By: Cailin Conroy
(Disclaimer: I can almost guarantee with absolute certainty, that this will be the longest post you ever find here. When I got done writing this, I honestly couldn’t get over how long it turned out to be! If you somehow manage to make it through the whole thing you must be a saint! Not to say you won’t find it enjoyable, just proceed at your own risk….. You have been WARNED!)
Accepting and coming to terms with the fact that you might be transgendered in the beginning is most likely one of the scariest, exciting, most confused and stressed times you will ever go through in your life. I know for me, personally, it was all of the above stated and more. I can honestly probably say for the first few months it was the lowest place I have ever found myself in my entire life so far. You are constantly overwhelmed by powerful thoughts and emotions. You may not be able to think about anything else and find yourself doing absolutely nothing but reading, researching, and/or huddled up in a ball unable to doing anything at all. First and forth most, REMEMBER TO BREATH!!
I know if you’re anything like me you can’t do anything but what I just said but just remember, like all things, that all these feelings and thoughts will eventually subside, at least by some degree. So, after you are able to recollect yourself and hopefully are able to function. What should your next steps be? You’re probably dying to tell someone or you may want to start hormones right this second and can’t stand living another second without thinking of a way to obtain them right this second! All of these things, I would imagine, are universal for most trans people. Just try to remember that none of this is going to happen overnight. That everything takes time whether you decide to pursue medical transition or not.
Most, professionals and other members of the community, recommend that you find a qualified counselor or therapist who specializes, hopefully, in gender dysphoria. This may or may not be the right step for you but I know that many states in the US and other locations require a letter of recommendation from a licensed professional if you choose to seek out medical treatment. I, myself, at the start, found such a professional and saw them regularly, once a week, for probably almost my first 3 months before deciding to come out to others. At the time, this was very important and helped me a ton! I feel this was what finally helped me to become somewhat stable again and finally to gain the courage to come out to others. I have since then, never pursued counseling or like ever again so far. This is primarily financial I suppose, but I also don’t feel like therapy is really the right thing for me as a person. I feel as if they seem to mostly be “stick to the book types” which I really don’t feel applies for everyone. It certainly does not for me, but this is usually a great first step as I said and recommended by almost everyone.
So, at this point, you may or may not, have done the above stated. Perhaps, you already decided to come out to a close friend or family member or found a medical treatment center that does not require a professional’s letter of recommendation. At the very least, I hope you are starting to feel even slightly better about yourself. No matter what you decide to do, whether it be medically transitioning, or if you found a way to be comfortable with yourself as you are. Remember, that you are an awesome and unique individual and you have plenty to live for and offer to this world!
Now, for those who do find yourself in the position of wanting to come out to others, seek medical care and like. What, now? For me this was easily hands down one of the most frightening things you could ever imagine! You, may or may not, have felt like this your entire life, you could have only just came to terms with what has always been that itching feeling inside you that you couldn’t explain, or maybe the latter.
I knew myself, from a very young age, that I felt as if I was a female from probably around the age of 4 or so (pretty much my earliest memories.) When I was this age I didn’t, necessarily, think anything of it but I remember going to sleep almost everything night wishing I would somehow magically wake up as a little girl, instead of a little boy. I really didn’t understand why I felt this way and, sometimes, wondered if anyone else ever had similar feelings. When, I got a little bit older, I slowly realized that this typically was not the case. For the most part, locked it away forever, remaining as my deepest darkest secret for most of my young life.
I tried my best to suppress my feelings, most of the time, which was both an exhausting and daunting task at times. I would often find myself seeking media forms that involved transgender themes or reading various fantasy related stories, involving different types of transformation, to try and ease these feelings. This, usually, kept these feelings and urges at bay. I tried my best to just skate through life as best as I could manage. I would typically have feelings of guilt or, sometimes, even feel sick with myself for having these thoughts.
