Jose made the following comment on Opine, and I decided to publish my reply here, too:
To be completely what you are you need first want to change from being what your are not. You must of course find a reason to change, which objectively should not be difficult. This is most important but even before you find the reason you can stop the behaviors. Behavior number one to stop is referring to yourself as a woman!! You have never been a women and cannot possibly understand what it is to be a real woman. Living with a menstrual cycle and the entire biology, e.g., reproductive, mammary, etc. of a woman is completely out of a man's realm and it defines womanhood. This understanding and experience is a total impossibility for you and you must therefore face the reality of your body. Whatever effected your mental imaginings of being a woman you must renounce continuously as an absurdity. No amount of dismembering can ever conform your body to that of a woman's and so the only road to harmony between psyche and soma is through a psychological change to conform with your physical condition.
One of the gravest problems with this entire gender identity confusion is that it prompts people to label themselves and then they get themselves stuck in the label they have given themselves. To escape you must first break that label. You are a man. Reject all those myths about being a woman in the body of a man.
Ah, Jose, if only it were that easy.
You are right about some things. You are right that I am not a woman, that I can never have that experience of menstruation, of pregnancy and birthing and nursing, of socialization from the earliest age, of hormonal balance that is complete and cyclic, which fully defines (along with so much else) the life of a genetic, cisgendered woman. You are right that my body can never conform to that of a woman.
But you are dead wrong when you say that I am a man.
You can have no concept of how hard I fought to be one. I grew up on a ranch in Wyoming, and the men I idolized and found strangely mysterious rode to a powerful brand of masculinity that is clean and real, and that I admire to this day. I tried – oh, god how I tried! – to be like them, but all I could ever do was copy them. So I joined the Marine Corps, and four years later drifted out of that even more confused than I went in. I claimed I was a man, and I did everything I could to prove it. I tried logging and commercial fishing, and over six years racked up more than three years of sea time in the Bering Sea and among the Aleutian Islands. Look at the photo toward the bottom of my blog. Does it look like I labeled myself a woman there? Yet there the hollow ache of deception and isolation made my life as bleak as the Bering Sea in January.
Because I was lying to myself.
Over fourteen years of marriage I fought to force my sexuality and my identity to conform to my body. Fourteen years of intimacy in which I found simultaneously a growing isolation. I wish I could show you, in some way, the depth of loneliness, the black depression, the quiet desperation, the nightmares, the self-hatred, the truly depraved testosterone-driven fantasies that drove me so close to suicide that sometimes I'm surprised to see that I am still alive.
I chose transition because integrity, self-respect, honesty, and genuine human connection became so important to me that I could no longer live without them. Call it selfish if you want, but I did it so that my children would have two living parents, two parents who could care for them and love them fully. I did it so that they would not have a model of patriarchal suicide to draw them to an easy and permanent solution to the problems they may come to face.
Today, Jose, I am free. The nightmares have faded away. The depression is almost gone. I have rich and wonderful friendships. I actively participate in my community, and in parenting my children. I have discovered honor and integrity, and my life has meaning and purpose. No, it's not perfect. My body is what it is. I risked the loss of my entire family, and lost my wife, and a friend. There are many in society who, like you, look at me with contempt, and many who will judge me harshly for what I did to Kristin and my children. But there is no way I can ever imagine wanting to go back to that bleak hell that was pretending to be a man.
In sum, I have tried what you suggest, and utterly failed. Not once, or twice, but continuously for forty years.
I wish I could ask that you even try to understand, but I think I would be wasting my breath. I will ask you this, though: Are you really so confident that your understanding of my psyche exceeds my own?
To be honest, the things Jose said on that post hurt. I'm just going to honor myself here with a little self-empathy, because, frankly, I need it. I'd really like to be seen for who I am. I would love to be understood, and respected. I bet Jose could really relate to those needs. And I feel better, now.