Boxes

A Transgender Article by Brianna Austin

Fear can singularly be the most debilitating emotion we as humans experience. And, to bare one’s soul may be the most frightening of all human endeavors. Fear is instinctive. We sense it when we are in immediate danger. But what about long term danger, do we sense that? For most of my 47 years, my life was molded by a quiet, undetectable force of expectation – both my own and others. Are the goals we strive for really our own? How do we know? And, what if you dream of what your life should be, only to wake up one day to find out that what you’re living is not it? Can you change who you are, should you?

I’ve been transgender since  – well, long before I ever knew what that meant. Slowly, I’ve come to learn what certain meanings represented, only to realize that being transgender means much more than the box people tried to get me into. After a lifetime of internal conflict, I began to recognize certain truths that were about to change my life in profound ways. Like many, my wanting to experience “being” a girl, was overwhelming – compulsive, a need I had to fulfill. The word “compulsive,” conjures up images of someone out of control. It screams of Anthony Perkins in psycho: a schizophrenic who can’t control the demons within. But the truth is, for most of my life crossdressing was compulsive. But, rather than releasing the raging demon within, it brought out a fun-loving, happy, free spirit, and I found a sense of balance in the process. The “box” that the media built, didn’t represent me. In more recent years I transcended the act of dressing and simply lived how I felt from day to day, androgynous much of the time.

After decades of repeat and purge, I first began to actually think about and understand elements of what I was struggling with. The fear had subsided, and with it came a clarity that was just as overwhelming as crossdressing at an early age was. Over the years four questions kept coming to mind:

  1. What would it be like to be a girl,
  2. Could I become a girl,
  3. Would I prefer to be a girl, and
  4. Should I be a girl

For a group of people (TGs) that don’t completely understand themselves, it would be almost impossible for outsiders to accurately identify and define the varied characteristics from one group to another. But yet, they try. I referred to myself for years as a drag queen, ignorant of what that really meant, and that the label was inaccurate. As we entered the new millennium, there are now so many boxes to choose from: transvestite, drag queen, crossdresser, she-male, transsexual, t-girl, and the all-inclusive transgender. Boxes, boxes and more boxes – are any of them accurate? They seem to be a double-edged sword. For some they serve as a beacon of light to lost souls in search of a safe haven of like-minded individuals, while at the same time they divide, isolate and confuse others.

I was in Boston, covering the Tiffany Club’s First Event Convention, when I became engaged in conversation with a young, handsome and outgoing F > M transsexual named Robbie. I learned that Robbie avoided discussions about sports with other F > M transsexuals. He never liked sports growing up, yet all the transsexuals he knew, did.  “Maybe I don’t fit into this group,” he thought – because the description on the box didn’t fit. It would be logical that many M > F transgenders (a catch all name) experience this as well. They want to belong somewhere, and if the group has a slightly different identity, they disguise or hide it. How sad is it that people can come out, only to still be in hiding.

Do you have the courage to pursue who you should be, rather than who you could be? Knowing who you want to be, and who you should be, are not necessarily the same thing. That distinction may reveal itself in the final leg of the discovery journey. But in finding yourself, you have to consider many things. I once gave a piece of advise to my friend’s daughter, who was just entering NYU as a freshman. I told her, “Find your passion – that in which you enjoy the process as much as the result. Then, find the core of who you are and fulfill your life outward from there.” U Thant, co-founder of the United Nations, was once quoted as saying, “You can’t know how you want to live your life until you know how you want to be remembered.”  So, how do you want to be remembered?

In trying to discover who you are and what you’re about, are boxes helpful, or do they pigeon hole us in the eyes of the mainstream, and each other? Feel free to write me and let me know what you think. brianna@briannaaustin.bigstep.com or post at http://groups.yahoo.com/brieannaaustin

Brianna Austin is a contributing writer at TGGuide, Transgender Forum, TG Community News, Lady Like Magazine, the NY columnist for Girl Talk Magazine, and editor of Girls Club Reporter. This article is Published on TGGuide.com with express permission of the Author. Brianna operates web sites at: www.briannaaustin.com or www.tglife.com.

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