I’m posting this for two reasons. 1. To show my support for the trans* community. 2. To share my recent and one of my first experiences of ignorance towards what it means to be trans.
I was having a group conversation with some people recently when someone from our area who is transitioning was brought up. This individual is undergoing hormone treatment and is transitioning from male to female. This individual has also had surgery to get the breasts she’s always dreamed of having. Anyway, the people I was talking to said this woman was a man pretending to be a woman and that he was dressing as a woman for attention and kept emphasising that because this woman still has a penis she is definitely a man. The worst thing was I don’t even think that these people fully realised how ignorant, damaging and almost cruel their statements were. I told this group that gender is in your mind and doesn’t require the individual to have genitalia that perfectly match their preferred gender. I tried to explain that not every trans person will have bottom surgery and that’s okay because they are still their true gender and should be referred to as such. The fact that someone can transition from being male to female, still have a penis and be referred to as a woman completely baffled these people and I think they still walked away thinking that it couldn’t be true and that if you have a penis you must be a man regardless of how you present yourself.
The conversation then extended to either trans people should tell people what genitalia they have before dating them. This, again, divided opinions. I think this is completely up to each trans person and how comfortable they feel disclosing that information.
I tried to appeal to these people by asking them to imagine what it would feel like to be born into the wrong body. I also asked them to imagine how devastating it would be to be presenting as the woman you always knew you are while taking hormones and after undergoing surgery just to still be called a man. This still didn’t really work.
This conversation gave me a very small taste of what it’s really like to be trans and it opened my eyes to how judgemental people really can be. I know it may not sound like it but this group of people are generally quite open minded yet when their idea of what it means to be male or female was challenged they completely closed the doors of their minds and almost refused to even consider any new information. I truly empathise with the trans community and am furious that people who think this way are out there. Maybe it’s simply a lack of education or maybe it’s blatant transphobia. I walked away from that conversation still angry that people could put down another human being so easily. Just know that you all have an ally in me.
I’ve been reading a lot recently about people struggling with their sexual orientation and finding it difficult to come to terms with everything that accompanies coming out. I decided to tell you a little about what helped me…
Has being a lesbian changed who I became? Maybe it has. Did coming out mean that people treated me differently? Perhaps. I hate to sound like a constant ray of positivity because, believe me, I’m not but I have learned from my experiences so I want to help you all learn too. A few months after I came out I went to an event in Galway that had dozens of LGBT people, both young and old, there. It was strange but exciting to be thrown into this massive crowd of people that were about to surround me for the next two days. It was that weekend that changed everything for me. I was sixteen and in the presence of LGBT teens, adults, hotel staff and youth workers. I was amazed! The then President of Ireland even made an appearance. I hugged the lovely Mary McAleese while trying my damn best not to whack her with the crutches I had to use at the time. It was just my luck that I sprained my ankle the night before this trip. I have a habit of visiting A&E before most of the big events in my life… Murphy’s Law, I suppose? We exchanged coming out tales, had a laugh together and I even kissed a girl and had to totally agree with Katy Perry. The most interesting thing was that we were all at totally different stages of coming out so we could all inspire each other in different ways. Despite what their friends, parents, peers, colleagues or anyone else had said they were still here to say that life got better. Many of them even told me that they felt that being gay actually made them stronger.
What I learned from the experience was that… stereotypes in our little gay world are not as common as you’d think; they are just more visible, our community can often be overwhelmingly supportive and we are a very fashionable bunch! The best thing, for me, was that I returned home with a whole new group of friends and a new outlook on life. There’s something empowering about seeing that people are genuinely happy being lesbian, gay, bi, trans or whatever they may be. It’s almost like seeing proof that it’s okay to be you. We don’t all get to go on a big gay weekend but consider this blog and WordPress itself to be your one! Here we are all different ages, from different countries and have been through different things in our lives but we all share the unity of sharing the LGBT umbrella. It’s definitely okay to be LGBT and it’s never something you need to change. It’s simply you. I saw so many people happy in their own skin and I see that here too. I really do feel for the people who are struggling with their identity but at the same time I want to emphasise that it really can and does get better. I struggle with a lot of stuff but my identity is luckily no longer an issue for me. Feel free to comment with your thoughts, experiences or problems. I love hearing from you all!
