This post is a little more personal than I usually get, but it’s been on my heart and I hope maybe it will be helpful for someone else to read.
Most of the time I try to stay really positive about my queerness and being trans*. I am thankful for my experiences. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I wasn’t queer and trans*. But there are other days where grief washes over me. It’s not something I often talk about because when one talks about stuff like this it gets twisted. So let me be clear up front: I am thankful for my queerness. I do not regret transitioning.
But there is still grief. The reality is that when I came out and when I transitioned I lost a lot of people and things that I love. When I came out I lost most of my friends. Some outright said they could no longer talk to me or be in my life. Others were more subtle; they stopped calling or returning emails and the silence did the rest. I had to walk away from a church and a job that I loved. My relationship with my family was changed forever (and some of my extended family no longer speaks to me). That’s a lot of loss.
I miss having a connection to the past. I can’t go back to the church I grew up in; the church where I first felt a call to ministry, where my leadership gifts were nurtured and challenged, where I was baptized. I can’t go back to the church where I first served as a pastor. I can’t go back to my college. And sometimes that really sucks.
I hate that all of the photos of me with my sister as a baby are hard for me to look at because they were from before I transitioned. I hate that I don’t have any photos of me with my grandparents as my true self. (And I hate that they didn’t get to see the person I am now.)
For me coming out as queer was easier than coming out as trans*; I felt like I was able to retain more contact with the past. But when I came out as trans* so many ties got cut. And people don’t really get it unless they’ve been there. Coming out as trans* isn’t the same experience as coming out as a LGB person. When you come out as LGB you still look the same as you did before. Your childhood photos don’t out you (well, at least not in the same way). I’m not a person who destroyed all of my old photos, but I also feel weird about displaying them. There’s a tension there. Probably the hardest part is wanting there to be photos of me with the people I love, but realizing that some of those people died before I was wholly myself so there will be no photos.
Some days I feel the grief of not knowing how to move through the world; of still learning what it means for me to be in this body. I am still shaking off the shame and discomfort of my old body and learning to lean into this newly resurrected one. I don’t know how to be a brother to my siblings (especially when they still see me as their sister). I don’t know how to be a son or a friend. Some of the things I used to do in a female body now get me pegged as sexist (like holding doors, defending people, etc.).
There is grief and loss that can’t be easily explained and never goes away entirely. And often when it’s brought up it gets dismissed. Today I am grieving. I am feeling the losses in my heart and it feels like there in a weight on my chest.
Maybe it’s appropriate that I would feel this grief on Ash Wednesday. The day when we remember our mortality. But on the other hand I have internalized feeling like dust for a long time. So maybe instead I should remember that I am made of the same stuff as the stars.