Dead. I do so wish there was a more appropriate word. Asleep seems to fall far short. I have be dead for most of my life, if not for the entire span. Recently, I feel as if I was able to take my first breath. The relief has been somewhat overwhelming. I try to not use clichés such as being born or resurrected. But just like “dead”, sometimes there are simply no other choices to describe a situation or emotion. Here is my opportunity to truly introduce myself and to lay to rest the ghost of my former self.
Lilith is an old name. Several legends abound of its origins. My favorite is a tale from the Jewish Torah. I am not a person of faith but this story resonated with me. This is the way I understood it. It is a tale of the Garden of Eden. Lilith was Adam’s original wife. She was not made from Adam but alongside him. His supposed equal. That was until it came to sex and she would not submit to him. Adam pleads to God so she is banished from the garden. Eve is then created from one of Adam’s ribs so she could be his bitch. We all know how well those circumstances ended. As for Lilith, she becomes the mother of demons.
Lilith is my name. This has been in secret for some time now. until I decided it was time to stop hiding. I am a trans woman. I made an attempt at being a man. That was a ghost of a person. A shell to hide the corpse underneath. When the corpse began to move, the shell cracked. The carapace is stubborn, though. It is no longer needed but refuses to molt so it can be scraped away. So I am now alive but invisible. I continue to be masked by the husk I wore for most of my life. There are fragments that slowly fall by the wayside. Others will need to be cut away. And the time is torture.
In a much less colorful language, I am transitioning. I am going from something physiologically closer to a male to being as close as possible to physically female. A process which is lengthy and expensive but necessary. Adding to this is that being transgender is an identity that some have a difficult time grasping. Wrapping their head around the concept is complicated. This took me about 33 years to accept and I am the person experiencing this turmoil. People, in a generalized sense, never have to look into a mirror and just feel wrong.
There are so many facets to why being transgender is difficult. Some of those on the outside say this is a choice. Suffice it to say, this is not anything I would wish on my worst enemy. I tried and failed on several occasions to prove that I was insane because it would be easier than dealing with the havoc rained down. Please do not interpret my statement as downplaying the difficulty of a mental illness. If anyone or anyone they love has experienced one firsthand then they know there is nothing easy about them. They can be managed in most cases, though, with either medications or therapy. There is no medication that can help control the way someone like me feels. There are constant reminders of what you are mentally and what you are physically. You feel ridiculous because simple pronouns sting. In your head, you keep telling yourself it is a word and there is no reason it should upset you. But it does.
On top of that is the risks that come with the hormones and any surgeries. I have an increased risk of certain cancers. The hilarious irony is that my body produces very low amounts testosterone. Doctors cannot understand why. That means that its an “either/or” for me. Estrogen or Testosterone. I tried testosterone but it made me so angry that I was afraid of losing my job. But I have to take one hormone or I run the risk of bone diseases like osteoporosis. Estrogen does not make me irritable but I do cry on a regular basis. That is not a bad thing for me. And surgeries are surgeries. I am having part of my body sliced open and sewn together in an attempt to feel normal. Not for anyone else but myself. The recovery takes time and I not only take a risk with my life, I risk losing the ability to orgasm.
Accepting I am transgender meant I had to accept that relationships would change and some would end. At the time of writing this I am currently married. Krystal, my wife, is my biggest supporter and advocate. She pushes me to do the little things that scare me like makeup. I am surprisingly good at it. Our relationship has changed. We are separated and are more like best friends than spouses. My younger sister does not understand but she also does not judge. My brother took some convincing but did not believe me at first. My mother , to paraphrase, called me an abomination and disowned me. There are so many other people who have given nothing but support and acceptance. I have been bracing for the fallout because of how wonderful people have been since I have come out.
The hardest part for others that have known me for years is that I am essentially killing their husband, brother, son, or friend. Most of those people will go through some sort of grieving process. The difficulty is in explaining how this is not accurate. I am not dying. They are not losing anyone. I am still the same person People are now able to see the real me. I’m not changing all that much except appearance and being hormonal. Their perception of me is what is evolving. This hurts some to hear because it means that I have been lying to people for decades. I was a wife, not a husband. I was a sister, not a brother. I was a daughter, not a son. But I do have to kill that persona. So I want to take a moment to say something to Matthew before I let him go forever.
I sometimes say I hate you. That I wish I could go on and kill you. That isn’t true. I’m angry at myself because you were stronger. You carried me until I could carry myself. It hurts how much I want people to forget you, although, I know they never will. Part of me will always live in your shadow. Everyday, more and more, I’m becoming OK with that. If it was not for you, I would not have survived. You protected me as much as you could a soul as fragile as mine. I know you wish you could have done more for those you loved but I needed you. I am strong now. I will survive all of the heartache I am expecting. So rest knowing that you did what you could and I forgive the things you couldn’t. You have earned your peace I have everything from here.