Every Choice Has Its Price

Erik Erickson, a famous developmental psychologist, revealed that adolescents must first develop a sense of identity before they can learn to be intimate with others. In his view, we must first know and love ourselves before we can love another. Carol Gilligan took a stance contrary to Erickson’s view in that traditional adolescent females learn to be intimate before they develop their self-identities. Regardless of which comes first, it seems that to be complete, people need to have both identity and intimacy.

A transgendered person can potentially gain self-identity at the cost of intimacy or vice versa. We have become aware of the pain of the transwoman who has lost family, friends, and loved ones upon successful transition. We are also familiar with the despair of the person who, for whatever reason, is not able to express her feminine gender except in the deep recesses of her mind or in the safety of her closet. Both of these extreme decisions have their costs and their benefits. The transitioned woman has gained her life and herself, feels whole, but has lost many of those who gave her life meaning and possibly even lost her career. The closeted transwoman on the other hand, keeps her friends, family, and her career but may lose herself in her hiding process.

A third way is followed by those transpersons who fear losing identity or intimacy and who take the middle road toward transition. Such people know a special kind of angst that comes with compromise.

Choosing to live in a compromised position, I have grown my hair long and have gone through procedures that have feminized my looks in various ways but I have not gone nearly far enough to live as a female. While I have kept my job and my family, I live in a twilight and somewhat androgenous physical state. Every time I do something to tweak my outward femininity, my feminine side gains. But I lose something from my old self that makes me less recognizable and maybe even less acceptable to some people.

While I fine it easier to interact with those I see on a regular basis, I have a deep fear of seeing family, friends, colleagues, and even neighbors who I have not seen for awhile. To maintain my career and social life, I feel the need to obscure my long hair and cover up my arms and legs so friends, neighbors, and family cannot see they are hair free. I feel I avoid the neighbors and they avoid me because I look different than I used to and this is uncomfortable.

Regardless of the costs, I choose to live this life where having it all means accepting compromise. Every choice has its price.

Felicia Conti


Anonymous said…
My life situation is different from any transwoman I have ever heard about. I do not have any identifiable career and never made any friends to loose so I never had this loss to consider. I have been known to be eccentric if not mentally ill for a long long time so no-one was ever shocked at my transition which has been of a less drastic nature anyway without hormones or SRS but with permanent make-up and other dress modifications. I have worn my hair long for decades and continue to do so at age 60. Happily I have most of it left. My life problem is not in loosing friends which I hardly had in the first place save a girlfriend or two but in making them in the first place!! I don't consider myself any better off than any more usual transwoman, just different. Perhaps one should say that I am both better off and worse off. I am naturally androgynous which is to say that I am very feminine as well as very masculine although my style of dress is very feminine.
Sarah said…
I feel for you in your prediciment of having to hide your true self from the locals who have obviously influenced your every move.
I agree there are some difficulties in our younger years, about how we are eventually going to identify ourselves.
I come from an extreme exception to the rule, as i was placed in catholic instituitions from the age of five, i was unable to distinguish myself as a person, strict discipline was the norm, and punishment was handed out at the nuns and brothers personal whims.
To cut a long story short, i am a very sensual and intimate person, and i have no valid reasoning for why?. I had no mother from the age of two and i have never met my father.
I was very promiscious sexually when i attained my freedom, and equated love with sex, being much older now, i realise that my intimacy comes from sexual exploits.
In my experience there is no hard fast rule which can be applied to all and sundry, in dealing with love per se, as we all follow our own path in life.
I live as female, and i do not pander to other people's judgements or views on anything. Though, i am very rebellious as a result of how i was treated as a child.
I do really hope that you eventually find your own path, you deserve it.
Felicia Conti said…

I have found it true for me, that yes, regardless of which comes first,
I need both identity and intimacy to be complete.

Like you, I have traded some intimacy for more identity. Yet, I may have
sold myself short. For I never truly gave others, to whom I would be
intimate with, a fair opportunity to share in my identity. So I cannot
say that giving them, those others, more insight to my identity would
have in fact caused a loss of intimacy with them.

My solution, the path that I have taken, is like yours and involves the
middle road. Moreover in doing so, I have found that I grow to be more
aware of my self (identity) and grow into deeper relations with
others(intimacy). Of course this is not at once nor at the same time.
Just a little each day, everyday. It has also provided me the needed
comfort to substain my journey.

While every choice has its price, it also has its rewards.

May the choices we have be many, the prices we pay be small,and the
rewards we reap be enriching,

With love,


Felicia and Jenna,
I can indeed empathize with you both on this existentialist point.
Being in the middle requires a balancing act that can indeed be
challenging and stressful but rewarding. I'm considerably closer to
full time masculine than anything but have managed to find
opportunities to express my feminine component--the side that is
normally sacrificed. But I've found considerable contentment in the
simple fact of having friends who know of my dual nature or even only
know me as Stephanie--even if they are online. That has helped me
understand that while I may not be able, on a regularly and daily
basis, to express whichever--or both--genders I choose, I am in many
ways doubly blessed in that I am able to experience the joys of being
masculine with people who accept and appreciate me in that role and
to enjoy the same (though more infrequently) with others who
appreciate my feminine aspects. Hey, it's not only Hannah Montana
who's got the best of both worlds! Being in the middle isn't so bad
if that's where you're meant to be.

Stephanie Yates

Being in the middle CAN be great but it is probably also really REALLY disorienting. Don't I know it. I would much prefer to be the real me always. But my commitments and my attachments mean more to me than anything else and so I live in the middle,. It is, however, a lot bettetr than not being able to expres (and treasure) ne's true self at all -- as I know only too well.

P. S. >>> Stephanie is a BEAUTY!

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> MsDD

Dear Jenna, Stephanie, and MsDD,

Thank you all for your very thougtful and reflective responses. Lotsa Love.

Anonymous said…
I am the natal female GF of a M2F. We met rather later in life; she had finally, after painful reflection and periods of experimentation, has found her identity. Her insistence on being who she is has come at the cost of losing two wives who could not accept.

Although my partner (for work purposes, or to protect feelings of children) someetimes "compromises" in how she presents, she is very sure of herself and who she is. I love this about her -- her confidence, her self-acceptance. Because I love, her I want to truly know her, all aspects of her complex self (even though it can be challenging at times).

My take on this is: true intimacy cannot exist without both partners having developed and accepted their own true identities, for if we are not presenting our true selves, how can we hope to connect to someone else in any meaningful way?

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