I’ll get right to it: in 2023 I said the words “I am transgender” after 9 years of speaking the slowest sentence ever, at a rate of 0.000000815 words per minute. After experiencing for the 35 years before that, what I now am realizing and embracing and admitting was severe, persistent gender dysphoria.
So there you go. I am 42 years old and seeing who I was — and am — for the first time. Transgender, a trans woman.
Erika Flowers. She/her. 🏳️⚧️🏳️🌈
I didn’t expect or foresee this. I’m meeting myself for the first time.
A quick clarification
I had an assumption before now that people who are on these types of self-discovery journeys would both know about it before the dam burst (I did not), and also have some sort of implicit understanding of what to do afterward (I do not). I can trace the active “start” of this mental migration to 2014, though that 9 year span was mostly without the words or definition.
I never asked myself “maybe I am transgender” over that time. And then the first crack in the egg appeared, and it was only a matter of weeks before there was no egg remaining.
The fact is that right now, I have as many questions and lack of clarity as someone watching from the outside, because I can recognize now that I’ve watched my entire life from the outside. If you’re reading this and have those “okay, but why did…?” questions, I probably have them, too. There’s no field-guide to being human, I am assembling answers hour-by-hour at the moment.
This post serves as my way to demarcate the before-time and the after-time for myself. There will be little in the way of answers, but it will be nice to refer people to this post who only remember [him] and wonder how in the world someone could do this in their 40’s.
I have the same question, along with the implied question of “why not sooner?”
Why now? Changing vs. Changing Back
The one thing that is clear to me now is that I finally understand something that I would have previously misunderstood. I am not “changing into” a more aligned identity and self-perception of “Erika” the trans person, I am removing the facade.
The masculine-gendered that I — and everyone else — knew was the costume, and I didn’t realize that.
The person I believed myself to be was the costume, a ‘denial suit’ to compensate for my complete lack of an internal sense of male gender, along with dozens or hundreds of other examples of how I would construct the costume that did not align to my identity, because I didn’t have the words to know that this is what I was doing.
I have those words now. Looking back, my entire life and lived experiences have been a reaction to that misalignment and gender dysphoria.
Trans in America
The prospect of being trans in America is terrifying. If I felt I could move forward another way, I would. However, the life of gender dysphoria, depression, anxiety, and not wanting to be alive is worse than the prospect of being a transgender person.
The choice isn’t easy, but it’s clear. I’d rather deal with the ramifications of aligning to myself and living as myself in a hostile world, than having a debilitating and crippling hostile inner-world.
It’s either a lose/lose proposition, or a win/lose. I’ll take half a win over a total loss.
Act 2 Begins
If I wait to figure everything out before making this statement, I may never get started. There’s so much I have to consider now, and doing it from the old perspective of myself keeps me in the past. By saying this now, I begin taking steps for a new version of me as the name I chose for myself.
And I feel lucky that just adding an A at the end of my name works and is what I want to do to start. I’m the same person everyone knows, just tweaked.
So, it’s Erika now. She/her. Nice to meet me.