When I entered my early teens (the lovely time for puberty that is such a FANTASTIC time for most! Can you sense the sarcasm…?) I slowly found myself starting to experiment with “cross-dressing”. Once again, I found myself with another huge major “deepest darkest secret.” I would borrow clothes from my mother, sister, occasionally steal them from stores, pretty much anywhere I could get my hands on new items. This was when I really started to feel even more disgusted with myself. I found myself constantly going through the “purge stage” in which I would obtain a bunch of various items that I would usually hide somewhere in my room, and then completely get rid of them, usually by throwing them in the trash, telling myself that I would never do this again because I was disgusting, a freak, or any other negative connotations. This was a constant struggle that I found myself going through for most of life until probably shortly after I graduated from high school. At this point, I told myself I was done forever that I was never going to do this, ever again! I was going to completely lock away this part of myself and never do anything to remind myself of anything even somewhat related to it. This worked for a long time. My life was continuing to progress in a somewhat “normal” fashion for someone my age. Things were “fine.” Not great, or even good, but fine.
When, I reached the legal drinking age in my country (Who am I kidding? Even slightly before so, but mainly at this time…) I found myself falling into the lovely state of being what I’d call a “borderline alcoholic.” A very normal and common distraction among transgender folks and plenty of others, as well. When, I was freshly 21, for at least a year I’d say, I would go to the bar with my friends almost every single night and half the time would find myself getting “black out drunk.” I was so miserable at this point that just being able to not be conscience at this point was the greatest thing in the world to me. I was noticeably openly depressed and would often discuss this with close friends without ever disclosing what I knew was most likely the underlying cause for most of these feelings. This technique worked for a decent while, but like most things, this era eventually came to an end.
At the “ripe” age of I want to say 23ish, I found myself in what was, to be completely honest, the first real “relationship” I ever had in my life. A young woman, who was only a year younger than me, had become “head over heels” in love with me and decided to confess this to me. At this point in my life, I honestly wasn’t even sure what my sexual preference was, or if I even had one for that matter. I figured this might be a good time to try and figure that out and decided to pursue a relationship with her. We were friends already so I had already previously cared about her as a person and we always got along great. I really did, and probably always will, love her in some way. Things seemed like they were going pretty well. We were having fun like we always did, doing random things throughout the day, you know, normal couple things. This is all slowly started to change when she asked me the question….
“So, why haven’t you ever tried to sleep me with….?”
YES! I was a 23 year old virgin! Is this really that shocking considering the above stated? I’m obviously joking, but you get my point, haha. This question scared me more than anything else in the world! Like I said, I really did care about her and I knew that she was an attractive woman but I honestly still really didn’t have any need or desire for those types of activities. We had kissed, of course, and the like, by this point and that was nice, for the most part, but still, this was a whole other level to me.
Long story short, this continued to be an issue for literally our ENTIRE relationship. We, eventually, as you would imagine, did end up “sleeping together.” Our first time together, like it is for many others, was how should I say this? Well, it didn’t last very long….
For some reason, in the back of my mind, what happened next, I for some odd notion, always knew was going to happen. She got pregnant…
This changed everything!
I found myself in a very precarious situation. What was I supposed to do? I always wanted to have children but I hardly even knew what my sexuality was at this point. We ended up deciding to have the child and do our best to make a life for ourselves, together. We found an apartment, told our parents, and just did the general things most “soon-to-be parents” do. Nine months later or so, our son was born! At this point, I honestly couldn’t have been happier, life was great! I felt like a full fledged, established adult! How, grand! I was with someone I cared deeply about, had a child I loved more than anything in the world, (even more so than I had even wondered if I was capable of at this point) and things were going good. Shortly, after around the time, I would say he was slightly older than a year, we decided to start planning a wedding. I mean it was the right thing to do at this point, right? What else does a happy couple with a newborn do with their lives?
A year or so later, we were married. An awesome little wedding, if I do say so myself, and a blast to plan! (Interesting side note, at one point while meeting with our photographer, he commented on how I mentioned and noticed things that other, “soon-to-be husbands” rarely ever say or acknowledge. RED FLAG! Maybe? Haha!)
Things were progressing at a normal pace for a newly married couple and their child. We bought a house, slowly made it our own little by little, and life went on. Give or take another year or so, we decided to start trying to have a second child. Once again, only the next logical, reasonably, normal step in the life of a happily married couple? I should stress again at this point, that as previously stated, our physical relationship was always, ALWAYS, a struggle. It was honestly probably one of our most major reoccurring issues among other things….
