"So where do you see yourself in 5 years?"

A pretty common question on interviews, no? Of course, in the interview context, they're asking about your professional aspirations. This post isn't about my career.

Lately, I'm getting more and more reminders of the fact that as hard as some people try, as sincere as they are, as supportive as they try to be, the cold hard reality is that you're seen differently by those who knew you before, or who know that you're transsexual now. I keep hearing and reading and being told that I'm eventually going to separate myself in one way or another from everyone who "knows," with a few exceptions, like my children. "That's not me, I'm not like that," I'd think. I used to not believe that I'd separate myself. Sadly, as time goes on, I'm starting to believe it more and more. I had hoped that I'd be able to keep my old friends while adding new ones, but I'm very skeptical, at best.

I was emailing with a very supportive friend today about a trans-related topic; about word choice and how the person intended to use the word vs. how it was interpreted by the recipient of the word. We got to talking about how my transition was at first, and to some extent still is, difficult for her. To illustrate this, she said that "in many ways, I'm still T** (my old name)," pointing to the fact that I still have the same sense of humor, intelligence, etc. And this is a person who is very supportive. I wasn't offended by her using my old name but it did make me realize how difficult it is for the most supportive of supporters to see us as ourselves, to treat us the same as they treat everyone else. And then there's my friend who acknowledged that she would treat me differently in certain situations than she would a cisgender friend. I have noticed that lately, I've felt a little distant from her.

When it comes to family, they're all trying. My mother and I were talking about pronouns and names. I mentioned that it was important to use the correct pronouns and names when I'm not around, which they don't. They're trying hard to be respectful when I'm around, which is wonderful, of course, but they don't see me. One friend of the family in particular was talking with her husband about me and used my old name. He corrected her, and her response was, "What does it matter? He's not here." Yet another example of someone who has been loving and supportive to me, but she still doesn't quite get it. All this stuff is getting harder and harder to deal with, to accept with a smile and a "yeah, I know it's hard." I keep trying to be the open and accepting transsexual person, but I am tiring of the role.

I hope that if any of my friends or family were to read this, they'd understand that I know they are trying their hardest and that I mean no judgement or anything negative towards any of them; I truly don't. One of my mantras when it has come to people is that all I can ask, is that they try. People in my life are sincerely trying. My fear is that I'm asking them to try to do the impossible. I'm not sure where that will leave us in 5 years. Actually, I suppose that's not true. I have a pretty good idea where it will leave us. :(


I'm feeling more the same way. If an old friend can really, fully embrace the change, then great. But if they can't, even if they're trying as much as they can, it just becomes harmful to us. They don't mean to cause harm, but they do. An impossible situation.

My heart truly goes out to you, for this is a terrible and hard thing, and I commend you for having the raw nerve required face it!
The freedom to be normal, as you are now coming to see, does not come easily and I pray you will never have to make the hard choices required of so many of us...But I am sure that if that day comes, you are going to do what you must to survive and flourish as we all did!
Normal is out there Faline. Normal is amazing, it is wonderful and it is beyond incredible but for us it is always seems to come so very dearly as we are called upon to sacrifice family and friends and relations for the simple right to just be women!

Sadly, I know exactly what you are talking about. It gets to the point where being given credit for trying is all well and good, but when a lot of time has gone by, or you have to correct multiple times in the same visit that you don't really get that they are really trying, but rather just giving lip service to it.

Whenever I catch my student using a cell phone in class or if they are habitually tardy, they always say "Sorry!" and I always tell them that I don't buy it. Sorry means that you're repentant and will try not to do it again.

Whenever I hear sorry from the folks who are "trying", it's the same as with my students if they repeat the mistake over and again. It's not impossible if they decide that they actually want to make an effort. The person who knows me best never calls me J or uses the wrong pronoun. My children don't either.

Every time they make the mistake, it's a little cut and every little cut hurts. I'd rather sit for electrolysis. At least I get something for my troubles there.

Not only do the little cuts hurt, Tasha, they add up. Over time, they add up to the point where you can't handle being cut anymore.

Faline...you are treading into unexplored territory. I have never been there. I cannot help you.

Perhaps you might earn from those who HAVE been there. I know Alex has been there, as has Miz-Know-It-All.

You have my very best wishes for your getting through this most difficult of times. Perhaps it might help to understand that you are asking your friends and associates to "forget" and "unlearn" EVERYTHING they have EVER known about you.

It takes time and it might never happen. No guarantees, remember?

Faline, I really see this as an important article you have created. Most people who truly examine the nature of their relationships with others, and how they evolve will be able to understand how someone who has transitioned must be allowed to leave the old person behind.

Admittedly, not many re-invent themselves as completely as a sister must, but it does happen to others too.

When we find these sort of common links with other thoughtful members of society, it begs for a reaching out to occur.

I hope for your sake you can find those friends, and maybe family too who you can draw in close for your future.

Faline, sadly I've found what you've said to be completly true. The relationships that I have with friends that I've made since transition are completly different from those that knew me prior. It's been a couple of years, and people still treat me different and are awkard around me. By now, there is no excuse for getting the name or pronouns wrong. Nothing can ruin a day quicker than someone who makes you feel like less than the person that you've worked so hard to be. I don't want to be placated, I want to be respected & accepted. It is becoming evident that for whatever reason most people just can't do either of those. I think the time is coming where I will be starting over...someplace new where I can just be me, leaving all that baggage behind.

Hi Faline. Perhaps it's because I come from a very disfunctional family, with little or no love for each other in either direction, but I would just let them go live their lives and you go live yours. Divorce yourself of the former friends and wait a bit longer for the family to come around. If not, they would be toast in my mind. I know this is easy for me to say.

