Hurdles faced by some transgender women for living their true identity
By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist—
One of the reasons I write for The Rainbow Times is to try to explain to people what being a trans person is like. Please note that these thoughts are mine. They may or may not be shared by other trans folks.
First, it feels wonderful finally being who I really am. After living decades as a gender that I never felt comfortable being, I now feel comfortable and I have a great peace within my soul. It took me a long time to get to this point and I had to work through so many obstacles, both internal and external, but I finally got there and I love it! I had to accept who I am and I had to accept my shortcomings as female. I am tall, 6’3”, I have a low voice and large hands. These characteristics make me stand out.
What is it like standing out? Most of the time I don’t let it bother me. I just go about my business but occasionally I do have awkward moments. I realize that when people see me because of my size they might be taken aback. I may tower over them and initially cause them fear. I usually soften the situation by smiling, acknowledging their presence, and then proceed to go about my business.
Is it worth it to transition? Yes and no. Yes, because I have finally reached my core identity and I can draw peace from within my soul. No, because not everyone is comfortable with me and I may get stares, unwanted remarks, or exclusion from activities that I would like to engage in. Yes, occasionally I have to deal with being seen as a social pariah, an outcast, an unwanted member of society. That hurts but it happens, and that’s the way it sometimes is right now for me. I may occasionally be on the outside looking in on social circles and people’s perceived acceptable social norms.
What are the costs? Besides occasionally being seen as a social pariah I may also be misgendered. I understand that I am a tall person with a low voice, but I do try to present female with my clothing choices, my makeup, my mannerisms, my D cups, and my shaved legs. However, somehow I still get the male pronouns. It stings every time someone misgenders me. I want to live my life as female and I want to be seen and accepted as female. This is what I’ve been grappling with my whole life. I was uncomfortable living as male and now when I am finally confident to live in my true identity as female, I still get misgendered. I realize that the misgendering is not usually done on purpose, but the sting is still there and it still hurts.
Other costs I’ve incurred are loss of the love and support from some family members and friends. One can lose a lot of love and support when one is trans. If you’ve ever lost a lot of love and support, you know the feeling. If you haven’t, try to imagine it. It’s a pretty awful situation. When you lose the love and support of family and friends, birthdays, holidays, and even the “Hallmark holidays” can leave a sting and a day of depression because you are no longer included in the day’s festivities.
As far as dating, I like men and there are many men who like me. The problem is that they want me in their private life but not in their public life. They don’t want their family and friends to know that they are dating a trans woman. This leaves me “in the closet” with them, which is not good for a healthy relationship.
My final thought is about happiness. Am I really happy? The answer is once more, yes and no. Yes, because I am finally living authentically after years of working through frustration, shame, guilt, torturous self-loathing, and incredible fear. I’ve overcome all of those odds and I am finally where I need to be—not because of the exclusions, the misgenderings, the stares, and the looks of disapproval. They can be too much to bear at times. Yes it may be tough at times, but I will keep on smiling through it all because I have reached my lifelong personal goal, the biggest item on my bucket list: I am finally me!
*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is a trans woman who has three grown children and is retired from 3M. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.