Wednesday, 20 May 2015

A to Z: Happiness

I've been wanting to update this blog for a while; things have conspired to get in the way.

I had an idea for H, but it required some research and after doing some I quickly realised I was way out of my depth and didn't really know how I felt, which made it tricky to write about. That little gap made getting back into it harder. I'm not going to say that I'll update on a schedule yet but we'll see what happens.
This week my focus is Happiness, or lack thereof. This is somewhat a rehash of my Depression post; I wanted to cover it again now I'm a little older. To take a look at why I started this blog and try to help people understand what goes on in my head. Sorry if this ends up being too similar to the Depression post.

I am not a happy person. I never really have been. Not in the banal everyday sense at least. Even from being quite young I knew something was off. I once told a primary school teacher that I felt depressed, (I must have been maybe 9 or 10, I don't remember exactly) said teacher assumed I'd heard the word and didn't really understand. I did understand it in part it would seem. I knew it meant sad or unhappy without an obvious reason. I have absolutely no idea where I picked up the word or the meaning however.

It's a feeling that has persisted throughout my life. It's part of who I am and I don't think it'll ever go away. I don't really know what the route cause is. As I said before not having a full time job (still) is a large source, but even when those stresses are lessened a deeper, persistent, looming unhappiness sinks in. And that I think comes from my crossdressing.

To be blunt; regardless of what I chose to do to my body, surgery or otherwise, it will never live up to the mental image of who I want to be.
I wouldn't be the first person to think "Wow, I wish I had her figure", it really isn't a solely transcentric issue. I know a lot of cis women feel this way, but I think it's more acute for trans people; especially when that feeling comes in surges. I see someone in an outfit I like and it completely derails my thought process; it wrecks my self confidence and can easily cause me to spiral downwards (again, not saying I'm a special snowflake here, just that I experience it too).

And this is where it sucks. Because I like nice clothes, and I often know the people in them. I hate the idea that someone wouldn't wear what they want because they don't want to upset me. If nothing else people with the kinds of figures I'd like to have myself should enjoy them and wear the most flattering things they can get their hands on because god dammit life is only so long.

So what can I do? Deal with it I guess. Become happy with who I am or change. In the past someone raised the point that if I really wanted to transition, surely I would have made moves to do so by now. I don't remember what I said at the time because I was somewhat drunk and it was quite a while back now. Simply put it's not that simple (not to imply that they thought it was trivial). There's a lot of things to be afraid of; people tend to underestimate how hard it still is to transition.

GPs are notoriously bad at dealing with trans issues. It's a very difficult area for them to cover, even though it's becoming increasingly common. In my experience they will try to refer you anyone else, someone, anyone, who is in a better position to deal with you than they are. That or deny you treatment. They shouldn't do this, but they do. I've been flat told that no NHS mental health counselling exists in Cambridgeshire for me to be referred to, let alone for trans specific issues.
The NHS has some specific rules about who can transition, and how they must do so. For example they ask that the patient live as their desired gender for 3 months before they are provided with any assistance. In a perfect world where people don't judge you heavily base on appearance alone this wouldn't necessarily be too bad. The general principle behind it is to make sure the patient will actually benefit from the process. However it's brutal, especially the older you get. For someone like me who isn't naturally very effeminate it would be intensely draining and degrading at best, downright dangerous at worst.

After that 3 month period you are eligible for hormone therapy. Following this the patient beings a year of 'real life experience', which is more of the same as above but with some more support. After this year, if you meet the requirements (maintaining employment being a big one, changing your name to be 'gender appropriate') you get a certificate to receive surgery, and to legally change your gender.

Some of that might not be 100% accurate, it's based off my own personal research, someone with first hand experience might be able to go into more detail / correct a few things.

There are medical risks as well. Hormones can cause blood clots, gallstones, hair loss (from the scalp), depression, and more. There are a lot of general risks of having any surgery / general anaesthetic, lest alone such a major procedure. Things like electrolysis for permanent facial hair removal and the like some risk, but less.
And finally, people suck. Unless you have a wonderful transition and come out being able to pass without a second glance (i.e. beginning the process pre puberty) then you will be ostracised to some degree. It is slowly getting better. More people are coming out as Transgender and transitioning including high profile people. However it's still a long and complicated process that a lot of people find very strange and uncomfortable, and at the end of the day you have to be really sure it's what you want, and that you'll be happier afterwards.

It's an enormous life changing risk. One that I might want to take some day, but now isn't the right time. The knowledge that that possible path is fraught with so much uncertainty, and may not have the transformative effect I want is a deep and pervasive source of sadness.

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