Letting Go of a Former Existence
By Mila Madison
There is a strange duality to being transgender. Though some of us are able to embrace and accept it as a fact of our existence, most of us try to run from it. To be honest, sometimes the mere thought of who I used to be can trigger dysphoria. To me that person was a strange dream. To even look at an old picture I cannot even recognize who that was. I struggle with the thought that there are some people who miss that person. There are some who try to hold on to “his” memory. They mourn “his” loss. It is a strange thing to comprehend because here I am. Who I am today is who I always was, simply hidden by the image of this person.
What is even more perplexing is that I see this former existence from many angles. On one hand I see a sad person who could not get out of his own way. Someone who was so capable if he could just accept who he really was. Sometimes I see this person almost as a villain. He was the troubled soul who fought so hard to prevent me from existing. He was so afraid of what could happen if he let “her” exist. It was his fears that kept me caged. He scares me. He even sometimes haunts me. But there is also another side where I see a person who was able to survive in spite of living with crippling dysphoria for an entire lifetime. Ultimately he did let me exist, and he did so by sacrificing his own existence.
“FOR MY ENTIRE LIFE THE THOUGHT OF HE, HIM OR MAN NEVER ENTERED MY MIND WHEN THINKING ABOUT MYSELF.”
The reality is that these days “he” rarely comes to mind. For my entire life the thought of he, him or man never entered my mind when thinking about myself. It only ever came in the form of “why am I not like them?” I always struggled with the stereotypical “man” stuff. But sometimes there are subtle situations that arise which can force those roles upon us. It may be a menial task in the yard or some kind of stereotypical male job in life that triggers a spiral. I start to feel anxiety as my mind begins to struggle with having to do the task at hand. The thought is because I may have done it before that I should be the best one to do it now. However the truth is I was never really good at those things. Often by doing them the result is dysphoria. I then feel foolish for letting a stereotypical gender role affect my state of being. I know there are everyday things that need to be done, especially around the house, but I would be lying if I said these things didn’t affect me.
What is really foolish is that there are a probably million of lesbian couples who can get through life without having a man around. I am sure they don’t think about these things as “man” tasks. Being in a lesbian marriage myself, my wife and I have managed to split most of them between us. But they don’t affect her in the way they affect me. I often feel ridiculous for having these feelings.
What I realize is that I am really just letting the preconceived notions of society affect me. When you live in a world where you see people fighting over us as they debate whether or not we should have the same basic rights as everyone else, it can do that to you. So many people see us as a going from one identity to the next. We even have terms like male to female and female to male. The fact is it is really just male accepting male and female accepting female. Things will not change until society sees it that way. We are simply our identity whether it is man, woman or somewhere in between.
“WITH EACH DAY MY FORMER STATE OF EXISTENCE SEEMS SMALLER IN THE REFLECTION BEHIND ME.”
Though some events in life may trigger dysphoria I realize these moments are just simply that, moments. When I feel dysphoria now, I know I will get through it. I realize that before I accepted myself, dysphoria was a constant. I had it all the time, in every moment of every day. Though now an episode of it can seem like the end of the world, I realize that it is magnified because I now experience moments without dysphoria. I realize that I have made so much progress. My life begins to take shape now that I am further down the road in my journey to find my true self. With each day my former state of existence seems smaller in the reflection behind me. Now if I could only find a way to do the “man” things without them messing with my head.
Stay safe and keep fighting for all of us!
Love and peace,