Thursday, 15 August 2013

Transition is an exercise in selfishness.

    Today I had a meeting at work. My boss and I took a walk through the labyrinth of offices and staircases to the HR department, and sat down with our department's HR representative. I announced my intention to transition full-time to the female role, and set in motion the necessary steps for that to happen smoothly at work.

    Truth be told, this is the last thing I want to happen.

    You aren't supposed to say something like that just before transition, are you. It's a trope, that you should only transition if you have no alternative, you are supposed to want it more than anything in the world. God knows, I've had that one quoted at me enough times over the past few years. Usually from trans women desperate to assert themselves as more trans than me. They just went for it and I struggled against it, therefore I can't really be trans. Cheers ladies. A friend of mine puts it very well: transition is an exercise in selfishness.

    No, I don't want it. What I really want is for it all to go away. A magic bloke pill. I can do bloke very well. Ain't gonna happen, sadly.

    I'm transitioning because I have run out of alternatives. Having just said I don't want it, of course I want to live as a woman in the desperate way only one stuck in the existence of a bloke can. But I'd have to be crazy to also want its effects. Effects on those around me, effects on me.
    I can't speak for my wife, but I sense she is relieved. The past few years have not been easy for her, and we had settled into a stable but stressful existence from which the only exit could have been our relationship slowly withering on the vine. Living with a bloke with clinical depression can not be easy, she has always said it is my depression she has had the problem with more than my being trans.
    So we'd be still here in a tiny flat in ten years time, neither happy, no children, no future. If I transition our relationship may or may not survive but at least it won't wither and my wife has the potential to be happier through living with someone who is not depressed. Only time will tell if it works for us.

    My friend got it right: Transition is an exercise in selfishness.


13 comments:

  1. We feel miserable if we do not treat the problem and hang back as a sacrifice to other's feelings only to feel miserable if we do treat the problem. Impossible to find a winning solution which is why we spent so many sleepless nights trying to imagine a perfect way out...

    Since my change I an a much nicer happier version of my old self and my partner has overcome her initial fears and can now once more walk out hand in hand.

    For me the real selfishness was that I was pushed so close to the edge of despair that I could have selfishly taken my own life to stop the absurd situation of living with no true self...

    I do so look forward to watching you come to full bloom at last.

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  2. I still can't completely shake of the idea that in acknowledging my own need and acting without delay I was selfish. It certainly caused upsets and profound unhappiness.

    But I cling to three things. First, that in going ahead I avoided my own breakdown and spared putting others on the rack for my decline into despair or worse. Second, that none of the reactions in other people were inevitable: each could choose to be happy and supportive if they wanted to. Third, least important to me, but it might for some be the most important thing, I passed a stiff character test, of facing up to a tough challenge knowing that it would fix one big thing, but generate a host of difficulties, and quite possibly leave me alone and reviled.

    But one's partner is always a special case. I do see that you have run out of options and have taken what seems the least-worse course. In that light, celebrations are inappropriate. Best wishes for the time ahead.

    Lucy

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  3. I can see your point, but I think it is more nuanced than that.

    From a partner point of view, I do completely agree. This was not something that Mrs Stace wanted (or indeed wants), it's something *I* needed to do.

    But, outside of that very personal relationship it's actually a different story for me. The people I work with are much happier working with Stacy than they were with him - and commented as such in my first review after transitioning. Someone who is less tense, who in conflicts stays calmer keeping both sides from escalating. Who outside of conflicts thinks both sides of a story and can better explain herself rather than keeping to a tense 'No'.

    Someone who is happier in the workplace.

    Just something to keep in mind, and stop you beating yourself up too much over this - that is something you should not do!

    Stace

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  4. I hope that things work out for you and your wife.

    I'll apologize now for the long response.

    Transition is an exercise in selfishness but not necessarily in a bad way. We can learn how selfish we can be but also how unselfish we can be.

    I transitioned because I knew that if I didn't then I'd not be around today. In fact about 5 months before I transitioned I took what's called a slow overdose where I took 3 or 4 times the recommended daily dosage of paracetamol over a 2 or 3 week period before getting help. I knew at that point I had to transition if I wanted to live to see my son finish school and my nieces grow up.

    At the end of this year it will be 2 years since I transitioned and I'm more than eligible for surgery.

    But I've learned that this journey we go on is done at our own pace. Others might not understand our pace and the medical profession might encourage us to go through things at their pace but we have to be selfish and demand that they understand our situation, it is our journey after all, not other peoples.

    I'm planning to ask for my second opinion referral next April with the intention of having my surgery at the end of next year. I am being selfish about that. I want it then and that is what I'm aiming for.

    But. And this is the thing. I could have selfishly gone for surgery sooner. The clinic told me that under the new rules I became eligible for surgery last April. I know of several trans women that have had their second opinions and are now looking at their appointments at the hospital where they will have their surgery. I could easily have been doing the same.

