Authenticity, Compassion and Gratitude.
Living authentically, what I strive for every day, is what I seek to communicate both as a trainer/speaker and as a human.
Listeners quickly understand that my voice–which I’ve often described as my Achilles Heel–is still far deeper than what I desire. At some of my talks, I say nothing until I’m introduced; audience members only see a fairly attractive sixtyish woman sitting close to the person giving the introduction. I then stand and say, “Good morning,” and watch as faces react to the disconnect between voice and appearance.
That’s my first lesson about living as a transgender person–many of us are square pegs in round holes.
Simply put, trans people are “other” in our society.
The incongruity between my appearance and voice is also a lesson about inclusivity: that humans are wired to group and label other humans. When audience members react to my voice not matching my appearance, I remind that the “thing going on in your brain right now” is the fight or flight response kicking in.
Being “other” often produces fear in those who are not “other.”
Living authentically takes resiliency and strength. The payoff is the comfort of understanding that there are no more hidden compartments, no more lying to one’s self, and no more shame about being true to yourself.
I learned all of that in accepting myself as a woman born into a male body. I then transitioned genders so that my brain matched my body.
“Compassion” is something else I talk about at great length–for others and for ourselves. As a society, we don’t use or hear the word “compassion” nearly enough. Often, we don’t even understand what it means to have compassion for others. Moreover, the loss of compassion almost always means a loss of dignity to someone else.
I aim to change that.
One of the critical things I learned as I traveled on my “gender journey” is the need for self-compassion–understanding that some things in life aren’t capable of being “choices.” With a great deal of personal work, I learned that “gender” wasn’t something I could choose. The same is true for one’s sexuality, one’s penchant for the arts, whom we love, and a host of other things relative to the Human Condition. Giving ourselves a break and quieting the inner critic should be at the top of everyone’s list.
It’s only after we have compassion for ourselves that we can truly have compassion for others. It doesn’t work any other way.
Finally, there’s gratitude. I try to live with gratitude every day–it helps to keep me grounded and motivated to push onward. And push I will.
Do these sound like lessons that everyone–transgender or not–might find of value?
Now you understand my approach.