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.
Being a teenager is shitty isn’t it? It’s enough to drive anyone crazy and I am starting to believe that it does in many cases. There are all sorts of pressures and complex environments to manoeuvre that I feel many of us forget about when we grow up. That’s not to say that I’ve grown up. I am still a teenager, I’ve just moved on to the next phase of my life i.e. college. I don’t know if everyone has a significant group of friends as a teenager but I certainly did. Being in this group was like being thrown into a fascinating, complex, hilarious, insecure world that I could not grasp. To this day I still don’t really understand that world that I spent a few years living in but I’m going to try to explain it as best as I can.
This group of people know who they are. I have lost touch with each and every one of them but they do still hold a significant space in my mind. I loved them and continue to love them even though they were often assholes to me. They shaped and changed me in unimaginable ways and for this I am extremely grateful. I have no idea whether they will read this book or not. I would like to think that they will but I cannot tell.
Let’s rewind a bit to when I was 15. Before I was David Beattie; the secure, confident, happy, kind person, I was David Beattie; the slightly insecure, seemingly confident, extremely bitchy, seemingly happy person. When I say extremely bitchy I don’t mean that I was particularly cruel. I would be rude about people (very occasionally to people) but it was purely so I could get a laugh from my friends. I didn’t really believe what I was saying and I wouldn’t be rude about people that I was nice to in person. If you were my friend you knew it and if I didn’t like you you also knew it.
Of course I am ashamed and I take complete responsibility for my behaviour at this time. I was a nasty person. This I cannot deny. Imagine a lanky, extremely skinny, feminine boy with a fiery tongue, an ugly haircut and an extremely abnormal fashion sense. I was popular and I had quite a good grasp on what was acceptable and what wasn’t. However I had my “uncool” guilty pleasures that people knew about and that I wasn’t really ashamed of: My obsession with Snapchat, my hats and scarves that I would wear on the warmest Summer’s day, my performances at school concerts and ceremonies even though I wasn’t a very good singer. I knew that these things weren’t necessarily cool but I still enjoyed them and wouldn’t let anyone shame me about them.
My friends were on a whole new level. I saw them as slightly (only slightly) superior to myself. For one of the first times in my life I was surrounded by people whose opinions actually mattered to me (up until then I had been a little shit who only listened to his own opinions). When I think back on that time, I like to think that we were all equally as considerate of one another’s opinions, but I seriously doubt that this was the case. I think the following theory resembles the truth more closely: I was quite a funny person who didn’t take himself very seriously. I had a deep bond with the girls in this group who appreciated me while occasionally being embarrassed of my previously mentioned guilty pleasures and my lack of shame when I was called out on them. The boys also appreciated me to an extent and perhaps cared for me at times but there was no real respect there. I respected them a lot but they only respected me when it suited them. I have no doubt that they were very different people behind my back than they were to my face. And I knew this at the time. It’s funny how you can knowingly put up with stuff like that isn’t it?
So the fifteen year old me was preparing to sit my junior certificate exams. I didn’t care about them. I knew I had done enough work over my three years to do well in them and so, I was not concerned. I was a lot more excited about the new friend group that was blossoming. I still don’t really understand how I managed to secure a place in this friend group. It seems that some shift in a hierarchy had landed me quite a senior position. I was there for the birth of it (God I’m currently imagining this group reading all of this and rolling their eyes, but I shall continue). Who knows why we started hanging out all of a sudden? I have a theory that it was something to do with the fact that balls had dropped and breasts had grown (I have a lot of theories about this time really because I had no fucking idea. For all I know this whole chapter could be false). We started going to the beach a lot and hanging out as a group. One of my friends once told me that it was important for me to be there around the boys because I knew just how to break the ice by saying something funny. I didn’t know whether this was such a good thing but I decided to take it as a compliment.
We started drinking at quite a young age. I don’t necessarily think that this was a bad thing. We were in controlled environments and our parents were aware of what we were doing for the most part. If you don’t want to drink then don’t but I don’t think underage drinking is the enemy. In fact, I think it’s the only reason that I didn’t go crazy when I got to college. I’ve already experienced my wild days.
