For the last few months I have been sat on tenterhooks wondering what would happen. I have not been the biggest fan of the psychological referral process of transition as to me it feels like I have to validate myself and my existence. The closest analogy I can think of is end of year exams which are make or break. As I need to transition I have jumped through the required hoops.
This week I attended a referral consultation for my second referral for reassignment surgery. So off I went to Bristol to jump through more hoops. As usual I am early and end up sitting in the waiting room with some guy ranting about an alien invasion from Mars that is happening and nobody does anything about. It is at this point I want to get the hell out of there. Instead I absorb my attention into a game on my phone.
The appointment itself was the usual questions and double checking the case notes. The guy is kind enough not to press for details as he had actually bothered to read the notes. Thirty minutes later he told me the hoop jumping is over and my surgeries should be in 6-9 months time. Three months of that I am busy with various Pride activities across the south west of England so that time is going to shoot by.
With top surgery I was able to leave my past self in the past. Now I can finally start thinking of my future self as I can see a light at the end of the tunnel where I can truly be me. It does not change the fact being transgender, whatever aspect of that umbrella, is still treated as a mental health problem. Sure it causes mental health problems by the bucket load, but in itself being transgender is not a mental health issue and should not be seen as such.
© JG Farmer 2016
More of my ramblings from my diaries over the time of Top Surgery October 2015
A week of not so quiet and restful healing later, life has a way of changing our plans at whim, and it did that with style as always, but I was back in Brighton for my post op. Had it worked? Everything is healing as it should. Staples out from the nipples; glad I had taken codeine beforehand, so it wasn’t that painful. No more itchy dressings and I only need to wear a binder if I go out to protect myself.
I looked in the mirror and I look a bit battered. But I can look at me and not hate what I see to the point of spiraling into dysphoria. For the first time ever I can do that. I still have a lot of healing to do but it is one huge step in the right direction.
For the last two weeks my emotions have been shot to hell. They are still shot to hell. I don’t have the words that sum up how I feel and yes that is frustrating me to bits – I am a writer and not knowing words that express the emotions is unheard of for me. Happy. No it is beyond that way beyond that. I am out of the cage now and it is awesome. That is the best I can do to sum it up.
It is only proper that I stop at this point and thank all those who have supported me this far. My deepest thanks go to Mr. Yelland and his team at Nuffield Health who made it possible. Also to Jenny, Misty and Lisa for getting me there and back for the operation and to Andy for being there for the post op. My boys for being my boys and keeping me going. Alf for being a real bro and staying with me until I woke up. Kayto for being the best friend a guy could have at 430am. Finally, to Caz for being my Caz and making me smile when I wanted to cry – I’m not easy to live with and you hung in there for me.
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
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
This is the next topic in my articles on issues that affect a Transgendered person.
Predominantly the reason I hid my true self, the man, away from the world is family. How does one tell a parent their only daughter is not a daughter but another son? How does one explain to children their mother is really a man? And so the list grows.
While the boys were children it was a relatively easy choice, growing up in this world is hard enough without throwing a Transgendered parent into the mixing bowl of youth. Now they are grown men themselves they are only concerned with me being happy as I am so telling them that I am Jez was easy – I knew they would be cool about it. In private they still call me Mum but in public it is Jez, yeah with a few slips now and then as is bound to happen.
Telling my parents was the hardest thing I have ever done. I suppose in their eyes I have killed their only daughter but truth is I never was that person. The truth is since I was of teenage years I have put a mask on in front of them so they saw what they wanted to see – a daughter. Even once I had started my transition as I did not know how far I was going to need to go I did not say anything. I withdrew from making family connections and that was something I needed to do. However once the changes in me had become more than little obvious I had to come out the closet once and for all. It has not been easy and still is not easy but I hope in time we will get there.
