Being trans in Ireland
Identifying as FTM
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"My birthday marked the day I officially began presenting full time as male"
Truth is we all like to think we know exactly who we can and can’t depend on. Usually we can precisely pin point the people in our lives that will – or won’t – accept certain things. I was sure I had a decent enough read on the people around me but life had something else planned. It decided to teach me just how wrong we can be in our judgment, how you might end up finding support in the least likely of places and how, sadly, sometimes the people closest to your heart can disappoint you.
I am 18 years old now and up until a few months ago I was quite assured in the fact that my relationship with my parents was average. It wasn’t bad, perhaps a little strained. Come on, what teenager doesn’t go through the rebellious phase? Mine mostly consisted of watching TV shows until 6 in the AM and supporting the heck out of the LGBT community however what parents choose to view as rebellious behavior is very much subjective.
So when I finally decided that I should come out to them as transgender, they saw it as ANYTHING but the truth. It was a ‘phase’, it was a ‘hormonal imbalance’, it was ‘out of nowhere’, it was ‘going to go away’. My mother actually went as far as asking the psychiatrist to give me some sort of a wonder pill that would just magic my gender into what it was ‘supposed’ to be.
Of course I understood the sort of turmoil they were probably facing themselves. Not every parent can be immediately supportive, especially when it’s something they barely know anything about. I was content with giving them some time to figure it all out, ask me about it and whatnot but all the while, days and weeks went by and my life was beginning to feel like it was at a standstill.
Old western movies often have these scenes; a lone shot of the village road and a tumbleweed rolling past. They’re frequently shown before something hectic and important is about to happen. If that was not the perfect analogy for my life at that point then I shall never find a more fitting metaphor.
Dealing with family drama
My birthday marked the day I officially began presenting full time as male. My parents were far from happy about it. They said I was moving too fast. For someone who’d felt completely stuck and out of place for the first 18 years of their life it did not feel like moving fast. It felt like not moving fast enough. I remained sensible to the fact that they were finding it hard to deal with it. I suggested support groups or even one-on-one conversations with people who were informed on the subject - to no avail. My offers fell on deaf ears. It’s rather difficult to make a compromise with a second party that isn’t looking to sway their views.
Finally, I made a Facebook page under the name I was going by. I didn’t tell my parents. I had a vague idea of what their reaction would be. Home was stressful enough as it was but for the first time in my life, I had something that resembled a social life. And it was great – albeit short-lived.
The end of the summer I was staying at a hotel with a friend who was visiting from England. There was a pizza place nearby, a vending machine in the lobby and a huge shower I was very sorry to part with. One of the days my friend and I were to go back to mine for dinner. When we arrived, my mother was at work but my father was sure to inform me of the fact that they had come across my Facebook page. Thus I was offered an ultimatum – one I never imagined I’d be faced with. I was to either delete the page or pack my bags and move out.
I was furious. I had a new-found social life, a shred of confidence, unsupportive parents and WAY too many DVDs to fit into the one bag I shoved my things into. Imagine my frustration.
Learning life lessons
So what was my lesson in all of this? It’s not the end of the world. If anything, it taught me that sometimes you need to free up the spaces closest to your heart for the people that honestly deserve it.
When facing difficult decisions and life situations, oftentimes you will be astonished to find who has your back and who’s eager to hold you back. Every now and again you’ve got to take a look at your life and check for unnecessary obstacles.
Had I subjected myself to enduring my parents’ demands, I wouldn’t have met the most amazing people that I am proud to call my friends now. I wouldn’t have started my transition. I wouldn’t have found a way out of depression OR self-harm. I wouldn’t have started writing poetry or indulging in my art so actively. Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t even be writing this right now.
Letting go can be the hardest thing, but in the end you will be better for it. Sometimes it might be the only thing holding you back from your happy ending.
My tumblr – for anyone that would like to check it out – is at www.callme-roux.tumblr.com
My poetry tumblr: www.fivethingstosmileabout.tumblr.com