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.
I’ve mentioned it many times prior to this and now I’m going to discuss it fully. It’s rare that you will hear me go into such detail about this topic. However, it is a part of me and thus should be included in this book. I want to clarify that I am in no way ashamed or annoyed by the fact that I am trans. The reason that I do not talk about it a lot is because (believe it or not) it doesn’t actually come up in conversation that much and I don’t feel compelled to discuss it. I am transgender, but I’m also a writer, a feminist, a coffee-drinker, a dancer, a bookworm and many other things. Conversations with me aren’t ruled by the fact that I am transgender and it certainly doesn’t define who I am. Saying that, I have no problem discussing this fact with people and answering any questions that they may have. If you are talking to me and you have questions about my transition, then that’s fine. If you’re talking to me and you don’t have questions, that’s fine too. I won’t be offended that you’d rather discuss my career, my state of being or my skincare routine than my gender.
Without being offensive, I don’t really care about your opinion in relation to my transition, whether it’s negative or positive. Telling me that you understand and support me is kind of annoying for me. It suggests the possibility that you would not understand or support me. I’m not really asking cis people to understand me. How can you? You aren’t transgender. I don’t understand what it’s like to be cis-gendered because I’m not. Just like you don’t understand how your best friend needs a cup of coffee every morning because you don’t need a cup of coffee every morning. Or you don’t understand what it’s like to cry at sad movies because you’re not very emotional. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate that you’re trying to be there for me, but relax. I don’t need you to put yourself in my shoes. Because for me it’s not a big deal to be this way. I couldn’t care less whether you think it’s great or not. If you want to compliment my transition tell me that you admire my confidence or that you’re glad I’m progressing so much. Don’t tell me that “you’re okay with the fact that I’m transgender.” That’s wonderful. I’m okay with the fact that you’re satisfied with your body and your genitals.
I won’t listen to anyone’s arguments in denial of the fact that I’m trans. If you tell me that you don’t believe I’m trans and you aren’t trans then you are ridiculous. That is like me not believing that you broke your foot because I’ve never broken my foot. Or not believing that you could be entertained while watching a football game because I’m not entertained when I watch football games. Actually I’m not sure if I do believe that you can be entertained by a football game but you get the picture.
Don’t tell me stupid things like I’m a really convincing woman or tell me that I’m a lot prettier than most trans people. I will not be flattered by compliments that just put other people down. My aim is also not to be a “convincing woman.” I am a woman. I just identify as a man right now because it’s easier, for me and for others. Not that I should be considering what’s easier for others. This is a time for me to be selfish. I recently posted a YouTube video explaining certain things about my transition. I’d like you to now watch it if it’s not too much trouble. That will save me repeating myself. You’ll find it by searching my name.
I needn’t say that this has always been a part of me. Some of my earliest memories are of me lying in bed, about to fall asleep, extremely upset but also extremely hopeful, wishing to wake up as a girl. The next morning, I would wake up, happy and bright in a way that only a child can. I would be doing something simple like getting dressed or brushing my teeth when it would hit me. My wish hadn’t come true.
Every year, around Christmas, my Mam had a tradition of sitting us down to mix our Christmas pudding mixture and make a wish. I would always wish to become a girl. These were probably my first experiences of intense disappointment or dissatisfaction. I’m not sure at what age I stopped making these wishes but it was obviously when the world, as it does to every child, began to take away my innocence and naivety. I do know that when I stopped using my Christmas wish to become a girl, I instead began to wish for something equally as futile. That our neutered, elderly dog would have puppies.
It’s not that I spent my life denying who I was. It’s just that unfortunately, myself and my family were very uneducated as to what being transgender is. The only idea that I had of trans people was the negative portrayal that used to air on the TV and over other media outlets. For some reason I believed that once a person admitted to being trans, they lost everything. I thought that trans people were treated like freaks. I thought that society could not accept trans people. Maybe I was right to a certain extent. Ten or twenty years ago, trans people were mostly stigmatised and labelled as freaks. But things are so much better these days. The moment I realised that I was trans was strange and unexpected. I had just watched Bruce transition to Caitlyn in the public eye. I was surprised by how beautiful and strong Caitlyn was and I saw the remarkably positive response that she got. It all fascinated me. I then watched a documentary series called “Becoming Us.” Honestly I didn’t particularly like this programme but it was when I heard Carly explaining her desire to transition that a voice inside me said “you know, you have that desire too.” I suspect that this voice had been saying this to me for a long time. But another voice then spoke up and said “Really? Well what should we do about this?” It seems that after educating myself and doing my research, I was finally ready to accept this.
