Dee Culp

LIVING YOUR TRUTH: Introductions, questions, and the daily routine of a transgender woman

LIVING YOUR TRUTH: Introductions, questions, and the daily routine of a transgender woman
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This morning, like a lot of women, I got up, got dressed, put on some makeup, and ran out the door to get to work. It’s all just routine to me, now, but about a year ago, it was a struggle. I struggled to figure out clothes and makeup. I struggled to put it on correctly, and make sure it looked natural. I struggled to look the way I wanted, and I struggled just to see myself in the mirror without breaking into a cold sweat, worrying about what the world was going to see when they looked at me. I struggled as hard as I could to do what most women do effortlessly – look like a woman.

Don’t let Caitlyn Jenner fool you; you don’t just disappear for a month and come back with a new name, looking like a Hollywood bombshell on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine. Well, unless you have money, of course. The rest of us? We aren’t that lucky. We have to work incredibly hard.

Cue up “Eye of the Tiger,” roll the montage, attempt to condense a lifetime of experience as a woman into the span of a few months, and assimilate the lessons needed to be learned. A year later, my struggles are a little different – a testament to how that hard work paid off. I’m not struggling with the basics anymore, and I usually get the words “miss” and “ma’am” aimed my way when total strangers see me (along with “honey,” “dear,” and one I won’t mention, slung at me in a heated argument). I’m finally living my life as a woman, but only insofar as the world sees me as a woman. And that carries with it significant, new-to-me problems that have actually existed since the beginning of time – sexism and gender inequality. Yeah, for real… I left a world of patriarchy that demands I act like a man to live a world of patriarchy that demands I act like a woman. Where’s the middle ground? I don’t know, but we’ll save that for another post.

In the meantime, I’m happy to report that, despite whatever new struggles I must face, now, old ones I’ve carried with me my entire life are completely gone. I no longer struggle to accept myself. I no longer wonder, “Who am I?” I no longer feel inner turmoil as I try to reconcile the way I feel with the way I look. And best of all, I am no longer expected to like professional football. (I do still love hockey, though. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 4E <3) The hormone replacement therapy I've been undergoing, while giving me the desired physical traits of femininity, have also had the added benefit of allowing me to tap into feelings and emotions I couldn't before. I smile now. I laugh, I cry, I experience things in a much more visceral way. Where my world was always dull, flat, and gray, it's now full of wonder and dynamically vibrant. Life has new meaning, and new purpose. And what's more, I no longer feel like killing myself is the only way to release my pain. I have so many ways to release now, and it's beautiful. I am at peace. I am living my truth. I am watching the movie “Beaches” with a box of tissues and a pint of ice cream at least once a month.

Just kidding. I never really liked that movie.

What I cannot fail to acknowledge, however, is that there are so many of us out there who are not living their truth. They can’t, or they won’t. They’re afraid – and they have good reason to be afraid. I, too, struggle with fear and anxiety, but I’m hoping to change that. This column, Living Your Truth, is going to be about exactly that. And this isn’t just for transgender people; I’m including all of us within the LGBT+ community, because we all have to deal with inequality and acceptance. And while there are those who would love to separate the T (because sexuality and gender are not the same), I’m not going to go into that, because I also identify as lesbian… and I’ll let you figure out how that works for yourself. It’s complicated.

Be forewarned that I’m not a doctor, an expert, or even the smartest person when it comes to this stuff; I just happen to have a big mouth and want to use it to help as many people as I can. Therefore, take my advice with a grain of salt. Consult a professional when in doubt. And if it doesn’t feel right to you, don’t do it. If it’s right, you’ll know it, and the desire will build until it becomes something you must do.

Another thing I want to do with this column is to keep it fun, and what’s more fun than audience participation? Therefore, I’m using this platform to give readers a chance to ask questions – questions you’ve always wanted to know, but were too afraid to ask. Anything you want to know about being transgender (within reason) I will answer. But let’s keep it clean, OK? I am a lady. However, if it intrigues me enough, I’ll do my best to answer while explaining why it’s something you just don’t ask. And just to prove how fun this is, feel free to remain anonymous. Use names such as “Curious in Clarks Summit,” “Wondering in Wilkes-Barre,” “Heterosexual in Hazleton.” Whatever. There are a lot of things within the LGBT+ community that should be addressed. Let’s do it together!

In closing, I just want to remind you that your gender, your sexuality, and your life are not up for public debate or approval. Folks out there can spin pet theories as much as they like, and I’m sure if we hooked a generator up to them, all that spinning would easily generate the 1.21 gigawatts needed to travel back in time and fix all the problems, all the hurdles, and all the fears that were keeping us from coming out. But you know what? We can’t go back, and even if we could, going back and fixing the past doesn’t say as much about us as what we do with the rest of our lives. As a wise man once said, we have to think a lot about the future, because that’s where we’re going to be living someday.

Living Your Truth is a weekly column about the empowerment that comes from being true to your authentic self. It focuses on the LGBT community in NEPA and the news and events that impact it.

  • Agent_J

    You go, sister!

    I’m glad so much has changed there. I tried to start my transition in Scranton in the summer of 1994 and things went horribly as soon as I got to the therapist’s office.