By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist—
Coming out as your authentic self is most likely one of the happiest times in your life and also one of the most depressing times in your life. When I was coming out and dealing with my issues, I used to blog about my experiences and the permanent salutation on my site stated that it is both a blessing and a curse to be a trans person. I said this because you are able to partake in the world living as both genders and that can be very wonderful and very awful at the same time. When you transition to your authentic self, you experience times when you are flying high and then you are suddenly rapidly crashing to the lows. It’s like an extreme roller coaster ride. Of course, everyone experiences the ups and downs of life but when you transition, I can assuredly tell you from my experience that the highs are higher and the lows are lower.
The highs are the wonderful feeling of finally being who you truly are! You have worked most of the shame, the guilt, and the self-hatred from within and now you are ready to move ahead and to resume your life. It feels so wonderful especially when you are out in public finally being who you are. You are now living your life as your true self and even the most mundane things like grocery shopping and doing laundry in a public place now become wonderful events! Meeting with friends for a cup of coffee takes on a new feeling as does dining out and attending public events. You are finally you in your everyday life! It’s like a wonderful dream come true and you are flying high, very high!
The lows are another thing. Sometimes you are flying high and, as the song “That’s Life” goes, you get shot down. Sometimes a former friend, co-worker, or family member will refuse to address you as your new name, refuse to use the proper pronouns, and they may even call you out and ridicule you. Some of the things that I personally heard were that I would never, ever be a real woman, that I am delusional for even thinking about transitioning, and that no one will ever love me. They even said that I will spend the rest of my life alone and that I will die alone. It shoots you right down to the ground and begins burying you deeper and deeper into the ground. Yes, the highs are higher and the lows are lower.
I remember my early stages of experimenting with who I really was before I transitioned. I would work as male and when I came home I would express female. At night and on the weekends, I would go out and experience life as female and have a great time with others who were like-minded and/or were supporters.
Then, I would go home and to bed, and cry myself to sleep. I would cry because I was afraid of changing and I was afraid that I would never again have the love of former friends, co-workers, and family. I was on my own, destined to be apart from them. I remember crying every night for over two months. It hurt—it hurt very badly.
After a while I began to get tough and to move on from my hurt. I learned that my life was going to be much different than before and that I needed to be tough in order to survive. I learned to not expect people to want anything to do with me. It helped that I was constantly making new friends and acquaintances. It balanced out my support system and gave me a fighting chance to survive.
Today, my support system has grown and I have been accepted and supported by many old friends and relatives. I haven’t gotten them all back yet, but I am still hoping that someday I will. In the meantime I am watching other trans folk deal with their issues in their transition. I wish that I could give them some help, but the only thing that I can tell them for sure is that their highs will be higher and their lows will be lower.
*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is a trans woman who has 3 grown children and is retired from 3M. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.