Feeling like a fraud

Yesterday was the Transgender Day of Visibility and I felt like a fraud. I had a typical cisgender male day – I went to the gym, fixed up some things around the house, grabbed food with friends, and cooked up a steak. It felt so incomplete. I thought about all of the things I could be doing and how different things could be if I had the courage to be my truest self. So many people were celebrating their journey and being proud to be trans and I just sat on the sidelines trying to convince others that I was who society expects me to be instead of who I know I truly am in my heart. A constant struggle that I play with in my head that is always magnified in moments like these when so many are owning their truths and I continue to hide out of fear. Then reality set in that the encouragement truly is there.

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A friend of mine that I work with posted this on his facebook page. Another transman that looks at me as this great straight white ally hit on some of the things that I hold my biggest insecurities over. My biggest worries. The parts of me that make me question my validity and make me feel like a fraud. I’ve struggled in the trans community of being judged for my journey – in fact, people within that community have made me feel more invalidated or unworthy than anyone else – and some of my biggest concerns in coming out fully surround other transpeople that I have felt would judge me for not acting sooner. This friend has really looked up to me as the “straight white ally” and has felt that if a “guy’s guy” like me can be open and supportive than anyone can. I worry about tarnishing that for him.

Two years ago, he sent me a throw away email wanting to learn more about our policies around transpeople as he was doing for the whole school. He had several meetings with clueless people who were severely uneducated about the topic and awkward in their response. In his mind, I had to be yet another waste of time that would further speak for how woefully under prepared we were. Usually guarded on these topics, something got into me. I responded with tremendous enthusiasm and told him how great it was that he was looking at this and how excited I was to talk with him about it. I didn’t know him well at the time but I could still tell he was skeptical about me when he came in – but then I blew him away.

I could speak his language. I could understand his concerns. I already had made policies and practices to support transpeople and make my area more gender inclusive. He was amazed at how well I spoke on it. I told him that people might not understand it from me, but it hits a lot closer to home than some people might expect. He left that meeting so thrilled that someone at the school got it. That he wasn’t alone in this. That there was opportunity to make a difference and to have someone in his corner not because they had to be but because they had educated themselves to think smarter – he just didn’t understand the scope and just how close it did hit me. I’ve felt that if I came out that it would let him down – that he would be disappointed that I wasn’t who he thought I was. When I read this though, I do feel like there is hope. Perhaps he could understand why I’ve chosen to live this way and why for me it just hasn’t been the right at this time and that I’m just not ready.

This is where the growth continues to come into place. I am so excited to be challenged to see where things may come and how I can keep working at finding my truths. I’ve been so fortunate to have had so much luck coming out to people but I have avoided him because I worried that it would upset him. Knowing that he can understand may change things and may ope up an incredible door. So excited to see where this takes me. The affirmation remains the same – I am valid, I am worthy, and I do matter.

❤ Ashlee


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