Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Great Deception

That's the name I'm assigning to my life prior to transition. It refers to the fact that I not only deceived all the people of my life about who I was, I even deceived myself. (I also like the way it suggests the Great Depression.)

That time of my life was largely defined, in my own inner world, with deep feelings of worthlessness and self-hatred. I was ashamed of my selfhood. Growing up in rural Wyoming, among the last of the old-time cowboys (the folks the Marlboro man was modeled on), I had definite images of what it meant to be a man, and I was very aware I didn't fit those images. It was vital to me that I fit in, that I hide my feminine urgings, and be accepted by these people whom I liked, admired, and respected deeply – and still do, to this day. It was also important to my survival. Girls who were tomboys got plenty of respect in the little two-room elementary school I attended through sixth grade. Boys who liked girl stuff were unthinkable. I wasn't popular – I was invisible. By the time I was sixteen or seventeen, I had buried the shame of who I was so deep that I didn't know who I was, I just knew I didn't feel like a man.

I spent the next 25 years trying to prove to myself (and everyone else) that I was. I joined the Marine Corps, grew a beard, developed crude habits, chose occupations like logging and commercial fishing, and boozed myself into oblivion. I joined in perplexing, short-term liaisons with women, the role I took on understood so poorly that I was never able to carry it longer than a couple months until I was thirty years old and met Kristin.

It didn't work. I was just deceiving myself and others, most painfully all the people I love the most – and who love me the most. It came out in weird ways, like a sort of sexual perversion and a willingness to lie, cheat and steal that seem totally foreign to me now, and habitual suicidal ideation that came at times scarily close to fruition.

Hence the 'Great Deception.' Great only in personal terms, of course. It's nothing compared to the deceptions of George W. Bush, for instance, though mine was flawlessly opaque and his were and are transparent to anyone who wants to look. But that very opaqueness is what makes it 'great.'

Thank God it's over.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


thank God it is over..
for you.
what a tragic feeling to suppress parts of who you are for so long.
i resonate with the trying the "gender accepted" things like logging and fishing and the beard.
it seems we do our best to fit what society has created for us...
instead of doing our best to be us...
loving others.

what a difference that would be.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our