It was only when I was adult that I found out my parents took me to a psychiatrist when I was two years old because I was far from what my mother thought little girls should be. Always rough and tough, I was much more at home with the boys. I had no words for what I was in those days. I’d never heard of words like ‘transition’ or ‘reassignment’ or ‘realignment surgery’.
I remember coming into my teenage years feeling I was male but convinced people would think I was crazy if I told them, so I buried those feeling for many years. My mother hated how I was but my dad just accepted everything about me. The battles between my mother and I were so traumatic to me I still suffer from complex PTSD today. Some members of my family still insist on referring to me as female and use the name I used to be called, so I have to limit contact with them so I am not triggered.
To bury those feelings, I started taking heroin and drinking at 13, running away from home, stealing cars and getting brought back home by the police. I was so self-destructive. When I was taken to court at 14 my mother didn’t want me home so I lived at my best friend’s house with his family. I was among the boys which made life more tolerable.
I remember I’d pick fights with the biggest guys I could find, hoping it would end my life and I could check out, so I was definitely trying suicide by my actions. The heroin and self-destructive alcohol taking lasted for a good 15 years until one day I was fixing-up and just thought, ‘What the hell am I doing? I’m killing myself.’ So, I went into a program to stop the addictions and got clean and sober.
I took a welfare course and started helping young people and getting involved in political justice and equal rights campaigns. It was a turning point for me because spending time trying to help others rather than just myself, I think saved my life.
I tried to fit into the lesbian community but something was always missing. There were good relationships and bad ones, people who expected me to be one particular thing and women who just saw me as a person, regardless of my sex or gender.
I didn’t meet a trans guy who had transitioned until I was in my forties. In the lesbian community in those days there were many women who were anti-trans. When I came out and started to transition there were lesbians who told me I was doing the wrong thing and had trouble accepting me.
Now me and my beautiful dog Scout live in a peaceful place and are supported by many good people. We don’t all agree on everything but I’ve learnt to get along in a way that doesn’t trigger my PTSD as much anymore. The fact that I’ve met so many nice, kind, friendly people over the years with no personal agenda, who accept me for the man I am made my life complete.
So, for me, choosing life over self-destruction came about by surrounding myself with accepting, loving people.
Go in peace and reach out for help if you are thinking of suicide.
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Or contact your GP, local emergency mental health service or present yourself at the emergency department of your local hospital.