|Selfie, November 2017
Family friends and customers at my grandparent's store would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I would try and answer honestly. Once I remember saying “beautiful” and getting a round of laughter. The next time I went with something more traditional like engineer or farmer. My grandfather had worked on the railroad and along with the country store we also had a farm. Note: I did become an engineer, but not on the railroad.
At about age six I knew that to fit in, I had to behave in a manner befitting my gender. I was after all, a boy. So I went with the flow accepting the inevitable. I have always been good at doing that. Put aside was my vision of being beautiful. I very much looked up to my grandmother who was strong, secure and well respected by all in the community. She and my grandfather ran the store as partners. I also admired my grandfather who was respected and liked by everyone. He was intelligent and had a good nature. Two of the best parents anyone could ever wish to have.
|Natural Bridge Virginia, 1958
Like in the *1980 movie, “Raging Bull”, where the main character, Jake LaMotta, bemoaned the fact that he could have been a contender, I look back now and feel that opportunities passed me by. However, in my case there is no sadness because I played the hand dealt and the one at hand. I did my best and I am not unhappy with the way my life evolved.
Although I knew that the “woman within” was ever-present and was not going away, happily I went forward. There were times when she needed to be subordinate. The times were full and there was no time for her. That was OK.
When she finally had opportunities to be out, I valued the experiences and honored her with attempting to be the best representation of that person I could be. Now she represents an older woman. As such, I hope to have developed into the kind of person that would make my grandmother proud.
While I am no longer a contender, I want to represent femininity and being transgender in a manner that brings a positive reaction. The curious have their questions answered honestly. The reactionaries see a positive role model and hopefully come away with acquired tolerance.
My development into being a feminine person may have been arrested, but I am living a life now that is real and to my liking. Consider ways that are within your circumstances, you can do the same. Escape with grace and significance. It is never too late….
A man (or woman) sooner or later discovers that he is the master-gardener of his soul, the director of his life. James Allen - British Author 1864-1912