It’s your life and your choice

I may have said this somewhere before, but I don’t think I’ve put it in exactly these words. This is not an April Fool’s column; April Fool’s Day has always made me uncomfortable. This is really what I think.

Your life is your own, and it’s your choice to do with as you choose – within the constraints that we all operate under.

This seems obvious, but you wouldn’t necessarily know it by reading some of the things transgender people write. There’s a lot of agonizing about “Could I really be transsexual?” as if the answer will determine your destiny. Well, okay, maybe you’re one or the other, but don’t let that tell you how to run your life. In the past there have been transsexuals who’ve lived their lives without transitioning, and cross-dressers who’ve transitioned. Some have been happy, some unhappy, and what box they put themselves in seems to have had little to do with their satisfaction in the end.

Forget about your prenatal hormones, the length of your fingers, the size of your stria terminalis, and whether your mother first caught you in her closet at the age of three, thirteen or forty-three. Think about your life: your likes, your dislikes, your friends, your work and your hobbies. Think about what your life in your current gender is, what your experience of the other gender is, what you know about other people’s experiences in that gender, and what you could reasonably expect your experience to be. If you don’t have this information, then how can you expect to make a good decision?

If you’re currently living as a man, imagine the best possible life you could have as a woman. Okay, now after you’ve cleaned up, think of all the things you’d give up in your male life. Then think about the difficulties that transition brings, your own particular circumstances, and the differences they will make between your life and that best possible woman’s life. Think of all the things that could go wrong.

Then think of all the things that could go wrong in your male life, and the things that you could do to make your life as a man better. Imagine the energy, time and money that you’d spend on transition, and then imagine investing all that energy, time and money in your male life.

Imagine a “middle path,” spending part of your time living in one gender and part in another, but keep in mind that those middle paths are unstable, and very few people are successful in finding a middle way. Many of them eventually decide to transition, and others decide to scale back their activities in their non-birth gender.

Compare all those scenarios, and any others you can think of. If you don’t know enough to make an adequate comparision, then get the information you need. If you think you have enough information, then go ahead and make your decision. But make it on the basis of what’s right for you – what will make you happy, and what will make your loved ones happy.

Remember that this is your decision. A website, book, doctor, therapist, support group member, friend or loved one can help advise you, but ultimately it is you who will live with it. This is a decision about how you will live the rest of your life, not about “what you are.” Don’t let definitions run your life.

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