I Didn't Transition to Be Happy, I Did It to Survive

When coming out as transgender is a matter of life or death in “The Weekly Rant” with Mila Madison.

It is a question I was often asked when I saw people for the first time after coming out as transgender. Are you happy? It is a genuine inquiry, and one with good intentions behind it I am sure. I do appreciate the fact that someone would care enough to even ask. The problem is that I didn’t always answer the question honestly. Most of the time I would just say yes if I really didn’t want to get into it. The truth is that to me, it was a loaded question at best. The real answer is that it was much more complicated.

"IN A PERFECT WORLD YOU WOULD COME OUT AS TRANSGENDER AND THEN IT IS ALL RAINBOWS AND UNICORNS FROM THERE."

In a perfect world you would come out as transgender and then it is all rainbows and unicorns from there. For most of us, that is the furthest experience from reality. To start with, I spent a lifetime of kicking and screaming before I accepted the fact that I was transgender. To this day I am still working on accepting myself for who I am. What I do know is that I never truly considered my own happiness. I was worried about everyone else around me. I didn’t want my wife to lose a husband or my kids a father, my parents a son, and so on. I was consumed with guilt over what I knew I needed to do, to finally come out. I was preparing to face a difficult road ahead and I was well aware of how the world treated people like myself. It was terrifying.

The choices in front of me were pretty clear in the moment that I accepted the fact that I was transgender. It was either suicide, or I just come out and deal with the consequences. The first option would always be there, so I decided to take my chances with the second. One thing I did know is that the person who I had pretended to be all my life was gone and never coming back. This was my only chance to save myself even if I wasn’t really sure that I wanted to. I was still concerned about how it would affect everyone around me. I had to consider that they all might have been better off with me being gone rather than me being transgender. Avoidance was no longer an option. This was truly a moment of life or death for me. I was either going to live as myself or not live at all. Either way it was going to affect the people I loved the most.

"I MADE THE CHOICE TO TRY TO LIVE AND BEGAN THE PROCESS OF COMING OUT."

I made the choice to try to live and began the process of coming out. I would now test the integrity of every relationship I had ever cultivated. Deep down I had always believed that the love between my wife and I had transcended everything, including gender, but it is still scary as hell when you push it to the point of actually having to find out. In my case I was lucky. When I came out to my wife she accepted me without condition, and she helped me to realize that my kids would be better off having a parent who was transgender rather than no parent at all, and the same with everyone else around us. I am honestly not sure if I would have been able to move forward if not for her, but at that moment living became a genuine option for me.

I eventually began the process of transition and came out to everyone else I knew. I started to live as my authentic self as I endured all the losses as well as the surprises. Throughout the process I had learned that I was much tougher than I ever thought I was. I would experience some of the worst hate and some of the greatest acts of kindness I ever could have imagined. My eyes were open for the first time, as the woman I always should have been. Everything had seemed as if I were experiencing it for the first time. I finally wanted to live, and that was something that I was not used to.

"THE REALITY IS THAT IT WAS ALWAYS ABOUT SURVIVAL..."

Looking back now, it was never about any of the things I usually hear people say. It was never that I “felt” like a woman. It wasn’t about being in the wrong body. I never needed a reason to justify it. It was not about chromosomes or body parts. It was never vanity or just wanting to wear dresses or makeup. It was certainly not about sexuality or being with men. The reality is that it was always about survival, and the only way to do that was to accept the fact that I am and always have been a woman. No amount of avoidance or denial would have ever changed that simple truth. It doesn’t matter what other people think or have to say about it. I don’t need anyone else’s consent to exist. This simple answer is that I needed to accept this fact in order to survive, and in the end that is what I did.

So am I happy? Honestly I have only just begun to think about what that means. Throughout my entire journey it had always been about survival. I was so busy fighting just to exist as myself that my happiness wasn’t really an option to consider. Now here I am. I survived, and a part of me knows that survival will always be piece of the equation. After all I am transgender in today’s society. But as far as happiness, I will just have to see. Perhaps there is room for myself in this life that I have been living? I would like to hope so. What I can say is that I am happy that I have reached the point where I can actually consider what happiness really means.

Comments (24)
No. 1-24
Tia Song
Tia Song

Preach!!!!! Spot on!

Mila  Madison
Mila Madison

Editor

Thank you @lisa1966 I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts as well! :)

lisa1966
lisa1966

Thank you for sharing. If I could write as you do so well, thoughts and experiences to paper, it would read very similar to yours. That makes my day.

GinaEilers
GinaEilers

@MilaMadison, thank you so much for this!

Mila  Madison
Mila Madison

Editor

@GinaEilers Feel free to share anything you feel is relevant to our community. That is what the site is here for. You can also post on the station: https://www.themaven.net/transgenderuniverse/transcentralstation

Mila  Madison
Mila Madison

Editor

@Rhomani @Aria @HannahAbigail @LeeAnne @GinaEilers @Dot24 @Mikaela @Gabi2018 @Kimmymac @BobbiDare @Kynthia @Wendybiker @ColeenM @Baileybrat @CirqueMe

Thank you for sharing your stories and insights with me. It is great to know that I am not alone in the universe. Though we each have our own variations of this story, there is a common bond that we all share. You are all amazing, strong, and inspiring to me. I appreciate you taking the time to share and for reading the article. It means the world to me. hugs

CirqueMe
CirqueMe

Mila, everything you wrote matches my experience perfectly, except for your experience with your wife. This article eloquently describes what I've been struggling to explain since I first realized I was trans. My transition involves clothing, makeup, pronouns, names, hormones and surgery, but it isn't about those things. At the root, my transition is about my survival. At that moment, I chose to live, and I still choose, every day.

