Being that it was Valentine’s Day yesterday, I wanted to post a self love letter that I wrote to validate and save myself from my own internalized trans-phobia.
Shortly after I went fulltime, I (and many other MtF transgender people) experienced many questions as to whether or not I made the right decision, and I was filled with self doubt. I knew it was still early on enough to go back if I wanted to. And I know I didn’t want to, but my internalized trans-phobia, which all transgender people have, needed to be kept at bay if I was to stand a chance in my new gender presentation.
A friend criticized my identity at the time, and the situation created a pivotal point in my life, which resulted in me writing this very painful letter for myself, in order to save me, validate me, and show me that I loved myself. This letter was sent to my now former close friend (who, himself, sadly, is also a transgender individual) who just couldn’t accept me after I transitioned, and set immediate contingencies and conditions for me to abide by if we were to remain friends and interact with his family.
This incident occurred shortly after we were close to starting a business together. Upon me going fulltime, this friend didn’t want me to be seen by our clients because, according to him, I would cause business to “diminish” because of being transgender.
He then proceeded to suggest I pick up the phone to make appointments and do the bookkeeping, and stay out of public eyes and let him do all the interactions with clientele in order to minimize business “casualties.” Furthermore, if I happened to interact with clients, he wanted me to say I was “Lindsey” or “Jennifer” or anything but Natalie, as our company had “X and Natalie’s” logo on our business cards.
I was so offended, I immediately said to my friend that he “basically didn’t think I was passable, which was why this was such a big deal.” When he heard my comment, he said “Yes, you aren’t, and what gives you away is your face, your fashion sense, and your makeup technique. Go work on those and get breast implants and facial feminization surgery, and once you do all the necessary work, then it’ll be different.”
His diatribe continued:
“You will also start to date men, and you are just emotional with your reaction to what I’m saying right now because you recently started hormones…that will go away too once you get a grip on yourself.”
I hope one day the general public will realize being a woman has nothing to do with getting bottom surgery (Sexual Reassignment Surgery), breasts, or facial feminization surgery. Being a woman has to do with the gender identity one is born with, not how well one “passes” or fits in to the current, contemporary mold of what a definition of a woman ought to look like.
Furthermore, being a woman has NOTHING to do with dating men (sexual orientation), or if we are emotional. Those stereotypes and confined ways of thinking are erroneous and dangerous.
I never spoke to him after that day. I left his house and cried in his driveway for 10 minutes before starting my car. Here’s what I wrote to him after I got home. I’d like to share this letter with those of you who are “torn” or “unsure” whether or not you should keep a long time friend if they don’t fully accept you. Here’s my letter and answer:
I just wanted to say before I get started on this letter that I hope you ABSOLUTELY UNDERSTAND that you are a DEAR FRIEND, and the times we’ve shared have been precious. You have an awesome heart and you are a good person. So it doesn’t make what I have to say easier, but it has to be said because I want us to keep an open and honest dialogue, and you deserve to know how I’ve been feeling.
I’m experiencing a lot of powerful and deep emotions and although they have affected how I react to situations lately, the contents of this letter do not reflect a hormone induced reaction. A lot of time has been given to what I’m about to say and it was done under the reflection of a calm and clear demeanor in my own alone time. I would also appreciate it if you kept this letter confidential and amongst the two of us only for the time being.
You know that lately I’ve been dealing with massive amounts of emotions, particularly pain from past traumas and I’m trying to heal through diligent work on myself and through therapy. As a result my support network of friends are of utmost importance, and I feel that I haven’t been getting that necessary support from our interactions.
I absolutely acknowledge and greatly appreciate the texts and IMs asking me if I’m doing ok. Those meant a lot to me and didn’t go unnoticed.
What I’m referring to is our last interaction/conversation regarding a photography business and my transgenderism. Specifically, the issues we discussed regarding a business being professional or not with a TG involved, how clients might feel, and being around your family and friends, in addition to my passability as a woman.
I feel as if there were certain limitations or “requirements” that I needed to fulfill in order for you to feel safe or relaxed about being around me or working with me. I completely understand and respect the concealment required for someone to live their life comfortably the way they want, and that is absolutely their right/choice. So I respect that.
