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Cranking open the closet door

I sometimes sit and wonder where life's journey has taken me and where it might be taking me next.

I'll be honest, I've spent an enormous part of my life suppressing my dysphoria and there has been, I think, three factors in that happening. Three factors that have, in fairly short order, become less impactful or relevant.

The first is my family. I come from a family of, basically, Irish-heritage miners and construction workers, basically salt of the earth types. Strong masculine world, with strong opinions that are strongly held. I was afraid of disappointing that world, but as I've gotten older, and I've seen the damage of those strong opinions, I find myself not really caring anymore. I think a fairly decent number may well disown me, so be it, that can't be the reason I hold back anymore.

Now, what gets interesting about my family is my parents... Ask me this question when I was a teenager and I would have said my Mom was the open, liberal one. Now? Oh no, that's my Dad. I actually dread the conversation to be had with my Mom, no concerns with my Dad. My therapist was rather surprised by that.

The second factor is safety. That has a few aspects of it, but it comes down to the feeling that I could safely transition and be able to chase my dreams and feel secure. I grew up a child of Toronto's low-income housing world and so I got to see the many extremes and, I'll be honest, the idea that I might end up back there absolutely terrified me. That's a reality we face, the economic disadvantages and discrimination towards our community is enormous and cannot be ignored. I'd be lying if that wasn't in my thoughts over many years.

So, what changed? I'm in a place where I don't feel that fear anymore. I work for a company that has significant support groups, has transgender employees, and actively supports transgender causes. That is powerful. I see a member of our HR team with a "Trans rights now" sticker on her coffee mug and I truly believe that my company would support me. That's safety.

The final factor is my partner. We've been together for 22 years and we started dating when I was really just starting to push on my gender boundaries. I fell head over heels, she was so supportive of my gender quest, and yet she was definitely not a lesbian. So there was a strong part of me that wanted to find a balancing point that would give me both.

On the weekend, she said to me that she would be incredibly disappointed and unhappy if the reason that I didn't put my feet on the path was because of her. That's the classic, really, truly, idea of if you love someone, set them free.

As I mentioned previously, there were some triggers in my life that really served to undermine my suppression of my dysphoria, but having these factors addressed served to ensure that this time, finally, I wouldn't just return to suppression.


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