Sailing Beyond the Sunset
Two years ago today (I think), on July 23, 2010, after leaving the Mazzoni Center and Walgreens Pharmacy in Philadelphia, I ordered a glass of champagne at Caribou Café, one of my favorite restaurants, and used it to wash down my very first 2mg tablet of 17-beta estradiol, the same thing I had done five weeks previously to wash down my first 100mg tablet of spironolactone.
About four and a half years ago, during the winter of 2007-2008, having been abandoned by my spouse after a nearly 20 year relationship, I began to realise that I was in a position to follow the yearnings of my heart that I had been suppressing to varying degrees of success my entire life, and I began to explore my true feelings about my own identity. On my 40th birthday, in December of 2008, I suffered a very public breakdown at a party in Brooklyn, and the next morning, I knew that it was time to do or die. By the next morning, I had made the official decision to transition, and live the rest of my life honestly, as a woman. Christmas Eve 2008, I came out to my mother, the first person I told, in a very tearful and drunken telephone conversation.
By Spring of 2009, I was well and truly divorced, and the cracks in my not-so-carefully constructed facade were beginning to show publicly, and by July 4 of that year, I knew without a doubt that I had made the right decision. That December, and the following January, I attended two Stuy alumni GTG’s, and received the welcome of the first of my friends to know. I cannot thank them enough, ever.
In April of 2010, I gathered my courage, and called the Mazzoni Center to make an appointment to properly obtain transition-related cross-sex hormone replacement therapy. In November of 2010, I began the process of legally changing my sex to “female”, and I count November 24, 2010 as my official “full time” date. On the occasion of my 42nd birthday, two years after I made the official decision to transition, I began the process of coming out to the friends I had not yet told, sending personal letters to about 50 or so of my closest friends and former classmates. Six months later, in July 2011, I began to tell my family and all the rest of my friends who did not yet know, and finally effectively abandoned my old Facebook profile. I was pleased and gratified to find that I lost very few friends as a result of my transition.
When I attended my 25th year high school reunion in October 2011, the love and support expressed by my classmates was almost overwhelming, and at the same time, almost anti-climactic. I am so privileged to know you all. The very next day, I took the final step and visited my grandmother (who of course already knew, but it was important that I talk to her directly in person).
Now, I am preparing to set out on a new journey, for the first time truly on my own in unfamiliar surroundings, setting sail beyond the sunset to forge a new life. I am terrified and hopeful, anxious and excited all at once. I hope to join friends of old and those newly-made on the West Coast this fall free from the dark history of my immediate family and the pervasive prejudice of rural South Jersey.
To all of you, family, friends, girlfriends, lovers, classmates, and colleagues alike, and most of all, to my daughter Madeleine, I cannot ever fully repay the gifts you have given me. I can only thank you, from the very bottom of my heart. I could not have done this without you.