I have made the decision to begin a personal journey in order to live as authentically as I can. And I am very excited to be sharing this with you – my friends and family – because this “sharing” marks the beginning of that journey while providing full disclosure to everyone I care about and love.
GREAT! What is it?
I will be transitioning to Jace.
Who is JACE?
Well – Jace is actually ME. It’s just a ME you’ve never been privy to knowing or experiencing in the time you’ve known me. Actually – I take that back. Many of you have experienced Jace. It’s just that you may not have known the difference at that time. This is really good, actually, because through (and after!) this transition I will still be me. (i.e. the person you’ve always know.)
See – Jace and I are the same person. We think the same. Love the same. Laugh the same. Dream the same. Work the same. Drive the same. Eat the same. You get the point.
So what do you mean by transition?
Here is the classic ME answer to this question and I hope it satisfies those of you who may be wondering: I am becoming the authentic me.
Yes, yes – I know this is not a definitive response and leaves with you several unanswered questions. However, this response is going to be KEY to understanding me through this process.
So keep “I am becoming the authentic me” on hand as you continue reading through this post.
Many of us realize today that sex, gender, and gender identity have nothing to do with the other. But many of us have been taught that it does – through indoctrination, personal beliefs, or society at large. After all – it’s much easier to digest a world that comfortably lives in black and white, good and evil, and right and wrong. But for me (and many like me) – I live in the gray area. I see the gray area as the area of possibility and hope. I am not suggesting or inferring that any of YOU live in a black and white world but the classic “black and white” perception of the world is where the confusion can enter so let me try and provide a well-lit path for those reading this post.
Some background information to start:
A quote from Medical News Today under the heading: Sex and Gender: What Is The Difference?
“In general terms, “sex” refers to the biological differences between males and females, such as the genitalia and genetic differences. “Gender” is more difficult to define but can refer to the role of a male or female in society (gender role), or an individual’s concept of themselves (gender identity).”
“Sometimes, a person’s genetically assigned sex does not line up with their gender identity. These individuals might refer to themselves as transgender, non-binary or gender-nonconforming.”
Here is another quote from GLADD (also referenced in the above mentioned article) about Gender Identify and Expression:
“One’s internal, personal sense of being a man or woman. For transgender people, their own internal gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth.
Most people have a gender identity of man or woman (or boy or girl). For some people, their gender identity does not fit neatly into one of those two choices.”
“External manifestations of gender, expressed through one’s name, pronouns, clothing, haircut, behavior, voice, or body characteristics. Society identifies these cues as masculine and feminine, although what is considered masculine and feminine changes over time and varies by culture.”
With all that being said you should now have a little more understanding in the differences between sex, gender, and gender identity.
So how does all this trace back to you?
Glad you are asking!
To answer this question in the most straightforward and easiest to understand way: I was born a female yet my insides have never matched my outsides (and they never have).
When I look at myself in the mirror who I see presented to me is not the person I feel represents me on the inside. I have suffered with what is called gender dysphoria since before puberty.
What is Gender Dysphoria?
I’ve expressed gender dysphoria to friends and family since I was very small yet many may not have seen it as gender dysphoria. They simply may have seen it as me being a “Tomboy” or being “Sporty” or “Unique”. Yet being dysphoric in regards to my gender was something I had to hide because gender dysphoria was not what people wanted to see or hear, especially in my family. We just weren’t made to feel comfortable to talk about uncomfortable things. After all, vulnerability through self-expression is difficult for many because it demands of us to face those uncomfortable areas of ourselves that may or may not agree or understand or even be able to relate to another person let alone ourselves. It’s human to want to relate – really it is! We WANT to understand one another. But when you have little to go off of and little knowledge about the ins and outs of things and you are faced with your own beliefs and perceptions (and wiring’s) it’s hard for our brains to make those neat little connections that help us categorizes everything into easily categorized files stored in that big filing system called a brain.
But wait a minute! I thought you identified as a Lesbian!?
