Like most individuals my age who have both X and Y chromosomes and a conventionally male sexual organ, I was assigned a specific identity at birth.  I obviously had no choice in the matter, though I can hardly blame the delivery-room doctor or my parents, since, in those benighted days, even the most enlightened members of society were unaware of the broad spectrum of possible personality types that we today accept as simple fact.

Society, my family, our religious beliefs, even my public school—all of these reinforced the identity that I had been assigned at birth. I was taught to say “Yes, please” and “No, thank you,” to refer to my elders and teachers as “Mr.” and “Mrs.,” to open doors for others, and never to interrupt a serious adult conversation or to clown around in public.  To the outside world, I looked like a normal boy living a normal life in a normal village in the oh-so-normative Midwest.  Little did they know what I would someday become.

I don’t know when I first began to suspect that the identity assigned to me at birth might have been in error.  I do know that, by the time I had reached fifth or sixth grade, I had glimpsed the truth about myself.  Those were confusing years, as I continued to try to conform to the expectations of my close-knit community, while privately longing to explore the depths of my newfound identity.

It didn’t help that my first attempts at revealing a bit of my true self publicly were met with outright hostility.  When, in a basketball practice in sixth grade, I tried, a teammate physically attacked me right there on the court.  While the other players were pulling him away from me, all of the pent-up rage from denying myself burst forth, and I went off on him like Ralphie in A Christmas Story.  Unfortunately, A Christmas Story is only a movie, and in real life the Scut Farkuses almost always get in the last blow.  I remember a blinding white light and staggering backward a good five or six feet; I was caught by some of my team members before I could hit the floor.  Thirty-five years later, I have yet to see another goose egg that big.  Even the slightest movement of my head made me feel like it might burst.

You will realize just how far we have come when I tell you that I received the same punishment as the transphobic brute who attacked me: We were both suspended from school for a day and a half, and not allowed to play in the basketball game that Friday.  Needless to say, I spent the rest of sixth grade deathly afraid of letting anyone see my true self.

I made the transition to junior high in more ways than one.  Even though my new stomping grounds were literally just across the street from my elementary school, figuratively our junior high was miles away.  As our class swelled with the addition of students from other elementary schools, I felt that the opportunity had finally arrived to reveal what I had been keeping hidden for so long.  After years of pretending to be cisserious, I began to make a public transition to transhumorous.

The process was by no means painless.  I was never cut out to be the class clown; my transhumorism was always more intellectual—understated, even.  One might think that my dry and wry wit would be appreciated by both the humorous and the serious (cis- and trans-), but it was—indeed, still is, over 30 years later—frequently confusing to those around me.  I envied the more flashy transhumorists who were able to integrate fairly quickly into the cishumorist crowd.  At times, my envy would turn to self-hating transhumorism, which I manifested by shoving a smaller, and annoyingly funny, transhumorist into his own locker.  I’ll leave it to you to imagine how I, as a transitioning transhumorist, was treated during my two years as manager of our high-school football team.  It’s hard to imagine a bigger bunch of transphobes, though I know now from class reunions and from Facebook that more than a few were themselves closeted transhumorists.

While the fellow residents of my honors floor at Michigan State were largely supportive, and my transhumorism played a significant role in attracting my wife, my children and some of my colleagues at Chronicles over the years have been less understanding.  (One, I suspect, had been born cis humorous, but the circumstances of his early life had led him to transseriousness.  He always pretended not to get my jokes.)

Yet despite all of the bumps in the road, I continued my transition—and I’m still in transition today.  Transhumorism is a lifelong process, and it’s more about what happens inside than what happens out: One can’t simply get his fiddly bits removed and vamp it up on the cover of Vanity Fair, or frizz his hair, purchase a lifetime membership to Jamaica Me Tan, and get hired as the head of the Spokane NAACP.

But there is one thing that transhumorists share with other kinds of trannies: We can’t transition in silence; we have to let the rest of the world know.  So if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to Twitter; my new hashtag is starting to trend.