- you are finding it all a bit weird and just don’t know what to write in a message to me
- you’re completely cool with it, that nothing has changed as far as you’re concerned and you felt no need to specifically write a response
- We used to enjoy a friendship but you’ve since moved on and didn’t feel the need to touch on this issue
- you really don’t know me at all, and as such what happens in my life is inconsequential to you
- in the busyness of life and Facebook you may simply have not seen my message
This is a post I’ve written over and over in my mind now for years.
I know that this is going to come as a shock to many of you.
Those closest to me already know my truth and what has been happening in my life this year.
I hope that you will understand what I’m about to share with you, I’m opening up and being vulnerable with you in sharing my heart.
I would love to continue sharing our life journey together in this next phase of my life but if you can’t do that for whatever reason then that’s ok too.
If you wish to privately discuss any of this with me, as always I’m happy to talk with you, I just ask that you respect my boundaries with regard to things of a super personal nature.
I have some news I wanted to share, news that may (or may not) change the nature of our relationship/friendship moving forward, depending on how you respond.
For the most part I’ve had a great life. Recent history has presented challenges including a super difficult relationship, ongoing health challenges in the form of chronic fatigue and depression/anxiety. But I’ve been on the road to recovery and have been able to start rebuilding my life this year.
In August I was finally able to work out WTF has been going on with me and why life has been such a struggle.
A moment of clarity and brutal self honesty led to the acknowledgement that I was transgender, and since then much of the burden I’ve been carrying has lifted.
From that moment I no longer needed to engage in the ongoing process of trying to make everyone happy, and I no longer care about what people think of me.
My truth has indeed set me free.
The most important thing I need you to understand is that I’m still me.
I’m still Jamie the compassionate, heart centred person you know and love. I’m just allowing myself to be more authentic in who I am, and be more honest with myself (and you).
So far the few hundred people who know my truth have been amazing in their support and I’m encouraged every day knowing that I have such open minded, mature, supportive and caring people in my world.
For everyone who chooses to stay in my world this is what I need from you.
I need you to help me celebrate my newly uncovered and discovered womanhood.
I need you to tell me I am beautiful, not because I necessarily need to hear this but because you should say this to every woman in your life.
I need you to continue to be the amazing humans you’ve always been.
I need you to accept and support my choices even though at this stage you may not yet fully understand them.
I need to you reach out, talk with me, and ask questions if you are confused, hurt or need help understanding this.
And I need you to not get all weird. Actually … stay your weird and wonderful selves, just don’t get weird about this because there is nothing weird about it. In fact, to me this decision is the one thing in my life that has made the most sense.
I’m happy to share details of my journey with you and how much sense this makes to me, and as such I’ve written about my journey if you’re curious to learn more. As always I’m happy to answer any (sensible not too personal) questions you may have:
The blog picks up my story in August, just prior to making the decision to transition. Subsequent entries lead you through my journey since then.
Thank you in advance for your interest in my life and in my blog.
So that we are clear, I’ve already accepted that a few of you are going to react negatively to this news. I’ve watched a few of you walk a path in life and develop personal beliefs such that I can no longer relate to who you are. Actually if I continue in the theme of being brutally honest it is me who has changed. Personal evolution will do that.
I certainly don’t want to push you away, however if you feel you need to distance yourself or cut ties from me then do that. I don’t need to know about it, and please don’t take any parting shots on your way out … just walk away. There is no need for nastiness, rumours or general unpleasantness. We can both go our own ways in life and I wish you all the best on your journey.
I am already blessed with so many amazing people in my life and don’t need you if you can’t support my choices.
However if you value our friendship but find that my news confuses or hurts you, or you just can’t understand why I’d do this please reach out to me. As I said, I’m happy to chat about where I’m at and explain why this was necessary. Reading my blog will answer many of the questions you likely have, but in the event you still need to clarify things then let’s talk.
