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.

I lived the life I was supposed to live. I became the man they wanted to see. I learned exactly what to say and how to behave.

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 as this mediocre, forgettable man and never attempt to encroach onto your territory. Your restrooms and changing rooms are safe from me, I have no interest in them.

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 deviant or predator and neither are my transgender brothers 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.

If we allowed governments to remove our rights just because some criminal elements had exploited them we would have no rights at all.

A society is judged by the compassion it shows to its minority communities.

and History is watching.

Over the Rainbow

We were having a relaxing Sunday afternoon. Just reading and listening to the family Spotify playlist. The beautiful Eva Cassidy’s version of Over the Rainbow came on.

I usually avoid listening to this song. The Judy Garland version meant so much to me as a child. It was my song of hope and I find myself getting upset when it plays now.

This time I thought I would see what happens. Has enough time past?

But I find the lyrics are still too sad and painful to listen to. It wasn’t long before tears were gently rolling down my face. The moment I had to sniffle my nose my wife looked to see if I was upset and she saw my tears.

Luckily she is a veteran of my reaction to this song and was straight over to offer comfort.

I don’t know what she must think.

What is it about this song? Did anyone else hold it dear to them growing up or was another song special to you?

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.

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.

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 transgender 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.

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 name is Beth

Hi. My name is Beth and I am a transgender woman. I didn’t choose to be transgender, I was born this way. I have lived my life so far pretending to be someone I’m not. I have always tried to be a good person but have never once felt comfortable as the man I appeared to be. My life has at times been very difficult to cope with and I have wanted it to end on a number of occasions.

With the help of my therapist and many amazing trans men and women online I now accept and am proud of who I am and I no longer hate myself for being transgender.

I long to free myself of my male life. I need to become the person I am inside. I need to begin my transition.

But where to start … ?

Birth Gender

I’ve never accepted my birth gender. From my first memories at four years old to right now.

Early on my requests to dress as a girl and play with girl’s toys were angrily rejected by my parents leaving me bewildered.

I stopped believing in a benevolent god when I was very young because my desperate nightly prayers were ignored.

I discovered birthday cake wishes never came true and never had the courage to ask Santa what I really wanted for Christmas.

The one thing I could control was my personal identity. They could call me boy, they could make me look like a boy, but couldn’t make me join in. I knew I could resist joining male groups or supporting male causes.

In the absence of any other control even now I will resist the pressure to join the boy’s team.

I never use restrooms unless I am desperate and men’s locker rooms disgust me. Change before and shower at home is my motto.

When a social group fragments by gender I excuse myself.

This is how I rail against my dysphoria. Quiet, under the radar, discreet.

Giving up on Therapy

At times I feel like giving up on therapy. I feel like I am sometimes just talking in circles.

“Yep, still dysphoric, nothing I can do about it”.
In our last session my therapist asked me what it was I really wanted deep down.

The truth is the same as it was when I first discovered that article in my Mum’s magazine about gender confirmation surgery. A transgender woman went through transition and had her surgery. She seemed to me to be a happy and beautiful woman who now enjoyed her life. I was ecstatic when I read it because it meant my dream was possible outside of magic or act of god. I remember how hopeful, sensitive and kind the article was.

The problem was that daring to hope I could also fully transition was what led me to my feeble suicide attempt when my hopes were dashed.

So saying the words out loud, admitting it has always been what I’ve wanted was actually quite hard to do.

I did say the words.

Funny thing is it has made me feel a bit more relaxed about things. I obviously needed to get it out there.

I think I need to forgive myself. I didn’t ask to have gender dysphoria. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember and have been trying to deal with it as best I can.

I also know that I need to fully transition and live the rest of my life as the woman I have always been inside.

Going nowhere

I don’t know how I can make things better. I don’t know how I can move forward. I really want to.

I know I don’t want to die. My family need me and I love them.

I can’t bear living as a man any longer I’m so tired and sick of having to do it every day. The anxiety and stress I am feeling overwhelms me at times. I long for a day when I don’t have to pretend anymore, when I can just be myself.

But how can I impose my transition on my family. I love them so much.

I love my wife and I want us to stay together. We truly are best friends, soul mates. We have been together 17 years and she still sends me “I luv u” texts almost every day”.

I want her to know me, the real me and that’s what would change, the person she thought I was. I feel no strong desire to present as female at the moment which I hope would take the pressure of a little.

But I know in my heart that transition is the only way forward for me. I have always known that even though I have often rejected it and run away from it.

Transgender children

When I was four I knew how I felt. I still felt the same way at eight and nine. At thirteen my feelings hadn’t changed but I was beginning to feel the pressure as puberty meant time was running out for me.

By sixteen I was distraught and stopped dressing because I hated my appearance and by nineteen I attempted suicide. Realising the hurt I would have caused my family I have buried my feelings ever since.

My life has since been painful and it’s been difficult to really take pleasure in anything. It’s now too late for me and I hope to get through what’s left of  it with as little trauma as possible.

If I was a child now though and my parents were of a different generation I am sure my future happiness could have been saved.

I would have jumped at the chance at socially transitioning at 4 and taken blockers when appropriate and estrogen as soon as I could. I would have signed anything to have surgery at sixteen.

My life could have been different. I could have spent it being who I felt I was inside. I could have looked in the mirror and smiled back at myself. I could have related to the world as a different person. I would have had at least a chance at happiness.

Saying transgender children are too young to know what they want is just wrong. I knew at four and I feel the same today as I did then.

I agree it’s difficult and there is a spectrum but we do need to get better at identifying the transgender children and helping their parents make informed choices.

We also need to stop attacking amazing Moms and Dads dealing with very difficult issues they don’t really understand in a desperate attempt to rescue the childhood of their amazing children.

Best friends with Jenny

When I was nine years old I spent one idyllic summer in North Wales with my Mum’s friend and her son James. He was an only child and they owned a cottage in the countryside (a lot of the time we were actually looked after by his Nanny)

During our six week vacation we became friends with the two girls who lived on the farm down the road. Mary was eleven and Jenny was the same age as me. It didn’t take long for Jenny and I to become firm friends. We just seemed to click and would spend every daylight hour together.

We walked and ran through fields, built houses and boats for teddies, wrote funny stories, played schools, farms, hospitals, vets you name it we did it.

Jenny also liked playing football, cricket and was always climbing trees and getting her clothes dusty. She was also embarrassed that her wardrobe had dresses inside it and told me her mum bought them and made her wear them for church. Everybody described her as a tomboy.

I thought she was amazing and she could make me laugh until tears ran down my face.

She would often say things like being a girl was boring and that they can’t play football or be vets or drive tractors. I pointed out that she was better at football than I was and there was a girl called Anne in my class at school who was cleverer than all of the boys put together and she could definitely be a vet.

It upset me that she felt so down about being a girl. To me she had everything. She was pretty, kind, funny and even seemed better at doing boy stuff than me! I would have switched places with her in a heartbeat. It didn’t occur to me that a girl might feel about herself  the way I felt about being a boy.

I don’t know if she was trans but she was unhappy with the limitations and expectations she felt were placed on her.

One day, when we were playing by the stream, I told her I thought being a girl was just as good as being a boy and they can do everything boys can. This broke the “boy code” and I had to motivate myself to say it out loud. I was worried somehow everyone would find out and guess my secret by me saying it.

She just smiled at me.

The rest of the summer was filled with lots of fun activities interspersed with midnight feasts, ghost stories in the fields at 2am and amazing talent shows.

When it was time to go home I was devastated. She was the perfect friend I had always wanted. I could be myself around her in a way I had never been able before. I wish I had told her more about how I felt about myself.

It took a long time to get over losing her.

I do hope Jenny was able to find herself and be happy with who she was. I wouldn’t wish dysphoria on anybody.

I will never forget her.

My life as an “under the radar” transgender person

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