2018

A new year. Most people imagine a whole new reinvented version of themselves. Not me. I’m interested in furthering what I’ve already started. A clean slate isn’t what I’m looking for, instead, I want to mark and scratch mine. Each new year in another year I get to be the real me, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. There are a few goals I do have for this year that I want to outline with this post and hopefully I will manage them (who actually keeps their new year’s resolutions?)

– To try and stick to a fitness routine.

– Hopefully have top surgery this year.

– Stop worrying about other people’s opinion’s of me.

It’s not a lot that I want to change, like I said, I’m more interested in developing myself than any sort of fresh start. I think it’s important to remember that we’re not all bad, even when we feel the need for a clean slate.

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Boy’s Don’t Cry

If you asked me what the hardest film I find to watch is… there would be one immediate answer.

Boy’s Don’t Cry

The true story of Brandon Teena (played by Hilary Swank) who meets a horrible end due to the fact that he was transgender – actually, due to the fact that people could not understand or accept that he was a man. The narrative itself is almost impossible to digest, you have to fight through it, especially towards the end. Now, this could have been a review of the film but strangley enough it’s not the film that I have the problem with.

I thought the film was very good, it’s one of the very few films that covers the topic of transmasculinity (most cover transgender women). It had a great actor at the healm, and a director (Kimberly Peirce) that won a dozen awards for her film (although most credited to Swank’s performance). However, despite the film representing the life of a transgender man in a positive way (in the sense that the audience are positioned to understand him and sympathise with his situation) outside of the film I felt that this understanding fades, especially on Peirce’s part.

The interview I watched: Interview with Kimberly Pierce and Hilary Swank

Throughout this interview Pierce constantly refers to Brandon with female pronouns and when asked what it was about his kind of story that drew her in she replies, “On the deepest level, I was a tomboy as a kid (…) somebody says start acting like a girl, and you just say, what’s that?” I have a great respect for any person, especially in the public eye, resists norms; whether it be gender, race, class etc. There just seems to be such a lack of understanding running throughout this interview (it is just this interview that I am addressing) from a director who put together a film that I connected with passionately as a guy who was born with the wrong set of instruments. A tomboy (according to the dictionary) is a girl who enjoys rough, noisy activities traditionally associated with boys – not a boy who was born in a female body and has to deal with this fact probably for his entire life. I felt disappointed, upset even, that Pierce’s production made me feel understood – that the judgement of transgender people is wrong, and what happened to Brandon Teena was a tragedy, and yet her point of view, or at least the way she articulated herself in this interview made me feel rejected, especially on behalf of Brandon.

To make matters worse, on reading about the true case of Brandon Teena and skimming over the public case films I came across the words…

“Teena is buried in Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Lincoln, Nebraska, his headstone inscribed with his birth name and the epitaph daughter, sister, & friend”

Brandon stood for who he truly was and what he believed, and despite losing everything because of it, even in his death he could not be acknowledged as the person he was.

 

Trying To Find ‘Me’

In my last post, I said there was nothing else for me to say. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d be back, at least for a while. Yet, here I am.

For me, being ‘transgender’ is the hardest at uni, especially considering I keep that to myself and no one knows. Sometimes I feel as though I’m keeping this dark secret, but most of the time I think that people don’t need to know what’s in my trousers.

The hardest part I find, is constantly comparing myself to other guys – it gets to an obsessive level. I catch myself looking at what shoes other guys where, if they wear skinny jeans or regular, how they have their hair – sometimes I do it so much I feel as though my head is going to explode. I’m constantly thinking that I’m not like everyone else, that I’m different. If I could click my fingers right now and have anything, it would be to have been born biologically male. There’s nothing wrong with being transgender, I don’t understand why people have a problem with it, but I don’t like being this way. Every time I beat something I’ve been struggling with, I stumble onto a different struggle. Each time I think to myself that I’m comfortable and content, something happens to snap me back to feeling uncomfortable in my own skin.

I try and be authentic, transitioning is all about finding who you are. This is me, but I find myself trying to change things all the time, things about myself, even little things. Like my style, or my writing, or something – it’s like I can’t just stand still and be me, like I’m constantly looking for ways to improve, or be better, I don’t give myself a chance.

