I just had a shower at the gym. I put on my clothes and fixed my hair in the mirror. After I was done I couldn’t stop looking at myself in the mirror. I just keep looking at this new person I see there. It’s still the same face I’m used to but it’s changing.
The hair is longer, the skin finer, there are earrings now and a new nose piercing, the shape is changing a bit, its rounder and softer, the eyelashes are much longer. I bit further down my body I see breasts, not man boobs but actual female breasts.
I’m looking into the face of a woman.
It’s not perfect but better than I thought possible. This is still new to me as I’m used to look into the face of a man. The thing is, I can identify with the woman I see now. I never identified with the man I saw. I was only used to the man I saw, it was like forever dressing up as a cowboy for Halloween and after some time believing one is in fact a cowboy. It’s not that I hated my body or my face as such, it was just that I never felt this was really me. After going through puberty I thought I had become a man. As a child I was told that when a boy goes through puberty he becomes a man.
“Ah, this is how it works”, is what I thought and pushed the secret thoughts away, somehow thinking I was a girl.
I cannot remember that I ever said out loud that I am girl as a child. I simply was what I was.
All I noticed was that male family members did not like me, and were not trying to hide it. Not for things I did wrong but simply for who I was. I had to learn somehow what I was allowed to do and say and how to behave so I wasn’t yelled at or be told that I’m strange or inadequate. When I grew up it was utterly unacceptable for a boy to show any kind of feminine traits or behavior. And nobody explained anything to me. I just seemed to upset men in my family a lot for just being me.
And so I was aggressively rejected for the way I was. The family male’s idea of being manly was being macho, get drunk a lot and never speak normally, only communicate is sort of a bark and always, always make a face as if you just had bitten into a lemon.
And to hate everything beautiful and gentle. Any gentleness or femininity in a boy was forbidden by death. Well, not literally but it felt like it. For them gentleness was equal to weakness, an equation I do not understand to this day. So I learned to never say a word and to perfect a poker face that never shows any sign of any emotion.
Around age 12 I watched movies and started to imitate male actors and copied their behavior. I noticed if I did that I was less rejected. I tried out Lee Majors from the tv show “The Fall Guy”. He was a stunt man, that’s pretty manly. But he had very lively facial expressions, especially around the eyes. I got tired moving my eyebrows so much after a while.
I am not necessarily proud of the choices of actors I made during that time but I do not think the ages between 12 and 16 are known for having specifically good taste. When it comes to facial expressions I settled with an actor by the name of Jan-Michael Vincent from a tv show called “Airwolf”. He essentially just squinted in a way that strongly signaled “Don’t even think about f… with me.”
Growing up under the circumstances I did, this was exactly the signal I wanted to send out.
It was perfect and looking angry became my standard expression. Another big influence when it comes to behavior was martial arts artist Chuck Norris. I was 16 and had just started to learn martial arts myself. I did Ju Jutsu. It may have saved my life.
I loved loved loved it.
It was not one of those god damn awful balls ports I hated so much, especially football.
In school I would have rather done more athletic stuff or gymnastics. I always looked with envy at the girls who were allowed to do things with their bodies, things that required balance and strength. But boys had to play football, week after week after week. Ok, sometimes we played basketball or handball or some other nonsense with a ball I was not even remotely interested in. Something that taught us to be “competitive” and “aggressive”.
I still hate football with a passion to this day.
Ju Jutsu was manly enough. Ok, it was of asian origin, something I am sure my male family members disapproved of, but at least it had to do with fighting.
To me it was gymnastics. I had to work on my reflexes, balance, strength, flexibility, things one would have done also in gymnastics or ballet.
That’s probably why 80’s action star Jean-Claude Van Damme (another potential role model) did train ballet for several years to improve his martial arts. I read he once said that if you survive a ballet workout you survive any workout.
Gentleness is not the same as weakness after all?
Ju Jutsu for me was kind of an acceptable way of dancing. I hated regular dancing because I was reminded of being a boy, I had to lead and be the guy. Of course I never said anything to anybody about what I thought. My self esteem was very low at that time and I started to develop depression.
After I moved out from home I was convinced I was a man now and I needed to prove to myself that I was not a weakling, that I was strong and could do things a real man can do. And that’s what I did.
