This column is a brief discussion of the social context with transitioning, what to expect, dealing with judgement and healthy ways of releasing emotions. This column is in two parts, with the second part being released mid-May.
The inner release of coming out can and for most people, be a very cathartic, therapeutic expereience, but also one of a very terrifying and uncertain nature. The relationships held with family, friends, work colleagues and the rest in an ideal world, would not become jaded or dysfunctional, but unfortunately we all have our own inner built belief systems and experiences, so the process of a loved one transitioning from what they knew them as can be a difficult time for them. Nevertheless, if transitioning is something you really want to do, and you feel it would enhance your quality of life and happiness, then you must follow your instinct and do what you feel is best.
The process of coming out can leave one feeling very vulnerable regarding transition, as whilst some individuals may pass easily or without great difficulty, there are also many who in the beginning stages may struggle with passing. This is not an obstacle, but more of a learning process. It can take a great deal of time to find your inner identity, through cosmetics, fashion, body language, voice training, confidence, and style. For me, I look back on my early stages of transition with unease on how I approached it visually, however it is all a learning experiece, and what we feel are mistakes are in place to be learned from, and allow us to evolve into who we feel we are.
The social aspect of transitioning and having to deal with the public can be a soul destroying process, and for me there were many times where I could not believe the sheer ignorance, rudeness and spiteful nature of some of the people that crossed my path. On the same token, there were many occasions where I was met with support and encouragement, and the transition process in a social context requires a lot of give and take, patience, resilience and a thick skin to be able to continue to pursue your transition regardless of any adversity you may find yourself facing. I am aware that certain places can be very dangerous for your safety to transition, so you must stay safe as best as you can.
The realistic experiences you may find yourself having is being stared at, perhaps talked about amongst people who a lot of the time, are not very discreet about it, and being questioned about your gender. With questioning, be vigilant with it, as some of the time people do not have malicious intent and are just merely curious, but nevertheless, stay aware. Telling someone you are in the process of transitioning is entirely at your discretion, however be prepared for a lot of questions, because in current modern society, whilst transgender issues are gaining more exposure, there is still a lack of understanding of the implications of the topic so to an unknowing member of the public, you would become their source of answers. Some of the time I would disclose I was undergoing gender reassignment however for me, I am generally able to tell who is being curious, and who is trying to attack my emotional state, and this is definitely an ability that develops during your transition process. If you consider yourself a very shy individual, perhaps not broadcasting it openly in a social context is a healthy thing to do, and it may be best for your confidence to build before doing this. If you are not shy and very proud and quite open about it just be mindful of your social behaviour, as this can perhaps make you stand out in the crowd, which may be something you do not wish to happen. Be mindful of how much you discuss about yourself and your transition because it is within our human nature to talk. As I have said, this is entirely up to you as an individual on how far you want to be open about it, at any stage of the journey.
If your an individual who likes going to pubs and clubs, then you must be even more vigilant and aware, as alcohol can hinder our inhibitions and make us act and behave in ways that is not within our usual persona, and I would say the majority of the negative experiences I have had during my transition have involved an environment where alcohol was involved. Many people choose not to go out in this way during their transition until they feel ‘fully done’, however this is down to you as to whether you wish to. Just be aware that dealing with intoxicated people questioning your gender or transition (if you have mentioned it) can feel a very intrusive experience, especially when alcohol is involved.
You may find yourself in the firing line of verbal insults and being made fun of in a social context, however use these experiences to drive you. For me, the more people that mocked me and put me down, the more I was determined to push myself and my boundaries to transition and find happiness. I percieve this negative energy engulfing me as standing in the way of my happiness, and for me inner happiness is one of the most important emotions and spiritual states to experience during a lifetime, so I used all of the negative energy I faced to push myself and carry on.
This column may read quite pessimistically, however my goal with this column is to emphasise the realities of transitioning, from a bare bones perspective, regarding everyday life. It is not an easy process, and for many, will perhaps be the most difficult experience they will have during their life time. I am a mere six months in regarding medical treatment, have a long way to go and still have trouble passing most of the time but I myself, sometimes have obstacles with my own confidence which at times holds me back however it is all a gradual process. There are a lot of pro’s and con’s, give and take and the positive with the negative during transition, and it is important to take both in your stride to allow yourself to develop into who you feel you are. It may be useful to keep a diary of your experiences, noting the positive and negative occurences you face in your everyday life as this can be very therapeutic. I am a musician and writier myself outside of my main career and creative outlets have paid dividends to my strength with the transition. Activities such as creative pursuits, long walks, sightseeing, sport, other related exercise etc can not only be a healthy way of releasing your emotions, but can also be very good for you physically.
Dealing with judgemental attitudes can be a very heavy process, and for many, is not a process that can come very easily. It can leave one questioning why nobody else can see the world like they do, and why people cannot see their perspective. Unfortunately we all have our own life experiences, backgrounds and walks of life and for many, judgement is something that just happens with certain individuals and that is just the way the world is. Grasping onto judgement is not a worthwhile habit to maintain, as it’s within our nature to assess and judge a situation. For me, I just accept and know that everyone has their own way of looking at the world, and for some, who I am is not something that would fit into their perception of the world as such, and on the same note, there are individuals I have met during my lifetime that certaintly would not have fitted into my own perspective of the world. Take judgement in your stride and do not let it defeat you, embrace it and let it make you more determined to evolve with your transition. People will be people and that’s just the way it is unfortunately.
I was going to discuss the implications with gender pronouns, but during the writing process I ended up with more material than I anticipated, so I will merge this with a future column I have coming with the legal aspects of transitioning, with name change, updating financial details, identity documents etc. I was also going to discuss the situation with public toilets before and after having your legal rights papers, however this writing process also yielded more material than I thought I would obtain so this will be a column for the future.
Thank you for reading 🙂
Six months in on HRT, still awaiting laser hair removal session dates and voice coaching dates from the hospitals.