Monday, August 11, 2008

Life's shadows

As a transgender, I keep looking over my shoulder to see just how far away is the ghost of my other life? Even after so many years living as Sarah, my old life seems to percolate to the surface ever so often. My shadow of John will always exert forces in my life, for I transitioned in a mid-life crisis, after living for 35 years as a married father of three children. Having lived for 50 plus years as male and being socialized as that gender, and then trying to push all those experiences to the back of your mind and figure out your female self is very hard to accomplish. Someone asked me to reflect on how I perceived my maleness and how closely it affected my life before and now after my transition. How could any male reject his rightful place and high privileges taken by the white male race throughout human history? Once those who assume to have the power of their race acknowledge your betrayal by switching sides, they feel no regret for treating you like any other female who might get in their way.

It seems strange that there is now two life’s to this person with known aliases. The life story of ‘John’ ended when Sarah came out in the light; and Sarah’s life started with the first step of transition. For Sarah there was not a life before that time. Yet this person’s life is the combining and culmination of those two separate lives. And one never knows when the old will pop its head into the life of the new.

Just today, I was helping out with the opening of the new County Obama Campaign office and there was an older gentlemen there wearing a hat with the military patch of the 1st Air Cavalry Division. Without thinking, I asked him when he served in Vietnam and he told me he was there from ’65 to ’66. I’m not sure why I asked him that question, but only because ‘John’ served in the same Army Division from ’67 to ’68 and I couldn’t tell him about my service in Vietnam since it wasn’t ‘John’ who was asking the question but Sarah, and she couldn’t have served in Vietnam. A difficult question to ask without a prepared response; I couldn’t tell him that I was assigned to the Division Band during my year in country. I couldn’t compare my year with his year. Not just 10 minutes later I almost introduced myself to another older man as ‘John’ rather than Sarah and it bothered me for the rest of the morning, knowing that I had almost ‘outed’ myself to some stranger in the mist of a group of strangers.

Just how far is your old life from your new? One must keep a close watch on the here any now of Sarah’s life as she is the more important person.

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