Mary Jo told me tonight that she’s having a hard time. Everything about me is changing, she said, literally everything. Isn’t anything going to be left from the person I married? She listed all the differences, and said that while none of them was especially traumatic in isolation, the combined effect is that it’s as if there’s a completely new person living in her house.

Take 100 variables (hair, face, boobs, dress, mannerisms, etc, etc), and tweak each one just a little bit. I think that’s what Mary Jo is getting at — it’s not that I’ve lost muscle mass, or that I shaved my beard off a year ago, or that I’m more emotional — at least none of them alone. But taken together, these 100 variables shifting slightly (or radically, in some cases) makes for a disconcerting, or even alarming, sense of change.

Humans are adaptable, yes, and we are familiar with the changes that living throws at us: accidents, diseases, divorces, changing political parties, finding religion, getting older and stiffer in the joints. We are also adaptable in dealing with changes that our friends undertake deliberately, like getting a new haircut or car, changing jobs, upgrading their wardrobes, going back to school.

Mary Jo is having trouble with the sheer volume of changes, all brought about by my crisis, and while I think it’s legitimate and necessary for me to take action to deal with my GID, it often feels as if I have picked a time to make it happen, almost as if I have chosen to rain down change upon my family and friends. It must feel like that to them, who have just learned about my gender dysphoria and are just beginning to get a grasp on it, and if I imagine how Mary Jo sees this transsexual transition, it’s easy for me to see how these myriad little changes, all happening at once, all happening through my intentional actions, seem overwhelming.

I don’t know what to say in response, what to do to soften the blow. Hell, I don’t even know if I recognize all of these changes the way Mary Jo does. For example, she says my hand gestures are different — if I focus on being very self-conscious and analytical, I might be aware of something different in my gestures, but I’m not sure, frankly. To (re)cognize differences, I first have to be aware of current actions, thoughts, and behaviors and then also have to be able to compare them to the same actions, thoughts, and behaviors from before the transition. As I’ve written elsewhere, it’s really hard for me to appreciate these differences, and if we extend the changes to include emotions, then I’m hopelessly stuck trying to remember how I felt about certain things in the past.

I think the best I can do is let Mary Jo grieve these changes, just as I grieve them, because I can’t control them, and I can’t go backwards, and I can’t change how she feels about the changes. I feel fairly helpless, which is par for the course, but a little ironic since I have recently been feeling decidedly empowered regarding my own life. It’s important to remember, for myself and all other transsexuals, that when we transition, all our loved ones are dragged into a transition of their own. Knowing how hard my transition has been (and continues to be), I can only imagine what it’s like for my family and friends.