Posts tagged ‘transitioning’

22/09/2012

Friendships, and Changing Gender.

Around eight years ago I realised that to be able to keep living with myself I had to stop lying. I had to be honest with myself admit that I’m a girl, and change gender. It was that or die by my own hand. I knew that with the absolute certainty of those who’ve already tried multiple times. Since around six years ago there hasn’t been a day that I haven’t been relieved that I made that decision. So that leaves a very obvious question to be answered.

What about those first two years?

Those first two years were the hardest part of transitioning. The time period where every single part of it was terrifying, or upsetting, or just a plain struggle. Those were the years before laser hair removal had really started to work out. The years before hormone treatments had performed their magic. The years where I had not yet developed a personal sense of style, or any significant make-up skills (Though I’m quite certain that there are probably those who would say I still haven’t.) with which to present myself to the world. Those were the years where my mother and I had a fraught relationship. But most of all they were the years when I lost most of the people I thought were my friends.

It felt like one day I was surrounded by people who cared about me, and the next…well there were a lot fewer. Of course that’s not actually wholly true. It took those two years, and a large chunk of the next couple too, for them all to drift away.

What I didn’t understand then, and what I’ve only started to understand recently is that they were never really my friends. And I don’t mean that the way you think. Sure some of them were just acquaintances who seemed like friends due to proximity based, pressure-cooker type relationships. But that’s not what I mean. What I mean is that they were never Amanda’s friends.

They’d spent, sometimes, anything up to five years getting to know the old, fake me. They were “his” friends, “his” confidants, “his” support network. They knew…let’s call him, in the manner of only the very “best” PSA’s, Jimmy, not this new strange person with too much facial hair, no breasts, weird dress sense, and a scrawny body, who was named Amanda. Some of them really tried. I have to give them their due. Some of them tried as hard as hell to stay in Amanda’s life. But of all the friends Jimmy had, only a handful would go on to become Amanda’s.

It’s hardly surprising, Amanda is definitely a lot different to Jimmy. For one thing, paradoxically she has bigger balls. Seriously, things that used to make Jimmy curl up and scream for mommy, just make Amanda bear her teeth, ready for a nice tasty bite of jugular.

Anyway, when I think about it now, with the passage of time reducing the pain to a distant memory, I’m grateful they didn’t stick around. You see transitioning was a crucible. It burnt away all the layers of fake which I’d built up over the years to hide away the real me. It forced me to become if not a grown-up then at the very least an adult. It made me take responsibility for my body, health, and life. But it also removed a great deal of the unnecessary from my life, not least of which were the friends who were just, okay.

I’ve learned that not everyone has friends who are amazing, wonderful, loving, supportive, and the types who’ll bury bodies with you (Good friends will only do the killing part, conveniently forgetting to help with the clean up afterward.). But now after transitioning, after losing so much of what I thought was mine, with everything, and everyone who was less than I deserved, I can finally say with certainty that I do.

 

 

 

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08/09/2012

A few small suggestions on transitioning.

I recently made the internet acquaintance of a transgirl who is at the beginning of her transitioning from pretend boy to, I’m quite certain, a very beautiful young woman. During one of our chats on Yahoo Messenger (Yes, apparently some people do still use this. I was shocked, I hadn’t used it in about 4 years.) she asked me for any hints that I might have to help make her transition if not easier, than perhaps a slightly less painful. Well here is what I came up with. Please note that everything on this list is very much my own personal opinion, which is based on my experience of transitioning. Also these are listed in no particular order.