Adults will probably hate me including such a point but it’s my opinion. Generally our group didn’t get involved romantically with one another, although there was the odd slip up when we were drinking. We were pretty good at not making it awkward when that happened though. We began to have house parties and go to one of the local pubs. During the Summer of 2014, I would say that we drank on a weekly basis and nothing bad ever happened.
I want to talk about the person that I became during this time. I was surrounded by people who would mock me on a very regular basis. I didn’t mind this, I truly didn’t. We would all mock one another all of the time. Our friendships were built on it. I was also very good at dishing it out. But there were times when they’d just be plain rude. It wasn’t often. They would tell me that something I did, said or wore was really embarrassing. Those things would get to me slightly although it wasn’t ever too painful. What really got to me was the lack of security. The turnover of people in this group was crazy. People would stop being invited out with us really suddenly. I am ashamed to say that I participated in this. Without understanding why someone had been bumped out I would stop talking to them. This was a horrible thing for me to do and I know that now.
Over time, I began to slightly modify my behaviour and not express certain opinions that I knew would be unpopular amongst my friends. I think that we all had very superficial relationships. You couldn’t open up about your feelings because our conversations consisted of sarcasm and mocking people who may or may not have been there to defend themselves. At this point I feel it’s necessary to include that every part of my brain is screaming at me to delete this chapter. I am extremely uncomfortable with being so honest about this period of my life.
The funny thing is that I knew exactly what was going on. I knew that it was a horrible situation for me to be in. I knew that I wasn’t being my true self. I knew that it wouldn’t last and that I would get sick of it eventually. However, I continued to act in this way and hang out with these people for reasons that I still don’t understand. I never knew where I stood with them. Never knew if they were giving out about me when I left the room. Never knew whether they’d be in a good or a bad mood with me. I couldn’t respect myself during this period of time. I couldn’t respect my behaviour or my willingness to be treated like shit. I couldn’t respect my tendency to laugh at things that I didn’t think were funny or to hold my tongue when I disagreed with someone. Then something happened that changed everything for the better, even though I couldn’t see it at the time.
We were in our final year of school, approaching our final exams. Once again, I didn’t really feel the pressure, however I was exhausted all the time during this period. Sick of hearing about exams, results and colleges. I was also getting pretty sick of my friend group and could kind of sense that I was on the verge of being bumped out. Over time I had grown very close to a boy from the group. When he ended up dating my best friend I realised that I had fallen in love with him. As I’ve said, we didn’t express our emotions freely in this group of people. I knew that admitting my feelings would result in me being exiled.
But I was sick of lying to myself. I had other friends. I knew that I would be okay if I stopped hanging out with this group. So I told my best friend and her new boyfriend that I was in love with the latter. They were kind about it. We all handled it very maturely for sixteen and seventeen year olds. I have no complaints about the way everything worked out. They were willing to be there for me still but it was my choice to isolate myself. I couldn’t watch the boy I loved be with someone else and I couldn’t lie to myself any longer regarding my friend group. I stopped hanging out with all of them and spent my last few months of school not speaking to them.
I’ve been quite harsh during this chapter. I’ve left out the good times that I spent with these people. They are incredibly funny, intelligent people and at times, I miss them an awful lot. I have so many memories with them that I will probably cherish forever. There were times that they were incredibly compassionate and I’m sure that they don’t still behave in the way that I’ve described. One has to remember that we were young and stupid. There were a lot more good times than bad times and I wouldn’t change any of it. Through this period of not respecting myself I learned how to show myself the respect that I deserve now. As far as I know, they are still friends with one another and I’m sure that they’ve grown and changed just like I have. I didn’t include this chapter to offend people, I just thought that it was important to show that I didn’t always have the same outlook that I do now. It was not easy for me to break away from them and there were often times that I regretted it but I am now certain that it was the right decision for me.
Read my experience with boys who run from me here.
Listen to an interview discussing rural Ireland below: