Though the general public perceives “transitioning” as some magical sex change that instantly transforms you from man to woman, or woman to man, we all know it doesn’t really work that way. This is especially true when your gender falls out of the binary, but more often than not these days people are not even taking the “traditional” routes to transition so by now it applies to more people than most.
Even then, people are sometimes under the impression that every step is a conscious, deliberate decision we make along the way. Not just that, but it’s assumed that the decisions are clear-cut, obvious and self-evident, and that once taken, they aren’t later questioned by ourselves (not to mention by others). You’ve probably already realized this may not be true either.
Every step carries a different meaning for each individual. Some people would rather refer to their transition as a confirmation, an integration, a transformation, or simply, change. But while there can be a clear build up, a few memorable epiphanies, and a handful of milestones, usually there is no one decisive moment that changes everything. And worst of all, most of it just… happens.
We try to plan out our lives, plan our transition, plan every step of the way. But some things sort of fall into place by themselves, in their own time.
It Just Happens
Most of my transition has been a series of such moments that “just happen.” Even the ones that are planned usually have fortuitous beginnings. My transition is comprised of a careful sequence of orchestrated moves interspersed with luck-of-the-draw, right-place-right-time kind of circumstances that spur a gigantic leap onto the next step. For starters, I can’t pinpoint the exact event that made me realize I was transgender, and I can give but a fuzzy estimate of when I started identifying as such (also note these are two distinct periods in time).
Whenever I bog myself down with questions about what to do next, should I or shouldn’t I, I pause to consider this pattern. So, it becomes a little easier to let go. I continue thinking about it without worrying about it, because I know sooner or later things will figure themselves out.
You’re Always Right
Every week I receive a few emails with personal questions of this nature: “Should I get top surgery now? When will I know when hormones are right for me? Should I wait to come out to my parents? Why did you do X? What spurred you to make that decision? How did you know?” And my answers all seem to contain a similar pattern: keep exploring; there’s no rush; you’ll know when you’re ready.
It sounds like a cop-out, but that has been true for me. This isn’t to say “sit back and the super secret answers will magically reveal themselves” but rather, keep reading, keep talking, keep thinking; be as informed as you can; don’t stop questioning yourself and the world. Sooner or later the snowball of knowledge you’ve built will stumble upon something, and the far-off landscape will come into clearer focus, much more tangible than before.
Furthermore, rest assured that whatever you’re doing right now is probably right for you, right now.
It takes quite a lot of introspection to make certain conclusions about yourself – about your body, your mind, your gender. I can thoroughly analyze and lay out why I decided to have top surgery, or why I came around to the idea of hormones, why I ever so slowly let my pronouns shift, why I was suddenly so sure of my new name after being so unsure, or how I managed to come out to everyone in one fell swoop.
But in the end, my answer is that things just fell into place, and it finally felt like it was the next logical, “right” thing to do. There was always that final inner confirmation, an indescribable yet reassuring sentiment.