Sometimes that light at the end of the tunnel is a train

There’s no light and the end of this tunnel, only infinite darkness or a light from a rapidly approaching train. The “It will get betters” lost any kind of meaning years ago. Transition was not only an attempt to be myself, but to save myself.



Why has it gone wrong? There’s no definitive answer, but it’s a combination of lack of trans-related support, legal and physical barriers, going from one bad living situation to another, the fact that my referral to the GIC has been lost and my own poor decisions. GRS seems so far out of reach, as does being able to get anything done to change my wretched male sounding voice. I realize that if it weren’t for my voice and my tallness, I would probably never be misgendered and would just be seen as an ugly woman. I would take that; even just changing my voice could be enough, as there are some cis women my height.

I’m trying really hard to be positive, but this plus the uncertainty of where I’m going to live and feeling extremely alone and isolated derails any positive train of thought very rapidly. If I could just find a place to live, that would be a good start. I’ve been at my mum’s 3 weeks on Friday and she and her husband are definitely suffering as a result of me taking up some of their space. I have asked (so-called) friends on Facebook if any of them can put me up for a few weeks, but none can. If we can’t find a flat, I know I’ll be made to go to a hostel with other homeless people. It seems that I am the only one that sees the danger in this. At the last hostel I stayed in, I had several problems with other residents, including having my stuff stolen, being told “it’s not natural”, deliberately misgendered, stared at and even grabbed inappropriately by a guy who walked past as I was bending down to get my clothes out of the communal tumble drier. I ended up abandoning my room, because my anxiety was so bad from all the issues and the noise of people constantly slamming doors. That was only a small 15 room hostel too; I hate to imagine what bigger hostels and shelters are like. In fact, the housing office at the local council here have already mentioned to my mum that there’s a “supported living” type hostel here, but it sounds like a place they send rehabilitated criminal offenders. I wouldn’t last 3 seconds in there. My former support worker in Lancashire tried to get me into a women’s refuge in Skelmersdale, but because I’m pre op, they had nowhere available to put me and I was told I had to respect that because of women and children there.

I am also dealing with massive amounts of guilt and sadness over my last relationship. I had to sever ties with my ex, but I sill care about her. Both her mother and her new girlfriend blame me for the situation she’s in now, which has just added further to the weight of guilt that I carry. I always seem to cause problems wherever I go, including here where I am in the way. No one can seriously tell me that killing myself would be “selfish” and that it’s not fair on other people. Actually, it would be an unselfish decision as it would free my family and few half-friends of the burden and it would prevent me from cursing anyone else’s life. My transition and the lie caused my ex wife several nervous breakdowns and I am such a disease that my ex girlfriend is now in hospital due to mental health issues, many of which were caused by me being a worthless friend and worthless girlfriend.

I’m trying hard to keep going and resist the urge, but it’s becoming a losing battle. I can’t take any more blows. I feel like I’ll never hear from the Gender Identity Clinic and that even if I did, there would still be too much of a wait for surgery to save the few years of youth (so it seems) that I’ve got left. I need two things to happen within the next week; 1) acknowledgement from the GIC that I will be seen and 2) a stable place to live. I have to impose a deadline on my existence, at this stage. I simply cannot go on living this way or being a burden to others.

If you’ve got this far, thank you for reading. Please refrain from leaving abusive comments, even though I deserve it.  

“Sometimes that light at the end of the tunnel is a train” – Charles Barkley

Trans Lives Matter (even those over 24)

Before I came out as transgender, I thought the transgender community would be a welcoming and supportive place, but it isn’t. There is a lot of favoritism and elitism and support and assistance tends to be targeted at trans youth.


I believe there should be more help for transgender people aged 25-55 (the working age / upper millennial and lower generation X). The system does very little to help our demographic as we are seen as old enough to fend for ourselves, but too young to benefit from the protections that older transgender people have, most likely through years of working and saving.

While trans youth are at risk and are more likely to be homeless due to being kicked out by their families, trans people over 24 are also at risk of homelessness. Many of us come out in our mid-late 20’s, 30’s or 40’s and risk our jobs and breakdown of any marriage or long term relationship which started prior to coming out. We face a tougher time fighting to be recognized as who we are, due to being known as our sex assigned at birth for many years prior. We usually lose our circle of friends, who feel either too disturbed by our transitions or feel like they were deceived. There could also be children involved, who also have to go through the adjustment of their dad being their second mum or their mum being their second dad.

