Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Transition & The Loss of Friends

One of the most challenging questions I have had to deal with is trying to determine if I have lost friends because of my transition.  I am a member of a chat board called and on that board people are very fond of saying that when you transition you need to be prepared to lose everyone and everything and thus they do not recommend transitioning unless it is a life and death situation.  That sentiment scared me off from transitioning for a long time, and now that I have actually transitioned I don't know if it is an accurate statement.

The humans at that site have other's best interest in mind in telling them that, as there are many who have transitioned and have lost everything.  Unfortunately it is not uncommon for people who transition to lose their family, friends, job, house, kids, everything and anything that you can think of.  I suppose that it is a good idea for people to be prepared for this possibility if they are to chose to transition.

Keep in mind, this is not to say that people are choosing to be transgender, that is something that you are born with or not.  What I am saying is that people can choose to transition or not.  There are many people out there that know they are trans, and that they will always be trans, however, they are not ready, willing, or able to transition.

Okay, so someone can choose to transition or not.  That is factual.  Now what will happen once someone does transition?  That is an unknown.  Nobody can say for sure what will or wont happen once somebody makes the choice.  And as I said, I suppose that people should be prepared for the worst when making this choice, however, it is my opinion that it is a detriment to tell people that it is inevitable that the worst will for sure happen.

One of my favorite shows is Deadliest Catch.  Have you ever seen it?  Do you know what it is about?  If you don't know, it is a show about catching crab in the Bering Sea.  Which is widely known as one of the deadliest jobs on the planet.  Anywho, when they get somebody new on the crab boat they refer to that person as a Greenhorn.  It is quite typical that the Greenhorn gets treated horribly.  And the boat captains encourage that behavior from the other members of the crew.  The Greenhorn gets the worst jobs, the most demanding jobs, and constantly takes loads of verbal and sometime physical abuse from the other crew members.  Inevitably many of the Greenhorns do not survive the entire season or return for more abuse for a second season.

Recently I saw a show where a psychologist was discussing the hazing that takes place aboard crab boats towards the Greenhorns.  The captain's positions were basically one of, the hazing of the newbies is a good thing because it helps to prepare them for the horrors that are crab fishing.  Crab fishing is a tough thing and people new to the job need to be abused in order to understand just how difficult the job is.  The psychologist basically completely disagreed with the methods the captains and the entire industry encourage.  She said that what it does is to make people feel worthless and more likely to not succeed in the profession.  And really, to truly help people become proficient in crab fishing, you need to encourage them, and not haze and berate them.

Hmm..... interesting thoughts.  Can these same thoughts be applied to being transgender?  Personally I think they can.  Is it a possibility that someone may die from crab fishing?  Yes.  But, you don't prepare them for that by treating them like garbage.  Thus applied to transgender humans, you don't prepare them for transition by treating them poorly.  What you may do is scare them off from transitioning.  Sadly some trans humans think this is a good thing.

Ummm..... yeah, I obviously disagree.  People don't need to be discouraged from transitioning.  Nor do they need to be encouraged to transition. What do they need?  They need to be supported in sorting out their own thoughts to determine if transition is necessary for themselves.  Do people need to be aware that there is a possibility that they may loose everything if they transition?  Sure.  But do people need to be aware that they may gain everything they have ever wanted by transitioning?  Yes they do.

Okay, long preamble huh?  Yes just a bit! LOL!  Back to the point of this post, how many friends have I lost due to transitioning?  Ummmm...... maybe two.  A married couple that my wife and I would hang with on occasion.  Yup.  I had my suspicions about whether or not the lack of contact from them was due to my transition.  Recently I met with the wife of the couple and it was pretty much confirmed that they have stopped wanting to hang out with us due to my transition.  Sad?  Yes.  Yes it is very sad to me that both my wife and I have lost them as friends due to me choosing to be true to who I have been born as.

Would it really have been better to not transition, stay miserable, and potentially keep these two people as friends?  Well, the reality is that while they were considered to be friends, possibly even somewhat close friends, we saw them maybe 4 or 5 times per year.  So..... I should have stayed miserable to spend possibly 5 sets of a few hours each per year with these people.  Ummm, big NO!  Nope, that is not worth it.

