Jahn Westbrook

by jahn westbrook

Trepidation. Unbridled feeling of shame for being weak. At least, that is what I was feeling my first time I saw my gender counselor. See, my Uncle Zoom, with whom I connected most with in my life, once said that, of all our family, I had “it all figured out.” Meanwhile, inside I was aswirl in hops and mash and confusion and uncertainty.


Looking back on the journal I kept while I was figuring all this out, I noted that “this is a big step, one that neither family, friends, of wife are aware of.” That was just over 8 years ago. Eight years of a journey that has changed my life. Mostly for the better. Some not so better. All for the benefit of my mental and physical health.

I feel inspired to relive that first encounter with my therapist. I distinctly recall pulling into the parking lot. Dizzying anxiety. Like I had vertigo. Even then, I had hesitancy. Ushering myself across the parking lot felt like walking a tightrope in a typhoon. Entered her building, more of a converted house, which helped ease, by a few degrees, the prismatic dots floating across my vision.

Handed a clipboard and a new patient questionnaire I nestled onto the aged couch and in the barely adequate lighting, set to filling out that form(if I could only see it now, and how paltry my answers were…). Having discharged that perfunctory obligation, I met with the person that would be my counsel, my Virgil, my guide into discovering me for what would turn out to be a longer relationship than I ever expected.


Here is my entry from 8 years back, unfiltered, unedited, unabashed:


Met with T—, a gracious, friendly, caring, counselor. She made me feel comfortable. I did most of the talking -go figure?! -and I was able to express feelings heretofore kept secure in a genie’s lamp. I wish I was more honest w/how I was feeling inside. With time this will happen. Not too long.

Realized that I need to communicate better, esp. w/spouse, which is hard for me to do due to the hurtful comments and I feel I’ve lost her friendship. In no way am I innocent. I was dishonest w/myself, denying who I feel I am on the inside, yet w/that baseline of dishonesty, I was honest to those repressed feelings. Now I have the present to juggle or lose -in someway loss will be inevitable. Just what and who will I lose. That pain is a fear I am afraid to face. I don’t want any stigma placed upon my kids & in retrospect how my spouse will be seen soon afterward also is a concern. Though, through all of this, I have my own mental and physical health to consider also. I don’t have suicidal intentions, unless one views transitioning from male to female death of the male by my own hand. I am feeling that I have denied my inner female self for my entire life -willing or wishing or wanting for it to go away. My nascent anima has grown onto female persona inside a male body. Is this a genuine sense of female self? or is it a rebellion to the dour state of my present life?

I believe this emerging penchant for wanting to express myself as a female is born within, something I’ve had my whole life, something that will not recede nor do I want it to. It feels pure and natural when I steal the opportunity to fully dress and wear full make-up and wig. I see who I feel inside looking back at me in every reflective surface -mirrors, television sets, building glass, tile floors, microwave ovens. You name it.

Does my fetish for eyeing women -what they wear, how they dress, hairstyles- desire me to be among them? Dr. Moreau might have something to say about it.

When asked if I had no kids -I have two of the most wonderful girls I could hope for- would I still be married? I answered without pause— NO. That I am and have 2 kids, my deepest desire is to remain in their life, but just know if I embark on this journey that is transition, all that will be sacrifice.

My growing desire to explore my femininity, consider transitioning is directly linked to my oldest daughter reaching her pre-teen years. Her growth into puberty reminds me what I never had -as a girl- and long for. That paraphrases my counselor’s erudite interpretation and further explains my observation.

Underlying all is communication. I have to re-establish that w/my spouse, having allowed it to sour. Her utter dismissal and comment that I’d never make any money writing I see as the crutch for my reticence toward her. Then her steadfast denial of ever saying it salted the wound just opened. I don’t see how I can ever forgive her and that is the tide that has lost me our friendship. Though she can just as equally say my ‘revelation’ to her of my cross dressing wounded her and that I cannot argue nor deny. Those are her feelings. That I didn’t do is maliciously is my only salvation for righteousness or something. She also knew of my desire to cross dress for sometime before I actually admitted to myself -and her- that this is a part of me, a part I don’t want to turn away any longer.

I never forget her saying, “it would have been easier if you said you were gay or were having an affair” the night I owned up to my feelings and came out to her. I ceased asking what she meant after her reluctance to tell me became all to evident. Though I can infer what she meant.


mir, irini, peace, amn,


And there was the dawn of my rebirth. It was so powerful a first session, that it inspired me to head my journal with a quote from sage, Henry Chinaski, a.k.a. Charles Bukowski:

“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives, jobs, maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for 3 or 4 days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. Isolation is the gift. All others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. Despite rejection and the worst odds and it will be better than anything else you can imagine. You will be alone with the Gods and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”

Of course Mr. Chinaski was referring to writing, but I used that as encouragement when dark times were nigh. Scores of author’s characters became my support group. Somewhere, on the edges of my reading light, I see them cheering me on still.


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