Trans March & Our Allies

I have to share my truth, and it’s uncomfortable for me.
I am having a hard time with cis allies marching alongside trans & non-binary folks in the Trans March.

Yes, our allies are loving and supportive people who are giving support to the community with the best of intentions. And still, there’s a problem …

On the one day a year that both celebrates and acknowledges the struggles trans/nb folks have gone through, I am feeling unseen and invalidated.

I used to love the trans march as part of the Pride celebrations, but starting last year, I couldn’t find my trans/nb friends in the crowds marching. In previous years, supporters on the sidewalk would be offering supportive banners and clapping us joyfully on along the route. I couldn’t feel their love as much last year, as I was often on my own, looking for friends lost in the huge throng. I don’t know if I can do that all over again this year.

The dyke march has very few men in it, which is so important where there are so few dyke only spaces; supporters of the Dyke march cheer from the sidewalk. For me, this is what the Trans March needs a flavour of.

If you are marching with us as an ally, I prefer you identify yourself with a supportive banner or T-Shirt. If you haven’t been asked to be a trans/nb persons support, consider checking out with them if they want you in the March – they might prefer you support from the sidewalk.

I couldn’t voice my discomfort last year, and I have greatly struggled to voice my concerns this year. It’s way more complicated than the viewpoint of one person. We are a complex and diverse community with many voices, all of which need to be heard.

What is Gender Dysphoria?

My gender dysphoria was probably always with me. I first was aware if it very young, for sure; when I was around 5 years old I wrote an innocent note in my school diary, “When I grow up I want to be a boy …”

I assumed that everything would work out fine, and that when puberty hit I would grow my own penis and a few years later a magnificent beard. When puberty finally came, there was no dick and balls for me, instead I started to grow breasts; I was honestly surprised and utterly horrified. It wasn’t supposed to be like this !

I continued to dress as I always had, jeans and t-shirt, but now family and societal pressure increased. As I grew older, well meaning folks would impose gender stereotyping on me, suggesting a wore a skirt, or I should grow my hair to be more attractive to guys ! This was a long time ago …

I knew that my breasts and genitals didn’t fit who I was, but I didn’t know that I could make a change. Then I suppressed my desire to be a guy, and got on with life, numbing those parts of me I couldn’t accept. I used alcohol from the age of 10, and when I turned 18 and was at University, it ramped up and stayed that way until my early-thirties, when I became pregnant and almost instantly stopped.

Fast forward through a painful divorce, into my second marriage, this time with a lovely woman. My problems and drinking are still with at this time, and then I have a dream. I dream I am a man, I have a gorgeous beard, I’m dressed well, and in a group of people, smart, witty and entertaining; I felt wonderful ! It was this dream and the feelings I got from it that led to my consciously accepting my desire to be a man, through supportive therapy I bought a binder and put it on when no-one was home …  I felt so at home looking at myself in the mirror with a flat chest ! It was in that moment that I knew that this was ME, that I needed to transition.

Transitioning in later life

transformation

It wasn’t until I was 50 years old that I realized I was a man in a woman’s body, and what a revelation it was ! The first time I wore a binder, I felt free, amazing, and very scared for how much this was going to impact my family. At the time, I was married to a wonderful woman, who was and still does, identify as a lesbian; I knew it would be the end of my marriage.

This July will mark my second anniversary of taking testosterone, and when I look back, the changes that seemed painfully slow for me at the time, have passed so quickly. When I look at my photographs, I see a massive change from my pre-everything photo (May 2015 and 6 months after I had worn a binder for the first time), to 1 year on hormones (and very soon after top surgery), then finally after 18 months on hormones.

Now I have an Adam’s apple, I sing in the Baritone section of an LGBTQ choir; my face, muscle and skin structure has shifted and everywhere I go I am called “Sir.”                                              This feels miraculous to me.

I see a lot of sadness when I look into the eyes of my earlier photos, and such joy in my most recent one, an aliveness that was absent before.

My message to you is, follow  your heart. It’s never to late to become the person you know you truly are !

My Top 10 FtM Transition Discoveries

My whole childhood and recent adult life were filled with the feeling of something not being right, not fitting in. Puberty was a living hell; those things that began sprouting from my chest felt so alien and utterly wrong to me. As an adult I experienced significant bouts of depression, and had trouble controlling my alcohol intake. Gender Dysphoria started rearing its’ head in ugly ways as I got older, leading to my realization and my need to transition.

This my personal list of things I experienced or that surprised me as I transitioned from female to male and taking testosterone

Top 10 Things I Discovered About Transitioning with Testosterone

1. There are many ways to take testosterone

I was very surprised to learn that there are many ways that you can introduce testosterone into the body. Self-injection was what appealed to me, it’s  just once a week and you’re done. If the thought of a needle creeps you out, you can consider using a testosterone carrier cream that you rub daily into your skin, and let it be absorbed before putting clothes on. I have seen just as wonderful transformations with this method as with the weekly shots. There are other methods too, but I am just talking about my experience and what I’ve seen around me.

2. Voice drop

Most guys notice a gradual lowering of their voice, which becomes obvious at around 3 months. I feel I continued after that, and it took a while for my brain to get used to my lower voice, so I had that awkward high-low voice thing for a while ! Singing in choir helped me to widen my vocal range and get more used to the lower tones.

3. I got hairier

I had no hair before I started on testosterone, now I have a little goatee and visible hair on my arms and legs. Some guys grow awesome facial hair 3 – 6 months, not me though.

4. My fat distribution changed

The fat moved away from my boobs onto my belly. Dropping some weight helped to reduce that developing belly, and another advantage for me was since guys tend to have less body fat percentage, it’ll helped me present in a more masculine manner.

5. Muscle development

You’ll do well to go to the gym and work all your muscles using weight-bearing exercises. You might experience growing pains in your muscles. My doctor recommended Calcium-Magnesium supplements with vitamin C, which worked for me.

6.  Genital changes

You’ll experience a growing of the organ down there, and some guys experience growing pains. I didn’t. You may want to rename this part of you, there are  many names out there including dicklet (my favourite). Also, and this sounds gross but stay with me, your uterus gradually changes, becomes less lubricated and “atrophies” after around 3 or 4 years on testosterone, so your Doctor will probably recommended a hysterectomy sometime after that.

7. Some permanent changes

Items 2,6 (and I believe, to a degree 3) are permanent changes, even if u come off testosterone.

8. Testosterone increased my libido 

My libido increased from almost zero to OMG!

9. My sexuality changed

For most of my life I identified as a bisexual, although people tended to assume I was straight if I was with a guy, or a lesbian if I was a woman; although I never identified as a lesbian, myself. As I settled more into my transition and accepted my own masculinity, I realized I was gay.

10. My sexual health became front and centre as a gay man

Although most of my sex life involved men over my lifetime, I had been in relationships with women for many years before I transitioned; I had become used to being at the lowest risk category in the sexual health arena. As a shifted into being transgender man who has sex with men, safety during sex became more present for me. Although there are many wonderful, safe-sex practising men out there, there is real risk of coming across men who honestly don’t know that they are positive; there’s a window of 6 weeks to 3 months where HIV+ antibodies will not show up in tests. To me now, condoms are an essential part of my safe practice.