Selena Xochiquetzal Martinez November, 2013
My transgender self
The pivotal point in the catalyst of change occurred for me when I was quite young. Although I was only three years old or so, I had a moment of self-awareness that has remained with me for my entire life. The moment of truth came when I was sharing a bath with another kid my age, which I learned that day was a boy. The moment of truth began as confusion; why is he a boy if I am a girl, and why do we have the same parts?
That's where it all began.
The body that housed my person for a half century had caused me a life of despair. This is all behind me now, but the accumulated experiences of those fifty years, as well as my own journey of self-discovery has given me an absolute conviction that I am indeed a transgender woman. Being transgender makes me a member of a worldwide community of people whose lives are becoming increasingly recognized as just another part of the diverse gender spectrum, which has existed throughout mankind's existence.
I am no am longer living in limbo, waiting for the next life in order to be a whole person. My commitment to living a full life has prompted me to serve, to bring comfort to the people that need it the most. Also, my sense of gratitude has been increased by my experiences with the veteran's administration hospital. I have become motivated to be involved with public service and am now receiving the education that will allow me to do so.
Now, fast-forward fifty years.
The day I began female hormone replacement therapy and gave away all my male clothing was the day I stopped playing the male role in my life. I will never go back, nor do I ever have the desire to do so. I have let go of the personal barriers I created to protect my spirit. Now I present myself as a whole person, a woman who is clear in her identity. By doing so I have discovered that maturity in life has given me a sense of wisdom and assuredness. I engage people with an openness and honesty that has a way of exhibiting my humanity. This serves to detract from peoples' perceptions of gender confusion, and demonstrates that gender is only a part of ones identity.
I am now experiencing a level of peace and happiness that I did not know existed. When I awaken each morning and gaze upon my reflection in the mirror, all I can do is smile. I see myself, a dynamic woman who is ready to face the world, and a woman who now has the desire to share the level of happiness of which I have obtained. I believe that true happiness has opened up my soul and has given me a heightened sense of belonging, being a part of the family of man is not elusive as it once was. I may be transgender, but I now "fit" into society as a woman. This has helped me to grow in my spiritual faith. The Presbyterian Church of which I have become a member this past year has given me a sense of humility. The focus of our congregation is to serve those who are in need. There is no dogma. No one is required to bow, pray or convert in order to be treated with compassion, to be fed or be provided with a warm and safe place to sleep. I could not be a part of a church that requires such commitments by those being served.
In the past few years I have become active within the veterans administration medical center in San Francisco. As a Vietnam era veteran, I receive the highest level of health care available in the world. I am now treated in the women's clinic and all my health care as well as my transgender related care is provided at no cost to me. While I was in active duty in the mid seventies, I never imagined how valuable having full health care coverage would be in my civilian life. I also receive funding for my education, which has been another invaluable benefit. I began college in the fall of 2012 in order to develop a new career, with nursing being my objective. I feel it is important to "giv
e back" to those that have served and sacrificed for not just ours but for many peoples around the world. The price of freedom can be high and I am grateful to those who serve in the United States armed forces. I have been involved in the Veterans Administration hospital Posttraumatic stress disorder and anger management program. I first became involved with this program as a veteran experiencing symptoms of the stress I experienced during my service. Even though I served over thirty Seven years ago, those stresses returned to haunt me and I felt it was time to deal with it. I quickly formed bonds with my fellow veterans in a way I never had before. During these sessions I have heard many horror stories. I see the pain, the stresses of war, the broken lives and families and the drug and alcohol addiction that is so prevalent amongst veterans. We are able to open up to each other in ways that cannot be done with those who have not had similar experiences. I began my gender transition early on during these veteran's group sessions, the love and support I received during this time was not what I expected. In fact, I did not know what to expect other than disdain and hostility since this is such a common reaction to people who just do not fit into the typical gender roles.
The relationship with my only child, who is eleven years old, and the sweetest daughter one could ever hope to be a parent of, is intact. Even though I "fathered" my child, I am now her mom. My daughter's birth mother will always be her mother unless of course she changes her gender, which is doubtful since her sister is also a transgender woman. The children at my daughter's school, the staff, and our friends' children always refer to me as a mom. Occasionally my daughter is asked why she has two moms. That question can be difficult for any one to answer, let alone an eleven year old, but she is so well adjusted to our lives now that her answers are simple and honest. One kid responded to her explanation about what being transgender is with, "cool, my PE teacher is transgender" and that was it. Kids get over it in less than ten minutes. I have been able to develop relationships with other parents without any bias as to my gender identity. We host sleepovers and play dates, we also attend family and church activities. My daughter, along with her friends and I, spend time in the various playgrounds in our area. My being transgender is pretty much a "non- issue" with the majority of children and their families.
I am now an optimistic woman, I need to be. Being a transsexual woman and single parent, I feel that it would not be fair to my eleven year-old daughter to be anything but optimistic for our future. The choices I make now are made with a fresh perspective that has clear objectives for the future ahead, not just for myself but for my child as well.
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