transition trans-women, I would think to my self that I wished I had they courage that they did. I fretted about courage while navigating a pretty successful career in law enforcement. One moment, I was chasing down known violent criminals, putting my life at the risk, and that night I would fall asleep ashamed for not having the courage to be me. I spent many years trying to reconcile these two seemingly opposing expressions of courage.

When the time came to transition, when I reached the point where I had to make a decision, I realized that it was not a lack of courage that kept me from transitioning. I had the courage to do it, to make the change, and yet I was still afraid. It was not society that I was afraid of, not my employer, but rather I was afraid of losing those close to me. I was concerned about what they would think. All my life, I had repeated a cycle of living up to the expectations of others, all the while failing to live up to my own expectation. It was not courage that I lacked, but rather I denied my own ability to stand up for myself, to put my needs before the expectations of others.

This was not an easy leap to make. While I appeared outwardly self confident, inside I was constantly worried about what others thought about me. Not only wondering if what I was doing was good enough, but fearful that someone would see through me, see that I was not what I presented as, see that I was trans. I was worried about passing as male, even during the years when I had all the physical and social attributes that made passing seem easy. It was the inability to reconcile my outward appearance with my inner identity that forced me to try and live up the the expectations that my outer shell created for me in society. Family, social, and career pressures. The kind of pressures that pushed me into a career in law enforcement.

Eventually, I left law enforcement. This was the first real move that brought me one step closer to transition. This was a kind of watershed moment for me. No other time in my life had I stood up for my self so fervently. I faced a lot of questioning and second guessing about my decision to leave law enforcement. But, this was the first decision that I truly owned. It was my choice. No one else made it for me, in fact, it went against the expectations I spent so many years living up to. It was a display of courage, a moment of self acceptance, a moment where I put myself before the outside pressures. I stood up to people I have never stood up to, in ways that shocked and surprised people. This change was not unlike the transition I am now going through, it strained relationships, some relationships that took a year or two to rebuild, relationships that I am still rebuilding. In many ways, transition in and of itself may set this rebuilding process back a few years, or it may help others to understand more clearly the decisions I made in the past. I believe it will shed light on who I am, why I did what I did, why I was the person that I was, it will explain me more fully to those I know. For almost everyone I know, it was really be the first time that I am truly able to be me. 

Does it take courage to make this step, to begin the journey of transition, to see it through to the point where one is living a life that is more true and genuine that they lived before. You bet it takes courage. The courage, though, is not necessarily the courage to face the world in a new gender role, though that is difficult, the courage is the ability to look deep inside yourself and be one-hundred percent true to yourself. The courage to cast aside the real and perceived expectations of those around you, and put your needs before the needs of their expectations. Going out in the world in a new gender role is certainly a process that creates fear and apprehension, but at this point, I am more afraid of living the rest of my life in my assigned gender role. Now, I can fall asleep happy that I am being true to myself, I no longer have to fret about my perceived lack of courage. I found my courage. We all have it in us. Have you found yours?