2015 is done and dusted, and I cannot say that I’m not glad to see the back of it. The holiday season is not always an easy one, especially if you’re queer. For some of us, myself included, it might even be the time where we feel the loneliest. For a variety of reasons, this year has not ended on an especially high note for me, and so I’ve been a little unwilling to sit down and take stock of everything that happened during it, because I know my lens might be a little clouded right now. But here I am, hammering out a blog post, and trying to keep it as objective as I possibly can (despite the fact that, by its nature, it must be immensely subjective in the first instance).
For me, 2015 was the year that everything fell apart, and got put back together. And nearly all fell apart again.
It’s hard to even know where to start with all this. In the past year,
so much everything has changed.
A year ago, most of the world still thought I was something I’m not.
So, here we go, my year in review, presented in two parts because there is just so much to say:
I’m becoming desperate. I’m overworked and very stressed out. My dysphoria has been getting worse by the day, and I am desperate to start HRT. I feel like time is slipping away from me, and I’ll never be able to get it back.
I’m grateful, however, for the friends in my life. It’s the first New Year’s I’ve spent outside the house in many many years. I feel like I know who I am, at last – now I just need to start being that person.
For now, it’s one day at a time, however frustrating that feels.
It’s been years since I read anything recreationally. I start to pick up books again and remember how much I enjoy reading.
Four trans women murdered in America this month.
It seems like it’s taken far too long, but at last I’m ready to start taking the tablets that I’ve been starting at for the past two weeks. I’ve got all the prerequisites behind me now – blood tests, icky fertility stuff, it’s all done. Some nasty encounters with the medical profession have left me vulnerable and frustrated, but somehow I’ve survived them.
Laser treatment hurts like a bitch.
Now that I’ve taken that first tablet, the clock is ticking. Time to start coming out. Three of my closest friends, and my mom. I had no idea what to expect – and no amount of Googling “how to come out as trans” would ever have prepared me. The reactions varied, but surprise and confusion were predominant. I’ve been dealing with this for a while; it’s only fair to give the people I tell a bit of time for it to sink in. I know my life is going to change drastically, but even I can’t properly put that into perspective – how can I expect anyone else to?
Three trans women murdered in America, one in Canada.
More coming out. This time, to my brother. If I could have told him earlier, I would have, but I wanted desperately to do it face-to-face. His reaction takes me by surprise, and it hits me harder than I was prepared for.
The hormones are starting to work. My body hair is starting to disappear, and turn into peach fuzz. The bulky arms that I spent so much energy trying to grow, in the misguided hope that doing so would make me more comfortable in my own body, are starting to shrink away.
I treat my first trans patient at work; he is surprised at my empathy and my insight. I’m still very much closeted at work, so I daren’t say anything.
Two trans women killed in America – one of them, by the NSA.
Passover. The last time I ever go to synagogue presenting as male.
Coming out is proving to be strangely addictive. This time, it’s to my employer. I have a vague notion of the timeline that I expect to work to – if all goes to plan, I’ll leave my job in January, and start living “full-time” thereafter. The whole idea seems surreal to me still. That I might one day be able to live a life that fits… I don’t even know how that would feel.
I’m a lot calmer now that I’m on the meds. There’s less pressure, I don’t feel like I’m slipping behind anymore.
I begin going to speech therapy, because I’m intensely dysphoric over my voice. It seems like an insurmountable challenge, but I have to start somewhere.
Somehow, I must be starting to want to take care of myself, because I’ve started doing home yoga. I’m horribly inflexible. It gets better, right?
Caitlyn comes out and the whole world starts listening, for better or worse.
So much happens. I know that “boy mode” is horrifically uncomfortable for me, but I thought I was doing a good job of hiding that. Apparently not, because my friends are telling me they can see how ill-at-ease I am with it. It’s time to stop making excuses, and time to stop looking for reasons not to be who I am. The pressure has been building up for long enough, and it finally gives on a Saturday morning. I’ve spent the past few weeks removing old photographs and references from Facebook. Now, I log in, change the name on my profile and upload a bunch of photographs. Within minutes, the phone is ringing, friends on the line to congratulate me. I can hardly hold back the tears. So much love and so much support pours in, and I am so moved.
For the longest time, I was very accustomed to facing up to everything on my own, never looking for help or support from anyone else.
It took a lot of introspection and hard work and unlearning bad habits before I was strong enough to let anyone in, and to realise that the sign of true strength is to open yourself up to other people, to accept their love and their warmth, and to reciprocate in kind.
The past months have been challenging, and there are many challenges still to come, but I am fortunate and blessed and lucky to have such wonderful people on my team.
Thank you for giving me strength when I am weak, for drying my eyes when I cry, and for showing me the kind of love and understanding that overwhelms me each and every day. You are all my family, whether we are related by blood or not, and I love you all.
A week later, I go to Home Affairs and fill out all the paperwork. I’m subjected to a very public and uncomfortable interrogation before they will accept the forms. It’s invasive and humiliating, but it’s behind me. Evening comes and I celebrate, a dinner out surrounded by friends and family. My best friend is there, my mom is there, my brother is there, and so many other important people in my life. I’ve never felt like I was worth celebrating. This is uncharted territory.
After a month without reported murders, two trans women are killed in the USA.
So much happens. Again. Outside of work, I only present as female now. But the workplace is still where I spend most of my waking hours, and it’s getting harder to get out the door in the mornings without crying.
I’ve been writing about my story, and I’ve got quite a bit of it done. I’m about halfway to a full length book, and I’ve started sending it to publishers.
I post a lot on Facebook now, it’s as if I’ve suddenly found my voice that’s been missing for decades.
I have started thinking about my career, and I toy with the idea of specialising. I’m told by multiple different departments in multiple different universities that they aren’t ready to have a trans doctor working with them. It stings, but that’s the patriarchy for you. I’m a threat, by virtue of who I am. I’m kind, and sweet, and sensitive, and couldn’t hurt a fly, but I’m a threat. There are a lot of things the medical establishment doesn’t like – and trans people are among them. Whether as patients or as colleagues.
I take a lot of selfies suddenly, but there’s a reason for it.
People have started talking, and I can only imagine what is being said behind my back. I panic briefly when I find out, and then I calm myself down and deal with it all rationally. Again, I’m taken aback, humbled, and overwhelmed at the support I receive.
Work is becoming unsustainable. In truth, it has been for a while already. On the last evening of the month, I pack up my desk, and take my stethoscope home with me.
Caitlyn is on the cover of Vanity Fair, and everyone has something to say about it.
Marriage equality happens in the US, and suddenly everyone on Facebook is rainbow coloured, including the ones making transphobic remarks.
One trans woman is murdered in America.
Half year in review
My emotions have run the gamut in these 6 months. I’ve experienced intense dysphoria, and with it some pretty bad depression and hopelessness. And I’ve felt the mounting pressure to leave behind a life that was never mine and to just start living honestly, the way I am supposed to, whatever the consequences. Anything else is just… unsustainable. And things are not going according to schedule – my transition is imposing its own timeline on me, instead of following the one I had planned, but there is nothing I can do to stop it. I’m so tired of hiding, I’m so tired of being scared, I’m so tired of telling myself that I don’t deserve any better.
I don’t know exactly where I’m going, and frankly, that terrifies me. But I know that it’s somewhere, and I know that it’s better than here.
I wonder if I’ve been rash, hasty, if I’ve let things go too fast… and I remind myself that there was no other way. The alternative was quickly becoming unsurvivable. I did the only thing I could’ve done, and it was the right thing.
Sometimes even the right thing feels terrifying.
Read the second and final part here