As far as my transition goes, I’m not under any illusion that this will be a walk in the park. My body has already started the process of undergoing the changes associated with a second puberty, and I face numerous surgeries in the future. I also face the loss of male privilege (yes guys it IS a thing), and the potential for bigotry and general lack of respect often aimed at people in the LGBTIQ community.
Despite the absolute personal rewards, fulfilment and self acceptance this has already brought me I know my life of as a transgender woman could be challenging at times. There will be occasions when I may reach out to some of you to lean on for support. I hope the support I’ve offered many of you during difficult times in your life can be reciprocated when required.
Finally, I know some of you personally know my family. They are adjusting to this change in their own way and continue to be accepting and supportive. If you’ve got an issue with me or my choices please contact me directly and leave my family out of this. They (and mum in particular) have dealt with enough shit over the past few years that they don’t need you adding any more to their lives. If however you personally know them well enough to reach out to see if they are okay, then do that.
To my inner circle, thank you again for being so amazing.
I know some of you have felt a little awkward, not knowing how to address me.
Well, this is the moment that from now on I wish to be referred to by Jamie and I’d like you to use female pronouns when talking about me.
Jamie, she, her … it’s quite simple really 💕
I’m so grateful to have you in my life, and to be living the second half of my life as the woman I’ve always felt I was.
Oh my friends! I have so much to share. The past few months have taken my on such an exciting and transformative journey that I got so wrapped up the experience I almost to forgot to share with you here.
One thing you may not know about me is I’ve never been one to strive to meet deadlines I put on goals I set. Don’t get me wrong, I do the work of thinking about what I’d like to achieve and write those goals down then attach a timeframe to them. But there is something about the living of life, and the discovery of new ideas that often gets me sidetracked. Sometimes I joke about having ADOS. What is that you may ask? Well I once heard it described as Attention Deficit .. Oh! Shiny! As such, I’m easily distracted and often completely off track compared to where my carefully prepared plan would have me. Somehow, my transition has been different. I am finding that I’ve been laser focussed and meeting deadline after deadline on the transition plan I wrote.
This past month has seen me achieve some significant milestones. I’ve had the privilege of sharing my journey first with my brother and then with mum in what were two of the most difficult conversations of my life. Knowing that these important conversations needed to happen caused my mind to play all sorts of games. I needn’t have worried. Whilst my brother and sister-in-law and mum may have been surprised they have expressed their support and acceptance which I’m so thrilled about.
Recently I also messaged everyone in my broader friendship network (around 300 people) and received nothing but support and love.
So … I’m a wonderful mess of tears and positive emotions right now.
Maybe it’s the love and acceptance from friends and family, maybe it’s the hormones.
One thing I do know is it’s wonderful to feel something again 💕
I couldn’t have wished for a more favourable response from everyone.
The next step involves making a full disclosure to my public network via Facebook, and this will happen on January 1, 2018. Again, I’m a bundle of nervous energy but whatever is going to happen will happen and I’ll deal with the fallout (if any) as the months and year progresses.
### received I want to relay details of a conversation that happened with a long time friend I recently reconnected with. The sharing of my story and decision to transition went well and I updated her on some of my progress. Tracking the history of our conversations on messenger turned out to be a little amusing. We had gone from talking about Bitcoin in one message to my disclosure followed by her giving me makeup tips.
“I can’t believe we have gone from bitcoin to eyeliner”
“Bitcoin to eyeliner, That just about sums up my life at the moment”
As a woman I’ve I’ve found that the nature of my conversations has changed. As a clinical counsellor I used to pride myself on being able to dig deep and help people open up and share. Now I’m finding that there is a different level of depth of conversation, especially with my female friends. On more than one occasion we would find ourselves engaged in topics of a very (very) personal nature only to have the the person say to me “you know, I never thought I’d ever be talking about this with you.” My response? “Believe me, I never thought I’d be talking about your clitoral hood piercing either.”
