Am I the same person I was before transition?

I started to comment to a question that was posed by a dear friend, Robyn, to whom I have neither seen nor spoken, except via email and responding to her blog,  Transgender in State and as my comment was getting awfully long winded, I decided to answer the question here. The question she posed was “Is a person who transitions still the same person?”

Am I really the same person I was before transition?  In some ways the answer is Yes and in others, the answer is No.  What has changed is the context in which my life events are held, whether personal or in the world at large, in the past, the present and the future.  It was this complete shift in context from male to female that quickly followed beginning hormone therapy that finally allowed me to realize that I was always a girl and that I have in me that frightened and hurt little girl that now needs re-parenting by the big girl/woman with whom I have been showing up over the past year and a half.  I can now start a story with ” when I was a little girl” instead of just “when I was little.”  There are exceptions to this “rule” when I am talking to people who knew me before transition.

It really goes without saying that the people who have had the hardest time adjusting to my transition has been family, especially my sister, to whom I was once very close but because of time and distance we do not really communicate anymore.  She, in fact, has so far refused to accept my friend request on Facebook as Deanna and that has not changed in my year and a half of transition.  When we last communicated via Skype, the questions that came up first were in response to a personal email to her in which I stated, to the effect, that David had died when Deanna finally emerged and to the belief I have carried with me as long as I can remember, is that had I been born the daughter that my parents wanted after two sons, my older brothers, my sister might not have been conceived and birthed at all.   Her questions are paraphrased here and are as I heard them, but essentially, to my best recollection, they were “What do you mean that David is dead?” and “Have you always wished I was never born?”  I was more than a bit flustered at her questions and tried to explain myself but I have a tendency to draw a blank and be unable to respond whenever I feel confronted like that.

Going back to the question, I will have to say that Robyn’s question is very much like the question I was asked after my startling revelation in November 2011, “How long have you known you wanted to be a girl?” I couldn’t answer that question and after living in my new context for a few months it finally dawned on me that the question presumed that my announcement that I could no longer live and be seen in the world as a man was something I wanted to do, when, in fact, from my point of view,  it was who I have always been.

The only response with which I am now left to this question that seems to make no sense to me because it presumes that gender identity determines gender expression which are two separate things and can be quite different from culture to culture rather than innate, as many believe, is really quite simple, when I think about it.  I have decided that if I am ever asked that question again that I will respond with “I have always been an American white female and have finally decided after all these years to behave like one. How am I doing?”

Deanna Joy


About Deanna Joy Hallmark

I am a post-op transgender woman who has now completed transition and living my life as the woman I was born to be. I have been writing my blog, now titled "A Spy in the Enemy Camp - A transgender woman’s perspective from having lived as a man among men" since December 2011. Originally a record of my process and feelings in transition, last summer in 2013 it took on observations from both sides of the gender binary and now will also be looking at my past life pretending to be the man I never was and how it finally brought me to where I am today, the beautiful intelligent woman I had always believed I should have been since I was little.
This entry was posted in Labeling, Memories, Shift Happens, Transgender and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Am I the same person I was before transition?

  1. Ken Shaw says:

    Good one!


    PS: I don’t mean to imply that others (on which I have not commented) weren’t good. Instead, I wasn’t commenting for a while, and now I am again.

  2. I like the way you have continued the discussion, Deanna. You have added something I had not thought of before. I like the way you distinguish between gender identity and gender expression and then describe how it is that this distinction allows you to say that you have “always been an American white female and have finally decided after all these years to behave like one.” I am going to try adopting that thinking myself. In addition to applying to me, it will help me deal emotionally with the detransition of my close “adopted daughter” in Bucharest. I still feel the woman in her very strongly even as she returns to living life as a man.

    • I am grateful, Robyn, that I have been able to contribute to your way of thinking. The idea that I expressed which distinguishes between gender identity and gender expression is a new idea to me also, and it came to me while watching an independently produced TEDtalk at the University of Chicago presented by Sam Killerman, who, if you don’t already know, is a straight comedian, author of the blog and comedy routine “It’s Pronounced Metrosexual” and “The Guide to Gender”, where he introduces us to that cute yellow “genderbread” person. Here is the link to his FB page where you can access his blog and the Youtube video. (
      Also, the response to the question came to me as I was writing it and it follows what I said about the distinctions I speak about, for even “American”, “white” and “female” are distinct cultures although people seldom seem to see it that way. I only hope I am asked that question again so I can use my clever retort and hope I can remember it, if the occasion presents itself again.
      Be well and happy, girlfriend!

  3. Candy Kowal says:

    Finally acting like the person you are…*giggle* nice! A lot of us would like to be where your at without the lost of the social scene were use to. Sure takes a lot of courage and that’s …”Priceless!”
    Bravo sister!

    • I almost have to pinch myself sometimes to make sure I’m not dreaming. I always thought I was a happy person, but until I started to be the person I was born to be, I realized that I hadn’t known what “happy” was at all. I’m still not happy now, but I sure am ecstatic!

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