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.

Sophie Lives – Exercise 1.13

Here are two sentences taken randomly from The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer (2013, p97) :

“In life there are milestones. Events that mark out certain days as being special from the other days.” 

Write these at the top of the page then fill the rest of the page with your own writing. Use Filer’s words to kick start the process of writing about your own milestones. 

In life there are milestones. Events that mark out certain days as being special from the other days.

It was August or September 2018. I woke up dizzy and found myself struggling to move. Visiting London was a positive experience in many ways, and I was due to change my Airbnb accommodation. I headed to King’s Cross with both of my back packs to catch the train towards where I would be staying for the next few days. As I got off the tube I felt sick, light headed and light heades. Taking my back packs off I leaned against the wall, almost in tears I felt hopeless. My thoughts were flickering between going home or staying on my holiday.

As I looked up I could see a young woman, who I presumed was homeless, going up to passers by and asking for money. As she approached me I figured that she was going to ask me for money. She looked at me in a kindly way and said “you look ill, is there something wrong? can I help you?”

This act of concern and kindness was just what I needed on that particular day. A thought crystallised in my mind “If this young woman who is so vulnerable and in desperate need herself, who didn’t ask me for money and wants to help me, then I need to accept that I’m ill, my Anorexia has me beat.” With that thought I decided that I would go home and accept treatment for my anorexia. That women’s generosity was my turning point and helped me to move into recovery from my eating disorder. It’s been a long journey and my life has changed in many ways. I still struggle with my eating disorder, and it has morphed into compulsive over-eating, but my eating disorder has improved and so has the quality of my life. Whoever you were I thank you and wish you the kindest of blessings which the universe can bestow.

Now try this with a book of your choice. Open it at a random page and read the first sentence that catches your eye. Once again, write it down at the top of the page and fill the rest of the page with your own writing. Make the page your own, although it doesn’t matter whether you write with that authors style, or in a style of your own.

Make notes in your writing diary about how well this went. Did you find the first part of the exercise easier because you hadn’t read the book?

There are two levels of social welfare protection – trusteeship and guardianship.” (Larsson; 2008; p209)

Sophie was horrified with the reality that she was in A and E and having to wait for a psychiatric assessment, she felt ashamed of herself and guilty for wasting so much of the doctors and nurses time. She had thoughts that other people were seriously ill and that they needed the medical attention that she had taken away from them. Waiting for the psychiatrist was daunting, seconds seemed to drag by. All she could do was think. She had never tried to end her life before, despite thoughts of this being a constant companion for many years. How could she explain what she had done, or the harm that she had suffered at the hands of Mark. Initially she hadn’t considered it to be domestic abuse, like thousands of other women she had always believed Mark’s words about how useless and pathetic she was, and how he had to put up with her failings. Deep in her core she knew he was right, and these beliefs were so intense tonight. Only a failure of a human being would try to end their own life. She knew the psychiatrist would judge her and believe it was all her fault. 

Make notes in your writing diary about how well this went. Did you find the first part of the exercise easier because you hadn’t read the book?

You can repeat this exercise countless times, using all your favourite books.

Rather than write my reflections in my writing diary I am going to add them here.

Two prompts, two pieces of writing and both of them felt easy. The prompt from Filer took me straight back to that fateful day in London during which I knew that my anorexia had taken over my life and left me unable to function. I’ve written a lot about my eating disorder over the past two years. I find it relatively straight forward to be authentic about this illness. I haven’t read The Shock of the Fall so I had no idea of Filers writing style, this gave me the freedom to write in my own authentic way. Auto-biography is most certainly therapeutic for me and has helped me to develop an online community, and readers who connect with and value what I have to say.

I have read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo previously, and was a book that I felt gripped by and the people and action was intense and believable.

