Transition dilemmas…a road to a new you?

Well I wasn’t going to write anything today. I wasn’t going to discuss myself or my journey really. However, I saw this on my facebook and decided that my power is in sharing my story. 13255904_10156877544070277_2856371981076323372_nToday I went and talked to a cosmetic surgeon about having a double mastectomy, or top surgery. Not every trans person wants medication interventions such as hormone therapy or surgery, and not every trans person wants the same intervention. But for me, my breasts have been a part of my dysphoria since I hit puberty (though I may not have been able to articulate that until much more recently). I developed early and fast and was a big chested teenager. My chest attracted attention most places I went. On a fancy dress night out for my 21st birthday I dressed as Wallace from Wallace and Gromit (yes cords and slippers too!) and despite wearing nothing revealing I was groped multiple times in a university club. **I do not in any way suggest that the clothing of a person invites abuse or makes it acceptable** I have been followed whilst walking home and had to hide in a 24hr Macdonalds. I have had men shout lewd and disgusting comments as I run. I have received unwanted sexual messages from male colleagues. I hated my chest and, for all those years, I hated it because of the attention it drew.

When I began to find words to describe my gender, when I found the confidence to begin to bind my chest, I realised it wasn’t the attention I hated. But the object of the attention. I hate my chest. I have had thoughts of harming myself, I have fantasised about removing them myself, and now here I am with the possibility of making that a reality.

The problem is this though. In the UK, as in most other countries, it is not as easy as saying “HEY, I don’t identify with the gender doctors assigned me at birth” and getting the intervention you want. No. You have to go to a GP and cross your fingers that they will take you seriously and refer you to a gender clinic. Then, you are put on a waiting list. My local GIC (Gender Identity Clinic) now has a waiting list of 4 years…4 YEARS….for an initial appointment. Tell me, what other medical condition would you be expected to wait that long to see a health professional? None. So there I am, on the waiting list….(I requested to be referred elsewhere with a shorter waiting list in the end)…and finally I have an initial appointment. This. Is. Terrifying. As a trans person, you are expected to go to this appointment, be asked probing and personal questions about topics such as sex, masturbation, genitals, body image, mental health, self harming, child hood trauma etc etc etc…and then it is once again a moment of cross your fingers and hope the Doctor agrees with you that you are suffering from Gender Dysphoria. Luckily for me, the doctor diagnosed me. I know one trans guy who had the doctor at his first appointment tell him that he wasn’t displaying the signs of transsexualism. (What even are they??).

So now, I’m waiting for a second appointment. Because as a trans person you need 2 qualified doctors to agree with what you know to be true (you are trans) and then you can start interventions. For me, this will be surgery. Top surgery. I wont be able to have hormones for other health reasons. But not I am in limbo, waiting for my second appointment to see whether the NHS will offer me the surgery I need. It is not a “cosmetic” procedure. For many trans people these surgeries are necessary. Unfortunately the waiting lists are long, the hoops to jump through are extensive, and many don’t make it to the goal. If I am not trans enough, I will not get help. If I had cancer, and the same process was implemented, there would be uproar, petitions, government lobbying….Have you ever seen a petition about trans healthcare services? I doubt it. We are expected to get on with it, to wait or seek private options.

And that brings me back to today. I went to see a private cosmetic surgeon about top surgery because I cannot be sure that the NHS will offer me the surgery. Because I am non binary and I might not be trans enough. Because the waiting lists are literally life threatening…because we are invisible and our fight is not seen.

REMEBER: Your silence contributes to someone else’s struggle. Speak, so we can all be free. Love so we can all be liberated. The moment is now. We need YOU.

 

LJ x

 

 

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A word about pronouns and gender non binary

When I introduced myself I said that I’m a queer NB (or queer enby) and I use the pronouns they/them. I’m aware that for some people this is weird, or some people would even say incorrect.

