One of the most mind-blowing parts of my medical transition didn't happen on the surgeons' slab. It didn't happen on the other side of a needle. It didn't happen when I called my dad and told him I was transgender. It didn't happen when I changed my name. Nope. It happened while I was sitting on my couch and watching The Biggest Loser with my roommate years ago.
Reader be warned: I love crappy TV and I'm not ashamed of it. In reference to this particular program, I know its messaging is not body-positive and furthermore serves to reinforce faulty beliefs around beauty and weight. I know all of this, but damn it if I don't enjoy a story about transformation! Extreme makeovers do it for me, be it through weight loss or home renovation, they will always catch my interest.
So here I was mouth agape, watching The Biggest Loser and waiting for a big reveal when I commented to my roommate, "I can't even imagine going through such a profound body change!" There was tense silence as if I had missed something obvious she just couldn't wait for me to discover. It was literally a full 15 seconds before I got it... "Oh yea! I went through a sex change!". We laughed ourselves from the couch to the floor.
I gained 10 pounds this year and my wife says she can't see it. It's because she sees me everyday. My pants from last winter don't lie: I have most definitely changed in girth. What I'm reaching for here is an analogy. Subjected to my daily reflection during years of medical transition, the big reveal was harder to pinpoint. Truth be told, I can barely remember the person in my "before" picture which is strange, because I don't feel much different.
I've thought about why I love these types of TV programs so much and, for me, it comes down to a single moment and it's not the big reveal. No, instead I relish that moment where the pain of change overtakes the will to remain the same and the transformation begins. That's the moment I love because it's a grand proclamation of self-care. It's perfectly selfish. Sometimes, I think people get so angry about other people's transitions (medical or not) because it has nothing to do with them, and it doesn't.
When I first transitioned, I found myself apologizing for it over and over. I was sorry for my family who felt their opinions were left out of my decisions, sorry for my doctors who were uneasy filling out my charts, sorry for the trouble I caused at the DMV, or the airport or the gym. Well sorry, not sorry... if you know what I mean.
People have told me I'm brave for medically transitioning. It's an adjective often used to praise this journey. There have been many times I have pushed compliments aside in favor of diminutive language, but no more. Anytime you make a decision to change yourself in any way for nobody but yourself, that is hella' brave. You are scared and determined. You are alone at times. You are surprised by the support you get. You are inevitably disappointed by the pushback. You persevere because somewhere inside you, you know you are worth happiness. You are all the stuff that makes good TV.