I keep a spreadsheet which contains a record of all the significant events of my life. I call it my “life grid.”
There is a row for each year, and the first column is my age during that year. Next come columns for places I’ve lived, who I lived with, education, jobs, births and deaths among family and friends, and the like. There’s a column for travel, for significant world events that filled my consciousness, cars, projects, pets, and many more things. Much of it is minutia, but still it is the stuff of context for the big things which have happened.
The rows don’t stop at the current year. In fact, I’ve created enough rows for the future to cover until I’m 100 years old. I did this initially so that I could see the ages of my children and when they will graduate from high school and college (part of financial planning for their schooling).
About five years ago I did something bold. I added a column for my gender, and dutifully filled each year of the past with an M. When I got to the current year, I had to think long and hard, but I still put in an M. As I filled in future years, I really felt like, to be honest and accurate, and perhaps to have a concrete goal with a timeline, I needed to put in a T for transition, and eventually an F for all the remaining years of my life. It seemed somewhat wishful at the time, but when I look back now I wonder.
I filled in Ts, somewhat arbitrarily, for the years 2014 through 2018, and then Fs for every year after that. Without really fully comprehending the significance of what I was doing, I had outlined a five-year transition process. For reasons I still don’t exactly understand, I colored the row for 2016 in lavender. It represented the middle of my projected transition period, and sort of seemed like a line in the sand that I would eventually have to face and step over.
It represented (I think) the point of no return, the point where transition would have to go from a private idea to a public act. Before that, I would be getting ready, and after that, I would be actually doing — with all of the consequences that suggested.
Shortly after I made these life grid entries, I performed my therapist search, and began the difficult work of official discernment, which took most of the first two years I had filled with Ts. Eventually, my therapist told me in no uncertain terms that I was trans, and that if I had any thoughts about being something else (such as just a happy crossdresser, my previous self-image), I should get those out of my mind. She told me (gently, but directly) that I needed to accept this reality and deal with it accordingly.
That was tough to hear, and exciting. It fit my schedule, at least.
Now I’m standing at the lavender line, having done all of the preparatory work over the previous two years, and needing to face that line, and move across it into new territory. I know that this means coming out, and getting started on hormones, if only a very low dose. But these are tremendously difficult things for me to imagine doing.
I think that the grid, and the lavender line, helped me imagine this next step, and being able to imagine something is really the first step toward making it happen. I’m there, at least.
But at some point this year I will be faced with a choice. I can step over the lavender line and into the next phase of my transition, or I can load my spreadsheet and push that line into the future. Changing the contents of spreadsheet cells is remarkably easy. Changing my public gender identity is not.
But more than ever before, I feel like an essential moment is at hand.