Over the last few weeks there has been coverage in the media of events surrounding trans* issues. These deeply affect my and many other lives, and have exposed how a minority group is still ridiculed and abused in every day life. That there is still a long way to go for people like me to feel accepted and safe in our own communities. I am only at the beginning of my transition, my family and a lot of friends don't even know yet, and there are many hurdles along my path. Hopefully I can go some way to explaining them and getting past them, as it is the only way I can be happy with myself.
My life has rapidly changed in the last couple of months. I have gone from a depressed, lonely person, moving through life without actually being involved in any of it, to being able to accept myself as I am for the first time. I can now enjoy the comfort, confidence and sheer wonder that comes from that. I have fantastic friends, a new life and am constantly exposed to new situations and experiences.
This is before I've even taken the first medical steps on this road, and this is my next step. I am approaching my GP to tell them I have gender dysphoria, and ask for the treatment I need.
This is both exciting and terrifying. I desperately need the NHS support, I need the referral and medical help to continue becoming the woman I am. I worry that things will not go well, that I'll endure misogyny or abuse, or even worse denial of care, from the the people who have the key to my happy future. I cannot live without being able to transition, and I cannot afford to go private. I am totally at the mercy of the NHS.
Juxtaposed to this I am also excited; it marks a turning point in my life, the moment that cannot be turned back from. I am going to be starting my hormone therapy in a few weeks, and finally starting to undo some of the damage testosterone has ravaged on my body for 30 years. I will physically start to come into line with my mind, while also experiencing new mental perspectives and a more positive outlook on life. This is the moment I've always hoped would come, even in my days of denial - my years of pretending to be a boy. The hormones will change my body, my skin, my brain, my mind all for the better. They will be a part of making me feel comfortable in my own body for the first time.
The trip to my doctor will also enable me to access the gender identity clinic after a local therapist refers me and lead me towards my eventual surgery. I am under the massive weight of anticipation, hope and delight, in wonder of where my life will take me.
On top of this, I am also mind-numbingly scared. It is natural to feel fear, it is an instinct that has protected our species for millennia. I am worried about all the things that could go wrong; will I face discrimination at the hands of medical personnel, university staff and students, and even the general public.
Gender reassignment, is not something that is entered into lightly, it is not a whim, or a lifestyle change. It is a necessity. My life will be torn apart over the next few years, I will lose contact with loved ones and friends who may disown me, I will be at the mercy of people I've never met for treatment I cannot live without. I will become sterile, and forever give up the chance of having my own children. The whole process of transition takes a long time, anywhere from two to four years, and will become all consuming in my life, and on top of this I have to try and study for a degree and look for work. I still have to live an ordinary life, while my life is altered forever to be who I am.
I worry about the future. Will I be turned away from jobs and a career I want to pursue? Will I face verbal, or even physical abuse? These are things I cannot answer, they may be part of my life from now on, I may only experience them in a limited way or not at all. These concerns are all a part of my thought processes, yet there is one thing that isn't; doubt.
I know this is right, I know this is no choice for me. I have to do this, I have to face the challenges the world will throw at me for the rest of my life. If I don't there is no way to survive. I cannot got back to the hollow existence I had before. Being a shadow moving through a world I felt no part of.
My transition is just starting. I am a just being born again into a life denied me at birth. I can now attempt all the things I was too worried to do and take full advantage of my freedom. I am taking the leap into the unknown, into being who I really am. Despite all the difficulties I will face, it feels good.