It’s weird to think it’s been just two years since I started blogging about my gender, two years this month to be exact. I’ve mentioned before how I don’t really have a transition date or a set milestone, because my decision to transition was a long and slow process that lasted years. But starting the blog is a milestone date in a way. At the time it represented the moment when I knew something had to change, that the years of bargaining with my feelings and delaying decisions were over. I knew I was starting something new, even if I wasn’t quite certain it would end in transition. It was when everything got brought to the forefront.
This week two years ago, I sat down one evening and wrote:
‘When finding the definition of transgender as a teenager, I adopted a desire to instantly change and it never left. But things are a lot more complicated than that, there is no instant change. Social, financial and emotional factors mean that transitioning has not been my immediate goal for a long time.
I don’t know what the real solution or real answer is going to be. Thus this blog, to help me vocalise my thoughts and reach my conclusion.’
Well, evidently I reached a conclusion. After a lot of thinking and reflection, I decided to bump transition back up to my number one goal and I’ve not paused since.
Reading those early blog posts it’s clear there’s one overwhelming emotion that had rooted me in place for so long: fear.
On that same day I opened the blog, I also wrote this about transition:
‘I want to do it, but I don’t know if I have the hide to weather the results and fight through the fear. But how much of the fear is real and how much is just conjured from conjecture and imaginary situations that may not hurt as much as I think they will? It would be awfully tragic to let fear of an illusion stop me from becoming myself.’
Awkward flowery language aside, I think I had a good point at the end there. At the time I was writing the blog entirely for myself, it was my diary. I was trying to articulate my feelings and just write from my gut, to stop ignoring what I knew about myself. Looking back I was clearly aware that what I wanted was at odds with my perception of how difficult it was going to be, but I knew that might just be irrational fear talking.
At the time I was trying to decide if being uncomfortable, but inhabiting a safe and predictable life, was better than risking it all for what I wanted. I remember speaking with my counsellor and saying what I’d been wrestling with was essentially the fear that I would transition but everything else in my life would be wrecked as a result, leaving me feeling like it wasn’t worth it. I was trying to use logic to quantify transition.
My epiphany moment was realising that transition isn’t logical. Nobody with a purely logical perspective can look at transition, see all it entails, all the risks it brings, and think that it looks enticing. From the outside transition looks ludicrous. It’s something you do because it’s right for you, and you know it’s right because, in any way big or small, you just want it. You don’t make that decision with your head, you make it in your gut. That’s how I decided I was going to transition.
Afterwards, the more I moved towards and through transition, the more I realised it was completely worth it, without a doubt.
It’s not just about feeling better in who I am, but about the absence of a weight on me every day. Everything just feels so much more worthwhile, I feel alive after never knowing how truly numb I was before. That overall change cannot be weighed against the individual negatives and difficulties transition has brought, because they’re nothing compared to it.
Since then I’ve seen that familiar fear in a lot of people. I can’t count the amount of folk I’ve spoken to in the last 6 months who’ve said to me they want to transition, but they’re scared it won’t work out, or it’ll be too difficult. I know some people will stumble across this blog post that are in that position themselves. I want you to know that I hear you, you’re not alone in how you feel.
If you’re in that position yourself, weighing up transition, then I can’t help but want to immediately reassure you. However it has to be said that I am (relatively) young and I’m white, those are two things which I must acknowledge whenever I talk about my experiences with transition. Furthermore, everybody’s transition is unique, nobody has exactly the same set of issues or encounters the same problems. What I can say at least, is that the reality of transition is often nowhere near as scary or disastrous as we predict, because many of us fear the absolute worst possibility.
Something to remember is that cis people don’t consider transition. If you’re thinking about it, chances are you’re going to do it sooner or later. Because it’s not logic that’s driving that thought, it’s something in your gut.
The thing I also have to stress, is that transition isn’t necessarily medical. Your transition can be as simple as changing your name and pronouns to ones that better fit, that’s it. I think at the start many of us feel overwhelmed by everything ahead of us, but transition is just about finding the best way to be you, one step at a time. For me transition was a constantly evolving process, you could argue that it began years ago when I started using “they” pronouns. Although I eventually settled on “she” and opted to start HRT, my earlier experience was an important part of exploring what was best for me. You don’t really know until you try it.
Two years ago, and for years before that, I wasted a lot of time trying to predict potential problems transition would bring. When the time came some of those scenarios never even happened. Others did, but I’ve just handled them one at a time, asking for help when I needed it and pushing on. Some hurdles I never saw coming at all. None of them have felt as world shattering as I dreaded they might feel.
I remember the quote “feel the fear and do it anyway” having a big impact on me. It helped me realise it’s okay to be afraid. Transition is scary, but that’s not a reason to not do it. Sometimes you just have to throw logic aside and do it anyway.