Contributing Author: Andie, UK
Nothing is so profound as finding yourself, and yet we never stop to think about it. It reaches places you never knew were there, and yet is the most secure state of being you can imagine. Sometimes I think that “transition” is the greatest gift a human being can have. Transition? Think “from inauthenticity to authenticity” rather than from one gender to another because it isn’t that. The world is cruel about it; society cannot deal with it; some religious experience comes close to it, but it is not a common event in people’s lives.
When you come to understand and truly accept that your outer manifestation does not need to dictate your soul, you are freed. Not into a kindly world, but from all the frictions of having-to-be. Time and again, the story I hear from trans* people is one of not belonging, of knowing you are not what people expect you to be, and being unable to make sense of it. It is the source of self-hatred and anger and ultimately can be self-destructive. Gender-aligned people do not experience this. There are other reasons for similar feelings, of course, but this one is because of the way you were born. This is because society has not given you permission to simply be as you are, let alone find a remedy.
People asked me with kindly concern after my “courage” for “coming out”: “How are you?”
“It isn’t courage; it’s being. It isn’t coming out; it’s shaking off. How am I? If I had known for a moment that I was allowed to be this happy with myself, I would have done it long ago.”
I am not one who is fortunate enough to have kept my family. I still have an amazing sister and I have a son. The rest of my family has closed itself against me. So how can I possibly be so happy with myself? It’s because I really know myself at last and I also know what love is and what it is not. I know when love is simply filling in someone else’s self-image, and when it is knowing the other as other. It took losing all I held as most true and permanent – and realising it was neither – to really understand that knowing who I am, valuing that above all else, and seeing others as they are, is the only foundation for love and for life really lived.
What does this mean? It means that I have gained validity and that all my relationships with other people have changed forever. I am who I am, not what anyone else would like me to be in order to complete their own self-image. I am free at last to learn to love myself, and therefore to really give love in return.