You don't have to hate me

You don’t have to hate me. Because I am not trying to stand on any ground you claim as yours.

You don’t have to hate me because I have always been taught to hate myself. I can take it from here. Ever since I was four I felt I was somehow wrong and when I expressed that in words that made sense to me I was punished.

As I got older my body and my mind didn’t fit with each other. I didn’t know why. I wanted them to, I prayed to God and asked God to change my body. I wished on every star and birthday cake too.

I asked my parents for help but was ridiculed and endured a punishment and re-education programs. I learned to shut up and conform. I knew I was a freak. I was sure I should hate myself. I didn’t know why this was happening to me and I felt so confused and scared. I hoped it would go away when I got bigger so that I could be like how everyone else seemed to be. Accepting of their own skin. How I longed to have that.

I learned to be what I needed to be. To say the right things, to behave the right way. But it never did go away and puberty started changing my body, making it even more wrong, ever more disgusting. My desperation grew and my desire to go on living ebbed away. At nineteen I tried to end it. Alone and gently weeping in a student dorm room I wrote my farewells to my family and swallowed pills.

I woke to the reality that I hadn’t died and spent the next day waiting to see what happened next. I read the letters I had left and realised the devastation my death would bring. I didn’t want to die anymore. I chose to try to build a life that put my feelings to one side if that was possible. I chose life.

Over time it slowly became easier for transgender people to come out and transition. I regularly re-assessed my position but always felt that it was not possible for me. I knew my family would never be accepting. I knew society was still basically intolerant and I knew as I got older my chances of transitioning succesfully diminished.

That’s why I am no threat to you. That’s why you don’t need to hate me. I will live out the rest of my life and never attempt to encroach onto your territory. Your restrooms and changing rooms are safe from me, I have no interest in them. I have no interest in them because I am not a sexual deviant or a sexual abuser.

Every space you believe is sacred is safe from me. Just like the stigmatised and abused gay men of the 50s,60, 70s and 80s who were accused of being child molestors and paedophiles I am not a sexual predator and neither are the vast overwhelming majority of my transgender bothers and sisters.

We are a marginalised and vulnerable minority. We are the targets of violence and intimidation not the perpetrators. We ask to be given rights to protect us from those who hate. We ask that those rights are not taken away just because a criminal element have sought to exploit our status for their own advantage.

A society is judged by the compassion it shows to its minority communities. Compassion is all we seek.

Aiming for happiness

I’ve often wondered if happiness is something you can just have or experience for long periods of time.

My experience suggests no. For me happiness is a transient state. I don’t think I can ever find happiness and then keep it forever.

Being Happy

I seem to live my life in a state of flux. If I am lucky I find a level of contentment that hopefully is bearable and life continues in this steady state in a “business as usual” mode. When something great happens in my life it can raise my feeling of happiness and contentment to a higher level. It will stay there for a while but will return to the steady state.

Conversely when something gets me down my mood will be lowered and depressed somewhat but hopefully it will eventually elevate back to steady state.

Friends, family, pets, hobbies, sports, the arts, travel and even crafts can all help us to raise our mood. Maybe its just the social engagement that does it.

Expecting to be perpetually happy is unrealistic at least for me.

Carrying a rock up a hill

But one thing we all seem to need. We all need a rock that we are trying to carry up a hill. That is to say we all need a challenge in our lives that looms large and is difficult to overcome. It could be our challenging job or our upcoming gig or even our transition. But without a challenge to engage us our lives can seem purposeless.

We all need to find our rock and decide which hill we are climbing with it. As the song says “It’s the climb”.

In fact the climb is our life playing itself out. In a sense reaching the top, although important, is secondary to the journey.

Even when we reach the topi we are gonna need a new rock and a new hill. Our lives need purpose and challenge.

Conclusion

Our life is a journey and for it to feel worthwhile we need to feel challenged and overcome adversity. On our journey we will feel highs and lows. If we are lucky the highs will outnumber the lows.

Life is hard but it can also be wonderful. It will never be perfect but it wont always feel bad either. The sun always comes up eventually.

