The question I want to try to consider is: where do I sit on the transgender spectrum? Am I transsexual or am I not? It's a really critical question for me to answer at this juncture, because I know that fear of the answer is what is holding me back from moving forward. I know there are lots of people who would say that if I have any confusion over it, then I can't possibly be transsexual. You have to hate your male body so much that you can't bear even one moment more in it and that's how you know. But there are other schools of thought too it seems.
So what do I know already? Probably the best place to start is to summarise my current thinking and issues.
1. I know that my life as a man makes me despair. I almost constantly wish I was a woman. At least every 20-30 minutes my thoughts turn to the fact I am not the gender I want to be and a part of me sinks as I remember it and I'm overcome by a wave of sadness. Even as I write now I could burst into tears of sadness. When I get to spend time as Rhiannon conversely I feel relaxed, happy and content. When someone mistakes me as a man, even when I am dressed as a man, it makes me feel even more sad inside. I feel like screaming that I’m not a man and that they need to understand. I physically feel an internal shudder within me when it happens. Why can’t they just understand that I’m not what I seem to be on the surface. Being a man all the time, hiding who I feel I really am tires me out. The thought that I would live a female life and be accepted in that gender, even now, puts excited butterflies in my tummy.
2. I know that I have always felt like this. 34 years is a long time to try to work it out. Since I was 6, I knew that I wasn't a "normal" boy. I remember the relaxation, happiness and joy I felt when we were able to use the dressing up box at school to put on dresses. I longed to be in school on dressing up day and to be wearing shorts so that I looked properly dressed when I put a dress on. I hated having my boy trousers sticking out of the bottom of a dress. But even at that stage I was hugely aware that this wasn't what I was supposed to do. Throughout my growing up, I did the same as many other trans people, I borrowed and took my mum's clothes before I started buying my own. Any chance I had to dress and to feel like a girl, I took it.
3. I know that transitioning would never be an easy prospect for me. On the outside, when I’m in man mode, I’m never mistaken as a girl. I get the feeling when I’m in girl mode at the moment that I’m not fooling anyone. I’m 5 11 and very fat. People notice me and don’t seem to have any confusion about what I am. Surgery, weight-loss, hormones etc would make a big difference I’m sure, but I need to recognise that I’m not one of the girls who will have a head start based on their body. That said, I have virtually no Adam’s apple and am very rounded and have been told that I have a certain prettiness. I know that inside me, the story is very different. I relate to the world in a non-male way and whilst people don't see me as female on the outside, when they get to know me, they very quickly behave towards me as they would to a lady. That doesn't make me a woman, but it makes me feel very caught in the middle. I rarely get people reacting to me in a ‘blokey’ way, I think my internal ‘femininity’ shows through - even if its in a fat suit.
4. I’m not sure whether or not I hate my genitals. I certainly dislike them a lot and would be much happier if I could have a vagina, but its not reached desperation levels quite yet. Over the years, I have learned to switch off my brain and to not feel anything towards my male parts. I’ve talked about my numbness before on this blog: I have developed a self-preserving survival mechanism. I don’t know whether it is the ability to numb my feelings that has reduced the hatred. I also am incredibly pragmatic and if I can’t easily resolve something, I move onto something I can do.
5. This is the one I’ve never really addressed on this blog. Is all of this just a sexual kick for me? A fetish, if you like. As you probably could predict, the answer is no. I am bisexual - I like both men and women sexually. When I am dressed as Rhiannon, the act of dressing does not do anything for me sexually. It just brings me a huge sense of wellbeing. However, the thought that a man finds me attractive and wants to be with me as Rhiannon is the thing I most crave. It is the thought or on a few occasions the actuality of that which does it for me. I can literally feel my heart racing when I think a man is enjoying seeing me as an attractive woman.
So there you go, that is my summary statement. The five things I know or have learnt over my 40-year long life about my gender. There is probably more - and certainly a lot more detail, but over the last few days as I have reflected on my situation, these are the things that have come to mind.
There was one other: the fact that I enjoy the things traditionally associated with a ‘female role’ in terms of UK societal stereotypes. I am much more driven by emotional relationships and connections and I have a strong nurturing and peacemaking side to my character as well as the things we laugh about like the fact that pink is my favourite colour, that I love cooking, shopping for shoes, reading chick lit, watching soppy films and I cry at everything. I even cried recently at an Enid Blyton book. I’m nosy, curious and ask lots of questions. Conversely I hate a lot of the opposite things often associated with male traits including and up to football, fighting and being laddish. I left it out as something I know about my gender, because how many of these things truly make you a woman? None I suspect. A stereotype is never a good yardstick. Many of them could just being conditioning: I feel like a woman, so I want to do things that mark me as being more associated with that gender.
Given that this is a really difficult topic, I asked a friend, Becca of the Muttering blog, who has herself successfully transitioned to read and comment on my blog before I pressed the button. She offered some really powerful insights which she gave me permission to replicate here:
“You really don't have to hate your body to be TS. You don't have to be trapped in the wrong body. Even if you do get a sexual kick out of dressing - forget that as well. Also, forget about the passing bit - whether you think it's an easy prospect or not. I tell you in time you will blend. You, (if you do this) could easily pass as female. Yes it will take time, it might need help but you can do this. I have seen pre pictures of so many woman and met many afterwards and they look amazing. Sure some still look a bit male but many don't and they are treated as and seen as female 100%. The reality is there is always going to be a time until you have practised enough when you might stand out - but so what? You were born male and have lived as male for quite a time - it's going to take time to unlearn and relearn. After a time you will forget you are playing any role - because you aren't. You are female.
The absolutely critical thing, what we are really talking about is the incessant desire to be female - Gender Dysphoria. What I can tell you is that presenting as a woman ~ (which for me turned into being a woman) - however much you need, will cure Gender Dysphoria. Period. The cure works. The question you need to ask yourself is whether the Gender Dysphoria is great enough to actually do something about it. Not whether you can pass, not how old you are, not how tall you are and not how healthy or big you are now. Is being happier in your life worth the potential cost?”
I need to now think, but am interested in what strikes you from all of that based on your knowledge of the subject or just your general views. Please be kind - I know that it is tempting to berate me - or to comment that I don’t seem woman enough to transition or whatever, but I am genuinely trying to think about this. Should I do this in such a public forum? Perhaps not, but my regular readers on here give me such sage advice and support, you are very wise people - and I’m interested in your views.