When I was very young I remember announcing that “when I grow up, I want to be a girl”, all the while happy climbing trees, building dams, making fires and all those ‘boy’ kind of pursuits. Being born a male my mother focused on the ‘boy’ stuff as normal behaviour but never questioned, nor does she remember, my ‘I want to be a girl statement’. In this more enlightened time, perhaps some may have taken more notice and ‘worked’ with the child to understand it more, but then it was simply a childish statement. The trouble was, even then I knew it was something deep seated, that meant more than simply wanting to be a girl. Ok, some may say hindsight is a powerful thing, but I really remember how it felt, the lack of congruence for those fleeting childish moments where the same feelings I learnt to listen to as I grew older – eventually being eaten up by them. They came from the very spiritual core of me – I knew it then and I know it today. Today I call them my Two Spirit then I hadn’t a clue.
Over many years I’ve learnt to understand more of what I actually meant way back and how it had and was effecting my life. What I actually meant then was I want to be me, a me that’s different to the social norms but equally as natural as any other boy or girl, only then there wasn’t a name for it, or at least it wasn’t known in my circle nor acknowledged by my parents. All I wanted was to be me totally, but to be seen as ‘normal’ also, I wanted and still want to fit in, be accepted and seen for me, not for some social construct, just as a person, and simply get on with life.
As time went on and I went through my early teens this sense of ‘wanting to be a girl’ grew enough for it to become a constant in my life, not at the forefront of my mind, but like an itch you can’t scratch. Its hard to draw the picture, but it was there enough, like a pin of light in what should be a dark room, its still dark but the pin of light draws your eye, as your eyes adjust it doesn’t seem dark any more, suffice to say it was there and slowly impacting on my life. I never spoke about it and it never came out except in private, it never effected my sexuality and never knowingly changed the things I did – but the shame and guilt where huge. I played rugby, was good at athletics, enjoyed building and tinkering with things, but also wanted to be a fashion designer. Going to an under 18’s disco at 15 for the first time was hard, I didn’t really understand but I simply couldn’t find the right balance of stuff to wear, I wasn’t into trends or part of a pack, very much a loner. Whilst walking the shops I couldn’t help but be drawn to the girls section, and as it was the 80’s some may say I perhaps should have embraced the cross dressing fashions of the time. Odd thing was, the ‘fem-guy’ fashion of the time I felt where for guys, I didn’t want to be a guy like that, I was more than that somehow, more female, but not. What I wanted to exude was a combination of both but to be somehow a girl, but not.
At school I enjoyed art and sewing and had a drive to be a fashion designer. This drive wasn’t so much as I wanted to be a fashion designer, I did think I would be good at it, but it was more about feeling more like me somehow, being closer to the gender that I felt more comfortable being a part of. The strange thing was the more I felt closer to the female friends the more uncomfortable it felt because the difference became obvious and then the questions would start about if I was gay or was I ‘playing a strange game to get off with one of the girls’ … both sides of the gender binary found my nature equally suspicious. In the end I settled on building scooters and got in with 3 other mates who where equally ‘odd’ in their own ways…but they thought I was just a regular guy.
My fashion career never got further than me being accepted before I had left school on a Fashion BTEC, however I was discouraged by my Dad… ‘its for poofs all that, get a trade, you’ll end up a poof if you do that’. I knew even then me being gay wasn’t going to happen, even then I understood my sexuality perfectly. Going on a fashion course or not wasn’t ever about that, it was about more than that – it must have been a way that my subconscious had worked out, a way for me to open ‘that door’ safely. Me being me and never wanting to upset or should I say preferring to work towards parental approval, I opted for photography instead, in the end I worked in photography for only a short while, stumbling into graphic design.
At the age of 17 I met the girl who would become my wife, my sights where set on providing myself with a firm secure foundation to live my life, all the while feeling I should really run away to San Francisco. Being adopted and having a normal-ish up bringing I still felt the desperate need to make my own base, one that’s safe and secure. 20+ years later and still with the same ‘girl’ I soon understood that’s not an easy thing at all – but that’s another story.
As life rolled on and months went into years I explored my gender more in the privacy of my own home, working with it keeping it in a box, bringing it out, hating it fighting it, burning my fem stuff, it was really beginning to hurt hard. I simply couldn’t really understand it myself, there wasn’t anyone like me, I wasn’t transvestite even though at times I called myself that, all the while knowing there was more to it. I wasn’t transsexual either – not from the perspective that I felt I’d been born in the wrong body. The body I was born in seemed irrelevant the way I was seen by people wasn’t as important as the way I felt inside. The washing machine type feelings about my gender and how I was supposed to live was slowly providing with me with so much internal torment. I could wear women’s clothes go shopping as a woman and still it not feel right, I could do the same as a man and still it not feel right. BUT then I started to really tune in and really feel the pain, understand it.
Tuning in to the pain and really understanding it I slowly came to understand that I wasn’t any of the above groups I was in a worse situation, as a private gender consultant once told me – I was more in between the two gender binaries from a psycho biological perspective. As little is known about gender really in terms of neuroscience and sceptics tend to poo poo any early research preferring to work from the outside in, I was always on a sticky wicket so to speak trying to make people understand what I innately felt myself. I personally felt I was missing something in my brain chemistry, as if I was born an hermaphrodite in my brain. Having Googled what I feel I couldn’t even find a name for it other than the usual which simply didn’t fit. Approaching 40 I felt I was slowly loosing myself and the long term desire to live comfortably as me, my brain needed nourishment I felt I was slipping into an deep dark hole of cigarettes throughout the day and alcohol at night simply to get to sleep and to switch off the dysphoria. On top of this I had to live I had to be a father, run a business, make a living, deal with the usual stuff of life, whilst ‘the universe’ constantly threw, often painful and tragic events my way making my mere existence a battle simply to stay alive.
One day and through a certain sense of avoiding doing something ‘stupid’ if I didnt get help, I went to see the doctor…thats where the fight really started and is another post for another day.
But to close this post, yes I would have loved to have been born a ‘normal’ girl or a ‘normal’ boy … And if there was a pill to fix me as one or the other I could take it today, but there isn’t. I really don’t care which colour pill but if there was two pills, being born with a male body then it follows I would gladly take the blue pill to make me a ‘normal’ male. As it is there isn’t such a thing so I needed to find (and have since found I hope) a way to live a happy and more congruent life, congruent with me first whilst being able to live life in the world the easiest way possible. The goal has always been to be happy and as congruent as possible – I know that I will never be ‘normal’ that’s why today I embrace Two Spirit. Two Spirit is a perfect and beautiful way of describing how I am, because I believe Two Spirit people are normal. In fact we are all normal we just need to open our eyes a little maybe and embrace each other more. My psychobiology is my own, the way I fit into the world could be made easier if there was a greater understanding and appreciation for people with gender variances of all kinds.
All I hope is we all with peace, harmony and tranquillity