Let me start off by saying that people can do what they want in life and there’s nothing you can do about it. People are allowed to make their own decisions and live how they want. I’d also like to note that I got approval from the individual I’m talking about before posting this.
Now, that being said, keep it mind throughout the remaining story.
In 2011 I met someone who one day would be one of my best friends, but I didn’t know that until 2014 when they finally started working at the same pool with me. During our time working together and hanging out outside of work, I developed a huge crush on said person. Which after months of me trying to flirt and trying to make it obvious that I had a thing for them, he finally noticed.
It was awkward because he didn’t actually have feelings for me and I just kind of accepted that nothing would happen between us. That was until I got a text one night of him confessing that he really did like me. Eventually at 2am we finally concluded that we were dating, but we didn’t actually tell anyone. Instead we just posted it on Facebook and waited for the reactions of friends and family.
Working together wasn’t really all that awkward either. I’m not one for public displays of affection because of how uncomfortable it makes people feel, so the people we weren’t friends with on Facebook didn’t actually realize we were a thing. Which was funny to me because people would tell me how attractive they thought he was and I just kind of laughed it off and waited for them to figure it out.
We were together for over a year and even though it wasn’t very long, it felt like longer (likely because we worked together almost everyday and those shifts just blur together with the amount of time I’ve spent working at the pool). Things started changing and I didn’t really notice or put it together in my head. Things like him shaving his legs (lots of swimmers do that) or growing his hair out (the man bun is trending). More things have happened but like I said, I never put it all together in my head. I had other things going on that were more time consuming.
It wasn’t until just before Thanksgiving that he told me that he didn’t want to be a guy anymore. If I’m honest, I didn’t have the best reaction and was totally against it. We didn’t talk for a couple days and during that time I started adding it all together, he’d been transitioning for months, I just hadn’t realized it. When we did talk again, he told me that he was “testing the waters” with me. It didn’t make up for the fact that I’d known him for years, been dating him for a while and now had to accept him as something other than a man.
We broke up. I felt that him changing and me staying with him would be changing my identity and that’s not something I wanted to do. It was rough for everyone involved, especially since when we broke up, it was during Thanksgiving break. I was in a house with 20 of my family members and he was at home by himself.
Time went by, people learned that we were no longer together and it was awkward. We agreed to put on happy faces and try to be friends because I really don’t like making people feel awkward or uncomfortable. Everyone at work was understanding and eventually she came out as a girl to our coworkers who hadn’t figured it out already.
I was proud, it was a huge step, but I also wasn’t feeling great about the transition process. Her and I talked about it a few times and overall I didn’t actually understand what she was trying to achieve or why she felt the need to change. It wasn’t any of my business though, people can do what they want. That didn’t change the fact that I felt entitled to answers that didn’t actually exist (they weren’t anything I actually wanted to hear).
It was easy to fake it at work or at school. It was easy to pretend that I was nothing but supportive of it all in front of people who should also feel like it’s okay. The hard part was when we hung out or when she first started wearing makeup. What really hit hard was when I saw her in a one piece swimming suit for the first time. I felt like the whole time I spent holding myself down and together just ended. She hadn’t made any huge transition with her body yet, and from what I understood didn’t plan to.
It was too much for me. It was too much for a few other people that were going to have to get used to the change just like I had to. I’ve known other people who now identify as trans and I never had a problem. This was such a different experience though, I dated this individual and thought I knew them inside and out. I was wrong though. I was wrong with thinking that things would just go back to normal and I’d be fine. I stopped thinking about my own feelings when I tried to make others feel comfortable with what was happening.
Let me tell you why it’s unhealthy to not think of yourself while pouring into others. It’s unhealthy because you don’t actually realize what you’re saying to other people and if you do, you may or may not realize that you’re lying to yourself and pulling far away from the truth. It’s unhealthy because people are seeing you in a “happy” state of mind when in reality you’re miserable. Everything turns false and when you finally do express how you feel to the person it’s all about, you sound transphobic.
Maybe I’ve come across as transphobic, change has never been easy for me. I’d also like to point out that I’ve done my best at being there for other people and trying to help them understand that change is okay. I’ve tried extremely hard to be there for her. I’ve talked her through things, helped her with how to change her attitude so that the world wouldn’t seem against her.
The thing is, she didn’t see me in a positive light anymore. She didn’t see me as a friend anymore. I didn’t really know her anymore and couldn’t relate with anything. I told myself that I would respect her as a human being and that even of we were only coworkers, I wasn’t going to judge her identity because I wasn’t a part of it.
It took a mutual friend talking to her in order for her to understand what I felt. All of my explanations she asked me for just went right over her head until this mutual friend confronted her. It took four months for her to apologize to me for breaking up with me in a poor situation (over a text, in front of my whole family). The relief I felt was incredible. That all changed when her actions didn’t match up to her apology she texted me. She got really good at expressing herself behind a keyboard, but in person things were the complete opposite.
I still have trouble, but I will still respect her as a person. People can do what they want and there’s nothing anyone else can do about it.
Now before you go telling or thinking that I’m being dramatic, think about it this way: I’ve never been so close to someone who identifies as transgender and I’ve never dealt with the transition process, I’m one of those people who thinks about the before and after, not the in between. Over time I do imagine myself getting past the struggle to accept what has happened, in the meantime I’ll do my best to keep a smile on my face and cope through the process.