This morning on the way into work, I realized that today is the three year anniversary since I walked into my first long term counselor's office the first time. She could probably tell at my nervousness the extreme anxiety I had built up over the years rationalizing and compromising with my gender. It had reached clinically dangerous levels, resulting in a new battle with high blood pressure that I found out only a few months later. She was the second person I told face to face. The only other person I told was a Dallas psychologist that dealt with gender issues 5 or 6 years previously.
As I look forward and back, I realize the method to her madness. My counselor treated my co-morbid stress in whichever form it took as a good counselor did. My wife didn't understand why I came away from each meeting a little lighter, and why I always felt just comfortable enough to take the next step on my own. She blamed my counselor for telling me what to do, which is not what she does at all.
"It will happen when you're ready," was her mantra to me, "whether it comes later or sooner [paraphrased], you'll know when it's right." And so I did. She didn't push me. Far from it. As my anxiety ebbed away bit by bit, it was all she could do to keep up with each step I took. And so she taught me how to address anxiety on my own, by taking baby steps and focusing on the nearer term goal.
I am about a month away from formally announcing my on-the-job transition, I am no longer scared to death of it and much more involved in the community than I dreamed possible. The Sunday before last, I was asked to present high school students attending OWL the face of transgender (in the spectrum sense--I also threw in the newer orthogonal model where "transgender in the more restricted sense" and transsexual were actually different attributes). OWL, Our Whole Lives, is a sex education class on steroids provided by the Unitarian Universalist Association. They have different curriculum for primary school, middle school and high school. The high school kids I talked to were very intelligent and thoughtful. I wound up taking an hour of my half-hour allotted time, and parents were seeking me out yesterday morning to tell me their kids couldn't stop talking about my visit.
And I could have never done any of this if my counselor had refused to see me.
I thanked her this morning with the contents of this blog entry. It looks like sooner was more accurate. But I think she knew that all along.
Hugs and God Bless,