THE BLOG
01/16/2015 01:47 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Life Is (Sex) Change

"So what does 'transgender' mean, exactly?"

Repeating the explanation to one man after another in the dating world wearied me to the point where I started sending guys to the Wikipedia page for Transgender. But then I visited it and read the first line: "Transgender is the state of one's gender identity or gender expression not matching one's assigned sex."

That umbrella definition does not encompass me today - "my assigned sex" is female now, and so is my "gender identity" - though whatever "gender identity" means, as opposed to just "gender," I don't claim to understand. "Gender identity" purports to refer to a person's inherent sense of their own gender, but my gender has always been female, thus I have never seen a disconnect, only so with my sex, which was all wrong until it was changed.

The Wiki definition goes on to give what is, I guess, a non-exhaustive set of examples of what transgender can mean. In essence, they appear to be: gender non-conformity; the feeling that the sex a person was assigned at birth is a "false or incomplete description;" or a person's non-identification with, or non-presentation as, the gender assigned at birth.

The last option probably gets closest of all three to how I see myself. Yet it seeks to define by exclusion.

What-my-body-is-not is of no help in communicating what-my-body-is.

Back in 2003, when I first announced to my parents that I was going to undergo a "gender transition," I failed to see what the BFD was.

"You're changing your body habitus," said my dad, a physician, using the medical term for physique and body build. "Can't you see that change affects other people?"

I spent the first couple years trying to convince him that I was not changing anything. I had always been female and always would be; I was just transitioning - to a body in harmony with my soul.

But my dad was right. Everything changed.

I went from being disgusted by my body to feeling comfortable in my own skin - overnight. This transformation gave me the freedom to dream what life could be like now that the obstacle in between my body and me had been transformed into a stepping stone. The only limits were my dreams themselves.

At the heart of these dreams was the hope of being loved.

I was dating straight men now. In the beginning, I hazarded my soul, believing that faith in the good of others would protect me. It did not work. Most men did not want to be with me after I talked to them about my past; they could not wait to get away.

As for those who did, they wanted to be "discrete" so that no one would know.

No way. I did not fight to be who I am, I did not go under the knife to get the right body parts, I did not risk everything to remain a dirty little secret, an experiment, a dalliance, a fantasy. Even if I felt like a second-class person, I was still a human being.

I resorted to the accepted terminology as a sort of refuge against the world. I used concepts like "gender identity" and euphemisms such as "sex reassignment surgery" to school anyone who trespassed my boundaries, which I set and changed at whim.

It was not fair to behave that way with men. Some were trying their best.

Besides, my indignation was dishonest: how could I lecture them on my "gender identity" when I did not have one, since I have had only one gender my whole life? And as for my sex, it was not "reassigned" - it was changed.

So I stopped beating around the bush.

"The word you may know for me is 'transsexual.' I was born in a boy's body. I had a sex change. Now I am completely female."

It may not be the most politically correct explanation. But it's true, and people know what I mean.

And there is nothing wrong with change, anyway. As a therapist I once saw in Guatemala - a paraplegic who dozed off during sessions, I swear it - used to tell me, "Life is change. When we stop changing, we die."