It has been Trans Awareness Week recently. I have wondered about that and its significance. Raising awareness is important.
I grew up for decades not being aware that transgender even existed. Being aware and knowing of its existence would have made a significant difference. I knew I was gender dysphoric. I didn’t know what it was. I hadn’t heard of it. I knew that I was a girl. I also knew that feeling like that was wrong. I became ashamed of my feelings, more importantly ashamed of myself. I had to hide how I felt. I was not acceptable. So what do you do, you create and acceptable image. Become a fraud until you believe in the image, pretend it is real. You do not need to be ashamed. See….I am this fully functioning male ( in my case). Yet you are not. You cannot fool yourself. You know deep down. You still feel ashamed you are some kind of freak. Unacceptable.
As I wrote in my last blog entry, luckily for me fate intervened and I came across Jan Morris’ book Conundrum. I became aware and understood. That didn’t make it alright though. I was still ashamed. I knew I was transgender. I still felt a freak and not worthy of acceptance. I didn’t know what to do with that knowledge. So secretly I sought out more information. I secretly self-medicated. I hid myself. I believed my world would crumble if my secret came out I had to maintain my image, the acceptable me, Mr Nice Guy. I underwent therapy for years to sort myself out ( in the hope that I would discover that I was deluded and I was not trans at all). That went well, I sorted many other issues but not that one!
So there you have it, you live a lie until it is no longer possible. You consider taking your life as you cannot face the reality of who you are or maybe the shame of having to face the world and admit you ae different. It is hard and many people say to you that it is brave coming out. I tend not to agree that it is brave because it is in reality an unstoppable force. It has to happen or you will wither away.
It is hard to describe the fear of coming out, the fear of being rejected. I had to be prepared to cut all ties all contacts and assume no one would accept the real me. I was inordinately lucky and my coming out was scary, but not traumatic. I had the support of brilliant friends. It takes time to realise you are okay. It takes time to build the confidence to be able to stand tall and face the world. It takes many small steps. I know now it is worth it and an amazing feeling to be able to accept I am a transwoman and not be ashamed that I am.
I know there is so much more awareness and acceptance now when I was struggling with my identity. Anything that increases awareness needs to be encouraged.