A coming out letter to my wife

A friend online recently suggested I should write a “coming out” letter to my wife even if I had no intention of sending it to her. They thought it would help.

After pondering the idea and thinking about what I might say in the letter I decided to do it.

After much agonising over the words and many, many revisions I finished it and actually posted it as a private post to this blog.

In the end it looks like every other coming out letter you have ever seen on reddit. It’s my version of what I hope is true. It’s probably horribly manipulative and unfair.

I did apologise though. I apologised for not giving her the opportunity to walk away at the beginning. I hate myself for that. I hate myself …

Writing the letter has made me feel rather unsettled. It makes me feel there could be a chance that I could come out to her successfully and then even start my transition with her blessing. I daren’t even think those thoughts.

As wondeful as that would be it’s very much plan B. Plan A is unfortunately still, hide in the closet until death.

I hate plan A.

Could I really come out though? The virtue signaller in me says that I can’t come out to her because that would destroy her and my son’s happy life and bring embarassment and shame upon them and I must protect them. The realist in me says that I can’t come out because I am a coward and probably am not even sure I am even transgender enough to transition anyway. So there’s that …

You cannot allow yourself to end up like me. The later you leave it to transition the harder it gets. Gender dysphoria doesn’t lessen with age, it gets worse for many people. Don’t start a new relationship without telling the person the truth about you first because you can end up becoming trapped in limbo.

Believe in yourself and who you are inside and believe that your dream is possible. Most importantly, do as I say not as I do 🙂

Don't Keep Money in Banks

Don’t keep large amounts of money in banks. If you do then bank robbers will know it’s there and will hatch plans to steal it.

If we avoid keeping all of that money in one place then the bad guys won’t be able to commit their crimes and the money will be safe and society will be safer too.

I can’t believe noone has thought of this before. I am just putting it out there as a “too obvious to be obvious” thing.

On second thoughts …

But when you analyse this solution it kind of falls apart. Keeping the money in banks makes it convenient for everyone to be able to access and deposit cash quickly easily and securely. We have a right to fast and secure cash!

We shouldn’t restrict the rights of the overwhelming majority of decent ordinary bank customers who just want to conduct their lives peacefully and quietly just because some bad guys have bad intentions and want to exploit our free and open society.

What we must do is punish those who do wrong and do all we can to prevent the bad guys from doing wrong in the first place. We don’t take away the rights of the decent, innocent law abiding majority.

I believe passionately in transgender rights as I do in the rights of all people regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender or religion. We can never limit the rights of any group because some bad guys may exploit the existence of freedom.

Colateral Progress

Over the last six months I’ve actually made some progress.

I’ve been taking Finasteride 5mg on medical advice. (As I am sure you know, Finasteride blocks the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone and is sometimes used as a weak anti androgen in trans patients)

It’s to treat a prostate issue but it has also had an effect on my gender dysphoria because for the first time in many years I have begun to feel more at ease with myself and even more able to cope. My anxiety also seems to have reduced and I feel calmer.

I know this could be placebo effect but it does feel real. It makes such a difference though. I feel like I have room to breath for the first time in a long while.

I think it may have also affected my facial and body hair. I have never had dense facial hair but I noticed after a couple of months, normal growth had slowed. I still need to shave but it takes no time at all. My body hair has similarly reduced markedly.

It’s amazing how good this feels and I am thankful. I wish I could achieve more but this is more than I ever thought was possible.

Life is strange and it has a subtle sense of irony.

Why I stay hidden?

I know my wife isn’t in our marriage to support me in my life choices or to help me live an authentic life.

She has always sought a place of safety. A place of financial, physical and emotional stability for herself and our child. She wants to know I will support her and protect her. She needs me to be a good provider and a father. She wants me to listen to her stories of anxiety both personal and professional and be supportive. She wants me to validate her decisions and life choices and be there for her.

She needs me to be a man.

I knew all of this at the start and there is nothing wrong with her or any other woman having these wants and needs?

Coming out

The one thing I know, beyond any shadow of doubt is that I could never share with her how I really feel about my gender identity and the path I would like that to take. There would be no point because I love her and don’t want to lose her or devastate her life.

