One Year On, and Advice to a Younger Self

A little over a year ago, after more than a decade hiatus, I attended a group support meeting at Ingersoll Gender Center in Seattle and had the full realization that I was non-pergender, or trans.

It shocked me to my core. I cried spontaneously at the thought of myself and what it meant for a few weeks. My appetite went away. I stopped drinking. I cried some more. And I began to do something about it.

I attended a few more meetings. I saw a couple of gender counselors again. I started and then stopped electrolysis again. I began to build my wardrobe again after purging it those many years ago. I started work on self-acceptance. I came out to a number of friends and family, including my wife. I started to observe more things about gender again. And I started feminizing hormones, had a couple of stops along the way, and then stopped them again in late December, 2011 after about six months total time.

In this past year, I’ve watched many women enter, move through, and pass beyond transition. I’ve also seen some hover at the same spot. And for a handful, like myself, I’ve seen them pull back. Then there are those that I’ve met along the way who I saw for a few weeks or months and then withdrew from being seen entirely.

Though we all have similarities, everyone’s transition is truly unique. I never really appreciated that until now. We all grapple with it in our own way based on our worldview and circumstances. I’ve noticed that we often look to each other to lead the way, but with each of us on our own individual paths, we really cannot lead each other, only roughly guide and support.

Upon this frustrated desire to have someone take our hand and guide us on our way often lies our deepest envies and is what I think often drives the deep divisions into the repeated efforts of community-building.

So, younger self, take heed!

If you think you might be transgender, you owe it to yourself to explore it at your earliest opportunity.

Examine it fully, without consideration for those that would seek to make you question yourself or your motives, for those people have an investment in you that was unwittingly placed upon you merely by being seen.

Ignore those that seek to label you, for their labels are their way of justifying themselves to themselves and an attempt to draw you to their cause before you have the knowledge or wisdom to discern their campaign.

If you hold back out of fear of emotionally hurting those around you, you are performing greater injury upon yourself and will build emotional scars that will take years to heal.

Experiment, try, learn, do. The only way to answer the question of self is to be in the world in many ways. Learn the why you like what you like and why you don’t like what you don’t like.

Be wary those that have more answers than questions. You’ll have to work hard to discern wisdom from dogma because they often appear to be the same.

There are an infinite number of ways to be in this world and that is part of its beauty. Make cognizant choices instead of passively accepting decisions from others.

Self-loathing and self-hate are weeds planted by others in your life, often by those that love you, which is what makes them so hard to discern from the rest of the garden. Uproot them when you find them, but take special care to the soil they were planted in, for it needs extra love and attention.

Some hurts may stay with you for a lifetime, but so may some joys. Dwell on the joys, for they will always lead you back to happiness.

Life can be hard. Get over it and get on with it.

You are lovable.

When feeling hopeless and like you can’t go on, forget everything else and think of or imagine being happy. What does that look like? Pick one detail from that vision and make it manifest before you do anything else. You now have a tangible piece of happiness from your vision. Treasure it. Keep it close to your heart. Care for it. Grow it. If you still feel hopeless, go look at a tree and wonder what it might feel like to be a tree that is really a fish. That’s hopeless.

If you feel the need to purge your clothes, buy a trunk or boxes, package them up, and store them for later. You’ll regret giving or throwing some things away.

Money will make some things easier, but other things harder. You can earn more money, but not more time.

Going out of the house and interacting in public as you’d like to be gets easier with practice. Being housebound is for agoraphobics. And frankly, most people really don’t care or find it amusing, which is harmless. There will always be some that have something snarky or hateful to say. Ignore them.

Especially avoid perpetually angry or needy people. If it’s their lifestyle and not a phase, they need assistance you cannot and are unable to provide.

Be kind and empathic to others. Avoid judgement.

Even fools have wisdom to share if you listen for it.

Make friends. They will often take better care of you than family.

Everybody looks like the other sex or behaves like the other gender in some way. Stop worrying so much about trying to attain some ideal state. It just doesn’t exist.

Figuring this all out is hard. Trying to figure it out with a spouse or kids is harder. Disclose yourself fully and clearly before committing to a relationship. You owe it to the other person.

It’s never too late to be happy.

Younger self, I may know more in a year. Check back, because I’m still not sure what’s going to happen in the future. I’m still trying to reconcile what I want with how things are. In the meantime, do me a favor and don’t donate those shoes, OK?


About cistotrans

A Seattle-area trans woman seeking a happy spot to stay at along the path of transition.
This entry was posted in HRT, mental health, observations, opinion, self-acceptance and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to One Year On, and Advice to a Younger Self

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I love this post of yours, Jenn. It's never easy, but this life isn't easy for anyone, even non-trans people. All people are transitioning through life, not just trans people. And in a year, you *will* know more, not just “may know.” That's the great thing about the system, that it never ends.

    Some awesome advice, Jenn. Some advice I wish I'd had, when I was younger, myself. I wish I had advice right now, for where to go from here, or what to do next. I'm glad you're taking the time to think through everything so clearly, and I'll do the same. I have no doubt that we'll each find our paths, and that our paths will never cease to present forks in the road. I only hope that you, and I, will be happy about where we've been, when it's all said and done.

    Don't worry about the shoes, you'll find better ones 😉



  2. Jenn Ifer says:

    Thanks, Elizabeth! On the shoes front, I just ordered some new ankle boots, so things are already looking up! 😉


  3. Anonymous says:

    Hello! This is really inspiring and you don't even know how much I relate to this article girl. I used to live as a woman and I still have many trans friends and love being gender variant but I am still figuring my gender out. I know I'm not a transsexual and I know I am not totally a normal guy, but I am happier now that I am not limiting myself. I experienced alot of negative attitudes in the transgender community and alot of negative experiences that affected me and makes me scared to go out sometimes and scared of people judging me because you can tell sometimes that people judge you but I have realized that people judge whether you are a man or a woman trans or not, somewhere else on the spectrum or no matter who you are, the difference is simply the individuals who may judge you.

    Thank you for posting this. You have really made me alot happier.

    Sincerely, London Park.


  4. UnknownJamie says:

    Hey, this is timeless advice, and some of what you’ve said here really helps me, so thank you 🙂


  5. Pingback: Week 128 – I didn’t transition just to live in fear | Becoming Me

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