    But I haven't. I've planned things because I have a father-in-law with terminal cancer who could pass away any time and my wife is going to need my support to get through that. I have a son who is going through GCSEs and sits his exams next summer. Adding the pressure and worry of me having major surgery to them would be really selfish of me. Much as I would love to have completed my journey though I've had to learn that I have to be patient because of the people I care about.

    So yes transition is an exercise in selfishness but it can be one where we learn how selfish or selfless we can be with regards to this life of ours.

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  5. I do so agree with every comment here. There is no right or wrong, either way one takes involves selfishness on someone's part, it cannot be otherwise. If you go ahead with your transition you are being selfish to your spouse and family and if you don't proceed because you don't wish to upset others they are being selfish by holding you back. You are who you are and can only be accused of not coming to terms with it far sooner. Most, if not all of us go through the denial phase. Some deny themselves throughout their lives perhaps for the love of others, perhaps because of fear and perhaps for both reasons. I stand accused of these three things, I admit it and I realise that I have let others down by following through with my transition but it was never as cut and dried as that. I had a marriage breakdown and a spouse who had all but rejected me half-way through the marriage. I came out to her and my family long afterwards. Everyone's situation is different of course and their course through it all will be a personal one accordingly. I would like to ask the question 'Is it really a selfish thing to do to be one's self'? I personally don't think so. We all make mistakes in life but the greatest mistake we make is denying who we are. I am happy for you Jenny that you have finally come to terms with what you feel is the right way forward. The road will be difficult but you will get to the end of it and I'll venture to say you'll be a lot happier when you reach it. You may find, and I certainly hope so, that your relationship with your spouse will improve dramatically. Best wishes on your journey. Love

    Shirley Anne x

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  6. If you want any help or advice that you can't find anywhere else, just ask! Having transitioned just over a year ago I feel that my experiences are recent enough to be still valid. For example, a friend up here who transitioned about 6 months after me used a version of the letters that I sent out by e-mail to friends and family and another that I sent to external people who I work with.

    Best wishes and believe be the grass really is greener......

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  7. I don't think one of us regrets the pain we cause to others on this journey. I know for me I would gladly turn away from this path if I could but I do understand that's not the way it is. Selfish ? Its a term I would claim but I am not sure i really deserve it, my wife certainly doesn't think so. As she says its not as if I haven't tried but in the end If we make ourselves unhappy by living a half life what have we gained ?

    Good luck to you Jenny

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  8. I'm crying, damnit. I know how hard your have fought this. Oh, how I know.

    This post just tore me apart, emotionally, Jenny. I'm happy for you and I hope you and your wife can stay together.

    Love you, girl.

    Calie xxx

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  9. Dear Jenny,

    There is life after transition.

    Love and best wishes.

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  10. Jenna really struck a chord with me when she wrote I've learned that this journey we go on is done at our own pace. I've been assured by my clinic that the path to total transition and surgery is wide open to me. I qualify on all counts, but it's me who has applied the brakes. I'm not ready for it. Perhaps I never will be.

    Especially for those of us with understanding, supportive wives, the decision on whether to fully transition is an agonizing one, not helped by the bouts of depression that seem to be an integral part of our condition. I support you wholeheartedly, Jenny, in your decision. You have, indeed, run out of options, though I do wonder what will become of your wife. Will the relief of not having to cope with your depression out-way the loss of a 'husband'? Damn it, how can we possibly know?

    My decision (for now, at least) not to transition totally has perhaps been made easier by not being in full-time work any more. We have more time to give happiness to each other; more time too to support one another in the dark times that inevitably come our way.

    O yes, a magic bloke pill would be lovely. It's nice to dream.

    Angie xx

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  11. Jenny, you are going to be the best person you know how to be. If that is selfishness, then it isn't such a very bad thing is it?
    Seems to me you have given "self-sacrificing" a pretty good run in your lifetime and it has had its day.

    You have friends, clearly and they will stick with you. I hope your wife can move from relief to love again.

    All the very best.
    Halle

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  12. Thanks everyone. It's been a difficult couple of weeks, but we're still 'ere.

    In the light of doing this with consideration to others I was just thinking of a recent post of Stace's, in which she talked about scheduling surgery round the arrival of their youngster.

    I have honestly very little thought to a longer term timetable though. Surgery has never been the objective for me, instead I seek a comfortable existence. Don't get me wrong, I may well end up on that path, but to me it is not the be-all and end-all that makes you who you are.

    The bottom line is, everyone's path is different. We all get some things right, but we *all* make some mistakes along the way. If I am talking about my mistakes, you are not required to see similar episodes in your transition as yours.

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  13. As long as I have known you I have got the sense that you were acting with great consideration for those close to you. I do really hope you can find a path that will enable you to live the life you need to live, and I hope I can be here to support you as you have supported me.

    Mary

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