Now that I’ve made my ebook “Who Cares? Life for an Irish Transgender Teen” free to the public (you can download the full thing here), I’ve decided to publish the chapters here on my website. Below is a chapter from this book which was published in April 2016.
Writing this chapter, I feel an equal amount of dread and excitement. This whole book will probably end up being about my personality. So this chapter is not so much about my personality but about how I came to develop it. So how do I write this without sounding arrogant or self-obsessed? I don’t know. I’m going to be as honest as I can and let people draw their own conclusions. Because at the end of the day it’s none of my business what people think of me. So let me start by saying that I adore myself (what a great start to not sounding arrogant.) I can feel your eyes rolling but read on and find out how I came to be one of those rare human beings that actually loves themselves.
As a child I was a confident and shameless show-off. You would find me in the corner of the room singing, dancing or generally demanding the attention of everyone. I wanted to be a star (singer/actor/dancer) and I took myself very, very seriously. I was charismatic, bossy and popular. I went to stage school and watched a lot of TV. Any chance I had to perform I did, on and off stage. Recently I met a distant relative at a family party who I hadn’t seen in a long time. She told me that her memory of me was that I used to step up to the fireplace in my Nana and Granddad’s home and sing songs for everyone. So, as you can see, I started life with a very loud voice and an unshakeable confidence. I was born thinking that I was amazing, (I suspect we are all born this way but lose this thought process at different stages) and life was good to me. I stood my ground in arguments with my sisters and derived an extreme pleasure from telling my parents about every wrong thing that they did. I was the complete opposite of shy and loved to tell adults all about my plans for stardom. When I think about it I’m sure my whole family were wondering who the hell this small person thought he was walking around, being loud and demanding their attention.
As I grew up a bit and began to approach my teens it occurred to me that I wasn’t exactly normal. I remember the moment that I discovered I liked boys. It was not a life-changing moment for me. I was in my sitting room with my family. The music channels were switched on and I remember that I stood in front of the TV (probably dancing along). A music video was playing with shirtless men and women in bikinis dancing. I found myself looking at the men instead of the women. I remember momentarily thinking “that’s odd. Whenever anyone’s spoken to me about my future they seemed to assume that I’d have a girlfriend or a wife.” I don’t think I even knew that people could be gay at this stage. I thought this over very briefly before internally saying “oh well” and getting on with my life. This has continued to be my attitude to the fact that I like boys ever since. I never once wished that I liked girls instead and never saw anything wrong with the fact that I wasn’t attracted to girls. I wish everyone had possessed the same attitude as me but more on that later.
Starting secondary school, I wasn’t one bit nervous. I knew barely anyone but I had never known anything but popularity. People had always liked me in primary school and I saw no reason why they wouldn’t in secondary school. Thankfully, I made many friends and I recognise how lucky I was to have such a nice secondary school experience. A lot of people in my position wouldn’t have been so lucky and I am so grateful for that. It wasn’t always easy but more on that later (are you sick of me saying that yet?) A big part of it was luck but another huge part of it was my personality. I had so much respect for myself and through this I demanded respect from everyone around me. I didn’t just expect people to respect me, I insisted upon it. If someone didn’t like me I either changed their mind or didn’t care. A lot of my friends were amazingly accepting and I thrived in their company. I learned how to be funny through my interactions with some hilariously witty people (two in particular). However, secondary school is an extremely hard place to negotiate and there were certain aspects of my personality that were lost and gained that I am not proud of.
Over time I became quite bitchy and a lot of my traits were quite ugly. I knew exactly what was happening to me. I have always been blessed (or cursed) with an intense self-awareness that enabled me to recognise exactly what was going on in my head at any given time. I was being turned ugly by the people and experiences that I was encountering every day. This is not to say that it wasn’t my fault, I just knew the reason behind it. Don’t get me wrong, most people that I knew were wonderful but there were a few who were the opposite. But I will go into much more detail about all of this later. My parents recognised that a darkness was growing inside of me and suggested that I attend counselling. I agreed with this suggestion and I began seeing an excellent counsellor. I am so grateful that she came into my life and I hope that she knows the massive influence she had on my mind at this time. She may very well have saved me from crossing a threshold that I could not return from. She helped to turn me back into the person that I am today.
I was never ashamed of the fact that I attended counselling. I was always open when people had questions about it and I knew that it was all for the best. The truth is I’ve done many things that I am not proud of. I was also accused of many things that I wasn’t guilty of. I’m not in denial. I’ve always been quite good at owning up when I’ve done wrong and for some reason I became a target for people. In parents’ eyes I seemed to be a bad influence. I don’t know if they thought that I was the messed up teen who needed counselling or just a bad person but I do know this: I was involved in some scandals that became common knowledge for many people as is usual in a small town. And after these scandals people suddenly started to accuse me of being a bad person and doing things that I had not done. That was wrong and ugly and I think it’s a disgusting instinct of human nature to pick on the weak and easy target. I recognise that I did terrible things. But if it seems like I’m letting myself off the hook for those things it’s because I am. I’ve made my amends and I’ve owned up to each of my mistakes. I’ve worked through my issues and forgiven myself for things and I am not going to continue to be racked with guilt or beat myself up over incidents that were part of my growing up. But I will never accept responsibility for something that I didn’t do. Once again, I digress.
I went back to being David Beattie: the confident, compassionate teen who had ambition, didn’t care about people’s opinions and did what he wanted. I set my sights on certain goals and made firm decisions. No one could change my mind once I had set my sights on something and I am so glad of this. I would not be where I am today without that determination. I realised that kindness is a lot more worthwhile than bitchiness and I began to look for beauty in others and in the world. In October of 2014, I realised that I was in love with someone. I will explain all of this later but for now I will say this: Being in love with someone and not having it work out changed me for the better. I became more understanding towards people’s pain and I began to realise that things weren’t as black and white as I’d hoped or believed they were.
It almost killed me to go through such an intense experience around the time of massive exams but it also gave me an intense focus. I set my sights on moving from the country to the city and I did well in my exams. I looked at the world through such different eyes and became a better friend to everyone in my life. I learned many, many lessons that I hope to share in time and my life absolutely changed. I don’t wish the heartbreak that I experienced on anyone but now that I’m on the other side of it, I don’t wish that it never happened to me either. I think it was necessary for me to delve into myself and to become the person that I am now. So, in summary, I went from a child who loved the sound of his own voice, to a teen that loved the sound of his own voice and I’m now approaching becoming an adult who’ll love the sound of her own voice. I could listen to myself all day. It’s a miracle that I have any friends really.
Read more Who Cares? here.
Buy Who Cares? here.
Listen to an interview with me below: