Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Hurt, Acceptance and Hurt

I've said this before but it is worth repeating: being transsexual really messes up your life. It hurts those around you, your family, friends and ultimately you. Really and seriously, this is not something to do unless you are really, really, really sure it is the only way. One of the things that causes hurt all round is lack of acceptance.

In some ways the word "acceptance" in the context of transsexuality seems to imply quite alot, usually everything to one person and too much to everyone else. What a trans person ultimately wants is to be accepted totally and completely for who, and what, they are. But there is a more subtle and possibly more important part of acceptance and that is simply about dealing with reality. And maybe, to go one step further, to be objective about this rather than being swayed by prejudice, rumour, hearsay and downright myth.

I can't imagine what it is like for those close to me to have seen how I have changed from what they were use to into what appears to be a different person. I obviously feel I desperately need and want this transformation but they must feel equally strongly that they want me to be as I was. Not being able to at least acknowledge that this is what has and is happening just leads to hurt for everyone; for them because they will always be feeling the sense of loss and frustration and never moving on, and for me I just get treated like an outcast, and blamed for everything no matter what.

Being treated as if you are evil, wrong, purely selfish, inconsiderate, thoughtless, uncaring and unfeeling is horrible. Being ignored and your transition/gender disregarded with no hint that the issues you have are real is equally frustrating and upsetting. Being treated as if you are not a responsible, caring, and loving parent is also cruel and unwarranted.

All of the above sounds extreme and almost like life is a constant battle ground and that these issues are constantly apparent but that isn't the case, the problems are more subtle and insidious. All sorts of justifications can be used by those who don't accept what is happening and this can spiral out of control to the point that everyone involved is hurt, worst of all those who are vulnerable and ultimately will be upset and scarred the most.

I don't know how else to explain any of this without just ranting and getting more upset and frustrated. I know my transition has not been a pleasant thing for some but I never, ever, ever meant any of this to hurt anyone nor have I done this out of malice or even from some secret and devious plan. It has just happened, it's just how I am, it really and truly can't be helped and I am utterly sorry that people have been hurt because of it.

Acceptance, just a small amount of acceptance of what this is and what I am going through. Please.


Melissa said...

God love you sweetie, whoever, or whatever God may be! You do know, you always have us, don't you? We who are like you, will always understand you! But there are others too!

But please, you are under no moral obligation, to live your life the way your family and friends expect you to. Your only moral obligation to them, is to be true to who you are. Their lack of acceptance is not your problem, it is theirs, and you should harbor no guilt over it. Your life belongs to you, not them.

Back in the eighties, while still working, we were all sent to a local hotel conference room for several days, to watch videos of a motivational speaker. (I know, motivational speakers.....blah, blah, blah, but wait! Please bear with me.) One of his themes, was acceptance of others, who are different from us. He related his story, of encountering a man who carried a leather shoulder bag. This was something he was not used to seeing males do, and the first thing that popped into his mind was not leather shoulder bag, but PURSE! How in the world, he thought, could a man walk around carrying a purse? But the man was confident, and exceptional in both character and competence, and soon our speaker had an epiphany. The shoulder bag, or purse as he thought of it, was not the man's problem, it was his problem! He was the one who was having a hard time dealing with it, not the man who was carrying it. Suddenly he realized that we are all different, and in spite of our differences, we all have a contribution to make. That epiphany, caused him to to overcome his homophobia, and although he didn't mention it, I suppose his trans-phobia as well.

The point is, you can't, nor should you go around living your life to please the narrow interests of others. You know who you are, and what you should be, they don't. So while it is perfectly legitimate to feel a degree of pain over their lack of acceptance, you still have an inalienable right to be you, and should never ever feel guilty, for their discomfort! The discomfort they are feeling, is the weight of their own conscience bearing down upon them, not some horrible affliction you have subjected them to. Their ability to deal with their discomfort and overcome it, will be the key to their own epiphany. Hold your head high girl, and carry on!

Melissa XXOO

Anonymous said...

Hi Fiona,

I was directed here by a comment from Melissa on Chrissie Rourke's blog. What you say here is truly saddening and discouraging, but ultimately, what you say about not being able to help who you are is the bottom line of it. If my mother were still living, I think she would have accepted me as a trans woman, but I know that my father, who is still alive, would simply think I was an abomination (a word he already applies to gay people). But he's given me little in life, anyway, and while I mourn the father I wish I would have had, I have many friends who are very accepting & encouraging of my path toward transitioning. These people help me feel normal, and real -- real for the first time. I have concerns about how this may affect my employment situation, but I work for a company that is supposedly into diversity, including transgender employees. More than anything, I'm concerned with how my 15-yr-old son will accept the news. His responses to trial-balloon questions on the subject are very encouraging, but I've never ask him how he'd feel if I were transgendered. His mother (who can only shake her head at the prospect of it all), wants me to wait until he's out of high school, which will be as I'm nearing my late 50s. I told her I can't wait that long. I haven't told her I have an appointment later this month to be evaluated for hormones. As I proceed, how I'm treated in stores, on the street, on the bus, in elevators, etc, etc, will be subtle and different from one situation to the next. Some I'll notice, others I won't. In the end, it's all about just being who we are, who, as you say, is of no fault of our own. We simply are who we are, and if we can't accept that and enjoy the reality of it, I don't see the point in transitioning at all.


Anonymous said...

Hello Fiona
my name is Helen I also have come to you via Melissa (God bless her too!) I am really so grateful to Melissa for providing a link to you especially as like me you live in the UK. I think Melissa and Dana have expressed my thoughts already and so I don't want to repeat too much you have a;ready heard. I feel for your frustration and sadness and I know trying to remain in good relationships with family and friends can be very costly and draining and they have little or no idea how their words and actions judge or dismiss you as a person. I feel for you and I know I am not alone. I know we don't know each other but may I offer out my hand of friendship and support to you and hope we can become friends.

I will return and read more of your blog later but thank you so much for all you have shared and please know you have many people who totally affirm you and want the very best for you.
Helen x

Jo said...

A very honest post Fiona. I identify with all of what you have said.

I guess the bottom line is what's the alternative? I am periodically torn apart by guilt, especially over my kids, sometimes the destruction of my ex's life too...but I was facing absolute despair, and I could think of only one other way out of it. At least this way, I get to stay alive...and they get the chance to try and adapt, eventually, one day.

I also, finally, get the chance to by myself. And you get to be you. Which - no matter how much I feel I have screwed up by journey getting here - is probably some kind of birth right?

NickyB (aka the CFG) said...

"being transsexual really messes up your life. It hurts those around you, your family, friends and ultimately you"
Firstly, I agree with you. It does. It does mess up your life. But one day you will be free from such a label. I firmly believe it. You will no longer be transsexual, nor have any 'mess'.
The 'hurt' ? Yep, there's no avoiding that. Melissa, Dana and Helen make excellent points. But Jo's point of logic is very sound...what's the alternative? Others have a chance to NOT consider the path of hurt...to see that you have a chance at life. Sometimes that is worth reinforcing with others, I remember spending many long months with my family explaining my medical diagnosis, so they knew it was not a 'lifestyle choice'. In my case, it did little good anyway, often people have made up their own mind based on how you look and what little tainted knowledge they have from the media.
You ask for a little acceptance...
Acceptance, credence, believability, seeing the truth, tolerance, finding favour. I expect that you already have *some* of these, but you do say in your post about how people can be swayed by "hearsay, prejudice and myth". Not so when they know the real you, the person that lives inside, I would say !?
I am all for finding solutions to things. To working hard to making my life better, finding practical answers...working with therapists and counsellors, writing 'mind-maps', and finding various practical techniques for self-help. Your blog is one such I expect, an outlet for your frustrations and thoughts. I expect you have a therapist, but I think it is important to find a way to deal with the sorrow you feel for the hurt of others, especially if you also feel guilt associated with that. Ulimately, via a lot of different methods, I have reached that point, but it hasn't been easy...FAR from it. You've only got to look at my old blog to see that.
As Mellisa says "your life belongs to you".
So, I sympathise with you that such lack of acceptance will mean that you don't see your family this christmas. So it is with me. And that's why Christmas day will see myself and S atop a mountain (hoping for good weather), with a Turkey sandwich and a slice of christmas cake.
Life is for living Fiona...and you're living it, with kindness, empathy, and the whole of your unrepressed personality that is now drawing good people to you....you and Rachel, and all of us.
Big big hugs :-) xxx

Naukishtae said...

Hi Fiona.. Melissa said we should read your blog.. I wish I could add something wise about now, but each of these lovely women have said it all.. Listen and heed their words of wisdom, because they do really care.. may the Goddess bring you peace and bless you on your journey.. we all believe in you.


GirlWhoShould said...

All the replies up to this point have been so excellent there's little more for me to add. You show the same honesty that you give to others and this one must have been particully heartfelt. Its incredibly difficult to convey or allow others to feel those feelings to someone non trans perhaps if it were there would be fewer estrangements. Sorry to read about your family.
Lucy x