So I’m going to start with just asking you guys a really simple question
that may take a little bit longer than two seconds to answer.
Have you ever personally met your soul mate?
(Ashley Clift-Jennings) I hear some yeses,
Yeah, they’re pretty hard to come by, right?
没错 他们很难遇到 是不是？
So now, think about what made that person your soul mate.
Was it the way they looked?
Was it the career that they had?
Was it the way they connected with your soul?
Was it the fact they were also in the same religion?
There is a million different reasons, right?
Why we feel connected to another person in that deep way.
So, I grew up in a Christian environment,
and I was dead-set on finding my soul mate.
So, I knew I wasn’t going to find this person
in a bar, or at a club,
and that this person had to have really high character,
had to have respect for women, had to be good-looking,
and had to love me for who I was,
because I’m kind of a unique character.
So, I went along life, went to an Ivy League school,
played soccer, achieved whatever I could achieve
and grasp at at that moment,
but one thing that always lingered is that
I really wanted to find this one thing,
which was my soul mate.
So, I’m like 24, 25 years old,
and by this time in the Christian community,
it’s like your eggs are probably getting cobwebby at this point.
Now, we think 25, that’s not too old,
but back then, I felt old.
So one night, I was browsing on the Internet,
and I’m really into the Myers-Briggs personality test,
so I was looking up,
I wanted to find a guy who was an INFJ male —
So, I just typed into Google,”INFJ male,” right?
于是 我在谷歌上输入了 “INFJ型的男人”
And there were two results,
and one of them happened to be my future spouse.
So, I had reached out to him, we met up —
I happened to be doing social work in Pasadena,
he happened to be a software developer
working for a start-up in Pasadena, but living in Reno —
and we had this amazing connection, we had this whirlwind courtship,
and within six months, to all of our families dismay,
we were married.
But it made sense!
Our families, they got it.
They saw us together, and they understood,
“These two people are super-compatible,
they have a tremendous amount of respect for one another,
and they literally make each other better people.”
So, he was like the yin to my yang,
he was a software developer,
super chill, relaxed, goes at a slow pace, but a steady pace.
非常冷静 从容 有条不紊
And then, I was just crazy, erratic, creative.
而我就有点疯 没有规划 天马行空
And it just worked like lock and key,
just so, so, so seamless.
And this went along for — I moved to Reno,
dropped out of grad school, moved to Reno,
started working in start-ups,
and started doing start-uppy things with my new husband.
And every night, we would go out to restaurants, or bars,
just talk about ideas.
It was like TED talks all the time.
We just really enjoyed each other’s minds.
And we were soul mates, literally.
And so, this went along, we’ve been married now nine years,
so this went along for a good while,
and it felt like the most peaceful time in my entire life.
I felt like I had a home inside this person’s soul,
and this person lived with me, we worked together,
oftentimes we did projects together, we dreamed together,
we bought a house together, I helped him raise my step-kids together.
And everything just seemed,
it seemed like I had won the lottery,
like I could check that box off, like”Found my soul mate.”
就好像我刮开那一格 上面写着 “恭喜你 找到了心灵伴侣”
And so, you can imagine, one day,
所以 你可以想象 有一天
I was told something that would change my life,
I was told that my spouse was transgender.
You could probably hear a pin drop right now.
And my response was interesting, my first response was,
“You gotta be fucking kidding me.”
My second response was,
“OK, tell me more, you know,
like what does this mean for us?
And what do you have to do to feel whole
and to feel like you feel good in your body?”
So, this was about three years ago now,
and we are still married,
and this took me through this process of really researching,
what does it mean to be transgender?
For my spouse,
it meant that she was not comfortable in her male body,
and that she needed to medically transition.
Now for me, if you are anybody out there is thinking,”Shoot!”
You’re looking at your partner right now and being like –
“Are you going to drop this bomb on me?”
It’s been an interesting journey,
I would love to say –
I was always very PC, and very open-minded,
and very encouraging of her transition.
She did give me the option, she said,
“You know, if this ends our relationship,
I will not do this.”
I just had a tremendous amount of respect
for how much she respected our marriage and me, as a human.
因为 她还非常尊重我们的婚姻 尊重我这个人
So, it’s like I had all this respect for her,
and I wanted the best for her,
and I wanted her to be whole,
and at the same time, I couldn’t put words to it,
but I was feeling like somebody was dying, you know?
It was like somebody that I knew was going away,
and there was a new person coming in.
And part of my struggle is really real,
and it’s really just the natural progression
of how one would feel when their spouse transitions.
And then, there’s another part of it,
which is more like around 60% of my reaction,
and that’s what is known as internalized transphobia.
And I didn’t even know I had it.
It’s very much – Alexis talked about programming
and what men and boys have been programmed
to think about women and sexuality,
and I think as a society, we’ve been programmed to think
我觉得 作为一个社会 我们被设计成
that people who don’t fit into the binary,
who aren’t men or women,
or who were born as a sex that they don’t identify with,
that those people are different, or weird, or strange.
那些人是不一样的 是怪异的 是奇怪的
And so imagine, when I know this person inside and out,
所以 你们想想 一个里里外外我都了解的人
I have been married to this person for six years by this point,
and I adored every fiber of this person’s being.
So you can imagine that me, of all people, would understand
and realize that this is a normal person,
who has a very serious condition that is treatable.
But it was hard,
because I still felt this sense of embarrassment, a little bit,
or shame, that we were now different. Right?
或者说羞耻 因为我们不再是我们了 对吧？
So I had to go through my entire process,
you know, this has been three years,
but I’ve had to do a lot of hard work
on” What does it mean to be married to somebody who is transgender?
What does that mean about my sexuality?
Does that mean that I am now a lesbian?”
Because when we go out, of course,
people see us and they just think that we’re a lesbian couple.
That’s not entirely accurate.
What does it mean —
you know, we go to the gym,
and we go to the locker room together,
and we swim together,
and all these things lead us to interactions with people
that could or could not be understanding of our situation.
And that was hard for me,
it was hard for me to go from having all this privilege as a white, middle-class female,
who feels OK being a female,
who is married to a male,
so I was in a heterosexual relationship,
and I had all this privilege that I didn’t even know that I had. So,
as we’re going through this journey,
it’s like we’re learning new things everyday,
and I’m learning what words to say,
what words not to say;
I’m learning what works in the bedroom,
what doesn’t work in the bedroom, right?
I’m relearning all sorts of things,
but what I’m learning the most
is that a lot of my fear about my spouse changing
was really imposed from the outside,
it was really my fear of what other people would think.
And so now, I stand here today.
I am the proud wife of a transgender woman,
and she is still my soul mate.
And I would know she is my soul mate
if this room was dark right now,
I would know how to find her in this room.
And I think that’s the lesson to take from all this
is that people have a patina,
they have a presence in the world,
they have a look, or they have a job,
or they have all these things that are outward-facing,
that everybody identifies them by and puts them into boxes;
that’s how we categorize people when we get to know them.
But underneath, there’s a soul,
and that soul is so much deeper and stronger,
and so much more identifiable than that patina. So,
my challenge to you today is,
“ Do you know,
would you even know how to recognize your soul mate?”
If you are going out in the world right now,
would you know what you are looking for?
Thank you very much, it’s been a pleasure.