New Year 2007 I made a decision to allow my true identity to come out. At that time I would not have said I was transgender but genderqueer. I knew deep down I was male but I had hoped presenting as male would be enough. It was not and is not.
My actual resolution at the time was to be true to myself and live my own life. However I was not banking on just what that would mean. Gender reassignment had not even crossed my mind. I honestly thought I could make the best of things. A continuous cycle of dressing and purging is not making the best of things. Ultimately it made my dysphoria worse but I kept to my resolution.
That resolution may have led me to a constant spiral of ups and downs until I reached the breaking point of live or die. It also made me face it and make the decision to live as the man I know I am. I chose to live and I chose to die. I know that sounds crazy but to let the man live I had to let the woman die because she was not me, she never was me but she did make me the man I am.
People ask me why I do not go in for making resolutions, well, it leads to changes we may not be able to control. I do not regret making that decision to live my own life my way but I wish I had been a lot more prepared for it.
Well it happened and I did not actually notice. It took a couple of friends to tell me my voice had dropped to a deep growl. That was a couple of weeks ago. Now I am paying attention of course.
I am not being misgendered on the phone anymore. In fact there is not even a question on the other end of the line when they ask for Mr and I answer accordingly. As a poet I read out loud a fair bit so hearing my own voice change was never going to be a guarantee as I hear it day in day out. Listening to some of the recordings I make of course I can now hear it.
As I have never had a high-pitch voice I was not expecting a dramatic change nor was I expecting it yet. At the beginning of January I had a raspy sore throat and my voice was cracking up and down a lot but of course I thought it was the sore throat causing it. The throat has healed and I am left with what my friend calls a growl, it does not crack at all.
I like how it sounds right now, it is a definite improvement on the non-descript husky tone of old that was neither one thing nor the other. It feels comfortable and I can live with it.
© JG Farmer 2015
One of my readers has taken the time to ask me about purging and why transgender people do it. Thank you for asking and I will do my best to answer that here.
What is purging?
Purging is about getting rid of or denying transgender feelings. For the crossdresser it often involves reselling or throwing away any crossgender clothing and other items they may associate with their transgender identity. For the pre-op or post-op transgender person it may involve pausing or abandoning their transition.
I can only speak from memories of my own experiences here. It is all tied in with strong feelings of guilt, shame and to no small extent a desire for some sort of stability and normality. There is also anxiety and fear of the processes involved in transitioning and at being able to live as a member of the opposite sex in society.
What Is the Solution?
Shame, guilt and fear are dynamic patterns and often lead to some sort of purging made with great haste. The transgender person often feels ashamed of their transgender identity and needs. Finding a supportive environment where the transgender person can feel safe in their identity and presentation on a regular basis is a major step in the right direction. For some coming out to supportive close family and friends is helpful too. There are many transgender people who are unwilling or unable to make those steps. Some may feel they would be putting too greater risk on their relationships, social identity and standing, as well as damaging their own sense of self.
From my own experience when I first began the formal transition I felt a real sense of loss of the person I was and had to go through what can only be called a grieving process. I also became very isolated within the LGB community I had been part of for so many years. In fact I am grateful the process of transition is a slow one as it has given me time to grieve, adjust and move into my male identity. It has also allowed those I am close to the time to adjust and move with me which in turn enables them to support me. Transitioning is an exhausting one, and drains energy and resources beyond any level I have ever known and without their support it would have been far worse.
Time invested in researching the available options and as far as possible making some sort of plan for transition is something I can never see as wasted. It helped me keep a sense of perspective especially when the process is gruelling. Transition is not an instant thing and the consequences of each stage of the journey have to be considered. Time is an ally, not an enemy; it has allowed me to explore my role as a man within my private life, in my social life and indeed as a writer.
To the reader who asked the question I hope I have helped you understand purging a little better and wish you all the best on your own journey.
Love and light
Coming out as a transgender man has been one of the toughest periods of my life, if not the toughest. Not to friends, family, medical professionals or random strangers but to myself. I knew I was at breaking point and could not carry on much longer living a half-life pretending everything was okay and as it should be. It was a million miles from being okay and nowhere near as it should be.
I was born into a female body and from the moment I recognised that it felt wrong. I would look in a mirror and hate what I saw. So began a vicious circle of self-hate, self-harming, suicidal depressions and denial. All that hurt hidden behind a mask of femininity, of long hair, make-up and fashion, so that my secret would not be discovered. I lived in abject fear of discovery.
Fear and hate are not good to live with as they feed each other. As a teenager I grasped on to feminist ideology as a barrier against my masculinity. Ultimately it only led to a deeper sense of self-hatred and an even deeper fear of being found out. I am not going to debate the wrongs and rights of radical feminism here but I am certain it will be understood that ideology made accepting me as a man a hell of a nightmare.
Nothing was as it should be when I turned 40. I had nothing left to fight against the depressive feelings apart from facing the truth of my identity. At that point I had no concept or vision of where I would end up and I do not suppose I have worked it all out in my head yet, perhaps I never will and that is okay. However I am fully aware of my masculinity now and embrace it.
I have no doubt whatsoever if I had not taken that step at 40 I would not be here now writing this or anything else. I have no doubts just total certainty that I am a man, and a gay man at that (sure did not see that coming!), and that has liberated me to live and to live my life.