There is less narration and more first person portrayal in Larsson’s writing style than there is in the buds of my potential novel Sophie Lives. I’m finding that I’m writing snippets of a book; ideas that can be built upon at a later date. Writing a novel is something completely new for me, and it’s hard to write more than little excerpts at the moment, but I’m sure that in time I will be able to take this further. I find the little passages are free-flowing and they come to me relatively easily, and I guess that’s because Sophie and I have had similar experiences; Sophie as an adult and me as a child. I’m really enjoying the process. What will help is for me to conduct research and read about domestic abuse and recovering from it; survivor stories. Although I’ve experienced many psychiatric assessments I don’t know how to describe these for the novel, nor how to write them in ‘first person’ speech rather than narration. I found the exercise to be quite enjoyable though.

References

Filer, N; 2013; The Shock of the fall; New York; Harper Collins Publishers; p97)

Larsson, S; 2008; The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo; london; MacLehose Press; p209

 

Winter Is A Bastard – Exercise 1.6

Spring is most definitely in the air despite the periods of relentless rain. Crocus and daffodils are pushing their necks out of the ground, and they are adding glorious pockets of colour to my days. Such joy. My mood is improving slowly but surely, I’m isolating less, and I’m having more clarity of thought. Gratitude is what I’m feeling as I write this short piece of freewriting (I adore freewriting, it’s shown me that I do have lots to write).

But winter is a bastard, an effing c of a nightmare that I often struggle to get through!

This year my mood dropped at the end of December, and my thoughts darkened. I began to obsess about suicide, and I researched methods on the Internet, and purchased some pills which I believed would end my life.

Motivation and pleasure from activities deserted me and I felt hopeless. Situations which involved close contact with others was a struggle and I avoided people. Ultimately I was overwhelmed and tried yet again to take my life. Disappointed that I didn’t succeed, but the disappointment that I tried to end my life pushed me into accepting help. I’m now attending a therapeutic day unit. It’s a short term program for a few weeks, enough to get me through until I am able to keep myself occupied and productive.

My energy always improves in the spring. If only I could hold back the self destruction long enough to get me through to the lighter, brighter and warmer days.

My thoughts are much clearer now, and I am enjoying my studies. I had my coursework for over a month before I could even open the folder. Eventually I realised I had to just begin the first exercise, I couldn’t wait until my motivation returned, I had to simply take action without expectation. I’m so grateful that I did because I find it has brought joy and satisfaction into my daily life.

I’m looking out for signs of spring now. I’m not waiting for motivation I’m acting as if I’m motivated, and I’m finding signs of spring right now. Recovery is action. Hope is important but I can’t hope my way into feeling better, I have to put the effort into hunting for joy and gratitude.

If I Didn’t Have Paranoia – Exercise 1.6 – Freewriting

If I Didn’t have paranoia… I would aim to live in the female role again, and would save up for laser hair removal on my face. I find it interesting that I hate my legs when in the male role, but in female clothing and tights I find I have lovely legs that are slender and feminine, although my belly is still fat. I’d like to live in the female role, but I’m scared that I would be attacked. It wS hard to revert back to living in the male role, but I’ve become used to it now. I’ve learned to consider myself as being gender fluid, although deep down I consider myself as a trans woman. It would be nice to be Helen again.

If I didn’t have paranoia I would feel safe and secure, not have images of me and my home being attacked and feel safe in my home. I would like to be able to live freely and not live in fear for my life. I’d like to recover from ptsd, but I don’t know how to do so. Life would be more fun, and I wouldn’t have all my little measures to feel in control. Currently I feel the need to avoid the number 6. I have to have my TV volume set on 17 or 22, I finish the day by having either 4 or 8 puffs on my e cig and I have to get my clothes ready for the next day in the evening. I also feel the need to continously pray throughout the day and have my medication boxes with all of the labels facing the same way. It’s ocd, but my ocd doesn’t come out in hand Wasing and tidying and cleaning kind of way. If I don’t do these things then I get anxious and scared that me and my home will be attacked. It’s exhausting and frightening to live like this.

