Being Trans is synonymous with happiness to me, most of the time
By: Lorelei Erisis*/TRT Columnist—
For the last few months, with everything going on in the world and in politics, it feels like I’ve been talking a lot about how hard it is to be trans and how often dangerous it is. And, of course, those things hold true. Trans folks still face a ton of discrimination and we are being beaten and killed in distressingly large numbers.
But in light of a piece just published this week in a certain paper of note; which by the time you read this will have been a week ago, or more, (ancient history in today’s fast-paced media cycles), I think it’s time for me to talk about some positive things. What I want to tell you, oh, dear readers, is that I love being trans! Seriously, transitioning is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.
Of course, there are difficulties. Refer to almost any of my past columns or just Google “transgender” and you’ll read all about the myriad trials and troubles we face just to be ourselves. But, even taking all of those into account, I am so incredibly happy I transitioned! And, I’m not the only one. I talk to more people in a year than most people do in their lifetime. I once began a speech at a conference by joking that there are three things certain in life: Death, Taxes, and sooner or later, you will meet me.
Given this, and given the work I do, a rather large number of those people that I meet are trans of some variety, which means I’ve met and talked to a heck of a lot of trans people—a very large percentage of whom have also been quite happy that they transitioned. For me, I have found I’m better balanced emotionally. I feel healthier and happier in my own body. I’m more confident and successful in the things I do. My relationships are stronger. I’m honestly a much-improved person.
A lot of it is because I know who I am now. I feel more, “myself.” Also, I’m not distracted by all the dysphoria and shame and questioning that I was dealing with before I transitioned. Additionally, I’m no longer trying to kill myself, whether through dangerous lifestyle choices, or more directly.
I’m a better member of my various communities because I feel more personally invested in being alive and a contributing part of them. And, I am a way better partner, for some of the same reasons, actually; also, because I’m not trying to hide things about myself, from them or from me, I’m more easily honest and open.
Don’t get me wrong, there are things that seriously suck about being trans. For instance, I’m not super happy about the fact that I may need to take prescribed hormones for the rest of my life, or that I have to deal with, and constantly be at the mercy of, an inconsistently-supportive medical-pharmaceutical system, as a result of that. But hey, HRT helps make me, me!
And of course the discrimination, harassment, fear of bodily or psychological harm, and constant marginalization, isn’t what I’d call fun or happiness inducing. But, those are external things. Internally, I’m really, quite content with myself, with being trans and having done the work to transition.
I truly believe that a large percentage of the difficulties that most trans people face are far more externally caused than internally based. More simply, if at the end of a long day out and about, I find myself perhaps worn down and depressed, it is not because I’m trans. It’s because people have been giving me grief about being trans all day. These could happen either by misgendering me or saying nasty things to or about me or, in the case of my own government, trying to erase my actual existence.
In other words, it’s not me that has a problem with me being trans. It’s society. It’s you.
But okay, you say, “I read that article about that trans woman who is having a hard time being trans. She even called her new vagina a ‘wound.’ And, I once watched this video on YouTube about trans people who regret transitioning!”
And you know what? Yeah, those experiences are valid and real too. Though, I tend to think they are outliers that represent a quite small percentage of the experiences I’ve read and heard about. Trust me, I’d know, I’m immersed in this trans stuff pretty deeply.
But, people are not monolithic. Experiences will always vary. There will always be people in any group who do not share the same experiences of that group. I rather wish these experiences wouldn’t be presented as representative of all of us, which is why I’m even writing this. But, they are honest and I do not deny their personal truth.
Sometimes, as I was saying to a friend recently, an a$$hole who transitions, will often still be an a$$hole! Caitlyn Jenner is my favorite example of this. I am not, to put it mildly, very fond of Caitlyn’s politics, or as a representative of our community. But, I will fight you if you try to misgender her, or say, “Oh, she’s just doing it for the attention.”
Put less coarsely, very often some of the problems and personality traits we had pre-transition, will carry over to the people we are post-transition. If, for instance, you suffered from clinical depression pre-transition; then there’s a good chance you will still have to deal with that post-transition. Though it may be somewhat less intense, no longer being exacerbated by the overlaid effects of dysphoria and repression.
If that’s not a clear enough example, then imagine a person who is paralyzed from the waist down. If they are also trans, they might transition and be a whole lot happier and healthier and more whole feeling. But, it won’t make them able to walk.
And yes, there is what I like to think of as the “All The Rest Of The Stuff” effect where you transition and that solves a whole bunch of issues that a trans person might have been dealing with prior. However, after the initial post-transition high has worn off, we often find we still have to deal with all the bills, debt, dysfunctional families and work problems, and everything else that everyone else has to deal with.
In other words, we are far more like you than you realize. It’s just that sometimes your overly-opinionated uncle becomes your overly-opinionated aunt.
That’s just it. I think being trans is wonderful, and I am incredibly happy to have transitioned! I feel a whole lot better because I did. And, a very large number of the trans people I have met seem to feel the same.
But there are some for whom that is not the case. Sometimes they get columns in much larger newspapers than this one, and that’s just how the world works.
So, argue among yourselves all you want about what you think gender really is and who you think is truly trans. Have a good old time with your op-eds and your thought-pieces.
Just leave us out of it. And, don’t you dare try to stop us from getting the care and treatment we need because, while you might not be so sure, we know exactly who we are and what we need to do to make that happen. Thank you very much. Slàinte.
* Lorelei Erisis is an actor, activist, adventurer and pageant queen. Send your questions about trans issues, gender and sexuality to her at email@example.com.
[This story was originally published on the Dec. 6, 2018 issue of The Rainbow Times.]