Jahn Westbrook

By jahn westbrook

These scenarios exist in gaming, such as chess and pennies and 99*, and in economics, such as trading options and futures, quite predominantly. Ideally, competition and investment are perfectly matched where neither side has any advantage. There is also no concept of “collateral damage.” This idea of equal nets gains and losses interested me to see if it can be applied in the microcosm, to the transgender individual, and in the macrocosm, the transgender community.

At our most distilled, we transition from one gender to another, female-to-male or male-to-female. The variable to this experiment is, of course, the age of when transition is undertaken. Lets assume a median age of 30. This gives plausible equitude across generation-X, through the millennials, and into present day generation-tech. So, the sides of the Microcosm, Zero-Sum situation are: Birth Gender Identification(BGI) and Transition Gender Identification(TGI). For clarity purposes, I will be citing this concept from a MtF perspective, as that is of what I am familiar. My personal mental transition age of 23. Our table will read something like this: BGI(TGI) = 0


I have a male history too intricate to break down into years. I’ll randomly categorize including: K-12, military, higher education, various work experience, athletics, marriage(shutter)/divorce, kids, and an additional vegetable soup of successes, failures and defining moments. This history defines my present whether I cite it or not. Segueing into living as a female proves increasingly more complicated the farther away from that male identification. When sharing stories in mixed company, and with those who don’t know I am transgender(how can they not?), I chose not to say I was once a boy and the relation of past moments becomes more of a thought process. I digress….

K-12: Here memory is(thankfully?) neither wholly reliable nor absolute. My BGI is gender is skewed to being a boy. I recognize a misalignment somewhere inside me, but have neither the words nor the tools to understand. I know stealing moments to explore my mother’s closet, drawers, vanity were priceless. Publicly, I was perceived as a boy, where privately I felt more like a girl.

Playing sports, specifically, Hockey was a great thrill and release for the confusion I felt inside. I tried at football, but was too ‘masculine’ and baseball I simply sucked at. I LOVED running and cycling. These solitary activities were instrumental in my keeping my physical sanity.

I was weaned on books, hundreds of books. I read all matter of sci-fi, horror, paranormal, philosophy, how-to’s, mystery. No romance resided on my booked, I wasn’t equipped to explain why ‘girls’ books would be in my possession. I also wrote daily. Writing was precious to me. These were my alone moments where I could wear what I wanted to make me feel happy and whole.

I played at the guitar(poorly), self-taught special-effects make-up, and draw and painted in earnest,. These former two pursuits would trail off, much to my later-in-life chagrin. I believe I felt that if I had success at it, my ‘secret’ would be revealed and all manner of brimstone(read parental hailstorm) would be fall me. I was a scared little kid.

Military: Righteous of high school I joined the NAVY. Back in the 80’s, it was rare to have women in the service. Talking about my extended, 10-month and 1-week tour, becomes cumbersome. I usually encapsulate it with I was recruited for the Naval Nuclear Field program(scored in top 99% of recruits) and that I injured my knee and was summarily discharged. While in Orlando, I met a woman, in a strip club or all cliche’d places. Briefly, I reluctantly went there with a couple of my NAVY buddies so as not to ‘stand out’, when in actuality that was all I did. The whole idea, to me, was(is) degrading to women…. When I saw Michelle, I wanted to be her. I would end up venturing to that night club every night for months. The only thing we ever did together was dance, like on two feet.

Work Experience 1: My first real full-time work experience occurred a couple weeks out post military discharge. This is where I fully understood where my gender identification issues and I began my mental transition. I knew I wanted to transition and was petrified at enacting this desire. I had a vision of an “intentional” accident leaving me no alternative but to transition. I subdued my desires in the loving caress of an amber liquid ora another, often my pal J. Daniels would pay extended visits.

Higher Education: I paid my way through a two-year and a four-year college. While at the NCC, I attained full clarity on what I was feeling. Transgender. I listened to a former male wrestler who transitioned to a female talk about her life. This was it. I had the words, now to find the way. Who would understand? Alas, I squandered this opportunity to have an ally to help start my journey. That pesky Mephistopheles nested quite contentedly on my shoulder.

It was when I transferred to NYU that this desire for gender transition began to germinate. It still felt like a betrayal, but, hell I was in NYC! right in the heart of Greenwich Village, storied past of many revolutions and protests. The Stonewall Inn was a stones throw from my pertinent vision. I graduated and made one of my most misguided decisions. I never left. Ended up getting married and pushing down myself for further 13 torturous years.

Work Experience 2: Post graduation, I stayed on at NYU, working in their media departments. This has been opened myself up to a wealth of knowledge and opportunity, though, none in my field of study -screenwriting and filmmaking. My primary raison d’état, as it were, was the state of marriage and subsequent to that, children. In my denial phase, irrationally thinking I could find inner peace from my most unfulfilled feelings.

Marriage/Divorce: My marriage happened because the woman I married was the first person to really pay attention to me. Maybe my defenses were down. Regardless, it started out ok, then we returned from our honeymoon and I began “seeing” the person for who she really was. With 2 progeny giving me focus, I loved being a parent. I was “present” through everything she ever went through, scoured the ‘net to learn about what I didn’t know, wanted to understand. This was most noticeably not reciprocated when I came out to her. Devastated. I made a commitment to our union, however, I couldn’t live like I was either. It was after a couple of her toxic barbs that I emotionally withdrew from the marriage. Divorce soon followed, which was more than a freeing reality.

Kids: I LOVE/D my kids. They became my world. My eldest has an altruistic heart, cutting her flowing tresses in 4th grade to donate to “locks-of-love” as an answer to a recycling project. My youngest is a true fighter, having virtually debilitating asthma, she doesn’t let it keep her down. We did everything together. Post divorce, we worked through the awkwardness of not being an intact family. Their toxic mother successfully eroded our relationship, by taking the opportunity to disparage me in front of them, cursing my name, and any additional manner of means at her disposal. I helplessly watched them align themselves with their mother, her discriminative attitude, disgust for her weakness of living in some antiquated version of society(not wanting to be the ‘freak family’ was her favorite slur). It’s been nearly 2 years since I’ve seen my daughters.

Even George Carlin astutely recognized “Life is a zero sum game.” Have fun.

mir, irini, peace, amn,


*99 is a card game my grandparents taught me. Each player has 3 pennies. The dealer deals 3 cards to each player. All cards are worth there denomination value, and face cards are worth 10 points each. There are, of course, exceptions:

  • 3 freezes the current point total, play continuing is the same direction
  • 4 reverses play and freezes the current point total
  • 9 brings the point total immediately to 99
  • 10 subtracts 10 points from the current point total
  • Ace is either 1 or 11 points, and must be stated prior to playing the card

Each round continues until a player cannot keep the point total under or at 99. The loser of that round loses one of her precious pennies. After you lose your 3 pennies, your’e out-of-the-game. The winner is the last one with a penny — my grandmother Helen, as I cannot recall her ever losing.


TU Articles