The Joy of How You Fit
The Joy of How You Fit
August 23, 2022
In this episode, Lyndsay Soprano sits down with Abby Williams-Falk to talk about her journey of coming out as a transgender woman, unveiling all the feelings and emotions behind the process to reach a place of comfort and happiness. The pair have known each other for about 20 years, first meeting when Abby was a student in Lyndsay’s mother’s Virtual Enterprise Program, a program about starting your own business and the value of entrepreneurship. They were introduced when Lyndsay was looking for a graphic design intern and have been working together ever since.
Lyndsay sits on the board of directors for the CRPS Warriors Foundation, which she helped the CEO and founders start about 2 years ago. Through her work with the foundation, she has heard story after story of how CRPS debilitates not just the patient, but those that love and surround them. CRPS has been coined as the “suicide disease,” which has, unfortunately, come into fruition for 3 warriors within the foundation’s circle. Unfortunately, this is a hard truth about CRPS. Lyndsay shares that she has struggled with suicidal idealizations due to the pain and anxiety that the disease has caused her. She often “writes letters” to say goodbye to her loved ones because she is suffering.
Through the suffering, Lyndsay has made the choice to live her ass off, even though it hurts so devastatingly bad to do so. She has made huge strides out of her comfort zone, including a recent trip to Italy. Unfortunately, she was so anxious about how she would manage her pain that she almost didn’t go on the trip. She is thankful that she went because she feels as though it gave her a new perspective.
Something that stood out during her trip was the about of Pride that she saw, including Pride flags and same-sex couples openly displaying PDA. It made her happy to see that people could be open and honest with themselves, which isn’t something that is always possible here in the United States. Everyone has the right to be happy and make the choices that are best for them. How someone else choose to live their life has little to no impact on you. Abby highlights the issue of the United States government demonizing transgender people, using the same arguments that were used against gay people and lesbians years ago, such as accusing them of being pedophiles. Meeting someone that is transgender opens the opportunity to gain empathy.
Abby is a transgender woman, which means when she was born, people looked at her and said, ‘oh, that’ a boy.” She was given a male name and treated as a boy growing up. Over time, she realized that wasn’t her personal viewpoint of herself. It can be tricky because everyone around you tells you who you are. By her mid-thirties, she began to really understand her own sense of identity and understood that the image she had of herself didn’t match up with what people were telling her she was. She came out as transgender about 2 ½ years ago, noting that she can only speak her own experience because everyone’s journey is so different. Transgender people make up about 1.6% of the United States population, 5% of which being under 30.
Abby hopes that sharing her story will be a voice against some of the negativity that is directed at transgender people and the LGBT+ community. She recalls that she never had any transgender people in her life while she was growing up that she was able to look up to or empathize with and hopes that openly talking about her experience will be a positive step in that direction for others.
Lyndsay recalls feeling taken aback when Abby came out to her but feels as though her reaction was as good as it could have been. Over the following weeks, Lyndsay felt sad that she didn’t know that Abby was having an internal struggle about her identity because of how close they are. Abby felt like it was tricky because there wasn’t a huge number of signs that she could point too early in life that would’ve told her, “Hey, you’re transgender.” She describes her coming out process like collecting puzzle pieces and putting them all together throughout her life to create the big picture.
Abby struggled with gender dysphoria, which is the discomfort a transgender person has between their biological sex and their gender identity. You look at yourself in the mirror and don’t quite recognize the person you see there. A lot of her personal dysphoria was social, which affected the way she related to other people and figured out where she fit into the world. This was likely heightened because she didn’t have anyone in her life to look up to or see herself in, as well as not really having a clear picture of the difference between her own gender and sexuality. She’s always liked women, which was expected in her household. Her family was very conservative and knew that being any sort of LGBT wasn’t going to fly with her parents.
Labels are something that many members of the LGBT+ community struggle with because not everyone fits into a specific box. Abby identifies as a lesbian, but it’s important to remember that the labels you assign sexuality are based on whatever that person’s current gender is. Abby’s experience growing up was strange because she always felt like she liked women, but at the same time, it almost felt like she liked them in a gateway, which she never understood. In high school, she mainly identified as metrosexual because that was her best feeling of what her sexuality was at the time. She wanted relationships with women but wanted things that were different than the average straight guy. The main takeaway is that gender isn’t related to genitalia at all, and for transgender people, others are quick to make assumptions.
Growing up, Abby’s interests leaned more to the feminine side, including books like Anna Green Gables and Nancy Drew. She also mainly listened to female artists, such as Avril Lavigne, P!nk, and Dido. She spent a lot of time on reddit These were among some of the “puzzle pieces” that helped her discover her identity. Once she had a clearer idea of what she was feeling, she began working with a pro-LGBT therapist to talk through her emotions surrounding the situation. People take many different paths towards understanding that they’re transgender, including the actions that they take after they do decide to move forward. Some people take hormones for years before coming out publicly. Her wife, Amanda, was the first person that she talked to about the feelings that she was having and was very supportive. However, many people were shocked and had a hard time processing the transition because it happened so quickly, which Abby is a little regretful for.
Some resources that were helpful to Abby were Reddit, Youtube, genderdysphoria.fyi, and Yes, You Are Trans Enough by Mia Violet. They allowed her to see real people living their live authentically and helped her to understand what she was feeling. In addition, she again recommends an LGBT positive therapist. She was also very structured and organized throughout her transition, and even went as far as making a chart to map everything out.
Abby’s hope for sharing her story is to help others feel comfortable being themselves and to help reduce the negativity that is directed toward the transgender and LGBT+ community.
Let’s get to the heart of how to heal. With you by her side.
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