But we are expected to just suck it up. We are less employable than younger trans people and seen as less vulnerable. I remember when I was homeless last year. I went to Stonewall in London with high hopes, but was basically told that I’m screwed as they don’t help people over 24 with housing. In fact, the same is true for many other transgender organizations. Yet housing is a problem for most trans people, regardless of age. We all face discrimination and are all at risk in “temporary accommodation” such as shelters or hostels (trust me, I’ve been there and done that). 

We also need more help targeted at employment,either sustaining existing employment prior to and during transition or towards new employment, which is a massive hurdle for many trans people regardless of age.

Another thing we need to do (collectively) is to stop using trans people who look completely cisgender to say “Would you share a bathroom with me?” or “Wouldn’t date a transgender person?”. Not all trans people look cis, so showing the predominantly cis world images of trans people that blend in does little to protect trans people in general. It is setting the bar too high for many and is furthering the case that it’s a cosmetic issue and all trans women should look as good as Laverne Cox or Carmen Carrera.

We need to do more to target trans people of color too, as that particular demographic seems to be the most “at risk” regardless of age.  

Before you jump on me, I am not suggesting we help trans youth any less, but we need to help trans people over 24 much more than we do, especially those on low incomes. Money or age should not prevent people from living authentically and safely.

ALL trans lives matter.

Backward Steps (Transition)

My transition has been very much a “gradual” process, both the physical side and the changes in the way that I present myself.  For the first year and a half, I dressed more androgynous ortomboyish than anything else, although I did tend to dress feminine during warm weather, especially when I still lived in Florida.  I couldn’t  go very far until I left South Florida in January 2015, as it was difficult to be myself around people who knew me pre-transition. 

I didn’t start wearing dresses and skirts until last July (2015).  I was always terrified of the prospect, but in the end, it was a non-issue and to date, I have never been harassed.  Now I hardly ever wear jeans as I never found them comfortable anyway.

But now that I am temporarily living with my mum and her husband, I am finding it difficult to be my true self again.  I don’t feel comfortable wearing dresses or even anything too girly.  It isn’t their fault and I know they most likely wouldn’t care as my mum accepted me as her daughter 2 years ago, but it’s just difficult for me and I’ve found that I’ve gone back in transition a bit, reverting to Capri pants, shorts or tank tops or skirts are about as far as I’ll go.  I also don’t feel like I know the town well enough and I’m still as terrified of harassment or misgendering, even though it’s not happened in a very long time.

I should’ve just reverted to the way I usually dress while they were away and made the effort to go out, but my depression and anxiety got the better of me and I just needed solitude and a break from dealing with people in general.  It just sucks because the weather is gorgeous and I would love to feel confident enough again to wear one of the summer dresses I have, but I’m in unfamiliar territory and with people who knew me as (what they thought was) a male for so long.

I just hope I get a stable place to live soon, before I further crawl back into my shell, which will just make this harder in the long run.  I don’t have this problem around people who only ever knew me as Rebecca. 

And I hate feeling like such a huge burden.   

“Blame Rebecca!” (Guilt, Burden)

I can’t really go into the details of what’s been troubling me lately, but it involves an ex, her mum, her new partner and a bunch of blame being thrown my direction for shit that I didn’t do.  I honestly wish this ex all the best and I want her to pull through and make it in life, but I had to sever ties for the sake of my sanity, which is hanging by a broken thread.  I am mentally drained from all the drama and for caring so much about someone who most likely stopped caring about me a long time ago.

I’m also dealing with a homelessness issue.  My mum has offered to help me pay for a flat and has offered to look at places with me.  We saw one today that was actually decent and in a central part of town, but it won’t be ready for 5 weeks.  I also don’t want my parents to have to shell out for me, yet again.  I am clearly in the way here though and can’t stay here for 5 more weeks, so I have to find somewhere else to stay for at least some of that time.  It’s not like any other family members or friends have offered, although they are quick to offer empty words.  Council accommodation is not a good idea for me anyway, even if I could get it.  I would be at risk, exposed to potential danger.  The same goes for hostels and temporary accommodation.  There isn’t any help though for transgender people over 24.  So I’m beyond stressed over this and feeling like an extreme burden on everyone.

