(originally posted to Fb 04/01/19)
Have you ever heard a song, smelled a smell, or come across an old item that reminds you of someone you’ve lost? And in that moment you are overcome with a sense of loss and grief; perhaps you cry…. It’s important to recognise that in that moment, you didn’t ‘decide’ to be overcome with emotion, you just were. We don’t actually have much control over our emotions, our feelings, or even the thoughts and sensations that pass through our minds: we only have control over how we react to those emotions and feelings; how they are translated into the world we share with others.
I guess my story is a familiar one: I was very young, 3 or 4 years old, when I felt there was something not quite right wrong with me…it was too big a concept for such a young mind, but I knew it was something to do with the bit I peed out. I was 8, when in a moment battered by a tsunami of emotion, the thoughts, as they passed through my mind, came to, “I should’ve been a girl”… but I wasn’t… what to do?…..now yes, this does amount to “born in the wrong body” but just on that: this, certainly for me, was never intended as a value statement on what has actually happened, rather, just a way to try and describe my/our experience to others – sadly this has been blown out of all context and we’ve been robbed of what was always just a nuanced piece of our language.
I was already being bullied in school, and feminine natured insults weren’t uncommon; though of them, I didn’t feel particularly insulted – but after that moment I did become panicked by them… that day I developed a strategy to prevent what I later called ‘Leakage’ – policing those little quirks I believed would “give me away” – and to copy what boys did: do what boys do. I also prayed. Adults had told me my whole life we were here because of this all powerful God, so I prayed to wake up a girl – after all, if I did it could only have been because of God, right? So the bullies couldn’t bully me, and my father couldn’t say shit either – who could argue against God’s decision?…..then I started bargaining with this God…….I was atheist by the time I was 12.
Outwardly, there was nothing that stood out; how many of you would have been “transed” by today’s standards? Me? Not so much….my interests as a child ranged from Sci-fi and fantasy books/tv/film, lego, Starcom, Thundercats; cars, fighter planes, trains [like, the superfast ones, not the shitty efforts we get here [UK]], anything of an engineering nature that said “Wow! Look what we [humans] can do!”, anything that showcased our technology; I played football, climbed trees, went on tours on my bmx, built rope swings and death slides; played 2-man hunt, did garden runs, and participated in many other mayhems….so unless I had explicitly told someone how I felt, I’d otherwise be observed as a boy, with “feminine edges” [..?] perhaps, might/probably turn out gay…I’d imagine…
Clothes and makeup and stuff didn’t really become a thing until much later on; sure, when it came to formal shit, like weddings, funerals, first communion, and all that jazz, girls’ stuff was way better and nicer, and I was a wee bit jealous, but when it came to, like, school and being out to play? Yeah, boys’ stuff was alright… I mean, the skirt and socks n that looked nice, but they’re no use for playing football and kicking about…
So what do I think happened? That was that moment I fully recognised myself as a male person, and it was a massive departure from the expectations I had of myself; it was an internal incongruence that overwhelmed me that morning, and set me off in a panic… Why I think this happened? Haven’t a fucking clue.
Growing up, my interaction with girls was managed…it was weird. Take for example, my primary school. The playground formed a U around the school, one side considerably larger than the other. In P1 to P3 the boys and girls shared the smaller one; from P4 to P7 the girls remained in the smaller playground while the boys moved to the larger one…this confused me deeply at the time, being thrust into this exclusive “boy” environment, and I felt alien; what also baffled me was how silent the girls were on the matter – I tried to question it, but quickly realised there was no point…
Football helped during these years – there’s not much talking and everyone’s running around following the rules….sort of… I didn’t have to communicate much, which was great, ‘cause I didn’t really “get” boys….nevertheless, I had to try.
Even when I was out to play, my interaction with girls was being policed, largely by my father. Whenever I came in, I’d be asked who I was with; if the answer contained only girls, I’d get heavily quizzed: “What were you doing?”, “Where were you?”, “Why weren’t there any boys there?”, “What’s wrong with the boys?”, “What did the girls want to do?”…..yada yada yada. If the answer contained boys and girls, I’d still get quizzed: “Who are the girls?”, “Why were they there?”, etc…. If It was just boys, I rarely got more than, “Did you have fun?”…. I got used to leaving girls out when talking to him, and if I had to mention a girl, she was someone else’s girlfriend…..I couldn’t say “She’s just a friend” without getting sat down and grilled about who this girl was, why I liked her…the works.
Now, it wasn’t that me not doing what girls were doing that particularly bothered me; it was, why weren’t more girls doing what I was doing, that bothered me far more…of course I now understand that was ‘cause of the shitty socialisation they got.
Puberty started kicking in in high school and it was traumatic: this was when the offending appendage went from a relatively benign, albeit irritating, aberration, to a full on fucking nightmare! There were times it just. would. not. leave. me. alone!
I struggled cope in school and at home, but cope I must. Playing football at breaks continued to help a bit, but it wouldn’t last. Leakage was becoming more of a problem and more difficult to police – absent mindedness was my enemy. I spent considerably more time with girls, and would usually be found with them through the later years of school, but this was still problematic: not necessarily because of how I related to them as girls, but how they related to me as boy – I just couldn’t seem to form the sort of friendships and bonds I felt I ought to be forming; there was always something missing. Then throw a developing sexuality into the mix and it becomes an even bigger head fuck; bearing in mind, in a Catholic family and in a Catholic school, only one sexuality is allowed…
At home my behaviours were still being externally monitored, and my actions were apparently becoming questionable too; even my walk didn’t escape criticism – I soon learned the quicker I walked, the easier it was to mask my gait, and to this day I still struggle to walk slowly….
