To explain why visability is important to me as a trans man I need to first take you back to the beginning of my journey as just like a movie the ending wont make much sense if you miss the start and middle.
I grew up in a country town and my parents were not well off, I was the fifth child, my parents had 4 children before me and they were all boys, so they were over the moon to finally have a girl (me).I was always playing outside, wearing pants with no top, preferring the company of boys and sharing the same interests in sports.
Throughout my childhood I was made to wear dresses for special occasions with lots of frills and ribbons which caused me to get an overwhelming sense of anxiety which I later realised was the start of dysphoria and that increased when i reached puberty.I posed for the photos cause I knew it made them happy as my mum and nan would spend alot of time making the different dresses, and I didnt want to disappoint them.
People would tell me I was just a tomboy and always try to downplay my feelings whenever I tried to explain how I felt and how my body started to feel foreign the more puberty kicked in.
Then when i started getting feelings for women and people would tell me i was gay and once i came "out" I would feel better.... so at 19 I came out.....but that didnt happen and the feelings of feeling different were still there.
I noticed it made people uncomfortable to talk about things like sexuality so I made a conscious decision to bury whatever it was I was feeling and to help with that I found that using humour was a great way to distract attention and act like everything was ok. so began my comic act that continued most of my adult life until I was in my early 30's as that is when I meet my partner and moved to adelaide.
We both met eachother at the perfect time we both wanted to settle down and both prefered to stay home rather than go out clubbing. we both wanted kids so using our collective creativeness and can do attitude we welcome 2 beautiful boys 2 years apart.
Having found out that our oldest son has non verbal level 3 autism which puts him on the severe end of the spectrum was and still has its daily challenges, my partner 5 years ago was diagnosed with the BRACA 1 gene and then breast cancer which resulted in her having a full hysterectomy and double mastectomy within 6 months of eachother. You could say life has been not only busy but also complicated so I was exsisting but not really living then once we seemed to be in a calm and semi problematic free space I had the overwhelming feeling of dysphoria return all over again and this time I deciced not to ignore it but to put me first for once and address it at the age of 42.
Spending time reflecting on my life with the help of councilors/psychologists to understand that the reason im trans is nothing to do with my upbringing or being born the only female from a prodominent male household or from being a victim of sexual assault/molestation during my childhood. I believe I am trans because thats how I was born as I knew I felt different from a very early age but just didn't know the words to express how I felt.
My partner and family have been very supportive and have given me the strength to come out to work and friends. Once I came out at work as trans everything changed for me, my workplace was were I spent the other half of my day and all that time I had never shown them the real me I was always holding back. Since being out as trans at work I volunteered and as a commitee member and can see at first hand all the amazing projects we are working on to build more inclusion at work. I have felt that I can help be the voice of those that are still living in fear of being judged and not accepted and helping to educate and help remove the negative stereotypes often associated with trans individuals.
When I first came out as trans I wanted to pass as male on the outside so it would match how I felt on the inside and I still wanted to live only as Ned and not tell people I was trans but in doing that I realised that I wasn't using my experiences to help others who may feel the same way but not know what to do or where to go for help.
I guess somewhere along the line I realised that ive listened to people all my life tell me what I am or how I should act and how I should feel and I never questioned it as I guess I wanted to please people and stay under the radar. The more I realised I deserved to be happy and that this is my body and this is how I feel and I had to get used to people perhaps being uncomfortable because im not pleasing their ideals of what gender is, but this is my journey and what I needed was your support not your opinion.It has made me feel stronger to know that throughout my journey I have empowered myself in ways that I didnt even realise I had control over and have seen how by me using my voice to create visibility it has helped many others in my workplace also find thier voices.
Maintaining good mental health is a constant focus as Dysphoria for me can come swiftly and sometimes constantly for me it can be triggered depending on situations such as change rooms/pools/ toilets etc, but I have learned someways to lessen the dysphoria and try to address the things I can control as there are many things I cannot and thats ok,so I try to stay positive.
I think its important to see things from other prespectives as it opens up the possibilities for possible solutions kinda like a brain storming session which is why story telling is so important to be able to connect through someone else sharing their journey which is why I started doing it as I felt a similar connection with someone while I read their journey and although it was the opposite to mine it was still familiar and the feeling of fear and rejection we both felt was the same. If im the only trans person that someone meets (that they know of) then I want it to be a positive experience and im more than happy to help answer questions they may have or help guide them on areas that can be hurtful or intrusive to a trans person, we can learn to educate in a respectful manner.
I dont expect anyone to just get what its like for a trans person as we are all different and it has taken me 42 years to finally learn to accept it, so im very patient when it comes to others misgendering by mistake or using the wrong name.
It is a human need to feel accepted and loved, it is something we all crave but in different ways. So to be visible and finally be able to live as your true self and for me to help be an advocate for others until they too find their own voice is amazing and also a very important job that I take seriously because I know what its like to not feel visible, in a world that seems like its not designed for you.
I know it is possible and this is only the beginning.
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