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(I didn’t know where to put this letter, but since it was my introduction to about 80 of closest Facebook friends, I thought it might belong here.)Gender Reveal(This is a long post, but it’s important to me. This did not go out to my entire list, just a few for now.)Gender Reveal parties became all the rage. A huge celebration and anticipation. Which would it be; Pink or Blue? Before the child is even born, there’s a mad dash to put the child in a box of one destiny or the other, where expectations of conforming grew and multiplied with the birth of this unsuspecting soul. For the most part, this works out just fine.But what if the kid doesn’t fit in the box? Can you really tell? As we’re finding out, the usual signs are not always the only indicator. Oh, it would be so easy if it were.For the child who doesn’t fit into the “original equipment” box, it’s a life of compromise, confusion, and, quite often, shame.Similar to sexual orientation (though having nothing to do with each other), gender identity is a spectrum like a bell curve. Not everyone is at one end or the other.As science has evolved its study of gender, they’ve come to a point of discarding the term “disorder” when referring to transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) persons. As most indigenous cultures across the globe acknowledged for eons, science has recognized that TGNC is not a problem; It’s healthy and natural, unique to each individual.What does TGNC mean for a person on their discovery journey when first questioning gender identity? Well, for young people it can be a time of shame; or it could be a time of affirmation. It could be a time of ridicule, or a time of love and support. It could be a time of judgment or a time of celebration. From a practical sense, it could be like being forced to use your right hand when you were born left-handed.For those whose discovery journey starts later in life, it’s often a time of judgment (self-) and shame, ingrained from repeated exposure to transphobia. All the public signs, movies, and off-hand remarks of ridicule toward TGNC as the butt of so many jokes over decades have left a flashing red light in the brain that screams “HIDE!”Some would say it’s not rational to feel that way. But the evidence in the world doesn’t seem to align with reason.Some will go to their grave with the sign still flashing. Some will find moments where they can cover the HIDE sign, block it out for a few precious moments. Some will dare to turn the sign off for a select few friends or family, sharing this deepest secret, risking rejection or finding acceptance.This is the point when my heart is pounding, my hands are sweating, and my eyes are leaking. I’m scared. But I‘m tired. I am tired of Hiding. I am tired of caring so much about what people think of me.I started this with the gender reveal party because I want to celebrate my own: I’m transgender/gender non-conforming. I’m on the transgender spectrum. I’m still figuring it out. (Throughout my life, part of the confusion was that I’ve never been attracted to men. Is that a thing; trans but not gay? Yes, it is.) After 4 years of honestly exploring my gender identity, I don’t feel I fit in a box.You may know my friend Kim Belew. Two years ago (June 15 actually – you can look it up) she offered her own gender-reveal party on Facebook with a “Confession Friday.” Some of what she says in that post is true for me. I most identify with “genderfluid” or nonbinary. There are times when I am male, but more often I’m female. And times that I’m both. And times that I’m neither. Confused yet? Yeah, me too. For about the last 50 years.So, for most of my life, my conclusion was; I’m just weird. That’s when the red sign flashes HIDE.If you’d like to see a powerful documentary on the trans experience, watch “Disclosure” on Netflix.I’ve shared this with a few people, and they are supportive and accepting. Some people said, “I knew that!” I guess I’m the last to know.But maybe this aspect of me makes some people uncomfortable. Can’t say I blame them. I’ve had to deal with my own internalized transphobia through this discovery journey. Just know that you don’t have to “get it.” Please message me if you’d like to chat about it.Why am I celebrating this reveal with you? So that you know if next time you see me presenting in a non-traditional way (feminine or androgynous clothing or makeup), it’s just me being me. I’m still the same person. Still an introvert. Still a creative. Still spiritual.Like Kim, I’ve eventually accepted this as a spiritual gift to be able to experience both genders. Some of our greatest gifts in life are unfolding mysteries, gradual steps like fractals, adding and growing until true beauty of the whole is revealed. Those moments of authenticity are described as gender euphoria.I’m so grateful that I discovered my authentic self, grateful for the acceptance of friends, grateful that I’ve been given a chance to be who I really am. Thank you for being part of my gender-reveal celebration!Peace, Loren
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