The other day I was speaking with a cisgender female friend of mine, and she told me that she heard others talking about a friend of theirs who is transgender. One person in question claimed they didn’t understand how a person could just “change genders” without thinking about how other people close to them would the change. And how a person could be one gender when their spouses, friends, or family met them, but now they are a different gender.
They didn’t understand or respect that this trans person made personal choices to present and adopt the opposite gender of which they were assigned at birth. or that they had always been the opposite gender and now finally living an authentic life. This small minded individual even went so far as to state that they would never use the correct pronouns to for the person transitioning. I didn’t know them, but it disturbed me.
When my friend shared the story, it reminded me about my transition and the similar situations which were being presented. It made me think of all the things I would have said or done differently if I had foresight when it came to others. I wondered if I had pushed people away from my life who would have otherwise stayed and how would that have effected me differently. It made me look at myself and the woman I have become and wonder in what way things would, or could, have been different. It made me want to find the transphobic person she described and say….fuck you.
I was born Michael Seth. There! Now you know my birth name! Born a baby boy – at least on the outside. Well on the inside, I’ve always known I was a girl. Early on, I wanted to present as a woman to those I met. I was taught to understand I would always be a boy and that was not something I could change.
When I finally came out to those closest to me as a transgender woman, I knew things would be difficult. However, had I not come out to them, I thought life would never get better for me. At one point I thought about taking my own life. That was the only option I saw, and decided it was necessary.
I’m sure you’re thinking it’s a little extreme, but those who know me know I own several firearms. I even decided to use the only gun I knew that would accomplish the task, and chose my .45 cal Taurus 1911. Even getting to that point in the planning process is dangerous.
But, I decided before I did anything irreparable, I would tell my wife (now ex- wife) about my gender identity and see what her thoughts were. All this before moving on to inform my children. We talked about it one evening and based on that conversation, I realized the worst hurdle was overcome. I would be able to start telling my children and depending upon their response, I would choose the next logical step. In the back of my mind, the 1911 was always there, but for the first time in a while it didn’t sound like the only option any longer.
It became clear to those who knew the truth that I was not entering into the life of being a transgender woman, but I had always been a woman and that the lie I had been living was being male. I was pretending to be a guy when I had always known that I was really a woman. I had even gone so far as to force myself to pretend to like all things opposite of what I truly loved.
After I came out fully, it was confusing to those who knew the male! They’ve always thought I disliked things such as lip gloss/chapstick, heels, perfumes, shopping, and dancing. I mean truthfully when it comes to dancing I have absolutely no rhythm nor have the first idea how to move my body in any way that would resemble a dance. I can look like I am having a seizure, but rarely does that come in handy.
So, let me be clear: The male you might have known as Michael or Seth, NEVER REALLY EXISTED! I put that in CAPS so that the people in the back can hear this and understand. That person was the lie. I created that persona. The woman before you that is clacking her pearl tipped French manicured nails upon the keyboard is the REAL me. I am, and will forever be, Jocelyn Marie. I exist, HE did not. For 35 years, he was absolutely fake to me, regardless of how real he might have seemed to others.
I relate that story to bring you this as insight. Coming clean and living my life as the woman meant the difference between life and death. Remaining a male would have resulted in one outcome and only one; death. Hearing the story of the person badmouthing the trans person about brought forward so many emotions. I’ve not been able to get the thought of the conversation out of my mind. Did that person see an option? Had they come to the end and this was their escape from the lie and into the light of reality? Do they feel death creeping further into their life every time someone they thought was their friend purposely misgenders them and calls them the opposite gender of what they are? Can anyone love them? Can you love them?
Those questions are the ones we should always ask ourselves about anyone. Everyone is fighting a battle you can’t see. I was, and always will be fighting being transgender. The person you passed holding the “homeless, please help” sign on your way to work may be fighting alcoholism that took his wife and sons from him because the driver of the other car didn’t know when to say “No.” You just never know who is struggling.
I am not a preachy person, and I won’t ask you to change whatever your personal belief system is, but the Bible did say this and I think it is important to share with you:
1 John 4 verses 7-8 (NIV) Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
I include this verse as a statement to you that in order to be divine; whatever your personal definition of such a word may be, you must do so with love.
Some of you may be wondering why in the hell I wrote about something I did not personally experience or wasn’t actually personally involved?
Why, Jocelyn? Why?
Allow me to answer by first saying it was a personal experience and did attack me in the same way that it would and should effect ALL transgender individuals. This is a person who made another believe they were their friend and supported their transition. They could be talking about any of us right now. They could have been talking about me. They might have been talking about you. Maybe they were just venting from something they saw in a television program the night before. Who knows. My point is that if we don’t take exception to what others say, in what way are we doing better for that person who is being put down? If we don’t stand up for them, then we may as well be laying down with them.
Martin Neimöller was a Lutheran pastor who wrote a poem about the Nazi occupation during World War 2. Although originally an enthusiastic supporter of the Third Reich, he realized it was a dictatorship and saw the evils which were conveyed by the regime. He is best known today as the man who penned the following:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Hopefully, you will speak up for those who do not speak up for themselves. After all, my friend could never have told me that story and I would not be writing this right now at 1am when I should be laying in bed next to Holly, sleeping. Maybe, the next one losing sleep over something like this, is you.