Ok, it’s April 24th and today marks the one-year anniversary of the beginning of my medical transition. You might read a lot of these, you might not…maybe you’ve seen a few YouTube videos of people describing their physical experience through the whole ordeal. This isn’t about any of that. This is about the effects that transition has brought on my life and their meaning, the repercussions, and the future. This is for anyone who is looking for a reason to live their truth, regardless of gender.
It took a very short time between my first doctor visit and the day I was prescribed hormones. This was it. These were the magic pills that were going to make my life immensely more satisfying, and relieve the dysphoria and body dysmorphia that have plagued me my entire life. Wrong wrong wrong. That didn’t happen…at least not right away. The beginning hormone replacement therapy also came with the ending of my almost-three-year relationship. No need to go into detail over the specifics of what happened, but the root cause was that my then-girlfriend felt as if her happiness was being stripped away from her, that she lost the man she wanted to be with forever. And I get it. I spent a large portion of the time after (read:months) in absolute anger and sadness, feeling abandoned and unworthy of love because of who I was. I spent the summer flailing in the sea of self identity, drowning and desperately searching for a life raft. With the help of my closest friends, I began to realize that all great losses are followed by a period of rebirth.
Becoming single was the single best thing to help me in my transition. It allowed me to figure out who I was, and how to love this person. After a summer hiatus, I jumped back into my photography, knocking down shoot after shoot, finding my voice and meeting new people in the process. With no relationship to weigh in my judgement, new opportunities arose. I attended the Fujifilm Festival in Venice Beach in the fall. I gained new connections. I stepped down from my full-time grocery management job and took a chance on myself, stepping down to part-time and filling my fridge with money made in photography. Things were beginning to take shape.
All this time grinding wasn’t without its drawbacks. The side effect of working hard is loneliness. You see, this is where being transgender has a big impact on your life. Dating waters are tepid. Partners don’t want to hold hands with you public. You get ghosted. You get curved (look that up). You’re fetishized and disposed of just as quickly as you were ensnared in new feelings. I guess these are just cultural things that are going to take time to change. In any case, this is something that I feel needs to be brought to light, just to make everyone aware, trans or not. It’s a thing.
Moving on, International's Women’s Day came around this year and I was featured by Adobe for their artist spotlight. I don’t believe in divine signs, but the timing of this was immense for me, as it motivated me to go create new work purely for the feature. I worked on a 3-day deadline and sank three different shoots to mark the occasion. Something happened. My work took on a new life, it began to actually have a look of its own. So I ran with it. I pushed hard to create more artistically. Suddenly focusing became easy. All it took was a single nod of validation from someone (a company, in this case). Adobe’s blog post (you can read it here, I’m towards the top) labeled me as an artist. I now knew my identity for the first time in my adult life.
I am a transfemale fine art and portrait photographer. I have no problem being out and saying this. Sure, it puts me in a vulnerable position and leaves me susceptible to violence and discrimination, but I get to be me. I get to live my life, and that’s something I won’t let anyone nor myself deny me. It took me thirty three years to figure it out. But I got here. If that isn’t success then I don’t know what is.
It isn’t all roses though. I’ve had several major depression episodes and struggle with anxiety. Virtually none of that is transition related however, it’s got more to do with my lifestyle habits than anything else, but I just want to be open and honest with everyone reading. I still struggle with my weight. I’m still unhappy with how I look. But it’s getting better. I can face myself because I know who I am. I know what I want from life, and it’s going to take hard fucking work to get there. I know who I am…that’s a solid place to start.
I quit my job. It’s the riskiest thing I’ve ever done, but I only have one life, and if I’m lucky I still haven’t lived half of it. I’m spending the rest of it living for me. If there’s someone else along for the ride great. My friends and family will be there, maybe they won’t. Transition has taught me to ditch expectations, because they are the birthplace of disappointment. Disappointment leads to regret, and regret is the single most useless emotion we face. You have to be flexible, where you stand today may not be where you stand tomorrow. Don’t waste the opportunity to experience your life because of fear, embrace it. I have no idea what’s going to happen tomorrow. And it’s ok. Everything will be as it’s going to be.
One year later. I now know that life is limitless…