You Can Live a Happy Life Without “Their” Approval (but it’s nice when you get it)

(My riff as a transwoman in recovery on the PurposeFairy series 9 Reasons Why You Should No Longer Care About People’s Approval; all creative credit belongs to to that author.)

and THIS is how it can be

Every time I hit a Like Facebook button, I take a calculated risk.  I am saying to that person or page and indeed to a larger world that I approve of what I’m seeing, hearing and reading.  The converse – when somebody else approves of what I’ve said, they also share in a calculated risk.

I cannot live purely on the strength of another person’s approval. Approval itself is to0 nebulous, too fleeting. I need to be able to stand on my own when approval does not come. I need to realize that approval from those about me carries a price tag for that person which feels real even if it is not.

I also know that someone else’s approval has to be based on incomplete information. No other person can truly know what is in my mind or in my soul. She can approve of something I’ve said in which I was simply wrong. He can miss the truth of what I said because I did not communicate clearly and not approve.

All told, my personal self-worth, my happiness cannot depend on external approval. But that doesn’t mean it feels any less important or fulfilling when I do get it.

Within my goal in life to be authentic, I work to appear as a mostly normative middle-aged woman. I dress like a lot of other women, appropriate for where I am, whether in grocery store or church. I learn how to walk as other confident women I observe. I meet people’s eyes with an openness but not necessarily with a challenge. My name is Denise and I expect and request that others use it appropriately. In the process of this transition, my authenticity makes me happy and at the same time usually gives me some kind of tacit approval, some subtle validation from those around me.

I wish it always worked that way. Approval is nice when I get it. I’m grateful for the willingness to at least try to understand who I am. But when I don’t get it, I’m no less happy. I’m happy because I finally get who I am.

Love, Denise


De Facto DADT Still Exists

And no, this is not a headline from The Onion. G, L and B military folks are finally free of DADT. Trans people are not.

Celebration is in order for the end of any discriminatory practice, but in this case, a rising tide has not floated everybody’s boat. Some still remain behind and for military folks, that is a disagreeable and dishonorable concept.

The President’s assertion today that all patriotic people can serve the country in uniform is not founded. Patriotic I am, but I still recall with excruciating detail the pain that came from living in disguise, a gender chameleon, in order to not be discharged prematurely. That stark state of affairs has not changed, despite a significant percentage of veterans in the transgender/transsexual spectrum.

Would I do it all again? Yes – following the proud tradition of Navy WAVEs. It’s what I should have been able to do then and what I or any other trans-woman (or trans-man for that matter) should be able to do now if the DADT culture was truly extinguished.

I am pleased that LGB people can serve openly, but it’s not the only thing that is right.