Five years ago, the invasion of Iraq transitioned into occupation, and Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay came to light. Simultaneously, I grappled with the deepening awareness of my own gender dysphoria.
I wanted to take action, but I didn't know how. Instead, I spent a lot of time reading the news and feeling depressed. I scanned the headlines and surfed the internet daily, expecting to encounter the article announcing that impeachment proceedings had begun. I read Newsweek cover-to-cover. Gradually, the cowardice of the Democrats and the lapdog mentality of the Republicans became clear. Both groups in congress were (and are) more willing to toss justice, the rule of law, the Geneva Convention, and American freedom onto the dunghill of history than they were to take on Bush, Cheney, Rove, and the RSM (Republican Smear Machine). I felt helpless as I watched my country disgrace itself.
My depression continued to deepen until I became suicidal. By 2006, I could barely function, and still I read the news and did nothing.
When insanity, suicide, or, at minimum, a nervous breakdown loomed as certain if I didn't change course, I finally put all that I value and love at risk, and began to transition. I rang in the New Year of 2007 with my first taste of estrogen.
And magic began to happen.
I got a new job. I stopped reading the news daily. I started to focus on, as Voltaire put it so well in Candide, "tending my own garden." Things got better. My relationships with my kids began to improve.
In August, I changed my name and started presenting as female 24/7. By November, I started volunteering for a queer activist non-profit corporation. In the spring of 2008, I volunteered for a citizen's advisory committee on bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. I studied NVC, and started a study group to improve my skills. Last month, I joined Toastmasters to increase my skill and confidence in public speaking.
Today, I realized that I'm no longer whining – I'm doing. My country is still disgraced, Bush and Cheney still haven't been called to account for their crimes, people are still being tortured in Guantanamo Bay, the Democrats are still spineless, and the Republicans are still amoral lapdogs. Nothing has changed, except that I feel empowered. I'm making a difference.
That is a change worth celebrating.