Being A Trans Woman But Living In The Male Role

Looking in the bathroom mirror one day, I knew that I should have been a girl. A strange though for a severn, eight or nine year old boy to have. I’m not sure when I began to “borrow” my sisters, mum’s, or cousins clothes. I didn’t think that they knew. I nearly got caught one day. My sister was downstairs and she said something to my mum. I just knew that mum was going to confront me. At that time I had “my clothes” under my matress, (I hadn’t brought any female clothing at this point, I was too young). Climbing on to the railing at the top of the stairs I lifted the loft hatch and put the skirt and tights inside. I then went outside as if nothing was out of the ordinary. I knew they wouldn’t search the loft.

I wasn’t confronted about my gender identity until I was 16. By this time I had a small collection of female clothing hidden in my wardrobe. My mum had gone into there one day whilst I was at school because of her suspicions about me. One day my step father approached me in a relatively understanding way. It was agreed that I could wear female clothing in my room. My mum was very unhappy about this, and she didn’t want to discuss it with me, although she tolerated it as long as I stayed in my room.

Skip forward.

When I was 20 I was having psychology for my mental health problems. I had tried to commit suicide several times, I was self harming everyday and I also had anorexia. During the sessions we would also discuss my gender identity, and I tentatively made plans to live as a woman. I was struggling to live at home in female clothing, and outside in male clothes. It was a painful experience. I wanted to live as a woman, but I was scared to do so at the same time. I’m an insular and self conscious person, with anxiety that becomes psychotic and paranoid. My psychologist and I made plans for me to transition during the winter, giving me the opportunity to prepare myself for this huge change in my life.

However, during September I decided that I was going to transition into the female role with immediate effect. It was a terrifying experienced which triggered extreme anxiety, and yet at the same time I felt liberated. I was now living an authentic life, which was a blessed relief for me. My cousin was fantastic, my mum was furious, and my father did the absolute best he could. He found it difficult but he did so much research on gender identity and what it means to be transgender. How amazing to have his support. I also had a close friend who was very supportive. I’m not going to go into all of my experiences at this time, as I’m gradually using this piece of freewriting to explore and express my experiences.

During the first sixth months of living full times as a woman I did not look convincing. Because of rushing the process I hadn’t grown my hair out, and trying to have a short feminine hair cut didn’t suit my face. On top of this I was experimenting with clothes and didn’t have the greatest wardrobe. I was training my voice without the aid of a speech therapist, and this was a slow process.

On two occasions during that first six months I got assaulted by gangs of teenagers. I also had some nice experiences where strangers would come up to me and say how courageous that I was, they wished me well. It was amazing that strangers supported me, but it was also painful, a confirmation that it was obvious that I was trans. Naturally this affected my anxiety and paranoia. I was traumatised.

Over time, living as a woman became more natural, people didn’t notice that I was different. I was accepted as a woman, and the voice training had worked so well that even on the telephone I was accepted as female

However, the trauma of those two assaults stuck with me, and I was terrified of being assaulted again. Sometimes I would walk down the street shaking and with tears rolling down my face. I feel sad to think I was so traumatised. Ultimately this paranoia was so strong that I decided to revert back to living in the male role. I say role because it was an act. It wasn’t me. But the anxiety and paranoia eased and I was more able to walk down the street and engage in some sort of life.

However, not living an authentic lifestyle was devastating. It’s hard to revert back to live in the male role when your a woman. My drug use increased, as did my self harm and suicidal behaviours. I took more drastic efforts to end my life, more severe than the overdoses that I had attempted before. Somehow my body will not let me die.

Living in the male role, having reduced anxiety and finding it easier to function, but experiencing the pain of not being true to yourself is so hard to explain. I cannot find the words to express myself at this point. Maybe one day I will come back and re-write this paragraph.

Over the years, with lots of therapy, I had improvements with some of my mental health, but would have severe and life threatening relapses. The amount of times my next of kin have been informed that I won’t make it through the night is shocking. How they have coped is beyond me. During one of these times, once I had regained consciousness and spent time with my next of kin and her partner, she spoke with me and made it clear that if I didn’t get help in relation to my gender then I would end up killing myself.

There have been times I have been able to wear female clothing at home, and times where I haven’t been able to. I’m not sure how to tell you, but it’s easier to live in denial than to be female at home whilst the rest of the world sees a male. There’s has also, at times, been some inner turmoil when I’m living in these mixed gender roles.