One of the things that have been challenging over the past few weeks is a spike in my gender dysphoria. I’m finding the more my body changes the worse the dysphoria related to my male pattern baldness and boy bits becomes. The shape of my face and body is definitely becoming more feminine, but I look in the mirror and see bits that shouldn’t be there and a bald head that looks anything but beautiful. I know genital dysphoria can be alleviated with surgery, but the realisation that I may never have a full head of without surgical intervention ha hit me hard. When hearing my news for the first someone said (out of shock I’m sure) “how can you be a girl if you don’t have any hair?” Well, this is a though that has been haunting me ever since I started to go bald and was almost the reason I didn’t transition. Whilst wigs are good, having a full head of long hair has always been something I’ve wished for. At this stage the $10-$30k cost for surgical intervention is not included in my transition budget. Go Fund Me, anyone?
Things that have surprised and frustrated me:
lipstick that has sticky tape wrapped around it to stop people using stock as testers. Like WTF?
facial hair that hasn’t been blown away by the five sessions of (hurts-like-f#$k) laser treatment on my face
How do women ever manage to fill handbags to capacity when they have so many pocket and compartments. I unde4rstand the bag of holding analogy
Things that confuse me about being a woman:
- when you’r wearing a skirt and need to go, does the skirt go up and the undies go down? or do they both go down?
My progress to date
- I started on hormones in October and am approaching the three month mark
- I’ve taken steps to ensure the possibility of having biological children remains through an arrangement with a fertility clinic
- My skin has become much less oily, and I have cut back on alcohol and increased my water consumption in an attempt to stay more hydrated. I probably need to cut back on coffee too, but there are some sacrifices which come easier than others
- I’ve been using the Invisalign system now for 16 weeks to help straighten my teeth and correct my bite
- My wardrobe consists of mostly women’s clothes now, although to look at me you perhaps wouldn’t notice. Jeans and a t-shirt are fairly non-gender-specific but if you look closely you’ll notice they are women’s cuts and colours. IN addition to the casual wear I’ve started building my wardrobe and experimenting with my look. Keep an eye on my Facebook feed and you’ll see how that is going.
- My nails are now painted on an ongoing basis. I’m currently favouring a very subtle and almost transparent pink nail polish. My niece remarked recently how sparkly my nails were.
- My weight has dropped from 74 to 68kg, which has partly been loss of muscle tone. I was warned this would happen as estrogen will not maintain muscle as easily as testosterone. My body fat percentage has increased from 19% to 23%
- The ladies at Bonnie wigs in Adelaide Arcade fitted me for a wig which I love. This is the one which I’m wearing in my new Facebook profile picture. I recently returned to try on another wig of the same style but a different colour, I love me as a blonde too – something about having more fun? I’ve decided that when i can afford it I’d like to buy a second wig to give me another option.
- I’ve had many opportunities to get comfortable heading out presenting as a woman. I love getting dressed up and practicing my makeup skills however I need to be mindful of not being overdressed when something more casual will suffice.
- You may have noticed that I’ve had my ears pierced and I love how they look. What you would most likely not know is that I’ve also had my belly pierced. This belly piercing was my first ever, and it unlocked something in me that is difficult to explain. It was a surreal and profound experience to look at my beautiful pierced navel.
- As I’ve mentioned previously I’ve now been on HRT hormones for almost three months. Androcur is the anti-androgen which does the job of blocking the effects of testosterone. I am surprised at the almost magical effect of 1/4 of a tiny white pill and how it can complete obliterate the effects of testosterone on my body. These changes happen over time of course but I am already seeing significant reductions in body hair, muscle mass and [other personal things]. Climara is a patch I wear that gets changed weekly. It is this patch which delivers the oestrogen to my body that is responsible for breast growth, fat redistribution, and the smoothening of my skin,
- And I’m sure the more observant of you would have noticed I started using more feminine emojis on social media
Tomorrow is the day I’ve been waiting so long for, which will see me finally receive a prescription for gender affirming hormones. Since the night I made the decision that this was the path I wanted to take the biggest challenge has been the patience required whilst waiting for appointments with appropriate medical professions to become available.
Armed with a letter from my Psychologist I was easily able to get an appointment to see a Sexual Health Physician who specialises in Trans issues. She has been very supportive and was confident that we would be able to work through her standard process in a couple of sessions instead of the usual 4-5. The first session went well, and I explained my history and the reasons for wanting to transition. Baseline pathology tests were done to measure my hormone levels and general health, and a follow up appointment was booked.
One of the points she wanted to make sure I understood very clearly was the affect that hormone treatment would have on my ability to be a biological parent. I was prepared for this conversation, having undertaken years of reading I knew: Testosterone blockers and Estrogen would effectively make me sterile, thus preventing me from having biological children.
The thoughts that stir in me still when I think about this usually have two things in common. Firstly, that being able to have biological children validates oneself through the ability to create the next generation and pass on genetic code. Secondly, that the first though is bullshit and that my ability to have children neither validates or invalidates who I am as a person and certainly does not determine my worth.
At 43 I’ve enjoyed the benefits of not raising children. Don’t get me wrong, I do want a family and have watched with a little jealousy as my brothers children have grown. There are times when I look at families and think how I would love to have one of my own. Then there are those times when I watch in sympathy at a mother trying to wrangle a tantrum throwing two year old whilst loading grocery bags in to the car, and I think to myself how good it is to have avoided tantrums and messy nappies, and sickness, and the expense of raising kids.
Having said that I’m a big believer in always having a Plan B. In this case my Plan B was to visit a fertility clinic and provide a sample of semen to be frozen. With storage costs at $500 per year this was an acceptable option on the off-chance that I met someone who wanted to reproduce with me. The plan was to make an appointment, go in to the clinic, do my thing, provide a sample for analysis and freezing and then with that backup plan in place I could move on with the next step in my journey and start on hormones.
Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way. The day of my follow up appointment I was so excited about finally being able to start on hormones. The initial discussion went well and all was looking good until the Physician read the report from the fertility clinic.
Trying to explain the emotions I experienced when she read the words ‘sample unviable’ is difficult. I was surprised, disappointed and a little frustrated. But there was something deeper too, something that spoke from a dawning understanding that it was distinctly possibility that I may never have had the ability to have children. I always thought even though kids had never happened, that I did have the ability to make babies if the right opportunity presented itself with the right person. Now I’ve learned that this may never have been the case I feel … ripped off? short changed? indignant? Putting a finger on the exact emotions has been difficult.
We decided that day to not start hormone treatment, and instead I would attempt to produce a better quality sample (as if that was something I had any control over). The point being, that I was going to give it another shot and I’ll learn the result of that tomorrow. The report could go one of two ways. If the new sample contains viable sperm in sufficient quantity my Plan B will be in place and I’ll proceed with hormone treatment. Alternatively, if the sample was again unviable I’ll need to accept that having biological children was not ever possible for me, and I’ll proceed with hormone treatment knowing that I’d taken sensible steps to mitigate regrets and have the answers to questions that may be asked at a later date by family.
After my marriage failed I learned to accept that I may never have the opportunity to bring up children of my own. Whilst I’d be happy to take on someone else’s children if I’d met the right person, and should a biological child be born of that relationship then that would be a bonus. But with acceptance of a potential childless future has allowed me to focus on making a difference in my life and those whom I care about. The trips to the fertility clinic were never about having sperm available to guarantee biological children in the future. As always in life there are unknowns, and this process was about leaving open the choice for biological children ‘just in case’ my life took a path where that became an option.
So what now? I’ll find out for sure regarding the viability of that second sample tomorrow. And I’ll receive my prescription for hormones to help me reshape my masculine body into the more feminine one I’ve always wanted.
I can’t wait xx
Reflecting back on the past month I can’t believe how my life is starting to change. My last post discussed how I had been questioning my gender identity and how, at that stage, I was planning to move toward presenting myself as gender-neutral.
I did a lot of soul searching since writing that post and thought about the conversation I’d had with the first close friend I opened up to. I shared with her the story of another friend who had started her transition and we spoke about how I had been questioning my gender identity. Then she asked me if I was planning to transition as well. My immediate response was to backtrack and say no, that I wanted to just take things slowly and see how I felt about everything.
