Bev Barnes
When Do We Start To Live?
By Bev Barnes
Transgender Forum
Decembeer 2004

Sometimes I am amazed at some of us. Maybe shock and disbelief are better words at how fast some of us want to go. We all know how dangerous a speed demon on the roadways can be but have you ever thought about how dangerous it can be for us on the road to transition (no this is not a Hope and Crosby movie.) Naturally, we want it now and yesterday would not have been too soon for most of us so it is understandable about how impatient we can be. Now I am not a gatekeeper nor am I a therapist though I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last week so I am not qualified to give anyone any advice but I do have an opinion and I am going to express it now. "Slow Down! This is a neighborhood, not some residential district."

I am writing this because yesterday a girl was talking to me about moving so that she could begin her "Real Life Test" in the spring. Now I believe in the RLT because it can show very quickly where your comfort level is, where you need to improve and how easily you can adjust and adapt to your new gender role. By asking me questions about her RLT, it shows that she is thinking ahead and planning which is good because so many of us sort of rush in where men fear to tread.

The girl who was asking me the questions is sort of new in my book. She has seen a therapist three times and just had her first laser treatment. From my way of thinking, I believe that she is rushing things a bit. Okay, a lot, and I told her so. First of all, I doubted that a qualified therapist would support such a "damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead" approach without a lot more preparation work; and secondly, I felt that her beard removal would not be near completion given such an ambitious schedule; and we all know that a five o'clock shadow is not helpful when you are trying to pass.

But her question about when is the right time to start one's RLT is actually very good and what I want to talk about some. When is the right time? I really do not know. It is one of those individual things we each have to decide on for ourselves. We each have different circumstances like; do we do this where we live or some place new, on the job or start a new career, etc. But a few years back a friend of mine suggested something that we might want to use when we think we are ready a mini RLT.

Her concept is simple. Take two weeks to a month off (the longer the better) and be your new self 24/7. You go away for a month and do everything as your new gender. That means shopping, taking your car in for servicing, going to the doctor, whatever it is, you do it in your new gender role. You very quickly find out where your comfort level is and anytime that makes you pause to think, "can I do this," then you know you have to work on that area. The key is to have the self-discipline not to revert back because of any situation. Remember this mini-RLT is will be easier than the real one that you will face later primarily because you will not be facing employment, friends, or family situations.

Once the mini test is done, you will have seen and identified any weaknesses and you can work to correct them. Plus you will have had experiences that will help you in the actual RLT. The major benefit is that is helps you prepare for a very big event that none of us can really understand all the complexities. It gives us a peek at life beyond the rainbow and helps us to succeed. For those who have done the RLT and failed, you can never really go back to how things were because so many people now know and treat you differently. The mini test just helps give us an edge in a game where so much is stacked up against us.

I know several girls that transitioned and failed and had to revert back in order to survive. The biggest problem was economics. Starting over in a new location or in the old because of a lost job is a big hurdle that many cannot leap. I will say that most of them did later on transition and very smoothly and most have said that they knew this time how to do it. I am sure that we all would want to do it right the first time and not have to back up any. The house always has an advantage and I feel that the mini RLT could be a way to even up the odds in our favor to help win this game of life.