Besides, the reality of friendships is that they are constantly evolving.  Friends come and go throughout our lifetime.  I once read that within the next seven years you will loose half of all of your current friends.  Wow!  And that is without transitioning.  That is just because lives change.  Interests change.  People move.  People grow.  Friends die.  Things happen!  Should that prevent us from doing things that may cause us to lose people from our lives?

No.  No you should not allow the potential loss of anyone to cause you to be untrue to yourself.

For me, the loss of two people from my world has not impacted me in the least.  Well, okay, maybe it has a little bit.  I am bummed that those two people are so terrified of interacting with me at all that they are refusing our requests to have them over for dinner.  However, at the same time that I have lost those two people, I have gained many more people in my life.  Once I decided to come out, and then to transition, and to include as many people as I could, I have gained many more friends, and reconnected with many people I lost contact with long ago.

There are those who will inevitably say that I am the exception to the rule and people should not listen to me.  C'est La Vie! Don't then.  It wont bother me.  I truly cannot explain my transition, but I really don't think that it is all that unusual or spectacular.  What I can say is that throughout this process of coming out and then transitioning, I have learned much about myself and about other people.  What did I learn about myself?  That I am the single most transphobic person that I have ever met.

Yup, that's true.  I have been deathly afraid of myself being transgender because I was afraid of what that was going to mean for me and my life.  Because see, I have viewed being transgender as a bad thing.  What this has meant for me is that prior to dealing with this issue inside of myself, I thought that I had to deal with this issue in everybody else.  This made it so that I approached most people with a chip on my shoulder and an expectation that people needed to do something for me.  It was their job to prove to me that they were not transphobic.  Yeah, that set me up for lots of disappointment and heartache.  Thus, once I accepted my own internal feelings, I began to change how I interacted with others.  It changed things for the better.  When before I was seeing how awful people were, I began to see how fantastic people really are.  I understand that not everybody is fantastic and accepting, but the vast majority really are fabulous.

So, maybe it is that which has caused my transgender experience to be different than many others.  I truly don't know.  I do know that my transition has been fantastic.  Really I have had nothing to complain about.  Well, except for maybe how difficult and challenging the medical and insurance community has made it for trans people.  When a cis person can get the same surgery as a trans person without having to pass a bevy of hoops placed before them, then that really does suck.  But even that is changing.  Slowly, but it is changing.  Okay, so, other than that, my transition has been great.

No, it's not because I live in California and that is the land of beaches, sunshine, hippies, and happy loving acceptance.  The cities are more that way, but the rural portions, most of California, are highly conservative.  Possibly more conservative than some areas of the US as a rebuttal to the hippy commune cities effects.  I myself live in one of the most conservative areas.  I also transitioned while on the the job as a middle school teacher in a highly conservative school district, which does not offer any kind of insurance for trans people.  Yes I did take my employer to the EEOC, but am still happily employed by them.  My wife did at one time say that if I ever transitioned she would leave me.  My sister once told me that she knew all about trans people but didn't really want to discuss "those" people with me.

So..... I had a few things working against me.  But I did have one certain thing going for me, which is my unflappable determination that this is what was right for me, and that I knew I could do this and have the support from those around me.  And now, being about two to three weeks away from ending my 23rd year of teaching, but the first as myself, I can say, guess what?  I was right.  I could do this.  And in the end, what can I see has happened?  The loss of two narrow minded people from my world?  Wow, huge loss!  Um, no, not so much.

If you are reading this and have yet to take the transition plunge, but have decided that it is inevitable, what should you take from this?  The onus of responsibility to make sure that your transition goes the way you want it to go, is upon yourself, and only yourself.  You can do this, but it will take time, effort, energy, persistence, and dedication.  Notice that I am placing all responsibility for how it goes upon your shoulders?  Well, yeah, that is how I do things.  Basically because guess what?  I can only ever control me.  I can't force anyone else to do anything, but I can force myself to do just about anything.  And you can to.

Love you!

Love yourselves!

Time, effort, energy, persistence, and dedication!

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