If it’s not dread I’m feeling, then it must be something really similar to dread because I don’t really want to have to go through with coming out and transitioning. I realize it must be difficult for an outside observer to understand. After all, doesn’t the transsexual want to change? Hasn’t the transsexual always wanted to be a woman?

There is a difference in wanting to be something and wanting to go through the trouble of getting there. If I had my way, one day, we’d all wake up and I would have always been female, married with the same children, holding the same job, living in the same house, and basically living the same life. Everyone would only know that version of reality and wouldn’t have the foggiest idea that there was an alternate reality where I am male because it never would have happened.

I would hope that most people can understand this mindset because it’s a common thing, wishful thinking: “I wish I were 20 pounds lighter” — ” I wish I weren’t so short”

Of course, that’s not how things work, is it? We don’t magically “lose” 20 pounds; we have to work hard, diet, exercise and change our self-perceptions in order to make that weight-loss happen.

A sex change isn’t like changing your political party or losing weight. It involves a lot of painful self-seeking, visits to doctors, laser hair removal, embarrassing disclosures, and so on. Since you’re proposing to change a fundamental (and very visible) aspect of yourself, everyone will notice when you change. Everyone will have to know, in fact. They will “have” to know not only because of obvious things they can see with their eyes, but they will “have” to know by virtue of needing to understand whether their relationships have changed with you. In other words, for a variety of reasons, everyone you already know must be told, even if you don’t want to tell.

For me, what I don’t want to do is open myself up to this kind of disclosure. I like to keep things to myself and this requirement to be an open book simply feels both terribly wrong and horribly frightening. I can see where young transsexuals would prefer stealth over public transition, as stealth affords you the ability to start over. But if stealth would cause you to lose your life, job, and friends, that sort of strategy simply isn’t possible.

As I reflect on this discomfort, I realize that I am mostly aftaid of being vulnerable of having to sit as judged by people. I’ve been independent, distant from this sort of openness for so long that I think it’s a lot scarier than chancing sex.

Is that an odd realization for me to have? I don’t want to minimize how big changing sex is (or seems to me most of the time), but look, I’m doing just fine right now, and this stage involves medicine, doctors, therapists, etc. In other words, it’s not that I’m afraid of taking action, as I seem to be able to do that.

And honestly, although I’ve been telling Mary Jo and myself (and you, dear reader) that I really don’t want to have to disclose my GID and plans for transition, that I’d do just about anything to avoid doing it, the disclosures do get easier the more people I tell. Talking to my most recent doctors was nothing like my first visit to Dr. Clinton, which almost killed me in embarrassment. So yes, it’s hard, but not insurmountable.

I think I’m actually afraid of rejection–by family, friends, and society. I’m afraid of being mocked, laughed at, gossiped about, pointed at. I’m terrified of not being accepted, which is precisely what I’ve worked all my life to insulate myself against. I’m afraid everyone will finally know I was a fraud all along.

I’ve been afraid of similar things all my life. Afraid of speaking up in class for fear of being discovered. Fear of playing music for people for fear of not being good enough. So I’ve worked privately, secretly, to be smart, musical, or whatever other area of insecurity I have in order to avoid those embarrassing disclosures. But here’s the perverse part: having formed a solid intellectual base, having honed my musical skills, I withhold them from others because I don’t want them to have the satisfaction and I think I will still be judged.

Why this fear? Is it related to GID, or is it just me? Is it a defense mechanism I developed in response to my fathre’s constant criticism?

What would happen if I let go of the fear?

I think it’s time to confront the fact that my father really made it hard for me to develop. I believe that these issues of fear, of withholding love and music and opinions, probably stem from my reaction to unrelenting mental and verbal abuse and pressure during my formative years.

Everyone could see it, but did nothing. Did everyone just figure it would make me tough like the Boy Named Sue? Did they think it was normal for a little boy to be hounded every day? Did I think it was normal?

Damn it. It’s one thing to be proud of your history and heritage and tell stories of family feats — I’ve done it all my life and I was raised where it was done all the time. But not to be able to confront the pain, to feel as if it’s all ok and that you can’t react to it without feeling like a betrayer simply isn’t right.

How can you assess a person like your father honestly, seeing both the good and the bad? Maybe I don’t need to assess — maybe I just need to respond, to write to my parents, to talk with my living relatives about the pain in the family.

My mother could see the happy little boy slowly getting crushed, turned into a withdrawn, depressed, isolated person, but she did nothing. Where does “Stand by your Man” turn into enablement and collusion?