30 Transgender Thanksgivings
How being Transgender is a gift, and a force of nature.
This year and last, made me realize many things about myself, my life, and this world. Despite best efforts, most insights came in unexpected ways. Unexpected as life is already, it can be especially so for a Trans* individual.
For many, Transgender is a tough concept to understand, and those that are Trans* can face difficulty and discrimination. Many Trans* individuals have left this life by their own hands and also an alarming amount at the hands of others. Many more are abused, shunned, or rejected.
November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), the annual day that honors the memory of those whose lives lost in acts of anti-transgender violence. TDOR is a day to mourn, give respects, to honor, to learn, share, to bond, and most of all to Love.
November is also a host to another important time, Transgender Awareness Week: November 12-20. This week raises visibility of the transgender and gender non-conforming communities and illuminates the issues faced. You can learn more about these dates here: glaad.org TDOR.
With all the issues, violence, rejection, and discrimination being discussed, it may surprise you to I view my being Transgender as a gift. I will not diminish, nor ignore, the real issues and pain many face and have faced. I will not even dare speak for others, as I only know the path I have walked. I will say though, that the stories of others have both helped and hurt me in ways I never knew possible. When those you relate to, and care about suffer or are lost, it cuts deeper than imagined. Yet I still know I have much to be thankful for. That is why I am writing this of my own experience, maybe you may relate to my path. Maybe this will all be new territory for you. Either way, I thank you for reading.
For those that do not live with gender dysphoria or non-conformity every day, this entire topic can be confusing. Let me break it down for you. Knowledge counters fear every time. With this you will now be more educated than the majority of this country. For an extremely easy to understand and amazing resource check out It’s Pronounced Metrosexual and watch this must see Tedx talk by Sam Killermann -Understanding the Complexities of Gender. In the meantime below is super quick crash course.
trans-gen-der – Identify with gender other than biological one assigned
- Transgender is genetic – think born this way
- The mind/soul develops/is different form the body form
- Sexual orientation = who you are attracted to (if any)
- Gender Identity = who you feel you are
- Gender is a spectrum, not a binary of male or female
- It’s what’s on inside that counts
- If you know someone that is Trans*, ask about their preferred pronouns
Now that we have some basics for us to relate and build upon I am going to share with you 30 reasons why I still feel being Trans is a blessing, and a force of nature. My list of 30, for this great month of both Thanksgiving and connecting communities.
- Trans* is a force of nature
- This one took a lot of work and introspection, raw honesty to realize. It shaped and bound my entire life. I can trace my gender truth back to early cognition at four years old. Trans is a force of nature, like gravity, it takes extreme courage and actions to transcend and many take their congruence for granted. I am thankful being Trans has given me this perspective of our existence as I gained a deep appreciation for all beings and matter.
- There is so much about our social and private lives that are governed by ego. Ego meaning our definition of self more than the common machismo reference. Hiding Trans for me meant I filtered everything to fit my carefully constructed version of male self to best fit those around me. Incredible what we do for ego and being Trans helped me understand this.
- Learned about Truth
- Telling my wife my inner struggles and eventually that I wanted to transition was the hardest thing one could do. There is not one secret or area of my life so guarded and risky to share. To know what it is like to bear your entire soul to someone you love is powerful. There is no other secrets left to fear being discovered about me. Anything else that happens now is making decisions about the future. Being Trans led me to being free in a way most never will from secrets.
- Before I realized what my gender struggles were I had reached point in where it was harder to keep up the front. It took so much energy that I started closing my circle more and more. This was a losing strategy but was all I had at the time. The more I retracted, trying to survive, the more I cut myself off thus reducing possibilities of this world. It became a dark and lonely world. Through exhaustive efforts and therapy I now often see universe of possibilities. Things can be different and by nature they will be whether I want it or not. I choose to live in a life of possibilities now. The light is coming back into my world. Trans gives me this gift from lessons gained.
- Will power
- As much as the first 30 years of life was an exercise in the depths of my will power, being Trans showed me there is a difference to strong will power and stubbornness. Will power cannot be the only part of the strategy. In the long run, will power needs to be about more than defiance or denial. Another lesson learned ealrier than most from being Trans.
- I remember clearly deciding emotions were to difficult to manage in the ‘gender fit the box game’ and needing to close them off. This led to living only on the edges of emotions and everything else dulling out in the middle. Again darkness and loneliness from longing to express myself and validate what I truly felt and wanted, that I mattered. Being Trans and opening up about it is leading to a whole new part of human experience I was missing. It is scary, painful, joyous, and real. I am thankful.
- Being true, authentic, and open takes courage. This is what is at the core of most of our heroes or people we admire and characteristics we aspire to. Being Trans has shown me wonderful role models of people showing more courage just buying milk than many do all year. I am thankful for these examples.
