“You have been chosen for your ability to overcome great fear”, or something like that, came as a disembodied voice informing test pilot Hal Jordan that he was the best candidate to wield a Green Lantern ring. Come on, I know I’m not the only geek here! I know I already talked about courage and whatnot, but thought it worthwhile to advance a few more thoughts on the matter. In my estimation, we would all make pretty kick ass Green Lanterns.
Let’s give ourselves a little credit to begin with. We almost all had to overcome great fear to even begin the transition process. I think the exception are those kids who declare their correct gender well before puberty swoops in and kicks them in the caboose. Their single minded purpose leaves me in awe and wishing I hadn’t wasted almost 40 years struggling in the wrong direction. I’m not saying they have it made, but given a choice, I’d trade them in a second.
The biggest fear to master is that of perception and perspective. Here in Buffalo we have a bridge going over Grand Island leading to Niagara Falls. It’s a truss arch bridge, which means when approaching, there is a magnificent steelwork hump, under which the traffic passes. As kids, it is a universal phenomenon to think the car is going to have to go over the top of that monstrosity of a truss to get to the island; a venture that looks just doomed to a watery grave. We screamed, cried, shut our eyes, and wet our pants as dad would sail underneath and wonder about the hubbub and smell that was coming from the back seat.
Transition is like that as well. Before it is really in full view, we, or at least I, had naive thoughts about completing a checklist and whammo, begin life in the right gender. Marching right up to it, however, the way looked very daunting. Burn or shock my facial hair out? Wait, some of that hair too? Go out in public, like in daylight? Tell everyone my deepest darkest secret? Tell work? Year-long test, you mean before I do much else? Yeah, I was one of those who went to my first therapy appointment with the vague notion that take a few pills, then snip-snip tuck-tuck, and voila, no one would ever be the wiser. It also never occurred to me that even after all this the strong possibility existed that I would forever have people wondering, “say, did you used to be a man or something?” I had about the same reaction as with the Grand Island bridge.
We break it all down for ourselves to make it less scary. Some create detailed spreadsheets, gant charts, Venn diagrams, or in my case one of those construction paper chains used to countdown to Christmas. Approaching each thing, however, simply created a series of bridges, each as big as the first. Great. When I heard of the Benjamin standards of care, I thought there would be some team of Benjamins guiding me through the paces. Not so. My therapist, for a tune of many Benjamins, simply advised that I should probably talk to others to figure out what to do, and that the proof in the pudding is where the rubber meets the road. Nice, the desert to my Kung Pow chicken told me the same thing.
The toughest part is that it turns out to be just as hard and scary as expected. It’s like dad craned his neck into the back and said, “Yes actually, we do have to take the car up and over those rounded girders. I sure hope we make it!” Midway though my first laser treatment and I was sure I was walking out of there the spitting image of Rocky Dennis. After 9 months of hormones I still have the breasts of an 11 year old. I’ve been stared at more times than I even notice now. I got publically reamed out by a relative at a large family celebration. My marriage is over. I have yet to overcome a reputation as the Grand Deceiver. I spend days riddled with anxiety and depression. But I still press forward. I have to. We have to. If overcoming great fear is part of it, just sign me up for a ring. Compared to this, thwarting evil Sinestro (what were his parents thinking?) seems like cake.