I am writing this blog post to talk about a very different topic from others I’ve addressed in my blog in the past. This post is to come out as a Transgender Woman, or simply a Transwoman.
As of today, I am now going by Rona Blossom Matlow, and my correct pronouns are she/her/hers.
I have had gender dysphoria my entire life, of course, but was unaware of all the signs that have been there all along.
Some who are close to me have expressed various negative feelings and concerns about my transition. I want to reassure you that as I transition, I am still me. I am not rejecting anyone or anything from my past. What I AM doing, is shedding the toxins in my life, both physical and mental, by taking this new journey. My family are still my family, and I am still theirs, nothing changes in this, except my identity, which has been hidden from myself and everyone else for 55 years.
I am very excited about this new journey which I am undertaking. I know that many people I know will respond in varied ways. Some have congratulated me, others responded with numb shock, others tried to convince me I’m wrong. The reality is that while this is a scary voyage – a journey into the unknown, it is the CORRECT journey for me to be taking.
I am also very grateful that my wife, my best friend, my life partner of almost 32 years, Susan (Kuke in Hawaiian, as I call her) is staying with me and supporting me through this. While she has a number of fears (which is quite NORMAL) we have been discussing this all year, and she is coming to terms with it. We have even joked about things like sharing clothes or matching outfits…
My awakening came earlier this year, through the fortunate event of getting a new pain physician. This doctor is much more conservative with pain medications, and through his guidance, I reduced and ultimately eliminated my need for continuous high dosage pain killers. Along the way, I began to understand a lot more about myself, leading to the realization, or “coming out to myself” that I am a transgender person.
People with dysphoria have myriad different paths to understanding themselves. When we do come to realize what is going on, the paths to wholeness are also varied – as many as there are people, or to quote the Torah, as many as the sands of the shore, or the stars of the sky…
While many people are able to come out to themselves and others at an early age, others, like me, don’t have this realization until later in life; in my case, at 55 years of age. Many can act on their dysphoria. Others, sadly, do not have the resources, or support systems, to become their true selves. One of the biggest hurdles transgender people face is the complete lack of knowledge in the general world, about dysphoria and transgender issues.
It is my hope that this blog post will help people understand my transition, and perhaps, to understand gender dysphoria and being a transgender person more fully.
The signs of my dysphoria have been there my entire life; I just didn’t really know what they all meant. These include things such as going all the way back to an early age.
· I’ve often felt more comfortable in activities and roles that are socially considered female, and uncomfortable in those considered male.
· I have never felt comfortable with saying “I am a man…”
· I have always been uncomfortable, to the extent even of great dislike, of my genitalia, and wishing they were gone.
· I have dabbled in cross-dressing, even as a teen, although I never knew what it meant.
· Socially, I’ve always connected with women much better than men, and most of my great friends have been women.
· I have a number of body characteristics that are more female than male, and do not have a visible Adam’s Apple.
· There are many other factors and experiences in my life; these are just a few highlights.
As things became clear to me this year, all of these signs and more began to really make sense to me. I should note that these are my experiences. Those of other transgender people will, of course, be very different. My list is not definitive of any transgender person other than myself.
This work is not in any way normative or complete. Rather, in this work, I am discussing my journey, and issues which are important to me. I should note that in addition to the support of my wife, and many colleague rabbis, I would like to thank the Olympia, WA Transgender Advocacy Group (TAG) for welcoming me into their fold. The love and support that they have given me, has enabled me to find a new home, both personally and professionally.
In addition, for military and veterans confronting Transgender and other LGTBQ issues, I commend SPART*A http://www.spartapride.org/ as a safe place to discuss your issues and get support. Facebook has a huge community of military/veteran transgender people, including a closed group for SPART*A at https://www.facebook.com/groups/126221791068580/. In addition, www.Rallypoint.com, the military private social media community, has a number of openly serving active duty personnel and veterans (including myself) along with others who are not out yet. All these groups require membership, and Rallypoint requires sponsorship by another military person or veteran.
I welcome all feedback, but I ask that things remain polite and friendly…