The Sum of All We Are

By Tina S.  (My life partner)

I seem to constantly read all about various and sundry “trans/post-trans folk” who present themselves as simple, “pure” folk who never did anything prior to transition/coming out.  They are a virtual tabula rasa prior to emerging from the surgeons knife.

I do not quite understand how that can be.  It’s one of my firm beliefs that we WBT/post-op folks are among the strongest willed people around.  We overcome barrier after barrier to get where we want to be  —  then, even after being rejected by most of the people that had been our friends, support system, we continue to move forward until (eventually) we reach a point of balance in our lives.

It can take varying lengths of time  —  often years after our SRS.  How often have we seen folks on line who rail against various forms of trans-phobia, folks who claim they will NEVER “pass”, will NEVER be accepted as women (and blame “society”, or various other institutions), do an Emily Latella (“never mind”), and quietly leave the internet.

In addition, it seems that many folks want to downplay all the experience they had prior to transition  —  even though the same experience often gives them the strength (and financial wherewithal) to get through transition to SRS.

I was reminded of this when I saw the obit. of a friend I went to University with.  I hadn’t seen him for 22-23 years when he walked into a nursery (plants) I was managing (this back in the early 1980’s).  Upon seeing me he went into full reminiscence  —  it was all about a “wild” summer we spent together at good old Syracuse University   —   to him it was a highlight of his college days.  He went on about our drunken antics at length  —  it was his “time of wildness” before “settling down”.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him it was just one of many for me.  It was just one of an entire history of insane summers, winters, springs, and falls, that had been my life  —  and, though memorable, it wasn’t even in the top five (maybe the top ten).

Perhaps that’s one reason he was an executive at IBM, with a comfortable life, and I was still struggling to “find my way”.

I was sober by this time, but I was too new at it to incorporate most of my past experience into my life.  In truth, it was only after I “came out” that I actually “found my way”.

Prior to that I had a very exciting life, full of very varied experiences  —  some of which would likely lead to a jail sentence, if I were to do them today, in the overly repressive atmosphere we have embraced.

Now, I understand why many trans/WBT/post-op folks do not want to remind the world of their past.  It seems we do not want to remind anyone we were once seen as men.  It makes us a target.  Undermines our claim to be women.  At the same time, that experience does not have to be seen that way.  All that stuff is what has made us who we are today.

Granted, we have changed.  We have a deeper understanding of both ourselves and the world.  We have seen first hand the reality of male privilege, understand where it actually served to benefit us  —  have experienced its loss, and have come to terms with ourselves (hopefully), and our new lives.

Today we are the sum total of ALL our experience  —  the problem is to incorporate it into our lives while understanding it might be inappropriate.