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I Never Wanted to Be Transgender

Want implies choice. Nobody wants this.

Sometimes, a comment only becomes toxic in hindsight. That’s usually because it wasn’t meant harmfully or it was pitched as a compliment; a validating statement. I’m sure every disadvantaged group has this happen: the well meaning outsider reaching out in a way that, actually, has a pretty dirty underside that they didn’t think about. And we let it slide because we like the person and we don’t want to create a thing.

I believe that we all want to see good intent rather than bad language. Besides, it’s not really possible to challenge every unintentionally invalidating comment in a conversation. For a start, we’d never talk about anything but unintentionally invalidating comments, but we’d also just end up being angry and alone all the time. I spend enough of my life in fear; I don’t want to add anger and frustration to the pile.

Trouble is, the words sit with me. My mind chews on it enough, and suddenly it becomes the thing I was trying to avoid. Challenge it, it becomes a thing for everyone in the exchange. Don’t challenge it, it becomes a thing for me on my own. I don’t really know which is better.

This is particularly tricky to navigate with new friends. New people, particularly new cisgender people, just need to have that time out to get educated a bit before things can be normal. I hate that. If I could get through a day without educating someone about the trans, I might just drop dead in shock at the realisation. I can completely understand why some transgender people just give up and don’t bother, but that’s not me. I’m an educator at heart and I want people to understand as much as they need to. Besides, it’s better for me in the long term.

At the core of the unintentionally invalidating comments is the implication that this is somehow a thing that I want. That I chose this. Talking to some folk in a support group the other day, I found myself challenging the deception narrative: the idea that the trans or cross dressing or gay was somehow kept from a partner. That the partner actually needs more sympathy here because they were effectively lied to.

"THE DECEPTION NARRATIVE FALLS FLAT ON A NUMBER OF COUNTS, BUT THE MOST RELEVANT POINT HERE IS THAT, VERY OFTEN IF NOT ALWAYS, THE PERSON COMING OUT DOESN’T WANT TO COME OUT."

The deception narrative falls flat on a number of counts, but the most relevant point here is that, very often if not always, the person coming out doesn’t want to come out. I obviously can’t speak for all of transdom, but it’s reasonably safe to say that nobody wants to be transgender. I’ve written it before: nobody wants to be transgender. Everybody does everything they can to not be transgender, and the only reason anyone comes out as transgender is that they become a greater danger to themselves than the danger being transgender represents.

Nobody wants this. I don’t want it. If I had my choice, I’d have accepted the role I was given and spared myself the utter annihilation of my life. My ex asked me how I could lie to her, and the truth is I didn’t. I was trying not to be this thing. I didn’t have a precise word for my state, and then once I did, I freaked out and did everything I could to not be that thing. I didn’t want to be that thing, but I am and I can’t help it.

This past week, I came into contact with a few new friends. One mentioned that our mutual friend only wanted me to be what I want. I want to be cisgender. Since I can’t reach a hand back and change my assignment, that means that I want to be male like they told me… but I’m not male and I can’t be. Trying to be what I wanted nearly killed me, so I had to give up what I wanted in favour of what I needed.

"I PUT OFF BEING WHAT I AM FOR SO LONG BECAUSE I DESPERATELY DIDN’T WANT TO BE ME."

I put off being what I am for so long because I desperately didn’t want to be me. I wanted to be that person that was able to be what they were told at birth. Two years and a month ago, I stepped away from a curb side after almost jumping in front of a fast moving lorry. I still don’t know why I didn’t jump. I just didn’t, but even as I backed to safety, I hoped a bit of pipe might be poorly loaded on the trailer, say, head level. That would be clean, I thought. I did not want to be me, and I don’t know why I decided to be me instead of deciding to be dead. That was my choice.

I guess if you’re going to see suicide as a viable option - I have met and learned about people who really do have that as a viable alternative for them since coming out - then yes, I’m being what I want. I’m being not dead, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to die. I do want to die quite often, but I don’t think that’s what I need right now. So again, this isn’t about what I want. It’s about what I need.

So what about the here and now? My transition is mostly done; I’m just mopping up some loose ends. Life is starting to just move along. Now that the messy business of coming out and transitioning is over, is being transgender or a woman really what I want? No. No, it isn’t. It’s what I am: a default setting. No choice means I am a woman and I am transgender. Would I rather not be transgender? You betcha. I would still give much to be that person that could just be what the doctor said they were at birth. I would still rather not be what I am. This is not what I want, it’s what I need.

Transgender is what I have to be because some time previously I was assigned male at birth and I’m not male. Being male is worse than being transgender: my mind and body reject maleness like poison, but I would still rather not be transgender. I’ve been given the choice between hospital or airplane food and I picked the one without the strychnine in the sauce. We all make choices for the sake of survival that we don’t really want to make. It happens to everyone at some point. My choice just happened to be to try and live authentically. I never wanted to be transgender, and I still don’t.

