Not for nothing

Jay Andrews


Issue 16
Winter 2001

There are untold pressures put upon us when we first come out. Not all of them are obvious. One has to face one family friends and relations. This is usually the first stage and it can be very traumatic. You find out very quickly who loves you and who your friends really are! Even among our nearest and dearest, there can be shock reactions, and sometimes these can lead to really hurtful behaviour, anything from mild disapproval to banishment. Trying to deal with bigotry, as well as your own problems, can be very destructive.

But surviving that first stage is only the beginning. Soon to follow are the less obvious pressures. When I had to tell my partner, a few years ago, it meant not only the end of the marriage, but also that it had "better not be all for nothing".

By this she meant, I had better live up to her expectations in my new life, and that the death of our marriage had not been in vain.

Then there are the medics. The pressures they put us under are nearly criminal! If your treatment is within the NHS then the first thing you have to do is to satisfy the 'life test'. This means dressing as a female, working as a female and generally jumping through hoops until you are giddy. The duration of the life test is usually a minimum of two years, succeed this far then surgery should be yours.

Had it not been for life test, I doubt if I would ever have gone public as a female. For me the feminine persona was always a most private thing. If at the end of the day all I wanted was to be castrated, I cannot see why this had to be made a public issue. But there you have it. The system has only one way of working, so best get your head down and get on with it. One day maybe the medical profession will adopt a much more mature approach to genders dysphoria. Until that time, the life test is all.

During the life test, you can be sure of lots of encouragement from the medical profession and those who support you privately. This has the effect of at best giving you a false sense of confidence, or just plain confusion. Somehow we muddle through until the big day - surgery. But for some of us surgery is a double-edged gift. In my case I was and remained very happy with the result, but what I was not ready for was the loss of libido. This had the effect of removing the major part of my self confidence, my energy levels, and my general enthusiasm for life. So be warned, it could happen to you. There are a lot of lies told among transsexuals, so paranoid are we that we would sooner tell a porky, than risk the truth.

I now feel able to speak the truth and it's not all good. Yet even now, several years on, I still baulk at stating the truth is so starkly. But I would be doing you no favours by sweetening the pill. At the end of the day we are, at best, a 'compromised individual', neither one thing all the other, but those who encouraged through the life test, would never tell us so. So beware, as you make your own choices, be as hard on yourself as you can, for this will stand you in good stead for the future

I had my chance to live publicly as a female and I tried, I really did try my best. But in the end, I saw no point in prolonging the agony of being 'sussed'. Everything I ever wanted I now have, my pussy and my boobs, are mine forever, so why not be satisfied with that? For it's not all been for nothing, I am as' together' now as I have ever been. I have achieved my goals and I pass in the community. Not bad for such a mixed up kid! For you see I carried so much guilt, for so long, that when I came out, I felt I had to try to put everything right all at once. It's taken me until now to realise that I cannot change the past, so I should concentrate on the future. That means making choices, my choices for me, 'cos I'm worth it!

For in the end all we want is to be happy, but sometimes we can't see the wood for the trees. Being happy is largely a matter of making choices, so if you're not happy, look around and see what you can change to make your life happier, often the options are right under our noses. Do not be put off making a choice that others may frown upon. Let them frown. It's your life. There are no rules in gender dysphoria, we have no workshop manual, we mostly have to make it up as we go along! What is right for one person may not be appropriate for another.

We remain individuals in spite of everything and that is my point. There is plenty of support for those who go public and pass; there seems to be less for those of us who can't. So I'm writing for the minority within a minority. I am saying you can do whatever you like, so long as you are sincere, you'll have my support! Achieve what you can, but recognise that which you cannot. Stop flogging the dead horse. My surgeon contacted me some time after my surgery for follow-up work. He seemed most put out when I said I had returned to the male role. My response to that is - tough! I have to live a life I can cope with, and if that f falls short of anyone's else's expectations, so be it.

Life is not neat and tidy, it's full of unfinished business wherever you look. I can cope better my way and so that must suffice. You don't come out, have surgery, change over, and live happily ever after. Line, emotions, family, work. They all take their toll and things just aren't that neat. Thank goodness for that. What a dull and boring place it would be, if everything was so predictable and concise. So take heart. There is a place for you in this wide old world, whatever you choose.

I am not a failure, because I am still here - just! There are those who would take a different view, but then that would be the case whatever I chose to do. It's as true for us as for anyone else; you cannot please all the people all the time. To survive gender dysphoria is a triumph for anyone - regardless of how each person copes with it. Remember that. I have gone through everything because I had to. It is the same for you, and to survive and come through it is a triumph. And no, it wasn't all for nothing.

Editor: Each person deserves respect for how they have resolved their own lifestyle and sense of well-being.

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