By the time I had left school at 16 I was a mess, though you’d never have known it to look at me – I had learned to maintain the picture of serenity lest uncomfortable, probing questions be asked. Over the next few years I tried to just get on with it as I patiently waited for it to somehow work itself, whatever ‘it’ was, out. The growth spurt I was always told would happen, never did; I was told I’d be taller than my sister, probably than my father too….nope, my sister and I are about the same height, if she’s not a little taller. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t build muscle mass, and I wanted to! I had hoped that seeing myself in a more masculine form might help make things click into place, but it wouldn’t happen; my body didn’t really seem to be levelling up to “Man” like the other boys’ did.
The sex act itself was confusing – I’m not saying it wasn’t fun, but it was only fun in the same way playing an exuberant sport is fun. I mean, I knew what I was supposed to do, and I apparently got quite good at it, but I never ever really knew ‘Sexual Satisfaction’ – male orgasm was a particularly bizarre experience, one I can only really describe as “fuzzy”; I remember the first one, and rather than any sense of relief or satisfaction or whatever, the only thing that went through my mind at the time was “oh that’s what they’re all talking about”….I’m not gonna lie, I did have many sexual relations, some one night stands, others in relationships, always hoping one of them would make it all make sense….it never did…the connection between me as a ‘sexed person’ with a ‘sexed body’ seemed to be missing, and no matter how hard I tried, it couldn’t be made – like 2 connectors trying to join, but can’t, like they have the same polarity or something….yet I had to persevere, what was the alternative? ‘Do what boys do’ had become ‘do what men do’, but no sense would ever be made of it.
At 20 I was a wreck – drinking quite heavily and popping eccies every weekend and more – again, not that anybody could tell. By now the more gendered stuff, such as clothes and makeup etc, were beginning to have more of an impact and play on mind: the departure from, and widening gulf between, my expectations and my reality was becoming difficult to push out my mind. I came out as bisexual and started exploring relationships with men. I had always found men attractive, but up until this point any attraction fell under the auspices of my Leakage Prevention Protocols….
Sexual relations with men did nothing to resolve my issues: while there was definitely scope for emotional compatibility, and the moments up to sex did feel more congruent, the sex act itself still felt incomplete and not quite right (I was obviously the bottom, or passive, partner); although again, that doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t fun…
2 years later I was done, I was at my wits end, and by this time had started cross dressing – all internal protocols concerning leakage were torn to bits, and yes, I was a mess – and this time the picture wasn’t so serene. I went to the doctor who arranged an appointment with the Gender Clinic in Glasgow. I attended the appointment and it went well, but at that time life had intervened in other ways and it wasn’t pursued further at that point. Within a few years I found myself being forced to re-adopt all the usual stereotypical man/male shit again. I had to try throw up all those internal walls, and once again employ Leakage Prevention…this did not go well…
A couple of years later and I was desperate. My mental state was Not in good shape: my psyche was fucked, my sexuality was in a dark place, and coupled with suicidal ideation, I was sexually fantasising my own murder – that’s how dark it got. I was a broken mess and in early ’08 I re-contacted the clinic directly (some 5 years on from the appointment) and they actually remembered me.
I was then on the pathway, and things were beginning to look positive – I knew it was going to be a long journey, and couldn’t expect everything all at once, I had to take that time and work through everything with the therapists, but I began to feel better…much better.
Before being put on oestrogen, I was put on an anti-androgen called Cyproterone Acetate. However, before they put me on that, they had to take a blood test to establish how much testosterone was there, ye know, to calculate dose etc…..they took the blood, the result came back….out of an expected range of 10 nmol/L to 36 nmol/L, I got 44.4 nmol/L….I was naturally pumping out testosterone levels MMA fighters inject to get to; I’d have failed doping tests with that! And to look at me, this fact comes as shocking surprise to many – I was recently asked if I had an [Androgen] insensitivity, truthfully I don’t know…..if I did, would I then be believed? As you could probably imagine, from my perspective as a transsexual, this news was fucked up.
When I was put on hormones I began to feel far more settled, and finally the surgery just completed me…..then, after around a month and a half of recovery, I had sex….and for the first time ever, I understood it, it worked! The connection between the “sexed self” and the “sexed body” was made. My place within the sex act itself now made sense – it fit my psyche’s expectation; orgasm, far from being a confusing mess, now rang all the right bells and whistles – I now know sexual satisfaction, and it is incredible.
I have long said my issue was with my sex, not gender. But please, if you can explain me and my experiences purely in terms of gender, be my guest, I’d love to hear it, but for me, all these discussions about “gender” don’t explain my experience. I am absolutely sure much of this rings true for others like me, and not just for transsexual males, I’d imagine there are similarities in the experiences of transsexual females too….these experiences are important – they make us who we are, and right now those experiences are being weaponised by dangerous misogynists to support their war on women – they’ve already done a sterling job on this, but now we must rise! Reclaim our experiences and fight back against the gender ideology that seeks to demedicalise us, while using us to justify their own ends.