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Happy to Leave 2022 Behind

We're on the cusp of a new year and as I look back at 2022, I am really happy to be leaving it behind.

For me, the highs and lows of the year swung really wide, lacking a feeling of balance, in a world where my community had been under constant attack from bigots on the Left and the Right. In a general sense, it wasn't just the usual extreme right wing pundits spouting lies and mistruths about the trans community, we also saw it from the traditional left wing. 

In the USA, the New York Times joined the parade of bigotry, publishing intensely biased hit pieces on the community, especially aimed at trans youth, already extremely vulnerable and at risk. We're on the cusp of a deep tragedy in many parts of the US as all of us know the outcome of denying trans youth access to critical care. Make no mistake, this is a feature to these people, this the outcome they actually desire. These are policies driven by hate and the effect has been clear and tragic.

In the UK, almost all of the media has been engaged in a daily propaganda war against the trans community. Daily. As in several articles a day attacking trans people, trans care, and trans rights. The outcome has been inevitable, with the very same media reporting on the severe mental health issues now being faced by trans people as they faced a year of noticeably increased hate-driven violence.

Here in Canada, the state of affairs has been much less virulent, but not absent. From attempts to stack transphobes on school boards (mostly a failure) to threats of violence against the LGBTQ+ community. Much of this is spillover from the same south of the border, but some is home grown, mostly coming out of the west. 

Against this backdrop was my year. 

It started off with the sale of my house in January. A very difficult experience for me, having lived there for 20 years, the longest I had ever lived anywhere. The house had symbolized at a lot for me, but the biggest was that I made it out. I grew up in the metro housing complexes of Toronto, geared-to-income rental spaces with high crime, lots of hopelessness, and a system that was essentially designed to keep you there. I got out and, in many ways, the house symbolized my success in doing that. Letting go of that symbol hurt a lot and did not set my year up well.

Friends and I, through the support of Toronto Pflag, got a trans feminine and non-binary support group off the ground. What a huge win as we closed a gaping support hole for the community left by the 519 being forced to close their support meeting by the pandemic. Along the way, this year, we have helped many trans people begin and manage their journey and that has been a big deal. It's also got me connected into the larger Toronto Pflag support for families and that has been a significant lift to my heart.

In March, as part of an event celebrating Women's History Month in the US, I got an opportunity to close out the the events at work in a keynote fireside chat with Michaela JaƩ Rodriguez. Just the two of us, on screen, talking about her career, her journey, and her life as a trans woman in the public eye. A little bit of history being made here with two trans women closing out Women's History Month and it was truly a powerful moment of inclusion for me.

In the spring, my doctor announced that she was closing her practice. Even in Canada, where access to gender affirming care is better (not good, better) than many places, news like this will panic you. My doctor was much younger than me, I thought I was in a great position for many years to come, but no, I was suddenly scrambling to get a doctor that would continue to support my journey. Fortunately, I was able to secure a new doctor, very close by, with her support, but to say I was in a panic was an understatement. I was deeply scared. I cannot go back now.

In April, I was asked to be a hostess for the middle day of my company's massive Women in Tech Experience event. It's a three day event of speakers, workshops, and virtual parties all designed to help grow and elevate women technologists. Being asked to be a key participant was an incredible moment for me. It was also really scary!

Pride was a great experience. The last time I celebrated Pride, as me, was 21 years ago when I was living downtown. It was different this time, I am fully me in all senses, no longer hidden from the world, and that was a big deal. It was also my first anniversary of legally becoming me, so exciting on many fronts. It was an exhausting weekend, but an incredible one. The Trans March, in particular, was a balm to my heart that I hadn't known I needed. Seeing the supporters on the side of the road brought me to tears. It mattered.

Late in the summer I finally got confirmation from the Ministry of Health that my GCS funding request was approved and that my paperwork had been sent off to Montreal. Wow, talk about taking you into the clouds, I was riding that high in a serious way. Finally, my chance to be whole was really in front of me, really feeling real. That didn't last.

After I filled in the ancillary paperwork from the clinic, I get a call from the nurse to inform me that they were missing my supporting letters. "Don't panic," she says as I panicked. Of course I did. Here I am, riding a massive high and it's being snatched away. Weeks of scrambling and anxiety later, I finally discover that my clinic had the wrong fax number and we got the documents needed into the hands of the clinic in Montreal. The frustrating thing, for me, is by the time I am there, the requirements for two letters will be down to one. I feel like I was put through a wringer that didn't need to happen. Ontario does not fund without those letters.

Around the same time as I am scrambling to get my support letters sorted out, I did genetic testing for a mutation in the BRCA2 gene which influences your risk for several cancers, including breast cancer. As fate would have it, I tested positive. I recognize that my risk profile is very different than that of cis women who started breast development as a teenager rather than as a 50-something woman, but understand that a lifelong goal to be here suddenly also felt in jeopardy. That was two in a row all around the same time. I honestly don't know how I kept it together in that window, but somehow I did. Maybe. I may not be the best judge of that.

The fall started to get better for me. Part of that was a function of a renewed focus on my own mental health. There are many support demands on me, from the local community to the community at work. When the shooting happened at Club Q, in Colorado, many at work turned to me to help understand. I asked myself, in those moments, when do I get to cry? This is why I need to refocus my energy on my own well-being. I cannot help anyone if I am in such need. 

I have made my self-care a priority. So, for me, I renewed my long-held interest in Witchcraft and ignited my journey there by changing my space, reading, listening, and really beginning to get a better feel for my connection to the greater world and the universe around it. I honestly don't know where it will take me, but already my space is more peaceful and more me than it has been since I moved in. I had filled my space rather than created it. Now I have created it and it feels amazing. Our spaces matter.

Interspersed throughout this year have been some grounding things such as helping people at work in their journey either through direct support or by the work that my partner and I have done in the context of our work resource group. I got to start playing D&D again, with an amazing group of trans and queer people, and it's been a lot of fun adventuring along the Sword Coast. It's been so long. I've also been able to just hang out, experiment with hair colour, and go shopping. I long for more of just that!

There was much positive in 2022, but so much that was harmful, frightening, stressful, and alarming as well. I long for a life of balance. I would rather have shallower highs if it means less deep lows. These wild swings in my life are too much. I just want to move forward in balance. Here's to a 2023 where I can focus on that.


While you're here, you might like:

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