But to be honest that didn’t feel like an honest answer, and the issue of transition played over and over in my mind for several nights.
On the third night I was able to see things clearly, and for the very first time was able to be brutally honest with myself.
“I am Transgender.”
That thought pierced my soul, and with that admission I felt the male facade I’d built around myself start to unravel. The relief I felt was immediate and immense.
“Okay, so now I acknowledge that I am Transgender … what comes next?”
I knew in that moment that what I needed to do was allow the true and authentic me to surface. That night, for the first time in a long time, I felt happy.
I know there is no point in regret, but I really wish I had reached this conclusion sooner. For me, I now understand what living authentically can mean for me.
The businesses, selling, the stress, money, ego, all of it means nothing. I think sometimes that money can rob us of joy. What is the point of being able to buy a Ferarri for cash and have clothes custom-made, and own million-dollar seaside properties but be dead inside?
I sold my fancy car, and am currently living in a caravan because I’m learning that (besides falling in love with the tiny homes and minimalist philosophies) less is more. For now, I drive an old Toyota Prado with 277,777kms on the clock, my favorite food is pizza, I’ve rented out my beautiful home and I buy my ‘new’ clothes from Target and Savers. Some of you won’t get it, and that’s okay, because you judge success buy what someone drives, or what they wear, or where they live.
Since making the decision to be real, to acknowledge my authentic self, and to put ego aside I learned something:
It doesn’t matter.
None of the businesses, or the toys, or cars, or business class travel and fancy hotels … none of that stuff made me happy. Sure it was nice at the time, but nice fades and unless you are happy at your core the emptiness creeps back in.
I am. Happy that is.
I wasn’t before, but I am now.
So, my wish is that whatever your preconceived ideas or judgements about transgender people are, understand that for the first time since my childhood I’m genuinely happy.
Life has been hectic for me?
I have done a lot of research online to understand the process, and have prepared a transition plan. My transition has not been the only part of my life to benefit from my renewed enthusiasm. I’ve built a new website and am almost finished writing content for a training program I’ve written teaching people about cryptocurrencies, which should launch toward the end of this month. And I’m finding time to rediscover the joy of playing my guitar.
As far as my decision to transition goes, oh yeah I hadn’t mentioned that yet. The part where I mentioned the ‘what comes next’ question and the letting my true and authentic self surface, well the what comes next is a commitment to transition from my male body to a female one.
Discussions have already happened with my Psychologist, who has provided a letter of support and I’ve already seen a trans-friendly GP who referred me to one of only two local Endocronologists who specialise in trans issues. Unfortunately the first available appointment to the Endo was toward the end of October, so in the meantime I have started on the natural phyto-estrogen supplement pueraria mirifica. I’ve also had a full body wax and the first of many IPL sessions on my face to start slowing down growth of facial hair. And I’ve done all the preliminary appointments to have Invisalign fitted to straighten my teeth (for genuine bite correction/dental reasons).
One of my biggest worries about transitioning isn’t Gender Affirmation Surgery. As it happens I’m very keen to have that done, and have it scheduled in my transition plan for 12-15 months from now.
Rather, my biggest worry is how to deal with my quite advanced male pattern baldness. For the past couple of years I’ve kept my head completely shaven, but two weeks ago I allowed it my hair to start growing out. The reading I’ve done suggests that a combination of Finasteride and Minoxidil should help stop the transformation of Testosterone to DHT (the hormone that killed my hair) and allow the velus (very fine) hair that I do have on my head to start to recover. When I am able to start on hormones then hopefully I should see some hair regrowth. The possibility of hair growth in the absence of Testosterone/DHT varies from person to person. I’ve read reports ranging from almost zero chance of hair regrowth to predicting up to a 75% chance of full regrowth. I’m remaining hopeful, but also am preparing myself for the fact that I may have to incorporate some kind of wig to work in conjuction with the remaining hair which I’m growing out. Turns out I’m a Light Ash Brown, peppered with grey. Nothing that a trip to the hairdresser can’t fix, but at this point I’m focussed more on growing hair rather than what colour that hair is. And if I’m not able to regrow my own hair I understand there are treatments in development that in 2-3 years will make this a possibility.
