That Was The Year That Was

That Was The Year That Was

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Beardy Thinky Man

I started 2013 as Ben, the man in black: long-haired, bearded with black jeans and a black leather biker jacket. I was often feeling uncomfortable when out socially, my relationship with my wife was rocky, and I was getting drunk regularly.

On the bright side work was going well: I continued to be happy in my job as a software developer. I was organizing darts competitions in my local pub.

But on a personal level the cracks were showing. By the middle of the year tensions at home were very evident and I had been contemplating separation. My wife told me several times that I wasn’t the person she had married: I had changed.

I guess I was aware of this subconsciously as a kind of dissatisfaction with my life, a feeling that things used to be better. If I could only go back to those happier, more innocent days… I was spending more and more time in introspection, analyzing myself, trying to figure out what was out of balance in the machinery of my mind.

I finally took steps to seek help with one of my problems: anxiety. I underwent a course of CBT to help me handle some of the situations where my anxiety was seriously affecting my ability to function. It helped with one small area of my life but I recognized that I had other problems and was suffering deeper and more frequent bouts of depression.

I started writing about more emotionally difficult subjects, trying to exorcise the demons of my past. Maybe some of this acted as a trigger, maybe it was just the build-up of stress, but I began to break down. I was feeling scared, sad, lonely, tired and trapped. My marriage appeared to be beyond salvation and my wife and I were at each others’ throats.

I ran away for a few days, staying with friends. I took time off work. I wrote a post that was as close to an admission of my true feelings as I had been able to come so far in my life. I saw my doctor and started treatment for depression. And finally I revealed to my wife a secret that I had held for about thirty years.

And over a few weeks, through a combination of my new-found openness — no more secrecy, no more pretending to be somebody I am not — and medication, I started to feel better. My relationship with my wife not only improved but became stronger than ever.

As this year draws to a close I am, at last, happy and optimistic about the future. It has been an exhausting journey and there is still a long way to go in terms of changing my body to match my gender identity. But I have had such support from my friends and especially from my wife that I truly feel accepted and loved.

So I’m finishing the year as Alexandra and I feel a long way removed from the person I was twelve months ago. After so many years — decades — I can be myself openly.

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Look, no makeup 😉

 

Celebrating Difference

Celebrating Difference

Warning: This post contains frank references to sex and sexual organs. If you don’t want to encounter such words then I suggest you don’t read on.

It makes me angry when I hear people make disparaging comments about somebody based on their appearance or mannerisms. The unspoken assumption that those people are somehow inferior because they do not fit into a neat little box in a neat little life.

There’s denial of a person’s self: “You can’t be disabled. You don’t look disabled.” Deliberately using the pronouns of their previous gender to refer to a trans person. Suggesting that a woman is only lesbian because she’s not had sex with a “real” man (whatever that means).

There’s the imposition of one’s own standards on another: of a sexually-provocative woman, “She looks like a tart. She’s all over those men, whoring herself.”

Guess what? There are a host of disabilities that don’t affect a person’s physical appearance: that man with Tourette’s didn’t get issued with a badge along with his diagnosis. And somebody who does have a physical sign of disability? Odds are they are aware of this themselves and don’t actually need your help in pointing it out.

A trans person who transitions knows who they are. Your crass attempts to suggest that you know better than they do only serve to paint you as ignorant, narrow-minded and prejudiced. Yes, I used to present as a man: I know this only too well, after all I was there. But I’m a woman. I don’t need or want to be reminded of who I appeared to be before. That life is in the past.

Some people are attracted to people of the same sex. For a man to suggest that a lesbian should prefer sex with a man, and that experiencing it would change her sexual orientation, demonstrates a staggering lack of understanding. If he thinks being penetrated by a penis is so wonderful perhaps he should try it. After all, speaking from personal experience would carry more weight!

And that woman wearing revealing clothes? Well, I guess she’s feeling confident and attractive. Getting attention from the opposite sex probably makes her feel empowered and can be a turn on. And maybe — shock, horror! — she enjoys sex?

There are a whole lot of people in this world of ours, and that means there’s a lot of scope for differences. Instead of feeling insecure or threatened by this I would hope that people can approach others with an open mind. We are all people and we are all different. Different does not mean less. It does not mean wrong. It’s time to accept and celebrate these differences as what make people unique and special, each in their own way.

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Reblog: I Am A Woman from Notes On Crazy

Reblog: I Am A Woman from Notes On Crazy

Nattily at Notes On Crazy is hosting a collaborative blog series called Point, Counterpoint, Actual Point. This is a series of posts combating doubts about who and what we are, a set of personal accounts of accepting ourselves as we are.

My own contribution can be found here, but make sure you check out the rest of the series. There are some excellent, informative, thought-provoking entries that are well worth your time to read.