By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist—
For many of us transgender folk, there are fears that need to be addressed as we discover our true selves. The first fear that we may face is the fear of accepting that we are transgender. We need to accept that we are not the person that society assigned us at birth. It can take a lot of work to get through this fear, but it’s something that we need to work through even though we know there may be repercussions all throughout our lives. Many of us may try to fight this self-acceptance because we are very afraid of being our true gender and/or we know that we will have to continually deal with resistance. Yes, we may be at the stage of beginning to know who we truly are and yet we may be afraid of becoming who we are.
Assuming that we overcome that fear, we may also fear expressing our true gender in public and worry if anyone we know will recognize us. On the one hand, it is so exhilarating and liberating to express our true gender in public, but on the other hand, we may be scared to death that anyone we know will recognize us. We may try as best as we can to blend in and that brings up another fear: the fear of being “clocked,” peoples discerning the fact that we are transgender. Both situations can be very uncomfortable, scary, and may be dangerous to our wellbeing.
After we deal with the fear of being recognized or clocked, we may now begin to plan our transition to our true gender. Our transition may receive some levels of resistance from our family, our friends, our co-workers, and perhaps even cost us our jobs. Many transgender people have lost family members and friends because they would not accept our transition. As a result, we may find ourselves on the outside looking in on many relationships. This may also happen at work as we may find ourselves suddenly with no job. In dealing with this particular fear we could possibly end up with no job and no support from anyone we know.
If and when we get past these issues we may try to settle into our new lives and begin dating. This will be much different from our previous dating experiences because now we are the “opposite” gender. We may get resistance from many folks. There may be some who will date us but many times they may only date us on the sly, that is, they don’t want their family, friends, and co-workers to know about us. This may narrow our dating prospects and make us fear the thought of never having a chance of being fully and openly loved by anyone.
The dating fear and the fears of non-acceptance from family, friends, and co-workers may lead to the last fear: the fear of living and dying alone. We may find that no one wants to live with us and that when we are at death’s door, no one will be there to comfort us and advocate for us. We may find ourselves standing alone when our time comes.
These are the set of fears that I have encountered and I would think that many other transgender folk have encountered also. None of these fears are easy to deal with and some of these fears may slow you or stop you from transitioning and/or may cause you stress and/or depression. It may feel as if there is a huge wall of fears that confront you as you progress through your transition. As soon as you deal with one fear, another one is already waiting for you.
I realize that the term “warrior” may be overused in many cases, but if you think about all of the fears that the average trans person may have to face, I think that we do qualify as warriors. Besides the normal fears that everyone else faces, we also have to deal with the other fears that I just described. Yes, I would say that many of us are indeed, “warriors.”
*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.