I have been doing a good deal of reflecting lately.

You see, I am less than 1 month from having FFS and transitioning to live full time as Grace.

I have been busily working my check list; telling people in the 2 places I work; preparing the coming out letters for distribution; I have already legally changed my name, and starting the effort of changing it on all sorts of documents. I have been meeting with a number of the girls who have already gone to the same surgeon I will be using to get a good sense of their experiences. I have now had my last electrolysis appointment pre surgery – and dealing with the disappointment that I will need to continue this post-surgery too. I have pre-op meeting with both my primary and surgeon in the next week; I have been purchasing the supplies I will need, and sending out updates to my “network”; I am agonizing whether I want to tell the surgeon to make my nose look a certain way or put myself in his able hands.

And somehow, through all of this I am reflecting. So many people I have told of what I am about to do, respond with the following:

“You are so brave! You have so much courage!”

At first I did not know what to say. For many, too many years I have lived in shame and fear and confusion. Even though I believe I have come to terms with these feelings, I do not feel that bravery or courage has taken their place. For me, it is a sense of peace has taken their place. I feel – no, I know – I am doing the right thing. I do not think back to what might have been, nor do I think forward to what may happen. I am in the now, in the present, and I know I am going to be whole.

Am I brave? Am I courageous? I recently read Brene Brown’s I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t), where she discusses the meaning of courage as “not just slaying the dragon, but about being true to yourself and speaking your mind.”

I am at last being true to myself. What I knew since I was a child no longer has to hide due to fear and shame. It is interesting that as I explain to people that I am transsexual there is absolutely no negative energy around it. For many people it will be a way to describe me, It is my truth. As I move forward in my life, it does not matter if I use the term or not to describe myself. My kids (all adults) have asked if they can still call me dad. This is also my truth, no matter how I appear, so I said, absolutely yes.

I have talked about journeys before and my reflections continue to relish that the journey is the destination. I am truly on the ride of my life now. And I am enjoying it.

Each of our journeys is unique. Each of us has to find the strength to take our next steps. Now I know that it does take courage – the courage that means being true to oneself to overcome our deepest fears. For me, I hope that I can keep the courage I have found, and for you, I wish you can all find yours.

Grace Stevens,  Vice Chair, TCNE  (October 2010)

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