Life is a journey. I mean, it’s supposed to be, isn’t it? A constant, forward momentum exploration of life and pursuing your heart’s desire. Forever in search of what makes you happy, content, and satisfied. It’s not any surprise that anything we do, anyone we are, can also be described as a journey. We are always learning and intending on advancing in our current careers, whether it is rank or just experience and knowledge about what you do. If you’ve been doing something, anything for any length of time you can look back to see how far you’ve come. Of course you can also look ahead towards what you want to attempt next. We look at achievements and future goals as milestones.
There’s almost always a next step.
It’s not a surprise that our gender identity is also described this way. As much as I cringe at that description, it’s also the most appropriate. Every mile I strut in stilettos is because I took those first wobbly steps in kitten heels all those years ago. Having a steady hand for liquid eyeliner is a result of practice, practice, practice. Our attitudes, our perspectives, our desires are all rooted in those first moments when we were aware there was something more to us. Something different than what we were told we should wear and who we were supposed to be.
Where am I on this journey? I think for many of us the journey can take one through transitioning, living full time, or hormones. Those are all absolutely milestones, significant moments in one’s life. For a lot of us (myself included) those moments, those decisions are not on my path ahead. I don’t feel like I am in a rut or in a standstill or anything like that. I feel I am still constantly moving forward simply by where I am mentally and emotionally. Becoming more and more comfortable and secure in one’s identity are also milestones and accomplishments in one’s life. I used to be hyper-aware that I was transgender whenever I did anything. I’d walk into a store or down the street and would constantly be paranoid, or even convinced that everyone I met was thinking, knowing, and caring that I was transgender. I’d walk into a coffee shop and be worried that I would be treated differently because I was transgender. That everyone would be staring at me. That someone might have a problem with me. These days I forget who I am when I do things. I simply do them when I am en femme. I forget that the world (well, some of the world) sees me as a t-girl and might act or react based on my gender identity and presentation. These days I forget that I am trans when I am out. I am simply me. And I absolutely believe that is, well, progress I suppose, but it’s also a milestone. Long ago I stopped caring what people thought of me, and these days I have stopped wondering what people are thinking when they see me.
I am often anxious and restless in my life, but not as much as I was ten years ago. Life was meant to be conquered and I wanted to be rich. I wanted to do what I wanted whenever I wanted. I didn’t want to be tied to a job. But at one point I realized I don’t *really* want that. Right now I am drinking coffee, wearing leggings in a cozy chair. All the money in the world wouldn’t change this little moment. And besides, I like my job and I find it rewarding and fulfilling. I would get fidgety if I didn’t feel like I was working towards… something. But these days I want to feel content. That’s not to say I have stopped moving forward with my life, my career, my gender identity. It’s more about feeling grateful for the moment and what I have.
And I have a wonderful life. I have a wonderful gender identity. I couldn’t ask for more. Life does a good job (if you are paying attention) when it comes to showing how fortunate you are to have the life you have. I am happy with where I am with who I am. I mean, sure I would like to do more modeling and raise my profile a little bit more, but that’s different than when it comes to common next steps when it comes to gender identity. I don’t blame anyone for thinking that I might want to be more out based on what I write about or about who I am. I mean, yes, I totes love being en femme and living Hannah’s life. It’s natural to think I would want this more often, but if this is all I have, then I have more than I ever thought I would.
I know a lot of t-girls and they are all on their own journeys. Some are more or less where I am today, some are further down the road, some are just getting started. Sometimes I am a little envious of the girls who have met milestones that I wish to meet myself. These milestones have more to do with being out to their friends, being able to have coffee with their sisters en femme, as opposed to anything, ah, permanent, such as transitioning. I talk to my t-girl friends about their journeys and it gives me a moment to ask myself if I want to be in their heels. Is that a milestone that is right for me? Do I want to be where they are?
And the answer is usually no. If we look at a traditional journey for a transperson, I am a few struts away from hormones. But my journey is not taking me there. That’s not for me. I’ve always known that living full time or transitioning is simply not for me. My heart has never been pulled in that direction. When chatting with my friends and listening to their experiences with estrogen or therapy I am able to reflect on whether or not that is something that I want, something that is right for me. And it’s not. I am bi-gender and I am happy with both of my gender identities, with both of my lives. Were I to transition I would miss my boy life I don’t think living full time would make me happier, more content, or more at peace. Simply put, I like having options when it comes to gender presentation.
I got to thinking about all of this over the last few weeks after meeting up with a few of my t-girl friends. It had been a while since I had seen several of them due to the pandemic so there was a lot to catch up on. The pandemic changed a lot of us in different ways. Some changes were small, some were OMG monumental. Some of my friends have started to transition and much of the conversation that evening was about estrogen and electrolysis. I mean, I would love to have my body hair removed but listening to my friends really emphasized that the paths they are taking are not paths that are right for me. I like where I am, and I like the direction my life/lives is going.
The point in all of this is that being transgender does not mean transitioning. I know the T Word is a little intimidating for ourselves (and for others) but identifying as transgender does not require you to do anything. You can be like me and identify as trans. You don’t HAVE to do anything such as hormones or changing your gender on your birth certificate to be trans. Those are not steps that I’ll be taking. I resisted the T Word for a while. I didn’t think I was, well, trans enough to identify that way. But I got to a point where who I was was bigger and more complicated than the word ‘crossdresser’. Today the terms bi-gender and non-binary and gender fluid are more… nuanced and specific and descriptive of who I am. But those words, along with many others, all fall under the transgender umbrella (if you will).
Be who you are. Be who you want to be. Don’t be afraid of the T Word. Don’t be afraid of yourself.