An important personal anniversary is fast approaching: 1 March. On that date, almost one year ago, I had my genital surgery. It was most certainly a watershed event. Whatever no-op compromises might have been possible before surgery, they were finally blown away forever.
It seems an appropriate time to reflect on how life has turned out for me. Whether, despite all events, I am happier. And whether I have found my proper place in a world that did not seem to accommodate me at all well for such a very long time.
I don't want to do this in a spirit of bitterness and regret for what might have been in a perfect world. I feel that, very broadly speaking, things have turned out fairly well for me. I've done much better than merely survive. I haven't had horrible experiences - at least none that I would consider horrible - and I'm duly grateful to whichever god or force protects trans people while they stagger through the most demanding years of their transition. It would be foolish and wrong to make out that I've had a bad deal, all things taken into account.
But nor can I honestly say that I feel overjoyed at what has happened in my world since my transition began. There have been too many losses. I marvel that I'm not totally heartbroken. It is certainly not the case that I've 'come out of it smelling of roses'. But I can't deny that, so far as making clear plans, and doing the correct things in the proper order, and having the right friends, make any difference, then I admit to pulling off quite a feat. I do feel I'm entitled to some satisfaction. But euphoria? Well, yes, sometimes. Transition has given me something enduring that can never be lost or taken away. It's fundamental, it's life-changing for the better, and of course I feel so glad it happened. But high euphoria isn't my mood of every single moment, not at all.
I have wondered whether it could have turned out better if those who disbelieved in my gender dysphoria, or disapproved of it, or actively opposed it, had instead clustered around me, and given me all the help and support I'd desperately wanted - that I'd actually pleaded for. And had then stayed with me through the process. Well, that's a completely hypothetical scenario, of course. It's impossible to say. Maybe those who have bobbed in a sea of fantastic goodwill can say with authority that I would have managed better, and I would certainly now have all my family and friends to count on.
Actual real-world events ensured that I had to do it on my own. I will never cease to acknowledge all help given along the way, professional or otherwise, but nobody but myself set things in motion, and nobody but myself stuck at it, and did the work, and spent the money, and endured the discomforts. And perhaps this will strike a chord with all other trans people who have also had to do it all by themselves.
But who are the luckier? Those who carry their family and friends with them, or those who have to play a lone hand? I can't tell. I can see that I wouldn't have faced the destruction of my world as it used to be, if everyone had stayed with me. But I wouldn't now have total independence, and such a sense of self-reliance and self-worth. Those things mean so much to me: I thought at one time that I'd lost them forever.
Perhaps the best question to be asked here is: OK, you've got through most of what you had to do. But what now? What are you going to do with the rest of your life?
For me, the answer to this is that independence and freedom will be positive advantages to me, allowing me (for instance) to move to a new location, or to spend as much time as I please in developing what I may be talented at; and similar things that I couldn't so easily do if I were held securely in a fond embrace. But there are many alternative answers too.