Yes, that is my birth name.
No, I have not committed suicide, nor do I plan to. I have not legally changed my name yet. Nothing drastic or horrible has happened ... just an epiphany.
Since I started this chapter of my life ... since I seriously began pursuing an actual transition just over a year ago, I have worried about many things ...
- Am I really ready for such a big step?
- Will I be accepted by family, friends, coworkers, the public?
- Am I ever going to appear or look female ... my face ... my body?
- How will I tell people?
- What if they find out before I'm ready?
- What if they reject me?
This list could go on for pages, and many of the items have not actually been resolved yet, but without really realizing it ... without any concerted effort many things have occurred:
- I am no longer hiding.
- I am not trying to act like a man ... I'm not trying to act like a lady, either. I am just being myself.
- I have not stopped some traditional guy stuff (watching MMA, football, being competitive)
- I am still an avid Pittsburgh Steelers fan.
- I have allowed myself to enjoy some traditional girl things (mani / pedi, dying my hair, makeup)
- I am connecting with people on a different, more open level ... even if I have not told them of my transition
- I have become more spiritual ... closer to God
- I have found a level of happiness and peace that I never knew existed.
This list could also be expanded if I truly wanted to take the time and examine all the aspects of my life and my being.
The coming weeks and months will likely be somewhat stressful. In life, timing is everything ... and the timing of some of these events could have been better. In the school bus industry August and September are hideously stressful. Yet during this time I have several tasks I must complete as my body is beginning to noticeably change.
- I must talk to my mother. She must know something is different as she has seen me in full Tiffie mode
- I should talk to my siblings ... likely via email or Facebook, but the wording is important.
- At the driver meeting in September I will be telling all my coworkers of my transition.
- I must become more confident using my female voice.
- I must prepare for the possible rejection or backlash from my announcements.
In the further future I will look into legally changing my name and the gender marker on my birth certificate. For California I already meet the requirements to do this, but I do not want to rush into anything. This has implications far beyond my identity ... knowing that I have prepared for all the obvious, and maybe the less thought of difficulties is important.
I understand that decisions like this may seem irrational ... shocking ... sudden or rushed to many. It will be difficult for some to understand or accept because the news will be new or different to them ... but I have been dealing with this my entire life and I did not make any decision easily or without great scrutiny ... And despite the fact that I have had 40+ years to prepare for this mentally, it is all still new to me as well. I have a lot to adjust to ... including how people will interact with me.
For now I respond to my legal name. For now I am the youngest brother of 7 siblings ... although one of my brothers is no longer alive to know the real me. For now I am my mother's youngest son.
But what will come of these situations?
I do know a couple things for sure:
- I am Pam's husband. I always will be, regardless of name or gender. This is my choice ... it was said at our wedding, "I now pronounce you husband and wife." I have no plans to change that. I love Pam ... I love being her husband. She is trying to remember to use female pronouns and call me Tiffanie in public.
- I am Timmy's father. No amount of estrogen gives me the right to be called his mother. Biologically speaking I will always be his father ... I am proud to be his father. Even if I somehow manage to look complete;ly feminine I will be honored for him to call me Dad. The fact that he accepts me means much more than a title.
What I do not know:
- Will my mother openly accept me? Will she call me Tiffanie ... call me her daughter? I can understand how difficult it will be for her to change. She chose my birth name ... I have been her baby boy since I was born. If she does accept my decision, I will give her much latitude with my name and pronouns. Just knowing I can be me with her is enough.
- Will my siblings accept me? My eldest sister already knows and has no issue other than wanting to know if I am happy. Will the others be so open minded? Will they use my chosen name? Will I be their sister and given the respect of proper pronouns?
- I am not as worried about my coworkers. I am protected by law and company policy at work. This does not guarantee that they will accept me, but they have no choice but to deal with me as I am a supervisor. Some will choose to still call me sir (which I do not expect, but has come about with mutual respect as I call the drivers by name and end the conversation with "Thank you sir" ... or "ma'am" depending on the person) ... they will do this as a sign they do not accept me, or to see if they can anger me. Many will openly accept me and support me. Either way, they have witnessed a very slow transition over the past three years which has accelerated drastically over the past six months or so.
- How ill I be treated by the corporate level of my company? I know I am protected, but how much support will I receive after I announce my decision to transition? Will I be under greater scrutiny? Will my achievements or opinions be considered less because I am now considered unusual or somehow deviant?
I have never walked this path before. There are many days I can simply enjoy the beauty within the changes which are occurring ... there are times I look behind me, and I am amazed at how far I have traveled ... but there are man times I look ahead and see the rough road which awaits me, and I become scared.
I do not have all the answers.
I do not even know all the potential issues.
As I said earlier, this is all new to me ... but I am happy.
Tim is dead.
I am Tiffanie Faith Chezum, and I hope all who read this, all who know of my transition choose to support me and share in my happiness. If they are not capable of this simple request, I hope they choose to leave me alone and not detract from the serenity I have found.