Transition – everyone’s a critic

I’m not sure how angry this is going to be, but I’m certainly feeling irritated if not angry this morning.

My aunt intended to send an email about me to a friend, but sent it to me by mistake. On the whole it was very complimentary – there was a bit of confused use of he and she, but the thing that irritated me was the following line:

“and I understand he/she will be officially female at work from October 20th.  Shockingly fast, but it must all be right….”

Shockingly fast? I came out to her just over two years ago. I felt uncomfortable and unhappy in my own body for three decades.

I had a friend make the observation “You waited this long, another six months isn’t going to hurt”. Actually yes it does. Now Amy’s life is bigger than my old life – parading around as my old self, or more accurately a hybrid version of the two is frustrating, confusing and painful.

I’ve also had a few people ask me in puzzlement “why so slow?” or “why are you waiting so long?” when they find out that I plan on waiting for three months after coming out to go full time.

The really short answer is because I’m not ready. I’m going at a pace that works for me – it’s my transition – only I can know what is right for me.

I think this morning’s email was the cherry on the cake after a weekend of having people tell me that I should deal with gender dysphoria by just “being happy” or “learning to feel comfortable in my own skin”. The people that offered this advice were all people that have never experienced this and it just came across as patronising and frustrating however kindly and well intended.

Getting that off my chest feels a lot better.

Here’s to a great week.

Amy x

 

Gender Dysphoria – can other people really understand?

I don’t suffer much anymore. Since I started to unpack my feelings and live a life truer to myself it’s all gone away. Mostly.

For most of my life it was an unstructured noise in my head. Sometimes it felt closest to a dissatisfaction that my life was wrong – like it wasn’t supposed to be this way. Other times it was less vague, a strong feeling that I wanted to be female, was supposed to have been female and yet never could be. There was envy at all the people around me that fit in – that had everything I wanted, yet didn’t seem to notice all that they had. It was a sorrow that accompanied every great achievement, a little sting that reminded me whatever I accomplished – things would never be right. These feelings and noises were quiet murmurs sometimes and a deafening roar at others – occasionally overwhelming my ability to hear real world conversations going on around me.

Now I barely ever feel that way. The realisation that transition is possible and that I can have 90% of the things I’ve longed for for my entire life and that I’m walking the path seems to have eradicated the voices. Mostly.

Over the last six months I’ve had three episodes triggered by tiny things.

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The first was in John Lewis department store in Kingston Upon Thames, presenting as male. I was walking around the place and the buzzing started.I felt like everyone was looking at me and knew how different I was to them. I felt like I didn’t belong, could never fit in with these people.  I rapidly left and trotted / almost ran back to my car where I sobbed and sobbed for probably half an hour. What was difficult about this incident was that I didn’t even recognise it as it was building or even when it was happening – it was just a buzzing, pressure in my head that took a while to coalesce.

The second was when I met up with a close friend who had not seen me as Amy before. I felt good, as attractive as I can feel & confident. We were supposed to have coffee, but it felt so natural and easy that it turned into shopping & lunch and more shopping. We spent hours together. I wanted to get a selfie of the two of us to commemorate the day. The sun was bright, so I didn’t see the pic. It was horrible. All I could see was my masculine features. I felt so male. All this felt stupid. In fairness to myself – the intellectual part of my brain knew it was because selfies can exaggerate certain features, that sunglasses hide my eyes and emphasise my nose and jaw and that by having my friend with her feminine face in the pic created a contrast. But we were not dealing with that part of my brain. That evening I had to get dressed up and go to a party and put on a brave face, but I just felt like a man in a dress. It took another day or two to shake it. (I know I should share the picture – but it just makes me feel too low.)

The third one happened yesterday. I took my children to Brighton Pier. They love it. For £7 they can go on as many rides as they like. The place was heaving with people all wearing their summer clothes and being utterly unselfconscious – just walking around enjoying the sun.

CBT8M6 People on holiday and vacation enjoying themselves on amusement park rides on Brighton Pier.

I started to see all the women who were acting so naturally and I felt awkward and couldn’t imagine ever being that natural, comfortable in my own skin and the men who I couldn’t relate to at all – they all seemed so masculine. I felt like I was neither – isolated, alone, trapped half way on my journey . I became aware of all the couples and the warmth between two people and was very aware at how my sexuality has deserted me, again adding to the sense of loss & isolation. I had a little cry.

I should think myself lucky. I used to feel like this most days, and just three attacks in six months is not bad at all… and yet now they contrast against the constant happiness and elation I feel bubbling inside me, so when one comes it knocks me sideways.

Can cis people ever understand?

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I got this lovely message from a friend. Whats not to be grateful for? Well the “Be you” advice just shows how hard this stuff is to understand. I am being me. Most of the time I’m very, very happy. I do revel in it. I have a great life. I’m walking my path. But when one of these attacks hits I feel disconnected with every other person on the planet and I know I can never be the person I want to be and I feel stupid and like I’m just playing some silly game. I can’t just chose to be happy.

I hate being this person, but I think the only external help that would have been useful would have been from another trans person saying – “I know what you mean – It’s tough – I’m here for you” – I just don’t think cis-people can get Gender Dysphoria – it’s too alien. It’s partly what makes us trans and them cis. As cisphobic as this may sound – kindness from a cis-person around this just come across as a silly platitude. Uugh I hate myself for this paragraph. Surely I’m better than thinking this stuff?

OK now I feel bad. His message was so nice and kindly intended.

Can other trans people understand?

I’ve heard it said that it feels different for every transperson, so maybe most transpeople can’t understand what I go through either & nor will I understand their version. I know that for some it can be very body focussed, for me it’s more about internal compass and discomfort at being seen as male. I’ve sometimes described my feelings only to be met with a blank stare or a “I never got that”.

Fortunately I got a nice message from my friend:

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So I guess I’m not alone.

I can only hope it lessens in frequency when I go full time in a couple of months.

Take care

Amy x

Coming out in 22 days
Full time in 114 days