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?”