UU Church Today, Spirituality & Theology, Uncategorized

Letting Go of Gender

– By Knowlan Randza –

Every time I fight against facing what I know I must deal with, and resist what I know in my heart is the right thing to do, I find myself in a miserable place.

The last half of 2015 was a miserable place for me.

In 2014 I was able to complete some deep recovery work that brought me present in my body in a way I’d never been before. I am an abuse survivor and most of my life I lived completely dissociated. When I arrived in this place of presence, I was surprised to find the gender of my mind and that of my body didn’t match. I had always felt some discomfort about my gender, but I blamed that on the effects of abuse. I finally saw that there’s a difference between trauma pains – phantom pain and terror left from sexual abuse – and gender dysphoria – a state of distress or unease with the sex a person is assigned at birth.

The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and trauma reactions are desperate, terrifying and usually set off by something happening, or a thought, that reminds me of the past. The gender dysphoria feels different. It doesn’t come and go the way trauma feelings do. It feels as though something is missing, or something that is there shouldn’t be. It’s nagging, constantly irritating.

Once I recognized this mental and physical mismatch, I tried to suppress it. I thought that if I could just dress male enough, then I could be happy.  There were female mannerisms, that I’d made myself use for many years, I allowed myself to drop. It wasn’t enough. In September I went to an All Souls Wednesday night event. That was the turning point for me.

Finally, I was honest when I filled out the Gender Unicorn worksheet and charted how I really feel about my gender identity and expression; I realized I can’t go on without dealing with this.

A wonderful therapist who specializes in gender identity helped me sort the difference out. Still, I fought the idea of transitioning. Fears that I would wreck my life, my family, my job, and that everyone would turn their back on me left me frozen. I finally became so miserable from fighting against it, that I lost my will to fight anymore. I came to a place of surrender, realizing that no matter what happens I’ll never be happy unless I go through with this transition.

Hormone therapy started in December and I had my first surgery in January. Already, I look at myself in the mirror and feel more peace. As my body changes, I am becoming calmer and more satisfied in my own skin. I have a lot to face in the next month, telling work and family and all of you.  That task seemed monumental a few months ago, but as I become happier and more secure in this transition, I am not afraid. I know beyond a doubt I am doing the right thing.

When I am on the right path for me, things just tend to work out. I’ve let go and am back in my place of surrender – what I know is right for me.  In that place, life is good.

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