I watched the Chaz Bono documentary over the weekend. In it, Cher repeatedly referred to Chaz with female pronouns. In the end, she admitted that she is attempting to change but said it is very, very hard to do.

Calie xxx

Hi Faline, one of my best male friends has become distant because he cannot understand why I did what I did. People in my life constantly refer to me by the wrong name in the middle of the sentence, even though they use correct name and pronouns when they address or refer to me.

A week after watching this happen I started to tell people who did this that I would give them two years and if they could not get it right it meant they did not care. All claims to loving you are empty if the effort required to make this relatively minor but by necessity mindful change in their behavior cannot be accomplished. That is true for family and friends.

Ariel, I have found that it is quite possible to reach a point where patience is turning a blind eye to carelessness because we don't want to lose what is already lost.

The thing that really sucks is that I'm unable to disagree with any of these comments... you keep seeing the same pattern over and over in your life, and the lives of others, and it seems even more like a fait d'accompli.

@Ariel... "an impossible situation." So true. So depressing and so true.

@Miz... Normal. How sad that we need to aspire to be "normal." If I've gotten this far, I'm pretty sure I'll do what's necessary to fulfill that aspiration. thanks for your support.

@Tash... I hope for your and your family's sake, that it is possible.

@Anne... when you put it that way, it's almost a guarantee that it *won't* happen.

@Halle... yes, the friends are out there, although I'm not ready to look yet. In good time.

@Jen... the DC area is close to Richmond. Just sayin'. :)

@Calie... yes, it is easy for you to advise that. But it doesn't invalidate the advice.

@Kathryn... two years? that's generous. :) Although I wouldn't necessarily say that people don't care if they can't get with the program... I'm not sure if the human brain is even capable of it.

It's a near impossible situation to remedy other than to leave behind all those who knew you before. I have friends and family who made a positive effort in adapting correctly to my change but even they slip at times, especially in the early years. The reality is only those who know you only as a woman will treat you as one.

Some who found out later I was trans still see me as a woman or at least treat me that way, yet many more who learned later stopped.

I see two choices. You can go stealth by leaving your past behind and living your truth or try and accept that most old friends and family will still see you as male and trans. I have tried the later and it sucks. It tears at your soul, shreds your self image and resolve, and wears you down to where you wish the world would just end. Sadly I missed the rapture too.

I always thought I was stronger than most but when you get a taste of people accepting you for who you see yourself as, anything less is hard to take. You're right it hurts a lot. You have my sincere sympathies.

Hey Faline,
I wish I could offer something from my "vast" year of experience, but it appears like this is not a bridge I will have to cross (and not because people get it right either.)

A friend of mine was telling me the other night that she kinda faced a similar problem, her parents doing pretty much the same things you mention here and on one occasion they did it in front of her and then appologised.

Her response: it makes little difference to me. But when you refer to me that way and people are seeing me with their own eyes, YOU are the one who looks stupid.

point it out to them, who it is the world now sees you to be and let them know THEY are making fools of themselves not you.

I don't know if this helps. she tells me she hasn't had a problem since, but then I still couldn't be sure if it was them "accomadating" me or whether it was from the heart and THAT is what matters to me.

Abby xo

'course if it was me and I was in that position(and I'm not) I think I might be inclined to wait a while longer, not say a word, then take YSG home and introduce him and shag the heck out of him at ma and pa's place and just see if that doesn't change their idea of who you ARE.

But then, my approach is often different to others. ;-) some might find it distasteful. (what have you got to loose?)

@Teri -
"The reality is only those who know you only as a woman will treat you as one."

@Abby - It's not so much that I feel like a fool; I just don't feel like dealing with it. And as for your 2nd comment, the first time I read it I missed the "at ma and pa's place," which was kind of crucial, no? When I re-read it, I laughed out loud. :)

Yes crucial. I'm not suggesting you feel like a fool, just saying that you might like to point it out to them that THEY are making THEMSELVES look like fools because the world can see you ARE female/a her/their daughter/Faline.

Most people don't like to make fools of themselves.

I hope you're well

I know that people don't enjoy making fools of themselves, but I don't think pointing this out would make them more likely to accept me. It's like shaming someone into something.

It's not like if I said, "See what a fool you are," that they'd say, "Oh, you know what, you're right. I see you as a woman now." :)

Faline, "I wouldn't necessarily say that people don't care if they can't get with the program..." it's the effort I think. If you are not worth the effort getting it right, then what does that say about how they view you. And why are there always those who always get it right and don't even trip once. I have a few of those in my life.

And strangely it is often those that have respect for you, like clients, friends..

The time is arbitrary, I chose 2 years. And yes, it's generous

And hence:

"but then I still couldn't be sure if it was them "accomadating" me or whether it was from the heart and THAT is what matters to me."

I understand your point, was just offering food for thought. Seriously though, what do you stand to loose by trying option 2 ;-)

" you are asking your friends and associates to "forget" and "unlearn" EVERYTHING they have EVER known about you."

"but then I still couldn't be sure if it was them "accomadating" me or whether it was from the heart and THAT is what matters to me."

"The reality is only those who know you only as a woman will treat you as one."

"...someplace new where I can just be me, leaving all that baggage behind."

Nicely done, Anne. 4 different people, four different life experiences, one common thread.

Sadly Faline, what you and others are experiencing is part of the much higher price paid by "late transitioners".

I am not trying to make "points" here. I am just trying to address R E A L I T Y.

"JustKeri" addresses this very same issue here...


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