If I didn’t have paranoia I wouldn’t become anxious when I hear the sounds of my neighbours talking, and I wouldn’t thin that they are talking about me. I wouldn’t need to either turn up the TV or wear ear plugs so that I can’t hear them; and I wouldn’t think that when they talk they are talking about me.

My paranoia is self centred and self obsession, but I can’t help it at the moment. Maybe one day I will feel safe and secure but I don’t hold out much hope. My paranoia, when it becomes severe, leads to suicidal ideation , and I make attempts to end my life. I get so scared that I am going to be harmed. I get a strong fear of pain, and I would like to die peacefully. That’s why I overdose rather than jump off a building or poison myself or jump in front of a train.

Trafalgar Square – Exercise 1.6

Now try this using a topic of your own choosing (e.g. childhood, ambition, favourite places).

I wrote the following by hand and am now typing it up.

 

Trafalgar Square means so much to me, especially after last summer. I had a relapse with my eating disorder and my mental health in general. I became paranoid and suicidal, and I believed that all of my neighbours were plotting to kill me. I was terrified of being in my home, and whenever I was I would wear ear plugs so that I couldn’t hear their muffled voices. I had to get out as soon as I could in the mornings, and not come back until the evening. I visited many places, a wildlife park near to Canada Water, Woodbery Wetland, a Wetlands near Tottenham Hale, Alexander Palace and many other places beside. However, my favourite place was Trafalgar Square. I would take a book and buy some carbonated fruit water from the tesco metro nearby. Some of the time I would sit and sunbathe while watching people, other times I would sit and read. Trafalgar Square was my refuge. I look forward to the return of the warmth so I can si there again.

 

Sophie Lives – Exercise 1.3

Get writing with emotion by choosing one of the two subjects below:- This lit up my day or This darkened my heart. Such writing may become very emotional, so before you begin remember that you won’t ever have to show anyone what you’ve written if you choose not to. It is always up to you what you send to your tutor. So you can write deeply… emotionally… without concern. As previously, read it through, enjoy your writing, but don’t try to change this for now. 

“Oh for fucks sake, I’m not supposed to have woken. Can’t i get anything right” Sophie thought. “I’m supposed to be dead”. She lay still underneath the cotton colours, a musty smell hung in the air. A tear trickled to her nose from the corner of her eye. She lay there empty, feeling defeated. Her heart crushed and barely beating.

Tears turned into breathless sobs, snot running down her face. She didn’t care how she looked, her mind with desperate thoughts of death. The room was beggining to get lighter as night turned into yet another bloody day. Death doesn’t come easy to some people.

She wiped her nose on the sleeve of her jama top, pulled her hands down over her forehead, ensuring her finger nails dug deep into her skin. It’s bizarre how trauma can leave the victim feeling an urgency to harm themselves. She didn’t care about the pain, or how others may react to the scars, not anymore. She used to be self conscious about the marks on her skin, the occasional stare, but now she was oblivious to it. Her life didn’t matter. Fuck it. Fuck off.

Sophie felt the urge to go to the bathroom, decided against getting out of bed. The sensation of warm urine turning cold against her skin turned to a fug of wet fabric against her legs. Depression. Overwhelming depression, wrapped in a venomous self hatred.

I’m not sure if I was meant to write fiction or prose so I just went with the flow. I’ve stopped at this point, but feel this passage is something that I may be able to return to at a later date. 

Thank Fuck It’s Nearly Spring

To be honest it’s been a hard winter. I lost all interest in the people and projects that matter to me, and getting through each day has been a chore. A pointless effort with no reward. I’ve been in a very dark place, I’m still there on many levels.

However, today I felt some spontaneous hope. As I left home to attend counselling I realised it was light. The bus journey was diverted, and I found myself feeling excited to be living in London.

The past week I haven’t felt anything positive, but I have been putting the effort into positive behaviour. I’ve undertaken some photography for a long term project, I’ve read through some of my course literature, and I’ve undertaken a little writing yesterday and today.

Spring is just around the corner, and I’ve been looking for signs of it:- the growth of my trees, lighter afternoons, crocus and daffodils emerging, trees budding, and winter flowering cherry.