There are plenty of people who identify outside of the gender binary though. (By that I mean that gender is either MALE or FEMALE and nothing else). I know people who identify as agender (without gender), genderfluid (moving between feeling male or female), and third gender (another gender entirely separate from male/female). And for those of us who do identity outside of this gender binary it is important that the way people refer to us, and talk about us, doesn’t misgender us. Because of this we have pronouns that a gender neutral, and don’t identify us as male or female. Personally, I use they/them. This is used in the english language already..take for instance “did you speak to the doctor?” “yes THEY said I need an appointment”. See? it’s already written into our language, it’s easy! I know that others use ze/zir/zirs or v/ver/vers, they beauty of living outside of the gender conformity is that we can make up our own rules!

When I came out on my facebook page asking for people to respect my pronouns a (no longer) friend began a barrage of abuse, claiming that if I was neither male nor female I was an “it” and therefore he would refer to me as “it.” IT. IT?!?! Imagine how you would feel if someone used the wrong pronoun for you (he if you’re a woman and she if you’re a man) and when you corrected them they said THAT ISN’T VALID I’LL CALL YOU IT.

When you refuse to use a person’s pronouns (I will NOT say preferred pronouns, they are not preferred, they are the only way you should refer to us), you are saying that their (see it really is easy to use singular they!) identity is invalid. You are saying that you do not respect them. You are saying that you do not value their existence unless it fits in with your version of reality. If you call yourself an ally then you had better be ready to use the right pronouns and fight for your LGBT* friends to have the right pronouns used too.

Maybe this seems dramatic…“oh the campish queer is being a drama queen again”…it’s not. I will continue to fight for my right to exist in the only way I now how. As me, a queer non binary person. And if that upsets you, well you can close your eyes, put your fingers in your ears and bury your head in the sand. You are not my ally.

 

 

 

 

Faith and Queerness

Hi, so a little introduction; my name is LJ and I am queer. Now that term is pretty ambiguous, which suits me but makes people ask some rather probing questions…yes I guess you could call me bisexual but I don’t think there are only two genders so bisexual doesn’t fit. I identify as non binary genderqueer and use the pronouns they/them, so you see I can’t be gay or straight. I have always known I was queer, however I didn’t know there was a word for it, I didn’t know people could be trans or non binary, I didn’t know people could be bisexual. So I have spent a lot of my life feeling like a square peg in a round hole. When I first stepped into a church by my own choosing as a 19 year old I felt like I had found my place. This was a group of people filled with passion and ideals that seemed to fall alongside mine, passion to help one another, to share, to live in community and help those less fortunate. These people loved God in a way I could love him too. I threw on the cloak of Christianity and forgot my queerness as it didn’t belong in this life. Unfortunately the churches I had experience of as a new Christian were those that seemed liberal but held very negative feelings towards queer people. A woman having an affair with a married man was far better than a monogamous gay couple (before you ask, yes this did happen). So you see, I threw myself into this identity and revelled in the love and acceptance I found. I continued to have heterosexual relationships and live as a women, all the while feeling slightly uneasy. Finally aged 25 I came out to my mum in a tearful midnight conversation. I told her I am attracted to men and women and breathed a huge sigh of relief. Six months later I came out again, as non binary. Since I came to faith as a 19 year old I have wrestled with the questions of sex before marriage, same sex relationships and transgenderism. I have questioned friends, scholars, I have read books and articles and the Bible, I have prayed and prayed and prayed. In each instance I have found myself coming back to the same truths….God loves ME. God knitted me together in the womb, therefore He knew what He was getting with me…and each day He still chooses to love me. The question now is, do I let Him love me as I am? I have now found a church where I can comfortably be “me”. In fact the first conversation I had with the vicar was that I had struggled to settle anywhere as I am in a relationship with a woman, his response; “you’re welcome here”. Being a Christian doesn’t mean life is easy. It doesn’t wave a wand and make the difficulties disappear. In fact, sometimes I feel like this is the tough choice. Most recently I have found myself almost dreading introducing myself to new people in Church. I am known there by my deadname and she/her pronouns, and every time I hear my old name called my insides go cold. I don’t know how to begin the conversation about my gender, or how to explain non binary to a group of people who I assume (perhaps wrongly) have no experience of LGBT communities, language, gender ….However I remind myself regularly that whenever I do come out, however difficult that will be, God loves me. And, now more than ever, I am beginning to love me too.