The value of achievement lies in the achieving.
Six months ago I made the biggest decision of my life and I have looked back to assess the changes this decision has created. I took a methodical approach to this and decided to break it down to general, but key, areas of my life.
Family and support
As with most aspects of life family is incredibly important, in not only wellbeing and support but with love and commitment. I knew from the outset that my mother was the first person in my family who should know about this and after the initial shock she is committed to my wellbeing whatever form that needs to take. Having her love and backing, added to the fact she helped with choosing my name, was one the best moments I have experienced in my life. There have not been many positive experiences for me but the euphoria I now have simply knowing my mother is behind me has filled me with the confidence I need to achieve my goals. Very quickly after explaining all to mother, my brothers found out and again the overwhelming support was not only relieving but surprising. I did not think my brothers would reject me for one moment, but the way they have accepted all this without any negativity has been wonderful. I am very proud of my younger brother who I thought would have a really hard time but has taken it all in his stride. He has been a little shocked seeing his brother, and best friend, as a sister but over time this will be better. I am just so lucky to have a loving family, who not only support my transition but have actively encouraged me to seek happiness. I look back on my childhood and now the differences between me and my brothers were so obvious but I never picked up on the reason why. I was more emotional, liked soft cuddly toys and would frequently experience confusion around identifying with girls more than boys. It is dangerous to look back too far as I cannot change the past.
Reading others blogs and speaking with other transgendered people has made me realise the importance of looking forward. We are all in different boats but on the same sea. To explain further, I am lucky that my boat is large and my family are on board, as well as a great support network of friends. They are all happy for me to be the captain of this vessel and let me guide it to the destination I need to get to. There are other vessels I see as I look across Trans Ocean and I worry about the smaller ones that only seem to have a few people and sometimes just one. I wish I could anchor them all to my ship to help them but that is impossible because their destination is not in my direction. When I first worked all this out my naivety knew no bounds, I thought everyone wanted medication, surgery, to be ‘classed’ as their identified gender. Now I know the goals and destinations are different for us all and I hope we can all get to where we need to with or without our family and friends in tow.
The dark side to my discovery of the trans spectrum is those without a boat at all. The horror stories we have all read about those of us who have fallen, whether through a lack of replenished strength or a lack of others to reach out to, the sobering realisation is haunting as it is eye opening. I can only imagine what drives those poor souls to the decision, but I know whole heartedly I will do whatever I can to help those without a boat whenever possible.
I knew when I first decided on the headings for this post the social aspect would be the part I would enjoy the most. Want for a better phrase I have exploded into society and Faith has no limits! I took a safe path and glad I did because my confidence levels are flowing and the attention I have received, good or bad, has reaffirmed me time and time again that my decision was correct. I love being a woman in London, it is so much more fun than being a man. I smile, dance and frolic. People are drawn to me and I know I am a better person. I have no fear, I am buzzing all about this great city, clubs, restaurants, shopping and visits to friends. Freedom is an overused word in society but this what I am, my prison is nothing but a distant memory and as I grow my world becomes bigger and bigger with me.
I have always loved dancing and without blowing my own trumpet I am really sexy when I do now. I was always told by my friends that I dance like a girl and now they have been proven right! I notice people watching me dance these days, and not because its a man in a dress. It is because they are surprised how feminine I am on the dance floor. Straight men feel guilty watching my legs and how other cis girls flock to this wonder on the dance floor. Okay reality check Faith! But there is some truth to my arrogance, in so much that no longer am I that strange guy with the wobbly hips, I am now the leggy, dark haired and confident woman I always dreamed about.
There have been occasions that cis girls have complimented me on my look and style. There have been times when people look at me with scorn and disgust. I refuse to allow this to develop to dysphoria though, I stare back, give a cheeky smile and act very nonchalant. This, of course, is not as easy as it sounds and although I fear nothing there have been times where the comments and stares have led to some teary eyes on the train! This is all part and parcel of being transgendered, taking the rough with the smooth. If this was easy and without pain our blogs would not exist and we would not need each others support.
Fashion, makeup and demeanour have come quite naturally to me. Many friends have commented on how they can only see me as a woman, they might just be giving me a boost, but deep down I just know I am now where I need and want to be.
With not ‘coming out’ at work yet this is a section that is difficult to write about. I think about the impact on my career but do not ‘worry’ about changing gender on the job. The reason for not disclosing all this to work is two fold. Firstly, and most importantly, my hair is still not quite long enough to be fashioned into a nice feminine style. I feel that wearing a wig to work would come of as fake and a little bit cross-dressory. Secondly, I am yet to start any ‘real’ treatment. I have had some sessions with the local councillors but my first appointment with a specialist is very close. Before I turn my working life upside down I need to know for sure that this is real and I not just crazy or in some mid life crisis. Once I am officially on the treatment road and my hair is styled I will be able to finally be myself at work. Currently I am trying very hard to portray myself as an androgynous soul. I am achieving this through wearing skinny jeans, pumps and plain t-shirts. My nails have grown and are manicured and I try to style my hair in a feminine way. Although I am not officially a woman at work, I am going out of my way to not be a man.
Furthermore, I work for a public organisation who go out of their way to be inclusive of all the different types of people out there so I have no acceptance worries.
I know employment is a major issue for trans folk in that gaining secure employment is difficult due to societies stigmas. Any transgendered person I meet has expressed this problem. It is difficult enough to deal with all the emotional baggage of being trans without the worry of not having some pennies in your pocket or a roof on over your head. I will not pretend to know this problem within our community as well as others but hopefully social awareness will improve overtime. I pray future trans folk do not have to deal with stigma of any kind and would always advise get into government or public organisations to have some sense of job security.
Medical, emotional and physical
I wanted to end this post with some general points about where my transition was up to. The things we all go through, the mundane and consistent.
My initial assessment with a gender specialist is in a weeks time and to say I am worried is an understatement. I am mostly concerned that my confidence could be misinterpreted as arrogance or more serious psychological issues. I know why I am confident, it is because I am fed up of being miserable and scared about the future. Transition is not just exterior changes, in fact that is the superficial aspect, the part that allows others to identify our gender easily. It is about making your head and heart happy and I hope my explanation to the specialist will be ‘acceptable’ if not understood.
Hair removal is an odd thing, some parts are a breeze others are difficult and painful. I have a fairly solid routine down which is improving as the weeks go by. I make sure to enjoy washing my hair like the lady in the Herbal Essences adverts. God knows what my brother must think about the ‘ums’ and ‘aaghs’ coming from the bathroom, but it is important to experience womanhood in all its glory.
I now have a lovely long mirror and love swaying a hanging dress and watching the hem whip around my knees. My heart melts and I feel so ‘real’. The cocky smile beams and I let out a sigh like a silly teenage girl longing for her sweetheart.
Six months down, a lifetime to go!
Overall I am happy. Even if all the medical stuff does not happen for me I know deep down that the last six months of my life have been the happiest in my adult existence. I know how lucky I am to have a support network and love from my family but will always be there for others who need a shoulder or an outlet. Long may we be a community and look out for each other.