I am her, and she is me — trans self-acceptance
It was somewhere around a red post box that I knew my gender was female. It was not a hard choice really, one that when you are nine seems like a simple moment, then other thoughts intrude. That I sat and ruminated on it, explored the boundaries of that moment for the next nine years through attending an all-boys grammar school and mixed college, helped me set down deep roots within myself. Indeed, as I near 40 I think it was the calmness and simple acceptance of my gender identity that probably makes me so centred in that aspect of myself.
One of the curious things about my journey, as opposed to many trans folk, is that I feel it was never a struggle for me. Bearing in mind that this self-acceptance bloomed around 1991, and I struggle to articulate just how easy this whole mental process was for me. There never was any turmoil, no blinding flash of sin and shame; rather a sense of “okay, now what?” There are plenty of trans narratives that see the whole process, from acceptance to final surgical steppingstones, as one long scourge of the soul, that every element much excoriate and erase some semblance of what came before. Maybe it is just the pragmatist in me, or the fact that nine-year-olds tend to just simply accept things, but there never really was a manhood, or ever a true boyhood, for me to dissect and reinvent.
It was not that womanhood came easy; indeed, it probably took me ten years into my transition to fully grasp the core concept of my female self, with all the power imbalances and centred dimensions of patriarchy that crept up slowly until I could no longer ignore them. Younger me had no real sense of gender, in-as-much that my internal gender compass was simply me, and by clarifying that as female made as much sense as the sun being hot and snow being cold. It just was. What being female actually meant, or rather my perception of what being female meant, was (is) a perpetual journey that likely has no end.
All of this is not to say that life has not been difficult at times due to being trans. Indeed, there have been moments where it felt utterly unbearable, but none of those moments erases the fact that being female always sits easy on me. That internal notion of my selfhood, that core bespoke part that rests easy in my body, just works in the female form. Try asking water why it sits easy in the sea, or clouds why they embrace the sky so, and they will give the same answer. There is no complex notion of self, no reinvention of core identities, just this warmth of knowing.
Nine-year-old me would probably be amazed at where I am in life, though he would probably be more interested in the tech than the gender technicalities. I am as much his intrigued and enquiring mind as I am my life’s experiences, forever curious about the world. My present self would only say thank you as much as to offer him advice, though I think I would advise him to maybe try a little harder on his exams.
I completely appreciate that many trans folk do wrestle with their inner gender compass, often due to a multitude of reasons relating to the society around them. However, I want to offer a positive message, of hope, that says trans narratives can have a joyful wind along life’s river. Things are never forever gold plated, and there are plenty of walls to smash through or work around, but, for me, being trans is not one of them. Somewhere around a red post box I just knew I was her and she is very much me.