© JG Farmer 2014
Glastonbury: View from the Tor towards Wales
Last weekend for the first time since climbing Cader Idris I climbed. Not a great huge mountain this time but a hill. There is something about me and peaks, or being up above ground level but still within nature. A multi-storey building just wouldn’t cut the mustard.
These are places my thoughts become clear and I can see within myself with a clarity that is almost glass-like. On top of Cader Idris I knew I had to make the step into transition, it all fell into place. There was no doubt and no fear just certainty. Things had to change for me to exist.
Over recent months self-doubt and fear have been eating me – almost exclusively fuelled by the actions of one person. A person I believed with all my heart I could trust. I was so very wrong.
This is where I can be a completely blind fool and not see what is going on, and indeed it took someone else to say something for me to see it. I had been allowing this person to break down my self-confidence in turn putting long answered questions back into my mind without their accompanying answers.
This intrusion into self could not have come at a worse time as my formal transition was coming to key stages with referrals for surgeries and therapies I need for physical change. With all that is happening and changing in my life this is a situation I did not need now, not ever. In fact I do not know of anyone who needs people who give out so much negativity they drain your natural energies to the point of extinction.
This weekend was the final close of that door. Stood on top of Glastonbury Tor I felt my own energies surge back into me just as they had on Cader Idris. Okay I invited that surge by facing my spiritual homeland of Wales and calling on that power. This may seem like hocus pocus to some people but like in any belief system faith is a divine force all of its own.
I came down that hill with Chloe with all doubts gone and all fears soothed. I have had no flashbacks or panic attacks since and I feel my confidence returning rapidly. For some people activating the calming self needs stillness and meditation but I need a hill or mountain, and one with a deep Celtic history at that.
Other things happened that day in Glastonbury which are not for these pages as they are part of my spiritual path. However this is my chance to say a huge and heartfelt thank you to Chloe and her wife, Peggy, for a wonderful day and the awesome support they give me on my journey. Also to Penney and Ella. I may have lost a so-called friend but I have gained four awesome sisters who I love dearly.
© JG Farmer 2014
It has been a while since I have written here, dysphoria and depression took over for most of it, so I didn’t feel as if I had anything much to say. That has been dealt with or is being dealt with. I know what, for most of it, was the root problem and I have done what I need for that to stop happening. I have good friends who I can trust to keep me on that path too.
Simple little things can make a whole world of difference. That is something I have learned in the last few weeks.
This month saw the Silver Anniversary of STGG. This is the transgender support group I coordinate. It is the group that has given me confidence in myself and my abilities and I am proud to be a part of.
To celebrate our anniversary we had a Prom theme. I know the ladies like to dress up and get glam so the opportunity to really go for it was there. Of course, it is traditional to choose a Prom Queen.
Now I see my role within the group as helping others to be what or who they want to be. The transgender journey is a tough one, I know that for myself. But nothing could have prepared me for the reaction of C when I asked her if she would be Prom Queen. That smile not just on her lips but in her eyes will stay with me for a very long time indeed.
C always appears very feminine and elegant, very much a lady and a classy one at that. Don’t get me wrong, all the ladies take a great deal of care over how they look and dress, which as a trans guy who loathed all that fuss I suppose I shouldn’t understand, but I do.
Over the last couple of weeks different people have pointed out how male I am becoming, in a few cases they did not read me as trans at all. I think I now know why that smile in C’s eyes came about as I know how fantastic it can feel. C is a beautiful lady and if something as simple as that can make her feel the million bucks then it’s a pure pleasure for me to have done that. If my words made C’s night, her smile made mine.
Photo Used with Permission of C
Photo used with permission.
Topic: Frustration Explaining Legal Documents
Officialdom is a pain in the butt for most people, However when I am asked for proof of identity I know the invasive questions are coming. Do I know I have a man’s name? Why do you want to be a man? And so on and on. Before that I had to change my name on my legal docs. That was the easy part really. One or two questioned it but nothing too horrific.
However being asked invasive questions normally means I have been read as trans. When the questions start I shrivel up inside. I answer what is necessary and refuse point blank to answer more than that. This is my personal life and not really anyone else’s concern. A trans person’s life is put out there for scrutiny and that really is more than frustrating it is downright annoying. I do not offer opinions or judgements on other people’s personal matters why is it okay for them to do it to me?
I do not think it is okay. It is totally not okay. In fact it hurts like hell when someone who has no business questioning my private matters thinks they can demand to know every intimate detail because they see me as a freak. It is bigotry, it is prejudice and it is degrading. These people are random strangers and have no reason to know what is and what isn’t.
There are people I talk openly and freely with, these people are close friends and know they can ask anything and I will not be offended by it because I know they are not being offensive but supportive. To support me they need to understand me so sometimes they need to ask questions that coming from random strangers would be at best offensive.
There have been times I have gone to the supermarket and handed my card to the checkout and they have looked at me saying this is not your card it belongs to a man. I then have to get out my evidence that says I am Mr. One time the checkout operator asked to see evidence I was receiving GRS therapies. At that point I asked to see her manager and it got dealt with in a more appropriate manner. Yes that is good managers know what to do but it should never have got to that point, staff should be trained to deal with customers appropriately.
I understand someone questioning a man’s name on my card and it may be a pain to show them a deed poll but there are many people out their using stolen cards – I appreciate that. However when proof is given to demand for proof of trans status is not acceptable.
Love and light