My Place

I understand what I am to her, I know where I stand. I have a defined set of roles, responsibilities and expectations. Her love for me is somehow linked to my role and status. Sadly, in my case, I don’t think it’s a love for my soul or of who I am. It’s fragile and precarious as non blood relationships are.

I continued our relationship even when knowing the limits of her love for me.

Aftermath

She would not see my “coming out” as an opportunity to show support and compassion for the person she loved. I know she would view it as a betrayal, a disaster and most likely the end of our relationship. She wouldn’t tell me it was over until she had an exit plan worked out and a new life to go to. But exit she would.

I can’t bear being this person any longer but equally can’t bear the thought of being responsible for destroying their world which is how it would be perceived by everyone.

Responsibility

I didn’t tell her about me right at the beginning of our relationship. That was the lie, the betrayal. I am responsible for that and I don’t claim innocence. I just wanted a normal life. I thought I could live a normal life with her.

But dysphoria doesn’t go away and you can’t hide who you ate from yourself.

The truth is I should have been honest with her and allowed her to make her own decision about whether our relationship should have continued or even started. I made her choice for her. That was my mistake, my deception and the price we all now pay.

For now

For now they seem happy. I try every day to make them happy. I hate myself for where we are.

The future

There is no chance I can come out to her and then hope that she accepts me transitioning .

I must end our relationship or wait out the end of my life.

What to do …

Invalidating stories of de-transition

I’ve read a number of articles about de-transition recently. My heart goes out to every person who has gone through this experience. It must have been an especially shattering and difficult experience. Your voice is important and I value it and respect it enormously.

Every transgender experience is different, difficult and uncertain. None of us can know how we will feel at the end of our transition or lived experience. We can only follow what our hearts and souls tell us is right. Sometimes we misread or even mislead ourselves.

We should always consider all outcomes when deciding on our own transition. That’s why the voices of people who have de-transitioned are so valuable.

But to use the example of transgender people who have decided to de-transition as an invalidation of all transgender transition is simply absurd. We could use the same argument to invalidate marriage.

As is always the case in almost anything, there will be a wide distribution of experiences felt by trans people going through transition. Ranging from very happy with transition right through to very unhappy.

The very unhappy people will most likely de-transition. But that doesn’t mean they determine the efficacy of transition for everyone else.

In my view, transition in whatever form works for you, does seem to be an effective way for many transgender people to find some peace and begin to live their lives.

People who detransition aren’t our enemies but equally they don’t speak for us or predict our outcomes.

We are beautiful unique individuals striving to find happiness. We are not all the same.

I wish she could have helped me

My six months of therapy led me to suspect that my Mum knew I was trans whilst I was growing up.

She used to let me grow my hair longer than most boys. She styled it in, what I can now see in old photos were feminine styles.

Growing up I was forever being mistaken as a girl when I was supposed to be being a boy. I used to find it embarrassing but also reassuring. It was next to impossible to use the Men’s bathroom without being stopped so I used to avoid it just to avoid the embarrassment.

My Mum also kept my older sister’s old clothes in the spare room in a wardrobe. I used to wear them whenever I could. I know lots of Mum’s did this with old clothes. But when I grew bigger than my sister, clothes and shoes appeared in the wardrobe that were larger than would ever fit her or my sister. They were amazing, beautiful grown up clothes. I adored them and with makeup I looked perfect in them. My heart aches just remembering the joy I used to feel. I could see with my own eyes that it wasn’t too late. I could still be me if only I could find someone to help me go through the changes I so desperately needed.

Ok so now I’m crying. It’s just so awful. I remember feeling totally alone and sure I was a vile disgusting freak. I remember the feeling of terror at what more puberty would do to me. I felt my time was running out. It was. There wasn’t going to be a miracle.

I am so glad children today face a more open and accepting society. Although there are still many bigots playing gender politics to mask their bigotry.

I always wince when I read people saying that trans kids don’t know what they want until they are older. I knew from almost my first memories. My feelings have stayed exactly the same my whole life. I believe gender identity is like sexual orientation, it is fixed and doesn’t change.

