First Event 2014: Who Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

FE14CatIt has been a tradition to give First Event a new “subtitle” each year. The funny and poignant 2014 theme is “Who do you want to be when you grow up?”

Being transgender is often compared to a journey, an odyssey toward better aligning our lives and outward presentation with our inner self-perceived identity, a quest to match our inner selves with external reality. Being transgender often means a second childhood, relearning where we fit in the world along with new skills necessary for our future. Our journey is the often halting exploration of new possibilities with the daunting challenges of youth. Many of us are not at all young in years, but we are all young in spirit, young in our curiosity, young in our aspirations and expectations, yearning to “grow up” to become better, more effective and happier adults.

Many of us even go through some of the same real phases experienced by any child, the same questionable enthusiasms, the same questionable dress, the same questionable relationships, the works. I for one seem hell bent to dress like I’m 19 even if that happened four decades ago for me. And if I cannot be 19, then 29 or 39 will do. Would you believe 49? My daughter keeps asking me to use a grey wig and look my age. I have news for her and I think most of us can sympathize. We never got the chance to look and be ourselves at age 19 and now we deserve a second chance. We deserve a second youth, however fleeting and incongruous. We want and need the chance to grow up a second time, making new choices for our lives.

First Event can be an important resource for “growing up” our transgendered selves. Like children and for a few short days, we play new games, learn new skills, make new friends, and dream a better future for ourselves. Like children, we gather with our peers to compare and learn, to explore and grow.

My favorite author, Ursula LeGuin, has my all time favorite quote in her humanistic sci-fi novel, The Left Hand of Darkness. “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” I think she illustrates the peril of dreams, transgender or otherwise. We need the process of growing up, the process of becoming more comfortable with ourselves, the process of integrating our perceived gender with the real world. We need all that much more than the end of finishing transition. A road that ends leaves us nowhere to go. Instead, plan to grow up but never quite get there. Stay young and enjoy the journey as slowly as you like. May you never quite reach the end.

Stacey Carla
First Event Committee

If you have another take on this year’s theme, let us know at info@tcne.org.