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Origins of Acceptance without Understanding™



This post is constructed from excerpts from my unpublished book, "Acceptance without Understanding™".


"According to some individuals, I was living the perfect life. It was a good life, but I didn't feel fulfilled or, using the language I will employ throughout this book, I didn't feel authentically myself. I was like an actor playing a role assigned by others, dictating who I should be and how I should act, think, and exist. As a method actor, I observed and imitated behaviours to fill the gaps when guidance was lacking. Many would argue that I was successful, as I achieved much and attained what society deems successful within a patriarchal capitalist society.


Life is a continuous series of transitions, and mine was no exception."


The idea is that in life, we all have transitions. It's one of the reasons I find it intriguing that organisations create a transition policy to refer to only Trans+ people in the company, yet we all have life transitions. Instead, it should reflect the lifecycles we go through and how we interact with the organisation more than it defines a group of people. My first significant life transition began in my birthplace, Belfast, Northern Ireland, and was triggered by the 'troubles'. The story goes that three men in black balaclavas came knocking on our door one night, and 30 days later, I was living in Canada. Hence, I grew up with a Canadian, not a Belfast accent.


In my second transition, I began as an Irish Protestant, and when I married a Catholic gal in Canada, I converted religion to be baptised into the Catholic Church. I even helped teach adult catechism classes. Only to struggle to tell my parents about this transition. I found a way when they attended a Christmas mass to see their grandchildren sing. They also saw me serve communion. Afterwards, they asked, Don't you have to be catholic to serve communion, I said 'Yes'. They validated their acceptance, and we never spoke of it again.


The next transition didn't happen as quickly.


"I had been cross-dressing consciously since the age of nine, although through therapy, I have come to realise that my gender dysphoria dates back even further, to the age of four. Social pressures compelled me to conform and adhere to societal expectations of masculinity. Even in my cross-dressing, I never consciously acknowledged my gender dysphoria; I perceived it merely as a sexual fetish. Gender dysphoria constantly lurked beneath the surface, masking itself with other coping mechanisms. This, undoubtedly, marked my third major life transition—to stop assuming the gender role assigned to me at birth. I have always been a woman!"


During this stage of life's journey, the phrase Acceptance without Understanding ™ came into my life.


Up to this point in my life, I didn't have the language to speak about what I was going through, nor did I have the courage to say the words. It took me 48 years to learn the language and until I was 50 years old to have enough courage to say those words, even to my spouse of 30 years.


When I did tell her what was going on, that interaction I described like this.


"With the force of an atomic bomb, I experienced rejection like never before. I was told I had a problem and needed professional help, prompting me to seek therapy.

 

During this search for understanding, I stumbled upon the missing piece of the puzzle—acceptance. That's when the concept of Acceptance without Understanding™ became evident.

 

I believe my ex-wife and I still loved each other; how could we not after spending thirty years together? Unfortunately, love alone cannot weather the aftermath of an atomic bomb detonating within a relationship.

 

Naively, I thought we had unconditional love, but I have since learned that love comes with conditions for everyone. Even parents have conditional expectations for their children, making the idea of unconditional love a fallacy. The concept of unconditional love is actually Love and Acceptance of the person as they authentically are, without conditions."


That is the moment that triggered my journey to finding Acceptance without Understanding™.


"The answer lay in Acceptance without Understanding™. In other words, when we possess love and acceptance within a relationship, we can navigate the fallout from an atomic bomb, although it doesn't guarantee the relationship's recovery. However, it does open the door for the possibility of working on the relationship, driven by the desire to salvage what remains. In reflection, as I write this, I know we had love, but after 18 months of therapy together, there was no acceptance.

 

As I continued to evolve, it became clear that applying the concept of Acceptance without Understanding™ to other people and situations in life held profound value. It became evident that this insight needed to be shared. Later, I confirmed that this was my raison d'être, my reason for existing, and my purpose became clear."


 

With over 25 years of dedicated leadership in the corporate, feminist, and LGBTQ+ realms, with a profound commitment to LGBTQ+ and women’s rights, I’m thrilled to be recognised by the British Diversity Awards. I stand ready to support, consult, educate, and advise on your next diversity challenge. Your journey towards inclusivity begins with a conversation. Reach out to me at cynthiafortlage@cynthiafortlage.com with any inquiries.


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