I started this blog one year ago. I wanted to tell my story as it was writing itself, I wanted to share my poetry, and I wanted to offer a concept of normality about the gender spectrum.
What a year it has been. In an early blog I did write ‘I don’t need to be a woman. I never really can be.’ The subtitle of my blog was ‘reinterpreting gender for a better fit’, and I was at pains to place myself in the centre, with a healthy balance between living one gender or the other depending on who needed that of me.
Meanwhile some people were taking one look at me and saying: ‘No way! She’s a classic transitioning one!’
That story is well told in the poetry collection I published in March: Realisations. I still read it and perform it and share it, as a closed book, but also a very emotional and poignant reminder of the traumatic thing it is to come to terms with being transgender.
So it was, that I applied in March 2012 by Deed Poll to change my name and gender marker for good, and as far as I am concerned, I transitioned then. The story of how it went is on here.
There is very little support though, for what ultimately is a clinical diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and even that term has been heartily discussed among psychiatrists and trans* people alike for its appropriateness, this year. Basically it is down to self-help. Somehow we meet each other, and if we are lucky, it’s a useful meeting. YouTube, feminisation secrets websites, borderline suppliers of herbal remedies and hormones, places you don’t normally associate yourself with because it’s easier to visit a ‘drag supplier’ than find genuine mastectomy prostheses. And it is expensive and painful, even before surgery. Despite 1 in 4,500 men and 1 in 8,000 women having diagnosable gender dysphoria.
So a year ago I had been toughing it out, convinced I could tread a middle ground, be dual gender, and keep my family. Yes, that is a pretty big reason to delay facing the truth. And the price of failure? Well, two things, I guess.
First (and mercifully we were going to therapy as a couple at the time) I reached the brink and looked over. It was a place devoid of everything, including light. It wasn’t inviting, but it seemed the only answer. If those who loved me and whom I loved the most could not live with me as a woman, and if I couldn’t live as a man, then by removing the common denominator (life) it would all be resolved. The frightening thing was that I knew how I was going to do it, and it was easy. So easy. I looked over the edge a few times. Now, I feel my record is blemished forever. ‘Have you ever felt suicidal?’ appears on forms sometimes, on your medical record, elsewhere. And if you answer ‘yes’, there may be a penalty, an impression, or just a knowing look and a Note. I have a Note. But at least I didn’t pay that price. The wind blew back just strongly enough to overcome the vertigo.
Second, I knew quite early in the year that I had already written the biggest cheque of my life. I had signed it. I had delivered it, and I was just waiting for it to be cashed. Very soon my account would be emptied. I wasn’t going to kill myself, but I was going to bankrupt myself. It isn’t often you have to write ‘Please pay from my personal account: my family; my marriage; the person I love most in all the world, all my life; and my home’ – in exchange for simply being true to how you were born.
I wrote on my blog about authenticity, about being seen as selfish or as deceiving, and I protested (as I still do) that I am looking through the same eyes I was born with and as when I fell in love, that I am still feeling and loving with the same heart, and giving from the same soul.
And I know now that ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it matters not one jot. Being the bio-male really does trump personality, companionship, commitment. And love. If you aren’t sexually attractive any more, you have become inappropriate. ‘You might “be the same person”, but I am not having any woman make love to me (even if the outcome is pretty identical)’. The only resolution to living behind this thick glass wall, looking at the one I loved and could no longer touch, was either back to the first price tag above, or starting again on my own.
So this blog subtitle changed to simply being ‘observations of gender dysphoria’. There was no better fit. I was a woman, and I really could be. The observation bit is important to me, and I do try to see from others’ point of view, though of course I can only do it as myself. You can judge whether my empathy and intuition are sound or not. Along the way I wrote about fairness, truth, justice, fear, self-knowledge, continuity, being a trans* father, being ordinary – and quite a lot about love.
I digressed into the awful realisation that ignorance is no defense under law, and that if my gender had been known, every wonderful act of love (that I always felt was in my heart a feminine space) would not have been consented to: was it all rape? Is that too blunt? That my own wife had only ever had sex with a transsexual woman? And that she would never knowingly have given consent for that? Because now it was known, doing exactly what had been invited before, was more than inappropriate.
Sadness, exile, yet becoming accepted universally as a woman socially and at work, and in public performance, featured on this blog, and finally put paid to any efforts of rational persuasion that I am still me, not trying to love differently, and still deserving of the same love and intimacy – but came through in the end to an intensely happy realisation that I have arrived at a place where the final administration can proceed smoothly, and over time. I even ditched the prostheses, and am getting my hair coloured so as it grows and appears a bit, it will blend. Then in a few months, the miraculous ‘shorter trim’ can appear and another prop, hopefully, be left behind.
And so I arrived at Christmas with all the reminders, redrafted scripts of grief, opening my space to others who needed it for similar reasons, and ultimately when they had left for home, feeling terribly lonely.
But I did cook a full and quite perfect Christmas dinner for the first time ever. And yes, I did set out a Gantt chart so I would get it right: (do not genderise that! The multi-tasking was fine).
Soooo … deep breath, and let’s begin 2013, and see if we can avoid the trauma somewhat, let go completely, negotiate sale of my old home, navigate divorce, and keep myself together throughout again. Because contrary to everything I protested last year, and rejection for being different, there is only one me, there only ever has been, and this is what I am.
Sadly, in terms of finding those essential, safe, daily, dependable hugs or kisses (*sigh*), one ounce of truth seems to linger from one past blog, ‘We cry, we dance’:
In the land where all is pink and blue
the purple has no face.
We cry, we dance, we love like you—
but cannot find our place.