Thursday, 4 June 2015

Being Transgender: A Sudden Decision? No. Of Course Not.

I entered into a facebook discussion again just now having been asked to weigh in and be the person to answer all the questions that can be asked about transgender issues.  Again.  Maybe I should just write a book about it and then when the same questions get asked again and again and again I can just say "Buy my book, the answer is on page 82."
My plan was just to say that I'm not up to answering questions.  Instead I was forced to correct a mistake that had been the basis of much of the conversation up to that point - the quite common belief that the word "woman" is derived from "womb."

The discussion, as too many are right now, revolved around Caitlyn Jenner and whether she could possibly claim to be a woman.  (She can.  Case closed!)  And the accusation emerged that her decision to transition was of a man suddenly deciding to be a woman.  (There's no sudden.  Case closed!)

My plan tonight was to write something about myself.  Because it was two years ago tonight that I stood in front of my mirror and everything that I'd been hiding from for so long, in terms of gender, could not be hidden from any longer.  Two years ago tonight I said hello to myself as Clare - a name I already knew - and welcomed myself into freedom.  Two years on and I have not regretted it for a moment.  The last two years have had lots of difficulties, as those close to me know well.  But my life is vastly better now than it was then.  Once you learn to love and accept yourself it changes everything, no matter what happens in your outward circumstances.  My only regret is the same one that so many transgender people have - that we didn't do it all a lot sooner.

Instead of that writing, there's this.  A single response on facebook.  Much longer than planned because it gives so many reasons why this "sudden" decision is delayed by so many transgender people.  And in some countries and societies there are far more reasons for delay than here.  Sometimes good reasons why someone will never be openly transgender at all - such as wanting to stay out of prison or wanting to stay alive.

Apologies for the bluntness in this.  Actually I don't apologise.  That's a lie.  But if you are offended by swearing, don't read this - there are a few naughty words arising from feeling very strongly about these things, feelings that come from my own experiences and the experiences I've heard of in the lives of friends or seen in the lives of others who I do not personally know.  Some people have experienced far, far worse than me.  Compared to many, I've really had the whole experience of transitioning very easy.  But compared to NOT being transgender, it's been bloody hard.

No need to read on.  Of course, there's no need to have read this far either, but thank you. I'm mainly blogging this so I can look back on it myself and remind myself, not that I'll ever need reminding, of all the reasons why there's nothing sudden about the choice to come out and live as the person you are rather than the person you were told you had to be.  The following was just typed straight out and has not been edited in the slightest for posting here.

The word "woman" is not derived from womb. Not sure where that erroneous idea came from, but: There's loads online about the etymology of the word.

In any case, there are medical conditions in which cisgender women are born without wombs. Is anyone here accusing those women of not being women? Is anyone here going to define a person's gender by their genitals or their reproductive organs, rather than by the actual person? Is anyone here going to reduce such questions to body parts? Is anyone here going to say that those women cannot be women because there were born without something "fundamental" to being a woman? I sincerely hope not.

I am the friend in question but I'm really not up to answering all the questions at the moment because so much is going on right now that's taking pretty much all of my energy. There's so much good information online. So anyone who wants to learn can learn, from loads of transgender people who have written a ton of good stuff about their experiences. Just google it. Take time to research it and read just what transgender people have gone through in order to be able to live as the people they are.

But here's a rant I accidentally typed:

Just to say, it's not sudden. By no means sudden. This has always been with me in some way but I couldn't face it, face myself and accept myself until two years ago. Because from earliest childhood society told me that I couldn't be me, that such thoughts were evil, even that I am an abomination. With such crap thrown at you through childhood and adult life it's hard to accept yourself. And when you know that shit will be thrown at you when you do deal with it, by idiots, by the ignorant and by bigots, it's hard to act on that acceptance. And when you start to deal with it and get rejected by friends and family and when every time you leave the house you are abused by people then it's fucking hard to continue. And when you haven't got the privileges and riches of Caitlyn Jenner and the cash to pay for everything she's done then it's even harder. When private health care isn't an option it's difficult. When national media insults you. When hatred is thrown at you for even daring to live as the person you are then life can be more than a bit difficult. Overcoming all the crud that's been thrown at you for decades when you have done your very best to deny who you are because of who society thought you should be when you were born is never easy. Never. When people fear you. When news agencies and politicians try to get other people to fear you and think that you're only doing it because you're some kind of sexual predator who wants to assault and rape women in a toilet. When you are at far greater risk of being beaten up, and in many countries murdered. When obstacles are put in your way or it's made impossible to be legally recognised as your own gender. When in many countries even trying to be yourself would result in a prison sentence. When you see transgender friends assaulted. When you are sexually assaulted in a transphobic attack (which happened to me). When churches reject you. When they throw you out of ministry. When they seek legal help to try to make it impossible for you to even enter the building. When ministers try to exorcise the devil from you for daring to openly be who you've always been inside. When you are told you are damned to burn for eternity for being transgender. When friends turn from you and family members won't even speak to you at your own mother's funeral (which happened to me). When all these things happen it's just fucking hard to even consider coming out and saying "Yes, I am transgender. Yes, I am going to live as myself rather than as a shadow, a wraith. Yes, I am going to accept myself and love myself". So difficult.

So no. It's not sudden. It's not sudden at all. It's just very, very difficult because of all the crap that gets thrown at us and which makes us feel worthless until we find that immense courage needed to turn round and live as the people we already know we are.

To accept myself is a decision I made two years ago. In my early forties. Two years ago tonight. A decision which pretty much instantly ended a period of thirty years of constant depression.

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