(This was written a long time ago, but it seems fitting to use it as the first entry to my blog.)
As many dear readers will know, I have begun the journey to transition. Well, perhaps it’s more like starting on a major leg of that journey; transition for me really began when I came to the realisation (admitted to myself?) that I am indeed transgender. I’m not in this just for the clothes, just for the thrill, just for the excellence of the crossdressing craft, or indeed “just for” anything. I, as many transgenders will understand, am truly Stephanie at my centre.
My body hasn’t matched up for 60+ years, and I’ve spent nearly all of that time trying to behave, think and act according to that body. I got very good at it: good enough to have a successful career, two marriages, two children, two stepchildren and three grandchildren. I was good enough to convince everyone – including myself – that I was a guy. But something always seemed out of step, as if I were disconnected from myself. There was always an underlying tension, a background stress in my life.
It wasn’t that long ago that I learned the terms “transgender” and “transsexual” and acquired the concepts and courage to start looking at my life in those terms. I was pretty sure I didn’t want to be labelled one of “them” – a “tranny” all dressed up stuck in a dark corner of a bar was not my style. It wasn’t until I finally said “well, what if I am?” that everything slowly started to make sense. The vague, lifelong disconnect, the constant feeling of not fitting in – all of it suddenly became clear. The elation and happiness I felt when I was dressed en femme wasn’t just a thrill for an evening – it was reality.
The question rapidly arose: what can I do about this? I was standing at the edge of a cliff; I had to step off and trust that either I could fly or that there would be one heck of an updraft. Still, it was better than standing on the edge of a bridge…
I am so blessed to have a wonderful, supportive wife and life partner. Her (almost exact) words were: “You’re miserable as a guy. Stephanie is who you are and that makes you happy. For heaven’s sake, get on with it!”
I’m also blessed with many incredible friends who saw the truth about me long before I did and quietly encouraged me. If you’re reading this you know who you are.
With that kind of updraft, I began planning my course and building my team. I consulted a therapist: after 15 minutes in her office (as Stephanie) she said, “I really don’t know why you’re here. This is who you’re meant to be; get on with it!” Okay, okay, I get the message.
My GP came on board. I got an excellent endocrinologist on board. Another therapist came on board. My wife was on board. The Universe was truly laying out my path for me; it was clearly meant to be. The updraft was unmistakable now.
Incredibly fast forward.
I stepped off the cliff. And flew. The updraft quickly became a whirlwind.
I began on hormone therapy in September ’09. I became legally Stephanie Dustan Mitchell in January ’10 and began my fulltime life on Groundhog Day: February 2, 2010. Since then there’s been no looking back.
The family has had a lot of difficulty with it, however, something I was ill-prepared for after all the incredible flying so far. My daughters felt I (Stephanie) was killing off their Dad and no amount of talk and sharing would convince them that I (Dad) was still there. There was Dad in a dress, riding the whirlwind into Oz and expecting them to want to come along too. Instead they were left standing in a debris path in Kansas.
This pain will only be healed with time and patience and constant love and caring. And that is happening already, albeit slowly.
Have I done the right thing? There’s no question in my mind. The steps have all been almost magically straightforward. There are constant affirmations – people comment on my look, the happiness they see in my face, the energy with which I approach people and my obvious comfort with myself. I am no longer trying to pass as Stephanie; I just AM Stephanie.
The most compelling evidence that this is right for me is that the background stress and that constant vague disconnect I once felt are gone. I’m developing the self-consistency and self-honesty that will help me role loving and patience and tolerance for my family.
What a wonderful beginning to the rest of my life.