by Danielle Badler
Hard to believe, but it’s the first anniversary of my GRS. Top and bottom.
You want details? Use your imagination. Or go back and read my posts from a year ago. Facebook actually reminded me about them. They sent me a notification of what I had written, and the link — they said they thought I’d like to look back, so to speak.
I’m not making this up. Is their algorithm really that sophisticated? If so, that would be very, very unnerving.
But I’m not in the business of looking back. My operative word today is “being.” And, by that, I don’t mean assimilation. The process of assimilation has largely passed. What I really do mean is moving beyond. Living my life now. In my world. A world where nothing has changed. And everything has changed.
Before I began my transition, a friend put me in contact with someone who had transitioned several years earlier. We met several times. And I’ll never forget her words of advice.
She said I should just remember that, once you go through all the procedures and medications and therapies, there’s no going back. You wake up in the morning and there’s no I’m tired, I don’t think I’ll go through with it today. The fact is you’re all in, you’re committed, this is your reality. So you’d better be sure about what you’re doing with your life, and your body.
I remember thinking, yeah, that makes sense. Followed rapidly by, yeah, I don’t have a problem with that.
And I haven’t. Today, I can say I’m doing everything I was doing before I began the process, and more. With very little loss. My family’s around. My friends are there. My work continues. I feel very, very fortunate.
I’ve also had experiences I wouldn’t trade the world for.
At six months post-op, I had my six month check-up, which coincided with my annual physical.
My doc examined me and exclaimed, wow, you’ve healed very well. You’re good to go. Have you had an orgasm?
Uh, no, I shrugged. I was, uh, kinda, waiting for things to heal….
Oh no, she said, no problem. And you can’t really hurt yourself. Here… And with that she drew diagrams and circled spots of sensitivity. There’s no need to wait, she said.
So I did. And it worked as advertised. I think Marci Bowers is a genius.
I was accosted.
That’s right. At a summer event. Out of the blue. This guy put his hand here, and there, and there. And his language was… let’s just say inappropriate. He was drunk.
I was paralyzed. I just had no idea what to say. What to do. I had no frame of reference. No experience. Nothing.
Just as suddenly, he stopped and walked away.
A day later, talking to a friend, she said… “and I bet you initially kind of liked it. Liked the attention. Until you realized he was a fxxxxxx axxxxxx.”
Exactly! And then I thought of all these violent paroxysms of response I could have employed. But it was too late. It was over.
I mentioned this to my therapist, shortly after. And she recommended reading a book, Against Our Will, by Susan Brownmiller. I did. It covers 2,000 years of rape, in detail, horrible detail, mind-numbing detail.
The very last paragraph is the following: “My purpose in this book has been to give rape its history. Now we must deny it a future.”
I read that, and I cried and cried. It was written 40 years ago. And nothing’s changed.
I mentioned my experience and the book to girlfriends, and they all said the same thing: “Welcome to the sorority.” Some added, “Danielle is growing up.”
Being asked what my husband did. Quite a few times. My internal reaction is always like that carnival bell, where you bang down with a sledgehammer and the weight rises up to ring the chime. The bell in my head sings, gong, gong, gong.
I just don’t think there’s enough discussion about passing. Because it really does change everything. I actually don’t believe I could have gone forward if, for example, people stopped on the street and pointed at me. My whole goal was to be. Not pass, but be. I’m not denying my past. But I’m not advertising it, either.
Oh sure, if I’m out somewhere and people know me from pre-transition days, that’s fine. Sometimes I think they’re thinking that they have their very own Caitlin Jenner. And that’s also ok… I think.
But therein lies a larger problem. When I began my transition, the media explosion hadn’t happened yet. Then it did, and it stuck, much longer than the expected 15 minutes of fame. I watched every episode of “Transparent,” and of “I Am Cait.” I felt like I had to.
The funny thing is this. While I identified, entirely, with Cait’s girlfriends, the women she surrounded herself with, I kept wondering what Cait’s honest reaction would have been to my friend’s comment about waking up each day.
I kept yelling at the TV — yes, yes, yes — when the girlfriends talked about the trials and tribulations of family, commitment, biases, dating. But I don’t think Cait got it. She looked great. But she had the best Hollywood makeover people working on her every day. And she walked like a man, and talked like a man. She just didn’t reflect my reality. But her friends did.
What I believe, and it’s only a theory — I don’t have solid documentation to back this up — is that, relatively, very few people who say they’re transgender actually make it to the end of the Yellow Brick Road… if there actually is an end… to this “being” stage.
Many get off, at each and every step along the way. For various reasons, internal and external. And that’s ok. If it’s ok with them. I hope Caitlin works that out for herself.
Then there’s my friend who is an acknowledged crossdresser, and goes out dressed on average once a month.
My friend said to me that, with all the noise about being transgender, those who self-describe as crossdressers are being lost in the shuffle.
Why? Because, she said, for you it’s simple. You always wanted to be, and believed you were, a woman. So now you’ve realized that dream, and people can understand that. For me, she said, there’s no answer. You say you want to dress in women’s clothes, but you’re a man. Why? It makes you feel good? It’s a turn-on? A fetish? Why?
The question brings silence.
Is my friend where she wants to be? Is Caitlin? I hope so, but I wouldn’t hazard a guess.
As for me, I’m being. And that is, indeed, where I’ve always wanted to be.
New York native, Danielle Badler embarked on a writing and communications consulting career in early 2007, following more than 30 years in corporate communications, the last ten as the chief global communications officer for three Fortune 500 companies. That experience involved six corporate relocations, including a year in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Her work includes facilitating executive peer group meetings for The Conference Board in New York, as well as regular articles and columns for the Porsche Club of America, TFLCar.com and planet-9.com.
Danielle is also very active in community involvement, as the Board President of Alliance Francaise de Denver and a board member of the National Federation of Alliance Francaises, as well as a member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press Association. She is also on the Board of Directors for the GLBT Center of Denver.
A graduate of Case Western Reserve University, where she co-edited her college newspaper, Danielle now calls Denver home. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.