“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”
― Mother Teresa
Allow me to tell you something about my extended family. Believe me, it’s worth telling. Just hold your horses.
On my mom’s side of the family I have six aunts and one uncle. Each of these aunts and uncles has had at least three, if not nine, children. I have over 50 cousins, and we’re all close to each other.
Some people would assume that such an experience is totally overwhelming. I know there are people out there who think my mom’s family is “overpopulating” the planet. All I can say is that the existence of my extended family makes me the luckiest person on the face of the Earth. I’ve spent most of my Thanksgiving vacation hugging, kissing, or playing with children and babies. It has been Heaven itself. I swear: being with my family is joy beyond joy. I’m in ecstasy with every kiss I receive from a precocious toddler and every hug I give to an adorable child. My family has more love than the rest of the world combined. It’s absolutely ridiculous.
There is one problem: my family is very transphobic. As if by some strange twist of fate, most of my (many) aunts have randomly expressed their views on gender within my earshot. It is so crystal clear from this Thanksgiving weekend that most of my extended family will reject me if I transition.
My family is very very conservative. For all you ‘liberal’ readers out there, I want to clarify that despite their uninformed attitude toward LGBT issues, my family is SO INCREDIBLY LOVING. Love covers a multitude of sins. For someone who isn’t LGBT, my extended family would be an absolute paradise. I’ve grown up in an unbelievably tender environment. My aunts, uncles and cousins have so much heart. I just want that to be clear.
The thing is: being transgender is pretty much the worst thing I could be within this family. Our gender binary is so strong it’s ridiculous. I don’t even feel comfortable wearing a scarf around some of them (even though I’m still in ‘boy’ mode). It’s rough. It’s a tragedy. I have the most loving family in the world, and I’m the one kind of person they might not be able to accept.
So the stage is set: I have a loving family that will probably never be able to even conceptualize the fact that I’m transgendered. This paves the way for what I want to really talk about: unconditional love.
“I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, ‘How many good things have you done in your life?’ rather he will ask, ‘How much love did you put into what you did?”
― Mother Teresa
In cuddling with all my baby cousins, it’s really struck home to me how it’s really all about love. It’s so easy to get self-absorbed because of gender dysphoria, but at the end of the day what fulfills us is face-to-face interactions with real people. It’s in holding and loving others that we (or at least I – and I would believe everyone else too) find true freedom.
In this revelation, I rediscovered why I want to transition. It’s not about making myself beautiful or ‘finding’ myself. It’s about finding others. I want to be able to love others with freedom. I want to be able to love other people as myself. I want to give genuine love to others, not a fake and stilted performance of love. Being transgender isn’t about selfish desire; it’s about the basic desire to love and be loved. Transitioning isn’t about obsessive need; it’s about the basic requirement to be authentic.
I love my family so much and I know they love me too. I hope they can learn to love the real me. Sometimes I feel like my life is divided between two very extreme options: to transition and lose my family’s love while gaining the ability to love the rest of the world, or to not transition and keep my family’s love while living a loveless lie. It seems futile. It seems hopeless. All I know is that love is the answer, and I will do whatever is necessary to be able to give of myself with absolute freedom.
If love is all-important, then the most important thing in life is to free yourself so you can love.
“A life not lived for others is not a life.”
― Mother Teresa