I just wish, if my Mum did know about me, that she would have found the courage to help and support me more. Maybe she helped me as much as she could at that time.

Let’s let our children be themselves, whatever that means and let’s not worry what other people think. As long as it’s not directly harmful to your child or others it’s fine just let it be. They will find their own path safe in the knowledge you love them and support them.

I saw her standing there

I was chatting with a friend online recently. She was telling me about the moment she looked in the mirror and accepted herself as a woman for the first time.

She had been dressing for a long time but this was the moment she looked in the mirror in that casual way we all do but instead of just seeing herself in women’s clothes, now, for the first time, she saw herself as the person, the woman she was to be for the rest of her life. It was the pivotal moment in her transition and she never looked back from it.

Having now read a little more about this, I now understand it’s quite a common moment in transition and by no means unique to her.

Many of us spend years dealing with doubt and skepticism. Self acceptance can be the most difficult obstacle. But this sounds like a wonderful moment to experience and it gives me hope. I would love to, one day, look in the mirror and see her (me) standing there.

If you, as I do, feel stuck, in the closet, unable to be the person you feel yourself to be, reaching this goal, this moment can seem like climbing Everest. We hide so much of our true selves scared of discovery and the outside world. Terrified what the consequences might be.

But if you can find the courage, if you can summon the words then you owe it to yourself to take the next step.

Taking the easy way

Suicide is never the answer to any problem we face. Impossibile problems and fears might fill our mind right now. They can drive us to the depths of despair, today, but that won’t always be the case. Problems don’t age well and they usually fade with time.

How you feel right now isn’t how you will always feel. There will come a time when what seems an insurmountable problem now will just be a memory later on.

Problems can also be agents of change. Sometimes the challenges we face are outside of our control. But sometimes they are in our control. If there are things you can do, steps you can take to improve, alleviate or even solve the problem then start taking those steps. No matter how small or individually insignificant they may seem. They are one step closer to solved or resolved.

“Worry only about those things you can change”

You are not the sole owner of you because you belong to all of us and especially to your friends and family who love you and need you to be there. Even if you have fallen out with some or all them.

“Every day is another chance to turn it all around”

Every hour, day, week, month is another opportunity to stop and turn it all around. So stop. Give it another day, and then another and keep doing that until the sun begins to rise again in your life. Because it will. It did for me.

I know how it feels. I know how the pain hurts and I know how comforting it is to think of it all going away.

But remember, we all get one chance at life on this earth. It’s a brief moment in time and then it’s over for eternity. We owe it most of all to ourselves to live a life that is true to us and to enjoy as much of it as is possible.

Transgender Suicide

Transgender people in particular are especially prone to feelings of depression and suicide. If you ever feel like this you must try to reach out to friends, family, therapists and to our community and talk through your feelings. We have a diverse, strongly opinioned but hugely knowledgeable community. There is a lot of advice and help to be sought and given. You are not alone.

I am also a hypocrite

I tried to take my own life when I was still a teenager. I had nowhere to turn, I felt I had reached the end and I wanted to be at peace. I am here now because I failed. I’m glad I failed because although my life has been as difficult and as challenging as I feared it has also been filled with moments of sheer joy, laughter and happiness. They may not have lasted that long but oh were they worth it. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world …

Not asking much

I often wonder why some feel so threatened by transgender people. They seem to set themselves up as biological purists, as chromosomal absolutists. Unless your DNA, biochemistry and lived experience matches their standards then you don’t qualify for their classification. You will never belong and that’s final.

We all present an image to the world and that image to some extent affects the way society perceives us, treats us and reacts to our presence.

Present a masculine image and people will give you space and will be more cautious in their approach and interaction. A feminine image will usually appear as more approachable and less threatening.

Your phenotype, which is the visible form you actually present, is not necessarily the same as your genotype which is the form your genetics encodes you to present.

If we choose to suppress the Y chromosome or artificially express it we alter the image we present to the world. And we do it so that we can interact with the world and be at peace with ourselves.

Your biological sex doesn’t necessarily determine which image you present. You decide that.

