LJGI bought “Tranny” on Audible about a month ago, but did not rush to listen to it, and only put it on in my car as I made the drive north from south Florida back to the Atlanta area early this week.  I knew Laura Jane Grace (LJG) fronted Against Me, and that she had transitioned a few years ago.  I’ve never been one to pile on bandwagons, and so as my daughter transitioned…and then as I began to transition myself, I was damned if I was going to be the cliche trans person following a band just because the front woman was transgender.  However, as I began to dig into her book, I began to find that much of our thought processes were identical or ran parallel to one another, and that just drew me into wanting to check out her music.  So this past weekend that is just what I did, downloading all her albums on Spotify and…my love affair with LJG and Against Me began.

I’ve always been a fan of thrashing rock, punk, classic rock, and I could go on.  Nothing gets me going for competition or workouts than hard driving bass, drums, and electric guitars.  I was immediately taken with the songwriting abilities of LJG.  I’ve always been a sucker for good lyrics.  They matter to me, and as I listened to her lyrics I became even more hooked on her music.

Let me step back a second, and say the last two weeks have been eventful ones.  Last week was a goodbye of sorts.    One thing is certain from every transwoman I’ve ever talked to and that is this…HRT will fundamentally change the way I see and interact with the world.  Estrogen will change my brain, and so I spent last week quietly saying goodbye to certain things, happy to do so, but a little sad as well.  I admit, there were some tears shed on my part as I realized this version of me will never see my parents or brother again, but it is how it has to be, and I have faith that when the time comes they will accept, love, and support me.

Getting home, my wife and I had a good talk.  She shared her fears and concerns regarding intimacy, and while I assured her I still found her attractive, the unasked question is, “what will she think of me as my body and mind start to change.  Will she find me attractive?  We don’t have those answers, but we agreed to try and move forward.  We don’t know how things will turn out, but we love each other, and we will see if, in the end, that is enough.

Much bigger, I’ve realized that I’ve left my self-hatred and anger behind.  They no longer rules me, and I shared that in therapy this week.  The blowup between the wife and I last week was a major turning point for me and my transition…an important, positive one that has seen me begin to reconnect with my family…who I was so close to losing…and if that had happened I would have lost everything I hold dear.

So where did my self hate and anger come from?  I was angry and hated myself because I couldn’t be me.  I was angry I had to hide the female me, and hated myself for being a coward.   Finally, I realized that through various obsessions I had made myself numb to so much emotion.  With the self-hatred and anger gone, my emotions have begun to emerge, and while I’m more prone to tears these days, I am happy that this is the case. Up until today, it had been over 22 years since I had last sobbed about anything.

The trigger?  Well, my emotions were already raw, and it had been building, but it was an Against Me song which set me free.  I had been listening to “Tranny” earlier today, and there is a part where LJG talks about her friend and former lover CC being killed, and while attending the funeral CC’s mother tells her to make it right.  At the time LJG still wasn’t out.  The story was sad, but I didn’t think too much about it while listening to the story.  It wasn’t until I was deep into my workout listening to Against Me when “Because of the Shame” comes on (lyric version video is my Video of the Day).

I was doing my ab workout, and in the middle of it, I realize that the song was written about CC, but more importantly it was also written about LJG’s shame at the idea of showing vulnerability.  It was a shame I knew all too well, a shame that has kept me living a lie for so long, and a shame that I am through with.  Still, as I listened to the words, I sat up and began to cry.  I couldn’t help myself, but the tears were not my usual weak tears that I could push down and gain control over.  This time, they just kept coming, and I simply let go and sobbed.  The song hits me on such a visceral level, and even now as I think of it, I’m fighting back the urge to cry.  I’ve hated who I am for so long, hated how I held such rigid control over what I allowed the world to see, including those I love.  Even now, as I find my happy, because I have let go of that rigid control, there still exists a residual sadness for time and incidents that I can never make up, and that I can never get back.  Laura and her song will forever hold a significant place in my transition, and emotional development, and for that I will be eternally grateful.

I am old enough to know, LJG will never read this, never know just how much that song, her words, mean to this 42 year old woman just beginning her transition, but I think it connects because I know, without a doubt, that the shame she felt mirrors my own regarding what we both pushed down and denied for so long, before moving past it to find our real selves.

Looking at this week so far, it has been a week of turning corners.  Monday I found out that I will get my HRT letter at my next therapy session, and I also confirmed yesterday that in all liklihood I will be able to start HRT that same week…meaning in less than two weeks I will finally be on the physical road to aligning my body with my mind.

My wife is talking more about my transition in, if not a positive light, then definitely not a negative one.  She has noticed I am engaged more, and more involved in the household…I am simply more there.  And, finally, after my workout today, I shaved off my beard for the first time in eight years, and for what I know will be the last time.

I am finally getting excited for my future, and feeling more at peace than I think I have ever been before in my life.  I have left behind my self-hate, anger, and my shame.  In their place I have found freedom, contentment, and a peace that I hope to keep a hold of as I move forward with my life.  I no longer have to be ashamed, because there is nothing shameful about living my real truth.