But I can no longer live like that. And I WILL NOT LIVE LIKE THAT ANYMORE. I am not happy socializing with friends who have certain privacy limitations that, upon being instilled, psychologically reconnect me with my old trains of though with trans-phobia and unacceptance of myself.
The conversation left me incredibly stressed and it was traumatic for me. I did not feel like I got any support for being who I am, and I was very disappointed in the outcome and discussion that ensued. I cannot truly enjoy my time around a friend/person who is (dare I say) “ashamed” or “worried” to be seen with me, under any circumstance. I know not everyone is understanding, and that there are major risks in going full-time and discrimination is inevitable for me. I’m already feeling it sometimes NOW. But that cannot in any way whatsoever be a deterrent for me to stop transition and not be myself.
I have taken enormous strides to be myself and come out to my family and friends, and I cannot hide who I am any longer. I have invested way too much time in acting as ” ____” (insert boy name here) and I won’t do it anymore. I simply can’t, I feel like it will kill me. And I’ve come close several times.
So anything I do from this point forward has to be done so in my authentic form. There simply is no other choice for me.
I can’t be afraid of making friends, meeting people, finding a job, dating, going outdoors, or doing ANYTHING human beings do just because I’m TG. I can’t limit my social interactions and THE WAY I interact with my friends because of who I am. I can’t let friends who have members of their social circle who are bigoted, unwilling to understand, or close-minded, to affect my life, my schedule, who I am, and what I’m allowed to do. I cannot let a rigid world view within society dictate my life and where I’m allowed to go or do or see or enjoy.
That is why I took the chance to tell my entire family (both sides, 25+ relatives) just so I wouldn’t miss an annual family dinner. No human being should have to ask for permission to participate in something that is allowed for everyone. And it hurts to look back and see how many social functions and situations I missed with my vanilla and TG lives due to my double life protocol back in the day.
Also, the things I need to work on to be passable are my issues. I will probably never pass completely or successfully, and to be honest, I DON’T GIVE A SHIT ANYMORE. I’ve learned that I don’t have to be passable to be happy, and I don’t have to be passable to be myself, and I don’t have to be passable to succeed and function as a human being, and I don’t need to be passable to be considered a beautiful person inside. I just have to be myself. And I don’t owe anyone any explanation or have to carry a “pass” or “license” or ask for permission to live as myself in this world. And that is true empowerment and freedom, and I need that more than ever right now to continue on this difficult path with courage and confidence.
It is critical for me to clarify at this point that there is an incredible difference between empowerment/confidence versus being big headed or cocky. I don’t think I’m better than other TGs or my friends. And again, being “MIA” lately from answering calls is not any indicator that I’m turning “cocky” or “big headed.” I’m just dealing with a shitload of personal shit. But I am confident in who I am and how I present myself, and I have never felt better about my inner congruence with regards to my authentic self and how I undeniably feel better. And that empowerment/confidence is all I really have right now as a capsule/vehicle to move forward with, as the old “shell” is gone, and the new one hasn’t solidified yet. I’m terrified every single fucking day, and yet I KNOW it’s the RIGHT PATH and I’m TRULY HAPPY for the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE.
I know it seems like this full-time decision came out of nowhere and all of a sudden. In fact, I’m still reeling from it myself, and trying to wrap my head around the whole scenario! But I am absolutely sure my discontent, self-annihilation/injuries and misery was caused by my inability to deal with my true self. And even though our boy sides clicked and hung out quite often, that wasn’t my authentic self.
This is do or die for me. And this transition has stressed everyone close and dear to me, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I can just continue to be myself and try to soften the adjustments necessary for everyone around me.
So where does that leave us? I don’t know. Again, I absolutely value our friendship. But given the choices we’ve both made in how we conduct our lives, proceeding might be tricky. I cannot emphasize how important it is for my emotional well being and psychological health that I have no restrictions in flowing through society and being myself right now.
So if there are certain dynamic shifts with how we interact or a certain hiatus period necessary that’s cool too, I just want to say that I understand and I hope you do too….
If you do contact me please do so through email for the time being as phone calls and live conversations aren’t things I can do comfortably right now. Thanks for reading.