Note: This post is in response to all the comments and well wishes I received after publishing “The Open Letter” yesterday.
Yesterday I woke up early. I had slept fine the night before (surprisingly), but once 5:45AM rolled around I just couldn’t see myself dozing back off.
I was feeling pretty anxious; well a mix of emotions really. On one hand I was sort of glad that “the day” was finally here, but on the other I was definitely worried about what could be coming.
The moment came, I paused for a minute, and hit the button. I could not have imagined the magnitude of what would transpire over the next few hours.
What I saw yesterday was an amazing and transformational thing to watch. If I had been an outsider looking in I would have been moved deeply, but to be the subject of such an avalanche of support and empathy truly melted my heart.
Looking back it seems silly that there were times in my life I would have rather died than face all of you as the person I have known I was. And yet it’s true. Even up until the night before I posted that letter I lay in bed asking myself if I really had to do this; if it was worth it. “Is this just some dream?” “Am I crazy?” But I didn’t know what else to do.
I had spent a couple hours on the phone the night before last talking with a dear friend who was struggling with why I needed to do what I was about to do. I had sent this person a letter coming out to them and sharing my intention to let the rest of my friends know. It had arrived just that night.
This person wondered if there was any way possible I could go forward in life without having to do this. The blowback that both they and I had worried about was clearly top of mind. “I mean,” they asked, “you know who you are inside – and your family knows – isn’t there a way you can just know you are female on the inside and not have to display it on the outside?” It’s a fair question that I myself have struggled with, and even tried to do for several years in this process.
Knowing that this friend is a deeply spiritual and religious person (and someone who supports me completely) I responded by asking a question.
“I understand exactly what you’re asking. It’s like there’s this great job – a high paying one with great benefits. It means more security for you, for the family. It makes so much sense. To have all this requires only one thing – deny your spiritual conviction, to play the part of an atheist. After all, you and your family know who you are inside and that’s what truly matters. Is it really that important to externally display your convictions too?”
“I get it.”
Certainly there are limitations in this analogy, but one that many in my circle of friends may be able to identify with. Maybe one could live that way for a while, but at some point I think anyone who fundamentally wants to live their life in an authentic way will start to feel a kind of cognitive dissonance by not doing so. And after about 30 years, this is where I am. I’m willing to take the potentially lower paying job, to potentially lose friends, etc. The external problems seem less overwhelming than the internal ones – so I guess it’s worth the trade.
As your messages of support poured in I was touched by each one. At first I was waiting for the first note of disapproval or scorn – but it never arrived. Even some of those I thought would have had a particularly hard time with this messaged me in humility and compassion. It moved me.
There are far too many messages to respond to, but I hope each of you know that I read each one and felt immense gratitude for each one. Every response chiseled a little more of my fear away until by the end of the day I felt nothing but love and support and authenticity from you all. Thank you.
They say that a human being really only needs a couple close friends, and a community of a few dozen friendly acquaintances in a community to thrive. Yesterday showed me that I have many more than these. More than I feel I deserve.
After spending a lifetime of being the absolute best man that a girl can be, it’s a beautiful experience to look forward to the rest of my life just being me.
With abounding gratitude,