Trigger Warning: There are mentions of serious mental health issues in this post, that may distress some people.
–This was originally posted to my friends via Facebook; I have made a couple of edits to remove personal information–
I’ve been contemplating, and I realise that this all feels kind of sudden to most folks.
The thing is, for me it’s been almost a lifetime of gender incongruence; particularly over the last seven-plus years, the gender dysphoria has been just under the surface of my life. A constant companion, almost always on my mind.
There were times over the last few years that I thought about transitioning; going through the mental exercise of what would be involved, what the outcomes would be, as a way to convince myself that it was a terrible idea, and that the only option was to keep searching for some other way to deal with it.
At the end of last year, my sessions with my psychologist became a little more frantic. I felt like a rat trapped in a maze, desperately throwing myself at anything that seemed like an exit, trying to find one that was open, anything other than transition.
Then the dam broke. I ran out of fingers to jam into the leaks. With the flood came all of the fears. The potential rejection by friends for whom this is too much, and for Christians for whom this is a bright red line. Knowing that for many people, they will never see me; I will never be anything more than “a man in a dress” or worse, a “pervert”. That they won’t see the person, just a stereotype.
Knowing that in choosing this treatment (and it IS a medical & psychological treatment), after a life time in church (and so many churches), I will now be unwelcome, or they’ll try and “save” me, because there’s obviously no way as a “trans woman”, I could actually BE a Christian, right? That some Christians will look at me and silently scream “demons!”, or worse.
Then there’s just the outright hate from some folks (Christians and non-Christians alike) who believe that trans people are an abomination, that explicitly should not exist (please, don’t get your information on being transgender from those people in particular).
There are so many reasons that I tried to avoid this outcome, but all of them paled in comparison to Tan.
I have tried to be the man and the husband that I was taught I could be, and I believed I could be, by suppressing and rejecting a part of myself that did not fit, and embracing a set of stereotypes.
I did not want to place the woman I love in such a traumatic situation. I have already made so many mistakes in our marriage, I did not want to put her through this as well.
I won’t speak for [my wife] on this, as she can speak for herself, and she has my complete trust to speak her truth fearlessly, and honestly. If you have questions for her, check in with her.
But on my part, my mental health issues have been incredibly traumatic for her to witness. My anger has always been turned inwards on myself, becoming self-inflicted harm. To my undying shame, on more than one occasion during the earlier years of our marriage, she watched me leave the house, wondering if I’d come back alive, or if she’d get a knock on the door.
Several years ago, I made her a promise that I would never end my life suddenly and violently. That I would never leave her and our children with that kind of trauma.
In trying -and failing- to find a treatment alternative to transitioning, I returned to my lifelong comfort, food (and for a time, alcohol). I’ve been withdrawing from the world, sitting in front of my computer, and slowly eating myself to death.
Slow suicide is still suicide.
Now here I am, with no more fight left in me. Understanding, as so many trans folks have before me, that the incongruence won’t go away, that it can’t be ignored, that I will only ever live half a life while rejecting and hating that part of myself. That my family will never have the best part of me, if I can’t find a way to really live, and love myself wholly, the way God loves me.
It’s said that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result” (no, it wasn’t said by Einstein). I’ve spent most of the last almost-eight years doing the same things. The same Google & Facebook searches for treatments or support groups. The same Bible verses, praying over and over for God to take this away, or at least give me a way to live with it.
I’ve cycled through most of the stages of grief over the past few years. Except one.
That is where I’m at now. Acceptance that to attempt to become whole, I need to choose the path that will likely lead to rejection, and hate towards me, but that path also leads towards love for my whole self, and not just the parts of me that others insist are acceptable. A path that now seems like the only option left, the option that means I will still be here for my family in the future.
I’m also faced with the reality that maybe it doesn’t work out. Maybe this morning’s blood tests will show my body isn’t healthy enough for HRT. Maybe HRT will make the dysphoria worse.
This isn’t the end of my journey, just the next step. A step I’ve spent years trying to avoid. There’s no fork in the road here, no off-ramp. There’s only the choice to sit down in the road and wait to die. I’ve been sitting here long enough. Maybe just around the corner there’s an unexpected path that leads off somewhere else.
I understand if you feel like this is where our paths diverge, like you can’t walk near me any more. If you’re a Christian, and you feel I’m no longer your neighbour, and I’m now your enemy, then please treat me the way Jesus told us to treat our enemies. If you’re not a Christian, then please follow the advice of Wil Wheaton: “Don’t be a dick”.
I’m trying not to place expectations on anyone. This is hard, and painful, and traumatic for the people closest to me. I’ve already been surprised (and somewhat overwhelmed) at the love and support that people (particularly my family) have poured out for me. But they need your support too, because this isn’t just about me. Don’t just assume you know how they feel, and please don’t cut them off because of me.
If you have questions, my PMs are always open. I’m happy to sit down for a coffee and talk, or catch up via Zoom/Teams/Facetime/Skype/etc.
Here’s to the journey, wherever it may lead.