One of the things that true for me is that I have wonderful friends, and I seek additional support for my mental health. But life has still been a struggle.

Spring is a time of greater joy, energy and enthusiasm for me. Come on spring, please hurry up.

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My Eating Disorder Recovery – Latest Update

My thinking around eating has been disturbed this week. I have experienced an intense desire to stop eating and to lose weight. Partly this has been triggered by a drop in my mood and energy, but my weight gain hasn’t helped either.

I’m on an anti-psychotic because I experience severe paranoia, and this medication affects my metabolism. Consequently I have put on an amount of weight that isn’t usual in anorexia recovery, and is affecting my self esteem. I don’t want to keep putting on weight, and I dare not come off of the medication. I took myself off of it over the summer and the paranoia, anxiety and suicidal ideation were unbearable. I can’t exercise because of my heart condition, and I must eat the quantities of food as agreed with my nutritionist so that I maintain good health. I feel a bit trapped to be honest.

My mood has also dropped, which I believe is common for many of us during the winter months. My thinking has been quite dark, with an increase in rumination and suicidal ideation. But I can cope with this as long as I stay meaningfully occupied. Although this hasn’t been easy to do over the past week, I have fumbled my way through.

Life is complicated. I have a few quite serious health conditions, which affect my physical and mental wellbeing. But hey, that’s life. Each of us on the planet has our own set of complications that we need to face on a daily basis, and we all have ups and downs with these.

What do I need to do in order to cope with mine? Firstly, the above attitude is the right one for me to adopt. My difficulties are no more or less unusual than anyone else’s. I can’t afford to think that I’m worse off than others as that kind of thinking is the start of a slippery slope that’s dangerous for my mental health. Secondly, I need to keep eating the same amount of food, and to see eating as being the same as taking medication for my mental health. Thirdly, I need to stay meaningfully occupied. Fourthly, I need to make sure I also have adequate rest. My heart condition is now causing fatigue and I’m needing to rest for longer periods during the day.

Life is a balancing act, but there are definitely things that I can do to stop myself from slipping off of the tightrope.

If you have an eating disorder – recovery is possible, speak to a family member, someone you trust, a doctor, or search google for an eating disorder service in your country.

United Kingdom

BEAT

Men Get Eating Disorders Too

United States

NEDA

Canada

NEDIC

India

The Minds Foundation

Australia

NEDC

 

Watching Aircraft At Heathrow

I’m not comfortable with the fact that I love watching Aircraft as much as I do. The climate emergency is real, and its getting worse day on day, and aircraft are the third largest fossil fuel polluters worldwide. I’m very concerned about the environment, and I also enjoy watching aircraft.

I experienced intense paranoia and suicidal thoughts during the summer, and I was too scared to be at home during the day. It has eased off now, but during the summer I just had to get outside everyday. I went to Heathrow Airport on one of those summer days, and watched aircraft flying in and out of the airport. Here are a few photos from that day. You can click on the photo’s for a larger view if you wish.  Unfortunately, I do not know what types of aircraft the are, sorry.

 

 

 

The Listening Place

Face-to-face support for those who no longer feel life is worth living

The Listening Place is a London based charity who provide face to face support for those who feel life is no longer worth living. I do not believe that I would be alive if it hadn’t been for the support of The Listening Place.

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My initial contact was a self referral over the telephone, followed by a face to face assessment at Meade Mews. It felt more like an informal chat about my current difficulties.

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The next step was recieving a phone call to confirm that I was being offered support, and a date for the first session. Sessions are once a fortnight, same day, same time and with the same volunteer. After six sessions there is a review to see whether support is still required.

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It’s OK to arrive early and sit in the small but beautiful gardens, and I’ve needed time after a session to sit in the peace and collect my thoughts before getting on with the rest of the day.

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Thankyou to you all at The Listening Place.

The Listening Place 0203 906 7676

referrals@listeningplace.org.uk

listeningplace.org.uk