Sister Golden Bear mentioned in an earlier thread that she has something worth celebrating this week. She was kind enough to write up something for me to share. So, without further ado: happy anniversary, SGB!
So this week marks the fourth anniversary of me starting to live as a woman, as my true self.
Fortunately, my co-workers were more than supportive—in fact they asked me to come to work as me much earlier than I’d planned on doing. But I still remember that exhilarating and terrifying moment right before I sent the team-wide email announcing that I was transitioning.
For all its faults, one thing “Happiest Season” absolutely nails is how Dan Levy’s character describes coming out: “Everybody’s story is different. There’s your version [loved and supported] and my version [being kicked out of the house] and everything in between. But the one thing that all of those stories have in common is that moment right before you say those words when your heart is racing and you don’t know what’s coming next. That moment’s really terrifying.
And then once you say those words, you can’t unsay them. A chapter has ended and a new one’s begun, and you have to be ready for that.”
But my co-workers were so wonderfully supportive that they encouraged me to transition ahead of schedule.*
My thoughts from that morning four years ago today, which I wrote sitting in the car outside my office, not knowing what was going to happen next with the rest of my life:
About a dozen years ago, a girl-child finally set foot outside the house for the first time. Literally. After midnight on a black moonless night. Because NO ONE MUST KNOW. It was both exhilarating and terrifying.
Of course, she really wasn’t a girl, she’d been sharing the same body as her male protector for decades. Some of her sisters knew clearly from an early age, who they really were, and what they needed to become. Not this girl, growing up she just knew she was “different” but not exactly sure how — and in the pre-Internet days, assumed she was the only one in the world who felt this way.
Over the decades, she was able to come out every so often to express herself, but mostly sat, as if in a high tower, watching the world outside, waiting. Until that day came when the need to be out in the world became overwhelming.
Like many of her sisters, it began with tentative steps. The late-night drive en femme. Once she became a little braver, the late night walk. Venturing out to meet a similar group of peers who went out for dinners — safety in numbers. She connected with others like her online, she quickly gained the confidence to start going out in public alone.
I’m talking of course about myself. You’ve come a long way, baby. And now I’m facing that feeling that’s both exhilarating and terrifying, as I take the final step to living full-time as a woman this morning.
It’s a journey I couldn’t have made alone. There are so, so many people who’ve helped me on this journey, I can’t possibly thank them all. But there’s some I do want to highlight.
To my namesake, a fierce Femme who adopted me and other of my sisters, when I was just starting get out in the world. We’ve lost touch over the years, but wherever you are, thank you.
Thank you to all the other fierce Femmes who have supported and inspired me.[Various other thanks to thank you to friends whose support had been invaluable.]
One again, thank you.
Ironically, I didn’t really have much time to celebrate at the time. I was due to fly to Buenos Aires on New Year’s Eve for five weeks to do a series of surgeries to feminize my facial features. Yes, part of it was vanity, but part of it was survival. Life is far harder for trans women who don’t “pass” (a framing I hate), i.e. don’t look plausibly cisgendered. Since I hadn’t been blessed by the androgyny fairy and have a body that’s bigger and bulkier than the vast majority of cis woman (my peasant ancestors were built for the plow), it was important to me to have one visible part of my body that wouldn’t mislead people about who I am.
Trump’s election had thrown a huge wrench in my plans. I’d originally planned to travel to Buenos Aires under my male passport. Not ideal, but practical because I’d just gotten the court order changing my legal name and gender the day before, and it would be touch and go whether I could get my password changed before I needed to leave. But there were serious rumors that one of the first acts of the Trump administration would be to prevent us from changing our gender on passports — which posed a danger visiting a number of countries—and I wouldn’t be returning to the States until after the inauguration. So I booked the airline ticket under my new name and gender, and gambled that I could get the passport changed in time. I managed to do so with only two days to spare.
It’s been a long journey since then, partly because of multiple surgeries to make my body congruent with who I am. (I’m extremely privileged to have been able to do so. This is something many trans folks can’t afford to do.) Partly the lengthy recovery from those surgeries, but plus other personal medical issues and personal tragedies. (My mother died less than two weeks before I was scheduled to leave for another major surgery in Thailand.) Partly it was truly learning to move in the world as a woman—moving into the second-class status that women face definitely made me an even more ardent feminist.
I was looking forward to this year as The Year Everything Came Together, where I’d finally moved through all the transition-related stress and would be able to restart my life again. But obviously 2020 had different plans for me, and billions of others. It’s frustrating having the rest of my new life put on hold, but one day the pandemic will end, and I look forward to making up for the lost years—the so many lost years—living my life authentically.
*At the time, the general advice was to give one’s co-workers 2-3 weeks to adjust to the idea before coming to work as your true gender.
