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Identity transition

Only a few years ago, in 2019, I realised age 45 that I identify as transgender – androgynous to be precise, which comes under the non-binary branch of the transgender tree. I am still on a journey trying to figure out how to express this, and exactly what it means to me, and also more importantly exactly how I feel. Since then, I have cut off my hair and got a ‘male’ haircut. My clothes have also changed to more unisex and I wear more gender neutral glasses. And off course, I have really thought about it a lot.

I think that when I was younger, if I had received the support and encouragement I needed, I would probably have transitioned to male. But back then, off course this was out of the question, and I was forced to conform as soon as I hit puberty. This, and also massively the childhood trauma I experienced, led to lots of mental health issues, drug abuse and sexual- and domestic abuse.

Only now, I have the mental space and peace inside myself to start to address my gender identity. I accept my body now, as it is female, but I can’t accept the female identity. I still feel mostly male inside, but at the moment the androgynous identity feels best suited to my feelings. I don’t feel I have the strength and endurance to go through a full transition to male, it feels like a massive task to even think about. And, still, I am not sure that is truly how I feel. I do however, feel very confident in my new identity. But, I have no friends or anyone who I can relate to, and talk to about this.

Another aspect is that I am now confused about my sexuality. I have always had hetero sexual relationships, but only had one time I really fancied a woman, although I did not have the courage to make it known to her. Now I question how I feel. I really feel attracted to the idea of pan-sexuality, which means being sexually attracted to people, regardless of their gender identity. But the biggest obstacle in exploring this is that I have no social life to speak of, and struggle to trust anyone. There are so many aspects of me that are not conforming with the norm, I just don’t know where to start or how to find likeminded individuals even just to make friends with. Also my traumatic past is a major factor in this, I just feel I have nothing to fall back on, no reserve, no strong support network.

Basically, I feel I can’t afford to make any more mistakes in my choice of partner, also for my daughter’s sake who is struggling to accept even the idea of me getting another relationship. Well, with a man, cause as far as she’s concerned, she could live with a woman or other transgender person, but not a man. But my concerns are more about my wrong choices of partner, ending up in abusive relationships in the past. But now I have been single for about 7 years, and I really yearn for someone to share life with.

Luckily I have learned a few things over the years which could help me overcome some of the difficulties. I have learned that I need to put strict boundaries in place when I deal with people. And then, adhere to it myself which means that I have to make sure others and myself do not cross my boundaries. For instance, when I get to know a person I should not meet at my or their house the first time, or even the second time. I should not stay the night before I am certain this person will respect my boundaries, and is cautious to give me space to develop trust. This I find very difficult, and I tend to make lots of excuses why I should not stick to this rule, or why the other person doesn’t need to adhere to it, which undermines my self-care regime and sense of self respect. I understand this comes from my self-loathing and lack of self love. So to protect myself I have for years locked myself away in my house, and been quite stand-offish and put up a front.

This does no longer suffice. I am lonely and really suffer from lack of social interaction. At the same time though, the pressure is mounting inside me, because I don’t think I now have the skills to safely go out there and date, or even socialise. That is a dangerous situation developing there. What am I going to do?

For now, I try to reach out in safe places like my friends in the Socialist Party and carefully try to make friends at uni. I am in a few trans/non-binary groups but it seems there’s mainly very young people in there, and quite focused on physical appearance.

So, if any of you are in their 40’s or 50’s, are active socialists and interested in friendship, please get in touch ;).

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Coming Out

When I look back on when I was a child I never really fitted in anywhere. I very strongly felt wanting to be a boy. You can see in the photo’s in my earlier posts that I looked and dressed very much like a boy, but in between I had girl fazes. My parents never really made a big deal out of it but they didn’t really guide me in this either. I really didn’t like playing with girls, I was not interested in dolls and back then kids play was very much gender divided. I wanted to play with boys, outside, play football and war, and build dens. It was hard because the other boys in my street didn’t want to play with me because I was a girl, so with football I was always made to be the goalkeeper. I was a frantic reader and by the time I was 10 or so I had read every single interesting book for my age in my village library. I loved adventure stories and stories about the second world war. I read all my dad’s books from when he was a boy.

