December 22, 2007

A Reflection on the Comment from “Dave”

Posted in family, friends, transgender at 2:18 pm by Michael

Late last night, this comment came in on the “Pictures” page:

Your life is a really sad story and it is unfortunate that you did not get the type of medical help you needed. Play up your sickness all you want, but this can not come to any good for your wife and children. I don’t say any of this to be mean, but you have taken the hand you were dealt and acted selfishly. You are just ill and I feel very pained for you and your family.

I read this early this morning, and was honestly a little taken aback. I needed to sit on this for a while, and reflect a bit before I either approved it or not (I just did), and decide what to do. I could post it without comment, or comment briefly, or comment at length.

I’ve decided to comment at length, since I do believe that Dave’s thoughts may be shared by some others, and he does touch on a number of core issues not just for me, but for the transgendered community overall.

This is not a rant, and I’m not upset at Dave. I sincerely appreciate the fact that he took the time to post a comment, and I will not reveal the email address that this came from (both because I don’t think its right, and because I can’t be sure that it’s accurate). As I said on the “Rants N Raves” page, if you decide to not like me after reading my story, then “Peace Out”. We may be at “Peace Out’ with Dave….

So, with that, I have some thoughts.

Preamble

One thing that strikes me is that Dave’s comment was on the “Pictures” page. I’m not going to assume anything, but I do hope he read more than that page – those are pictures, not a narrative.

BTW, Dave posted his comment from a Comcast network in Washington state.  potentially eastern Washington, but that additional location information is a bit inaccurate.

Your life is a really sad story…

Well, to date, my life has been anything but sad. My life has been awesome! I’ve been incredibly fortunate, and have had amazing experiences, met amazing people, and learned a ton. I hope if people get anything from my blog, they should get that I was happy before, happy during, and I have to say, I’m happy now.

If what Dave is really saying is after reading my story, he got that I was happy before but felt like even if I seem happy now, that I’m going to flush my life (and those of my family), and that it made him sad, and he thinks that eventually I will be sad, then I at least understand it. But, if the latter is true, I guess we’d agree to disagree that this won’t work out long term. However, if my story makes him sad, I’d give him the advice that my therapist gave me when I read stuff about TG folks that were sad “Don’t read it then!”.

…it is unfortunate that you did not get the type of medical help you needed.

I’m a bit confused about this comment. I have been going to a licensed therapist for nearly a year – weekly. She’s an expert in Gender Identity issues. I’ve been seeing a licensed MD for almost a year, and also have been seen and evaluated by Dr. O in San Francisco. I feel like I’ve had outstanding medical care.

There seemingly is an implication that “medical help you needed” would have been help to “talk me out” of having GID.

Well, I have to tell you, I’m not sure that would have been possible – I guess I could have been counseled to continue to suppress and hide how I was feeling, but my previous suppression was leading me to overly focus on it, but also was starting to effect my mood (negatively) last fall.

When reading this part of this comment, I wonder if Dave believes that no person with GID should ever transition, or if after reading my blog, he feels like it was specifically wrong for me. I am genuinely curious about that.

Play up your sickness all you want…

Perhaps it’s unfair to call out this line – but a couple things. One, I’m not playing up anything. I’m telling my life’s story, as is. I write about the good, the bad and the indifferent. Secondly,  if anyone reads my blog and says “WOO HOO! I wish I had GID – sign me UP!” then, well, that’s really unfortunate. I would not wish this path on anyone. It’s not easy – not for me, not for family, not for friends, not for co-workers. It’s hard. I would have loved for this to “GO AWAY”. But it didn’t.

…but this can not come to any good for your wife and children.

This sounds close to the argument against divorce when you have kids. “Stay together for your kids!” I’ve heard that. I heard that before I got divorced (first marriage). However, what I think most professionals say is that a happy, complete but “different” parent is better than an unhappy, unfulfilled one.

Most of the people who know me have said that since coming out, they like me *more*. More open, less withdrawn, funnier, easier to laugh at myself, more reflective, more engaged. Read the posts about Anh’s family – almost universally, my relationships with those people have become far stronger.

Now, one could argue that I should have done all of that, but then not changed my gender presentation, but part of the reason why I’m so much more comfortable, and have so much more energy, is because this background pain of not being true to myself is gone.

But, Dave is right. This is a challenge for the kids. However, our experience has been that if the adults around them do not make this a “big deal”, it won’t be a big deal for them. Part of it also has to do with how I handle the transition too. If I came to pick them up at school in stripper-wear, then, well, that would be bad. However, I take considerable time and energy to dress conservatively – all the time.

Will it get harder as they become teens – probably – but by then, it will have been something that they have been living with for a long time.

And, I give the community more credit than to think that they will allow the kids to get attacked. One of the nicest stories that I’ve heard is that one mom’s of another girl’s on Peri’s soccer team told her that she had an “important job”. Her important job was to make sure to stand up for Peri if anyone gave her a hard time about me. I know these people only a little bit – we see them at games – but they heard my story, and decided what they thought the right thing to do was – and that was to be accepting, loving, and supportive.

As for Anh, she can speak for herself. But she’s right here next to me now, sitting on the couch, as we chill out on yet another rainy Saturday in Seattle. If I won’t speak for her, it’s not clear to me that Dave should either, especially without knowing her.

I don’t say any of this to be mean, but you have taken the hand you were dealt and acted selfishly.

I don’t think Dave is being mean. I don’t take it that way. As far as being selfish, well, this was my  primary fear before coming out. I felt like coming out would be the most selfish thing that I have done. This was a deep conversation with my therapist before I ever came out – to anyone. When I talked to Anh, this was a deep conversation before we told anyone, and worked together to decide if I was going to transition, and decide how and when. This wasn’t something that I simply told her I was doing, and to take it or leave it.

Fundamentally, I don’t agree that being true to your self is selfish. It’s honest. I’ve tried to mitigate any impacts on family and friends as much as possible, but I cannot simply run away from who I really am.

You are just ill…

On the one hand, you are right. I have suffered from GID for a very long time. That is technically a psychiatric diagnosis. However, as I have commented on in this space, I now feel “cured” – in that the outside matches the inside.

On the other hand, I feel healthier psychologically than many people (of all walks of life) I have encountered. I understand that life is a series of mistakes that you make, learn from, and hopefully don’t repeat.

Again here, I wonder if Dave is commenting about me specifically, or about the entire set of folks who have GID, and who have chosen to publicly express a gender different than their birth-gender

….I feel very pained for you and your family.

Well, I appreciate the concern, but I think we are doing just fine, thank you. I never asked for, and certainly don’t want sympathy. I’ve tried in this space to be honest, admit the good the bad and the ugly, and just try to live my life.

I’m not suggesting that anyone follow me (FSM forbid!), but I’m just telling my story. If you, or anyone else disagrees or just doesn’t like what I have to say, then I guess that will be one less return visitor.

Peace.

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2 Comments »

  1. Violet said,

    I’ve seen more love in your blog than sadness. Your life is an inspiration. 🙂

  2. Rachael Fox said,

    There are broadly three types of people in the world: Those that don’t have GID; Those that do have GID and do something positive about it, and those that do have GID and repress themselves even more. I can’t help wondering if Dave is one of those who feels your pain but who is unable for whatever reason to deal with it.

    The important thing – and the GLB community has been saying this for decades, the T community is just bringing up the rear (or we’ve been kept back a bit by not being out and visible until relatively recently, for many reasons) – is that families come in all shapes and sizes. The world’s a better place for diversity and individuals being themselves. Kudos to your family for being so accepting and unconditionally loving. If only Dave would be so lucky.


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