Monday, November 9, 2009

Who am I? Why am I here?

I'm sure no one has ever been clever enough to quote Admiral Stockdale for an introductory post either but hopefully I'll say something vaguely original at some point!

The first cause for this blog - since right now pretty much no one knows it exists - is to give me an outlet to "explain myself" to people who know me in my area who might come here via Facebook (since there's not really a "blog" feature there or I didn't find one anyway).

This will be a "stream of consciousness" sort of post so forgive me if I lurch about from point to point. Hopefully I'll make SOME sense.

It's a pretty tricky thing to totally throw out all of your acquaintances' previous conceptions of who you are and not be able to elaborate on "what happened." So this first post will at least touch a bit on that context as well as serve as something of an introduction to those who come across this page by other means.

I am a native of North Mississippi, raised in this very traditional, conservative, religious environment all my life. And as strange as it might seem to those of you who are now asking "What the (censored) happened to HIM?" I still am, largely, a product of that culture. I have been a Christian since childhood and I still am (albeit with a somewhat divergent view on the issue of transsexualism than my friends in the church have). I have been very conservative politically all my life, and while I probably have become more libertarian over the last decade, I find I'm as much a stranger among the trans community as a right-of-center person, as I am a stranger on the right because I'm trans. But the point is, I didn't suddenly become a flaming liberal because I acknowledged my condition - no offense to my friends who are flaming liberals! ;)

I am, in every way that's important, still the person I was 5, 10, 20 years ago (with an admission that I hid a lot of my true self from all of you back then) - I was simply wrapped in a different wrapper. The challenge I faced, when I decided that I had to deal with this part of myself, is that I recognize that there is a small but very important group of friends who have been very good to me over the years, and shown a lot of faith in me. I'm not sure whether those people will feel betrayed by this revelation. My wife does, of course, and that's an issue unto itself.

So it's with those people in mind - should they ever have occasion to read this - as my first audience that I write. Hopefully I'll be clever enough to also lay out a basic idea of what I'm about to those who don't know me as well.

So, without detailing my life story - a VERY brief background:

This is NOT new. Only my decision to acknowledge and accept it is (relatively) new. I have know "something was wrong with me" since at least five or six and knew what it was since at least 10. If you grew up with me, went to school with me, whatever, you knew me but you didn't know all of me - even then I wore the mask. After all, what can come from a kid announcing to his peers in 1975 (in Mississippi!) that he should have been born a girl? Nothing good. In early adulthood, I was torn between accepting myself and moving somewhere that I could deal with it, and suicide. For reasons that it is unnecessary to elaborate, I did neither and in time, I came to accept the church's opinion that I was "in sin" or "perverted" or whatever.

Do not misunderstand what I am about to say. I had sincere faith then, I have sincere faith now. But on top of that, in those days I rededicated myself to being a "hyper-christian" in the hopes that if I was good enough, dedicated enough, devoted enough, that God would "heal" me of my affliction.

For 20 years I gave my whole heart to that and cried out to God to be rid of this birth defect. Eventually, the fact that nothing changed about my mental makeup led me to question whether or not the church's view of transsexualism was biblical doctrine, or cultural tradition. I am very certain that some of you, my fellow believers, will argue strongly that I have reached the wrong conclusion. I sincerely respect your right to that opinion, and acknowledge that I might be wrong. But by the lights I have, I'm comfortable with my conclusion.

I believe this IS a birth defect and I do not believe the God I believe in is the sort of being who will condemn a person for a condition they were born with. Nor do I believe that it pleases him for that person to make themselves miserable in order to offer a false front of "normalcy" to the world. Finally, if I am wrong, I also and most of all believe that his grace is big enough to cover me being too unlearned or too self-interested to do the "right" thing.

So, to those of you who say "How does a good church going man we all believed in turn out like this?" - I can only say that it is hell to pretend to be something you are not in order to be "approved of" by those around you. As much as I value the friendship and approval of some of you (and I hope most of you know who you are) I simply cannot - CANNOT - fake it anymore.

Some of you, most of you to be sure, also greatly care about my wife and kids and I'm sure you are saying to yourself right now "What about your family?"

There is no easy answer to that. My kids have actually rolled with it pretty well. I don't think you have anything to worry about on that score. My wife . . . struggles. I have put us in a no win situation. There's a direct conflict between her having the husband she wants and deserves - the person she chose to marry - and making me miserable in the process, or, on the other hand, me being freed from the bondage of the mask and making her miserable in the process.

There's a direct conflict between her right to wash her hands of the person who, in a real sense, betrayed her (albeit unintentionally - I would never have believed when we married that God wasn't going to heal me so she would never know) and her strong desire to spend the rest of her life with the human being she fell in love with. The reality is that all the qualities about me that made her love me in the first place are STILL HERE. it wasn't my looks or my money or my "manliness" that attracted her - it was a set of personality traits and behaviors which were, in point of fact, my feminine qualities, that made me different from the other guys she might have chosen. And those haven't changed.

That doesn't mean she doesn't have a HUGE problem adjusting to the packaging.

If you are a believer, by all means pray for her.

All that said, there is at present no discussion of or consideration of splitting up. in the near term, we are just as committed as ever. Only time will tell if the day will come when her ability to tolerate me will be exhausted. I want to be very clear that I have no desire to be parted from her.

The simple reality though, is that the person you thought you knew was a real person to be sure, but one hiding behind a false front - hiding in fear. All my life I've been petrified that you, and you and you and you, would disown me and hate me and call me a pervert if you knew my dark secret. Maybe those fears were justified, but whether they were or not, I can no longer be controlled by them. I have for the last year been slowly moving towards this new life (I told my wife September 7, 2008) and now it has arrived. As of last Saturday, the "man" you knew is no more. You may see me at town in a skirt, or with my nails polished or whatever - but you will see "Laura" because that is who I am.

Whatever you think of me, know that - as hard as it might be for you to understand - the simple joy of going about the chores of the day as ME instead of as the "man" I used to pretend to me is beyond description. As much as I truly love my wife and kids, there's a real sense in which I've never been as deeply and authentically HAPPY in my life as I've been just being completely myself these last few days. I can only imagine what it will be like if I ever have the money to pursue hormone therapy and surgery and such.

I hope that if you ever called me friend you still will, but I completely respect your right to not do so. All I ask of any of you is three things:

1. Treat me decently, do not be hateful even if you disagree;
2. Don't try to "fix" me. Pray for me if you want but don't meddle in my marriage or try to convince me what a dirty rotten sinner I am. The days of self-loathing are behind me and I don't intend to be drug back to that place;
3. IF you do still care for me and if you are willing to support and affirm me and associate with me, PLEASE speak up and let me know. You can't know how alone it feels to wonder if the whole world thinks you a fool and a clown. Heck, it doesn't even matter if we were friends before. if you are a checker at the supermarket or Wal Mart or in any other way interact with me, knowing you are "cool with me" is of unspeakable value.

Also, you can add me on Facebook if you want - I only have one "friend" :(

Anyway, I'm sure there is much I should say that I have not, but I'm sure there will be many more posts here. Hopefully eventually someone will actually read them.

All for now,
~Laura Beth

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