Sometimes that ‘On this Date’ app on facebook can wake you up a bit to your own progress and growth in some areas. I found this post below from 5 years ago about Jason Collins, who was the first NBA player – and first active player in the 4 main sports – to come out, and reflect back on the impact that had on me as someone who has been more of a jock their whole lives. I’ve always struggled to meet people who I felt like I could relate to and who had a similar journey to mine but this one was very similar. This one was inspiring and this was something that I could take something from.
On this day I saw someone who I could relate to finding a lot of love and support. Some people were shocked at the news but ultimately just wanted him to be happy. I found myself in a state of regret and wish that I had done something sooner and lived things on my own terms – unfortunately, I still find the same to be true today. I was excited and hoped this may start a bit of a new normal but things have kind of died down and there hasn’t been much progress in professional sports. However, while we haven’t seen more athletes come out I would tend to think that people have continued to become more open and accepting. People are champions for equality and there is a lot of optimism that people can be accepted. Can I find my way?
I’d think that Ashlee from 5 years ago would be so impressed by where we are at today? She asked the question “Is it possible for me to be supported as Ashlee?” and I have found that to absolutely be true. People who have known me for 10-15 years have expressed that they no longer look at me as a guy and only think of me as Ashlee. Others have said they barely recognize me as a guy now because they are so used to seeing the pictures of Ashlee. They’re so used to that because I’m finally finding a way to prioritize myself. Finding a way to make Ashlee important and to not allow myself to get bogged up in all of the reasons why I shouldn’t do it and to embrace the reasons I should.
The jock role will always be a part of me. I will always have that history in me. This post has reminded me what is possible. What can be done and the way that we can inspire. There is a lot of good ahead.
“Hey Ashlee! Thinking of you! Have a wonderful day!!”
Those words came from a friend that I have know for 10 years. Just a few months ago if you asked her about me she would have thought about my connection with football or my work in the gym. She would have thought of me as a jock – the typical guy’s guy. Recently, I came out to her and told her about Ashlee. She was shocked and became even more shocked when she saw pictures of me for the first time and saw a beautiful woman. She could see my truest self in those pictures. She was touched that I felt comfortable to talk with her about this and as I allowed my guard to let down a little she was able to see how tortured I had been but now that I was letting my true self shine just how beautiful i really was. Recently, she shared that she realized that she just thinks of me as Ashlee – and when we talk that is who she pictures. We may communicate mostly through my male accounts which can show my guy side but she sees the person I am in my heart. When she thinks of me she thinks of my as Ashlee – the woman that she has known for a few weeks and not the guy that she has know for 10 years. It’s all about the heart.
When I’ve thought about transition this was always one of my biggest hang ups. I live such a ‘guy’s guy’ life that I often wonder how people are supposed to take me seriously as a woman. It’s been a place of shame and feelings that I could never be accepted. I’ve been very lucky to meet friends as Ashlee and it always felt that is where it needed to stay. Those that met me as Ashlee would know me as Ashlee and those that would know me as a guy would know me that way. They couldn’t see otherwise. But now, perhaps they can.
One of the beautiful things about where our society is headed is that many people can appreciate diversity and inclusion. We can open our mind to other people’s experiences and work to validate them. It may be coming slow but it’s coming and we see it in our young people better than ever. I am lucky to have friends that have always viewed me in a positive light but may have felt like something was missing as if they weren’t getting the true story. Now many of them are. They are seeing the truest piece of me and they are seeing my thrive. They are seeing me comfortable and genuinely happy. What is better than that?
We all need more kindness and love in the world and I am so proud to find my path to put this out there. My role is important. I have been able to start conversations with people about gender that never would have considered those issues and never understood the struggle. They are the people that are looking to learn more and become better allies and supports. That kind of work helps others and makes it easier for other people to come out. I am so proud when people share that they are learning more about gender and that their perceptions have changed after talking more with me about it. It’s a great way to contribute to the cause.
At the end of the day, I think we all crave to know we matter. That we are valid. That we count. It’s amazing to finally get that recognition and know that the opportunity is out there. No matter what path I go, I have options to be great. It’s an exciting thing.
Like much of New England, I found myself buried with a snow day today. The snow has been steadily coming down since 5am and I spent much of the day getting out to explore the woods and spent my night sipping on host chocolate.
These days get to be incredible to get out and be one with nature. It allows for a personal reflection and s chance to just be. Walking through the woods and down by the river makes me think back to tougher times and how far I’ve come. It’s a wonderful feeling of empowerment and success. A full heart.
I credited an amazing friend for starting me into this blog. I had been journaling through difficult things for some time on my own but this was my first time putting thing in an online forum. She has invited me to join an online prompt discussion over the next 30 days to work the path of self discovery. When I saw some of the prompts I was taken back and brought to tears just thinking about some answers. I am so thrilled to take the challenge and see what truly comes up in my own self reflection and how my gender identity issues play out so deeply with everything.
Looking forward to the journey and to see where this all takes me. I’m at such a transformational time in my life right now and my life could go in 100 different directions. This could be the first step for the rest of my life in hopes to find my true happiness. So much good ahead.