Baileybrat
Baileybrat

Gosh that is me right to the final paragraph. only difference is that instead of talking to my wife cause i assumed she would reject me. I sat on the couch at 2a.m. crying and making peace with my descision to end my life when she came down stairs and grabbed the knife to stop me

ColleenM
ColleenM

I completely agree with Gina Eilers, when she says: "If it were possible for me to NOT transition and live my life peaceably being a grandfather to my grandchildren, I would jump at the opportunity to do so. I don’t want to disrupt my relationships with my children and cause confusion to my grandchildren by my transition. Yet, I see no viable alternative to transitioning. I’ve come to realize that, before I started on the path to transitioning to live my life as a woman, I was slowly dying. I was living each day, waiting to die a natural death. I call this committing “passive suicide”. There was no hope for me in this life. Now that I am on the path to transitioning to living as a woman, my life has gained new vitality, excitement, joy, hope and peace.

Wendybiker
Wendybiker

Thank you for putting my feelings into writing , I'm still asking the same question 15 years after transitioning I'm separated from my wife and estranged from by daughter but have lived for 15 years without guilt and a second chance to live a better life.

Kynthia
Kynthia

Happy, healthy and at peace with myself, sure, early transition was filled with troubles, but today I am alive, because I transitioned and did not pull the trigger on my .357

Mikaela
Mikaela

@BobbiDare
"I started HRT last week and I am having doubts already" Sounds normal, at least it was for me when starting out, it's a big decision to move forwards and can bring anxiety, but if your having doubts you should be working them out with your therapist, maybe consider stopping hrt before permanent changes start (please see your doctor before medical changes).

BobbiDare
BobbiDare

I wasn’t persistently suicidal, but I wasn’t very useful either. I can’t hold down a job, I was often irritable, distracted, and unproductive. I didn’t relate this to my Gender dysphoria until this year, it’s always been with me and as soon as I decided that the time is now ... all of a sudden everything else started to fall into place.
I started HRT last week and I am having doubts already. Wife is having a really hard time but she is trying.
It’s not rainbows and unicorns but it can be a fulfilling life. More importantly I am not pretending now.. not hiding. I spent much too long hiding.

Kimmymac
Kimmymac

I feel exactly as you do Mila, this just jumped right off the page into my soul, thank you Mila....

Gabi2018$
Gabi2018$

Than you Mila. Take away telling the wife (we were already divorced) it was reading my own story. The guilt, the desperation, the survival and little by little the happiness.

Mikaela
Mikaela

“I would experience some of the worst hate and some of the GREATEST acts of kindness I ever could have imagined” In some of the smallest and largest ways.

Amen!!!

Before transition got the attention, it does today, I was told how brave I was when starting transition, I always looked at them and said survival is not bravery it’s necessary.

“To this day I am still working on accepting myself for who I am”

And when you do, new words will enter your life, contentment, peace, gender identity boring but thank God, I’m here.

Dot24
Dot24

Thank you Mila for expressing a subject that many of us still struggle with. There is some comfort in knowing that it’s not just me. I hope that the children of today with early acceptance can avoid this altogether.

GinaEilers
GinaEilers

This is the second time I am posting one of my blog items. I hope it is okay. I was gratified, after linking the first one a few weeks ago, to have so many from Transgender Universe click on it - about 60 so far. I really appreciate your website. Indeed, I'd love to write for it!

GinaEilers
GinaEilers

Thanks so much for this article, Mila. I am a traditional Christian, who was a minister in the conservative branch of Lutheranism. So many have not understood my situation. When a pastor figured my transitioning was only about being happy, I finally was put over the edge to write an essay akin to yours.

LeeAnne
LeeAnne

I am happier than I have ever been but am I Happy? The answer is no. But I'll take what I can get. It's better than what I was contemplating before I came out.

HannahAbigail
HannahAbigail

Great article. Yes, I can second this. When I came to that point in 2012, I wanted to end it all and only by chance found a transition video of a trans woman of my age that have me hope. I thought, try it, of it doesn't work you still can put an end to your life. I am glad I chose life.

Aria
Aria

Glad you decided to take a chance ...so happy to know you and U .♥ blessed be ♥

Rhomani
Rhomani

That's my story to. Thank you.



Mila  Madison
EditorMila Madison
New Comment
15
Clara Barnhurst
EditorClara Barnhurst
New Comment
5
Mila  Madison
EditorMila Madison
New Comment
2
Clara Barnhurst
EditorClara Barnhurst
New Comment
7
Olivia Jaramillo
EditorOlivia Jaramillo
New Comment
9
Mila  Madison
EditorMila Madison
New Comment
9
Clara Barnhurst
EditorClara Barnhurst
New Comment
4
Clara Barnhurst
EditorClara Barnhurst
New Comment
1