As Summer turned into
Autumn Greg’s health rapidly declined. His happiness, however, did not. Each day was captivating and magical. His past life as a female was now a distant memory. Clark often wondered why Greg was so weak but Clark wondered a lot about Greg in general. There’s so much to ask and he had absolutely no idea where to begin. Greg seemed to be at peace with his new found identity. He had even started working in the diner. This was a huge, brave step for both Greg and Clark. They had nothing to worry about though, Greg was a natural. He had steadily reagained a healthy figure thanks to the mouth watering food that Clark and Kate made him. His hair was now back combed into a quiff which made him seem sophisticated and made him feel important. A white short sleeved shirt and grey trousers were his preferred attire and he never failed to attract some female attention. Life was better now. A shiver runs down his spine as he recalls the night when he ran away from the homeless shelter. Everything seemed so futile that night. His one true love could barely handle a transgender partner, nevermind a dying transgender partner so the homeless shelter became his only salvation. Acceptance was never far away after all. He sighed. He couldn’t imagine what life would be like without Clark and all he had done for him.
“Clark! I’m going to make dinner tonight for you and Kate” Greg called over his shoulder. Clark grinned “I can’t wait”. That’s settled then, tonight is the night.
Hours later Greg paced up and down the kitchen as he waited for the lasagne and chips to finish cooking. Footsteps startled him and tore him away from his thoughts. He looked up snd saw Kate standing there. She looked like an alternative model. She was amazing. Greg had a soft spot for her, for this breath taking woman. “Hello darling” she she said with a note of excitement in her voice. Greg smiled back. His throat was dry and he was getting really nervous now.
After dinner Greg confessed everything to the two people who saved him. It was the hardest thing he ever had to do. How do you tell someone who changed your life that it is coming to an end soon? They were both shocked and heartbroken. After what felt like a lifetime of silence Clark spoke softly and slowly “I can’t believe you carried this burden on your own.” A tear slid down Kate’s angelic face. “I love you two more than I could ever show you. You both gave me so much more than you will ever know. You gave me the will to live out my final days as the real me. For that, I am eternally grateful.” Greg declared. “You will always be remembered Greg, always. The time we have spent together has been great. I just wish it didn’t have to end” Kate’s voice trailed off into a whisper as she began to sob. The grin that spread across Greg’s face was not what they were expecting. “Don’t cry for me now, guys! Can’t you see that I am leaving this world with no regrets. I have loved, laughed and lived life as Greg. I’m complete! Consider me a masterpiece of my own dreams.” Greg surprised himself. He did not have much but he had everything he ever wanted. We should all learn from Greg that our dreams can be achieved. Lean on those around you for support and encouragement and look to yourself because you are stronger than you know.
The makeover was liberating. As each feminine lock of hair floated to the ground the weight crushing her shoulders slowly began to lift. Relief.
Clark’s best friend was a cute young woman with bright purple spiky hair. She wasn’t bothered about Skye’s desire to become Greg. In fact she almost seemed excited to be part of this life altering change. Skye’s transition into manhood was just beginning but so far it was everything she had dreamed about and more. This must be how a caterpillar feels as it transforms into a breathtakingly beautiful butterfly Skye thought to herself. “Done!” Kate exclaimed. She leaned back and admired her work. A smile spread across her pale face. “Perfect” Clark whispered to Skye.Her hair was tight around the sides and back, a traditional boys cut. Her fringe had been transformed completely also. Instead of sweeping to the side in front of her left eye it was now styled into a faux hawk. A thousand thoughts ran through her mind as she examined her new reflection. Her unusually thin face coupled with her new clothes and hair made her feel like Greg. No, it made her Greg.