Many people on transition journeys consider the process of starting on hormones as the fist major step toward aligning their bodies with their gender identity. I know for me the prospect of blocking testosterone with an anti-androgen and starting on estrogen will be the first real step in feminising my body. Essentially what I face is going through puberty again as my body adjusts to new hormones, a process that I’m expecting to take between 2-5 years.
So what will happen?
During the first 3-6 months I expect that my skin will become smoother and less oily, I will lose muscle mass and my body fat will start to redistribute giving me more defined hips and causing my breasts to develop. Given the family history and what I’ve read on MTF transitions I’m expecting to end up with a B-C cup. To help you understand better I’ve included the below chart from 2passclinic.com which shows how muscle and fat will change.
I plan on maintaining my current gym regime so that I still retain some muscle definition, as one of my goals here is to end up looking stunning in a bikini. My sex drive will also decrease and sperm production with slow to the point of becoming sterile. So that I still have options regarding having family in the future I’ll be banking sperm in the next few weeks.
After 6 months my body hair will start to become finer, although that will also happen as a result of regular waxing too.
So my transition plan thus far is:
- start hair treatment
- get invisalign fitted
- start hormone treatment
- share my journey with close family in 2-3 months
- learn feminine behaviours and mannerisms
- learn women’s fashion and makeup
- Work out what to do with my hair
- Start presenting as a woman in 6-12 months
- Open up to my broader friendship and social media network
- Gender Affirmation Surgery
- Trachea shave
- consider other facial feminisation surgery after seeing how hormones affect me – this may not be required
As you can see the journey before me is long, and at times will be challenging.
However, I am so comfortable and excited with my decision that wish I could snap my fingers and be in my female body tomorrow.
I know that some people in my friendship circle and broader network won’t understand, and that’s okay. I know that most people will be very surprised, and that’s okay as well.
My hope is that if you’re here you have chosen to support me through this transition.
As I’ve mentioned before my aim with this blog is to share my journey and thoughts to provide the opportunity for those people who want to know more to learn to do so. To that end I wanted to share a video of how 237 other individuals have courageously stepped out to become their authentic selves, so that you can see what is possible for me.
As always, if you have questions please reach out and ask. I’ll be happy to share what I know.
To say that it has taken me decades to write this blog post would be pretty close to the truth. Having said that, I find myself hesitating, afraid to move forward. I certainly don’t know what the future will hold, but I know that the strategy I’ve been using to play the game of life in the past has not been working for me.
The reason I decided to start this blog was mostly to help clarify the thoughts that are kicking around in the weird grey matter that passes for my brain, and partly to record my journey wherever that may take me.
Maybe I sent you here because I felt a face to face conversation would be too hard. Maybe we have had that face to face conversation and I sent you here to try and explain things in more depth. Or maybe you’ve stumbled across my site after googling this particular subject matter. However you arrived here, welcome and I thank you for investing the time and energy in trying to understand me better.
If you know me personally and haven’t already had a heart to heart with you then this will likely come as a surprise surprise. I can just imagine you now thinking “holy shit?! What the actual fuck?! I had no idea”. That, my friend, is because I’m absolutely fucking exhausted from the energy and effort required to maintain my ‘impression management’ regime.
But I can’t do it any more.
For all of my life up until this point I’ve felt average. At 174cm (5’9″) I’m not overly tall, but neither overly short, and I’ve mostly had a lean body shape. I used to joke that I was ‘rack size’, in that I could buy pretty much anything off the rack in a men’s M size without the need for alterations. Up until now I have identified as male and I’ve been ‘okay’ with that role for the most part, although never entirely comfortable in my own skin.
Actually, that’s not quite true. The truth of the matter is that in order to try and pep up masculinity I needed to keep telling myself that I’m a boy, a man. I’m masculine, right?. I was born a boy and that’s what I am.