I became a cameraman, a job that required serious toughness. I traveled all the time, had the craziest adventures. Some of my adventures were so hair rising that they made me believe I wont live to see my 30th birthday.
And I out-adventured my male family members many times over. I felt very macho, strong and invincible. But during all the time I felt like a woman. I thought like as man but felt like a woman.
Working in television is really hard, one meets a lot of “not so nice” people. So I acted tough, to the degree I was able to. I did not realize I subconsciously expected to be treated as a woman, and I never understood why people had to be so mean to me. This drained me emotionally.
To the point of total exhaustion.
I was working as a freelance cameraman and tried to act “tough”. But I was way to sensitive to cope with this. My confusion grew, the depressions became stronger and more intense. Somehow there was nobody I could talk to. And I have never learned how to talk about my feelings and I did not even know some actually people did that.
So I ran away.
I was offered a job on the island Bermuda and I moved there. After my contract ran out I could not face returning to the situation I was running away from and ran away even further.
All the way to New Zealand. I wanted to get out of the terrible television production conditions and studied visual effects for movies. I worked in this area for 4 years in Auckland. That was when it started to dawn on me what’s going. That I was in the wrong body.
But I could not admit that to myself. Working conditions for visual effects artists can be pretty horrible too. This combined with an ever growing inner conflict led me to have a complete meltdown in 2012.
I could not keep going, I had lost all willingness to make something out of my life. Nobody noticed because I was so trained in pretending everything is fine, I seemed to fool everybody.
Twice I was at a stage I had to take medication for depression.
All of my trauma seemed to come out like puss out of an infected wound. I started psychotherapy for another trauma I urgently needed to resolve. I chose a therapist who said on her website “experienced in gender identity issues”. Even though the reasons I went there for were unrelated to this, I was hoping I would have to find the courage to raise my gender issue as well.
It started by me saying that I felt I was born “upside down” or the “wrong way round”.
When I wanted to raise the issue more specifically my voice simply failed me. At the very last therapy session I finally was able to say that “I’m not sure but I don’t think I fully identify as a man”.
My therapist realized the seriousness of the situation and insisted I continue with my therapy.
I was absolutely not able to do it financially and, to the massive credit to my therapist, she gave me such a discount I was able to continue. This generous offer saved, without a doubt, my life. I would have not been able survive this change without her help.
It was pretty rough.
I have never gone emotionally so low. The girl in me was coming out whether I wanted or not. For the first time in my life I dared to dress as a female and go out in public. I almost died of a heart attack out of fear.
I felt guilt, shame, felt like a pervert, it was awful. But I seem to have passed as a female reasonably well because nobody seemed to notice. People were nice to me, much gentler, all of a sudden I did not feel like an alien anymore.
Over time I realized I was always subconsciously expecting to be treated as a female, while at the same time acting male. The inner conflict this created killed me. I knew I had to transition. I was not really aware of the change in society in recent years, how much more transgender people now accepted. I still expected to be rejected, loose my job, friends and family (Unfortunately I was kicked out for being trans from the place I was living at the time).
Despite my fears I started the process of transitioning.
It took almost 1 ½ years from the time I called the sexual health clinic in Auckland for the first time to the time I started hormone replacement therapy.
When I finally had the tablets, I went home and I took them for the first time. I cried for an hour.
My body finally received the correct kind of “fuel”. It was as if a switch was turned in my head.
That was 7 months ago.
A lot has happened in 2019. In february I was almost rendered unfit to work due to depression and nobody apart from my therapist knew what I was going through. By the end of the year I was living as a woman full time, having come out to everybody I know. The reactions were so positive I still cannot believe it. It feels like I have awaken from an awful nightmare. I want to leave my past behind. The interest and support I have experienced is overwhelming. I get lots and lots of questions. And I realize that this topic is still almost impossible to understand for most people.
That’s why I decided to start a blog, to talk in more detail about how it is for me to be transgender. I’m still learning myself, I change daily. But I finally found inner peace.
When I brush my teeth in the evenings I look into the reflection of a face I KNOW and feels that it is me and I do not have to pretend to be somebody else anymore. It really is a very nice feeling to identify with your own reflection in a mirror. Most people take that for granted and have probably not once thought about that.
For me it is a new experience and it feels wonderful.
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