There comes a point when you take a look at your life and decide that the way things are just not working, whether it is your relationship, your job or as in my case, how I was expressing my gender identity.
For many years I had realised that the gender I was living and functioning as didn’t match how if felt inside and who I was. I can’t rationalise that, I can’t explain it in any logical way, it was just how I was feeling. Something that has grown inside me for as long as I can remember back into my early years.
I have been a very logical person for most of my life, I started out from school at 16 years on in the Royal Air Force as an Electronics Apprentice in Radio and Radar. I was taught to fault find by half splitting and taking measurements with a meter, or oscilloscope. From that beginning, I developed my career in Information Technology where logic and the binary rule everything.
So I was faced with this challenge in my head, something that defies all logic, something that cannot be simply figured out and understood. Many nights I would lay awake trying to solve the problem, trying to wrestle with a formula, trying to find the fault. The solution to this unsolvable equation remained elusive, all the time eating away at me, taking over my life and dominating my decisions and thoughts seemingly 24×7.
The realisation… I am transgender
After many years of applying all the logic I could, trying to seek out the answers, I found the only way to get any relief was to simply say to myself; “I am who I am, I am transgender”. No analysis, just simple acceptance. From that I was then able to accept myself, stop the torment, stop the cycle of trying to solve the problem.
Knowing who I was became the start, it became a point in time where I knew where my journey had begun. Where it was going to end and in which direction was another matter. At times I felt as though I was drowning, the chains of responsibilities dragging me down, only able to draw enough breath long before being pulled back under; my family, my friends, my employment, my status and my own fear.
I decided that I had to break some of the chains, I needed to be able to draw breathe and live, my life was becoming pre-occupied with my gender identity, everything I did seemed to have this as a factor. It was like I was becoming defined by it, rather than just living my life and being myself. It is hard to explain; but having lived a lot of my life without waking up worrying about who I was, I could now understand the difference and what it was doing to me. I wanted to wake up and just get on with life and enjoy the day.
I started on a plan to break some of the chains, lighten the load. I talked to my family, I talked to my friends and eventually I overcame my fear. The final chain is employment and still is, or more importantly being able to generate an income that can support my responsibilities and keep my family safe. I have yet to solve that problem, but right now I can breathe, my head is above water and I can float.
The one thing I hadn’t appreciated in all of this was the journey that everyone else would have to make. I was so caught up in my own thoughts, my own sense of purpose to express myself and live my life, that selfishly I hadn’t fully considered everyone else. I didn’t realise the sense of loss everyone would feel, the person they loved, the person they called Husband, Brother, Dad, Son or Friend was now different. But I was still the same person?, I was still me?, I just changed my name and how I looked!
Person after person told me that they felt that I had died, I had been replaced, and the person they had known for years had gone. I felt like Patrick Swayze in the film Ghost, with all of that frustration of trying to get Demi Moore to see him, feel him, touch him. I would find myself mourning for their sense of loss. What had I done?, this was supposed to make me feel happy and alive, all I seem to have done was to ruin everyone else’s life, made everyone grieve and I couldn’t do anything about that, I couldn’t go backwards, I couldn’t explain what was going on in my head because I could never explain it to myself.
There was no party
Looking back I realised that my journey was in the planning for many years, I had thought about, studied it, tried to analyse it, and overcome many fears. I was prepared for my journey, all of my bags were packed. I was expecting those around me to just get used to it overnight, I became frustrated because they weren’t ecstatic for me, there was no party, no celebration just a cool; “Ok, be happy, I’m here for you”. The whole process of coming out was so unsatisfying, such an anti-climax and became exhausting, repeatedly answering the same questions over and over again.
Since understanding what everyone else is feeling, I have adopted a different approach, I need to give people time, not get frustrated or push them beyond their comfort zone. I hear much from others that you need to move on from people who hold you back, live your life, move on, and not to be dragged down by negativity. This is all well and good, but I value my relationships; my wife, my children, my family and friends. I am who I am because of them, who I am in the future is a richer and stronger person with their support. For me keeping those relationships strong is an important thing.
No.1 – Be together forever
I wrote a list with my thoughts and desires which I then shared with my wife; No.1 was “Be together forever”. When things get tough, which they do, we both focus on this and work it out. We tell each other how much we love each other, we talk, we laugh, we joke and most importantly we make time for each other.
It is Ok not to be Ok! Sometimes you need to let things play out, let time heal, let everyone catch up. My family and friends were not Ok, but they are getting there, you can’t force it. I now proudly share my onward journey with everyone still around me and not alone, I couldn’t ask for more right now.