At no point do the face to face interactions we have with others involve a chromosomal or biochemical test of our biological gender. And so what we present and perceive is all that matters.

As transgender people we feel uncomfortable presenting our raw genotype and in common with many other species in nature we present a different shell.

Some transgender people are able to present a phenotype entirely indistinguishable from their desired genotype. Genetic males present as beautiful women and genetic females as handsome men.

If your goal is to create an exclusionary environment/space then you will have to police it on phenotype alone. That’s because you won’t have access to genetic testing which means you can never truly guarantee the integrity of your exclusionary space.

Transphobics and TERFS can therefore never hope to achieve their stated aims. Unless those they seek to exclude don’t pass easily or convincingly. They will be their targets, their prey.

Transphobics and TERFS only seek to exclude. Their motives are based purely on hate, bigotry and prejudice.

I take comfort in knowing that history will view them as the bigots they are. I am also certain, when the time comes, they will deny ever promoting their vile prejudice.

To live a life free of bigots

I don’t choose to feel the way I do, to be the person I am. My gender dysphoria has always been there. This conflict, this pain, this sorrow has always been with me and remains with me every day from my first waking moments to my last thoughts at night.

I wish I could overcome, be free of it but sadly I never have and I fear now I never will.

Bad Old Days

I grew up at a time when bigotry and hatred of people like me was the common attitude in society. It was normal to deride, make fun of and exclude us. It was acceptable to lie about us and label us deviant or criminal. But slowly, over time, increasing numbers of good, kind compassionate people have taken the time to understand. There is still a long way to go.

To be “Normal”

For most people, their gender identity and their physical gender match and they never give it a second thought. But when that doesn’t happen, when a disconnect occurs it can and does devastate your life. I don’t know why it happens but I can tell you it does.

For those of us that feel this pain and suffer the consequences of this dysphoria we strive for the rest of our lives to overcome it and find peace.

Are we human?

We are not perverts or deviants. We don’t seek access to women’s spaces in the hope of easy access to a cheap thrill. These are just the hate filled exclusionary arguments of bigots with wider agendas to address. Just as with the homophobic bigots easy trasnphobic stereotypes are used to create hatred and exclusion. Remember when they used to perpetuate the lie that all gay men were child molesters. Now they say trasngender women seek access to women’s spaces because they are sexual deviants and perverts. The bigots will find themselves on the wrong side of history again.

We, just want to live peaceful quiet, unnoticed, unremarkable lives. We don’t seek to harm others or cause distress.

We strive to live a life that feels true to us, to live in peace and in harmony with ourselves and the world. To be allowed to live in peace as who we truly are. To be accepted.

Acceptance

Only when society stops tolerating the bigoted anti transgender lobbies can our vulnerable and marginalised brothers and sisters hope to achieve acceptance.

My true heroes

My heroes aren’t sports stars or actors, I respect, admire and am grateful to our military. But my lifelong heroes are and will always simply be all of you.

Over the years it is transgender men and women like you who have given me hope. Your stories of transition, your determination to overcome problems, your fight, has made me feel that I at least could have a chance.

Through everything you have endured, through documenting your stories, your struggles to a skeptical world you have helped us all become increasingly accepted in many more spheres of life. And although there are still many bigots, there are many more supporters too.

I don’t know where you have found your strength, your courage, your commitment. But just knowing you are there, just knowing what you can achieve is enough for me to get through a day.

I may feel tearful as I write this but I know one day it will all be OK. We just need to keep getting up in the morning, put one foot in front of the other and face every new day.

Be free, be happy, be loved but most of all … be you.

xxx

I’m not exceptional

I’ve always been pretty average. Average intelligence, average academically, at sports. Same goes for drawing, painting, singing, dancing. The list goes on.

So why am I telling you this? It’s because I have always hated myself for not having the courage to transition. I talk the talk (in my head mostly) but … you can guess the rest.

I’ve realised something that I think kind of lets me off the hook. Transgender men and women who transition are exceptional people. They are not average Joes/Janes they are people of extraordinary courage, determination and fortitude. Whilst I admire and love them, as much as they inspire me, I remain average and sadly way below exceptional.

