September 27, 2013

Ali for the Holidays?

Christmas_tree_sxc_huIt’s impossible not to notice how the stores are already gearing up for the holidays. The Halloween stuff is out in force, of course; but lingering on the edges of the pumpkins and costumes are the first hints of the rest of the holiday season: stuffed turkeys, cornucopia centerpieces, lighted lawn snowmen, rolls of wrapping paper. It’s never too early to get people in the mood for feasting and shopping and giving.

For me, the approach of the holidays this year brings with it some important questions: Who do I want to be at the Thanksgiving table this year? Who do I want to be under the Christmas tree?

The obvious answer is “I want to be me.” And that ultimately means being Ali. It’s been nine months now since I finally began to accept who I am, and every day I feel more and more like I’m not myself most of the time. It eats me up to think that I have to spend another holiday season hiding who I am. Every gift given to my old name, every Christmas card addressed to who I’m not, every person I see for the first time since last year who calls me he is going to be just a little unbearable.

But I’m clearly not ready for “life transition” yet. I haven’t told most people. I haven’t even told my kids! To be Ali for the holidays means beginning the process of telling everyone now, even as I’ll still be spending most of my week as someone else. 

Also, trying to push towards a more full-time existence now means that, intentionally or not, my transitioning would become a “thing” during the holidays. If I’m sitting there in a dress, if I’m demanding that family adjust what they call me or the pronouns that they use, I become disruption at the Thanksgiving table and a distraction at the Christmas get-togethers. I don’t want this.

I would rather not make my identity a disruptive force over the holidays. I’d rather it be normal by the time Thanksgiving rolls around; I’d rather that gifts given to Ali are given sincerely. So I will probably not be Ali for the holidays this year. He gets one last go at celebrating.

Now New Years — that’s a different story …

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