Monday, 5 December 2011

The lucky one

So last week my article, Being Ben was published in Filament Magazine. The article outlines a bit of my transition, how my family responded, how it has changed my views on gender, advice for friends of trans people, and people who may be thinking of transitioning. The photos and the article turned out great, and I am really excited about it.

I did the article for two reasons. The first is to help others. If I could help one person who was thinking of transitioning make the right decision for them, or if I could help one friend or family member of a trans person understand a bit of what it is all about, I'd feel it was worth it.

The second reason is probably a bit self gratifying. There is a certain freedom in 'coming out' to the world. Having the article out, in an international magazine, that many/most of my peer group read, was a way to get my story out there so everyone could see it, and I didn't have to explain it.

Over the past year, I have been coming out to friends, new and old. It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I spent about 6 years being 'stealth'. In the closet. No one but my partners knew. I missed out on a lot, and it took a lot of my energy to keep it up.

I kept it up mostly due to fear and self-loathing. Fear of that people would think of me different if they knew, that they wouldn't want me, or that they would judge me. This fear has been widely unfounded, as my friends are awesome and no one has judged me or been anything other than supportive. Hell, not even supportive, just treated me normally. The self-loathing is a bit harder. Self-loathing in that I wasn't a real man, that I had something to hide, that I was less than, that my partners were settling, and secretly wanting the real thing. I don't feel that way anymore. I know who I am, I know what I have to offer to the world and I like that. I like me. I'm happy, really happy.

I wasn't always though. A friend posted a YouTube video this morning on Facebook that nearly had me in tears. It was like looking at 13 year-old me. The video can be seen here. It's only a few minutes long, so please watch it.

I was that kid. I started getting bullied at about 6 or 7. It didn't stop until I left highschool at 17. It was constant. It was from boys, from girls, even teachers. No one stood up for me, no one protected me, no one stopped it. I was different, which made me an easy victim. As a result, I acted out a lot, almost got sent to a special school for kids with behavioral problems. In my teens, I retreated even further into myself and took drugs and alcohol. A lot. I didn't go to prom, I didn't even go to my graduation, I was so happy to be away from there. I tried sports, I tried the military, I tried art. Nothing made it any better until I finally transitioned and moved away.

But watching this little boy's video, watching the tears and the pain, and remembering shedding those very same tears and the weight of that pain, I kind of wonder; How did I make it? With the media being abuzz with pre-teen suicides, and the It Gets Better campaign growing massive amounts of attention, I know that not all kids do. I wonder what was different about me, how I got through relatively unscathed, how I made it into adulthood largely successful, happy, loved.

I wish I knew what the magic formula was, as I would package it and send it out to every single one of those kids. No one should have to feel the way I did, the way the boy in that video does. Certainly not a child.

I made it, I don't really know how, but I did. I'm one of the lucky ones, and I count my blessings every single day.

1 comment:

Phaedra said...

I am really proud of you for 'coming out'. I can't even imagine how free you feel now. Big congrats!