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Monthly Archives: February 2016

A Hand on the Closet Door

I fully intend to come out to my mother. I’ve even decided on the day- decided weeks ago. However, in her house, with her easy conversation and penchant for terrible films, I feel like it’s never going to happen.

It’s just so long overdue. Eight years – all my adult life – I have known that I am not female, and she still has no idea. Even the GP who gave me my GIC referral asked “how can she not know?!”… and it’s this that frightens me.

Because how can she not? She knows I wear men’s underwear. She knows I use unisex perfume, unisex deodorant. I wear men’s suits. Yes, I occasionally wear dresses, but my presentation is surely male-of-centre enough to warrant more than a sneaking suspicion?

Her language, too, is too gendered. She introduces me as her “daughter”, which in her non-native tongue sounds forced and peculiar. Whether it would be any less disturbing with an English accent, I can’t be sure. But she seems to say it far more than is necessary, those two thick syllables hanging in the air for far longer than they ought.

It feels like she’s trying to make a point.

Then again, I know I’m just frightened. When I was 16, I felt I would never be able to tell her who I was. She was a bigot who said terrible things about people like me. Since her divorce, however, I realise that she was unfair only because she was treated unfairly. Her heart truly is open.

I asked her (purely theoretically) what she thought about parents who disregard their transgender children on the basis of faith. She replied that if they did not love their child for who the child knew themself to be, they were not Christian.

Or something to that effect; it was a while ago now. The point still stands- she has no problem with me in theory.

Whether or not I am willing to test that theory is another matter. By the time I publish this job, I will know. One way or the other.

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On Identity

Although I am happy about my referral to Daventry GIC, I’m also mourning the loss of part of my identity. Until that moment, I had thought myself proud to be non-medical. And suddenly, I wasn’t any more.

I still don’t want testosterone. I still don’t want top surgery (yet). I want a diagnosis of gender dysphoria so I can get a shitty piece of paper off the government. I want vocal coaching so that I don’t sound freaking preposterous every time I open my mouth. But I’m still going.

I know it doesn’t mean anything. It’s like a virginity or a gold star. But to me it was who I was, and who I never will be again. It makes me fearful of who I will be.

I’ve always maintained that transition is not a medical journey. Because I have been on this path now for a third of my life, and there are still so many things I have had to learn and overcome. Part of that, I suppose, is dealing with the fact that transition is not always a straightforward journey from A to B.

Trans people tend to wince at the words “op” or “sex change” because it tends to imply that it’s easy, that it’s like flicking a switch- one day A, the next B. But transition isn’t a shopping list either. It’s not counselling, hormones, top surgery, bottom surgery, done. It’s confusing.

I had a nightmare that I went to Daventry and they wrote a scrip for Nebido without asking me whether I wanted it or not. So then I had this incredibly powerful piece of paper sitting in my pocket that I neither wanted nor knew what to do with.

On the one hand, I want to validate my identity by being a Good Trans Person and taking my medicine. After all, other people are desperate for that opportunity, and I should be grateful for it. On the other, of course, the irreversible side effects of T are not something that I, personally, want, and I don’t want to feel pressured into doing it.

Not to mention the small question of the fact I desperately want to remove any trace of my being legally female, and that if I refuse to take T (like trans men are supposed to), it’ll make for a difficult question at the gender recognition panel.

All this fuss over what is, to me, a minor biological anomaly. Can’t it just be overlooked?

I’m sure as my referral progresses, I’ll have a more cogent idea about how I feel about all this. But right now? I’m tired. And I’m sure I’m not the only person on this ridiculous waiting list who’s at least half-grateful for the time to clear their head.

Getting the referral

I have known I was trans since I was 16 years old, and lived openly since I was 20 but at 24 I have only just got referred to a GIC (Gender Identity Clinic).

I went about it, like I do, sort-of sideways: I made an appointment at the doctors just because I was there anyway, and then the night before I opened the websites for all the GICs and picked one almost at random. On the morning of the appointment, I printed out the referral forms and the NHS guidelines for treating trans people.

Of course I was anxious. But because I’d gone about it so quickly, I felt a little like I wasn’t there at all.

The doctor called me in and asked me what she could do.

“I’m trans and I want to be referred to the GIC in Daventry.”

That was it.

I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about talking to GPs, but I’ve never had any issues for trans-related healthcare (though plenty for unrelated ailments). She went through the questions on the referral form, some of which made sense to me (“how long have you known?”) and some which did not (“any traumatic events in your childhood?”).

There was one oddity- she assumed I was single, glossing over the question rather than asking about it. In actuality, it was my partner that convinced me to ask for referral- I had been verging on cancelling the appointment.

That was all- I even had time to pick up some birth control pills while I was at it.

I always asserted that my transness wasn’t a medical issue until the day I chose to make it so. Well, now I’ve done that. I wish I could say that I felt relieved, that I felt anything at all really, but I don’t. This is just something I’m doing, and that’s all.

I feel like an oddity among trans people, in that this wasn’t something I craved desperately, but it’s for this reason that I’ve decided to try and blog more frequently. Because I can’t be the only one feeling this, a borderline indifference to the medical side of transition- in fact, I know I’m not.

I’m going to post a follow-up at some point about it, but for now I’m just going to share a few lines from my beloved Housman:

“Oh who is that young sinner with the handcuffs on his wrists?
And what has he been after that they groan and shake their fists?
And wherefore is he wearing such a conscience-stricken air?
Oh they’re taking him to prison for the colour of his hair.”

Change of direction

So, it seems to me that although I am still writing, what I don’t enjoy doing is writing about writing. I don’t enjoy blogging for the attention. And I don’t like using social media like it’s a tool for my own self-promotion.

Instead, I’ve come to realise that there are a lot of ways to be transgender, and that in the past I’ve felt incredibly lonely because I don’t seem to fit with the ideal of what a trans person should be, either from a cis or a trans standpoint.

I need to reach out in order to not feel that way. I’ve always refrained from making this a “trans blog” because firstly, what have I got to say that hasn’t already been said? And also, shouldn’t I be concentrating on being a “better writer”, whatever that means?

Maybe I’m not the first. So what? I still have a standpoint that not everybody has, a particular lens through which I view the world around me. And the way that distorts things- that’s a curiosity.

So no, not everything in my life is to do with being trans- but it’s a part of me that I am not ashamed of, and not afraid to explore creatively. Over the coming weeks I have a lot to share, and I’m also going to be experimenting with publishing it in different ways.

So, if that interests you, stay tuned. If not… sorry, not sorry.