A Dilemma: Handling Varying Degrees of Transgender Acceptance From Loved Ones, Others

lgbtq+ peopleDeja Nicole Greenlaw at a former Pride celebration circa 2012.
Photo: TRT Archives

A self-reflection on full transgender acceptance and recognition

By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/ TRT Columnist—

In 2017, I had some personal breakthroughs. I shared meals with each of my two sons. It was wonderful as I hadn’t seen either of them for seven-and-a-half years and one of them hadn’t even talked to me in more than a decade. I had been on the outs with them because they didn’t like me being a trans person and especially since I transitioned to living as female. Me living my life had become a wedge in our relationships. I was finally getting used to the wedge figuring that I had to wait it out, but now that time had come. My sons were talking to me and sharing meals with me! Yes, it was a long time coming with lots of lonely holidays and birthdays, but now I am back in their lives. It’s wonderful!

At one of the meals, one son remarked that I am still doing it—that is, presenting as female—and he followed that with he was okay with it if I am happy. I smiled and thanked him and thought that all was good and that the wedge was gone. Upon reflecting on his statement later that night when I got home, however, I realized that he still may not be accepting of me as a female now, but rather he accepts that I present as female and that I am happy. I suppose that it is a win, but it doesn’t feel like a complete win. It felt like he still didn’t accept me as female, but he accepted me as a person presenting as female.

Even though times have changed, and many people know some trans people, I still feel that trans people are still not yet on a par with cisgender people. I still feel sometimes that I am not fully accepted as a woman. I felt it when I reflected on my son’s comment. I felt that he viewed me as a certain fraction of a woman rather than as a complete woman.

I get the same feeling when I see people in public. They see me and acknowledge me as a trans woman, but I can’t help but feel that they also see me also as a certain fraction of a woman and not equal to a cis woman. My point gets driven home even more when I think about all the men who I’ve dated and how they would never introduce me to their parents or their friends. I feel that if they thought of me as 100 percent female they would be okay with introducing me to the people who are important in their lives. Instead, they see me as a trans woman and I need to be kept on the down low. Again, my “fraction of a woman” thought hits me. Yes, at times I feel that people see me as less than a woman.

So, what to do about it? I could demand that they accept me as a total woman, but I feel that I would just get lip service, and nothing would really change. I still wouldn’t be thought of as a woman who was assigned female at birth. I still wouldn’t get the friend and family introductions from my boyfriends. Another option is that I should simply accept the fact that most people do not accept me totally as a woman and wait for the times to change when they might accept me. Maybe before I die I will be totally accepted as a female. I don’t know.

I dream of the day when people completely accept others as they are, and that people will proudly introduce their loved ones to their families and friends and not feel hesitant to do so. What a wonderful time that will be! Ah, but when will this time be? How long will it take? What shall I do until that time? I guess that I will have to wait and see. I don’t see any other answers for me right now.

*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is retired from 3M and has 3 children and two grandchildren.


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