When I was about 3, my older brother, who was all of a wizened 4, and I stood one day at the edge of our front lawn, looking down at the 10 foot steep drop of brambles that fronted the lawn. We did everything together then, and we had come to a joint decision that this was it, this was the day to take the plunge that was long overdue. It may have been his idea but I remember thinking it was a very good idea. It was time for us to move on and rid ourselves of the crutches that had seen us through those difficult first years of life.
We looked at each other and nodded. On the count of three then. One, two, three! And we both threw our soothers out over the brambles, watching those well worn pieces of plastic sink into the tangle of the blackberries. We looked at each other and laughed. It was done. We would suck no longer.
It wasn’t all that difficult to do. We had hung onto the pacifiers far too long. Perhaps I felt a moment of unfairness – he had gotten an extra year out of his, a year I was giving up – but I also felt an elation that I was free, and that doing it a year earlier than him made me more grown up. We did worry a bit about what our mom would have to say, but we knew it was time to move on. We were growing.
Growth can be very difficult, if not impossible, when you hang onto the old. If you never shed old skin, growth is constricted and painful. Letting go is a wonderful, scary, freeing thing. It brings new life, new possibility to you.
Transitioning was something I felt compelled towards, but when I thought about changing my life that much, it scared and bewildered me. I had no idea how to make that big of a change. So I made little ones, and as I did so I reflected on how each one made me feel, what they changed around me and in me. Each little change led to another. In a way, it was like I was a large room wired with interconnected switches, and as I switched each one on it showed me others and I moved to them and switched them on, until the entire room was blazing and humming with light. This transformation is the sum of all the little switches I flicked.
The first time I was seen and treated purely as female and heard myself referred to as “she” and “her”, it felt so natural and true, that switch stayed on. The first time I used the women’s washroom I felt so peaceful and at home, not nervous like I thought I would, and that switch stayed on. Not that I want to make my home in a washroom, mind you. All these small changes stuck and added up to the bigger one that people may see first, when they know I am transgender; that of moving from a life as male to a life as female.
I think this is a great way to change your life, by moving from light switch to light switch, making up the bigger change in the end. You can focus on each of those aspects and understand better what makes you hum. There are times though, when you need that leap of faith, that belief that you will survive making a big scary change. Sometimes you find yourself at the edge of the lawn and you just have to chuck that safety over and go for it.