incubation phase

Just Fill In the Blanks

Recently, one of my old friends from high school adopted a beautiful new son. I am so, so happy for her and her husband.

As soon as I saw the pictures appear on facebook I thought, "wow! I really have been busy. I never noticed she was pregnant!" And then I scrolled down the list of comments under one of the pictures. Here and there, sprinkled amongst the jubilant expressions of joy and well-wishing was this comment:

"what?! did I miss something?!"

and below that, my friend's reply:

"nope. We adopted him. You didn't miss anything."

And my heart sank to my feet. Like way past my joyful heart, past my knees and into the floor. And I related. I got it. I remembered how it felt when I first changed my name. Lots of supportive comments and messages and a whole lot of people who never needed to say anything to me other than my new name. They just said, "Dillan", like it was the way I'd been known forever.

But there were messages in my inbox like, "Wait, what?! What's this new name about? Tell me more!!!" (3 exclamation points) or, "I see the new change. Do we start using male pronouns now?"

And while I knew this was meant to be incredibly supportive, I just wasn't ready to answer those questions. I just wasn't. It was an incredibly painful and at times downright depressingly agonizing process to come out as transgender to myself--and then to others. It was slow, and long and really fucking hard.

I wrestled with the feeling of entitlement that people seemed to have, especially when I was in what I consider my incubation phase. It's ok to be curious, it really is. But sometimes, I thought, you can just fill in the blanks. You can do this because you can remember that everything you do isn't visible to people. And you might cringe to think about things that have been hard for you, and what it would have been like to have to do that publicly. Especially if it breaks some sort of societal norm or "rule".

I think about things I've experienced that were never visible. That I was able to do or say or think that never got put up on display. And I think about being out as transgender and how I have to decide how "out" I'm going to be. I don't feel pressured, guilted or shamed into being out. I get to make that choice. But it is a choice. A choice others don't have to make.

So when my friend made the choice to adopt, a choice others don't have to make, I felt only compassion for her. I feel deep compassion for the choice she made to fulfill what is probably a lifelong dream of hers to be a loving, supportive, gentle, INCREDIBLE mother. She was all those things as my friend in high school when I was moody and depressed from struggling with an eating disorder. So I can bet she's going to be that as a mom. Guess what she does as a profession? She's a nurse. ;)

So, I send her love now--only love, no questions. Because this choice she made is different. It's not what people expect of heterosexual women. It moves her closer to the experience of some gay and lesbian and transgender and bisexual parents. It brings me closer to seeing that showing one's life to people is scary and beautiful---and important.

Maybe it's because I just had to do this in my own life and so I know what it feels like. Maybe it's because I love her to death and want her to feel nothing but joy in this moment. Maybe I don't need to ask any details other than what she wants to share. Because I can fill in the blanks.