Updated: Feb 24, 2020
An unfortunate consequence experienced by some transgender folks can be a type of guilt that one may experience because of being transgender. Wait....what? Why would anyone feel guilt over something they can't control? Ah, nothing is ever that simple, is it?
Not everyone experiences it, but it occurs often enough that it is a definite issue. The guilt can be about many things, but to put it broadly, it is a guilt felt over the effects that your transition is perceived to have on other people. Some examples: A mother used to think she would have a white wedding for her little girl, picking and choosing beautiful dresses together, but now she faces the fact that she no longer has a daughter, but a son. A father dreams of the day he and his son will play football together, but now he discovers he has a daughter interested in ballet instead. These are a bit cheesy, but they make my point well enough. The trans individual feels guilty about “taking” those things away from their family and friends, as if they somehow had control over this and caused it.
So, what to do? How to look at this? It's different for everyone, of course. And it can be very dependent on the degree of positivity or negativity with which your friends/family react to your transition. Inevitably, there will be a grieving period for them. Even the most supportive people are going to experience some degree of loss. This is not their fault, anymore than it is your fault for transitioning. And unfortunately, many trans individuals end up feeling guilt over this grieving process because they feel that if they had just “stayed quiet” or maybe just “stayed normal” then this wouldn't have had to happen. Well, that's bullshit, folks.
All you younger folks out there really need to hear this: Life. Is. Short. There is no sense in living your life unhappy. I know when I was in my teens and 20's, I felt like I could weather just about any unhappiness....for a period of time anyway. Because I had unlimited time, right? Gonna live forever! So anything that I didn't want to confront, I just procrastinated with, hoping it would either go away or resolve on its own. I'm here to tell you, though, that only works with a select few things, and being trans ain't one of them. If you're trans, you're trans. No resolving that. No going back. It just is.
Feeling guilt over your transition is natural, but don't dwell on it. Work past it. You don't owe anyone a girly white wedding. You don't owe anyone a father-son football game. There was no contract at your conception that said you would be any specific way at all. But you DO owe it to yourself to be responsible for your own joy. Life happens once. Be there for it. Don't hide from it. That guilt you feel? It pales in comparison to the beauty burning within you when you open up and accept yourself as you are, letting no one darken your shine.
I just wanted to put this article out there to let anyone who needs to hear it know that what you are experiencing is NORMAL. You can't control the feelings of others, so please don't waste the energy. You are only delaying your real life in trying to spare them from their reactions. Seek out those who love and accept you for who you are, no matter HOW you are. Sometimes life feels like it will always be “this way” and nothing will ever change. Don't buy in to that bullshit. Life is ever-changing and full of possibilities. Reach for them. Take them. They're yours.
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