The journey I have gone through to accept I am transgender, has taken me 47 years so far. In this post I would like to break down my path to where I am now, and some phases I have gone through. I have kept things hidden for long, and looking back I should have reached out to others much earlier in life.
It is difficult, if not impossible to describe how it feels to be transgender to those that are not. You can feel your body doesn’t match up in your core. It is not something rational, and I believe we should not have to explain it, but rather accept as a society our traditional view on gender identity has been limited. The feeling is impossible to deny, yet many transgender persons go to great length to try and hide it to fit into societies expectations. Keeping up an act and struggling with their feelings in solitude. I know we are still a long way from full acceptance within society, but if we keep hiding, nothing will change. I am grateful for all those that have lead the way, some of them at great cost.
For 40 years I have felt something was missing, a feeling of unease. While I have been able to live a life quite normal to most others, out of their sight I felt feminine and went to great lengths to find out what that feeling was. I started to crossdress in secrecy early on in life. Every time I did, I felt comfortable yet ashamed. Deep within things connected, yet I tried to fit the image of a boy. So I kept these feelings far from anyone.
At a certain moment, I can’t exactly remember when, this phase of unease got replaced with strong denial. For example, I resented and rejected the word transvestite. I also made sure to not mix in any conversation that would give away my interest in the feminine. I even went as far that I did not like to be touched or hugged. My feeling now is that anything that gives a strong reaction, positive or negative, is part of you. That you should learn more about why you react so strong, rather than fight the feeling. With some the denial is so strong they openly fight gay and transgender rights, only to come out themselves years after. I have been in denial about myself for a very long time. I was crossdressing once in a while in that period, but I tried to make myself believe I was crazy to have the urge and that is would go away. Before coming out, I had a period of almost 4 years in which I denied myself to crossdress.
Until one day I got triggered again. It was somewhere in December 2016 and it was like a spark that lit an inner fire. After 4 years I could not help myself and had to know why this feeling suddenly could come back with such intensity. Confusion rose why things resonated so deeply. For the first time I started to read about crossdressing, transgender, gender identity and journeys of others. Many stories were similar to mine, as if someone else had written my story. I started to join the conversation in chat rooms and again the stories were beyond recognition.
This is when I decided I needed to see myself as a woman once and for all. I could no longer deny this part of me. My coming out at the photo studio and to some wonderful transgender people online have been a turning point. Accepting for myself I am transgender has been complex, but when I saw Liv for the first time at that photo studio, things felt right. All I had felt throughout my life made sense. It felt amazing to be in that moment.
It changed everything. I understood now what I had felt inside for all of my life. And I had shown my true self to other people for the first time. Guilt started to play a big role. My wife and family were not aware. Yet I had told and shown strangers. I felt so guilty about this. As if I had been betraying the ones I love. I knew I had to figure it out myself first, but I had kept it a secret from them. That is why I decided to come out to my wife immediately after my coming out at the photo studio. I just couldn’t live with that feeling of having a secret for her anymore. Since then I have started to come out to more and more friends. Their wonderful reactions and compassion have helped me grow my confidence and allow myself to show more of me. It is liberating when you are accepted for who you really are and just can be you.
In order to figure myself out more, I reached out to an amazing therapist John Patching (https://transgendertherapy.co.uk/). He is specialised in working with transgender people and helps me reflect on my feelings, and release patterns that have held me back for all those years. It is not easy after denying myself for so long, but he helps to make me feel integrated and balanced most of the time, even if I present as male.
I wish, that if you are on a similar journey, you feel safe to share your feelings and start searching your truth as early as possible. Look into your feelings, and try to understand, rather than fight them. I know it is difficult, complex, and painful at times, but I urge you to do it. Denying yourself is not healthy. Start to look for and connect to likeminded people, listen their stories and reach out to experienced people, like John, who can help you figure out what you feel and reflect on steps you want to make. Find help and support, you deserve to live your truth and you don’t have to do this alone.