(Gender) Transitioning From No to Yes

The shift from No to Yes began for me with a talk at Chicago Ideas Week, when I mentioned my sex change surgery on stage before a thousand people. I decided to say No to the muzzle that political correctness imposed and speak out.

How can anyone understand being transgender without feeling free to ask whatever questions they desire? Outrage without justification serves No one. So let's talk about sex (change)! Where there's nothing to hide, any shame must fade.

After all, life is (sex) change. At least it was in my case. No more euphemisms or indignation for me, thank you, not when it comes to a medically necessary procedure. What purpose do terms mean if they fail to communicate the ideas behind them?

As a transgender woman, my idea is that men rock - not all, of course, but at least the ones who see past gender. Take, for instance: my dad who called me every day in Thailand after my operation, my surgeon there, more than a dozen Y-chromosome bearing attorneys back home who mentored me as a young lawyer and encourage me to this day, a bunch of male friends and peers in my profession, and a handful of guys I've dated seriously since transitioning. There is No question about their manhood; our interactions transcend transgender altogether.

Which begs the question: am I transgender anymore? I feel proud when I read about other transgender women - and men - who live, love and strive to make a go of it just like anyone else. No one is more, or less, than a human being, against all odds, simply human. Aren't we all too human?

So to hell with keeping secrets out of fear. No to skin and bones in the closet. I want my blood "light," as the Egyptians refer to people who uplift others. Out, out, damn clot - out, out of the way.

My grandma believed that the purpose of life is to serve other people. For me, work saves the ego from too much introspection by saying No to the self and Yes to the needs of someone else. Every case I handle as a lawyer is of consequence to that particular client's life - and each story is a personal one thrust into the legal vacuum that feeds on lies of truth and justice.

The aim is always to keep learning through growth. The human experience is a teacher whose lesson remains the same: saying Yes is about living without regret, to the extent that such an ideal is possible, and especially when it comes to moments that make up memory. My mind, for instance, harbors a first kiss that took 21 years to fluoresce.

Yes, I say. Yes.

Yes to the ferocity that surfaces over lost time. Disappointment persuaded me to believe hell hath no fury like a transwoman scorned - but rage catalyzes expression, which in turns bridges one heart to another. I want young transgender people to feel less alone than I did; the genderevolution today is their renaissance.

But lest my enthusiasm be misunderstood, my Yes includes acknowledging sadness in a river of (LGB)Tears. So I confess: Yes, I do long for embrace - a completeness that the Austrian author Hermann Broch described in writing of a young woman losing her virginity in The Guiltless thusly: "And there follows (after a little awkwardness and a little pain, but with the gravity of the self-evident) the primordial surprise, the eternal surprise which - even when it does not, as now, occur for the first time, but has become usual and customary - is always irradiated with the shine of the first time and must always, invariably, come as a surprise: the sinking, the fitting, of two human bodies into one another."

Yes, I say. Yes I will acceptransgender to the point where I can believe it when a man loves a transgender woman.

Yes from these transgender lips of mine. Yes to sharing in an effort to chip away at stigma until nothing but a statute of Lady Justice is left: in one hand she holds a pair of scales to weigh reality; and in the other, there is a sword for cutting away preconception to reveal Yes at the quick.

Yes, as Edward Gibbon observed in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: "...the energy of the sword is communicated to the pen, and it will be found by experience that the tone of history will rise or fall with the spirit of the age."


This blog entry concludes Part II of the Being Transgender - Naked project. A collection is available here.

If you have enjoyed this project, please check out my book There Is Room For You - Tales From A Transgender Defender's Heart.