Over the years I have become more accustomed to living in the male role, but I can’t highlight any masculine qualities. I’m sensative, gentle, caring, in touch with my emotions, able to allow people into my life, able to support people emotionally. Are these feminine qualities, or are they masculine; aspects of the modern male?

I’ve lived so long in the male role but I can’t define what being a male is. However, I can say that right now I want to live in the female role, that I’m a woman in a man’s body, that I’m scared of becoming the woman that I believe myself to be. London is far more acceptance of difference, of gender identity and of transgendered people than the small towns and cities which I have lived in. London gives me the opportunity to explore my gender more fully. Counselling is the next step, and taking baby steps towards transition. I’ve started to wear nail varnish, blouses and pretty socks when I’m out. These are but baby steps, but they are steps that I am comfortable with.

Who knows what the future holds.

Spending More Time With My Camera

It’s such a relief and joy to have spent more time with a camera in my hand recently. Since coming out of hospital my energy and physical health have lowered opportunity and motivation to take my cameras out with me. Canary Wharf was the first Photography trip, and I’ve been out recently as well.

I’m getting used to my camera, settings and operation again. However, I feel my “eye” is good.

Here’s a couple of recent photos, taken on my Olympus OMD EM10 MK III

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

New Zealand Verses South Africa, And Other Points Of Interest

New Zealand against South Africa was a wonderful cricket match, and I had a great time with my friend P. I only took my phone with me as I am not ready to carry a big heavy bag around with me at the moment. Here are a couple of shots from the day, as well as one or two other recent points of interest.

rhdr

fznor

fznor

rhdr

fznor

fznor

qrf

hdrpl

rhdr

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Standard: When You Take Away My voice – Photo Video Featuring DJ’s From Mars

When You Take Away My Voice

When You Take Away My Voice

 

The photo-montage and photo video are my own work, and the music is provided by Dj’s From Mars. I am very grateful that they gave me permission to use their work. Thank you DJ’s From Mars.

You can check Dj’s From Mars on many platforms including:-

  1. http://www.djsfrommars.com
  2. http://www.facebook.com/djsfrommars
  3. http://www.instagram.com/djsfrommarsofficial
  4. http://www.twitter.com/djsfrommars
  5. http://www.youtube.com/djsfrommarschannel
  6. http://www.youtube.com/alieninvasiontv
Dj's

Featured On No Stigmas

No Stigmas is a mental health organisation who has the aim of helping people to develop peer to peer communities, to provide mutual support to others with mental health difficulties. They also provide training so that you can support your self as a self-advocate, and be part of strong peer networks.

Anyone with mental health problems can join and registration is straightforward.

As well as a little intro that I put together they linked to a poem that I wrote last year about talking myself back from a suicide attempt to reaching out for support. It can be seen here.

We are not alone if we have the courage to reach out for support.

A couple sitting on the steps of a church in Durham UK
Friendship
Two pairs of friends. walking along #the street in Durham, near to the Castle and Cathedral.
Friendship

No Stigmas

Anorexia

(click on photo for full size image) Anorexia is a serious psychiatric condition. 10 – 20% of people who have anorexia will die from this illness. If you, or somebody you care about, is concerned that you/they may have an eating disorder then please speak to your doctor, or seek guidance from a national eating disorder charity.

 

Reflections On Assignment Three – A Narrative Photograph – A Staged Photograph – When The fun Stops, Stop?

When The Fun Stops, Stop?

When the fun stops, stop?

 

My Motivation

Gambling addiction is a serious problem in the UK and unless you live with, or are a close friend of a person with a gambling problem, then it is hidden from society. Substance misuse and problem drinking are far more apparent to the wider public, than gambling is. The harms associated with problem gambling may include debt, non-payment of bills/mortgage/rent, risk of eviction, domestic abuse, arguments, relationship break down, loss of employment and severe mental health issues, to name just a few (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2014).

The Gambling Commission reports that 430,000 people have a serious gambling addiction and a further 2 million people are at severe or moderate risk of developing a gambling addiction (gamblingcommision.gov.uk, 2017).

Although I am in favour of the work provided by charities such as begambleaware.org, GamCare and whenthefunstops, I feel very strongly that the Government could do more to address gambling and the harms that it causes to individuals, families and communities. However, the Government receives £1.5bn in revenue from the gambling industry (Parliament UK, 2009), and to make a real effort to address the problem would both cost money and reduce income. It has a vested interest in appearing to address the issue, but I believe it has no intent on doing so.

