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Gianna Israel Gender Library

Perseverance

I remember years ago when I began my transition that there were days when the whole world seemed against me. After adopting my new identity, people who had never visited my office before stopped by to socialize. Curiosity seekers, this continued for several years. Often while passing through San Francisco's business and shopping districts, on my way home from work I frequently was the only transgender woman I saw. At times I received disparaging comments from strangers, homeless people, even gays. On several occasions I was asked to leave both gay and straight business establishments. The request usually stated we do not serve your type of people here. There have also been times I was spat upon. Those early years were often very discouraging, yet I knew my self-identity was strong and persevered on the only path I knew. This article's subject is on perseverance, and several of its key components. Perseverance is needed if you wish to be true to yourself and your goals.

Perseverance is very hard work. Its believing in yourself, your ideas and your goals. Often in the face of criticism and other's disbelief in who you are and in what you are capable of accomplishing. Perseverance is a commitment, a dedication to yourself and following through with your actions. One of the key elements which is needed in order to persevere, is acknowledgment. Whether a person is making a transition, coming out to parents, looking for a new job, or dealing with a difficult challenge, it is extremely important to acknowledge the activity and process.

Sometimes during a challenge or crisis the simplest of tasks become extremely difficult. At these times it is important to recognize our actions as persevering, because it may take additional energy to stay with one's plans. Other times, if the work isn't actually difficult we may take our actions for granted and not recognize that there are benefits to our work. As a rule people tend to be success-driven, however there are often many reasons people show perseverance. As you develop plans it often helps to question your motivation in order to determine if perseverance is worth it. Am I doing this for my benefit? Am I doing this for others benefit? Do my plans have the potential to hurt others or myself? What is the benefit of acting now, over waiting to act or letting someone else take on the responsibility?

In acknowledging progress or difficulties, do not be afraid to acknowledge when you are doing difficult work. Doing so provides an inroad to recognizing that you will become accustomed to the work you are doing, and that persevering will be worth it. When your challenges seem particularly difficult, remind yourself that you are human. Do not wait around for other's permission, compliments or encouragement. Feel good about your progress, and proud of the difficulties you endure.

During these feel-positive moments while acknowledging your limitations and successes, do not be disillusioned. It is equally important to recognize that while you may become accustomed to following through with your plans, one never becomes completely accustomed to certain types of difficulties.. This is particularly so when a person is persevering under discriminatory or oppressive conditions. Therefore, if you should take on fighting against these factors in your life, acknowledge the fight, but also acknowledge the feelings that go along with the process.

You can feel good about taking on a challenge, but also recognize when a situation is causing pain. If you are dealing with a situation that is particularly painful or challenging, do not hesitate to seek help in dealing with your feelings so that you move beyond the pain to complete your goals.

During counseling sessions I often hear people complain about the difficulties they are having, and rightly so in many circumstances. Sometimes the changes we need to make or conflicts we encounter are not a matter of choice. Such situations often come as a matter of circumstance. Transgender issues, like many other issues in life, often present situations beyond our control. Fore example, we cannot always control whether people will accept us. Therefore, when we persevere through difficult times we act with the hope of improving our quality of life, even if it means being at odds with others.

Of the most common things I've noticed that people overlook is the role that not making choices plays when we are persevering. For example, when we are in the process of telling others about our needs, perhaps for the first time, we frequently forget what would happen if we did not make our needs known. Instead people generally spend a great deal of time observing how difficult it was to come out. Regrettably they often do not acknowledge that the effort was worth it because otherwise their needs wouldn't get fulfilled.

Choice also plays a key role in perseverance because as we encounter difficulties, sometimes we may wish to re- examine whether our efforts are worth it. During this process it is important to ask yourself questions? Are you willing to settle for second best? If your efforts do not turn out exactly as planned, will the struggle still have been worth it? Will persevering now provide me the skills to take on bigger challenges later?

While persevering, if you are engaging in something you believe in, that is your right. These days having the right to do or believe in something is often a much contested point. Sometimes people take their rights for granted, putting themselves completely before others. Other times people do not realize that everyone has innate rights as a human being, much like a -human bill of rights.- This would include the right to make choices and accept responsibilities is ours for the taking, insofar as we make every effort to not hurt others during the process. We also have the right to individual ideas and self-expressions, as long as we do not trample upon others ideas or expressions. Feeling you have the right to be who you are and pursue your plans play a key role in perseverance, because it provides self-confidence while you pursue your objectives.

I like people who persevere. They often having challenging stories and a vast wealth of ideas and experiences. People who persevere typically take ordinary skills and change our world for the better, in both big and small ways, instead of constantly complaining or criticizing. They also seem to have a unique ability recycle old ideas to create new poetry which rhymes with current times. And, while improving their quality of life, often set positive examples for others to do the same. If you look around our community, you should have no difficulty finding people who persevere. In fact, if you look in the mirror, I bet you will see one there. This article is dedicated to Larry Burton, Sr., who reminded me what perseverance is about and who inspires me.


GENDER ARTICLES. This educational column authored by Gianna E. Israel is regularly featured on the 3rd Monday of each month in Tg-Forum, the Internet's most up-to-date, weekly Transgender Magazine <http://www.tgforum.com/>. Several weeks later each article is forwarded to Usenet and AOL <Keyword TCF>. Each column has been written to inspire contemplation and dialogue. Columns may be reprinted in any medium insofar as each article, its introduction, and the author's contact information remains unaltered.

GIANNA E. ISRAEL provides nationwide telephone consultation, individual & relationship counseling, evaluations and referrals. She is principal author of the Transgender Care (Temple University / in press 1997). She also writes Transgender Tapestry's "Ask Gianna" column; is an AEGIS board member and HBIGDA member.She can be contacted at (415) 558-8058, at P.O. Box 424447 San Francisco, CA 94142, or via e-mail at Gianna@counselsuite.com.


Copyright © 2001 by Diane Wilson. All rights reserved.