- Journey of faith and awareness
- I was leery of church more by the year as I grew up. I saw so much hypocrisy and politics. I just did not see many seeming to truly live out the Christian philosophies when they encountered something they were not comfortable with. Later the church would not accept our family for using assisted reproductive technologies to have children. It seemed nothing but barriers to what I felt spiritually inside. After I had a breakdown from hiding from myself and deciding I needed to face my gender variance, I began looking for ways to explore faith. I found Zen Buddhism philosophies which helped me gain insight and perspectives. Being Trans led me to a much more harmonious plane with the universe, though I feel misaligned with most of humanity. Which may be an ok thing. I like this area being a journey and not an absolute in my life. Feels right. Being Transgender was a big part of walking these paths. I am thankful.
- Relationship truth
- Being Trans is a true test of a relationship at every level. If you really want to know what your relationship is made of, bear your entire soul and truth and ask for help going on the journey of self discovery with you. If someone is still there after you do that, you uncovered something few will ever truly know about connection to another human. Regardless of outcome sharing your soul is powerful event in your life. I am thankful for living honest.
- Humility and importance of asking for help
- Being Trans sure can be a lesson in humility. I tried the noble lone hero quest for over 30 years thinking it was my burden to carry, feeling I shouldn’t dare ask those around me to carry. Then too many things in life hit me and the strategy starting faltering. I was self destructing still thinking it was best for the family. I learned luckily before too late that everyone needs to ask for help at some point. We are incredibly strong people but the simple act of someone listening can change your entire paradigm. I am thankful for the help in my life.
- This one sounds a bit backwards at first. Being Trans led me to a very unhealthy place physically, mentally. I was having digestive problems, anxiety, acne, body aches, depression, tiredness. You name it and things were going in a not positive direction very early in life. I reached a point after my twenties that I knew something needed to change, and quick. I started working away at problems one by one not even realizing at the time these steps would help me get to realizing I was Trans and to start getting specific help. I got contact lenses, found a prescription that worked for by persistence acid reflux, I started seeing a chiropractor, I eventually asked my CNP about anxiety medication. This helped many health issues at once. Then I asked about depression. I saw a dermatologist about acne and found it was rosacea. All made worse by stress and anxiety. This all got me to a place where I freed up some mental capacity to look at underlying problems. My emotional breakdown is when I admitted I wanted to go to a gender conference and learn what was going on within me, and soon after I saw a gender therapist and have been cleared for hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Being Trans taught me the value of how all areas of life are impacted by health physically and emotionally. I am thankful for my improving health improved by my journey to truth.
- Breaking the paradigm
- The rat race and trap of our western lives can be very confining and difficult. I felt I was supposed to do something unique, to make a difference and not just live a normal existence. Though strangely I strived for normal to the point of being called very “straight-laced”. Facing being Trans helped me break that rut and see life has other options. It helped me multiple times see another perspective giving courage to change what wasn’t working. I give thanks.
- Learning some people deserve the benefit of doubt and will exceed your expectations
- Many of the people in my life do not know I am Trans. Mostly from fear of how they would react and causing grief and pain. I once heard a friend mention how we think so little of those we surround ourselves with that we do not even show them the honor of benefit of the doubt. Some will exceed expectations, others will not. Being Trans is helping me see who is a positive influence to have in my family’s life. I give thanks.
- How much more there is in this world
- I mentioned earlier the walling of my world to filter output to match society norms. So much was shut off due to this; books, colors, music, people, emotions, life. I am discovering so much more to “everyday” life. It is truly amazing and inspires to continue on my journey to see what is really around us. I give thanks.
- All the great traits I thought defined a man, defines a person, not a role
- I am learning what is truly important traits to have and aspire to. What I thought was strength being a Man, often was not and in many ways indirectly harmful. I give thanks for these lessons.
- Being able to break the cycle and teach my children love and acceptance
- Having a child while realizing my true self shook me to my core. I am blessed to be having these realizations now so I may teach my children true love and acceptance in this life, regardless of any other transition decisions I make. I give thanks.
- The importance of voting
- So many civil rights and health issues have been in politics lately. A lot of positive victories have been achieved and taking an active role and voting has helped accomplish these wins. There are many more to go. Being Trans helped me realize it is not all a total sham no matter who wins. It makes a big difference in very real lives regardless of corruption who is political offices. I give thanks.
- The need for activism and allies
- Inline with voting is activism. Trans* issues are not going to be won by Trans* alone. We need allies and activism. We need visibility. We all can make a difference. Being Trans helped me see the need and ways to help others. I give thanks.
- The love of an amazing community
- My experience at the Southern Comfort Conference (SCC) (a transgender conference held yearly in Atlanta) was the first time I ever truly saw myself in the mirror. It was a terrifying trip that I took alone. Once I made it there and convinced myself to open the hotel room door I was greeted by an inspiring an amazing community. My week at SCC was the first time I started feeling good about who I was. I was proud to have some things in common with many I met. Community is powerful and without being Trans I would likely have not found one that can relate to me at such a level. I give thanks.
