Amy Hunter

Ordinary people

Filed By Amy Hunter | September 25, 2009 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Kalamazoo, ordinary people, transgender, transition

It is late, after 3:00am as I write this. I am tired, it's been a long day working on the details for an event that will happen in October. The event is "An inclusive community event" put together by a coalition of clergy and community service organizations. Billed as being about "diversity, equality, inclusiveness and faith", it will be a hopeful and inspiring affair I'm sure. I am scheduled to be one of the speakers.

I'll be in pretty lofty company. Me, and one of the most respected ministers in town, the president of the area NAACP, a terrifically good slam poetry duo - I can't help but think how far I've been carried. I can't help but think how different life is today than it was even a few short years ago. My life is by no means perfect. I'm in constant pain from the surgery that went wrong, I work and I work hard. I enjoy it, I actually feel gratitude today and that's something I hadn't experienced before I transitioned.

Most of my adolescent and adult life had been spent in one of two states; over-achieving or wallowing in self-pity. I couldn't seem to find any balance. I was always scrambling to be on top or giving up and dragging as many of those around me down as I could - there just wasn't any middle ground. A middle ground where I was happy to just be who I was. I know today of course why that was. The need to be special in some way came from not having a chance in a million of being who I really was. Today, I'm grateful, grateful for the extraordinary opportunity to be an ordinary person.

Below are thoughts from a not so distant past. A time of wonderful surprises and deep anxieties. A time of my life, while mercifully short, of humbling missteps and innocent discovery. These months I would not trade for anything - no matter what the value. This was when I learned to become a person. When I began to find my humanness and to understand what it meant to be just me.

It's Impossible to say when precisely I became aware of the change. What had become a part of my working mind was that I no longer thought like Bill. What had been a constant struggle to keep from thinking of myself as other than Amy, turned to being aware that old thought patterns - Bill thought, was merely occasional and uncomfortable. Bill thought was chaotic and disconnected from those around me, and at the same time, Bill thinking was analytical and logical. Where did it go? Why was I still me, without thinking like, you know... me? It was a BIG surprise.

At first, transition sucked. I would take off my wig, scrub off the makeup and see the stubble of what was most definitely a man. Electrolysis helped, so did hormones. Acceptance by the outside world and those closest to me did too. I see little vestige today of the maleness I had tried so very hard to be. Funny though... same bones, same eyes... It's the lack of fundamental confusion about me that's different. It's a place to start.

Think about it.

Probably more than half a lifetime spent continuously pounding a psyche into a mould it would never fit. So now what? How to survive the acuteness of presence I feel? Be present I suppose. Be present for every fucking emotion and thought that comes sweeping through my brain and body. But, isn't that what adolescence was really supposed to have been about, learning to connect thought and emotion? The trouble was, I thought I was expected to put this newly developed skill to use and become instantly effective as a going human concern, as if grown up was something you come out to like a debutante' or graduate from like grammar school. The trouble with adolescence is that it is the time in our lives when, surrounded and unable to be completely responsible for ourselves, we first perceive that whatever we are somehow doesn't fit the mould we are required to fill.

So we make it all up, or at least I did.

I made it all up, every last detail of what I presented as me to the world.

I want, wish, and intend to be effective as a person. I want to contribute. I don't want to hide, analyze it all away. I want to learn, and experience, and give fully, completely. I longed for and have begun to revel in my humanness for the first time.

I have surfaced.

Now what do I do?

I am fortunate enough to get to go through adolescence a second time as fully awake as almost anyone can. The trouble with adolescence at 47 is that you are expected to be completely sane about it. No Fucking Way. I can fast forward all I want but, I won't ever be able to catch myself. No one can run that fast emotionally or intellectually.

So I choose.

I choose instead to lie down in the mould and probe gently for its edges. God made this mould. It is my place. If I am willing, I will slowly flow to fill it, and quietly perhaps, reshape it. What an extraordinary idea.

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I can't help but think how far I've been carried.

I'm not so sure that's truthful, Amy. After reading your post it appears to me that you've stood on your own two feet and walked that entire way. It doesn't appear that anyone's had to carry you like a victim. No one needs to do it; you're a strong woman on your own.