A few weeks ago, Paula mentioned to me that she was babysitting for her grandson and had a wonderful time watching Popeye cartoons with him.  When Paula told her grandson that she had seen all these cartoons many, many years ago, he was surprised and astounded.

It started to make me think about how long it has taken me to appreciate the life lessons that Popeye has been teaching for decades.  No, I did not run out and buy those handy cans of spinach that Popeye always found when he needed instant muscle – although this certainly was a good nutritional life lesson in itself!

…and no, I certainly was not looking to figure out how to emulate those pointy elbows of his  – life is hard enough with all those ¾ length sleeves on just about every top and dress I can find.

Do you remember how Popeye was often the character who was different, yet he always was able to voice

“I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam!”

As I can now look back, Popeye was teaching us all, way back then, and even to this day the importance of self acceptance.  Way back then, the cartoons were funny and I am not so sure I received the message that lay within.

Self acceptance!   Sure, sure, maybe a cartoon character can have this.  But for someone who is trans how can Popeye be role model?

I should be strong like Popeye –  yes?

I should be able to get myself out of trouble like Popeye  — yes?

For me I managed to survive in the world by learning these “skills” of Popeye.  I was the man, the leader, strong when needed and cool in a crisis, but it is now pretty apparent that I did not learn all of what Popeye was teaching.

Popeye knew who he was and what his limits and where his boundaries were.  He could state,  “I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam!” For me it was impossible for me to repeat those words.

Now this skill has taken me years to learn – to come to terms and self acceptance as to who I am as being trans.

Each day now, on my journey it is getting easier to accept that I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam!        There is a Zen proverb that states –  when the student is ready, the teacher will come.    Well Popeye has been teaching for a long, long time.   It has taken this student a bit of time before she was ready to learn the lesson – and I am glad that I have!


Sometimes we need more role models in our lives to get to the point of self acceptance.  There are many good role models at Tiffany Club to help you on your journeys.  You are welcome to join us as we will always tell you that you are not alone.

Grace Stevens, Vice Chair, TCNE

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