One night, in the Fall of 2012, I found myself at a dinner party in the home of a male to female transgender woman and her friend, the wife of a male to female transgender woman. I was surrounded by people transitioning between genders. Some had “fully” transitioned, whatever that means, others were still toying with the idea, others were comfortable with the inbetween stages, still learning their way. The people who had more experience on the journey gave sage advice to those just beginning, and those just beginning listened and asked questions with reverence given for wise words. I got to experience one person talking about how when he finally began to allow himself to “present” as male in public it was both terrifying and it felt absolutely right. I felt the support in the room when others said, yes, yes, it felt the same for me, too. It was especially poignant when it was a male to female transgender woman who affirmed this experience for my new friend. She was saying, “I understand why being female wasn’t right for you and at the same time it is right for me.”
There were so many stories of rejection and pain in the room. Of not being accepted for who they are. On a very basic human level we all need love and acceptance. These new friends of mine had to “prove” their worth, prove they were worthy of love regardless of the gender they presented as. Many of them faced divorce, loss of their children and their jobs; things that also contribute to our identities, to who we say we are as people.
And yet, they carry on because they know they are living in the way that is right for them. They know that living any other way would literally kill them from the inside out and so that is a path they can no longer take, that door is shut to them. They have to take a new harder road, but it is one that brings great joy because it is the road of self-acceptance and self-love. It is the road where you finally know, “Yes, I’m living the life I’m supposed to live. It is the right one for me.”
That night, I got to experience my own discomfort. I got to just be with my own questions and know that we are all deserving of love just for being human. And I got to experience love as they accepted me into their world, honored my discomfort, and loved me as I am. I am grateful for that evening and for that experience.
If you should find yourself at a dinner party and you are uncomfortable for whatever reason, remember we’re all on our life journey just trying to live life the best way we know how right now. Tonight as we remember transgender individuals who have been victims of violence, let us remember that we do not have to understand to love and that sitting in the discomfort is an act of healing.