My own personal opinion is also that “when the fun stops” is ineffective. It may have a limited impact upon those with a moderate risk of developing a gambling problem, but I do not believe that it has an impact upon those who have a gambling addiction. The other side of the coin is that their advertising is targeted towards a male audience, who out-weigh women considerably when it comes to gambling addiction, and uses male celebrities who endorse responsible gambling. Which ever way I look at it though, it’s treating a gaping wound with a sticking plaster.

Props

  1. Bankruptcy papers
  2. Newspaper
  3. Pen
  4. Cider Bottle

Staging

Point of view perspective from the person with the gambling addiction, highlighting how seriously gambling has affected their life, despite the seriousness of the consequences they still continue to gamble, drowning sorrows, help is available.

Composition

  1. Shadow of bottle points to “D-day for Buick”, and the horse – is itD-day for the gambler – carry on despite the consequences or stop?
  2. The pen dissects the “when the fun stops” advert from the racing form guide, and also points to “Lucky Beggar”. this is both ironic and potentially the motivating factor for the gambler to place another bet.
  3. Red and yellow “when the fun stops advert” is bright and draws the eye in, but is a small part of the overall picture, highlighting my belief that the visible pretense to tackle gambling addiction is a fraction of what is really going on.
  4. Insolvency papers at the foot of the photo, clear, crisp, and directly in the line of sight of the gambler – highlights a pressing issue, but the background highlights their cognitive dissonance.

Difficulties Faced

I wanted to make this shoot outdoors and somewhere which was sunny, and I knew that for the point of view perspective I would need a close shot. I feel uncomfortable around people at the moment because of poor mental health, so shooting in public was not easy. I began to shoot using my OMD EM10 MK iii, but even with the Mzuiko 14-42 I couldn’t get the shot wide enough to cover all elements. I switched to using my Huawei P10 smart phone, which gives me a wider field of view, and its a good camera. It shoots in 20MP Raw and has dual Leica lens.

My initial plan was to also have the phone open on a gambling app and have that as a prop in the scene as well. However, I couldn’t get the screen bright enough for it to be a relevent prop, and the extra element in the scene didn’t work either. It became an element that was there for the sake of pushing an idea, rather than being effective staging.

The bankruptcy papers had an individual name, the court case number and the Court which heard the case, none of which are appropriate to publish. This meant that obtaining a balanced and successful composition was difficult to achieve, and it took several attempts to achieve my desired outcome.

I cannot include the PDF contact sheets because they include some of the above identifiers.

Strengths

The idea and its exploration are strong and relevent, with problem gambling featuring in the news regularly in the UK. Because there was a period of time before the initial idea and the shoot, then the production technique and style developed over that time, so I had a very clear vision of what I wanted to produce, and I believe that the narrative which was important for me to explore comes across very well. The composition is something that particularly please me, and I feel that the use of props have created a balanced visual element which keeps my eye within the frame, and the pen and shadow have worked well for this.

What is also apparent to me is that I responded to the difficulties that I encountered, and worked around what was there.

All blog posts rom part three Communication: Narrative can be seen here.

Recovery

If you think that you may have a problem with gambling be aware that help is available and recovery is possible.

begambleaware.org

GamCare

http://www.whenthefunstops.co.uk/

https://www.gamblersanonymous.org.uk/

References

begambleaware.org

Daily Hansard; 2009; Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con); Online AT: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmhansrd/cm091105/debtext/91105-0021.htm (accessed on 21/06/2018)

Dr’s Boden, H and Sanju, G; 2014; Problem Gambling; Online AT: https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/problemsanddisorders/problemgambling.aspx (accessed on 21/06/2018)

Gambling Commision; 2017; Strategy 2018 – 2021 Making Gambling Fairer and Safer;  Online AT: http://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/PDF/Strategy-2018-2021.pdf (accessed on 21/06/2018)

GamCare

Other Viewed Material

https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2014/jan/08/uks-gambling-habits-whats-really-happening (accessed on 21/06/2018)

https://www.ft.com/content/c9da45f0-ee5f-11e4-88e3-00144feab7de (accessed on 21/06/2018)

http://www.whenthefunstops.co.uk/ (accessed on 21/06/18)

https://www.gamblersanonymous.org.uk/ (accessed on 21/06/2018)