Spare a thought for transgender people on National Coming Out Day

I find myself torn between pride and concern on National Coming Out Day. On the one hand, I love that our society has evolved to the point that we now celebrate people coming out, on the other hand I wish it just wasn’t a big deal.  I look forward to the day where it doesn’t matter what our sexual orientation is and we won’t need to define ourselves into narrow, static boxes of gay, straight, bi, pan etc. We simply fall in love with someone and their gender is not an issue. I can dream.

The other reason I find national coming out day troublesome, is because of the part of the LGBTQ community that so often gets forgotten when talking about these things. Our beautiful trans community. For the majority of trans folk, our coming out is far from celebrated in society. When we come out we face being cut off from our families, sacked or discriminated against in the work place, harassed on the streets and all too often being the victim of violence and murder.

Those that are newly discovering themselves to be transgender, have no choice but to come out. In early days, before cross sex hormones change a trans persons appearance, we suffer the humiliating dysphoria inducing event of being incorrectly gendered many times a day. The only way to counteract this is to ask people to use the correct pronouns for us. Of course, as soon as a trans person who is not yet being read correctly does this, they automatically out themselves as being trans and place themselves at risk.

There is the additional issue that once fully transitioned (in whatever way that means to each particular trans person), we can often, as in my case although I choose not to, blend in to society and not have to disclose our trans history. Those that do this, then in turn feel pressured on National Coming Out Day to make themselves visible and feel as though they are letting the community down if they don’t or can’t do so. The fact that not disclosing is described as “going stealth” highlights how much shame is involved in not disclosing a trans identity.

I am a very proud man with a trans history who on most days is more than happy to shout it from the roof tops and face the inevitable backlash that still so often happens. However, there are so many trans people that have no control over their being outed or feel unsafe to do so. These people are no less proud, they just do not have the same freedoms and choices as the rest of the LGBT community does in being visible LGBT people. Therefore I ask you please, to spare a thought for trans folk on National Coming Out Day

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Who am I? – Identity development in gender transition

As both a student psychologist and a man with a trans history, the topic of identity and how it develops over time fascinates me.  I have found that my identity never properly developed a stable base, in hindsight I expect this is why I was diagnosed with a personality disorder and I now believe it was down to the fact that I was never female and this caused the personality, identity and mental health issues I faced.

In transition I have experienced a loss and a grieving for my old identity, not because it was one I like but because it was all that I knew and without it I was in limbo whilst I waited for my new identity as a man to form and become stable.

During transition we are in a constant state of flux, as hormones and surgery change the body we have to get used to our new embodied selves and as our gender roles and societal expectations change we have to get used to the new way we interact with others. This constant flux means that the stable identity base is hard to build.

Now, nearing the end of my surgical journey and hormones having done their most significant work, I find I am at last able to put down stable roots to my identity, allowing me more security and stability from which to explore other aspects of myself.

In this vlog I discuss this process and the ways in which I am continuing to actively discover and develop my new identity.

 

Increase of suicide in young transgender people

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It seems that hardly a day goes past without headlines of yet another young Transgender person ending their life.  Every day it seems my feed on Tumblr, Twitter or Facebook is announcing another tragic loss. It has almost become normalised, in that it’s not a surprise or that it’s an expected part of being Transgender. This should not be the case.

Continue reading “Increase of suicide in young transgender people”

Older Trans People Coming Out Of The Shadows?

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I read an article this morning about Grace Anne Stevens who began her transition at the age of 64.  I really relate to a lot of what she says in the article, especially what she says about “not having the words”. I think a lot of people have trouble understanding why people transition so late in life, how could they not have known?

I think fear has a lot to do with it, but more so, I think, is that growing up there just was not open discussion of transgender people. There wasnt much when I was growing up, I doubt there was any other than negative when she was growing up. I simply did not know I was a man because I was told I wasnt and I didnt know that it was possible for me to be anything other than what people told me I was. Older trans people coming out and speaking up really helps to show that the “sudden growth” of young trans people isnt something new, its just that there is far more available information for young people to make sense of who they are and much more acceptance of gender variance, its far easier to come out now. Trans people have always been here, its just that it is now much safer to come out from the shadows and finally allow ourselves to live as the people weve always known ourselves to me but just did not have the words to explain.

Read the article here: 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/grace-anne-stevens/my-transgender-life-transitioning-at-age-64_b_6615476.html