Siblings and their families is also a difficult issue. As I don’t see them from one year to the next you could say it does not really matter but it does. In the case of my brothers I was very aware that there could come a time we would have to meet and the concept of these two guys expecting to see some chick in a frock and finding a bearded dude in a suit and tie was not a good one. I am very aware that I have left one brother the unenviable task of maybe having to tell his teenagers that Auntie is now Uncle. However I know like my boys his kids are of a different generation when these things are less of a problem.
My grandparents are all in spirit but I believe in spiritual connection so have let them know through the ether. In life I doubt they would have been too willing to understand as they were of a different time when sexuality and gender were set in stone as only being acceptable as heterosexual and binary.
Coming out to family about anything they may not like to hear is never going to be easy. However we can be blinded by how we think someone is going to react. Coming out is very much saying this is how things are – take it or leave it. Trying to predict how someone will react to the news is actually being quite judgemental when we are asking them not to judge us. So instead we hide behind a falseness to keep the truth hidden and that, in its own way, is an imprisonment. Coming out, whether it ended good or bad, liberated me from that prison and has allowed me to learn to be me, to live as me and actually enjoy it instead of hating on myself for the pretense.
Love and light
I am transgender, a man who was born in the body of a woman. I am in transition leading to my full male potential. Part of that journey has been to research all the possible outcomes making myself aware of what can happen, what may happen and what will happen.
Quite early on in my research I read up on the relationship between testosterone therapy and sexuality. Whilst there is no scientific correlation between T therapy and sexuality there is no guarantees that say post-T my sexual feelings will be the same as they were pre-T. However there are a sizeable proportion of trans guys who do experience a change in their sexual feelings and attractions.
As a woman identifying as a lesbian I am not totally unaware of what happens in other types of relationships so part of transition is to prepare myself for what may or may not be. Human sexuality is a complex thing and in some ways just as fluid as gender can be. It can be affected by how we live and feel about ourselves. As a trans guy I am not happy in a woman’s body and that may have numbed my desire to explore my sexuality fully.
T-therapy changes body appearance such as muscular and body fat distribution, thickened vocal chords, facial and body hair and so on giving a more masculine appearance and the trans guy feels more at ease in his body and himself.
Of course whatever happens as either a gay or heterosexual man I am in a new sexual territory and there is no getting away from that. One would assume I would be hetero as I identified as a lesbian – unfortunately it is not that predictable. My sexual roots being LGB do not make either very easy to accept. Whether that is because there is a level of prejudice within the LGBT community towards the trans person I cannot say.
The key for me is my inner belief in love knowing no barriers whether it is gender or something else. That alone makes whatever may be what it should be – gay or straight it matters not!
My thanks to all that message me, your support is awesome and means the world to me
Love and light
The last few weeks have been somewhat testing emotionally. The intense feelings of displacement are coming fast and hard. Last week I was asked how I deal with it so that is what I will write about here.
Dysphoria is a way of life for me and has been for years to varying degrees. In the past I would bury it or let the depression run riot, mainly because I had no idea how to deal with it. The doctor would hand me a prescription for antidepressants which made me more depressed as deep down I knew they were not an answer, not even close to an answer. Endless counselling sessions focussed on life events which really had no relevance didn’t help either but gave me a way to distract from the real issue of being transgender. I would even convince myself the problem was in fact the issue being discussed. In reality it was another burying technique allowing me to distance myself from the abnormity of being me as I saw it then.
Now of course, I know without a doubt I am transgender – the labels of genderqueer, neutrality, and butch dyke are no longer straws I can clutch onto and hope they are enough to pacify the man within. The way I think, feel, act and present is male; it feels good, it really does. Then I remember the bulge in my jeans is a prosthetic and the constant ache in my chest area is a binder squishing the unwanted breasts.
It is what it is and the only way to deal with it is to take a deep breath and focus on it being a temporary thing. I made the big step and I am on the journey, but it is a painfully slow one. Very much like a roller coaster the going up to the peaks of something happening takes an age then when it does happen it is a whizz down to the next trough and climb. That is the NHS and there is little I can do to change it.
