2016 Big Steps Forward


Lots of folks have been complaining lately about 2016.

Certainly, as one friend of mine pointed out, as movies and celebrities have become more prominent in our lives, and my impressionable teen years were in the 80’s, I’ve seen a lot of my childhood heroes fall away this year. This trend I’m sure will continue as I age.

But personally, since I significantly shifted my business focus nearly two years ago, 2016 has been one of the most fulfilling to-date.

Professionally, I have found my path forward into more of a consulting role with clients. This has been immensely fulfilling. I didn’t realize how much I’d picked up through my years of struggle in my own consultancy. Problems that I stopped seeing entirely because I just reflexively dealt with them. It is still hard to see them, but now I’m developing a reportoire of feedback from others who seem better qualified to put how I help into words.

Perhaps it’s my perspective from my work in the trans community, but I see oppressions and micro-aggressions in many places, they are rampant in my industry. Perhaps they are in every industry, perhaps this is simply universal. My view has widened from myself, to other trans people, to people who have chosen careers in software development, to the companies that employ them. Helping folks break down the barriers they put in front of themselves, helping them see past the small shadow they see cast beneath them to the fullness of their capability and humanity. Freeing them to courageously explore new ideas and technologies, develop their craft, this is uniquely rewarding for me.

Personally, we’ve been nesting in our home up north, improving the property and house. The uniqueness and draw of this life drives me to leap towards it. As I describe to new acquaintances and clients, “I live in a log cabin in the middle of the woods.” This is who I am, who I want to be, how I want to live life. Work is fine, but is just a means to this end. This perspective has been freeing. Invigorating.

The Trump presidency may narrow my professional opportunties, if he follows through with his promise and dismantles NAFTA (management consulting is the NAFTA window that allows me to work with companies in the US). Perhaps Canadian companies have started to catch on to this new trend of bringing software skills in-house and growing local teams. I feel like my new perspective will help me locate and close opportunities here, at the very least it has given me the confidence to pursue them.

This holiday season has been one of the most fulfilling over the past 5 years as well. Having our daughters close, minimal family friction, a further glimpse of how our family will grow in the coming years, and having my spouse’s parents much closer than ever has made for a fun family filled season. Maybe this rare 10 days (in a row!) at home has inflated my fondness for being here, but it just feels good.

This year marked 5 years into my social gender transition, the time at which I began exclusively presenting to the world in my felt gender. That was an important anniversary. The initial shock of transition has given way to slow growth and self-acceptance. Undoing half a lifetime of dysphoria and male socialization is painstaking. As sure as I was, I didn’t realize then how tentative and hesitant my initial steps were in this direction. With each step over the past 5 years the feeling that I’d done the right thing has solidified. Now it’s just odd habits and mannerisms and allowing myself to accept the woman I am, in all my geekiness, weird body shape, too-deep voice, and oddly acquired mannerisms.

I feel less fragile now than I ever have. For a few years my professional confidence carried me through the turmoil, but now I feel like my personal confidence is starting to be able to take on some of that burden. I’m not sure it will yet withstand judgement from the family I grew up with, that feels like a race against time, but I’m certainly not up for a race. I won’t suffer people in my life who refuse to accept me for who I am, so I am left wondering if we will ever speak again, and wondering if I’ll ever have the strength to find out before they’re gone. If that’s to be, then so be it. Maybe it will be more comforting for them to live with the memory of who I tried to be rather than who I actually am. That is their choice to make, not mine, and I think I’ve finally stopped feeling responsible for it.

Who knows what the next 5 years holds for me, as I get back on my feet financially, as our children continue to mature, as we try and build a life more on purpose than by how the wind blows us. It feels good.

Life could still capsize us in this little dinghy we’ve built, but it’s nice to float for a while.


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