Moreover, novitiate transgenders were told to re-invent their pasts. So, for example, if you were a Boy Scout, as I was, you might say you were a Girl Scout. Of course, that meant you couldn't talk about experiences of your life that were specific to the gender in which you lived before your transition. For many, that meant not mentioning being drafted into military service or giving birth.
Thankfully, such expectations no longer existed when I started my transition. As I explained to someone, I simply could not see how it was helpful to trade one mental disorder (as gender dysphoria was defined until recently) for another (i.e., willed amnesia).
As I begin this year, I know that I did not leave my past behind me. However, I now realize that, piece by piece, my past has been leaving me.
Now, I don't expect (and hope I don't have) to abandon reading, writing, bicycling, my cats, my parents and Millie. But much else, and many other people, are no longer in my life. I realized this when I looked into my phone book (Yes, I still have one of those!) for the numbers of a couple of people I wanted to call with wishes for a happy new year.
A few people whose names and numbers are in that book are no longer in this world. Others decided to end relationships they had with me, or simply drifted away. Or I drifted away from them. I decided to call a couple of people with whom I haven't spoken in some time, mainly out of curiosity, only to find that their numbers were no longer in service. Did they move? Abandon their phone service? Die? Or take on new identities in new places?
I believe that during the past few months, some new friends and possible friends have come into my life. They are lovely people and I am looking forward to sharing good and possibly difficult times with them. Still, on New Year's Day, with the prospect of new relationships--and other things?--in my life for the coming year, it's hard not to think sometimes about who and what left me, and who and what I had to leave. I suppose I always saw them as a part of my identity--which, ironically, may be the one thing I didn't give up. I was Justine all along: I did not abandon or re-invent that. But those who broke with, or drifted away from, me could or would not understand that. That is why I must move forward, even if it is further away from them.