Updated: Jan 30
I enjoy writing. That wasn't always the case for me though. In school it was seen as a chore and in my adult life it was just something I never really enjoyed. Part of that was due to my handwriting. For anyone unfortunate enough to have read my handwriting now or in the past I owe you an apology. The one exception was writing loved ones a letter. I never wrote many letters and yet I took pride in the few I did write. To me it was always a window to my soul when I would write someone a letter, it was something personal catered to that specific individual.
My love for writing really began 3.5 years ago in August of 2017. That was when I first met my therapist and began exploring my gender and questioning who I was. It started out simple enough. I was nervous and excited at what my future held and so much was going on in my life that I could hardly remember it all. So I would write little notes in my phone and date them. Maybe I came out to someone or maybe I thought of something I wanted to speak to my therapist about. Each session I would hand over my phone so she could read about my experiences over the previous 2 weeks.
It wasn't long before my feelings started making it into my notes for my therapist and it quickly turned into a diary. I would explore my feelings and emotions and it became a way to track my mental state. I was never really good at speaking, stumbling through words or mumbling and often having to repeat myself. It didn't matter if it was in front of friends or a class or even public speaking, I would just mess it up, I hated it and I hate(d) my voice. But I found that in writing, all those thoughts in my head that I struggled to get out of my mouth would flow freely on paper and it soon became its own form of therapy for me. It could be in the form of a quick note or a long essay. Either way, who I perceive myself to be in my head was able to finally be free on paper.
I say all this to say that even though I enjoy writing, it doesn't always come easy to me. In fact the topic today I needed help with. I had 2 suggestions for this article, 1 from my best friend, my sister from another mister Vashti and the other from another dear friend Heidi. While both are good topics, I chose the one for today because of recent events in this country. The other we will save for another day. So lets talk about leadership and being a role model. We recently had a positive change in leadership in this country which was a huge sigh of relief for the LGBTQ community, particularly transgender people. We can now openly serve in the military and we have some protections under the law now as well. We have a ways to go still, yet we are getting there.
I recently volunteered to do an interview with a news channel about what the impact of Dr Levine being confirmed by the senate meant for the transgender community. And while I really dislike public speaking and dislike even more seeing or hearing myself, I took a leap and did this interview. The feedback from my friends, family and coworkers was really positive and made me step back and think. One coworker congratulated me after him and his wife watched it. He told me how he is proud of me for coming forward and speaking up on things that I am passionate about, especially knowing the area we all live in and how hateful it can be to our community. To be honest that never crossed my mind.
And yet when Heidi suggested I write about this, I was able to step back and look at this from other people's point of view. There are too many people to name but let's just say that all those little affirmations they have said finally clicked with me. I was able to relate it to something I hear at work often. How we are representatives of the company. Well, all of us here, everyone that reads this is also a representative. We represent our community. I can only speak for my experiences as a transgender woman here but I know that most of the people I know or meet have never known a transgender person before. So naturally they have questions, some may come across as insensitive or offensive. The dreaded 'Have you had THE surgery?' question comes to mind.
But also? By just existing and being myself, I know that people I have met that never knew a transgender person before now have someone they know that humanizes who we are to them. And that my dear friends is how we bring about change for the good. I've been told that by just listening to me and to my story can change people's opinions. That by knowing me before transition and after transition and how I've grown and my happiness has blossomed has really opened someone's eyes to what we go through and has changed their minds about the transgender community. That's a good thing right? I like to think so.
So my takeaway from all of this, and I hope your takeaway as well, is that we never know who's lives we may touch. I never wanted to be an advocate for the community. I just wanted to transition and stick to myself. But this community, it's filled with amazing people that helped me so much on my journey and as I have met people as they begin their journeys it's been really nice to help point them in the right direction. Stepping out of my comfort zone to do an interview was a big step for me. But knowing that maybe someone out there was able to watch that and think to themselves that they aren't alone or maybe they found the courage to come out, even to themselves is very rewarding. So I ask all of you, step out of your comfort zones. Be a leader. Be the face of our amazing community and do your part to make change for the community.