Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality.
For years, I would suddenly find my mood dip for no apparent reason. It would last a few days, then recover. Ever since taking oestrogen and a t-blocker, I’ve not experienced these, instead I’ve been really happy (but that’s been just 6 months), but today, Tuesday I feel really low. This time is a bit different in that I can trace reasons why I feel this way, but that doesn’t lessen the despondency and impotence.
Some of the despondence is due to the likelihood that the UK is about to slip out of the EU on the slenderest of majorities; a crazy possibility fuelled by a dirty campaign of lies and distortions. Were there to be a substantial vote to go, then fair enough, but this is likely to be no more than a few percent either way. Some of my despondency is due to recent events like the murder of MP Jo Cox; we’re becoming a rather nasty nation.
But the major source stems I know from both a realisation of the enormity of the consequences and tasks arising from my desire to transition, to live the rest of my life honouring my female side coupled with a recognition that like many, if not most, trans women I just will not pass and will need to cope with peoples negative (or worse) behaviours and attitudes, and that by transitioning I expose my sweet wife to these as well. And that hurts.
A great feature of blogs is that they lead you from one to another and to explore new authors. Yesterday I came across a brilliant and very thoughtful blog written by a Portuguese trans woman ( https://feminina.eu/ ). In her piece titled ‘The Quest for Becoming the Perfect Woman’ she talks about the purpose of the ‘real life test’ and suggests that it really is about seeing if one can survive “learning to live as a trans woman’: it means being able to tolerate transphobia and discrimination every day, at many different levels, from simple eye contact to outbursts of violence — and these will happen every day, for the rest of your life. It matters little how many hormones you take and how much surgery you do: there will always be someone who will ‘read’ you, and if that person happens to be a transphobe (which is likely!), you will have to endure their humiliation.”
Sandra’s blog contains a number of well considered articles, many of some notable length that explore many issues around being transgender and transitioning and I commend her writings to you.
Like many if not most of my peers, I grew up with no idea that gender and sex could be different, so I never questioned the fact that I didn’t seem to share that much with other boys. My best friends at an early age were largely girls and I certainly got invited to more girl birthday parties than other boys. In my teenage years things got worse; I was very much a loner, I didn’t enjoy sports or any of the things other boys were into. Sure I had girlfriends, in fact even before other boys and got ribbed for it. Of course I had no idea that gender might be a spectrum, few if any of us did, and so being a bit different to other boys needed to be silenced. And so it remained until my mid-sixties.
Diverging slightly, it’s interesting how much attitudes have (or appear to have) changed since my youth. Today I was reading a piece in last Saturday’s Guardian on the slaughter in Orlando and learnt that in the US in the 1960’s presenting oneself as the opposite gender was a crime known as ‘gender impersonation’. Drag queens, butches and trans-sexuals were regularly rounded up and imprisoned for ‘wearing the wrong clothes’. Maybe not that much has changed; A UK journalist was forced to walk off a TV show on a channel in the UK owned by the same Murdoch who owns Fox after repeatedly being told that that the murder of 49 people in a gay club in Orlando was not about homophobia. Though we have probably more legal protection in (most of) the UK, the bullying of those who are different be it through colour, sexual orientation, being transgender etc is no doubt as bad as the US and probably has not improved over time
So do I truly want to transition and present as female each day and run the gauntlet of hate and ridicule? Sometimes I wonder. I don’t believe in the notion of a gender binary anyway (neither a sexual one either, for that matter). I see my self as towards the female end of the spectrum certainly, but I’ve learnt to live quite well presenting as male. Why would I throw this away together with the implied rights, privileges and safety?
I have no need to rush into a final decision, though I won’t put it off long. That decision affects others deeply and so they certainly have a say thereon; indeed my sweet wife really should have the right of veto.
Its taken a couple of days to write this piece and in the process I’ve recovered my positive mood. Hell, I even feel we might, just, by the slimmest of majorities vote to stay part of Europe and the 21st century.
Transitioning is never easy. But we trans folk need to be visible; for others to see us as the normal folk we are. We need to learn the lesson from gays and lesbians before us, that visibility helps the wider world see us as just like the family next door, just like their own family. In almost every family there will be someone who is gay and likely there’ll be someone who is trans. Get over it. We didn’t choose to be who we are, any more than you did.
In the words of Jo Cox MP “We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us”.
BTW: Today June 22 is our 20th wedding anniversary. 20 years of bliss and happiness for me; 20 years of what?? for her! I hope I’ve been a good husband most of the time. I certainly love her more than life.