Eleven years ago I began an intense self-examination process; much of it documented here. Over five years ago, I did something that set me apart from almost everyone I knew ...
I took charge of my life.
It had never occurred to me that so many people that I had considered friends would become angry. At the time, it seemed impossible to me that the fact of taking charge was what bothered them. It had to be transitioning itself. Yet that seemed to ring hollow. Why? Because, yes, transitioning does change our relationships with others a bit, but, I thought, not that much. I was still me. I didn't reject anyone's company because of being female. I still enjoyed going for walks, especially when a set of golf clubs was involved. I still taught at the school. I faithfully cut my grass, etc. Yet, the reaction of most was quite dramatic. It polarized those who knew me. There were a few who were accepting - even some who were quite excited and pleased for me. Mostly, there were the 'others'.
In retrospect, a lot of the anger was generated from envy. I heard things such as "You have lived all your life up to now with this, so you should be able to carry on with it. You don't have that much longer to live anyway." That attitude made me wonder what had they sacrificed to make them so resentful of one who refused to put their own interests aside?
It was in considering the nature of the people who immediately saw what I was doing as life-affirming and good that an answer began to form. Without exception, those positive people had made conscious choices in their own lives and they didn't blame others if those choices didn't work out. They understood life-affirming decision-making.
Somehow, our culture had led those who envied me to believe that by giving up their own lives, ignoring their own interests, numbing the pain as needed, they were doing the 'right thing'. They saw what I was doing not as 'life-affirming' but instead as 'letting the team down'.
If one chooses a path, because they know in their heart that it is right for them, that is life-affirming. If I had made the choice to continue to fight a battle against transition, and that choice was based on some positive motive, it would have been life-affirming as well. It is the motivation that counts here. Those who were excited and pleased were people who could appreciate how difficult the process that brought me to transition was. They had taken charge of their lives in some way. Those who hated couldn't understand or appreciate what I was doing.
Choosing to put the needs of others before your own shouldn't make you envious of those who do not. But when it does, it is toxic.