Sorry, but no happy Christmas post from me today. Please don’t read if talk of suicide is triggering for you.
Just under a month ago, someone I knew briefly a couple of years ago took her own life. She was an incredibly beautiful young woman, but what was most memorable was her infectious smile and the sense that she cared about people, you were important to her. I found out about her death a couple of weeks ago just by weird coincidence. My very first thought when I found out was, “good for her, her pain is gone.” That shocked me and embarassed me a little. I shouldn’t have a thought like that about such a wonderful person’s death. I in no way would advocate suicide for anyone and I have a great deal of saddness for her family and friends. I also think she had a lot more to offer the world than she got to share in her short life.
Why would I even bring this up then? It is early Christmas morning. A time for family and friends. The only person I have physically spoken to in 36 hours was the person I ordered a coffee from. I have no one in my life. Before that it was my therapist, who was kind enough to chat with me on the phone because of a moment of anxious panic I had. She is a kind and caring person who helps me so much, but a professional that is paid to talk to me can’t replace true relationships. There is absolutely no offense intended by that at all, either.
After last Christmas, I swore I wouldn’t have another lonely Christmas. Having no one who cares on this day is especially tough, but now going through it two years straight convinces me that I am not capable of making meaningful relationships for some reason.
With Haigan’s death so recently, I don’t think it was a huge surprise that I had thoughts of that option myself. I can’t though. First, I am a huge chicken. I think the second reason did more to stop me, though. I am transgender. As soon as I transitioned, I gave up my rights as a person and I became a label. Like it or not, it is true. If I killed myself, what is more likely? Will the authorities see it as someone who is so desperately lonely that the pain became unbearable or will they see it as another trans woman unhappy with her life? Somehow when the word transgender makes it into the sentence, everything becomes about that. Who would guess that my transition is actually the most positive thing in my life right now? I may not be happy with my life in general, but damn, you would not believe how incredibly happy it makes me to get dressed in the morning and step out the door as myself! I am not a label. I have all the same problems I had before my transition. I am a person who needs to be loved and needs to love. If I hurt myself physically, it could just add to statistics used to define the trans community. I won’t do that, and that honestly is taking all I have this weekend. Trans people commit suicide for a lot of reasons, but my issues have nothing to do with my gender and I will not allow the two to be linked. I am feeling more pain than I can bear, just for want of some kindness and a hug from someone because they know me and care about me. There is no pain because I am transitioning.
Years ago there was a child actor who played a character that turned out to be likeable and fairly popular. Being young and a little insecure, this actor had the thought that the character was more popular than the actor was capable of being, so the child stayed in character whenever around any other person. The character and the actor soon became indistinguishable from each other to everyone except the actor.
The character served the actor well. With no one to write a script, life experiences molded how the actor played the character. The lines between actor and character even blurred in the actor’s own mind sometimes. At other times, though, it was quite clear to the actor that there was a difference between actor and character. At these times, the actor longed to show the world who the actor really was, no matter the reaction. Those feelings would fade and the actor continued to live as the character. Every decision, every move and every word in front of others was filtered. Here is what I would say or do, but what would my character do? The actor then modified all behavior to conform to the character’s nature. Applying this filter and guarding behaviours became normal for the actor from a young age right up to mid life.
At this time though, the actor realized just how alone she was. Everyone knew the character, but no one knew her. The actor realized that by putting on this character to protect herself, she had indeed kept out some of the coldness and harshness of the world, but the character also insulated her from warmth and goodness. It was time for her to shed the character, quit acting and live as herself. It was an odd sensation at first. She felt naked and exposed without this covering she had worn for years. It took effort to not automatically use the filter. It did become freeing as well. What she found was that yes, some people disapproved of who she is, but that was far outweighed by the warmth other people showed and the happiness it brought her to be herself.
It has only been a couple of months now since she shed this character for good. Parts of that character is already starting to fade from her mind, though. Every now and then she catches herself thinking like the character and realizes now how uncomfortable she was in that role. The character definetely helped shape the person she grew to be, but the person she is today is the person that has always been there, mostly hidden at times by the mask of the character.
Yes, its true, I got to walk the red carpet last night in a fabulous new dress and heels for the first time. It was a great evening. No major slip ups, I may not have been the most comfortable in heels, but I didn’t look like a newborn fawn either. I mixed and mingled in a room that was shoulder to shoulder with celebrities, media and in general very few people I had met before.
The fun started when I got home. I have a new face wash, a pump bottle instead of wipes and last night was my first time using it. So I splashed some nice warm water on my face, grabbed the bottle by the sink, sprayed it in my hands and lathered it up. Funny though, it doesn’t really foam up. Why would they boother calling it foaming face fash? Maybe it still works though, so I rub it on, extra attention to the eyes, that mascara is hard to get off except the moments you don’t want it to run. Another nice rinse in warm water and pat dry and I feel great. Now its time to check out this bottle, because I was really looking forward to a nice soothing foam. Thats when I realised the trick to getting foam is using the right bottle. I had just washed my face with the hairspray I had left on the counter when I was getting ready. So I guess I am one of those people they write the silly warning labels for. This product is not intended to be used as a face wash!
I was so scared to let the owners of the company I work for know that I had decided to transition. They are husband and wife and have always seemed very nice. True to form, they were very supportive and made me feel I had worried about nothing. In the last two months, since I have fully transitioned my dress, I have felt totally safe at work. Of the two owners, I work more closely with the wife. She has shared makeup, clothes and great tips with me. Her husband has seemed accepting, but has had the occasional pronoun slip. Our grand opening is this week and the owners of the parent franchise have flown in from Singapore. Today, the husband owner of our company introduced me to the top person of the parent company as “he.”
I am almost certain the intent was not bad, but I wanted to share how it made me feel for anyone who has ever done this or thinks there is no harm in it.
In that one instance, work changed from a place where I felt safe, to somewhere I need to be on my guard. Being careless in front of such an important stranger made me feel dissrespected. It made me feel the owners of the company I work for place no value on me as a person. It made me feel like he does not accept my gender as valid.
I retreated into my office showing no signs that anything was wrong. I wouldn’t show him the same dissrespect he showed me in front of any guest, let alone one this important. When I was in my office alone I allowed myself a few tears though.
For his part, the guest was kind and did not acknowledge the slip. He was a perfect gentleman.
I won’t minimize this by saying anything like “I am strong and I can take it.” No person should have to take it. I just hope that by reading this you can see that a harmless slip is anything but harmless to the person it is directed at.