Tuesday, August 9, 2016

My Great Journey Part 9

My Great Journey Part 9

It Was Supposed to be This Way

As I wind down from my first time at Gender Odyssey I have been doing a lot of reflection, and I wanted to share some thoughts.

I was out taking a walk this morning, and as I was jamming to rock from the 1970s and 1980s I was doing a lot of reflection, as I have been the last few days.  My head has been spinning, due to the absolutely amazing wonderful experience that was Gender Odyssey 2016, (GO) coupled with the knowledge that I would be coming to San Jose CA on conclusion, to say goodbye to my dying mother.  This couplet has created some intense emotions for me, so this walk was very therapeutic.
I had a huge “aha moment” during my walk - my life was supposed to turn out this way!  I am now around one year into gender transition, and it has been the most amazing year of my life. It has been made even better, by having my wonderful wife of almost 33 years by my side.  Yet, I’ve had some “woulda coulda thoughts” too…
In Olympia, as well as at GO, I have seen younger transpeople from as young as 3 years old, to young adults. I have been so happy for them that they can be their true selves at such young ages.  I have also felt a lot of envy for them. This isn’t fair to them - it’s my bag and I have to deal with it.
But I also realize that for me, transitioning at that age would probably not have been possible.  As I’ve written before, I wasn’t really conscious of being trans, even though the signs were there, when I was younger. But - what if I had been?
My family had no money, and healthcare insurance didn’t exist back then - gender transitioning is very expensive, and there wouldn’t have been a way to pay for  it.  
Also, my father was a very difficult man, and I doubt he would have been able to support me emotionally, let alone physically or financially.  So I would have been a trans-statistic. Either a street person or dead.  Thank God I’m not!
As an adult, the first time I really had a plan was when I went to Grad School and Seminary after I retired from the Navy.  I was already in my 40’s when I started, and then my disability kicked in, so I ended up not being able to work as a rabbi and chaplain; the work I loved so much.  So, I reinvented myself as as counselor volunteering for non-profit agencies when I could.
Then Rona popped up her head, and I started figuring her out, ultimately leading to July 15, 2015, when I started some private transitioning work.  While I came out on my birthday, I was already Rona in various ways.  I count July 15 as my “tranniversary”.  
But, why do I say it had to be this way?  Because I am extremely blessed and fortunate.  Despite my physical issues, and despite my sadness right now, I am extremely privileged as a Transwoman. I am white, so I don’t have the danger and issues that Trans People of Color face just surviving.  I am financially secure, so I can have anything I want in my transition. I have a loving wife, a house, and food. I want for essentially nothing.
So I give in ways that I can, being a counselor for veterans having coping issues, and being a Trans Lifeline (www.translifeline.org) lead operator and counselor for operators.  I do support work for people in my communities, locally and online. At GO, in addition to being a participant, I presented a workshop, whose video is found at https://www.facebook.com/genderodyssey/videos/10154417811932718
and I did lots of counseling and other work with people at GO.  
I am so excited about my life.  Are there trans things I wish I could do? Sure - but then I’m a 56 year old married, monogamous rabbi, so lots of them are just not appropriate for my life.  But, it had to be this way, and I wouldn’t change it for the world...

Rabbah Rona Matlow, MAJEd, MAJS, MEM © 2016

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