**Why Buenos Aires? Because it’s a specialized surgery and only a half-dozen surgeons in the world are excellent at it. I personally think my surgeon there is the best of the best, plus the favorable exchange rate meant I could do it for less than half the cost of doing it in the States, even including airfare and staying in an apartment for five weeks there.
Happy anniversary! I’m praying for a more hospitable world for you (and for us all) this coming year.
Happy anniversary! ? I wish you all happiness in your new self.
Ghost of Joe Liebling*s Dog
Happy anniversary, SGB, and here’s to many more, all happy.
I am so happy for you! Congratulations on your anniversary, Sister Golden Bear!
Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)
You’re very brave. Happy Transition Anniversary, SGB! I hope this pandemic ends soon so you can live the life you’ve always wanted
West of the Rockies
Happy anniversary, SGB! Thank you for sharing your story. My daughter’s partner is pre-surgery transitioning in the midnight-no-one-must-see way you mention. His parents are unlikely to be supportive.
I thought Jake’s story from Tales of the City (played by the actor Garcia) was so good. I loved the episode with young Anna Madrigal, too.
Happy anniversary Sister Golden Bear. I wish for you more anniversaries, happiness, and love.
Woot! Happy Anniversary and all the best of everything to you!
Dorothy A. Winsor
Happy anniversary, SGB!
My friends son is at about 19 years. After a very difficult time he has gone on to get his MSW and is working with other folks in his situation. They made this documentary to try to help others as well.
I tried to say congrats but it got et.
Emma from FL
Happy Anniversary and wishes for a long, joyous life.
Congrats! Wonderful Story…
So happy for you.
This is a joyful story, no doubt about it…
You should be very proud of the path you created for others.
And that can never be undone.
Happy Anniversary, and Congratulations! May you have many years – decades! – of happily living your true self.
Happy anniversary, and every time Joe Biden says “transgender” I think of you and your bravery in going ahead in the hostile face of the Twitler administration.
Happy anniversary SGB! I raise my glass to you and send out wishes for that restart in 2021.
Happy Anniversary! I admire your bravery.
Congratulations and WOOHOO! What a wonderful thing to celebrate!
A toast in your honor.
Happy anniversary and congratulations, Sister Golden Bear! I am glad for you that so many people have encouraged you along the way as you transitioned. I wish you much growth and happiness in the coming year!
Happy Anniversary – so happy that you are whole and complete! May the rest of your life be filled with happiness, love and respect.
Proud of you, Sister GB. To being a badass for years and years to come. Keep on keeping on.
Golden bear: I have a trans niece, who used to be my favorite nephew. Still my favorite. Thank you for discussing this. I love her a lot, and of course I am not discussing any of this with her. You are an important resourse for families.
Happy Anniversary! Thank you for sharing your story. It’s a balm to my soul in these times.
Congratulations!! This world is a better, kinder place with you in it. Thank you for being you.
Happy anniversary! Thank you for celebrating it with us.
So, so happy for you. Good wishes for many happy returns of the day.
Thank you for sharing. My daughter’s best friend has had his transition plans waylaid by 2020 as well, but he is not nearly as far along. Let’s hope the arc starts bending back toward justice again in 2021.
Thank you for your courage and thank you for sharing. I am lucky enough to get to spend time with some really incredible trans and agender high schoolers and it is so important that they see others out there living their true selves.
Hats off to you, Sister! The highest personal aspiration is, in my opinion, is to be who you are. That is not always easy. Many people cannot find the strength to be who they are. You are living that aspiration and you have my admiration.
Congratulations! I’m so pleased for you. It was great to see you at the Thanksgiving Zoom session.
Happy anniversary and thank you for your beautiful words! People should be able to be who they really are.
I wish you good health, happiness and love. It was nice “meeting” you on Zoom.
Happy you-nniversay, SGB! I’m so happy to read this, and honored that you have shared it with us. Love and light to you for many more years of authentic joy <3
Sister Golden Bear
Thanks all! M4 posted this while was out getting groceries, etc. but as soon as I’m home, I can reply more quickly.
FWFW, if people want to do a “ask me anything,” I’m up for. Although I’m working late tonight, so I might not be able to get to everyone’s questions this evening.
J R in WV
So happy for you!
Congratulations on the 4th year, and the successful transition you wrote about so well.
Keep in touch, enjoy the upcoming year without Trump and his phobic administration.
Ages ago I had an acquaintance on usenet that announced her transition and then stepped away from the community because, well, people were more shitty about these things back then. I rediscovered her on Twitter a year ago and am just delighted to be able to chat with her about nerdy shit again.
When covid hit and my wife started making masks, they were trying to figure out where to donate them. Their first few hundred went to our local pediatric gender clinic. I said that they would be likely to be overlooked and have patients that really need continuity in their treatment. They were VERY happy to be thought of first. I haven’t gotten a count update in a while but her group of 4 were over 3,000 made and donated.