I feel so much for you. It’s like this thing inside you tears at you and finally you reach a decision. But it’s not a peaceful decision. We only wish it could be. If only we could be ourselves without all the pain associated with being ourselves. I can really feel your pain in this article and only wish I could give you a hug.

You nailed it! This is what I've been trying to say for so long! To the extent I had any choice, the choice was to die as a man (sooner than later) or to try to live as my true self - a woman. Life or death - that's the only choice I had to make. Everything else came from that choice.

I can't name a single transgender person whom I know, who would say they love being transgender. I am transgender. I would that I was not. I don't see the possible paths ahead of me as "choices"; I see them as ...

  • anaesthetize myself for the rest of my life, living life in a fog of mind numbing drugs (I did that for over 20 years and refuse to do it again);
  • die, either by my own hand, or out of neglect for my life;
  • transition to living as a woman.

I have transitioned and I am on hormone therapy. In spite of all the trauma and turmoil transition causes, I have never been more at peace and content in my entire life.
Even so, I wish I could have live my life as the male person which everyone thought I was when I was born. I heard a trans woman, Paula Stone Williams, who recently gave a TEDx presentation. She made a passing comment, which resonated with me. She said, "I didn't hate being a boy, I just knew I wasn't one."

I am so happy that more and more youth do not have to go through this torment. And that is what it is, torment inflicted upon ourselves by ourselves. For those of us who do not blend or pas the torment does not stop once we emerge. Every look in the mirror, every stare on the street reminds us of the mask we wore.Do we let the mirror dictate how we feel about ourselves or do we accept ourselves for who we are?. Women who just happen to be trans.

It is quite something and deeply sad to rather not be the person we are. By far it is infinitely better to love yourself. I was born in the early 60's when it is said 99% of the population firmly believed it was disgusting to be a homosexual. Transsexuals were subject to even more hate. As a young trans girl my gender expression, toy and clothes preference were firmly forbidden before I was 4 years old. What many cis people don't get/care is how seriously damaging this is to the very core of young children. This prejudice, oppression and hate more often than not blights our whole life. It amazes me how young children like us carry this awful burden. No wonder the attempted suicide rates are so astronomical. Even young children who are allowed to transition are initially told they are not the gender they assert themselves to be over a period of years. Some families are gently when they tell their child this. Others use violence. Perhaps it is not being transgender that is the problem and the thing we hate but the dreadful treatment we receive at the hands of others including our own family.

In addition, we who were amab are made to feel particularly bad for being female and/or feminine. This badly affects trans girls and feminine boys. The too numerous stories of abuse are truly harrowing. So many of us have had to hide our true selves, snatching brief moments to express our femininity in private and then to suffer guilt. My social transition in 1989 allowed me to accept myself but it was my SRS that allowed me to really embrace my female sex. Not only did my body feel completely right, sex was right too. Like many, I had been severely damaged from early childhood. With my body fully aligned with my brain I no longer felt ashamed of my female sex. I became much more proud to be a woman. Given a choice, I realised I would rather be transgender than a man. To be a man would go against every aspect of my being. I couldn't do it even if my life depended on it. I therefore encourage all trans and cis girls/women to embrace their femininity and be proud. Sod the patriarchy and radical feminists. Femininity is not weak and bad, it is strong and good. It is at the very least equal to masculinity. True feminists should celebrate, support and defend femininity of cis/trans girls/women and feminine cis boys/men, including cross dressers.

You absolutely nailed it when you said that you did everything you could to not be transgender.

We are twins in both thought and deed. I have written this, a million times in my own mind, and tried to explain it to those who wished to understand but you have put my thoughts into words and I find myself fighting back tears. I am 70 days from GCS and mopping up a final detail as it were. A journey that has taken me over 60 years to get to this point. Saving this article to future share as it will be needed. <3 <3 <3

I wrote this poem just after starting my transition. I am different!
Why? Because I choose to be who I am not what society dictates!
Men think I have chosen to become a second class citizen.
Women applaud my courage in understanding my trueself!
What is this difference?
I have admitted to myself that I am female
not male as the doctors declared when I was born.
They chose based on some external visual objects.
I chose because in my heart I have always known!
I tried their way and it led to despair and darkness!
THEN I CHOSE LIFE!

I was that partner who felt lied to. How could I not?
I didn't handle the news particularly well.
Then I educated myself.
I now hope to educate others with all that I have learned, to make the process less traumatic for all involved.
My website has a number of resources to which to refer people: https://www.annemreid.com/ (check the Resources section)
My memoir, with a section written by my wife, is due for release in a few days.

I felt like I was reading a diary of my transition... I tried mightily to refuse it but my physical health actually started declining from the stress. Eventually I gave up... it was not a choice... nobody chooses this.

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Thank you, well stated.

I feel that Clara Barnhurst has written something so deeply personal yet it could have been written by many, many others in the community if we were only as eloquent and able to put the heartache of being trans into words. Thank you for writing this, it is the absolute truth for so many of us that have long contemplated the difficult life of being trans with the seemingly peaceful path of suicide.

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