 

Fitness

Over the last three years, I’ve tried to ‘get fit’ – I had a burst of loving running for a month or so, 4km every day on the treadmill, I tried lifting small weights in my flat at University (3.5kg max). Every time, I’d say I’ve ran out of inspiration, or I’ve just given up. Sometimes, I would try and exercise and I would just cry, because in the back of my head there was the constant voice telling me that working out was never going to make a difference if I wasn’t on testosterone. I listened to that voice too often, and I would always give up. Even though working out made me feel physically and most importantly, mentally more stable, I let the troubles I was having take over something that was really good for me.

I told myself that when I came home for the summer, I would join the gym, I put it off for two or three weeks, but eventually I joined two friends of mine and we all went together. Since then I’ve been going three to four times a week, and even though I’m only on my third week, it feels different this time – it feels bloody damn good.

Although I pushed myself to go before I had my first T shot, having that injection, at last, has put my mind at ease in a way I can’t explain with words. Without sounding totally stereotypical, I do feel as if a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. Now when I go to the gym, and I work out, all I feel is excitement for the changes to come, and determination to better myself.

That’s what I’ve learned the most from going to the gym this summer – it isn’t about how much you can lift, how far you can run; it’s about bettering yourself. The gym allows me to feel better within myself both physically and mentally – I feel stronger as a person, and that is a feeling I’ve sought after for almost three years. 

TESTOSTERONE

Finally, as of Friday 7th July 2017, I am no longer pre-T.

I cannot describe to you the relief I felt from finally, after over 2 years of battling through the NHS and then changing course to private treatment, to be prescribed the wonder liquid that will finally make me outwardly, who I was born to be.

250 mg, 1ml of Sustanon to be injected every 4 weeks.

Just emboldening those words seems too good to be true, like I’m going to wake up from a dream I’ve had too many times to count.

A peculiar feeling I had after having my injection was knowing that this was a life changing thing but feeling exactly the same afterwards – physically that is, mentally I was so relieved, I’ve never been so happy.

I know it’s only been a few days since my shot, but I can’t stop thinking of the exciting changes that are to come, I’m constantly trying to spot something, even a slight development. I recorded a video the night before my shot, and I will be doing recordings every month to see how I’ve progressed.

I’ve also been hitting the gym about 3 times a week, only for 2 weeks so far, but it’s progress and I’ve never felt so motivated.

From here on out it’s onwards and upwards.

Transitioning Has Made Me A Better Person

I think about the person that I used to be, and I feel completely distant from my past self. Humans have an obsession with the idea of self, our worlds truly do revolve around ourselves. It’s no wonder that throughout my transition I’ve constantly been assessing myself, questioning myself and having conversations with myself. During one of my critical theory seminars, the tutor explained that inside the person is a sense of the ‘other’, and that’s how we can talk to ourselves, we simultaneously detach ourselves while remaining attached to give us to capacity to understand various situations and experiences, especially ones that are difficult.

With that in mind, the conversations I have with myself now and completely different to the ones I used to have before. You could put that down to me growing up, I was a teenager then and now I’m an ‘adult’ (although I don’t really feel like one). But I do think that in exploring who I really am, and working towards it I have given myself the breathing room to become a better person.

Transitioning is probably one of the hardest situations that I have ever gone through, and most likely, will every go through. Those hard times I think have sculpted my character, and so I’ve decided that I need to stop dreaming, praying, imagining if I had been born male, in the correct body. The person I am now, wouldn’t exist if my chromosomes were different. Although it would have been a much easier, less stressful lifestyle, one that I am envious of when I see other guys, I wouldn’t be who I am. I dislike many aspects of myself, but if there’s one thing I do like it’s that I always get back up after getting knocked down. In the past, I couldn’t say that for myself, and I wouldn’t want to give that up just to be ‘normal’.

My Awful Experience With The NHS

The NHS is a great concept, I can’t imagine having to pay either for insurance or for hospital visits, just to have health care. I’m grateful for the NHS because if it didn’t exist my family would be in a great deal of debt because of my mum’s brain surgery, a very expensive procedure. All things considered, it’s a pretty amazing part of the UK, however, my experience with the NHS when transitioning has been nothing but terrible.

