“Why Now?” Shortly after I came out to my family that I would be transitioning, my father took me out to lunch and asked me that single solitary question. On the surface it seems like such a simple question and that it should have an equally simple answer. But the question and the response to it are so much bigger than they appear on the surface.
“Why Now?” The question translates into so many things. Why would you transition now and not wait until the kids are done with school and moved out of the house? Why did you wait until now, didn’t you know this about yourself sooner? Why would you do this now when you’re at the prime in your career? Why would you start this now when we have political leaders clear up to the president of our country who continue to float legislation and implement policy that targets transgender people specifically?
“Why Now?” When I heard those words, I knew instantly that it encompassed many questions. My father went on to say he fully supported me but wondered why I couldn’t wait 5 more years until our kids were all off-to or done with college. I sat in silence for what felt like an eternity as I tried to gather my thoughts. I finally told him that I had thought a lot about this and that if I didn’t transition now, I didn’t feel like I’d make it another 5 years. For the very first time, I shared with him the thoughts of suicide I had experienced and how they were worsening. I told him how the years of denial, self-imposed shame, self-loathing and isolation had piled up and were amplifying each other in an exponential way.
“Why Now?” The words continued to bounce around in my head as I finished trying to explain why I was doing this in this time and space. I had asked myself this question so many times that I knew the answer I gave was over-simplified and wholly inadequate. It didn’t truly address the myriad of nuances encapsulated by those two words. They are a powerful pair of words, six letters that evoke feelings of anxiety, regret, fear, depression and even now still…shame.
“Why Now?” Since beginning my transition, I’ve tried to answer this. Many times I’ve felt the regrets of why didn’t I do this sooner. With time, I’ve slowly come to realize that everything I had experienced in my life leading up to this moment were necessary steps to prepare me for transition. Had I started sooner, my chances of successfully navigating this rocky and dangerous path would have been very low. So while I wish I had the advantages of being 20-something and transitioning, being 40 and starting now was what had to happen for me. Accepting this has also allowed me to accept that each new challenge, each tough day, each heart wrenching experience is another encounter I that will prepare me for what lies ahead.
“Why Now?” These words have been echoed by so many people who are my allies and a part of my circle of support. They just want to understand. Even my wife has asked me that same question. The fact is I don’t have all the answers. No matter when I would have come to terms with my gender identity and started transitioning, there would have been reasons why it wasn’t a good time. Outside influences, fears and uncertainty in my own head, the many real threats of loss, all could be used at any time to justify not transitioning. I had to shed all of this to truly understand what was in my heart, what would finally allow me to feel whole, and the answer was being true to myself and authentic in my gender. That and that alone would make me a better person.
“Why Now?” The question even goes to the heart of my gender awakening. As I try to answer the why, it morphs into a question of how. How did I finally get to the point where I knew the only way for me to be comfortable in my life would be to transition? I leveraged a lot of sources. I scoured the internet for any resources I could find. I watched countless YouTube videos. I filled out workbooks and questionnaires and took quizzes all trying to figure out just what I truly was. In the end, I found a few key resources that really helped me be honest with myself and break through the barriers that 39 years of denial had built up between my external and internal realities. I’ve included links to a couple of the resources that had the most profound impact on my journey. If you’re in that questioning stage, I would recommend any or all of them.
“Why Now?” So why have I chosen to blog on this topic now? It’s is a seemingly harmless question that at least in my experience has come from people who want to be allies and want to understand. They have good intentions but don’t realize these can still be dangerous words. They can bury us as transgender people under piles of self-doubt. They conjure up aspects of anxiety we thought we had long since conquered. They trigger us to relive some of the darkest days of our past. They often force us to reprocess all the self-discovery we’ve completed as if somehow we’ll find we made a mistake along the way. Because of the potential danger in these words and my own proclivity to revisit them of my own accord, I’ve had to learn to let go and realize that there is no significance in the answer to this question. Gaining an understanding of how we got to this point is really irrelevant in terms of helping us for the road ahead. Attempting to answer this question will not spark some new life altering revelation, instead it only serves to pull us back into the depths of a struggle we’ve battled with our entire lives and thought we had finally conquered.
“Why Now?” When I hear those words today, I acknowledge their power and but I take that power away when I can say there is no need to answer that question. There is no good that will come the effort to find an adequate response. So I won’t give those words the power to control my thoughts and drive my emotions. Instead my answer becomes the very simplistic, oddly sarcastic yet fully valid response to a question with a question. I ask simply in response, “Why Not Now?”
Dara Hoffman Fox – Dara’s book “You and Your Gender Identity” gave me a ton of self awareness tools that helped me on this journey and her videos help motivate me forward.
Should I Transition – Kristin’s Trans Life on YouTube was a great set of videos for me. This one in particular, while leveraging questions that are somewhat contrived, got me to really consider my own reality. The answers to the questions aren’t as important as the thought process they spark.
Let’s Queer Things Up – Sam Dylan Finch’s blog has so many great perspectives on the topic of gender identity and not conforming to the gender binary. I can’t point to a single post because the who blog is so awesome.