Most of this was a set of mental games I’d play with myself to try and stave of the feelings that I was absolutely NOT comfortable in my own skin.
Earlier this year I set a goal to do a 16 week body transformation, inspired by the body transformation a mate had recently achieved. I scoured the internet and picked a male body shape that I’d like to achieve for myself (which, incidently, was a photo of Daniel Craig at the beach – yes, you know the one), and set about doing the gym time to “bulk up and get ripped” . The goal was to follow an eating plan, and work hard to incease my 71kg body to 75-76kg, building lean muscle while dropping body fat percentage. That way I’d definitely feel more like a man! For sure! Right?
But that result never happened.
If I am brutally honest with myself I’d say that I was never emotionally invested in that goal. I made excuses, I cheated on the meal plan, and I found myself short of the required energy to do the time in the gym. Now I know what you must be thinking, “heaps of people fail to achieve body transformation goals!” And I know that because some of those people are my clients.
What happened since then is what triggered a series of events and thoughts leading to me making some decisions and writing this blog post.
A couple of months ago someone I knew came out as transgender and since then that is all I have been able to think about. In fact my mind has been consumed with the thought of possibly being transgender. Or not? Actually at this point I think the conclusion I’ve reached is that I’m not sure where on the gender spectrum I comfortably identify.
To be fair, there is a back story here which involves being anything other than comfortable. And there is a lot of mind chatter that goes on in my head about my gender identity, body image and self confidence.
Full disclosure: despite outward appearances I’ve never been a particularly confident person. What I was particularly skilled at doing is wearing a facade, presenting the impression that I was a confident kid, a self assured young man, a competent and unafraid business man.
You see, I had (have?) an almost pathological need to gain people’s approval – a pathological people pleaser perhaps? – and that is what drove me to work so hard on the facade, presenting myself as I thought others would want to see me.
The reality behind the facade was a different story. The mind traffic and thoughts, driven by insecurity and anxiety, were relentless. The games my mind would often play would mostly revolve around comparison and self doubt related my body confidence:
“If you were really a man you’d be taller, more muscular, and you would be confident in your body”
“Oh, and you wouldn’t be comparing your body with those of women”
“That male plumbing doesn’t suit you, it doesn’t really belong there. You’d be much happier if it wasn’t there …” [ed: woah … that escalated quickly!!]
“why do women get all the lovely clothes to wear and men’s clothes are so bland?”
“those girls on instagram are so pretty. Why can’t I be pretty like them?”
“wouldn’t you be happier if you looked like Georgie/Krystal/Mary/Hayley/name of any gorgeous 20 or 30 something woman in my professional community?”
I know, I know … some of this is about self love and body confidence.
For the most part I’ve been able to dismiss this mind chatter, and focus on trying to live up to the expectations I put on myself, and those I imagined others had of me. You know, head down, bum up, work hard, make money, build an empire! I’d justify ignoring those thoughts by explaining to myself that I’m a man, not a woman, and that I’ve been able to live a reasonably successful life so far and I’m going to succeed by working harder.
Actually that’s not quite true. My mind chatter has been relentless, and started from early childhood. And the working harder thing to prove how much of a successful mane I was only resulted in a complete breakdown in my health, a failed marriage and the loss of my business.
But anyway, back to the mind chatter. Maybe it was triggered that time mum told me that she had been hoping for her first baby to be a girl. Or the time where, for a primary school play, I had to borrow a black leotard from one of the girls in my class only to have her upset with me that I’d left a bulge in the front of it. I remember thinking that if I was a girl then people wouldn’t be upset with me. I used to jealously watch the girls dance during rehearsals school musicals I was involved in, wishing it could be me wearing a leotard and being so pretty. I even ‘borrowed’ a leotard from the costume room one night just so that I could try it on. There have been so many examples during my life where I’ve wished I was a girl instead of a boy, and as an adult I’ve invested a great deal of time reading, researching and questioning whether what I feel is right or not.
