One year ago my name change became official, and I became Naomi publicly, officially, professionally, and in every other way. Transitioning was probably the hardest decision I have ever made - I had to come to terms with both possibly losing everything and doing it with the whole world watching.
It seemed like I was contemplating jumping off a cliff. I was terrified yet determined - I knew that I had to make that leap, whether I would end up soaring or crashing to the rocks below. So on October 22, 2012 I leapt off the cliff.
At this point I am nowhere near done transitioning, and there are both physical and behavioral changes that are still in progress. But while I'm not finished, at this point I've hit many "firsts" as Naomi... the first time getting my hair done professionally, the first time going to work, the first time flying, the first time traveling internationally, the first time meeting old friends, the first time meeting former students, the first tech conference, the first time speaking in public, the first time networking professionally, the first time talking publicly about being trans, and so on.
Strangely none of those situations was particularly uncomfortable. In fact, sometimes I would catch myself and wonder why I wasn't more uncomfortable and afraid, more ill at ease. But strangely, I almost never was.
Instead I found myself oddly at ease, acting as if it was completely natural, even when I had to explain being trans to rental car clerk in Nebraska or when I interacted with Japanese colleagues who had previously known me only as Vern. In fact, long transitioned trans people have been surprised with that comfort, thinking I seem more like someone who transitioned 10 years ago, rather than a noob of less than a year.
I can think of only a couple of reasons why I that might be so. First of all, when I decided to move forward, I decided that I could only transition if I came to terms with the world knowing I was trans at a glance. I felt that if I had a problem with that, I would never be able find peace. I made my way to that acceptance before I took my first hormone pill.
The second reason is the one that I would think is the greater one. I think the reason being Naomi has seemed so natural for me is that it is natural. I've never been more at home in my own skin, a phrase that I could never even fathom before. I sleep better, I feel more comfortable around people, I can even be comfortable and at peace with myself, at least sometimes. I'm sure that the correct hormone balance is a huge part of it, but just as important I can now be who I am, rather than who I was supposed to be. And that is huge.
I know at least some people who think that I am now a happier, warmer, and more friendly person than Vern was. (Someone even went so far as to call me "bubbly." I think that's pushing it... but I was not offended.) I do know that it just seems natural to put more of myself into relationships. And I definitely get more out of them.
So you could call this Naomi's first birthday. Yes, it was a very long time coming, but I think it was worth the wait.