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Article 03:  Another year older, another year to reflect back on

Being a transgendered person, I am often asked a lot of questions about who I am and what a day in my life is like.  In these articles I will do my best to answer them:



Well, here we are at the end of another year and the dawn of yet another new start of a brand new year.  Most people I know usually take this opportunity to reflect on their year and how they spent it as well as coming up with their new year’s resolutions for the upcoming year.  As for me, well, let’s just say that I like to look back and be thankful for what I have accomplished and look forward to see what is yet to come.

I look back at all of what has happened in my life…the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

I look back at the good:

There were many things that happened in 2010 that I am very proud of.  I publicly spoke at a couple of public LGBT rallies and marched in a couple of pride marches and I showed society that not only am I proud of who I am, but that I can be who I am even in a world where being yourself can be frowned upon, and that I am living this life on my terms and it feels great.

I also look back fondly of all of the new friends that I made and all of the people in the LGBT Community that I helped to take their first steps into the real world or to help speak out and feel good about themselves.  There are so many of us in the LGBT Community that are still in the closet and afraid of being who they are, and it is up to us, the ones who are out of the closet, to not only encourage these people to come out and not be ashamed of who they are, but to encourage them to encourage others because we are not alone.

Personally, I made a commitment to better myself both as a person and in my pursuit of acting and modeling.  It has taken 2 years of dedicated and hard work, efforts, and sacrifices, but I can say that it is finally starting to pay off.  I have hit every circuit that I have set my sights on.  I have been in independent film, I have been on cable television, I have been in advertising, and I have been in modeling, both fashion and photo.  I have so many more goals and a year is clearly not enough time, but I do not plan on slowing down or stopping any time soon.  I have learned that even though I am transgendered that I have goals and aspirations and that being transgendered gets in my way of achieving them only if I allow it.

I look back at the bad:

I have lost a lot in the past year as well.  I have lost loved ones along the way to finding myself, both in death and in betrayal.  I have come to realize that although I can do nothing when it comes to either, that I can remember the good times I shared with those I have lost and then focus on what now lies ahead for me.  I also know that those I have lost in death would not want me to grieve for them, but to remember them and the fond memories that I have of them and to use those memories to focus on the future.

I have also lost dear friends through travels as some of my dear friends have moved away, either out of state or out of the country.  I know that many of you will say that with the internet and the telephone that they are only a click or a call away, but even with all of our technology there is no substitute for the real thing, and I still look back with fond memories and hopes that dear friends will be back again soon.

I also look bad at all of the arguments I have had with those I care about and the things I have said in anger in response to those arguments.  I know that I cannot take back what was said in anger, but I am thankful for the fact that I realized this and that I am able to say “I am sorry” and not let those feelings of regret fester.  Life is too short for that.

I look back at the ugly:

Now when it comes to the ugly side of things I have lots that I am both saddened by and angered by, but nothing good ever comes out of something negative, so although things can and will bring me down, I always try to concentrate on the good to lift me back up.

I look back at some of the sacrifices that I have made that I am not happy with as well.  It is a known fact that when you truly believe in something that you often make sacrifices for those beliefs as well.  I have made choices both personal and professional that have cost me jobs and gigs, and I have made choices that have smeared my good name at times, both inside and outside of the LGBT Community, but that is the price one pays when they believe in something, and one cannot have the good without having the bad, or in this case, the ugly.

I look back at the trials of a society or an establishment that still practices discrimination against a person or group of people just because they choose to express who they are and what they believe in.  Believe me when I say that I have seen this up close and in person as well as on the news.  I look back on decisions and actions that I made myself to counter those practices, and although I may not have made any real significant change in society and the wheels of progress, I take comfort in knowing that I stood up for what I believed in and that I did my part to make some sort of difference.

I know all too well how it feels to be discriminated against for being who I am, but I know that those who usually discriminate either are filled with hatred and/or fear.  I am not happy when I am discriminated against, and that just comes with the territory I guess, but instead of sinking to their level I do my best to take the high road and overcome it by facing it head on personally, or in some cases, legally.

I could go on forever about every little thing that has happened to me in the last year, good, bad, or ugly, but this is not the point of this article.  The point that I am trying to make is that it does not matter if I am transgendered or not.  What matters is that I have a lot to be thankful for that has happened to me and whether it was good, bad, or ugly, I usually walk away from the experiences in my life a smarter and stronger person and I realize that everything in life is a learning experience

I guess what I am trying to say is that it is not who you are, but what you choose to do that will ultimately define you, and when I decided to come out of the closet as being transgendered, I made a point to myself that I would not just come out, but rather, do my part to learn from it and help at least one person.  I know that I have done that and I continue to do that because helping others gives me a great feeling and maybe that is what I am most thankful for?

So as 2011 approaches, and you look back on what has happened in your life, on the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of what has happened, and when you look out into 2011, look at it as a chance to help, to accomplish, or to just make a difference…in your life or someone else’s.

Until next time…

Ashley Amber Bottoms

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