We live in a culture where, for many, our image, what we see in the mirror each morning, is an important component of our lives. That reflection can carry tremendous weight on how we feel that day. We think that that reflection tells the people around us who we are. Escaping that image, that reflection is not always the easiest of tasks.
For many male to female transsexuals like myself, we struggle to get past the image we use to see everyday in the mirror; that man, that male body we detest. It’s just as bad for those women that transition to living their lives as the men they were meant to be. That image is like a ghost that haunts us even after successfully transitioning. The reflection we think we see can become an obstacle we have to overcome on a daily basis.
Recently, I had a bit of a cardiac scare and one of my worst fears was coming true. A fear that I always knew I would have to face, but was I ready? After being evaluated in the E.R., I was being admitted to the cardiac unit for tests and observation. Hundreds of questions started to race through my mind. Did I put clean underwear on this morning? How is the staff gonna treat me when they know my status as a pre-op transsexual? Will I have to endure any test that might expose my still male bottom half? With no make-up and messed up hair, will they still see a woman?
All these plus some ran on a continual loop through my being for the first few hours. Except for the dolt of an E.R. doctor, everyone else I encountered, whether they knew my status or not,( many didn’t) treated me as any other woman on the planet. Being asked by the radiology tech if I was pregnant or could be pregnant was a moral lift. The echocardiogram was the very first time I had to expose my breasts to anyone. As small as my breasts are, I was still a bit proud of how they looked that day and the ladies administering the tests saw only a woman in front of them.
What we perceive and what others perceive can be two distinctly different images. We see the blemishes, the flaws, the imperfections. We see the something and everything that we long not to be there. We even see things that have long since gone away. Those ghosts of our reflection are not just limited to the transgender community. I don’t know any woman that wouldn’t want to change one thing about their body or still think something needs to be changed long after it was corrected.
With no make-up to hide behind, with no brush to style my hair, with only the cover of an ugly oversized hospital gown for clothes, I faced my fear and faced those ghosts head on this last weekend. Not once did I look in the mirror and see the guy I use to be.
In this test of living an authentic life, trusting the images others see, I think I passed with flying colors. There will be future hurdles I must overcome, like how will any future boyfriend see me? Will I be able to pass that test? Will they see only a woman or will they see any hint of my past life? These question will be answered one day and I only hope I will face them with confidence in the person God made me to be and not look back at a reflection from the past.