"The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change" - Carl Rogers, On Becoming A Person
I think it occurred during sometime during the summer, but honestly I cannot be sure.
It really wasn't something that I thought about very much. Now that I think about it, it was more like a thought that used to be in my dreams, but never a goal that I was actively pursuing.
I transitioned four years ago, and never ever had a thought of hiding the fact I am transgender. Gosh, I have written a book, been interviewed in various media outlets and now write these blogs that announce "My Transgender Life" for the world to read. My logic has been that I hid who I was for almost 60 years. I have no intent of spending any more time hiding who I am or any energy on re-writing my personal history of who I used to be.
With this logic, as part of my core sense of myself, I wrote a few weeks ago that I could hold both the fact that I am a transgender woman and a woman in a comfortable balance. Also having a public identity as being transgender, I felt that part of introducing myself to new people would include the fact that I was transgender, and possibly use this as a teaching moment. Perhaps there is a part of me that has believed that the best defense is a good offense, so I would generally put this fact out fairly early in meeting new people.
I did not even realize when this all changed.
Somewhere deep inside me there was a shift of my internal tectonic plates as my frame of reference of how I saw myself changed. The shift occurred so deeply inside of me I never noticed it even though its impact was great.
Perhaps it was due to external forces. There was certainly the earthquake of the entire Jenner story back in April. Perhaps it was due to being interviewed on what my thoughts were about this. Perhaps it was the appearance of so many transgender TV reality shows.
Or perhaps it was the realization and self acceptance this summer that I was OK after swimming or showering to just let my hair air dry, without needing to have it look straight and "perfect" in order to face the world each day. Perhaps it is just the right time, as I am now four years post transition, and this is just a pretty standard step on these types of journeys.
I suspect I will not really know the reasons but the change did happen.
It seems that I am now able to interact with a variety of people with absolutely no mention that I am trans. My identity has not changed -- at least I do not think so, but my internal frame of reference definitely has. Although some people question my bio, when I state I am a father of three, when I look in a mirror I see a woman looking back at me and have difficulty remembering the man I used to be. I know, who I was, I own that part of my journey, and I hope that I will never deny anything that is part of my story. However, in these present moments when just meeting and chatting with strangers, or new acquaintances, I no longer feel defensive or feel the need to be the one to introduce the fact that I am trans. They may question, they may suspect, they may even know, but I have crossed an internal and even an external threshold that this information is no longer important in defining me.
I am aware this has created a new paradox for me. I write describing my various journeys as a transgender person, yet I am starting to live as if this is not that big of a deal. For a while this was making my head spin but I am beginning to understand what Carl Rogers means by the curious paradox, and each day I am becoming more and more OK with this.
I interact with people in stores, at the town pool and even my women friends and colleagues who know that I am trans, some of whom even knew me before I transitioned that tell me they do not see a trans woman, they just see and think of me as a woman, and interact with me as a close and supportive friend. It has taken me a while to let this sink in, but I think it has. It seems it has taken me longer to reach this point than many of them. Curious indeed!
"This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper" -T. S. Eliot
For many trans people the act of transition is the culmination of an internal battle that represents the end of a world that they felt they did not belong in. Some can do this quietly but for most there is a large BANG, as it impacts so many people around them. However that battle really is never the end of the internal war. If you have not experienced this and are not trans you may not understand that the war in not over.
Your old world may or may not end, although your new world may well be beginning. Your new world of self discovery, self understanding and self acceptance can take you on roads and adventures never dreamed of. There is no specific time period or map for this journey
I did not even notice when one of my worlds ended. There was no bang, no whimper, just a small smile forming on my face.
You too may even find, curiously as it may be, that you are not even aware of how you are changing as day by day you are just living your true life. Enjoy the journey!
Grace Stevens is a transgender woman who transitioned at the age of 64 and holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology. She is a father of three, grandparent of two, athlete, advocate and author of No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, an intimate memoir of her personal struggle to transition and live her true life authentically as a woman. Grace is available for speaking about authentic living with Living on-TRACK, and Gender Variance Education and Training. Visit her website at: http://www.graceannestevens.com/. Follow Grace on Twitter: www.twitter.com/graceonboard .