Jordan Rice is in the process of transitioning from male to female. After many months of hormone therapy, she is now planning for her Gender Confirmation Surgery. She writes 2paragraphs about the past she’s leaving behind.
After surgeries, voice training, and a significant amount of time on hormone replacement therapy, I’ve gained an unsettling though possibly useful perspective of who I was when I lived as a man. To refer to the man I used to be as a completely separate person, no matter how distant the patterns of his life, thinking, and emotional experiences seem now, would be unhealthy in a number of ways, but also would be a total abandonment of someone who was real, who lived and was loved, and for whom I feel a deep sense of gratitude, and often overwhelming guilt. Early in transition, when I became aware of a distinction between the self that started HRT and the self that was rapidly undergoing profound emotional and psychological shifts, I felt constant horror at what I knew I had to continue doing to survive. The person I’d been would not, in most recognizable and readily discussed ways, continue to exist.
In the time since the start of transition and the end of my marriage, I’ve gathered my possessions into a two bedroom apartment in the middle of Richmond, VA. The spare room is filled with plastic bins full of men’s clothes and shoes and all manner of paraphernalia for sparring and fly fishing and archery and rock climbing and river guiding and survivalist camping. This room stays shut, and the boxes and bins inside remain mostly unopened, forming a discreet catalogue of a life that has been lived out, the piecemeal story of a man who survived long enough. On the fireplace mantle in my bedroom sit two wooden boxes inherited from my mother’s father. One box is full of jewelry given to me by my former partner as both a divestment of effects from our marriage and an investment in the new life in which I would hopefully thrive, and the second contains a stack of identifications – social security card, passport, birth certificate, voter registration card, old driver’s licenses, school IDs, and a few pictures of a bearded young man who smiles some of the time. On top of this stack of records and photographs, are two letters, one from a therapist and one from an endocrinologist, both saying that I’ve undergone treatment enough to be considered a woman by whatever state I currently inhabit. It was these letters I clutched tightly this Tuesday when a good friend drove with me to the DMV to change my name and gender marker. Though the process is somewhat layered, there is now a sense of closure to my past life as a man. Transition is a process that leaves no physical or psychological attribute unaffected, a literal second puberty, complete with all the angst and distractions of the first. Only this time there is wonder where before there was horror, and there is awe and a brilliant kind of joy that recoils through my life. So it is this thought I wish to leave you with, more than anything I’ve said or implied in these lines: Remember, life happens only once to each of us. Live. // Jordan Rice