I read on a post that by undertaking the research and asking myself whether or not I’m transgender indicates that at the very least I’m probably not CIS gender (feeling that assigned-at-birth-gender matches their actual gender identity). Thanks Captain Obvious.
So where am I now?
As you may gather from what I’ve shared above this is an issue I’ve been wrestling with for the better part of three decades. And to be perfectly honest all I want is to feel ‘normal’. I don’t want to deal with the mental wrestling match that happens in my head consistently. I don’t want to have to deal with other people’s biases, opinions and ignorance. Sometimes I wish the thoughts would all go away and I could concentrate on being a manly man. But the thoughts and feelings don’t go away, and so I know I need to do seomthing about them.
One thing for certain I know is that I feel like certain parts of my body don’t belong and have felt this for a long time. I’ve been through the mental gymnastics of considering SRS but maintaining an outward male appearance in everyday life. I dislike having male plumbing, and love how my body looks down there when I’m tucked. I hate the role testosterone has played in my body from covering my body in course hair to early onset male pattern baldness.
Over the years I’ve done a lot of reading and research about MTF transitioning. I know what is involved and I know that not everyone is going to accept that this is something I may need to do. So now, rather than continue to try and push these feelings and thoughts aside I need to be be brutally honest with myself.
On my 43rd birthday I made the decision to at least be more open to my feminine side. Whilst this may not involve fully transitioning (I’m undecided at this stage) I know this will see me move more toward the centre of the binary gender spectrum and be more relaxed about not having to compare myself with James Bond. I also decided to try building a more feminine self image to see how that felt. Yesterday I went shopping, and bought some new gender-neutral trainers, as well as some size 14 womens’ underpants and a 14A bra – just to try and see how they felt. I found the women’s underwear so comfortable that I threw out all my old jocks.
In contrast to my lacklustre attempt at pursuing the “Daniel Craig” style male body I’ve approached the task of feminising my body with much greater enthusiasm. Excitement even. For the first time in almost a decade I feel a glimmer of happiness starting to shine in my life. I’ll continue to work out but with the goal of dropping 6-10kg of body fat and get down to a leaner body weight of around 60-65kg. A friend will also help me with a full body wax, and I’m looking forward to experiencing how that feels. In the next week I’ll look in to other items of clothing I can buy.
So, where to next?
I know for certain that I need to get a handle on the role fear has played in my life. Fear has been a force that has seen me undermine personal success time after time, and also keep people I care about at arms length. That is a long and very complicated story which I’ll likely share another time, but for now the fears and anxiety surrounding non-cis-gender/non-binary/possibly-transgender me are all about:
- how will this affect the people I love?
- what will people think?
- will I even look any good as a woman, or will I just look like a guy dressed up as a woman?
- What will people think?
- How will this affect my businesses?
- what will people think?
- I’m pretty sure I want SRS, but am undecided as to whether I want to live full time living and dressing like a woman
- What will people/my psych/doctor think?
- Is it possible to appear non-binary but still lose my ‘male’ bits? What if the medical world decide that doesn’t fit their neatly planned pathways for transgender transition?
- Oh … and I’m so worried about what people think (just in case you didn’t catch that the first four times)
At this early stage I won’t be coming out to my family. I need to be comfortable with this process and decision before I ask th epeople I love to accept such a change. I ask others to be, and so will wait until I’ve decided whether transitioning will be right for me. From my perspective living a non-binary life will not require me to come out. I will be happy to just change what I wear and how I carry myself, and don’t particularly care what pronouns people use. My real name is mostly used as a male name, but people know me as the non-gender-specific ‘Jamie’ so I’ll continue to use that.
If I decide to transition I may confide in a few close and trusted friends for support. But whatever happens I will, under the safety of anonymity, share my thoughts and journey here.
And so here I am, sitting here with painted toenails considering my options. I am excited about catching up with my waxing friend on Sunday and attending a local transgender meetup group in a few weeks.
And then what next? I don’t know, but for now I’ll put one foot in front of the other and see where this new journey takes me, and roll with that.