Permission: the action of officially allowing someone to do a particular thing; consent or authorization. This is my trans story, and it’s only the beginning.
I first knew that being AFAB was not the most comfortable option for me well before I even consciously understood what it meant to be a human being on this place people were calling Earth. My first memory of finding out that I was in fact, not who I thought I was as early as 2-3 years old when I was scolded for running around with my brothers shirtless. I was very quickly introduced to the expectations put on me from that moment forward about what it meant to be AFAB here in this realm, and regardless I still could not bring myself to conform to the rules. I spent the rest of my childhood defying all the obstacles and pleas that were placed in front of me or directly imprinted on me as I navigated the world as a growing human body.
My mother truly had a strong desire for me to be the little girl that she had always dreamed of parenting, and I just could not ever live up to those requests, standards, or expectations. I felt at every turn that I had this innate and certain knowing of resistance to all things that were being modelled for what being a girl, woman or AFAB meant. Once puberty hit, I was met with this world of shame and confusion that I never could properly word to anyone else, so I found myself just going through the motions and toeing a line of ambiguity and androgyny that eventually developed into finding as many ways as possible to channel the inner man inside of this female body that I had chosen for myself this time around.
My mother tells me stories of how I used to express to her about the dreams that I had of the "little boy who lived inside of me" and I distinctly remember countless conversations where I was told "No" because "girls don't do those things" and somehow as I got older, I found ways to cope. You see, I lived in North Carolina where my surrounding family and environment was not exactly one of education, knowledge or worldly views so knowing that what was happening to me was something that happens to many others, was not accessible. I first understood fully what was happening to me in my early 20's as I had finally had an introduction into a world of trans people, drag and a large (for the environment of the South) LGBTQIA Community and for the first time felt peaceful and like I was not alone or crazy.
I tried to tell others that I was a transman, and even set up some appointments to start my medical transition but had a big and intense reaction from important family members that left me feeling unseen and traumatised, so I backed out. Being told that I would be disowned after a lifetime of being ridiculed, grounded, and made to feel shameful for who I was already was the icing to my cake. I was still living my life in a manner at that time where I asked people for their permission for me to be myself and I was a people pleaser. Many years went by, and I dealt with my emotions, desires, and comfortability by hiding myself in baggy clothing, performing as a drag king and drowning myself in drugs and alcohol.
Amongst all the turmoil that I led my life with as I operated from a place of fear and shame and not authentic place, I managed to begin to piece together my life, my boundaries and sense of what it meant to live and operate from a place of healthy assertiveness. I got clean and graduated university with a concentration in psychology, I had spent a fair few years in therapy and made a decision to travel and leave my hometown, my family and friends and figure out just who and how I wanted to show up in the world.
At 30 years old I moved to Australia where I finally had the freedom to just live my life for myself without having to concern myself with anyone else. During the next few years, I developed a real sense of self and an individuality state that I had never experienced before, and at 33 years old I was getting married to the most beautiful and supportive human who wanted nothing more than for me to be me. I had reached the ultimate point of self-discovery and support and finally felt safe enough to let out the man inside that was just below the surface.
I am now 34 and a year into my medical transition and I am the happiest and healthiest I have ever been. My mental health and wellness are thriving, I am more connected to my emotions, I am more connected to Source, and I am feeling like the person that I am on the outside is matching the person I am on the inside, and I feel privileged to be able to experience this in my life. I look around at my life and feel so proud and grateful to be living an authentic life, one from a place of love and healing rather than fear and asking permission through my shame. I am running a successful business, helping others, and continuing to grow every single day. My support system here in Australia is incredible, and through some difficult trials my family is coming to terms with what my choice is in the capacity that they know how.
Some tips for being a trans ally
1) Transgender or not please always ask someone their preferences as far as name, pronouns or how they would like to be addressed or spoken about (in front of or without them present). The world that we currently live in is becoming more supportive of people embracing and honouring who they are at their core, and more often than not that means their names, their gender, the way the identify or want to be addressed will not be what you assume it to be, so it is important to get this clarity from the start. Not only does that make it less awkward for them to express a different desire if you don't but it also makes it more comfortable when others hear you making the effort to be inclusive and understanding even on this beginning level.
2) Be careful about "outing" someone. Not all trans people are publicly or socially "out" and it is important to note that even when someone who is transgender shares with you that they are, that it is not then your right to share that information with others. Make sure to always just refer to them as they have asked you to do, and if you are unclear about how to do so, refer to option 1. Transgender people may feel that they can trust you or have a need to share with you that they are trans but keep that trust and don't share it with others, even if the person is out socially or publicly, they have a right to speak their story when THEY choose to, not when you do.
3) Our identity does NOT now circle around the fact that we are transgender, we are still a human first who maybe prefers coffee over tea. Being transgender doesn't mean that all conversations, every introduction, every part of our lives revolves around that journey or decision. It will not be the focus of our life, so it is important that you don't make it the focus of our life. Get to know someone for all the other fun and quirky things that make them, themselves and understand that being transgender is simply just a part of that person, not the whole.
4) Deadnaming- It is MOST IMPORTANT that you get this one right. Even if you have known John as Sally for 30 years it does not mean that you then refer to John as "When he was Sally" or "Back before he became John" or "When John was a little girl" etc etc. This is just like with pronouns, it can mean life or death for some transgender individuals, and it is always the right thing to do to get clear on people's preferences as to what they want their past to be addressed as. You may run into some people who do not mind being called their birth name when referring to their past, but you might also find that they do. It is always important to find out what they prefer.
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