You are correct. I have identified as being a Lesbian since I first came out to my family at 17 (even though I came out to others prior to that – YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!). And the reason for this is because it was the only option for me at the time. The SAFER option I should say (if it was ever safe to come out). Back in 1997 – at least where I grew up – no one was talking about any spectrum outside of being GAY or STRAIGHT. And even then it was a HUSH HUSH topic. Gay and Lesbian centers were found through word of mouth – not through Social Media and groups like it is today. And for good reason: People were being targeted, beaten, and killed. Unfortunately, people are still being targeted, beaten and killed, but I digress. So for me, since I’ve always identified more along the male spectrum, it was safest to just say “I’m a lesbian” (not to say that all Lesbian’s identify the way that I did). To add injury to insult, Lesbians always had bad stigmas associated with them where most people just assumed your typical Lesbian would look like a man. This being said, identifying as a Lesbian meant that I could openly like girls and no one would “question” why I dressed and acted the way I did. This would, in my mind, allow me to live more authentically yet not 100% authentically. The way I see it, living partly authentic was better than killing myself.
However, times are changing and along with that there is HOPE! There is a human movement toward wanting to know more about life and what it has to offer, to provide support through understanding of our individual (and combined!) stories and personal journeys, and a showing of compassion toward what it means to be imperfectly perfect through our differences. This is what makes it a little easier to seek support from those I love and care for. I am a 37 year old adult who has decided to start living life to the fullest by focusing on my personal journey and we all have to start somewhere.
I am not saying that all that I’ve done before today was not part of my journey. It was indeed! And all those steps, experiences, personal journeys, and stories were all part of a dream which I am choosing to LIVE now rather than HIDE.
Ok – so you will transition to Jace. I get that. So what now?
With FTM (female to male) Transitioning there are a series of steps one must take.
These steps (simplified here) include:
- Counseling for 6 or 9 months to ensure you are mentally prepared for the transition.
- Having your doctor prescribe T or THRT (Testosterone Hormone Replacement Therapy)
- Deciding on Surgery
- Continuing in therapy
There are a series of other things (paperwork) that need to be processed including name change, updates to passport, changes to gender identifier, driver’s license, and social security card as well as changes to birth certificate.
WOW! So…are you going to have surgery? And if so – what kind?
Glad you asked! The more information you have the more you know!
Surgery, for me, will most likely include Double Incision Top Surgery. You can read more about what that involves here.
Well my next question is – how should I address you? And when should I start calling you Jace rather than Kari?
I now identify using the pronoun of he/him as opposed to she/her.
Note: Pronoun identification can be hard for friends and family. Especially when the person transitioning has been identified using another pronoun for so long. So I don’t expect you to NOT make mistakes. But in time it will become easier and you will have no problem remembering.
You can start calling me Jace as of today!
So how can I best support you going forward? What if I have questions outside of the information provided here?
You can best support me going forward by continuing to show me love, compassion, understanding, and respect – as you always have. I ask for nothing more.
However, I realize that there will be family and friends who find this revelation extremely hard to hear let alone process. For those who fall into this category I give you your space to process. But know that my door is always open if you ever want to talk.
I do ask that questions directed to me on this subject stay on a respectable level. I also ask that questions directed to me on this subject not question my choice based on anyone’s personal or religious beliefs. I respect you. Please respect me.
If you have questions outside of what I’ve provided in this post here are a list of resources:
- So Your Trans Friend Is Transitioning and You Want to Be Supportive – Here Are 6 Ways How
- Find an Appropriate Space to Process Your Thoughts and Feels
- Do Your Homework
- Respect and Validate Their Identity
- Don’t Just Talk the Talk
- Be an Ally and Advocate (Without Overstepping)
- Learn to Take Criticism and Know How to Apologize
- 5 Ways to Support a Trans Person Experiencing Body Dysphoria
- Engage Compassionately and Validate Their Experience
- Ask How You Can Help
- Suggest Distractions or Fun Activities
- Send (Or Bring!) Them a Self-Care Package
- If Needed, Encourage Them to Seek Help
- Tips for Allies of Transgender People
- Explore: Transgender
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. And thank you for allowing me to share this with you. I consider you a close friend who deserves this kind of transparency and honesty while I set out on this personal journey.
Deciding to tell you was really hard and in fact it took me a long time to even get to the point of sharing this journey with anyone. But today I am choosing to be open and honest and vulnerable with those in my life while living as authentically as I can.
After all, that is my journey.