Dealing with change and transition is complicated and messy, or that is the general perception. Gender transition is especially difficult due to the cultural constructs of society, roles and expectations for each and everyone of us. When dealing with gender transition of a family member, one coping mechanism I heard is to let go of the old "persona" to embrace the new one. Basically imagine that the person as you knew him/her has passed away. This idea, from my perspective, is more morbid than useful to me. The way I see it, the person can still have the same quirky, humorous personality and be quite alive! So, why should we see changes as ends, rather than beginnings?
It is no surprise that my personal life has given me a deeper understanding of how we all deal with transition, which gives me a real advantage in leadership, as well as my leadership training has given me tools to process my personal life. We are certainly built to adapt, but our brains adapt leveraging variable mechanisms. So, I would like to discuss here simple ways to manage transitions with a different lens when you or someone in your life is transitioning.
A transition marks the passage that you complete when change is in order. Yes, as a result of change, something will inevitably come to an end. However, the beautiful thing about time is that it never stops, therefore something must also begin. The new beginning can be analogous to being a Born Again Human with accelerated stages of growth, but very similar to how we grow biologically speaking. A person in transition is emotionally vulnerable the same way a baby is. A person in transition will be curious to rediscover aspects of themselves that they were unaware of, the way a toddler is. A person in transition reconstructs their self-esteem, which has been chattered by the stereotypes and expectations artificially constructed by our society, the way a kid is. A person in transition will potentially have a period of rebellion, when they are experimenting in the world and forming new conceptual frameworks to live in, the way a teenager is. And finally, perhaps after years of progress, a person in transition will be fully formed, ideally, and ready to take on bigger challenges.
It might be difficult to know in which stage a person is while undergoing transition. As a result, patience, care and compassion have to be deeply rooted. Whether the transition is gender, to show your true self, or sexual orientation, or learning to live on your own after a divorce, or a new job that requires a different set of skills, it does not matter. I think the analogy of Born Again Human, applies to many different types of transitions, both professional and personal. It is important not to trivialize the emotions involved, to be supportive, to be open, to be patient and to genuinely care. It is important to acknowledge that transitions are magnificent opportunities of growth and learning. Embracing change as the beginning of a new era, helps us evolve and transform in positive ways to reach our full potential.
Recently, I talked about transformations with one of my life role models. He said: "Nature is wise, we are not here to judge or to push back, we are here to embrace the challenges and to persevere." Tears of pure joy fell down my face. This beautiful 93-year-old man gave me a big hug and said: "you will move forward with your family and you will be successful." His words summarize the strength, optimism and progressive thinking of big minds. It is with this optimism that we should embark in new journeys, focused on the path we will construct, on the new adventures we will live and the new ways we will love.