Transitions: They’re Not Just for Trans People

When you go to the Word Press home page, you see a panel of images and titles of blog posts that the fine folks here at WP have chosen to be on the “Freshly Pressed” dashboard.

I like to peruse these posts each day, choosing one or another based on an intriguing photo or a catchy title, and read it to get a glimpse of someone else’s life.

Yesterday was no exception — I chose “Why Twilight Makes Me Want to Quit My Job.”  It’s a post in a blog you can read here, written by a young corporate lawyer who works for a really big firm in New York City.

In her post, she writes about how reading the Twilight vampire novels during her honeymoon helped her to realize that she needs a career change.  She explains her revelation:

“My meaningless life was living me.  I wondered what could make my irrelevant life feel more meaningful…  Living on autopilot — mostly numb, sometimes miserable, and occasionally happy — is no longer an option.  I am very conscious of every wasted moment.  It is time to make a change.”

In other words, she needs to transition.

Really, when you think about it, it’s not just transsexuals who transition.  Many people get to the point where their life is so unfulfilled, unsatisfying, unpleasant or downright painful that they must do something about it.

And as trans people often suffer negative consequences when they make necessary changes in their life, there are consequences to non-trans people who transition as well.  For all of us who transition, trans or non-trans, these consequences often arise when we live our lives on our own terms, against the expectations of others.

Case in point — I once met a young woman at a college alumni social event.  She was an intelligent, pleasant, well-spoken M.D. who had recently finished her residency. She had her entire career as a doctor ahead of her, but she wanted nothing to do with it.  She hated it.  All of it.

This woman became a doctor because her father was a physician and pressured her into following in his footsteps, to live up to his expectations.  When she realized that’s not what she really wanted for her life, there were consequences.  Sound familiar?

Non-Trans Person Trans Person (FTM)
Parents’ expectations Become a doctor based on father’s career Become a woman based on anatomy
Really identifies as Teacher Man
Transition steps Go back to college for teaching and literature degrees Change name and gender marker, maybe take hormones and/or undergo surgery to bring body in congruence with gender
Consequences Parents won’t speak to her Parents won’t speak to him

I don’t want to over-simplify the issue — many trans people face serious negative consequences to their transitions, but some of our non-trans neighbors suffer for their life-changes as well — women beaten or killed when leaving abusive husbands come to mind.

With all these potential consequences looming, what is it that gets us, trans or non-trans, to the point of making a change?  A friend who used to be a social worker once explained his opinion about what motivates people to transition out of unpleasant or unhappy situations:

People make a move when the pain of change becomes less than the pain of staying the same.

As trans people, I think many of us understand that breaking point, and I think that there are plenty of non-trans people who do as well.

When I get a significantly negative reaction to my coming out announcement, I can’t help but wonder whether I’m talking to someone who lives with the pain of staying the same because they can’t seem to get past the pain of change and reacts more to their own life than to mine.  If only we could find the equivalent of the Twilight novels for everyone who could use a good transition.

–ATM

PS – Here’s a bit of music that reminds me of the subject of transitioning.  It’s a song called “Metronome” by Red Edmund, a band out of St. Louis that I learned about from my nephew.  Hope you enjoy it.
(Click here)

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4 Responses to Transitions: They’re Not Just for Trans People

  1. Alex says:

    Great post ATM,

    While I am progressing in my transition I realize that once I saw the other side the choice to change was easy, but each step has been it’s own mini “drama” (going to the therapist, meeting other transmen, starting hormones). With each I found myself taking a deep breath and then stepping forward.
    What I find interesting is that so many decisions in life are similar. I have been seeing the same woman since shortly before I started taking my “Tran” steps and the relationship has been rocky. She has abruptly left me several times and each leaving has been followed by a return a short time later. Each time I take her back feeling a bit upset with myself to deeper levels each time. Recently I realized that the pain of loosing her is noticeably less than the pain of waiting for her to go and then having her go… Your post makes me realize that letting this relationship go is just one more of my “take a deep breath and step forward” decisions! I agree with you that transitioning is not just for trans people and we all experience multiple transitions in our lives!

    Thanks for the insight!

    Alex

    • Hey Alex, I wish you the best and hope those steps become less dramatic. Sorry to hear about your relationship. Good advice I received when I was very early in the process was to be gentle with yourself and take baby steps.

      And thanks for the nice comment.

  2. J says:

    I’m happy I have close friends who are trans. They handle change so well, and are such embodiments of self-improvement, that I know I’ll be better for observing and copying them.
    Almost every trans person I know is an action oriented go-getter, problem solver and multi-tasker. They’re all mini-CEOs of their own lives! Pretty take charge.
    I’ve made many scary changes. But like they say, when you are bold, mighty forces come to your aid. The first step is the hardest.

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