(This is a piece written in 2002, yet when reading it, I felt it is still relevant today.)
“Emergence is a term entomologist use to describe that period in an aquatic insect’s life when it leaves the relative safety of its birth place at the bottom of a stream or lake, rises through the water column, confronts the surface tension barrier and, if successful, passes thorough to become an airborne adult. It is a danger filled, critical time in the life of these animals.
I am borrowing this term to describe a similarly danger filled, critical time in a transsexual’s life. However, unlike the insect, the beginning and end of a transsexual’s emergence is vague and harder to describe. Roughly it starts when the individual has been on cross sex hormones long enough for the physical changes to be noticeable by others, continues through that first day of starting to live full time and ends when the individual begins to live comfortably in the new gender role.
Early in emergence things are relatively simple. If the emerging transman or transwomen has prepared well, friends and relatives have been notified, new support networks have been established, and the hormones are doing what they are supposed to do, going full time should look relatively easy. Especially after years and perhaps decades of worrying about how hard transition will be. Eventually, buoyed up by the excitement of it all, longer and longer sojourns out into society in the new gender role are made. Being misgendered at this stage is disappointing and awkward but still considered understandable by most transsexuals. The rationalization is simple; after all, the hormones have not had a chance to complete the job. Even so, pressure builds to ‘go full time,’ and a date is set to make the big move. On this day the individual will, for the first time, either go to work or go to school in the new gender role with the commitment to never again appear otherwise.”