I see your true colors shining through
Your true colors,
Your true colors
Are beautiful – like a rainbow
Happy Anniversary Sister Golden Bear
As the proud parent of an amazing trans kid, I am in awe of the bravery tran people exhibit when facing a society that is so often ignorant and hateful of anyone different, especially when it comes to sexuality and gender. Although I see in younger generations a much more “you do you” attitude that gives me hope.
Congratulations – this seems so big and meaningful. Brave and challenging.
Happy anniversary, Sister Golden Bear, and thank you for a moving post.
Gin & Tonic
Happy Anniversary, and I hope that in 2021 you get Everything Coming Together.
I may have mentioned, but someone I work with pretty closely began her transition in 2016. I’ll never forget how terrified she was at Trump’s election. Things have worked out reasonably well regardless, as she has a supportive family and, frankly, a very supportive workplace, but I’m sure there were plenty of periods of terror.
Jacqueline Squid Onassis
“But the one thing that all of those stories have in common is that moment right before you say those words when your heart is racing and you don’t know what’s coming next. That moment’s really terrifying.”
No kidding. You’re terrified even if you’re pretty sure your loved ones will be okay with it because you can never really know. (I’m 2 1/3 years out from coming out to friends and then family and 9 months from coming out publicly.)
Congratulations! I’m so happy for you and I’m over the moon that you have been able to stay in your same job. But mostly I’m happy that you get to be you openly and all the time. That is the very least you deserve.
I’m 2 1/2 years from coming out to friends and family and a little over 8 months from telling the rest of the world.
Outstanding. Kudos! And thank you for sharing your journey.
@Mowgli: This! It exceeds my capacity the fortitude required. And my kiddoes are def in the ‘you do you’ camp.
earlier this year my friend from college celebrated the 24 anniversary of the start of his transition. He’s very aware that he’s been very lucky to have a supportive family and church, something that still isn’t that common.
Yay! Congrats and much love Sister Golden Bear! ❤️
Happiest of anniversaries!!! I remember reading your blog posts with such anxious anticipation and keeping you in my thoughts. You are so brave and were so vulnerable and your writing was so raw. I am happy that things (other than 2020) are working out for you.
Happy anniversary! It was great to see you at the Turkey Day Zoom. :) Here’s to a bright future in 2021 and beyond.
Your story will hopefully help others have the courage to be who they really are. Best wishes to you.
Happy Anniversary! Congratulations on your new life, deferred for only a few months more I hope. I’m glad you experienced mostly support and acceptance. Even so, it took a great deal of courage!
@Sister Golden Bear: YAY and happy anniversary to you!
No doubt you’ve seen this Danish ad from a few years ago with a dad picking a good gift for his child (transgender teen) ..but here it is again for your party!
@raven: Thanks for posting that link again! I remember watching it before. I’m sorry I looked at the comments, which seem to all be intended as supportive, but the ones cracking down on the family members’ pronoun use… 19 yrs ago? Making this video in support of him? Pretty big.
Was already doubting that anything I do makes a difference, and those comments sure fit into the “okay don’t even try” category. I will keep on trying to be decent to people, though, even though I will definitely do it wrong many many times.
You have been so brave. Happy anniversary, SGB! And thank you from my heart for your bright story of rebirth in these dark times, this dark day!
Sister Golden Bear
@West of the Rockies: I’m so sorry to hear that the parents of your sister’s partner aren’t likely to be supportive. Please sent him my love and well wishes.
Unfortunately that’s still all too common these days. (About half of homeless teens were LGBTQ kids who were kicked out their homes.)
@raven: That’s awesome. I’d actually run across the documentary previously, and it’s definitely helped people.
@sab: Thank you. I consider it giving back to my communities. I was both extremely privileged and extremely to have a transition that went about as smoothly as possible. Many of us don’t.
@Barbara: Best of your luck to your daughter’s friend. 2020 definitely threw a wrench into many people’s transition plans.
@Martin: Thank you! We are often an invisible community.
May next year be easily the best yet.
Wow, I remember reading your comments from the clinic in Thailand, has it really been 4 years?!?! Congratulations!
Happy anniversary! It was cool to see you in the Thanksgiving Zoom.
Sister Golden Bear
@Gin & Tonic: Yeah, for the trans communities Trump’s election was definitely a “suddenly millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror” moment. It’s not as bad as it could’ve been, but it’s still been terrible for us. Only a few days ago, the changed rules regarding federal contractors that gives them a license to discriminate against LGBTQ folks —as well as women and racial minorities.
@Jacqueline Squid Onassis: Best of luck with your journey!
@Lyrebird: The Danish ad still gives me all the feels
@StringOnAStick: Thailand was two years ago, although now it feels ages away. Not sure it’s Covid time or whether it’s just being done with the process.
Happy anniversary! Thank you for sharing g your story.
