Be a lady, like a man
I think the phrase “be a man” is the most damaging thing ever said to me, and ironically is what helped me finally come out.
My entire life I was always told that I would grow up to be a man. That I would have to take care of my family. That I wasn’t supposed to show weakness or be emotional.
I can still hear my high school football coach yelling at me and telling me to man up. Telling me that I needed to grow a pair. I remember my father laughing at me for crying. I remember graduating from normal beatings to full fledged fighting.
I was bred to be a fighter.
For the most part, having this non negotiable set of standards governing my life actually worked out fairly well. I grew up strong, and proud. I developed a sense of confidence, and I rarely doubted myself.
I remember reading poems like If by Rudyard Kipling, and hearing stories like The Battle of Thermoplyae. I knew if I wanted to be a man that I would need to achieve greatness like these figures in my life.
Men don’t show weakness.
This is probably the biggest fallacy of them all. Regardless, this is what I was taught as a child.
From time to time my stubborn way of thinking would get me in trouble. I remember starting my career and saying things like “man up, and get your shit done” to people at work. This obviously didn’t go over well. I soon began to grow a reputation for being angry and aggressive.
I was just working. This is what I had been doing my entire life, and thus far it didn’t cause very many problems.
This is me in 2013. I spent most of my time drunk, and had virtually no relationships other than the person who’s life I was effectively ruining while we made a poor attempt at a relationship.
I would spend a lot of time learning to code, and learning about Linux. The operating system holds a special place in my heart to this day because of these times. This was the only thing I could do, that didn’t hurt anyone.
A Linux kernel never cared much about my gender.
Without going too much into depth on the dark times before discovering I am actually transgender, I can say that even after realizing it, it still took a very long time to accept it.
The first time I ever said the phrase “I am transgender” was in January of 2015.
6 months later, I finally began dressing and acting more androgynous. This is me at home in June of 2015.
My close friends knew what was going on, but I was still very far from being as level headed about the process as I am today.
As 2015 started to near an end, I was beginning to change. At this point I had been on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) for a few months. I also was able to sneak in a few IPL laser hair removal trips after work some days.
I remember going to work and being called him, and then being called her a few minutes later at a restaurant. This is a very awkward point in my life.
Inside I was about to explode.
My anger levels were off the charts. Every time I would read an email with my old name, or listen to someone call me him I wanted to scream.
I don’t think I have ever experienced emotional turmoil like I did at this phase in my life.
On one hand, my FEAR was consuming because I wasn’t coming out at work
On the other hand my FEAR of living the rest of my life hating myself was also consuming me
Having courage is a strong skill that takes years to learn. But it comes at a cost. Remember it is possible to be courageous, and still be yourself.
The most courageous day in my life was the first time I went to work as a female. The most embarrassing day in my life was when I realized that the reason I had never done this in the past was because of fear.
I hate when I hear someone say “be a man”. What they should be saying is “be courageous“.
I hate it even more when people think I lack courage, because of my new gender.
I have courage. I worked my ass off to get here. I know I have courage because I have been very scared before.
The fear is now gone. I was able to get rid of it by standing up to it.
Bravery is standing up in the face of unexpected danger.
Courage is knowing the danger is there, and facing it anyway.
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