Monday, 24 July 2017

I’ve been sent to Coventry…..

I have literally been sent to Coventry. I am sitting in the village hotel, Canley in Coventry. I am here to complete a course in learning needs analysis with the TAP academy (Training Accreditation Programme). So why do a blog post here? Well most of my readers are also friends on Facebook and will have noticed that lately I’ve been really struggling with everyday life. I thought while being away from the environment that seems to bring out the worst of my demons it would be a good time to reflect on why I have been feeling so low and how I can help others to avoid these pitfalls or at least be prepared for them.

My last post talked about misgendering and dead naming. This post is a follow on from that really based upon some very recent experiences. So as a quick recap misgendering is when a trans person is referred to in the gender to which they do not identify, in other words, the gender to which they were born and have been struggling with all their lives. I am 14 months into my transition now and you would expect that by now I may have become hardened to some of the things I experience on a daily basis. I know also that my friends will try to rationalise the actions of a few inconsiderate or uneducated people to help me to cope. I truly appreciate each and every one of you that send me messages of support and encouragement. So what’s the problem? Well it all boils down to perception.

 The very thing that keeps me going is that one day I will walk into a room full of strangers and no one will notice that I’m transgender. As things are it is all too obvious. Only this evening I was shopping in Sainsburys here near the hotel and as I walked past a young couple I instinctively knew what was about to happen, I turned round to see the boyfriend literally pointing at me while not very discreetly asking his girlfriend to turn and look at me. What gives people the right to do that? Who has the right to publicly ridicule someone because they are different from them? I could have pointed at him and shouted “fat guy in grey sweats hide the doughnuts” but that’s not how I behave. This kind of thing happens pretty much everywhere I go so if you are beginning your transition and like me you are unfortunate enough not to pass as female then please be prepared. 

How do you prepare for this kind of life? That’s a good point. I have been in the motor trade since I left school so believe me I have thick skin and can give and take a joke but there is a line where the joke is not a joke. Between friends a little banter is a good thing, it’s healthy to laugh with each other. To laugh at someone or to point them out to others is not a joke and causes damage to that person which is impossible to imagine. Put it this way, I have only once in my life been in a position to want to take my own life and I vowed never to go to that place again, but when I have to constantly endure the daily bullshit from people like Mr grey sweats it just gets to be too much to bear. I often go to sleep wishing I would not wake up, not because I want to kill myself, as I’ve said I’d never do that but just not wake up, so that I don’t have to live this life anymore.

So what’s the alternative? Well I have two choices really as we have already ruled out the third. The first is to find a way to pass better by learning better make-up techniques and dressing well etc. Coco Chanel once famously said “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.” There lies part of the problem, for most of us trans women the art of dressing is not second nature as we did not go through our formative years with a mum or sister to point us in the right direction. The same goes for makeup. Many women say they have no real skills in makeup and many women are incredible at it. Trans women are often absolutely atrocious at applying makeup (I know I am) because again they did not have mums and sisters to teach them even the basics. So with hard work and true grit I like other trans women will get through this but not without many more tears and many more nights wishing I would never wake up.

My second choice is to de-transition, which as the name suggests means reversing all that I have done to live in the gender to which I identify. This means going against every principle I stand for and would be like putting a sticking plaster over a broken arm. Sooner rather than later I would be back where I started, staring at that oncoming truck and looking for a way out. My plea to those who are not transgender but come into contact with people from that community is this, please try to use the correct pronouns, we all make mistakes, even trans people can misgender at times we are all human, but try to understand the impact that that little pronoun has on someone who has hated their identity for a lifetime. In many cases from my experience I am often misgendered at work by people who knew my former self for five years and are still adjusting to the new me. I can completely understand those people getting it wrong from time to time due to familiarity. The people who never knew me as my former male self I have a much harder time with. As far as I’m aware no one I know would call me ‘he’ or ‘him’ on purpose but the fact that they get it wrong sometimes hurts more than any other situation because they instinctively called me by a male pronoun meaning this is how the perceive me subconsciously.

When I started this blog around a year ago someone told me it would be cathartic. They were right, it helps me to get through the everyday grind by sharing my experiences with my friends and colleagues. Please believe me if I’m ranting or whining on Facebook it is not because I seek sympathy. If I was looking for sympathy I’d look in the dictionary somewhere between shit and syphilis. I do not seek attention either, if I wanted that I’d walk down the street wearing a chicken suit. It is to raise awareness of what it is like to live a life as a trans person. I seek only to help others to understand by seeing it through my eyes. On that note, I will end this post. To my readers, friends and colleagues, take care of each other, we are all in this life together…

Thanks for reading.
Amy Kate xx.

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