However, knowing it will happen in time helps deal with the dysphoria so I can get on with living. It would be easy to put life on hold and wait for the NHS to get on with it but then I am wasting six years or more of my life and I am not going to do that.
The fact is life was testing at times before and it will be after, so the times it is testing now are no different. I really believe it is these things that ultimately make us stronger. The going may get tough but that just means I need to toughen up a bit.
Again I wish to thank all of you who have messaged me with support, I really do appreciate it.
Love and light
I thought accepting my gender identity was a tough nut. It was, but not as tough as the scrutiny I feel I am under now. Everything I do, say and think is being microscopically analysed. Not by other people, but by myself. I keep checking myself – is what I am wearing male enough, is the book I am reading too feminine, is the level of my voice deep enough or is the way I walk too much of a girly wiggle rather than a manly strut?
I was expecting it from others and, as I am my own worst critic, a bit from myself – but not to this extent. It is not that I doubt what I am doing is right; I know this transition is right for me and I got to get on and face it. I have known my gender identity since I was a little kid and have buried it since then too. I know the major part of transition is self-acceptance and although I have been aware of it since I was a child I am only just coming to terms with my identity. I have got to be patient with myself.
Transsexuality or gender dysphoria is a lonely place. Yes there are support groups, yes I have Roxi backing me up and yes I have wonderful supportive friends – and I really do appreciate all of them. However, they cannot make the decisions for me. Transition is self-realization and finding my own identity rather than the one I built to hide myself. Denying self has been the easier option and frankly still is but it is not the healthy one.
I suppose I am habitually applying that same inner critique that buried my male awareness to present as female to my identity now but in reverse. I look at the list of what may be to come and it looks terrifying but to go back is even more so and I do not want to go back so it is not an option anyway. Transition is very much cross each bridge as it is needed to be crossed and I know that is the only way that I can do it.
© J Farmer 2013
Today a friend asked me ‘how do I know I am transgender?’ Well, that is a good question so I thought I would use it as a prompt. Since I can remember I have never felt like I am right, or that I belong. As a child, I became a bit of a loner and as an adult even more so. At about the age of 14/15 I was caught up in becoming aware of my sexuality and brushed aside much of what I now know to be signs of inner gender as being part of being a gay woman and the battle against being gay.
Of course, sexuality and gender identity are not the same and that became evident in my 20’s, and I accepted my gender to be fluid, that of a genderqueer. As I have said in previous posts I often took sanctuary in neutrality as it was easier to cope with my depressions that way. I would do that when Jem was showing himself a bit too much. The number of times I have stared myself down in a mirror or glass window denying what my eyes and mind were telling me are too many to count – I wish I had a quid for every time as I’d be a millionaire many times over. Every time I saw myself in a mirror I see her looking back at me and knew it shouldn’t be her but he. And I hated myself for thinking that.
Over the last few years since coming out of the gay-closet publicly, I also gradually gave up the pretence of femininity and presented as male. For the last two years that has been exclusive with the occasional drift into neutrality for the benefit of family and friends. It’s not enough, I know it is not enough; I need to be true to my own identity not this shell I was born with. I know it means some tough choices but the time has come to man up and face those choices. I was never right in this ideal of femininity, to me that is something way beyond me, an ideology that I admire for its grace and beauty; it is not what I am.
It never has been me. My essence is masculine I feel it driving within me like a force of energy. Each day he gets stronger, more vital. I have no choice but to accept what I know to be true – I am male. I am a man trapped, for now, inside a female body. How do I know because my every sense tells me it is so, I am stronger emotionally and mentally now that I know he is me. I am not crazy as I thought I was I am transgender. The choices will be what is done and how I change the physical me to be more fitting to the real me. The new-born goatee is looking good, and training the voice to a lower tone is empowering too.
The fact is over the last few years the stress of denying my gender identity has been intolerable and it is time to do something about it. I have to live my life and find a balance for myself where I can do that. The last two years has proved to me that living as a man and identifying as a man gives me that balance. Miss, Mrs and Ms are not acceptable only Mr will do.
© Jem Farmer 2013