I’ve heard nothing from the Gender Identity Clinic, nothing from my old GP or current GP after requesting information in order to get details of my referral.  I feel like I’m going to be stuck in this limbo forever, even more obligated to exist just because I’ll be in debt to so many people if I accept the kindness they’re offering.  I’m in everyone’s way and seem to just ruin everyone’s life, wherever I end up.  If I managed to end it, no one could tell me that it was a selfish act.  Selfishness is what I am doing now, which is to continue to exist without hope, too afraid to try to bring an end to it for my sake and for everyone else’s sake.  The world would go on just fine without me and those who have suffered because of my suffering would be freed from it also.

If there’s a chance that my life can and will change direction, it has to happen very soon, as my borrowed time is running out.  I’m willing to do whatever it takes within the scope of my current abilities, but I need a hand up and someone to advocate for me.  It is almost impossible to find people who understand my level of anxiety, never mind understand the complexities of why I hate myself and why I am afraid of people.  Even this blog has only really scratched the surface of it all.

I do wish people would stop blaming me for things I didn’t do, because I carry enough guilt as it is for the things I did do wrong.  I’m sure that people do it deliberately, because I appear weak or cowardly to them, hence an easy scapegoat.

“Blame the sad, ugly bitch and let’s ensure that she drowns in a sea of guilt.”

Inner Beauty (the shit they say to ugly people)

I know I’m not alone when I express my frustration at people who think they’re helping me by telling me that looks don’t matter and that I’m beautiful on the inside.  Such comments aren’t helpful and can easily be taken out of context, especially in my case when I have BPD and have so many “triggers”.  

The fact is that I’m not beautiful on the inside either.  I am depressed most of the time, self-loathing, terrified of people I don’t know and nothing more than a net drain and a burden on others.  What is it about my personality that is so “beautiful”?  I’ll tell you: NOTHING, NADA!  This is just bullshit they tell ugly / unattractive people so that they’ll shut the fuck up and deceive themselves into thinking that looks don’t matter.  It is certainly not something you should say to a transgender woman, who has struggled hard over the years to be recognised.  I know that I’m not beautiful, but I get upset when people start going on about inner beauty, as I’ve been spun that bullshit my entire life.

Here’s an idea; if you’re not willing to compliment that person even just to make them feel a little human, don’t say anything at all.

Simple.

 

Fear of Children & Teenagers

Even when I was a child myself, I was afraid of other children.  I was picked on a lot at school, although the bullying was mainly in the form of names, harassment, humiliation and exclusion.  I’ll never forget one of my classmates telling me “You’re not one of us” when I was around 9 years old.  That statement pretty much summed up my childhood and adolescent years; feeling marginalised and scared.  I would do anything to avoid the playground, including becoming a librarian in high school in order to avoid it during lunchtime and have a safe place to go.

The names I was called continued haunting me into adulthood.  These included ugly, spastic, spazz, spacker, retard, freak, poof, horse face and deformed.  They made fun of everything from my nose, my mouth (I had an enlarged tongue due to Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome).  This was in addition to being generally excluded, feeling out of place and having few friends throughout my childhood and adolescent years.  While no one knew I was transgender at the time (I would have been crucified), all the abuse I received did ensure that it would be a long time before I came out of my shell, as I always told myself “An ugly boy cannot be a girl”.  I ended up capitulating and rather than show how visibly hurt I was, I started calling myself names and pretending to laugh along with them.  I wanted to show them they couldn’t hurt me, but what ended up happening is that I convinced myself that the names must be true, which is why I am the queen of self-deprecation as an adult, much to the disdain of others who do not understand why I put myself down to much.  The teachers did very little to stop the bullying, largely because they were under too much pressure.

Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to leave school with my pathetic 5 GCSE’s, ‘C’ being my highest grade.  Since there was no pressure for me to stay on and do A Levels, I went down the NVQ route, but managed to fuck that up because from 16 and up, I went off the rails big time (I’ll save that for another post).  I generally tried to avoid my peers as much as possible, but that was extremely difficult.  As I got older and started work, my fears still didn’t go away, but after I passed my driving test and got my first car, I was able to effectively avoid putting myself in harms way.  I became accustomed to simply not going out during times when kids and teenagers would be more prevalent and I would avoid the places they tended to congregate in groups.  I successfully continued this “avoidance” tactic for years, although I did become housebound for some time when I ended up living on my own.

When I moved to Miami to be with my ex wife, I was very relieved to see very few teenagers congregating in public places, as they do here in the UK.  Even in rough-ish parts of Miami-Dade, I just didn’t encounter them.  Even after I started physical transition and presenting feminine/androgynous, I never felt threatened in public places.

Fast forward to January 2015 and the problem I seemingly left behind hit me like a ton of bricks when I returned to the UK.  When I started going out after I’d somewhat got used to the cold of the British winter, I was quickly reminded of the phobia that I left behind.  I forgot that unlike in the US, most kids in Britain walk to and from school, so I got caught out a couple of times at 3-4pm.  When I got moved into hostel accommodation, I spent most of the time trapped in my room, unless I managed to go out during the 9am-3pm window during the week only.  The experience was bad, largely because I wasn’t ready to cope on my own.  Britain still has a major problem with antisocial behaviour, just as it did when I left it early 2004 and just as it did when I was a teenager myself.  Seemingly, nothing changes, although I have noticed that the behaviour has become even more disturbing and violent.

Violent Teen Crime Is Swept Under The Rug

So not only did I have the existing fear of children and teenagers, but now I have to fear them even more because I’m transgender.  I feel like I would be a prime target for any harassment, just like I was at that age.  2 1/2 years of hormones and blockers have reduced my upper body mass, rendering me much physically weaker than I used to be.  If I ever had to physically defend myself against teenagers, I would most likely be in a lot of trouble.  But trust me, I would not want to have that muscle mass back; I just want to be as stealth as possible in order to blend in (which my height doesn’t allow) and to continue to avoid them at all costs.  Nothing has happened to me thus far, but I owe that to a combination of luck and avoidance.  The only thing that’s changed is that I’m afraid of younger children too, because of their tendency to be blunt and have no filter.  Around this time last year, I remember leaving my doctor’s surgery and a little girl muttered “Look at that tall man!”.  I swear I wanted to die at that moment and it caused me so much hurt that I needed to drink.

I am continually frustrated by the fact that very few people seem to even understand this phobia of mine, never mind offer any empathy.  I’ve been spun the “It’s just kids” line so many times that I’m sick of even bringing it up.  Or people look at me like I’ve got 6 heads when I tell them.  Even those in mental health have cast doubt on my phobia, as have friends and relatives who most likely think that I’m over-exaggerating and just making excuses as to why I can’t go out.  In fact, I tried and failed to go out to the local supermarket earlier, but as the weather has gone from February cold to June warmth in little over 8 hours, everyone and their brats decided they also needed to be outside.  Needless to say, I got about 5 minutes from the house and came straight back.  It’s quite pathetic really, because I haven’t been out properly since last Monday.  When I see kids and / or teenagers, I instantly panic and either shut down, or flee as quickly as I can.

I am scared of most people generally, but children and teenagers scare me the most.  That is why I will continue to do all I can to avoid  them for as long as exist.  My fear is essentially caused by years of torment and because I stand out and fear being targeted.  I wish people would understand and I wish more was done to protect people from harassment and bullying.

Plaster On a Gunshot Wound (Conventional Treatment)

I’ve been back on 15mg of Mirtazapine for the past week and while it has helped me fall asleep, I wake up feeling like I’ve been binge drinking the night before.  It has also caused nightmares that are both long and traumatic, causing me to either wake up in a state of panic or even crying.  I had a particularly vivid and disturbing dream last night involving an ex-partner, which has affected me quite badly.  I can’t even say that I notice any improvement in anxiety or mood; in fact, my mood is worse in the mornings.

In the 15 years or so that I’ve been seeking help for my depression and anxiety, I have not found anything that helps, except for sleep.  Many of the pills I’ve taken have made things worse, particularly SSRI’s.  SSRI’s seem to do nothing but make me feel like a zombie or even induce mania and clarity of suicidal ideation, which made me even more likely to actually commit suicide.  Citalopram did nothing for me, although perhaps I needed a higher dose.  Paxil caused me to feel so disassociated that I ran away from where I was living, to the cliffs of Beachy Head in late 2002.  The withdrawal from stopping was worse than any drug I’ve taken.  When 2 psychiatrists in Florida diagnosed me as bipolar, one put me on Mirtazapine (then called Remeron) for the first time, which rendered me useless for the first 6 hours of the day and caused Matrix-like hallucinations.

