Welcome to NotJustin.Me! The name was suggested in fun by my brother and I thought it was a great idea. Nothing like a little humor to help get through.
This was the open letter I sent to my friends and family when I was starting my transition.
I feel it important to post this for many reasons. First and foremost is the fact I want people to know from me what is going on. Second, since I know so many people, I feel posting this information an effective way of letting people, especially my many acquaintances what is going on.
I think you all know that I take a firm and steadfast seriousness in my non-serious nature at most all times. I can assure you that this in fact is not a joke, though I could understand you thinking at the outset that it might be. Comprehending this may take a large portion of patience, understanding, and compassion(bourbon could help as well.) You are likely, in fact, to need a long time to fully process it. Regardless, my non-serious nature has stepped aside for a moment of absolute seriousness.
I am transgendered. Specifically, I am a male-to-female transsexual. I have had this condition for my entire life, since as early in my life as i can remember and even earlier than that. I have had this condition in all the years which you have known me and it has caused me an almost inexpressible degree of private grief despite my almost always outward joy which is oddly enough also just as sincere.
I have been in therapy, on and off, for my condition, for many years. Since my departure from marriage and my corporate life over six years ago in the summer of 2005. After my return from Africa over a year ago, it has become clear to me that I cannot proceed with my life without finding union between my body and my spirit.
Fortunately, transsexuality can be treated, and most of those who embark upon the journey of “transition” do go on to live fulfilling and joyful lives. There is a well-established protocol for treating transsexuals that has been adopted by the American Psychiatric Association and other mental health care professionals. This protocol is known as the “Benjamin Standards of Care” and it constitutes a rigorous set of procedures, ensuring that the patient is a proper and appropriate candidate for gender reassignment. Carefully following the Benjamin Standards of Care, and under the care of a few gender specialists, I began taking the steps necessary to shift my gender to female at the tail end of 2010. This includes, among other things, a regimen of estrogen therapy that has, and will continue to, render my appearance more and more feminine.
Some of you might not have a clear idea what “transgendered” means, and that is fine; this is not a subject most people are familiar with. Transgendered is the preferred term for the entire range of people with gender issues. Transsexuals are persons who feel that their body and spirit do not match-are a particular kind of transgendered person. At any rate, transsexual is not a cross-dresser, for whom the issue is clothes. Many of the words used to discuss this issue are not well understood and can, as you may be experiencing, lead to the feeling that the top of your head is about to blow off. If you find this strange, or embarrassing, or even wonderful, you should known that your reaction is not atypical.
My close friends and family have all been fabulously supportive through this entire ordeal thus far. Most people’s reaction, in fact, has been remarkable in its compassion and understanding. This is testament to what wonderful and amazing people I know. How relationships will change over time is something no one knows. What I do know is that no matter how it changes, with people who are this remarkable, even a strained relationship that is approached with compassion will be okay.
You might be wondering what you should do next. First, if you wish to learn more, there are some wonderful books that deal with this. The one I like best is “She’s Not There” by Jennifer Finney Boylan, a transsexual professor who is co-chair of the English department at Colby College. The letter she wrote to her colleagues and friends is the same one I am shamelessly plagiarizing now. Another book is named “True Selves” by Chloe Rounsley and Mildred Brown. Second, talking this over with those you love is something that can help. If you have any questions, by all means ask me! There is no question that is too basic or unimportant if it is on your mind. Finally, as an individual who has made a life of being seriously non-serious about pretty much everything, a sense of humor is good to have! While I prefer not to be the object of cruel jokes, I do hope that we can all recognize that wit and humor are likely to be therapeutic tools for all of us in this time of transition.
My timeline of transition is loosely set and many more opportunities are available for reflection to make sure I am doing the correct thing for myself at the correct pace. For now, I am going about my daily life half in my female role and half in my male role. I am taking time not only to mourn the loss of one part of me that has served me nobly for 36 years, but also I am taking time to establish a new relationship with myself that will carry me through the remaining years of my life. In late July or Early August I will transition to living full time as a female, change my name and not have to feel like I am living a dual role every morning when I wake and every night when I close my eyes. Shortly after that I will have the first surgery in the process of transition, facial feminization. There is a fabulous doctor in San Francisco, of course, who is going to remove the maleness while retaining all the me-ness of my ugly mug. From that point I am on cruise control for a while. I am going about my improved life, re-associating with people and society. Re-connecting with myself. After a year of full time living as a female, I will qualify for the final, and oddly enough, anti-climactic surgery… THE surgery. I say anti-climactic as that is the minor part of the adjustments, the inward ones are the largest hurdles.
My adventure in the coming months will require honesty and courage. I am hopeful that with your help and understanding, I will be able to complete it with relative ease. I look forward to our continuing friendships and to the future.
With warmest regards,
P.S. the name thing. Some of you may wonder what my new name will be. I scoured the birth names from 1974 and found a few names not tainted by past relationships! The name I have chosen is April. April is six month across the calendar from my birth month of October and seems humorously appropriate, not to mention I have always liked it.