by Max Meyer
The Most Important Lesson from My Transition
There is a misconception that transitioning will fix all of the problems in your life. Although it does offer a great sense of fulfillment through the joyful acceptance and expression of a huge part of your identity, there are still other parts of your being to explore.
There is a void in every person, a sense of inadequacy, a doubt in the purpose of your existence. People have found a variety of ways to fill this void: alcohol or drugs; food, technology, career, or exercise; religion or spirituality; many lovers or a single person that defines their existence. Even though transition quiets the persistent voice saying something is wrong with your body, transition cannot fill that void either.
In the beginning of transition, I was ecstatic. Everything was so new and exciting. I experienced the greatest relief to finally reveal my real self. There were so many little bursts of happiness to enjoy: the acceptance of old friends, hearing my new name, and seeing my new name in print. I took immense pride in every accomplishment along the journey. The transition happened quickly and relatively smoothly. I could not be more excited about my new life.
I struggled with the concept of divorcing from my past, personified in the old me. The idea of having a new life completely separate from the traumas of my childhood appealed to me: a new name, a new gender, a new chance in life. Transition can easily give life a new meaning and purpose.
Dread of the impending end of this happiness plagued me. I feared I would suddenly fall into the same old pit of despair.
Instead, I slowly became aware of the old emptiness. The feeling of lacking something important still existed in my new life. This is not to say I regret my transition. I have a deep love for my body since transition. I am much more comfortable with myself and more confident. I would never go back to the person I was.
When I completed my transition, I experienced the satisfied deflation that I feel every time I finish writing a book, end a relationship, explore my inner feelings, or accomplish a long-term goal. Transition is another project into which I have put a piece of myself. I invested a huge amount of time and emotion into discovering and expressing my gender identity. It is an experience that will affect many aspects of my life for the rest of my days.
I began to wonder, “What is the meaning of life past transition? What else can give me little bursts of happiness and pride? Will I ever be complete? Is the whole purpose of life to do well in school so I can get a good job so I can afford to put my own children through school?”
This cycle seems pointless to me. I want something more.
People have a misconception that since I transitioned at a young age, I have answered all of life’s questions. Yes, I have deconstructed society’s notions of gender norms; explored the core of my identity; found the words to express myself; educated many people; waged war against entire bureaucracies of medical corporations, school districts, and even the United States government.
But that does not mean I know what to do with my life. There is not much writing about what happens after transition.
Transition can consume your life.
There will be hours spent exploring with psychiatrists, negotiating with doctors, and standing in line at courthouses and government agencies.
There will be long, difficult conversations with family members, friends, employers, and teachers.
You will feel certain that if you must defend your pronouns one more time to another ignorant person, you might explode.
There will be times when you feel like you are drowning in the paperwork, not to mention hours of endless loops of aggravating hold music on the telephone. Soft classical music will slowly drive you insane.
There will be days when you must wage a battle against your self to leave the safety of your own home or to enter a public restroom.
You will experience the brightest joys and darkest despairs. The emotions will enlighten your soul. All of these processes will devour so much of your time, expenses, mental power, and patience that your transition will become a second job.
But transition is not an identity. Once everything on your checklist is completed, what will you do with your life? What will your next adventure be?
At some point, you will be faced with the same questions that everyone must answer: what do I want to be when I grow up? Where do I want to live? What do I like to do for fun? With whom do I want to spend my life?
If the process of transition has consumed your identity, you will not be able to answer these questions.
This is why it is important to maintain a life outside of transition. Hobbies and social groups are crucial. Other goals, aspirations, and passions are critical. There is a lot to be passionate about when it comes to your gender, but life offers many additional passions.
Although the process of transition may take years, you will eventually complete it. At which point, you need to be able to say, “I am enough. This life will be enough.”
Only then, will you be able to fill that void permanently.
The Taped and Tattered Man
by Max Meyer
I am a self made man
pieced together with
broken social constructs
at 1:45 in the morning
by my mother’s tears.
I have a papier-mâché heart
torn and pasted,
sticking to fingers and hair,
everything except the paper
leaving a residue in the cup
of edible glue
waiting to be devoured.
All that is left in tact
is my mind
humbled by the vastness
of the universe,
yet haughty by my own
ingenuity from mastering
my identity and from
unlocking the secrets
of my galaxy
behind my mask,
tribal and uninhibited,
now hunted by my
My lips are sealed
to protect the future
from my past.
I am in every part
a man as real as
the one who contributed
to your life,
as complex and true
in the Frankensteinian collage
that I have constructed
under watchful eye
from stardust painted
onto tiny papers.
I recreated my fluttering