Saturday, 28 February 2015

Does being trans really wreck your life?

I had a lot of reaction to my last post, mainly from friends via Facebook. The main query which arose was if being trans had really wrecked my life.

Well, given that most (we assume most) people just get on with being boys or girls, a few (we assume) have the eternal trouble of puzzling why they don't really feel comfortable in their allotted gender. For my part I have spent time each and every single day without exception since I was a toddler wondering if I'm really some kind of girl. Friends who aren't trans have marvelled that the issue should occupy any time at all, let alone so much of it.

On the strength of this I think that my life has been unduly odd and unfair. I have tried as much as possible in this blog to show other trans people and the world in general that you can make lemonade when life gives you lemons, that you can make something of this strange situation and be happy in it. That is, in part, up to you with the resources you have, be they emotional, material, or other. But, frankly, life would have been so much less stressful, fearful, exhausting, costly and weird if I hadn't been trans. The expense of having two wardrobes, the continuing fear of discovery by the wrong persons, the lack of official recognition and general understanding, the constant colouring of my thoughts and my interactions with others ... Why me? I guess what convinces me most that being trans, in any of its varied forms, is not a mental health disorder or perversion or lifestyle choice is the fact that I, like lots of others, don't want it and yet nothing I have ever done to change it, ignore it, or shake it has ever had the slightest long-term effect, unlike any other aspect of my life. I've changed everything else - views, location, decor, style, pastimes, etc. - but never this. Just like I'm unable to change my shoe size or height, much as I'd like to do that.

To cap this distress, five years after finally making it out into the big wide world and living and being treated as a woman, I now have a health condition that makes it impossible to do so. This is more than a blow. It's like Someone really really hates me.

Let us not forget the distress and depression, the dysphoria, the rejection, the abuse, threats and increased risk of violence that so many trans people suffer.

So what's good about being trans? Well, you do see things differently. To say "I see things from a woman's perspective" would be arrogant and false and I don't like it when some TGirls say this. That's not even something easily defined either. But I do distinctly have a less masculine approach, attitude and behaviour than average and my female friends (ones who know or knew only one side of me) marvel at some of the things I know about makeup and fashion and what the women's magazines are saying. Is that good? Maybe. I find women, in broad general terms, more giving and caring, more enjoyable company with more laughs and more thoughtful about important things in life like relationships and health rather than men's obsession with the footie score or career progression or statistics. That's a very brief and generalised observation, of course (through lack of time and space). Is that good? I don't know, but I like it. And I also like the better interaction I get from the public. People treat me better as a TGirl than they do as a guy. Maybe if I was 100% female they'd treat me really well. Most natal women would disagree at this point, I don't doubt. And the fact is I like things traditionally associated with femininity: flowers and soft fabrics, shades of pink, gracefulness ... a cliche maybe, but it's what I prefer. I also and obviously so much prefer women's clothes; being petite they fit me perfectly and are more comfortable and colourful and nicer to wear than men's scratchy, dull and samey stuff. Besides, my clothes are to me a badge of the club I'd rather be in. I've dressed as a woman most of my life, initially whenever I could get the chance, but in the last 20 years it's been every day and just the morning ritual of choosing something soft, comfortable and pretty makes me happy. It's always made me happy because it seems like the right thing to do to look better, feel right and say "hey, I'd like to be treated as a woman".

But then we come back to why that's a rare and weird thought.

Being trans has its joys. I do try to concentrate on those since it'd be better to enjoy this odd life than hate it. But I can never help wondering if it wouldn't have been better, certainly simpler, to have just been able to get on with life without this whole enormous difference in behaviour, outlook and treatment.

Sue x



  1. Sue having read your blog for some time now and I have only recently started to venture out of the closet, as people like yourself have given me the courage and inspiration to put my fears aside. Can I say your latest post is so true in many ways.

    thank you Helen

    1. Your comment is precious to me, Helen, because if I've been able to help or inspire or connect with anyone then I feel this whole blogging and event organising lark is worthwhile. So glad you are finding your own feet. As one nice old trans lady said to me very early on, once you have put aside your fears you won't believe what you are capable of. I hope you will soar. Sue x

  2. Hi Sue. I could not agree more with this post. There are ways to live with being trans (in my case, transsexual) without going all the way. I greatly respect your healthy attitude on a subject I have blogged about myself several times.

    I just featured this post on T-Central.

  3. Yes and no. Male that I have been for six decades. And female I have know myself to be @ the same time. I fought it, denied it, and fooled the most important people in my life. The past 4 or 5 years I have attempted to embrace the fact I am trans. And the life I know for 28 years has dissolved. My family is gone. I am alone and struggle still. A day @ a time. An hour sometimes passes that the thoughts about being who I am does not occur.
    Thanks for the read Sue!
    I know I am not alone really.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Pat. I'm so sorry to hear about your losses and I hope that life will improve for you again. Each of us has her own experiences, of course, and there'll be more or less common ground between different individuals. But it does seem to be true that spending so much time puzzling about our gender is a characteristic feature of our lives, if not the characteristic. Sue x

  4. Does being trans wreck your life? No, I don't think so. No more than being part of another minority does. Each comes with a particular twist or 'negative' that can put barriers in your way. Perhaps, it is what you do with the hand that is dealt you. So to speak :-)

    That said, I don't think it's easy being trans, but compared to some other labels/conditions (pick your cliché). Things like a serious medical condition, an abusive situation (home or work). Maybe it depends how far you are along the trans scale you are, if there is such a thing. Whatever your inclination or condition, if you cannot be you - you, as in your true self - then, I think that is the worst part of it.

    To have to bottle who you are, perhaps an atheist in a religious community, a gay person in a hostile 'straight' house, etc. That, I think is the teeth of the trap. Please note, that's not to belittle your, or anyone else's, feelings. Pain is pain. I don't think there's any benefit in an - if you pardon the next phrase - an emotional pissing contest of who is the most upset. It's trite, but that doesn't stop the old saying of 'pain is pain' from being true.

    L x

    1. Fair comment, Lynn. Some people suffer greater loss here than others, of course, and experience greater suffering. Some find a situation that works; others, sadly, don't. I think you and I have arrived in the better-off camp here, though by very different means. It's taken a lot of effort.

      You can be in a minority because of what you think, and there you have choices in whether to stay in that society, move, or change your views; or you can be in a minority because of something out of your control, and that's harder. I feel we get the harder deal as I feel that we don't chose to be trans. But the elusive answers as to what causes this state and how many it affects would, I feel, assist in determining the best approach. I think it's the not knowing or understanding, just having to be and adapt, that is bugging me. Sue x