Frustration and the cultivation of patience
On the whole, my experience telling friends about my transition has gone well.
I’d say that about 40% of the people I’ve told barely raised an eyebrow. They didn’t have many questions—which always makes me a little nervous—but this group generally seemed unfazed by the whole thing.
Another 50% or so were very accepting and wanted to talk it out, asking many questions, some of them very thoughtful, some of them a little intrusive. Questions about surgeries and genitalia do cross a line of privacy, but at the same time, the people asking them care about me and I understand their human curiosity. These may be invasive questions, but I’m generally OK with it (for now.)
The last 10% of the people I’ve told have had a bit of a hard time with it. In each case, there’s real caring, and I have never faced anything like having people turn their backs on me or being disowned. This group of people are perplexed by the perceived speed of my transition. I’ve been a GID kid since 1979, but to these people it’s all brand new, and they worry I haven’t thought this through. This group also has a really hard time accepting someone as their gender of choice if they were not born with the body that’s traditionally assigned to that gender. Of course, this is kind of a moot point in my mind: one of the foundations of transgenderism is that gender is not determined by our bodies, but by our minds. This basic truth is not something that cisgendered people often consider, so it’s a foreign notion to warm up to. I suspect that these friends will be the last ones to start using male pronouns with me. When they tell me that it just feels too weird to call me “he”, I respond by saying they’re going to feel really weird calling me “she” when I’m sporting a beard! Eventually, my presentation will be convincingly male (I hope) and those who don’t come around are going to look a little silly if they can’t adjust.
One thing that I have noticed that persists through each of these three groups of friends is this odd phenomenon: After a good discussion about the roots of my desire to fully express my gender, a large percentage of my friends have patted me on the back or given me a hug, then jubilantly encouraged me with: “YOU GO, GIRL!”
WTF? This makes me want to slap my forehead in frustration. “Weren’t you listening to me?!”
I guess it’s just going to take some time for the real meaning of all of this to sink in for my friends. And that’s OK.
Something I have learned since outing myself as trans is that if there’s one quality that transmen absolutely must learn to cultivate, it’s patience. Patience with family and friends, patience with dealing with medical services, patience with letting the testosterone do it’s thing, patience with saving money for surgery, patience with healing from surgery, patience with ourselves as we redefine our very existence… the list goes on. (Let’s not forget: patience with learning to tie a tie!) Patience is not one of my strengths, but I’m learning that to get through transition gracefully, I need heaps of it, and I welcome it’s new presence in my life.