Monday, 1 August 2016

The journey

I am male but not a man, a woman yet not female so is it any wonder I’m confused or why the people around me so often are. I am Trans, transgendered and transsexual but not a crossdresser, transvestite or tranny. This is my story ... well part of it ....

Yes, like so many in our community I could and have in the original article have told you about years spent in confusion starting as a young child, going through puberty and into adulthood.  Yes, I could also speak of years of suppression and pain, drug and alcohol misuse and lying to myself and others.  Yes, I could tell you of a day when I had to decide to start this journey, not choose but decide because my other option was suicide and that’s not a choice. Yes I could say so much about all this here but as all this is written already I choose to tell the tale of the journey not how I came to start it, especially as this can be read on the web.
So having said this what can I tell you ....

I can tell you of the abuse.  At first almost constant.  From the jeers of strangers who felt they had the right to question me in the street .... “You a man?”, or of strangers who tried to photograph “the freak” to share their hilarity at seeing me or even the most basic of abuse with face after face staring at me saying nothing but their eyes telling a tale of disgust. 
Perhaps I could tell you of the verbal and physical intimidation faced of having to phone the police and explain what had happened.  To make myself vulnerable in order to obtain justice and often to find that insufficient evidence meant to action could be taken but this is not unusual.  

The abuse I faced was average, some Trans people suffer less whilst others are raped, beaten and even murdered even here in the U.K.  The police I found were helpful, even though they made mistakes calling me sir based on nothing else but the sound of my voice, the courts sympathetic and many people supportive of me.  Others have had less and suffered more.
I could tell you of the struggles to fight the NHS.  Meaning well the process is long and chaotic, not because its meant to be but because, well because it is.  GPs who have never had a Trans patient and don’t know what to do or even worse going to the GP who has known you and your family all your life and who you fear may not keep confidence.  A disparate system with referrals needed between so many services none of whom are joined up to treat Trans people.  A refusal to accept that for a Transwoman beard removal and breast enhancement are not cosmetic but essential or that for Transmen a mastectomy is a basic necessity for the same reasons damages many and causes delay, stress and depression, but then ..............................

Again I could tell you of the losses suffered on this journey.  A loss of dignity and respect as you become to many an object of pity and charity, I am not as I have been told so often “brave” I am just trying to live.  A loss of friends and family ... yes I have gained some friends and even re-forged family links long lost but I have lost many many more, it is true that I can and do spend days and sometimes weeks on end without speaking to another human being unless you count the chit chat of checkout assistant.  Isolation and loneliness is now my closest friend and I embrace them as to do anything else will lead to a path a refuse to take.

From owning my own home and being financially secure I now rent and have struggled at times to find enough money to eat at the end of the month but this is my journey and the journey I expected and am happy to take; made worse by the fact of being wrongfully dismissed and like 80% of Trans people unlikely to ever find another job despite two degrees, professional qualifications and a wealth of experience

Now in late middle age I am as close to being me as I will ever be .... though I will never truly be me. The me I feel I am should have memories of being “daddy’s little princess”, of shopping with school friends and making all the fashion mistakes teenage girls make, of hen nights and of being a bridesmaid or even of my own wedding and motherhood instead I have memories of being an unhappy and unfulfilled little boy and of an adult living a lie and hoping it would become the truth.

Now I have returned to the island I really call home – the island of my Dad’s family, Malta, and face a whole new set of challenges.  Some are typical “ex pat”, fighting with bureaucracy when you do not know the rules.  Others are a cultural acceptance of discrimination “when needed” where excuses are part of the culture but more of that later  

Finally no I am not mad nor do I enjoy suffering but this journey, this transition, for all the pain and problems is worth it.  I have less years ahead of me than behind me but with the little I now have these years will be better years. They will be years which I can fill with new friendships based on the me I am becoming, they will be full of memories not of the fictional male I was but of the woman I am.  Yes I will face many more challenges, not least surgery which will be traumatic as it, alongside the hormones I take every day, creates the body I should have been born with, but every challenge though sometimes hateful at the time will, I know make me, the true me.

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