I immediately burst into tears when, about three years ago, I heard the news that my husband’s male cousin had come out with his decision to transition into a woman. I didn’t cry out of disgust, disappointment, or judgment. I began to cry because I could somehow feel a pin prick of the pain our loved one had most likely lived with throughout his thirty-something years.
I grieved not only for him, but with him, from a distance. I cried out of happiness that he chose to reveal his true self rather than take an easy way out through either suicide or continuing to live a lie. He was married – I have fond memories of the wedding, easily one of the most fun weddings I’ve ever attended.
We saw him for the last time during the summer of 2013; he had already begun the early stages of transitioning, but no one, not even his family, save his wife, knew. I remember noticing that he not only looked different at the time, but he acted differently. He was more effeminate, nervous, awkward, yet still the pleasant, hilarious person he always was.
I left his home in 2013 knowing that something was happening with him, I just had no clue what it was; I thought that perhaps he was having marital issues. I had no idea just how deeply his circumstances and emotions were running.
He always worked two or three jobs at a time under the guise of paying student loan bills. In truth, he was working so much to save money toward financing the change he was preparing to make. When he came out to his immediate family – my husband and I heard the news from my sister-in-law, via letter, we were all shocked. As the news set in, a lot of things began to make sense. Hindsight is definitely 20/20.
Now she is living full-time as a woman and she is beautiful. She is beautiful not only on the outside, but she is still just as beautiful as she always was – except it was obvious she was so much more comfortable in the skin she always knew she needed to be in.
While she has endured her fair share of struggles that I could never begin to truly understand, she is a true inspiration – a courageous person who had the nerve to attend her high school reunion as she really is. She was embraced by her former classmates and has received an outpouring of support from those who love her.
It hasn’t been a completely easy transition for her family, who never knew of her long hidden, suppressed feelings. I salute her bravery – she was in her mid-thirties when she came out. She easily could have continued living the lie she’d led for three-and-a-half decades. However, she chose happiness instead.
Upon meeting her for the first time, I was undeniably nervous. What if I burst into tears and cried in her face? What if I acted funny, even though I didn’t judge her choice? What if I made her feel uncomfortable? What if I blurted out personal questions? Fortunately, none of these things happened when I was introduced to her. It wasn’t a meeting after all – when I saw her, it was as though she was who she was meant to be all along; our interaction was as natural as before.
While he was awkward, nervous, jittery, and obviously carrying heavy stuff in his head, she is confident, happy, and exactly where she needs to be. Her confidence radiates and inspires me to be a better person, to be brave enough to be my true self as well.