Today I read a blog post that was reblogged from a blog called A Kick in the Ballots entitled “The ‘Born this Way’ Argument”. As is my usual way of being, I began to respond because, although the post was thought provoking, I thought that the writer was trying to speak for all us transfolk rather than speak for herself. Although she later clarified her point with me, it inspired me to write this post.
The passage that caught my attention and evoked my response was: “The point is that when we use the ‘born this way’ argument we are almost telling them that if we had chosen to be different from them then that was wrong. And we are almost saying that if we could have chosen to be straight or cisgendered we would have, as if they are better than us.”
One of the shortcomings with words are that they are merely symbols for ideas and things which cannot and do not express truth. Because words are not truth, they are subject to both misunderstanding and misinterpretation.
When I finally discovered the truth of who I am and came out to the world, I was asked the question”How long have you known that you wanted to be a girl?” I was reluctant to answer the question because I was embarrassed that I did not have an answer. I did want to say to the person “I suppose I have felt this way all of my life” and after a period of soul-searching, I came to realize that I never “wanted” to be a girl. I was born a girl with a body that didn’t conform with the accepted norm of what it means to be female. I have, since birth, been at odds with this fact and it has shaped a life of misery and pain. Now, since my coming out, I have been living in the joy and exhilaration of finally knowing who I am and my life has become nothing short of miraculous.
My transformation has seemed quite remarkable, not only to others in my sphere, but even to myself, although I have always held the belief that my transition was not about becoming a woman, but that the process of transitioning would simply define the woman I have always been, a woman who is compassionate, confident, competent, resourceful and, to simply say it, beautiful. My therapist recently told me that I have become a shape shifter, a being that can be a co-creator in how she appears to others. Even without feminizing facial surgery, I now appear every much the woman that I am and that the gender affirmation surgery I seek is for me and no one else.
I believe that I am and have always been, a willing co-creator in my journey, even when I didn’t believe in myself. I have always striven to hold the greatest good, not only for myself, but for all of humanity. That does not make me a better person or more evolved, a role model or heroine. I have simply reached the next rung on the ladder and now have the opportunity to offer a hand to help the next person up to the next rung.
I have been often called brave for what I am doing and what I have done, but sometimes I just don’t feel like I should be a hero. For me, the heroes in my life are those who have struggled against insurmountable odds, only to lose family, friends, a place to call home or to find the means to support themselves. It is those who have suffered great physical harm and even death for just wanting to be themselves and to live a life with honor and respect, who are my heroes.
Still, my therapist has told me that I would make a very good teacher and role model to girls and young women about self-esteem in a society that teaches girls and women that their worth is measured in outward appearances instead of the heart within. It has certainly been my hardest lesson to learn in both my life and in my transition and as I have often heard it said, those for whom the lesson was hardest to learn will often make the best teachers. Perhaps she’s right.
Deanna Joy Hallmark