The next topic of the project is that of the negative feelings associated with the physical changes that may occur, surgeries and other changes.
I know many FtM stress over the effects of T but I never have. I have a well-established beard without the help of hormones and I realise I am lucky there. Instead of fretting for hair to grow my change was to stop shaving four times a day and be more natural. I still have to shave once a day to keep things tidy and encourage the growth (if indeed shaving encourages growth) of a moustache. In fact the stress of keeping that defect as I once considered it hidden has gone and in that sense I am a lot more relaxed.
The big thing for me is top surgery. I despise my chest and want it gone. The fear I have here is that it might not be the defining point I have built it up to be in my head. I know it will not mean life is suddenly going to be fabulous or anything unrealistic but still it is a very real fear.
Surgeries by nature carry a risk factor and yes those risks need to be considered rationally. Not easy when the very process of transition makes life anything but rational. Taking a step back and looking at the different procedures in the cold light of reality is not easy. It is also too easy to let the potential outcome override the evaluating thought processes so one becomes blinkered.
Love and light
The next topic of the project is Fears of Violence and Prejudice when read as transgender.
This is a fear every transgender person has to live and deal with. No matter how much we gain equality there will always be someone who thinks they can show hate. So what is transphobia?
The short answer it is intolerance towards people who do not fit the social dictate of the gender binary.
In the UK gender is considered to be binary, that is one is born either male or female and should fit into the roles given by birth gender. So everyone born with a penis should be and fit the social equation of man and everyone born without one should be and fit the female role. That means all boys should wear blue and be aggressive and all girls should wear pink and passive.
The pressure on each of us to conform to that narrow ideology is immense. If we dare to be different society will often penalise us. That is transphobia and it is the sharper end of sexism.
As long as society conforms to the analogy that there is only two genders – male and female – and we are born to that gender and cannot change it there will be the opinion that those who conform to stereotype are somehow better than those who do not.
The transsexual person can also be faced with homophobia as intolerant people rarely equate a difference between sexual and gender identity – the two are entirely different.
Gender identity is diverse and rather fragile by nature. The reality is that men and women live very similar lives and some people identify as the gender opposite to that which they are born with. Men and women are genetically almost the same and their bodies are not so different. Transphobia is the fear and/or anger at this fragility that is gender identity.
love and light
The next heading in the project is the impact of transition on friends. Certainly coming out as Trans to my friends was somewhat revealing and frequently surprising.
I am going to start with my best friend and even though she has now passed to spirit I know for a fact she would not want me to butter this up in sweetness. We had been friends over 30 years when I told her I was Trans and going to change gender. Hardly surprising my devoutly feminist best mate was shocked and reacted accordingly. In fact we ended up having quite a nasty exchange of words. Over the course of life we have done that a few times and in the end this was no different. A few days later she called me and referred to me as Jez and Bro. To be honest we had been some tough shit in our time as friends, transition was really not going to be a problem.
In general, friends have either been supportive or totally against my transition. Coming out has revealed a fair bit of animosity from some friends I believed would be more supportive. Now they are not part of my life and have not been for a fair while I realise that in most cases they never really were. In some cases it has been a painful experience as it involved people I trusted deeply and enough to talk it out with them in the early days of my transition.
On a more positive note I have discovered during transition that some of my friendships are so deep that the connection between us is more of a close family one than anything else.
I have always believed people come into our lives for a reason, perhaps because we have something to gain from them or them from us. The simple fact is people change and grow which sometimes means a friendship may have run its course and it is time to move on. It often takes a major event to highlight that the time to go on separate ways
Love and light
Another issue that can be problematic for the Trans person is work life. How does living out impact on work and working relationships.
As a self-employed person it could be said I never had to come out at work and yes that is somewhat true as I have never had to go through the anxiety of telling my boss or work mates. However I do have an agent, a publisher and people who read my work. Being openly gay as a writer was in fact more of a hindrance and it certainly did not make the process a palatable one.
My agent was none too happy to say the least as he had focused on the ‘lesbian writer’ label. Not something I ever wanted as I feel sexuality, gender and what we do to make a living are all separate things and he knew this. This was my first real encounter with another member of the LGBT being bigoted towards transgender. Needless to say I found another agent who is open-minded and supportive. He is not perfect but then nobody is.
This, of course, highlights another issue – that of bigotry within the LGBT community and also that between the different aspects of transgenderism. Oddly enough that is not covered in the project so I have added it to the list as I think it should be.
My publisher has been wonderful. However she had already read me as Trans when we first met but never said anything. I totally admire her for that as it shows such a good attitude to other human beings. My agent at the time really could not accept my publisher was not backing his argument.
The argument being I would lose readers who were anti transgender. Seriously I have gained more readers than I have lost but a few voiced their opinions of disgust before swearing never to buy my work or read it again. As many of my writings are on the subject of bigotry and human equality it should have surprised me. However, it came as no surprise that some could be that hypocritical demanding for their own rights but willing to deny others theirs. That has been happening since humans started to fight for their rights – some people will give lip-service and say they believe in equal rights but they still need someone to hate on. We see it all the time in the news – if it is not one social group being victimised by the media then it is another and pretty much it is what they think will sell a story. The fact inciting hate can sell a news story is concerning, very concerning. As a journalist myself I would not want to write to feed that animalistic behaviour and refuse to do so. It may cost me the more lucrative opportunities but I would never fail my own principles and stoop that low.
Love and light