Penny's Story

A cute little drummer living her dream.

Clarity and Being Open

“I still struggle with it. I remember when I was little trying to figure out if I was a boy or a girl – I mean, I know I’m a man…”
— a friend
“You’re Tranny Famous.”
— another friend

It’s become clear to me lately that I’ve made decisions in the past couple years that have lead to me being fairly public about my history of transsexualism. It shocked me when I realized that I could walk through the world as a woman. I never expected to have the choice to be secretive about my history.

I still remember the very first moment when the world made it clear to me that it saw me as a woman. A few years ago I was teaching an at the time new student, and I mentioned to her that I had a trying week as I had just had the court date for my divorce. And without missing a beat she asked, “Oh, and was he a musician too?”


It hit me really hard in an amazing way. I suddenly really, ~really~ got that I was seen as a woman, and that people would assume that I was a straight woman (which I am). I had officially entered the “normal” part of the gender- and hetero- normative world. It was strange at first. It felt like the ultimate acceptance and recognition all at once. I managed to stammer a “no” at my student (because my ex isn’t a musician) – I couldn’t see a value in telling my student that my ex was a she and not a he.

And so I realized, to use the term we use, that I pass. I amble through the world and everyone sees me as the woman I am. It’s about the best feeling ever. I never, ever take it for granted. After all those years of being an almost-person, living a life horribly askew, I was given a very clear insight that the world agreed with me – I’m a woman.

And yet, for some strange reason, I keep outing myself. Over and over again, I tell my story in more and more public ways. That second quote at the beginning of this post was made about me. I understand the decision of so many women to keep their histories more private than I do. It’s tiring; answering the same questions over and over again, having assumptions made about me, my boyfriend, my ex-wife, my friends, it just gets heavy sometimes. I often think that maybe I should keep myself more private and go about the task of living my nice normal little quiet life.

And then I hear people say things like the quote that began this post. Someone said this just the other day. And I remember why I’m doing this. I’m doing this for all the time that I struggled with my transsexualism. For all the times that I beat myself up, pushed other people away, and just lived a life that wasn’t my own, I feel a need to be open about my history. I’ve come to the point where I feel like this was part of the deal I made with God. I often say that my transition was as much about me giving up and stopping fighting against reality as it was a conscious decision. I now view that more clearly as giving in to God’s plan for me, and part of that plan is evidently for me to be involved in education. I certainly can’t speak to the science as well as some people, and I’m not a political firebrand like some of my friends, but something I’ve been practicing doing since I was very little is telling my story.

It took me a very long time to finally put all the pieces together. I’ve talked several times about the reasons for that. Yet now I have a clarity that I find an amazing blessing. The pieces of my life finally fit. I can look back at my early years and I can understand so many of the decisions I made, so much of the confusion I faced, and so much of the anxiety and depression I lived through.

I’m not saying all the answers, far from it. But I’ve been blessed at this point in my life with a great deal of clarity. I see things that I never saw. I understand things that baffled me before. I have experience and skills I only dreamed of before.

And when I see someone express the confusion that I used to live with, it breaks my heart, and I want to reach out to them, and help.

And even further, I know that the only way I have of possibly helping folks is to just talk to them and tell my story. My story is unique, because all of our stories are unique, but I believe there is value in more stories being told, so I will add my voice to the chorus.

And I will tell my story with my words.


  Abby wrote @

Like yours, my transition was part of my spiritual journey. For two years, I prayed every morning (to the Hindu Goddess Kali in my case), asking that She “remove [from me] all that is not real.” The result is Abby. I didn’t begin (or end) that prayer with any idea that it might result in my transition. In fact, those thoughts hadn’t been a conscious part of my life for many years. I just prayed, waited for guidance and lived my life according to that guidance and what I know to be true about the world and my place in it. I will be forever grateful that it led me to who I am today. I could never have imagined the happiness and joy that living authentically has brought to me. And, as I’ve said here before, part of that authenticity is being truthful about who I am, which means that, like you, I “out” myself regularly, whenever I think it will help me or others to be more tolerant, compassionate and loving.

  Lori D wrote @

Adjusting to this life where I’m no longer gendered male is indeed extremely rewarding. After all, I’d like to think I worked my tail off trying to shake off those remnants of many things masculine and wanted to just be accepted as a woman by most people. Still, most people who know me personally know I’m not ashamed of being a visible trans woman, and I defend my trans brothers and sisters like they were my own siblings. There’s a balance I’m finding that fits my life quite well, a balance that was initially so hard to find.

  Abby wrote @

Yes, and so hard to define or explain to anyone who hasn’t lived it. People talk about living “stealth”, but there’s only a very few who are completely stealth. Mostly, it’s a matter of degree, with each of us making individual choices about the people and situations where we are willing to be open about our history from birth, and, then, again, to varying degrees depending on the people and the situation. I can tell you about the situations where I’ve been willing to reveal my past and those where I haven’t, but the only explanation I can give you about what guides me in those choices is that I follow my heart, which, in turn, is guided by Goddess.

  Aria wrote @

There is a world beyond what you see right now.

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