Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Kate's Transgender FAQ

This was my most recent post on Facebook following the "big reveal" to my family.  I felt it was time to let everyone else know the story behind what they were seeing.  I hope you will take the time to read it (sorry, it's long) and let me know what you think!


Ciao,
Kate



Kate’s Transgender FAQ
I have recently begun to broadcast a number of “changes” in my life through Facebook.  Some among my friends understand exactly what is going on, but these changes are very likely vague and somewhat puzzling for many of you.  Now that I have handled some of the “high priority” communications, I can safely share more information with you all in the hope that you may better understand what is happening.  

In a nutshell, I am transgendered and have begun to work toward a full time transition to life in my correct gender.  This is not a new discovery or any kind of spur of the moment decision.  This is a reality I have struggled with all my life.

I’ve provided, following, a list of some common questions I have been asked in conversations with people I have told personally about this transition.  This is by no means a complete list, and it may just spur more questions than it answers.  Still, I hope that it provides at least a little better understanding for those who want to know.  If you do have other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.  I will be happy to help you understand as much as I possibly can.



The Most Frequently Asked Questions:

What do you mean “transgendered?”
The word transgender is a blanket term that refers to a whole spectrum of gender identity issues.  It’s a very generic way to describe what is going on with me.  To be more specific, I am a woman born with a male body who is taking steps to correct those birth irregularities.  I am actively working toward a goal of living full time in my correct gender.  The process varies by individual, but for me will include psychological, chemical, surgical, and cosmetic procedures intended to ease the process of integrating into daily life.

So, you like to dress up like a girl?
Well, technically I guess that is accurate… especially when it comes to shoes; but it’s a little short-sighted.  The thing to understand is that in every way other than physically, I am a woman.  How I dress is really just an extension of that fact.  So, yes, I do like to dress in MY clothes.  If I didn’t like them, I wouldn’t have bought them!

How long have you known?
I have known about this in one way or another for as long as I can remember.  Of course, as a child, I didn’t have the tools or experience to fully understand the issue (or that I wasn’t the only one dealing with these feelings), but I always knew that I was supposed to be a girl.  I have specific memories that range as far back as Kindergarten and vague recollections prior to that.

Are you gay?
Okay, why does everyone go there?  This has nothing to do with sexual expression, preference, or what I like to do in bed.  This is who I am as a person – it’s about how I think and feel, and how I interact with the world.  Sex has nothing to do with it.  If you must know, I love my wife; so I suppose that makes me a lesbian.

What does your family think about all this?
I told them.  If I ever hear anything from them, I’ll let you know.  The good news is that I have a huge family of loving and supportive friends who start with my wife, and even include my ex-wife.  Yes, seriously.  I have all the support I could ever dream of regardless who among my genetic family chooses to embrace me.  I once read that if a woman wasn’t prepared to lose everything she held dear, then she wasn’t prepared to transition.  I am prepared.

Wait, so you’re going to cut “it” off? (I tend to get a little sensitive about "genital" questions, so I'm sorry if my answer may seem a little vulgar; but if you're asking, you deserve the truth.)
Umm, that’s not exactly correct.  An accurate question would be “Wait, so you’re going to filet “it,” gut “it,” and shove what’s left up inside?”  And the answer is… I’m not sure yet.  See the last Q&A for further information.

What about your wife?
My wife is my soul mate, my life partner, my rock and my anchor, and the love of my life.  She has seen through to Kate since the day we met (I don’t know how, as conflicted as I was back then... Jamie is just that awesome).  I wouldn’t have the strength to do what I’m doing without the love and support (and the shoulder to cry on) that she offers me every moment of every day of my life.  She is the one person who has shown me that I can love me – the real me – and she is the one person who I know will always be by my side.

But you don’t act like a girl!
That is true.  The thing is I was bullied, tormented, and harassed by “normal people” all through childhood and into my teens.  I learned early and painfully that these feelings are not the kinds of things that make you popular with others.  I’ve had a lot of practice pretending to be someone I am not, and as I continued to immerse myself in my role over the years, everything from my job to my relationships became dependent on me playing that part.  In some respects it became comfortable, or at least safe, because people liked me that way (or at least, they didn’t torment me as much).  But, the stress of maintaining a Kyle persona all this time has generated nothing but negative feelings in my life.  In recent years, I’ve come to realize that I have been beating myself up for years to avoid letting other people beat me up.  I now understand that I do not control – nor do I particularly care – how other people feel about me.  As such, you will likely begin to notice a difference in my behavior as I shed those learned traits, and allow my true nature to show.  The most notable difference is that I am a much happier person.

Are you going to quit your job?
Honestly, this is an area I am still trying to figure out.  I know there are many examples of women who successfully transition without leaving their careers, but I am not entirely convinced I will be one of those women.  I like what I do, who I work for, and the company that employs me, and I seriously hope that my employers will embrace the same spirit of diversity that I so often hear preached from every corner of our organization.  That said, it is still very much a male dominated industry (especially in my area of responsibility), and I think I would be naive if I wasn’t at least a little dubious about how my particular situation will be viewed.  For the immediate future, my intention is to continue my employment for as long as physically possible without causing a stir (within “legal” and “procedural” protocols, of course).  At some point, I will no longer be physically capable of pretending to be Kyle during working hours.  Hopefully, I will have figured the rest out before then.

What do your kids say about all this?
Other than “I love you,” not much.  I love my children more than anything in this world (or out of it, for that matter).  The one thing I want them to know above all else is that I would never intentionally do anything to hurt them.  The things I'm doing now, I am doing because I have to in order to be the kind of person they would want in their lives... a happy and loving individual who can see past her own shortcomings to embrace their needs.  They know about me, and (I hope) they know they can talk to me whenever they feel the need.  Until then, I am trying to just let them work through things as they are ready and comfortable.

Aren’t you worried about what people will say about you?
If I worried about what people say, I would never have survived as a manager.  People have been talking about me all my life.  Since I entered management, everyone from people I don’t even know to people I considered friends have felt it okay to express opinions about me.  In many cases, those are less than favorable remarks at best.  It doesn’t bother me.  So, they have some new material.  So what?  I’m happy, and in the end, I know who my real friends are.

So, what are your plans?
This is another question I can only partially answer.  I ultimately plan to live my every day life in my correct gender – as Kate.  Whether that journey will include full SRS (sex reassignment surgery a.k.a. GRS, gender reassignment surgery), or something short of it, I do not yet know.  Honestly, I want to engage as few surgical options as possible, as surgery is traumatic and painful, and of course carries risk.  I will continue less devastating steps – therapy, hormone treatment, permanent hair removal, etc. – as long as needed.  I have definite plans to engage one surgical option as soon as financially possible, which is FFS, or facial feminization surgery.  This one step I feel is critical to my successfully integrating into my daily life as Kate.

I still have a number of issues / questions to resolve – what I will ultimately do for a living, for example – but I am confident that many of these questions will answer themselves as I move along this path.  My primary focus now is to take one step at a time, and to embrace the changes that come, whether those I initiate or those that happen.  And above all I plan to continue learning to love myself, and to love the people who love and are supporting me.

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These are the biggies that seem to come up in every conversation.  If you have others, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Much Love,
Kate

Thus ended the post to which I have received multiple supportive comments, and still nothing from the gene pool.  Que sera, sera.

2 comments:

  1. Outstanding, Kate! Delightfully blunt.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Leslie Ann! I'm glad you liked it.

    ReplyDelete

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Kate