OUR BLOG

28 October
Trans and Gender Expression

In light of TENI’s Trans Mental Health Awareness (#TRANSformingLives) Week, this blog shows that self acceptance is key to contentment in life

The negative people in my life still like to call my transition from female to male a ‘life style choice’ which is wording to believe that this path I have taken to drastically improve my life and mental state was indeed that, a choice.

Acceptance is Key

Harry Matthews

The negative people in my life still like to call my transition from female to male a 'life style choice' which is wording to believe that this path I have taken to drastically improve my life and mental state was indeed that, a choice.

The definition of a choice is as follows:

  • an act of choosing between two or more possibilities.

Now yes, to some extent from that definition it was a choice, my option being live or die. Personally, I don't really thing there's much of a choice there.

For years I had struggled with an internal turmoil, I didn’t know how to express what I was feeling, I wasn’t sure if that was how everyone felt during puberty and I didn’t want to accept the truth of what was actually going on. This got to a point where I was so unhappy I couldn’t see a future for myself, the life that I had and the prison that I was in, I was so unhappy regarding this that I knew either this hell had to end or something had to be done. Thankfully I chose the latter.

Sadly though, I’ve asked the main person in question surrounding this issue would they of rather I had took my own life or taken the methods to survive and they couldn’t give me a straight answer. Ignoring this, I am going to give a list of why, the option which I haven’t mentioned yet and one they think I should have chosen- continue living as a cis person – I would have done, if I physically could have. (Let me just state continue how I was living would have made my mental health continue to plummet as I was not comfortable in that body/gender identity)

So here’s a list of reason’s why I would never chose to be trans:

Its Awkward – Having to go through the stage of one person reading you as one gender, and the next another, was awkward AF for me, especially when working in customer service. The stares, the ‘is that a boy or a girl?’ questioning, all of it. If I could have hopped into a machine to make me a happy woman or passable man, I would have, but sadly I had to stick it out and remain in awkward limbo.

Medical Care – speaking of limbo, the health system in Northern Ireland, despite me being eternally grateful for, is also another downer on the whole thing. In my case, I’d gone to my GP, explained everything and asked for a referral to the gender identity clinic. Great! (or so I thought and in my excitedness told everyone I was trans expecting soon I’d be on my way to transitioning – Think again.) It took me 6 months to even be seen by the GIC and then a further 6 months to get on hormones. Meaning I’d came out to a college I was leaving in 8 months time anyways and just meant I’d got myself excited over nothing. The wait for hormones was again another hell, as I was trying to live as male but simply wasn’t passing without the help of medical treatment, which just added to the mental stress that was already there.

Surgeries – So far I’ve been through one surgery surrounding my transition, and thankfully due to student loans, a quick recovery and great friends I managed to survive the cost of living whilst on sick leave and being on the mend rather well. However now I’m a recent graduate and beginning to start my career but also trying to get further surgical treatments I require I’m at a crossroads – How do I gain a career where I’m immediately going to get sick leave entitlement, how to I explain this leave to my bosses, how am I going to survive over this time of unemployment and on top of this the fear factor of the actual surgery itself!

Relationships – Dating as a transgender man is a nightmare, scoping out LGBT friendly partners was extremely hard when I was living as stealth. Not to mention the mental strain of having to drop that bombshell after a few dates! Thankfully now I’m out as trans and with the most amazing girl I could wish for but it’s not always that lucky for other trans people.

Money – This was mentioned in the surgeries point, planning around sick leave, travel expenses and all the rest takes its toll. Plus the 101 doctors appointments that have to be attended- the GIC, the endocrinologist, getting my hormones, laser treatment.. the list goes on! Basically travelling to them and taking time of work for them I feel like I have a life long disease or something.

Marriage/Parenting – Marriage is linked into the topic of relationships (and money!), in order to be able to be legally married/adopt as male – I had to gain a Gender Recognition Certificate to change my birth certificate. To do this I had to provide 2 years proof of living as male (imagine the strain of having to prove your identity!) along with paying a few of £140, getting a solicitors signature, 2 medical signatures and then waiting for a Board of people to decide if my case was ‘strong’ enough. Also at the age of 20 years old in the beginning of my medical transition I was being asked about egg storage and considering adoption, IVF, surrogates etc and this is still something I have to consider today. Basically by being trans I am losing the natural ability to have children and having to consider really adult things at such a young age.

So yeah, coming out as transgender did not delete all my negative mental health but more did a switch for some of the old issues with new ones. But what the main mental health issue was that I didn’t accept this as part of myself. Me being transgender is not going to change and what I had to do was accept that. This is why I went stealth, and why I thought there was shame about being transgender – the reinforcement that I chose this life and all the baggage that came with it but I didn’t.

For the rest of the article, please read https://thethoughtprovokinglifeofharry.wordpress.com/

Read Heads Up: Trans Guide to Mental Health and Wellbeing here: http://www.transforminglives.ie/mental-health-guide/

Check out the website for the #TRANSforminglives mental health campaign: www.transforminglives.ie

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