It’s taken me a while to write about this, for a number of reasons. Mostly was that I thought eventually the NHS would help me see my hormones through, after having nearly 2 years worth of appointments with them, however, this has not occurred. Every doctor that I have seen has not explained the situation to me, I may not have asked the right questions, I was very nervous at every appointment and I did the best I could. I want to write about my experience so that others can avoid it, or learn from it at least.

I’ve covered all of my appointments on this blog which you can refer back to.

In Wales, they first refer you to a psychiatrist, Step 1 – Diagnosis. I felt like I was finally getting somewhere, the Doctor was brilliant, I had to answer a few personal questions and then I was diagnosed with gender dysphoria – a step in the right direction. I knew at this point that this was going to be a long haul.

Next, I was to see a gender specialist, Step 2 – Ok For Hormones. It was a very short visit, the Doctor said that she saw no problems with me having hormones, which felt like such as relief, I had waited months for this appointment, if I remember rightly, it had been 8 months since my visit to the psychiatrist. I was to be referred to the endocrinologist, which is where all the problems began to unfold.

Step 3 – Bloods. I should have known there was something wrong when I checked myself into the outpatient department for the appointment and they had an address listed for me from 14 years ago. One of the first things the Doctor said to me was that he wasn’t a professional, that he didn’t understand why I was referred to him, but that it wasn’t a waste of a trip because he was an endocrinologist and he could check my blood. It turns out I had been referred to the wrong doctor because of the wrong address, this hospital was the closest to my old address. He then asked me if I could travel every week for treatment. I live in Southampton for University, which is 120 miles away from my hometown, which is about 20 miles away from the hospital I would need to get to every week. I asked if it were possible for me to receive treatment in Southampton, he said he would try, but I didn’t believe that.

I got the phone call that my blood was okay and that I should make an appointment with him to discuss treatment. There was no mention of Southampton at all, so I told the receptionist I would try and find a pathway for myself, probably the hardest thing I’ve tried to do in my transition, and maybe it can be considered a big mistake, but I had to try. I promised myself that I wouldn’t let my transition be a consideration or a deciding factor when choosing my University, especially one that was quite far away. I saw my GP in Southampton, he said he would be happy to give me testosterone injections if he was authorised to do so. I had around 3 appointments with him trying to figure out how to get this done, he wrote to the gender Doctor I had seen, I rang the endocrinologist various times, I wrote to him. I waited weeks, months. To find out that no one could give the go ahead for my GP to give me hormones. My GP told me to transfer back to Wales and have my treatment there, to which I broke down, I had held everything together for so long and I felt like it all came pouring out. But I picked myself up again, I asked the endocrinologist’s receptionist if I could have the appointment to discuss the treatment, with a Dr Adlan, he was the Doctor in the area who specialised in this, who is treating people like me, the doctor I was supposed to have seen. I accepted the fact I would have to travel and waited to hear back. When I rang to check up on the situation the receptionist told me that Dr Adlan had written me a letter which would be in the post soon. I was so excited, this was to be my appointment letter, finally, I would be on testosterone. My first appointment was in 2015, it had to be soon, I felt as if I couldn’t cope anymore, that if I didn’t have a light at the end of the tunnel that I would falter.

The letter came, it wasn’t an appointment. It was practically a dismissal. Dr Adlan told me to see my GP from my hometown, to get her to refer me to a Gender Clinic. So every appointment that I had had for the last 2 years had all been for nothing, and I would be placed on a 2-year waiting list for an NHS Gender Clinic that I could have been referred to when I first went to my GP seeking help. Reading that letter I felt as if I was going to break completely.

My mum had offered from the beginning to go to a private Gender Clinic so I could be seen sooner. I wish I had listened, I didn’t want her to have to pay, I didn’t have a job at the time and I wanted to be able to do it by myself. This stressful experience with the NHS has led me to contact a private Gender Clinic, Gender Care, in London. A friend of mine who began transitioning December of 2016, just gone, had an appointment with them and had his first shot of testosterone last week. If this doesn’t work I don’t know what I’ll do.