She practically was always up for a “fun physical romp” while myself, however, could still honestly, ever care if we had physical relations or not. Never the less…
Another, nine months or so, give or take. We had another healthy young baby boy! Things were going good still, right? How could I not be like the happiest person in the world? I had almost anything that most could ever dream for, a home, a loving wife, and two beautiful children! Sadly, at this point, after so many years, it all came rushing back in, more powerful than it ever had been, previously, before….
I honestly don’t even really remember at this point what even brought it back, but when it did happen, it was terrible…
I could barely function, it became all I could think about no matter how hard I tried. Everything I had ever felt previously about feeling as if I should have been born female came rushing back into to me like a drug! I began reading stuff online again, fantasy stories on occasion, real life stories about other transgender people coming out, mostly anything I could get my hands on. At this point, I was losing it! I had no idea what to do but eventually came to terms with the fact that I needed to do something about this or I was, most likely, going to potentially do something terrible….
I decided to seek out a therapist that specialized in gender dysphoria and was luckily able to find one only a short distance from myself. I told my wife that I was simply going for depression. She was very upset because she didn’t understand why this wasn’t simply something that I could discuss and work out with her. I stressed that everything was fine and just really thought I had gone too far, at this point, and felt I needed professional help. She was fully aware that I had be going through something, by far worse than I had ever dealt with, previously. She was also always aware that I had struggled with depression and anxiety in general.
I proceeded to head to first counseling appointment. Utterly terrified and shaking, like I’m sure many are going to a therapist for the first time, whether it be for trans-related issues or otherwise. Session after session, I slowly but surely started to feel somewhat better. Not great, but I was at least regaining a slight ability to function again.
Eventually, (I’m not entirely sure after how many sessions) I finally worked up the courage to do what I knew was enviable at this point…
I had to tell my wife, it wasn’t fair to her not to anymore.
I forget my exact words and how I eventually did attempt to explain it to her but it honestly went a ton better than I was expecting. Initially, of course, she was shocked. Who wouldn’t be hearing something like this for the first time? Let alone with someone you’ve shared your life with for nearly five years at this point. After weeks, longer even, of countless discussions and arguments, she eventually decided that she was willing to still try and make things work with us. I was both, shocked and relieved, at this point! I couldn’t believe it! I never thought that she would be so accepting. I think this is most married transgendered people’s greatest fear in the beginning, potentially, losing the trust and care of the one you love.
Things were finally getting better for me at this point! I was on top of the world almost for a time. Why wouldn’t I be? Things all slowly started to change when she realized the full extent of what this would entail for our life together. I knew by now, after continuing to still go to therapy, that I not only needed but was ready to start pursing hormonal treatment or I couldn’t continue another day.
THIS CHANGED EVERYTHING!
When, I first came out to her I don’t think the full gravity of the situation was really clear to either of us. I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or how to go about it. She was trying her best, but it was still always so hard for her, which was the last thing I ever wanted. I knew I had to begin taking hormones, as soon as possible, or I wasn’t going to able to continue to feel okay and function like I was. She was not okay with this, and I can’t blame her in the slightest. I don’t see how you could blame anyone for feeling that way.
Another, long story short, after months of continuing to struggle in figuring this all out. I, eventually, decided that me being with her wasn’t what was best for either of us….
This killed me more than anything else at the time, for a multitude of reasons, but to this day I still feel it was for the best. (Not to say that I don’t still feel some level of guilt for all this fairly often, even after all this time…) To be completely honest, I don’t want to use the word excuse, but us separating was a long time coming for many other various reasons that I don’t feel like getting into right now.
I moved back into my mother’s house, at this point, with her and my three siblings. By now, I had come out to most of my immediate family as well. Luckily, everything single one of them was amazing and couldn’t have been more accepting which I know is a luxury so many of us are, sadly, not blessed with. I did lose some friends while coming out, which is to be expected, but also at my age at the time, is when you start to drift from some of the friends from your youth, so that may be either here nor there, in some circumstances.
I found myself, slowly but surely, reverting back into one of the worst places I had ever found myself….
