23rd March 2017
Yesterday my surgeon assessed me, just over 8 weeks post surgery. He is very happy with the results, as I am and he has agreed that I am ready to return to work sooner than the planned 24th April. So I plan to restart at work on the 4th April. This is really good news for me as I have been going stir crazy at home.
Recently, peers of mine from nGendr have been producing videos about different aspects of transition. Six people giving their own personal views on topics. One of the recent set of releases were each of them giving their account of what they perceived was the hardest part of transition. They were really interesting and also surprising how differently they all view the hardest part of transition. This got me thinking, like I do, of what has been the hardest part for me. So I thought I would have a little ramble on the topic.
Of course it would be easy to say, dealing with gender dysphoria is hard, coming out is hard, waiting is hard, uncertainty of being able to complete transition is hard, being misgendered is hard, surgery and recovering from surgery is hard and they all are just that. Very hard. But without a doubt they are less significant when compared to the hardest thing of all, which is for me “acceptance” or more importantly “lack of acceptance”.
When I first came out I perceived I was very lucky. People who are not, or were not emotionally attached to me before transition are the group that are generally the most accepting and supportive. I have been fortunate to gain many friends this way.
However, as time went on my family started to struggle. Maybe they always did and my rose tinted glasses did not allow me to see it. I am not quite sure there.
There were a few exceptions who disowned me from day one. They chose to cut me out of their lives completely, as if I never existed. They were not openly aggressive with me, they just disappeared from existence. Of course it hurt at the time, but I remember thinking “oh well, their loss”, or words to that effect. It’s weird, I met these people recently at a family gathering and they completely blanked me. At least they were consistent. I actually felt sorry for them.
As time has moved on and I have matured and grown into the person I am now I have found that acceptance is actually far more complicated than just “I accept you” or “I don’t accept you”. There are shades of grey that over time have become very frustrating to me at least.
In this context, what do I mean by shades of grey? Well it’s the scenario where by a person is happy to embrace you as long as they are not seen with you. Sometimes it can be as long as they are not seen by someone that knows them, other times it can be “let’s not go out in public”. In the early days, I accepted these conditions, through gritted teeth. Nowadays I find it intolerable.
I would look for reasons as to why they still felt this way, like it was my fault. I would blame myself for not looking “convincing enough” for them and therefore making them feel uncomfortable. Maybe it was the way I dressed or the way I behaved that drew attention to myself that made them feel uncomfortable. Now without blowing my own trumpet I know this is not the case now. I look as convincing as the next woman and I dress appropriately. My body language is very neutral. My voice has always been sort of ok. Basically I have no problems in mainstream society. Yet I still have people around me who would not want to be seen with me. How long do I have to put up with this?
The other thing that is really now starting to nark me is “you have changed”. Said with a positive outlook this is flattering. Said in a negative tone this is like a stick beating me. I am not talking here about how I look. Of course I look differently. Or even my physical body language. This clearly has to change in order for you to blend into a mainstream society. I am talking about my personality. Now, apart from being a whole lot happier and content I don’t think I have changed at all. But I do accept that being a whole lot happier and content shows. I smile more. I express emotion. I talk more. I write more. I am much more in tune with life. No matter how I try to analyse it I can’t see how anyone can apply a negative tone to “you have changed”. But believe me, they do.
Someone said to me recently “you need to give me time”. They have known about me for over three years. How much time do they need? What are they worried about? Being judged themselves because someone close to them is transgender. This is what I think it’s all about. I cannot tolerate this forever.
How would you judge a friend of yours that belittled you because you were seen out with you mate who was black or gay? I can tell you, if anyone belittled me because of this then they would no longer be my friend. Being transgender is still a taboo and it completely sucks.
So 3 weeks before I went for surgery, my final surgery, my life reaffirming surgery, one of my closest family members decided that they wanted nothing to do with it or me, only days after confirming that they would visit me in hospital. I was causing them no end of grief, that they really struggled with my transition and that they were cutting me out of their life at least for the time being. I was devastated but my retort to them was, “well you have that choice”. If they had said that over 3 years before when I came out to them then it would have been easier, although it would have hurt just the same. But to do it when I would have appreciated their support and help is a kick in the stomach.
I am now approaching that time when I have some difficult decisions to make. I am losing patience with being made to feel like the embarrassment; the person that has to be visited on occasions out of duty. Fitting me in because they feel they have to rather than want to. Acceptance or lack of it is worse now than at any time and largely because I am pushing back. I am saying no, this is not good enough. I am the classic family oger and the down side to this is an ever increasing sense on loneliness.