@Sister Golden Bear: Oh goodie, so glad you still enjoy it, too! Love that ad.
And hey everyone, I was just going down a totally different twitter rabbit hole and found this tweet about transanta,where iiuc you can go on Instagram and buy gifts for trans youth who are in need of some cheer.
Thank you for sharing your ups and downs.
I know these past four years have been stressful. Living under a regime that was doing everything that they could do to harm you??
I felt your pain everytime you expressed your angst
Sister Golden Bear
I’m sure you’ve also felt stressed these last four years for similar reasons. I’ve also felt your pain when it’s come up.
@Lyrebird: Chase Strangio is Good People, and it’s cause worth supporting.
AJ - Mustard Search & Rescue Team
Happy Anniversary and here’s to many more for you!!
Thank you for the very moving essay. Happy anniversary, and may you live long and prosper as your true self!
O. Felix Culpa
Congratulations to you! I remember reading your posts from Thailand. My coming out to my family came with my marriage announcement and my kids were more than all right. I am so grateful for them. May you know deep and abiding happiness.
I had a kind-of epiphany moment on this issue. It helped that I played D&D and there was a magic item that changed gender, male to female, female to male, so the *concept* of having the wrong organs, etc., was already in my imagination-scape. And I realized that if I’d happened upon that magic item, and woke up tomorrow with tits and a vulva, everything I know about *me* says I’d be a man – a man with the wrong parts and chemistry, but me, this weirdo right here, is male. And I suspect that having tiny amounts of testosterone and lots of estrogen wouldn’t change that. But even if the physical stuff made me feel more like a woman (i.e.: if the changes *did* make me feel I was then a woman) I could still imagine that other people would have other experiences, and insist they’re still men (or women, if they started as such).
I think that broke the back of the one thing that causes a lot of hate, anger, and fear, about people who aren’t cisgendered. I realized that a person with man parts and chemistry who said they are a woman wasn’t really my business, and the parts where I felt emotional about the idea, the parts where I thought “that’s just plain *wrong*”, were places where I was saying it was just plain wrong *for me*, and assuming they must share my experiences. Which, hey, weirdo… while I don’t always remember this, before assuming common ground, I’ve had it driven home many a time that I can’t count on shared experiences.
Happy anniversary, Sister Golden Bear! Echoing the same thing many have already said, but can’t believe it’s already been 4 years! Here’s wishing the next one is the best yet ?
Happy happy anniversary, girl!
happy happy anniversary!
Thanks for staying in this community and sharing your help and your story, SGB.
O frabjous day! Calloo Callay! He chortled in his joy.
MAZEL TOV YA CRAZY KID!
Sorry to be late to congratulations. But CONGRATULATIONS!!!!
I’m reminded of the first ten years after Stonewall when gay men took over from everyone else but progress was halting at times, and isolated to few cities and to small pockets in a larger but limited number of locations. We’ve slowly expanded since then but each group has gone through similar evolutionary stages. Trans people have faced enormous, and emotionally wrenching, challenges. We need to repeat and acknowledge stories that reveal our humanity.
You’ve done that.
Congratulations, and best wishes for many, many happy returns of the day!
Best wishes! It was so good to meet you during the Balloon Juice Zoom fest.
Happy Anniversary SGB! Your courage is an example for everyone.
I am happy for you SGB. And I am very glad you had people around you that would be supportive/glad. It would have been a BIG step regardless, but a bigger one without that support.
It hurts to hear the voice of your internal life in the Before but I am very glad that you can be all that you are openly without (hopefully) the shame that society has put out there for those that don’t “conform”.
Sorry to be so late to the party but congrats and hooray for you!!! ❤️❤️❤️
Thanks for sharing your story with us and being a part of this community. You’ve given me a good reason to wear my “Transgender Rights Are Human Rights” shirt today :)
Sister Golden Bear
Thank you again to the overnighters!
Thrilled for you! I’ve represented a number of transgender clients in my 30 plus years as a labor lawyer, and the change in attitude over the years is extraordinary (even if it’s still not even close to enough). Twenty-five years ago, the building manager asked my firm not to let our transgender client sit in the waiting room. This year, before the lock down, one of my pals was planning on taking an employment case to trial, confident that his transgender client could get a fair shake from a carefully-voir-dired Los Angeles jury. Alas, a high school friend who is the father of a transgender man in one of those cow-and-corn swing states reports much less attitudinal progress back there.
Congratulations on your successful transition. May you find contentment in the next year without pandemic travail interfering.
Sister Golden Bear
Thank you, late comers!
Very late but Happy Anniversary!!! So glad your passport came through in time! ??????
Traveling for your transition reminded me of a lovely analogy from Vera Wylde regarding those whose transition journeys don’t have a clear destination (starts 11:57). I know the thread is finished but I’ll leave it here in case it’s helpful to any passersby: