I finally decided to end weeks of indecisiveness and return to America. It’s taken a lot of thinking, going back and forth and weighing up pros and cons. But in the end, I came to the conclusion that I have a better chance there than I do here, but I will attempt to explain how and why I came to this decision, despite the risks and the perils involved. It means that essentially, I have to find a way to stop obsessively thinking about suicide, but therapy may help me achieve that.
This is now the second time I have tried and failed at returning to the UK. In fact, the only reason why I gave it a second chance was because I wanted to get back with my ex girlfriend and because I figured that I’d get SRS more easily here. But living with my ex girlfriend was a disaster which ended in tears and anyone who has read this blog will know of my issues with the Gender Identity Clinic and the referral from the year before that never was.
Each time I come back to England, I am reminded of my past and of the loser I was before I led in early 2004. After a while, feelings of jealousy and inferiority of my 2 younger brothers return, as does the bitterness I feel towards them and my mother, even though my failings were my own fault, more than anyone else’s. I feel less able to be myself here, because being around my family makes me feel like “him” still. Without any legitimacy, these thoughts cause me to question my sanity and harbor resentment towards my family, which is not healthy and has caused a few conflicts while I’ve been here. They say your problems follow you wherever you go, but if that is the case, why do these particular problems stay in the UK when I leave? Part of the reason that I came back in the first place is that I thought I was long past thesr issues, but they are just as raw as they were when I was 16. I simply need to leave the UK and never return, as I will have a much better relationship with my mother and brother closest in age. If I’d stayed here, I would be stuck with the self-branded label of “Saddo loser down the street”; thanks, but no thanks.
Aside from my own UK-based demons, Britain’s vote to leave the European Union (Brexit) really sealed the deal, as far as my decision to leave was concerned. Brexit deeply disturbed me and made me realize that as a world citizen, I did not belong here. The rise in racism, xenophobia and the increasing level of radicalism on the right scares the crap out of me, as do the implications for the British economy. I have always been pro-EU. Britain joined the EU before I was even born, so I have now lost my EU citizenship and freedom to move freely across the EU. The referendum result caused me to feel depressed and further disillusioned with a country that I no longer consider to be “home”. I came to the conclusion that I did not want to be here anymore and that if I was going to leave, I had to do so sooner rather than later, or risk losing my US green card as well as my EU citizenship. I do not understand the resurgence of the “Little Englander” mentality, given that we are supposed to have moved on from that and the Dad’s Army rhetoric about the French and the Germans.
The other main reason I’ve decided to go back is due to the fact that it will be years before I would’ve got SRS here. If I had kept my job in Miami, I could’ve just saved up the money within 3-4 years and got it done privately, along with the other trans-related procedures I need. At the time, I didn’t know that insurers in some states were going to be required by state law to cover transgender procedures. So even if I’d stayed in Florida for 2 more years, I could’ve saved up to move to California or New York and done it properly, without being a burden to the system. In the UK, the only thing the GIC will really cover is SRS itself. Like in the United States, transgender people here are left to pay for things like hair removal, voice feminization surgery, facial feminization surgery and breast augmentation privately. I was sold a lie by a former transgender friend of mine here in the UK that the UK was a “transgender paradise” and that she had got all this stuff done for free. The reality could not be further from the truth. This is no paradise for transgender people, harassment is commonplace, waiting times are insanely high and those over 24 especially are just left to get on with it (or not) and told to seek support groups. There’s an institutional chronic lack of knowledge and understanding of gender issues in the NHS, especially in mental health services. I have experienced more misgendering here in the UK than in the US, despite my name and gender being legally changed here long ago.
Another issue I had was that if I had chosen to stay here, I would have had to borrow a large sum of money from my mother; money which is her retirement savings. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea, especially given my poor employment prospects and current inability to pay it back.
All of my provable work experience is from working for US employers. With no degree and no recent UK work experience, I would’ve found it difficult to get a job and being transgender would’ve made it harder still. I applied for dozens of jobs on various websites, both here in the East Midlands and also in the north west when I was living with my ex partner. I’ve had little or no interest, except from the odd recruiter here and there, but they just want bums on seats to get their commission. I also feared that Brexit will make the economy suffer greatly, which in turn will inevitably lead to high unemployment, which is of grave concern when you aren’t marketable to begin with. In New York, I will be able to get into a program that will help rehabilitate me with a view to working again, plus I will have advocacy and greater mental health support.
I realize that I am taking a massive risk by leaving again. I accept that there’s no going back on this decision; I have committed to it now and I have to try to make the best of it, even if it means focusing less on transition and more on getting over trauma and looking towards employment and independence and regaining control. I realize that SRS is a long way off, but I will try not to dwell on it. I will focus on getting US citizenship with my correct name and gender. Hopefully one day I will be able to afford the treatments that I need, but until then, I will have to be a robot and just work my ass off and save. It’s not good, but it is the lesser of two evils and the more palatable choice, as I will reclaim my one major achievement n life, which is to have moved and lived abroad. And ultimately, the curse of the long-term expat is that your country of birth eventually ceases to be “home” after a while. I will miss my parents and the 2 cats, but I need to go. I also need to save a link to this blog entry, to remind myself of why I left, when things get tough in the US.