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Today is Tuesday, November 07, 2006




Life had changed forever on that first day, when I stepped into those dainty shoes that gracefully extended the arch of my foot. A feeling washed through me like none I have ever experienced before, and it would tease and confuse me for decades to come. I walked tentative at first, and then with a sway of confidence that transformed my very being, or perhaps released that which was there all along.

With each tear, devoid of the pretense that manhood often dictates, I could see myself for the first time, and life was beautiful: it breathed before me. I could hear the heartbeat of life all around me, and now touch those emotions that had previously been only for the viewing -- protected, or trapped, behind the glass wall ? always in sight, never within reach.

Emerging from behind the mask of a life not truly mine, yet inadvertently one of my own design, I stood naked before the world, refreshed and unafraid. I was confronted with the truth of me, as only I knew it, while others could only look on with bemused wonderment, concern or disdain. Still, after such a long journey I was surprised to find myself back at the beginning, wiser perhaps, possessing deeper understanding of myself, yet again asking why ? still searching for the missing pieces of that elusive puzzle.

In Helen Boyd's recent book entitled, "My Husband Betty," she writes that most of the people she interviewed couldn't explain why they were transgender, but unanimously agreed that it simply made them "feel good." Is that enough? In my article "Repress It or Embrace It," I described my own gender exploration in regard to whether to repress the urges within us, or embrace them. Exploring them to there fullest -- with almost reckless abandon -- was the right choice for me, though it may not be for others. Our internal experiences, questions, answers and insights are personal and unique to each of us.

Still, there are those that claim that "because it feels good" is all they need to know. Perhaps they're right, perhaps not. There is an unwritten understanding within the community that seems to decree that every person is entitled to be whom he or she chooses to be, by any means necessary, and the world be damned. But is "feeling" happy and "being" happy the same thing? Is one inclusive of the other, or is feeling happy just a passing moment? Can that moment, which offers infinite promise, be repeated over an over, or does it cease to be life, and instead become only the echo of it -- like watching a favorite TV show while we try to recapture a lost moment?

And, while we claim to want to be accepted as "normal," a part of the fabric of society, do some of us secretly enjoy, even thrive on being different, being special? Do we enjoy being in the spotlight: those bold characters fighting the good fight in search of their freedom, but, against the backdrop of an otherwise ordinary life? Are some of us afraid to be average? We band together in solidarity to stand up, and against, the status quo. Are we defending discrimination, or have we found a convenient outlet for the frustration of our own unfulfilled lives, disguised as righteous indignation? Does membership to this special clubhouse make us feel part of something spiritually larger than ourselves, making the belonging to a club, more important than the specific club itself?

By now you are asking, "Why are you saying these things? We are free, we are proud, shouldn't you be encouraging us to go forward, evolve, and pursue the dream of womanhood? Aren't you one of us? Yes, yes, yes and of course I am one of you. Being transgender has given me both great joys and great sorrow in my life, but ultimately clarity of life I never knew I could find. So, in hindsight, I wouldn't have traveled my road any different, and am happy at where it has taken me. However, I genuinely love my sisters, like a kinship, enough for me to risk angry backlash to prompt deeper self-exploration, which has always historically been my mantra.

The discussion here however, is not whether to come out, come further out, circle in place, or reverse direction altogether ? those decisions are yours alone to make. So of course, continue living the life that best fulfills you and makes you happy. But at the same time, the discussion is about how to get there, by looking not at just your gender desires, but all your desires, at who you really are. To question the motives behind your gender pursuit, and the rewards you gain from it, and to honestly look at what being transgender is about for you alone, which of course, can be scary.

But, you can only find the truth, as only you know it, by asking questions without the fear of what you may find. Or at least thats the way it has been for me ? and Im not done yet. But in the end, what is the point of taking off one mask to find fulfillment, only to embrace it and live that newfound freedom behind the mask of a different color?

As always, be happy, be safe, and think pretty. Brianna Austin

Brianna Austin is a free lance writer who has been a columnist for Girl Talk Magazine & Tgforum.com, and a reporter for Lady Like and TG Community News. Brianna can be reached through her website at www.briannaaustin.com.

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