An Open Letter to Myself circa 2006 -- "Being Transgender is a Process, Not a Finish Line"

Hey there.

I am writing this because you will get it. You will understand now. Because you're older and wiser and your Buddhist practice has helped you come to fully understand the concept of karma. Many people understand/misinterpret it as "punishment" but you get it is more how energy sent is energy returned.

I know there was a lot going on back when you moved to Boston in 2006. Even before that, there was a lot going on. There always has been in your life because, well, it was a long climb to where you are. And not an easy climb, at that. For many years.

But here's the thing: you know you judged people. You still do. You do it because you have your own insecurities to work out, still. I get it. But back in the day, when people around you were coming out at transgender--you weren't as kind or understanding as you could have (should have) been.

And now it's you in their shoes. And now you get it.

You Really Get It Now.

You get that being transgender is a process---not an elitist race with an agreed-upon finish line. 

You get that making decisions to change your name, inject yourself with hormones and spend thousands of dollars on surgeries--or not to ever do any of these things--is an extremely difficult and complex process. I mean, damn, how many years has it taken you to get this far? And you've been dressing in men's clothes since you were able to choose what to wear so where was the mystery? You remember how bad Catholic school was-the boys were really mean because you were stronger than them and more concerned with kicking their asses than kissing them at recess. Or because you loved their green polyester ties and would have given your left arm to wear one to school everyday instead of your plaid skirt. But the skirt it was.

You get that burying your identity has been easier than giving it room and air to breathe all these years.

You get that calling yourself gender queer was your way of hiding/stalling another few years--but it's ok, because it felt right at the time.

You get that transgender looks lots of different ways for as many different people and everyone who is brave enough to even mention identifying as transgender deserves a lot of space and patience as they make the decisions they want to make to become or just be.

You get all this it's you.

It's cool that it took you walking in others' shoes to become more compassionate. That's a good thing. It's cool that you can reflect on ways you could have been gentler on people who were doing their best during their own process of coming out to themselves and others.

It's cool----because internalized transphobia is a difficult thing to overcome. It's no easy task to be honest with yourself about who you are so you can be honest and compassionate and in turn, an advocate, for others.

Especially when that honesty means you living it out loud, exposed to the opinions, judgments and assumptions of other people every single day.

No shame. No blame. Just name.

Here's what I'm going to do, because now the ball's in my court.

I'm going to do the best I can to be the best ally possible. I am going to create and advocate for safe spaces for anyone based on who they are---not who they were or aren't yet. Transgender is a delicate, vulnerable place to live in---so I will do my best to make sure (not matter where I am on my own journey) that each person I meet is treated with the respect, patience and compassion you weren't able to summon when your repression was an enormously powerful force.

No matter what comes next on the path, I promise that the journey won't be forgotten and I won't judge people based on their progress toward a self-determined destination. I won't play gender police and have a sign ready when people are "male enough" or "female enough" because maybe the gender binary is not their goal. If or when I pass for male, I won't succumb to heterosexist behavior because I'll remember that passing privilege doesn't erase my past.

I will create spaces and make room where there isn't yet space for people who are brave enough to live out loud outside the boxes that our country and the world have created for the bodies that house our precious, love-filled souls. A soul doesn't know a box. It only does once it's told the box it belongs in.

Some of us feel we got the wrong box, like mail that comes to the wrong postal address. Or a salad when we ordered a burger.

I'll make space where you drew boundaries.

I'll speak up for the times you were silent.

I'll ask for the times you assumed.

I'll do what a lot of trangender people forgot once the privilege to physically evolve became no longer intangible. Even though the past is always present in the mirror and within.

I'll remember that being transgender is a process, not a finish line.

I'll do this because the scars of this process run deeper than those from my acne and tattoos.

I'll do this because you couldn't.

But I can.