By the time I became a teenager I felt pressure from the outside world to fit in as a girl and I sort of automatically dropped the boy look. I think it was just too big a step to really question my gender to myself, without anybody pointing it out or showing me. But then a real struggle began because I grew a lot more body hair than other girls and my breasts didn’t develop much. I only started wearing a bra age 25 or so. I also had a lot of testosterone I think cause I was a very sporty person. I swam a lot, 3-4 times a week and a game of waterpolo in the weekend. I cycled a lot, 10-20 miles a day easy. I was very muscular as a result and had very broad shoulders. I am also 6 feet tall, which in the Netherlands is quite average for women, but here in England I am standing out big time.

In secondary school I started to get bullied. It got really bad, with kids beating me and I only had one friend. I struggled with how I looked, I felt a deep shame about my body hair, but despite that I kept swimming. It got so bad that my parents took me out of that school and I went to another, much smaller school. Here I really flourished. I had a whole group of friends, I got my first boyfriend there. But still I struggled academically and only just managed to pass my exams. To do this I worked incredibly hard, 4 hours studying a day. But it didn’t help, I just couldn’t concentrate and take anything in. My confidence in my ability to learn was at a low, I wasn’t interested in the lessons anymore and started to play up behaviourally. At home the crisis deepened. My sister left age 15.

Then I really became very depressed. And angry. I didn’t know what to do with my life, I wanted to go to Art College but didn’t have the grades, so I went for the next best thing. It only lasted 3 months. I walked away from home, from school, from my friends and started living in squats. The next 5 years I would be drifting, travelling, just really lost. My mental health got extremely bad, I was constantly in crisis. I tried to commit suicide, I had extreme violent outbursts and psychosis. I used a lot of drugs, alcohol.

During this time I experienced a lot of traumatic events, rapes, beatings and I even got drugged, gang raped and held against my will by a bunch of criminals who were involved in drug trafficking and prostitution. You can imagine I did not have time or the mental headspace to wonder about my gender or my mental health, I was just about surviving. I didn’t have any steady relationships, or any real friends.

Eventually it took decades for me to recover and get my life together in such a way that I was not just surviving. Only really the last 5 years or so I found the space to try and figure out who I actually am. So now, because my body and mind were basically giving up and telling me this is as far as you can go. Only then I realised I have to stop working, stop what I am doing and focus on all the trauma and figure out why I am stuck.

Eventually what happened was, I was working 45 hours a week as a lorry mounted crane operator and only saw my kids about 2 hours a day. My youngest really suffered with anxiety and needed my attention, but I couldn’t give it. I was a single parent for most of my kids life and always struggled so much with the emotional attention they needed. Then I started for the umpteenth time to suffer with back pain. Really bad. I struggled to work. I got sacked from my job. The back pain got worse. I worked for another 3 months, struggled to get work because I had to get my youngest to school first. I felt more and more depressed and my confidence got a real bad hit because I got sacked. And then I thought I have to stop, I can’t do this anymore. I thought I have to figure out why I have such back pain, and why I feel so down and exhausted. Well, my back I think is just bad because of the stress of working so much and being a parent with multiple mental health conditions. I have to admit to myself that I can’t do it. That I have disabilities. So then a whole period of reflexion started. And because I started to think about everything, I also started to think about my gender and question who I actually am.

I googled it. And I came across a Wikipedia page about androgyny. On that page was a link to a test about the gender spectrum. It did say, don’t take it too seriously, cause it only gives an impression but I found it very surprising and at the same time totally affirmative of how I felt.

My test result. I am the red dot.

That was 2 years ago. When I told my parents I didn’t get the reaction I was hoping for. My mother was outright dismissive when I suggested I might choose to start using the ‘they’ and ‘them’ pronouns. For the rest I can’t remember seeing much reaction from them. Then I told all my Facebook friends, and I had lots of positive reactions. But that was basically all I did about it, because that was right after I stopped working and I just didn’t have time to process it.

Now I am just starting my first year studying Criminology & Psychology and I have time to think about it. We’ve just been through the first Covid-19 lockdown with oceans of time. I listened to podcasts about being non-binary. And it made me think about how I express my gender. So, I’m taking steps. I am planning to cut off my long hair and get a more androgyne hairstyle. I am thinking about publicly announcing I want to use other pronouns. And then, see how it goes..

By Mayola 22/10/2020