For me I can only say it sucks, it’s possibly one of the worst things I can imagine dealing with. That’s a bold statement when there’s hunger, real illness, brutality etc. I fully appreciate some people have a heavier burden to carry than me, some may live with disability all there lives, others will fight hunger, some will die from shocking diseases … so why do I say being transgender is so bad?.
The simple reason is I’m healthy, middle aged, experienced in my field, a hard worker, caring, skilled in a lot of practical things, and very conscientious, plus a person who wants to make a difference, and simply support myself. So what has that got to do with being transgender you may ask? It’s because you simply never ever fit in, you are always seen for being exactly what you are a nice person with an uncomfortable problem, a lot of people have a rudimentary understanding about it, feel it must be so hard to deal with, they may have a lot of sympathy. In a away they do accept – as long as it doesn’t effect them, their business, their livelihood or their income stream. I can’t blame them … not one bit.
Yes I get annoyed at life, yes I get fed up with the unspoken and the spoken bigotry, but the not fitting in enough is worse, having a lot to offer and not fitting in is the hardest burden to carry. The isolation of the condition and the way society have no reason to embrace trans people, is the hardest part about it. Someone said that I am not my condition … but society make me my condition.
A psychiatrist at Charring Cross said, please remember that no matter what, you will always be transgender, trying to fit in is the best thing you can try to do and be thankful if we can cure the bio-psychological aspects of your dysphoria, but you will always be transgender. It would help you a lot to fit in if you simply choose to live in one gender role or the other, adopt a more stereotypical feminine persona, feminine role, feminine attire. At the time I thought he was being very cruel, but really he was handing out tough love, because it’s the truth – it would be easier. My problem at the time with this concept and it still is today is this, what is feminine and what’s wrong with being me? These days women’s wardrobes are filled with clothes that have their roots in the male wardrobe. Biker boots, loafers, biker jackets, t-shirts, shirts, cricket jumpers and even jeans and suits, these where all once the preserve of men only. I wear women’s clothes all the time and have done for years, but that’s not enough to hit that stereotypical gender role he spoke about, you need more. You actually need that mystical thing that says … instantly you fit the profile enough of a woman and not transwoman. You can alter almost everything, have as much surgery as you like but without that mystical thing, as the man said you will always be trans and people will know.
The truth of the matter quite simply is unless you have the good fortune to ‘catch’ your transgender before the on set of puberty, or you are built with a small frame naturally, have natural feminine features and can keep your own hair, you will never ever fit in enough and will always suffer the hardship of never being seen for the person you are, you will always be trans. The likelihood is you will be passed over simply because you don’t fit in or could rock the boat. The people who do this aren’t bad people they do as many do, protect what they have. You will find this attitude all across life, I walk back from the school run and you see mothers steer their sons away from my side of the pavement as if to protect him from catching transgenderism. You hear children innocently asking “is that a man or a woman”, the parent replies ‘never you mind’ or doesn’t even reply as the child continues to ask the question.
I describe myself as self employed, really I am unemployed or more accurately redundant as a human, a person who really would like to hold a job with a living wage that uses my skills, passion for work and tenacity, a job that I can simply get up in the morning go to work and be accepted. I know a lot of people will say ‘wouldn’t we all’, but I’m simply asking to wake up in the morning and not to have to ask the question how will I get by and what will I have to do to fit in enough simply to survive, what will it take for me to live and feel accepted as a human. I’ve become afraid of rejection for what I am, flick flak between trying clothes, trying to find a way of dressing that fits in enough, the problem is the hormones have changed me enough now, and women have hijacked all the stereotypical mens clothes, even if I wanted to I couldn’t look all man, ironically I don’t look all woman either. I look very androgynous and because of the way women wear everything in the clothes shop, that means if I wear skinny jeans and a t-shirt I get told I dress femininely even if I am trying to blend in. If I dress in a frock, I pass more or less, but my frame and my voice give me away … so I never ever truly fit in, let alone get a job.
I apply for jobs, but agencies ring and hear a male voice … the phone goes dead.
Many many people will say this is a moan, it isn’t, it’s simply me documenting a reality of my life as a trans person, with a view someone sometime will read it and maybe it will help someone. For me to breath is hope, each morning breathing is enough hope to carry on, to know that there’s a chance for me to find a niche in life. I have a lot of skills, I am a designer of average quality (I’ve built and designed this blog, but millions can do that), I can do handywork, I’ve managed at a high level and I’m hard working … I’m scared of society in a way and scared of not paying my way, scared of not having work, scared of being a burden. But I keep trying to find a way to answer the eternal conundrum, how do you live life as a transgender person.
So what is it like to be transgender? All I know is it sucks .. because if you have something to offer society which we all have, your form, and the way you dress determines how you fit in or not, what’s between your ears simply doesn’t matter. More often than not people understand, but people protect themselves and the best way to protect is to maintain the status quo, keep up appearances and fit in, all the while showing enough USP’s to make you different enough. That’s people, that’s life, that’s business. It’s the very essence of being human, to live as a pack, yet fight quietly for supremacy.
My advice to anyone who is transgender is choose something you are good at, something you can sell, something people want to buy, and something where the competition is low … then become very very good at it. Become the best and hopefully you will make a good living because then you become a risk worth taking.