- That I am not the only one. I am not alone.
- This life can feel very lonely for many. Being Trans sure added to those feelings. Even after being married, loneliness of not even letting yourself know yourself can be crushing. Discovering there are thousands and thousands out there that are Transgender was a powerful thing. I give thanks for not being alone.
- Admitting weakness is strength
- As I explored my faith and life philosophies I realized that what I was ashamed and hid, was not truly weakness. It can, and is some ways, become a source of great strength. Admitting I have weaknesses also leads to different kinds of strength. These are great life lessons that are harder to learn from others than experiencing for yourself. I give thanks for this.
- Learning about CIS privilege
- CIS (those born with genitals that match their inner gender) people have a privilege that is so entitled and unspoken they do not even realize it. Many even work to keep that privilege exclusive to them. Being perceived as a white male for much of my life I had no clue about this social construct until I started exploring my inner gender. I now see so many ways that privilege can make life miserable for any that do not fit. Often in the form of bullying. I give thanks for this insight.
- Learning about Male privilege
- Learning about this one should have been more obvious. As a male perceived person I thought I got this a little, until I tried looking at life from my authentic self. Women still experience male privilege in everyday life to an alarming degree in this country. I give thanks and work to improve this.
- Learning about micro-aggression
- Any minority likely knows about this. It wasn’t until I viewed life from my Trans perspective that I found out about this. I realize that is a truly fortunate statement to make. If you do not know about this, you can learn a lot about yourself by looking into this. I am thankful for being Trans for the perspective of seeing how much I truly have in my life.
- Sense of adventure
- If you ever feel trapped in the rut and debt of daily life you may find yourself day dreaming about adventures once had or dream to do. For many, any shake-up to daily routines would be welcomed. I have been on adventures like no other on this journey of self discovery beyond any trip or vacation I could have taken otherwise. Adventures to discovery yourself – life changing. I am thankful for being Trans to have led me to such meaningful adventures.
- Renewed connection to universe
- I am here. I exist; therefore I am already complete. This took incredible insight and self reflection to see. At times I slip and need to rediscover this truth. We are all part of this universe and are all expressions of it. This is an incredible concept and one I may never have reached if not for the time I spent on contemplation of concepts of self as part of my gender discovery. I give thanks.
- Civil Rights
- For living in such a free country I am flat shocked at the narrowness of our civil rights. There are so many groups that have so many rights still needed. Being Trans certainly highlights this. Even using the bathroom seems to be a privilege not deserved in this country. Ludicrous. Sad. But we have gained many rights that those before us did not have. Being Trans has helped me see the tireless and selfless acts of those that blazed the trail before us. I give thanks for those that walk before me.
- How do you lead a truly meaningful and productive life for you and your family if you are crushing yourself with shame. We internalize so many messages in life and most of the shame is disguised inside us. It manifests in unhealthy ways. Being Trans helped me learn the critical importance of self-love. That doesn’t come from being ashamed of simply being you. I am so happy and grateful that being Trans has taught me the importance of loving yourself, so I can truly give love to others.
- Many phobias are associated with irrational thought. Much is magnified from lack of knowledge, fear, anxiety, desire to fit in and more. The biggest lesson about transphobia, other than what it is, was that I had internalized transphobia and was leading my shame and depression. Being Transgender has helped me understand where much of my self esteem issues were really coming from. I wanted to blame everyone else but I found I had done most of the damage to my own self unknowingly. We can truly be our own worst enemy. I am thankful for being Trans in that it has taught me to see a truer reflection. It both brought me down and now is leading to building me up stronger than I would have been otherwise. I give thanks being Transgender has made me a better person in everyway.
- Inspiration to help others
- Learning so many of these lessons and experiences helped me to rekindle my need to make a difference. Nothing stirs my being more than helping others in meaningful ways. Whether online chats, in speaking events, my art expressions, or my writings, I have learned value from my pain and journey and I truly give thanks for this gift of being Transgender.
So there is my list of 30 reasons I am thankful for being Transgender. I must admit despite being in a good positive place when I challenged myself to write this, I questioned if there really were 30 honest to goodness true things I was thankful for being Trans. There has been so much pain and fear and loss. But these are the way all great lessons go. The ones that truly touch your soul and shape who we are. I give thanks for being Trans and I give thanks for all my Trans* friends and allies. Thank you dearly.
I will leave you with a quote from a favorite author of mine; Jim Butcher. This quote struck me and ties into so much of life and my sought after idea of purpose.
“There is the world that should be and the world that is. We live in one and must create the other.” - Harry Dresden
Peace, acceptance, and smiles – Anna Talyn <3
*Dedicated to Lisa Empanada-Newell.
For more about the author visit her Blog: Here
Visit Anna Talyn’s Trans* Life Expresisons Facebook page for more art and life expressions.