Each day I try to imagine what it means to be living without disguises, and each day I come up short. Or I seemingly come up short, because every day it seems to change. Each day of my life has been a struggle to feel like one thing. I know I have always been me, yet people have always put out labels, stuffed me in a box, most of the time growing up I was teased as being gay. The only words anyone had at the time. I know being gay was associated with being attracted to men, yet I never had those feelings. I am still really good friends with my very first girlfriend, in fact, she was a rock in my life when my marriage fell apart, and I decided I was no longer going to hide the person I am. It was her dad that called it for me, saying one day, that he thought I was queer. He was so right, but not in the way that most people thought of it at the time.
I remember one of the most happiest days of my high school life. It was a time when Prince Charles and Lady Di were getting married. This was my grade nine year, and I had just entered the high school. It was a tradition in that school that all new students go through an “initiation day,” a form of hazing ritual which I do not think is practiced today. At any rate, I got to be Lady Di for the day. An entire day where I got to be a girl (yay). It felt so natural to me that a teacher pointed out I sat like a girl, telling the boys in the class that man splaying was not very lady like.
When my son was born, I felt so maternal, while my wife was being sewn up from the cesarean I walked the halls smelling my newborn child and feeling such love. As he grew, I looked at myself and attempted to reconcile my desire for self-expression, and my need to allow my son to grow and choose his own path of self-expression. At times, I battled within myself feelings of hypocrisy, believing that how could I tell my son to be the person he was when I was hiding who I was. Out of fear of reprisal from a world that did not want to contemplate these very things, I hide no longer.
As my son grew and entered school, I spent time at the school and involved myself in the school activities. Surrounded by the moms, my longing to be accepted as an equal grew but only got puzzled looks and talk in closed circles of why I wasn’t hanging with the other dads and doing other dad things. I started to transition without even knowing it. Some of the parents thanked me for being so open about my transition as their children could relate, yet I hadn’t even made any such declaration at that time.
As I move forward, I find I have needed to write the story as I go. Still I face challenges of ignorance, acceptance, and misunderstandings as every ones experience of being transgender is different, and as a result, many make their own stories in their heads about what this means.
Thanks for the opportunity to share my story.
Jodi Alena Whiteman