The Cusp of Transition

Dear Sandra,

I hardly know you. We met in that social group, just the once, and now we are emailing. I don’t know your circumstances, or what difficulties you will have: but I am going to tell you that you must transition; that it is the only way to happiness for you.

I say that because you need to hear it, and you probably email me to hear it, even if you can’t admit that to yourself. Sensible moderate friends will tell you of the risks, and your internalised transphobia will do the rest- it is a fantasy, you will never pull it off, work will sack you, friends will leave you… so you email me, and I tell you that transition is the only way to happiness.

Without transitioning, you are forced to play a part, a part that does not fit you. James is not you. James is the best you can manage, pretending to be a man: a surprisingly good pretence, as it means a lot to us and we try very hard indeed, but a painful pretence, which can prevent you from knowing what you are feeling, which makes the world grey. You must transition! The world will change from monochrome to colour. You will be truly, authentically you, with no need to act any more (though acting can be a useful tactic, sometimes). You cannot be happy in this painful, distorting mask. The only way you can be truly happy is to transition.

You have the strength and courage for it. I know this, because you are still alive. Our condition breaks people, and some of us kill ourselves, and you have not. It is horrendously difficult to try to make a go of life, presenting male, and you have done it. The life force is strong in you. And now, transition is the essential step which you know in your heart will make you happy.

You are considering other people’s feelings. You have not yet told him, because he might “find it difficult”. Well, you don’t know that. Most people, if they have any respect for you, any empathy at all, will accept your decision. Not everyone: I lost two friends whom I loved; but that was their problem, not mine, their neuroses and inability to accept life and the world as it is; and I have gained many more friends than that. Only when you can be who you truly are, can you be happy.

You know the difficulties, and you know in your heart you must do it, or you would not be writing to me. Trying to be rational, you might think transition insane or ridiculous: it makes no sense, you have a Y chromosome, whatever- and yet you know you want it. The heart has reasons reason knows not of-

and transition is the only way you can be happy.

Francesco Hayez, Ballerina Carlotta Chabert as Venus

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