Clark and Kate appeared to be holding their breath as they waited for her evaluation. “It’s exactly what I needed” Greg affirmed. “I know. I think I always knew” Greg smiled. “Skye no longer exists, it’s Greg now” he smiled. This smile was different, warmth beamed from his deep brown eyes. “Greg sounds so manly. Strong and powerful! I love it.” Kate said cheerfully. The whole situation was overwhelmingly normal. It wasn’t explosive, dramatic or even scary. It was the beginning of the end but it was going to be the greatest end of all time.
Dying. This word should not be in her vocabulary. It shouldn’t even be a distant thought about a distant future. Yet here she was faced with an inoperable tumor and months to live. The worst part wasn’t dying. It wasn’t even the time she had lost with her family over the past few months. The most heart breaking part was the fact that she was going to die as Skye and not as Greg the popular, good looking guy she always imagined herself to be.
“Skye, let me help you please?” Clark stumbled into her room. He was carrying a large bundle of clothes. “Here’s some of my old clothes. They are nothing special and they will be a bit big on you but it’s a start, right?” he smiled warily, unsure of what exactly one should do when your sister longs to be your brother. “Clark this is great! It really is.” She beamed. Shocked by his attempt to help but more grateful than he will ever know. “Get ready for a make over tonight mate. You’re gonna love this!” he called back merrily as he left her to once again be alone with her thoughts. A makeover. She had never considered a makeover to be the solution to anything but Clark had just given her more hope than she had felt in years. She gazed upon her new clothes. She had spent her whole life hiding her true self but what does she have to lose now? Goodbye Skye. Hello Greg!
“Skye!” shouted Clark as he wrapped his arms tightly around her skeletal frame. “Clark, get off, you’re hurting me you clown” she said as she wriggled out of his grip. “I’m sorry Skye but we all thought you were… uhm… dead” sighed Clark. “I’m not dead. Not yet anyway. But that’s not why I came here. I need somewhere to stay for a few weeks, max! Please.” The look of horror and confusion on his face told her that she had almost revealed too much. She hastily said “Look all I meant was we all gotta die sometime, don’t we? Now can you give me somewhere to crash for a while or not?” Clark thought about it as he moved back behind the counter and poured a cup of coffee. He decided she could stay if she explained her absence over the past few months. Not even their parents could or would shed light on it. All they would say was that she was better off on her own. A twenty five year old preferring to be alone certainly didn’t make sense to him. Skye fidgeted as she stared down at her dirty Converse. She promised she would reveal all to him if he gave her a chance so it was agreed that she could have the spare room in Clark’s flat above his diner. She could almost scream with joy.
She broke down in floods of tears once she sat on the edge of her new bed. Since her parents kicked her out she has been drifting aimlessly until now. Skye wanted nothing more than to become a man however now that will never happen. She told her parents this on Christmas eve. A time of family and love. Yeah, right. As part of a routine doctor’s examination her dream ended abruptly. Now her true love and best friend has abandoned her because of fear. She envied amnesia sufferers because they don’t constantly churn their mistakes and regrets around in their minds. Life is easy to them and then it’s over.
She confessed her desired identity to Clark who was surprisingly not surprised. He chuckled briefly then seriously stated that someone would have to be blind and deaf to notice her opposition to anything overly girl related. She couldn’t help but smile when he said this. So she was always true to herself. Amazing. “What happened to you anyway? Have you even been eating over the past while? You’re skin and bone!” Clark interrupted her thought process. “Oh I’ve just been cutting down on junk food. It saves me more money. I quit smoking too.” “So you may be able to afford hormone treatment then if you’re saving money?” he tentatively asked. “Yeah. Yeah, I guess so.” she replied. He knew she was being purposefully evasive and distant. This isn’t going to be easy she thought to herself.
To be continued…