"No, he is not dead and I have not mourned him," was the response I gave to the audience. I followed up with, "He's still inside me."
I think that many there, in addition to the person who asked the question were a bit surprised.
This happened last November when I was honored to be asked to do a Talkback after a performance of Casa Valentina here in Boston. About 70 people stayed after the show as I and the play's director were on stage answering any and all questions that came our way.
The question that led to my response above was how did I mourn the loss of the "man" I used to be?
I know that many transgender women may have done this, and feel that the man or male history of themselves was never true, never existed or died. I have said many times, there is no single or even "right" way to have the trans experience. I was only a bit surprised by the question about this, but it gave me a public opportunity to teach there are many different transgender experiences. For me, with a long and pretty wonderful life behind me, I have never felt that part of me has died or even missing. HE really is still inside me! HE no longer is running the show or me, and HE has a new job. In my book, I describe how the girl who is now in charge, has built a new relationship with the old man who worked so hard, for such a long time. Here is that story....
He was resting now. He was OK in his new job as a librarian of memories, and glad that he was no longer working nonstop 24/7. He had done this for sixty-four years. He thought he was always doing the right thing. He kept everything in balance as well as he could. He didn't always succeed. There were so many others around him, all thinking they knew what was best. He remembered how He tried so hard to control them but most of the time he failed.
He could now admit to himself that He always loved her and really, was always trying to protect her. He knew it hardly ever appeared that way. She was always so clear in knowing who she was. He always wished he had some clarity like hers. He was always so scared and did what he thought was best. He watches her now and is so glad that she is happy and learning how to be! He never had the chance for this.
He loves when she comes by to chat about old memories. She hid so much and for so long, and she knows there are so many pieces missing for her that he has access to. They really are becoming friends.
The more she got to know him, the more amazed she became. She remembered all those years when she battled with him. She wasn't sure when she realized that he really was not the enemy. He was never the enemy.
He told her many stories of the things he had done to make sure neither she nor any of the other parts would get hurt. She remembered some of these, and how angry she was at the time. She had no idea that he was trying to protect her. She was learning that he had struggled mightily on how to live in the world while dealing with all that was going on inside. She knew how hard her battle inside was, but his was so much bigger, really having to balance the two worlds. She did not even begin to appreciate how he did it.
She began to understand how brave he really was. How courageous he was for such a long time.
He was becoming her hero. She told him this. He smiled.
Last week along with two colleagues, we presented a workshop at the Massachusetts Social Worker Symposium. I shared some of this story to the group of over 40 social workers, most who have not had a much training in supporting gender variant clients. Many volunteered that they have clients who are struggling with the feelings they need to kill or mourn the man inside them. I offered them another frame or lens to look through; all with the guidance that each person's story will be theirs and theirs alone. I am hoping that by sharing my experience with you now, you can appreciate how different and unique we all are.
Me, you and all the people whether they are trans or not have their very own individual and unique stories. I would never put you in a box with anyone else and expect your story to be the same as theirs. You might want to understand transgender people by putting them in a box, but honestly, that does not work either.
There is an old saying that you cannot see the forest for the trees. Sometimes we forget that this is also true about people. Be curious and meet us for who we are as people, but accept that we most likely can only speak about ourselves, not for our entire forest.
Grace Stevens transitioned at the age of 64 and holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology. She is the author of No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, an intimate memoir of her journey to live authentically. Grace is available for speaking with Live Your Truth: Discover Paths to Improved Performance. If you have a topic that you would like Grace to think and perhaps write about, let her know. Visit her website at: http://www.graceannestevens.com/. Follow Grace on Twitter: www.twitter.com/graceonboard .