It is incredible that today marks three years since my legal name change to Mr Finlay Games. This time 3 years ago, I’d been out living publically as a transgender male for just over a month and I was both elated and petrified all at the same time. The new realisation that I was transgender answered questions I had been asking for a lifetime. However, as amazing as it was to finally be able to make sense of the years of confusion, I wanted and wished desperately, that I could just shut the lid on the proverbial ‘Pandora’s box, I had just opened.
I was just over a year and 7 months into recovery at the time, for drugs and alcohol and mental health. It was still really early days in learning to live life without having anxiety attacks, severe lows, and suicidal thoughts and without resorting to self-harming, starving or binging and without drink and drugs to numb the pain that I experienced on a daily basis. Beginning recovery with the help of the 12 step programme had allowed me finally to take hold of the reins of life and begin to find healthy ways to cope. In my new mission of self-discovery prompted by my recovery, discovering I was transgender was a big answer, but it also posed such a danger. How on earth would I deal with the stress of coming out as male? What if my family disowned me or my partner abandoned me? What if society shunned me, what if my new found recovery community didn’t accept me? The wait for help was so long, how on earth would I cope? Things had been going so well and this discovery brought up so much fear that I might lose all that, I was in inner turmoil and conflict and it all felt so bitter sweet.
I knew I couldn’t shut the lid of the box, once you truly know something, you cannot ‘unknow’ it, no matter how hard you try. Besides the pain of remaining where I was, was far becoming greater than the fear of what might happen. I knew that to do nothing would just as likely cause the relapse I feared. I had no choice, at least no ‘good’ choice; I just had to take the leap of faith.
At just over month out at time of name change, none of that had yet happened, my family had taken it well and my recovery community were being incredibly supportive. I came out to my partner in the November, so by the time of my name change they had known for about 4 months and contrary to my expectation, had not left me. Still, it was early days and a big ask for a lesbian (at the time) to adjust. My legal name change marked a significant milestone and a statement to all that this was really happening. It was both exhilarating and terrifying all at once.
I remember sitting in a café with my then best friend, as I signed my ten certified copies with him as a witness, to be sent out to notify various places, such as my bank and so on. It felt incredibly surreal as I legally signed the agreement to ‘denounce the use of my birth name from this moment forth’. I remember I used the phrase…”oh my god”…quite a lot over that coffee meeting. I still, at that point, couldn’t be 100% sure that what I was doing was right. I was as sure as I could be, I knew that to be 100% sure I had to move from thinking to doing, live life as the man I felt myself to be, only that would give me the clarity and certainty I needed.
Reflecting back on this today makes me smile. I look back at that memory of me with such fondness and respect for that scared and unsure boy I once was. It is only now, in hindsight, that I truly appreciate the faith and courage that took. I had no idea what the future would be. All I knew was that I was unhappy, incomplete and I wanted an end to feeling like that. My instincts were telling me that my answer was to transition , I had done all the research and soul searching I could, now I just had to take that leap of faith and find out if I was right. As they say, if nothing changes nothing changes.
Now, three years later, my life is more wonderful than I could have ever contemplated back then. It’s hard to imagine how I ever could have doubted that I am male, and that transition was right for me. It’s also hard to remember what it felt like to see the world so limited when now it is so vast that sometimes my inability to see the edges scares the heck out of me. I still consider myself to be in early days of both my recovery and my transition, I still have a few years left before my transition is ‘complete’, but already my life is beyond my wildest dreams.
I try to pass this on to other people in the early process of change, whether that’s change in terms of gender transition or in terms of addiction recovery, that things will get better, in ways that you can’t even imagine right now. It is hard to see in the dark, and that’s why it’s important to find fellow travellers who have gone a little further so that they can bring back a little light to help guide you until you find your own.
Thank you to everyone that lent me their light.