I was formally diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder last year by a psychiatrist in Watford (I was living there at the time).  I am more inclined to go along with that diagnosis than I am of bipolar, although a few people have told me I have many of the traits of Asperger’s Syndrome.  He wanted to put me on mood stabilisers, but because that was never communicated to my GP before I ran away to America for the second time last September, I never got to try that option.

When I left to stay with a friend in New York, I managed to see a therapist and a psychiatrist there.  He was actually a great therapist and his train of thought was more along the lines of PTSD, rather than BPD.  The psychiatrist there put me on a drug that wasn’t FDA approved, but was used to treat war veterans with PTSD.  This actually worked as it severely reduced my nightmares and flashback experiences while awake.  Unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of the drug and it isn’t even available here in the UK, so I could no longer take it upon my return to the UK in January.

Anyway, the fact of the matter is that neither therapy or medication will ever fix my gender dysphoria.  No one will ever be able to convince me to be comfortable in my own skin without further physical changes (GRS, voice feminization, electrolysis on my face and a rhinoplasty to reduce the size of my hideous nose).  Unlike BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder), this is both distress caused by real (versus imagined) deformities and because my voice and aspects of my body do not match my identity at all.  I do not wish to diminish the struggles of anyone with BDD, but gender dysphoria is a pain that not even people with BDD would be able to fathom.  The only therapist I’ve been to that at least respected that and didn’t blame my thought processes was the therapist I saw weekly during my 4 months in New York.  Other mental health professionals have done little or nothing for me, aside from giving me a chance to vent out my frustrations.  Some have made it worse, through their lack of understanding and knowledge regarding transgender issues.  I even had a support worker while I was living in Watford who almost intentionally misgendered me, even though she knew it caused me major distress.

body

I take the blame for misdiagnosis pre-transition though.  I could not even tell mental health professionals that at least 3/4 of my depression was caused by my desire to have a sex change.  In late 2001, I did try to tell my therapist at the time, although I couldn’t even bring myself to tell her flat out what I was.  I did manage to tell a couple of online friends at the time, I tried to tell my best friend at the time.  I told my mother that same year, but her reaction at the time was “But you’re male”.  That, plus the fact that I felt too hideously ugly to be a girl since I was young made me bury it again, until it resurfaced in 2011.  But had I been honest with myself and with doctors and therapists, I would have fully transitioned long ago and at a time when the gender clinics were far less swamped.  I would never have lost all those years in my 20’s and who knows, I may have been content and at least comfortable in my own skin by now.  It was truly an opportunity forever lost.

What worries me about my mental health is that it will put my sex change operation at risk, if I make it that far.  BPD does cause identity issues in many sufferers, but one of the few things I’ve always been sure about is my gender identity and who I am in that sense (a woman).  Assuming I do have BPD, it does cause other conflicts in my identity, including my sexual orientation, although I have learnt to accept that my sexual orientation is fluid (sometimes I feel straight, sometimes I feel lesbian).  But my gender identity, my political and social beliefs and my sense of humour have always remained constant throughout my life.

Today is Saturday and I feel pretty low, mood wise.  My mum and her husband get back from their short break tomorrow, so I have to somehow find the courage to go out and walk to the supermarket on my own, as I need to replenish the food I used and buy what I need to make dinner tomorrow.   I am absolutely dreading it, largely because it’s the weekend and I’m far more likely to bump into kids and teenagers.  I will explain why I am so afraid of kids and teenagers in another post as that is a separate topic, but it makes it very difficult for me to go out, except during the week and during times of the day when most of them will be at school.

I just feel too tall and too ugly to be seen by anyone and this is both gender-related and non-gender related (just plain old ugliness).  I would love to be a foot or so shorter.  Perhaps I could accept other flaws, if it weren’t for my height.  Being tall, ugly, shy and transgender is the worst combination you could possibly have if you suffer from social anxiety and social awkwardness.  What makes it worse is when people do not understand the severity of it or are completely dismissive and disbelieving.  I’m not only sick of feeling this way, but I’m sick of having to justify why I feel this way and then still be seen as over-exaggerating or making excuses.  I feel totally hopeless, as there seems to be no help for much of this.  I feel like I’m living on borrowed time, waiting for the next catastrophe to be the final push I need to attempt to end this existence before I go truly insane.