I then wrote the following entry into my journal:
There is a journey that I must take. And I have no idea how much longer I’m willing to prolong that journey. The truth is that I am transgender. I am not gay, nor have I ever been and I’ve always known that deep down. I am transgender. I’ve never stated this fact aloud but now I do, as I sit here looking into my beautiful feminine features in my wide mirror. I stare into the eyes of a woman who sits in the body of a man and I say “I am transgender” for the first time ever. Truth be told I am still worn out from the journey that I already took this year. A journey through my first love that almost consumed me. I’ve come to terms with this today. I am not shocked, I am not upset, I am not dreading the future. I am waiting with anticipation for the moment that I can do something about this. Why must I wait? Because this is a journey that I must ultimately take alone. I will need the help of those around me but this is my journey. And as I say this, I am not sad, I am not angry, I am not resentful. I feel rather matter-of-fact. And the fact of the matter is that I am a woman who is alone. I’ve always sat on the outside, only allowing my other self to venture inside. My other self is not dissimilar to the real me. I don’t feel like I’ve suffered while leading an almost double life. Nor do I feel like the real me has been hidden out of shame. I simply did not recognise what was lacking, did not realise that “she” was there. Of course I had hints. We all had hints. But no one knew for sure. I seriously doubt that anyone will be surprised. That is, if I choose to share this information. I am still processing this, but I wish to document my thoughts on the subject. I call Megan Leonard. I feel slightly nervous but not really. She answers. I tell her. She feels exactly the same as I do. We don’t care. It’s nothing to us. She pretty much already knew anyway. I go to my wardrobe and sort through the clothes that I don’t want to wear. I find the most feminine outfit that I can find and stand in front of the mirror. There is no sense of relief. No moment where I think “wow, this is me.” There is merely a recognition. A dull “oh yeah, there she is.” I’m not sad. I’m not happy. I’m indifferent. This is very easy for me. I always wondered why I was uncomfortable being referred to as gay. Now I know. This is quite a revelation.
As you can see this wasn’t a big deal for me and I began that journey straight away afterwards. Do I wish that I could have realised this sooner? If I wasted my time on regrets, I probably would. Do I wish that I could have been born female? What a pointless thing to wish for. I didn’t have the average symptoms of a trans person. I don’t hate my body. I’ll just much prefer being in a woman’s body. I don’t hate my name or my past. I’ve lived as David for eighteen years now and I don’t want to deny that fact. I am proud of David’s achievements and I certainly won’t be trying to abandon him after my transition. These facts don’t make me any less trans than those who had a hard time with this. I am extremely grateful that I have been so okay in dealing with it. I am so, so lucky and I recognise this. I also really sympathise with those who have struggled. I have heard many stories that have broken my heart and shook me to my core. These stories make me question why I have been so blessed and make me appreciate my immense luck.
Being transgender is one aspect of my life and it certainly doesn’t define me. I would hate it if, in the media, the only thing they focused on was the fact that I was transgender. I would hate if at my funeral the only legacy of mine that they spoke about was my transition. I would hate if people made judgements or assumptions about me based solely on the fact that I am transgender. I don’t even really think of myself as an oddity or anything of the sort. I’m just a person who needs some medical procedures carried out on me and that’s that. Who cares?
I also have quite a controversial opinion when it comes to trans pride. However, it is definitely not my intention to offend anyone and I would like to hope that I don’t. I don’t believe in having pride in the fact that I’m trans because it’s not something that I can help. That would be like me being proud that I have a pretty face or that I am extremely tall. I am proud of my strength. I am proud of my humour and my determination. I am proud of the parts of me that I have worked on and formed throughout my life. I don’t feel a sense of community with trans people. I feel a sense of community with people that I can relate to and appreciate, no matter who they are. I feel that a trans community suggests that we are all the same. This is not true. I am not obligated to like and identify with every trans person if I happen to have nothing in common with them. But I don’t resent those who have trans pride or who are active members of the trans community. I completely understand why people do this and think they completely reserve the right to do so. Just like I believe that I have the right to not do so.
Telling people wasn’t a massive deal for me. I think everyone had some idea anyway and no one expressed a massive shock. It doesn’t change who I am or how people interact with me. Some people had questions and some did not. That’s completely fine with me. This journey is a gradual and slow one and having people on board is a big help to me. I will get to where I need to be eventually and I am willing to be patient. When I become a woman I don’t expect things to change overnight. I don’t expect people to forget David or to immediately call me by my new name. We are all human and we will make slip ups. I also don’t expect everyone to agree with every decision that I make, but I do expect people to shut up if they don’t. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.
If you happen to see me at any stage around Dublin or anywhere else come say hi to me. I love to speak to people. People often stare at me when I’m out in public and this is okay with me. I understand that some people are curious and it doesn’t really bother me. I probably won’t even notice. But if we meet eyes or something maybe it’s a good idea to smile at me so I know that you’re not being an asshole. Don’t drop your gaze or frown (yes people sometimes frown at me when I look back at them). It’s important to understand that these aren’t the preferences of every trans person. We are all different, every one of us. You should respect these differences and ask people about their preferences. Because there is no other way to know. Don’t make assumptions please. It’s really horrible to have people assume certain things about you in a world where it’s easy to feel shunned or out of the ordinary.
Read about how I deal with assholes here.
Watch my Transgender journey below: