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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, they will find themselves on the wrong side of history.

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.

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.

I would have been Elizabeth

If  things had turned out differently I would have been born as a girl called Elizabeth (or Beth for short). That’s what my Mum would have called me.

I mourn the loss of that childhood. I feel sad that I couldn’t grow up without the stifling weight of dysphoria upon me.

I feel sad about the friends I would have made and experiences we would have shared.

I wonder how it might have been to fall in love with a man, to marry him and bear his children.

How I wish I could have been somebody’s Mother, to carry them, give birth to them, raise them and love them like only a Mother can.

I ache for that life that never was. All part of the pain and suffering you get for free with gender dysphoria.

Whether you view it as delusional, mental illness or accident of birth the pain and regret you feel in your mind and in your heart is real.

It stops you ever feeling good about yourself, your achievements or anything really. A life in limbo.

For most of my life I have tried to put these feelings to one side, work hard and be who I am supposed to be. I have always tried to be a good person and treat others as I would want to be treated.

I hoped to get to the end of my life without having to deal with my issues further. But for reasons I can’t really explain over the last 6 months the dysphoria has become increasingly unbearable. I’m not sure how best to deal with it.

That’s why I decided to talk things through with a therapist and write this blog.

When I was 19

Talking to my therapist about my gender issues has made me relive many moments from my life I have pushed aside. Some of them are so sad that tears run down my cheeks when I recall them. The pain of it is sometimes unbearable.

There was a short space of time though, maybe just a few minutes, when I was totally free of this gender dysphoria. I was 19 years old sitting in my dorm in college. I had reached the end.

Up to this point I had been searching for information about transgender therapy or organisations that help or treat people with dysphoria. Then information was hard to find. But after much searching I found the address in London of an organisation, I think they are now called the Beaumont Society.

I wrote a letter to them describing how I felt and asking for help. I had high hopes that at last things may begin to change. But, after three weeks of waiting, I received a brown envelope containing my opened letter marked “Unknown at this Address” “Return to Sender”. The address I used must have been an old one or invalid.

I was devastated, all of my hopes just hit the floor. I couldn’t see any way forward and now just wanted an end to the torment. I decided I would commit suicide on the upcoming Friday night when every student in the dorm would be out. I bought 50 paracetamol/Tylenol and some Vodka.

On Friday evening I felt fine, calm, happy even. I had bought paper and envelopes and began to write individual letters to my parents, brother, sisters and some friends. I wanted them to know how amazing they were, how much they meant to me and how they were blameless. I also wanted them to know who I was inside.

These letters were both incredibly hard and incredibly easy to write at the same time. I cried constantly throughout and it was the most emotionally draining experience I have had. It was certainly an experience I will never forget.

When I had finished I sat on my bed and drank some vodka from the bottle which was horrible and decided to start taking the tablets.

I sat there crying and swallowing pills along with the vodka. When I had taken what I thought was a lot I sat back against the wall next to the bed and felt all of my pain, anxiety, dysphoria and worry just drain away. I felt totally free. It was a strange feeling of total serenity. No regret or remorse I honestly was relieved it was over.

Those few minutes were the calmest, happiest moments of my life. The dysphoria was gone. I can still remember how wonderful that felt.

After a couple more minutes an overwhelming feeling of tiredness/sleepiness hit me. It can’t have been the pills so quickly. Whatever it was I lay down and slept.

It turns out I’m about as good at committing suicide as I am dealing with gender dysphoria because I woke up the next day in the early afternoon.

When I counted the pills left in the container and did the math the truth is I took just 12! At the time it felt like I had taken 25 or 30.

I believe this was a serious attempt. You may believe something else. That’s fine. I certainly wanted it to be the end. I have never told anyone about it except my therapist recently and this blog.

I know I felt disappointed and also scared that I would now get really sick and die slowly and painfully.

After a while I opened the letter I wrote to my Mum and read it. It was a beautiful tear stained letter, beautiful and so sad. It would have crushed her. Only then did I understand the impact my suicide would have had on my family. I knew I didn’t have the right to do that to them. They certainly didn’t deserve to be treated like that or to have this tragedy impact their lives.

I needed to find another way. I think I decided to put all thoughts and feelings aside and focus only on things I could achieve. I chose denial.

Suicide is never the answer. It’s never just your own life you are ending. And remember no matter how bad you may feel now, it won’t always feel the same. There will be good times again.

Talk to someone, and give yourself at least another day and then another.

The Suit

There are two moments in my life I will always remember. When I was four I knew I felt like and wanted to be a girl. I also knew that for some reason this made my parents angry. But it wan’t until I was eight that I realised I had a big problem.

The Wedding

When I was eight I had to attend a family wedding. Everyone had to have a new outfit and for me they bought a blue suit.

I can still see that blue suit hanging from the top of my Mum’s wardrobe door. It was like a grown up suit just like all the men would wear.

I hated it instantly. It even had a waistcoat. I didn’t want to try it on, I certainly didn’t want to wear it in public. I didn’t want to be just like all of the men wearing this suit or one like it.

I wasn’t even asking to wear a dress instead. I was so far from that expectation that it wasn’t worth even thinking about. Neutrality would have been nice.

I think I knew the clothes were irrelevant but heavily symbolic. I knew wearing a dress for a day wasn’t the answer. I needed their acceptance. I needed them to accept me as their daughter, sister, grand-daughter, cousin and niece.

I felt sick and upset as my Mum got me ready. I somehow avoided wearing the waistcoat but when I was dressed she made me look in the mirror and my heart just sank. I wanted to scream.

But the thing I realised was, this gender thing was going to be a big problem in my life and it wasn’t going to go away. I knew it would hurt me again and again in the future. I was helpless and powerless and alone.

When the time came I walked out of the house into the world, defeated, and I wore that suit.

It happens every day

I hate the thought that every day transgendered children have to endure this treatment imposed by insenitive cis gendered people who just don’t take the time to understand and are scared. They personally wouldn’t accept being cross dressed and paraded in public to their own humiliation and despair. I know they must know how that would feel.

More understanding please …

Can we all try and be kinder, gentler and more accepting of our children. Who cares if they don’t or do want to wear dresses, trousers, football jerseys, flowers, beads or lipstick etc. Let them be who they are. Let them find themselves. Let it be a problem for other people to deal with if they have bigoted views.

Children know. I knew at four and my feelings then are exactly the same now. Just don’t crush them or their identity.