  • If you have dark hair start laser hair removal as soon as possible. Nothing else, pre-hormones, will have as quick, or profound an impact on your looks, or your sense of wellbeing. If you have hair which is too fair for it to be effectively Lasered you will have to go down the electrolysis route.
  • Speaking of laser and electrolysis, prices, and skill vary a great deal between places providing these treatments so it’s a very good idea to ask around (people you know, the interwebs, TENI) to find who people recommend, as well as getting a good idea of prices.
  • Make contact with whatever local/national organisation exists where you live. Here in Ireland it’s TENI, and they will have a lot of helpful people, advice, and above all many non-judgemental ears for you to bash with your worries. Trust me they’ll understand, the vast majority of them have been where you are, or have had to help a partner through it all.
  • Don’t go too nuts buying clothes to begin with, for two reasons. Firstly, odds are that you will really have very little idea of what looks good on you. Secondly, while you do need to buy some clothes, both every day and good wear, you are also going to need that money for hair removal, and depending on where you live, travel costs.
  • Don’t listen blindly (wow, that’s a bad way to put that!) to the old wives tales, and horror stories about transitioning which some older transpeople seem to love to peddle. Those stories are their experiences, often back in the 70’s 80’s or 90’s. It may well be as little as 10 years since they transitioned, but I know from my own experience that a huge amount has changed in that time.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak to your doctor about this. They are required by law to maintain the confidentiality of your situation. And while many may not understand some like my current GP are going to be not only willing, but driven to learn how to help you. Also if your doctor proves unable, or unwilling to help, ask a different doctor. There are after all LOTS of GP’s, one of them will be able to help you. Again this is an area where contact with a group like TENI will help, as they be very well positioned to advise you.
  • Your transition is YOUR transition. No-one elses. It is the act of you consciously becoming who you have always wanted to be. Sure, listen to suggestions/advice politely. But nothing what-so-ever requires you to use their advice. For example if I’d listened to one particular ex-friend I would never have transitioned, “You know you’ll never be a good-looking woman.” If I’d listened to some other people I would have been just another normally dressed, but miserable Irish woman, instead of the very happy well-dressed  gothgirl I am.

Yes this really is me. It kind of illustrates why I’m happy I didn’t listen to fashion advice from idiots. I love being a gothgirl!

I know I covered nothing to do with Gender Therapist, clinics, or hormones in this. I may come back and deal with them in the future. This was more in the lines of very basic simple advice that I wish someone had given me when I started out on this particular road. Anyway if you have any ideas that I missed, or want to discuss anything in this post please feel free to add a comment. And I will leave you all to your weekend with two links to why I think being transsexual is awesome.

It really is awesome…

No Really it is!

01/10/2011

Grief and the transwoman.

On Wednesday morning my grandfather died. He was in his mid-80’s and was in his third year after a diagnosis of vascular dementia. And I hadn’t seen him since I was 16. And now I never will. I loved my grandfather, I thought of him most days. Wondered how he and my grandmother were doing. Wondered if they were happy, and well. Wondered if he had a new calf being built up for sale. Wondered if he’d gotten into any new fight with some random member of the family. But mostly I wondered if I was ever going to get to show him what I grew up into.

Some of you must be wondering how do you go from 16 to 33 without seeing a grandparent. Well it’s surprisingly easy if you have a dysfunctional family, and change gender. Here’s the story.

When I was 16 my uncle got married. It was a typical west of Ireland wedding, church, food, enough drink to lay out an entire marine corp. It was also the first time the wheels came visibly off the wagon of my parents marriage. My wonderful father (wonderful to be read in a tone of seething anger) spent the week we were up there cracking on to every younger woman he could find. He even went so far as to feel up one in the back seat of a car, while my mother sat in the front passenger seat chatting with one of my uncles. That was the first time I ever punched someone, I was so angry at him.

Anyway, something happened at the after’s of the wedding. I’ve never found out what, but my brother and I were sent back to the family home early. And the following day we all went home to Cork, with my father in the blackest mood I think I’ve ever seen anyone in. I assume he tried it on with he wrong girl and she…made issue of it.

This led to a coldness between my father and his parents. So that accounts for the first 10 years of their absence from my life.

Then in the same year I came out as transsexual, my parents split up for good. And my father refused to tell his parents either piece of news. He went as far as to threaten me with serious violence if I contacted them myself. Because and I quote “They’re old, they wouldn’t understand.”

So now I sit  here writing this seething at my father’s cowardice, his philandering, his lack of everything I find valuable in life. Honour, duty, dedication to family, honesty. Seething also at his brothers who warn me through him that I wasn’t to show my face in Mayo. Furious that I never got to see my granddad again before we lost him first to dementia and then finally to who knows what. Furious that I never got to see my nan again before a stroke robbed her of her memory of me in any form.

I never got to show them that I had managed to survive. That I had become a better person than even they had hoped I could have been. I never got to show them the novel I’ve written, the first person in my family for at least three generations to achieve something so profound. I never got to show them that I had grown into someone they could be proud of. And now I never will.

Some people say you choose to be gay, or transsexual. Would anyone ever choose to lose their family like this? To be cut off, even threatened to keep their silence, to keep away?

I always believed my grandparents were under-sold by their own children. I agree they might never have understood why, but I believe they would have accepted what I’ve become. And while I sit here crying for my granddad, I can’t help wondering what he would have said to me if he could have just once met his granddaughter, instead of the miserable the girl who was just pretending to be his grandson.

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