I’ve heard described, and experienced parenting as abject terror interspersed with unexpected moments of sheer joy. My last few days have mirrored that experience for me.

I’ve been transitioning in my personal life for a while. After a month of preparation yesterday I came out to my students and my colleagues. All in the course of a single day. Much to the surprise of many it would seem.

Until the last couple of days I didn’t realize there are so many people I’m connected to at my university who I felt I wanted to tell in person.  After a headlong rush to finally get here, I’ve caught myself over the last few weeks wishing for more time, for a chance to tell more people myself.

Even though I know with my head relationships are important and I’ve worked to build them over the years, suddenly it is right in front of me how many I have built. Even more, just how much I’ve come to rely on them.  People are not often forced to stop and actually reflect on the web of connections they build through their lives. Yet, confronted with the prospect of a public transition at my uni, the list of people to share with kept growing seemingly without end. Finally a deep understanding in me is forming — I have actually built a network of relationships I rely on. These people matter to me and I want them in some way to be a part of my process. I only hope they can accept who I am and how I need to go about being that person.

So, here I am only one day in with presenting as who I know I have always been in my work life, and it has been an amazingly positive experience so far. I’ve received offers of support, encouragement, and even admiration for my courage both people I know well and others I only cross paths with twice a year. It’s a humbling experience as it has revealed a depth of compassion and caring under the surface of busy people trying to get their job done, working simply to get through their day and week.

This giant scary thing I worried so much has brought out the best part of the culture where I work. The efforts to get my name, my pronouns right shows me people who truly care about those around them. It’s something that often gets lost in the flurry of the next email, the next deadline, the next problem to solve.

In this moment I can see the good around me, yet I had been afraid all I would find was bad. I know it won’t always be easy, that the rainbows and sunshine will give way to darkness at times, but in this moment I have hope. That is what matters, for…

“Where there is hope, there is life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.” — Anne Frank

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