It got me thinking though. How many hidden transgender people are there out there lacking those exceptional qualities necessary to change their lives for the better?

An inspirational woman

I had a meeting yesterday with a wonderful person. After interacting with her via email for a while, when she was visiting from the US she wanted to meet face to face.

As I met her in reception I realised she was transgender.

She was confident, gregarious, happy and outgoing. She is also very successful. I found her truly inspiring.

Throughout the meeting I just felt so distracted. She must have thought I was a complete dummy.

Sat in front of me was a happy, successful, confident transgender woman just getting on with her life. I think the reason I was so distracted was because, similar to how it would be for me, she didn’t pass that well. But she didn’t let that stop her living her life as herself.

I’m just so happy for her. I admire her courage and strength. I’m so glad I met her.

At home, once everyone had gone to bed that night I stayed up. I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep. As I sat there thinking about the day tears rolled down my cheeks but I’m not quite sure why. I think it may have been frustration or even just self pity. I just felt emotional I guess.

More of our transgender brothers and sisters are finding the courage to live their lives their own way. They inspire others to do the same sometimes without even knowing it.

And so it is

I’ve not posted in a while because to be honest I have been feeling much more able to cope and feel less need to vent.

When I get these brief periods of respite it makes me feel like I can make it. Maybe I can get to the end of my life without anyone close to me knowing or me having to do anything

But it is such a waste of life. I wouldn’t try to end my life again but I yearn to be free from all of this. After I took those pills when I was 19 the feeling of relief was so powerful. My awful knawing dread and hate for myself lifted. I felt so free, so calm. Is that how it feels to not suffer this curse?

 

5 things I would say

There are five things I would like to say to myself at eighteen years old.

  1. Don’t feel ashamed of who you are
  2. You are not crazy, worthless, deviant, insignificant or hopeless
  3. No matter how hard you try, no matter what you do, there is nothing that will ever make you a man
  4. You can’t hide from this it will always be there. You will never out run it
  5. Don’t be the person others expect you to be, just be you

A basic sense of self

I have come this far. I think I have worked through a lot of self hatred and denial. I can accept who I am. I think I even understand some of it.

Talking to some of the wonderful, beautiful people who have contacted me has helped me to realise that it’s possible for there to be a life without this awful dysphoria. I smile whenever I think of that. It makes me feel happy to know that many of you will get there. It may be a journey of a thousand miles with bumps along the way but you will, get there.

It’s important for you to know whenever you doubt. Your cause is just. Don’t delay, don’t wait. Summon your courage and pursue what your heart and mind tells you to be true.

What you seek is what everyone else takes for granted, a comfortable basic sense of self identity. We build our lives on this foundation and without it our lives become a maelstrom of doubt, fear and unhappiness.

Everyone has the right to be who they are, live an authentic life and seek happiness.

The right version of me

My gender identity starts with me. I am reminded of it anew every day as I wake in the morning. It’s an intimate personal relationship with myself. It’s a difficult relationship, one I have never come to terms with.

The person I see in the mirror and the physical body I inhabit are never easy to deal with. Mirrors are usually best avoided.

This first conflict, is the primary conflict I want to be resolved. I want my physical gender and how I feel inside to match.

The second conflict concerns how I present myself to the world. I want to remain an unremarkable anonymous person inhabiting the world. I would like to be perceived by others to be female.

But for me, at least, and I’m sure many others what I want and what is possible aren’t the same. I look like a man.

If I wore a dress I wouldn’t look the way I would want to and I could never do that because I would find it too upsetting.

Also, I would never want to present this, what for me would be an, incongruous image to the world.

I am not one of the many amazing brave  and strong trans women who have faced the same dilemma and not let it stop them. They have helped trans rights and issues to the forefront.

As the pathetic, weak, self absorbed and self conscious coward that I am I choose denial and misery.

But I would love to live in a world that allowed me to physically become the gender I feel I am inside without me having to go through some bizarre ritual humiliation as a test to prove myself.

To become the right version of myself.

My life as an “under the radar” transgender person

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