I was still seeing my therapist regularly, while, also beginning to look into where I could seek medical treatment. (Which my therapist was against at this time, for the record, but I knew it was the right thing for me, regardless.) After, a short internet search, I was able to found a physician specializing in trans-related care, located only about an hour’s drive from where I lived located in Philadelphia, called the Mazzoni Center! I was thrilled! They have an “online patient portal” which allows you to contact them at anytime and I remember sending them my first message, around, three in the morning…
I woke up the next day, to find they had already replied and set me up for an initial intake appointment and assessment! I attended the appointment, shortly after, and roughly two weeks later after receiving my blood work, I started taking hormones about a week before my 28th birthday! Once again, for a time, I felt like I was on cloud nine and everything was coming together! However, just like previous times, this did not last for long….
The reality of life, slowly but surely, started to catch up with me again.
WHAT THE HECK WAS I EVEN DOING?
How could I throw away everything I had in my life? What am I going to do now? Did I make a mistake? How am I going to support myself? (I worked in a primarily male dominated field, at the time, and did not feel comfortable continuing to work in said field.) Should I really still do all this? I fell back into terrible depression and spent most of my time sleeping just so I didn’t have to face my problems.
Eventually, I was finally able to come to terms with my choices and reassess everything. I came to the enviable conclusion that I did, in fact, not make the wrong choice. It was either attempt to transition, and live as who I always I was meant to be, or end my life.
So, I stuck to my guns!
One step, after the other, I slowly but surely dealt with everything I needed to do. I stopped attending therapy at this point feeling not only did I not really need it anymore, but I could also not continue to afford it financially. I, eventually, got divorced and dealt with all the fun stuff that entails. I began regularly being able to see my children, after not seeing them for some time. (Sigh…) I found a new job in a completely different field than I was previously in. (Granted, I only remained there for a short time but that’s a whole other story and a topic I plan to cover in the future!) Things were finally starting to, at least, somewhat settle I guess, for the most part.
For now, though, I think it’s about time I wrap this up! All other stories and life details shall be saved for another time. (I honestly did not except this to turn out to be even half as long as I’m imagining this has become, haha.)
I really hope my story was, in anyway, helpful or relatable to any of you. I’ve been wanting to put myself out there and give back to the trans-community for some time now and I’m so happy I am finally at a place in my life where I am able to do so! I’ve, now, been on hormones for nearly five years and fully live my life “fulltime” as they say. (I really don’t care for that term.) I still have my “ups-and-downs” regularly like anyone else but I’ve made it this far and you can, too! No matter if you’re trans or cis (not transgendered) never give up on your life! You can always find something to live for and you are always worth it!
Before I go, I just wanted to say a few more things. No matter how you may be feeling and no matter how sure you are that you are transgendered or even want to transition.
DO NOT RUSH THINGS!
I REPEAT, DO NOT RUSH THINGS!
Hormones, and the like, are no magical instant cure for all your problems in life. Sure, they might help a ton, but they do not fix everything. If you were suffering from any type of mental health concerns, or any general life problems, they will still be there even after you begin to transition. Granted, hormones sure helped me a ton in regards to both of these, aforementioned, concerns but your general health and well being needs to come from much more than just hormones. This is very important to remember before you, potentially, decide to seek to medically transition. It can become very easy when you first start researching trans-related topics to “romanticize” it which is something you really should never, ever, do!
I’m not going to lie to you….
Life for a trans-person sometimes can be awful…
It is a constant struggle, not only with others, but with yourself. However, I’m not trying to be a “negative nancy” by any means and if you do come to the eventual conclusion that transitioning is right for you….
THEN, YOU FREAKIN’ GO, GUY OR GIRL!
Alright, on that note, I’m really going to finally wrap it up this time! (I have a tendency to ramble if you ever do decide to continue to follow my blog…) I think for my next post, I’m most likely going to write something related to music, just to mix things up and keep it interesting.
If you found yourself here and actually listened to what I have to say…
I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!
In fact, I love you, regardless! This world is a rough, and sometimes really hard place to live, but with support of good friends and family anything is possible! If you ever find yourself in a rough spot, please reach out to someone before you do anything rash. I recommend visiting Susans.org for an awesome transgender related forum! You can also seek help from, Trans-Lifeline, a suicide hotline made exclusively for transgendered individuals. If all else fails, and you have absolutely no one else, reach out to me! I couldn’t be more serious! If you have absolutely no one else to talk to and find yourself in a rough spot, email me and I will, honestly, do my best to try and help!
Till next time, all you wonderful people!