Cardiac Physiologist Student and Trans Rights Blogger (they/them)
I'm a final year cardiac physiology student in Leeds. I'm non-binary / trans masculine and queer. I'm married to an amazing woman, the best ally I know. I'm parent to two cat-babies. I love being active, walking, climbing, gardening, running. I am passionate about human rights, especially the rights of trans people and LGBTQIA+ people. I'm a practicing Christian in an inclusive Church.
It is not my queer identity that causes my depression. I am more happy than I have ever been since I came out and found words to express my own identity. My wife was astounded by my forwardness and how comfortable I was with holding hands or kissing in public. I never had a second thought about it, my relationship with her was as natural as any I had with men
So many rhetorics around LGBT+ and particularly transgender identities focus on the difficulties and tribulations so I thought that I would share a story of hope today. Five weeks ago I married the love of my life, a cisgender woman, a lesbian. When we met almost three years ago I presented as female and, though I was beginning to question my identity I really had no language to explain it.
In this country children cannot undergo interventions for gender confirmation. They may get hormone blockers to delay puberty but they are not considered able to consent to hormones or surgery until they are 18. Young transgender people need to see trans bodies in transition, they need to see trans identities that don't undergo surgery but are beautiful.
So here we are, in the month of Pride all over the world. A month of declaring the rights of LGBTQIA+ people. A month of raising awareness, being visible and marching to change the world. To make the world a little more welcoming, a little more open, a little more understanding.
Every man is a taunt of who I could be. Every "ladies" directed to me is a reminder of the body that betrays me. I feel the stab of jealousy for signs of masculinity that I won't have; well fitting suits and strong shoulders. I don't know what it is, I don't know if it is that I hate being feminised and viewed as a woman so much.
Here I am, trying to be visible. I am trying so hard to live my authentic life right now, to live fully and honestly as myself. Yet every step I find myself telling lies. Not malicious, not "big" lies. But lies nonetheless.
So, Jenni Murray, and anyone else who says that trans people aren't not "real" men or women, just because I wasn't born with a body that you deem acceptable for my gender, it does not mean my gender is less important, that my experience is less real.
Top surgery, and in fact almost all medical interventions for trans* people are spoken about with such rose tinted glasses, it's hard to find a story about the difficulties or sad times. Particularly the social aspect of transitioning and the impact of surgery on these things. So rather than a simple before and after I want to share with you journey of this.
The reality of life as a non binary person is that of non-existence. That statement might seem dramatic, yet it is true. Certainly in some, if not all, areas of existence. The simple act of going to the toilet is one of deciding who you are; male... or female?
In a country where a trans* woman is jailed with men, we are not living in a country where trans* identities are considered equal or valuable. It may seem incidental, an accident, something you see in passing in the newspaper, but the story of Jenny Swift's death is a tale of how invisible trans* people are and how much work there is still to be done.
Instead the new year will bring a different kind of new me. I will fashion a new me from actions and words, a new form sewn out of relationships and strengthened with self confidence. I will endeavor to look in the mirror and like what I see, or find something each day to like. I will try my best to love more, to love stronger, to be kinder.
The 295 (at least) trans* people who were murdered this year alone were sons, daughters, siblings, friends, parents, students, teachers, lovers. They brought light to the dark places they stepped and their presence raised awareness. But they were deemed to be "other", to be "wrong", to be inferior and for that they were killed.
The problem is this... too often trans* people are reduced to their genitals and that sexuality is fixed not fluid. But those statements aren't true. Gender is not equal to genitals, and sexuality is fluid. So really, loving a trans* person is as simple as falling in love.
These seemingly small things slowly chip away at your self identity and self esteem. They undermine your identity, making you out to be not a "real" man/woman. They shake the foundations of who you are. Some off the cuff un-thought-of comments haven't just upset me but have made me questions my choices and the way I identify.
Body dysphoria is tough. It leaves you feeling flat and empty, or so full and overflowing with uncomfortable thorns in your side that you have no idea how to make sense of yourself. Imagine yourself, the gender you know you are, and looking down to see the body of another sex
Last week, over two days I experienced two separate acts of transphobia. It has taken me a while to process this and find the words to write about it. I could ignore it, I could move on and let it be, but I don't feel that I would be accurately describing life as a trans* person if I ignored the acts of hate or ignorance that become part of our daily lives.
Trans* parts in films are taken by cis people, most often it seems by cis/het/male actors who already reap the benefits of their privileges. They play these parts, show up for media interviews and yet, still, do not accurately depict or describe the experiences of trans* people. Why? Because they are not good allies.
So why come out? Why correct someone who says "the lady over there" and points at me? Why become vulnerable? Because, if I don't who will. Being vulnerable is also about being courageous. It is about being daring, being brave, standing up and standing out.
The perfect body doesn't exist, just as the perfect trans* person doesn't exist. We will overstep boundaries and make you feel uncomfortable until you come to realise that your recognition of your man/womanhood is not the be all and end all.
21/08/2016 20:12 BST
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