picture coming out. the traditional setting. walking up to your parents and saying “mom, dad, i’m gay.” and whatever ensues, whether it’s “no son of mine” or “no matter what.”

now imagine you have to do it for months continuously in front of everyone in your entire life all at the same time and spend tens of thousands of dollars to do it. and the longer it goes on, the harder it is to hide.

transition is a scary word, innit?

the end result is seductive, of course. finally getting to feel good about my own body, hot damn. scratching a long lingering itch. take some drugs, get cut open in thailand, voila. it’s all legitimate and real and tangible and hearts and unicorns. it’s not real until the almighty gatekeeper tells you it is.

at the risk of sounding corny, i much prefer the term journey to transition. transition has so much baggage, such a strong narrative that it’s become toxic. maybe you sound like a space cadet when you call it a journey, but it’s more inclusive, more personal, and you don’t have to do anything that you’re “supposed” to.

my journey involved years of denial, on and off cross dressing, crying at a roller derby bout, dating a lady who saw me as a girl first, contemplating names, performing fiona apple and tlc at karaoke en femme, wearing skirts and getting an undercut, counseling others, writing policy, getting interviewed, talking about pronouns, consulting and blogging. lots of steps towards womanhood and i’m on the cusp of something even greater that excites me to no end. is that a transition? transition implies i know where i’m headed, but journey says i’m free to discover and experiment and find my own path to gender enlightenment.

when i do something to legitimize my gender identity that makes me so excited i can barely hold it in, it’s as important and meaningful a change as any, but it’s not a transition. it’s a journey. transition says you were one thing and now you’re another thing. but i’m just me, and i’m doing so many things to make my journey worthwhile. maybe i will be the other thing someday. but my whole life has been one gradual transition towards that thing, and i’m gonna keep transitioning until i die.

i am already 27 years into my transition. that’s a lot less scary.