This week marks the fifth anniversary since arriving in England, taking a leap into the unknown and burning all my man clothes, my tranniversary, as I like to call it. It’s been a crazy five years but the five before that were pretty crazy too, I’ve never had a normal life and I kinda like it that way. I’ve heard people use the phrase ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ to describe a few of the things I’ve been involved in since transition, My Transsexual Summer, the book, Trans Pride Brighton, etc. But I’ve always believed that people are offered these opportunities surprisingly often and that taking a chance isn’t the same as taking a risk.
So without further adoo, and if you’ll excuse the odd cliche, here’s the five biggest lessons from the last five years.
Transitioning is the best thing I’ve ever done.
I know this might be stating the obvious but we talk about the negatives so often, it’s easy to forget just how awesome living true to yourself is. I’ve heard it said that if you think you’re trans, you probably are and I think that’s true, transitioning was the last unanswered question in my life and facing that head on has allowed me to actually see a future for myself. I wake up and I don’t hate everything, I look in the mirror and I’m starting to really like myself, transitioning is literally the best thing ever.
- You don’t have to kill him
The biggest thing that held me back from transitioning was thinking I’d have to stop doing certain things I loved, Formula 1 and bacon on a Sunday morning, getting muddy and climbing trees… I’ve learnt how important it is to make peace with the person I was before transition, I can’t deny that person ever existed just as much as I can’t deny my excitement over this Sundays British Grand Prix.
- Cis people are patronising as hell
“Aww, I just wanna tell you how brave I think you are, y’know, being a transsexual…” Shut up, I think you’re brave by showing me how you really feel about me. I imagine that people with visible disabilities can relate to this, a pitiful pat on the head, a ‘you could never be as normal as I am but well done for trying.’ It usually comes from cis people who actively support the trans cause so instead of challenging it, I just grumble under my breath and pretend it didn’t happen.
- Social transition blew my mind
People who think that trans people or transitioning is all about genitals are idiots. I lived for 18 months without any kind of medical intervention but my identity was fully accepted by everyone I met. It’s easy to focus on hormones, surgeries and the nitty gritty of transition but the realisation that my dysphoria was more about how other people perceived my gender changed everything.
- Never hold back
Back to these once in a lifetime opportunities. The first morning after arriving in the UK I woke up in Swansea and within half an hour I was sitting in front of a TV camera answering questions about my identity that I hadn’t even begun to think about. I am not a morning person and as I awkwardly tried to answer these strangers who had camped out in my bedroom it occurred to me that if I was gonna do this transition thing, if I was gonna do this documentary thing, I had to let go of my own issues. I knew that I would make mistakes, that I would look back in the future and wish I could have done some things differently but I had to throw myself into this experience and hope for the best. I’m so glad I did.