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Hello, I am Jay

Ten years ago, I transitioned FTM. My process of realisation started once I accepted that trauma contributed to my decision to transition. As I sought through my trauma, I began to discover that maybe, it wasn’t a necessary step for me to take. Through the upset and heartbreak as I learnt about my pre-transition self, I began to see that childhood abuse was a major factor for the hatred I felt for myself and my body. I thought transition would rid of the aspects of myself that I grew to dislike through the abuse that I encountered. The further I went on with my transition, the more my body became a focal point and it was all I could think about. I was so caught up in becoming another person because I wanted to rid of who I was. I wanted to erase and supress that hurt that consumed my being. The emotional abuse caused me to put my life on hold and grasp transition as I thought that’s what was needed in order to fix my immense all-consuming bodily discomfort. 

Transition was something that I latched onto in hopes that it would aid in suppression of my trauma which it did, but the cost was high. I lost myself. I was miserable. It wasn’t until I decided to bring my transition to a halt that I began to realise how much trauma contributed to the issues I had with my body and the way I felt about myself

It has been 1.5 years that I have been off testosterone and for the first time in my life I feel alive. Free. Liberated.

I would like to help those who are struggling. So, if you are feeling lost. Alone. Or need someone to talk to – you can reach out to me and I will gladly chat with you. 

Roberto co-faciliates my Lost In Transition group. He has a deep understanding of trans issues and a strong interest in helping those who are struggling with their transition.

The impediment that haunts me

As I begin to build my life at 30, I have come to realise the extent that my life has been affected by the words of others and the profound impact that it’s had on my ability to go out into the world, to make a life for myself, to progress and find who it is I am. The experiences that I have encountered in life have severed my ability to form relationships, to stand proud, to believe in myself, to feel eagerness and excitement for life, a drive to persevere and chase progression.

Transition, for me was a means to finding myself, it was a hope that I would fall in love with life.

The immense ongoing discomfort that I had felt with my body, I thought that that was the cause of my unhappiness and so I sought to alleviate the discomfort by taking testosterone and having surgery. It would be then that I could begin my life, and this is what would aid me in being ‘able’. Able to function in society, flourish, take daily life challenges in my stride while remaining resilient. Little did I know, my depression would worsen as would my anxiety. I became progressively fixated on my body and strove to change all that bothered me. I believed that once I altered the parts of myself that brought so much distress that things would be better. Things did not get better.

They got worse.

My hope of becoming a functioning human being crumbled before me.

The thought that life would begin came to a halt.

I was paralysed with fear and consumed with anxiety. Fearful of how the world would perceive me.

I began to realise my profound fears and how they were impeding my ability to live. As I worked through them, I began to feel free. Able. Invigorated.

Trauma had altered my perspective of the world. I realised this once I began working on what it was that had left me feeling stuck and unable to move through the world freely like my peers.

Slowly, I began to see the impact trauma had had on me. I started to see that what I was feeling was due to the experiences that I had had rather than the body being wrong and needing fixing. I realised that my ability to move freely through the world had nothing to do with needing to perfect my physical being, that I wouldn’t suddenly acquire the characteristics or confidence that I needed in order to feel liberated. As I worked through this, I discovered that the continual search for self would never cease through the means that I had sought.

As I worked on understanding where my fears stemmed from, I discovered how much trauma had impacted the perception that I grew to have of myself. The fog started to lift.

Now I have a better grasp on just how much fear has ruled my life, the extent to which it has stopped me from going out, meeting people and pursuing my desires. How afraid it left me. Afraid of connection. Attachment. Love. Afraid that the cycle of trauma would repeat. And so, I locked myself away in my bedroom for a decade.

With a coming of age, I have experienced a shift in the way that I see the world. My many years of yearning for an escape has finally arrived. Freedom and serenity are at my doorstep.

As I work on rebuilding, I am faced with picking up the pieces that transition left behind.

My mind is plagued by the thought that transition will forever follow me. Will there forever be remnants of it? Will there always be a question in the minds of others?

I know that change must happen, but it is confronting. When all you have ever known is ill treatment it makes trusting others and trusting that things will be ok difficult. The fear that lives inside of me has left me preferring to hide away rather than seek the belief that things will be alright. That people are good and in fact kind.

A deep desire for escape from womanhood

Throughout the years of pubescent development, my mother spewed words that had a profoundly devastating impact throughout my young life. Her words sculpted my mind. They led me down a road of self-destruction. They are what plagued my mind. My desire to become another and to alter my body through medical treatment stemmed from words my mother led me to believe that I was.

At the time I sought transition I had no idea what it was that caused me to feel the way I did about my body, I saw ‘gender dysphoria’ and to me it made sense, it explained what I was feeling. Transition was a means to alleviate the discomfort that I felt with my body.

It is an easy assumption to make that one is experiencing ‘gender dysphoria’: the feeling of immense discomfort in one’s body can easily be assumed to be the experience of dysphoria. To me, it is quite complex. It is important to ponder where this feeling is coming from, discover the root causes. What has happened in your life for you to feel immense discomfort with your body? To feel overwhelmingly distraught by the thought and sight of your body? Why seek to medically and surgically alter your body? What is driving that desire?

At the time I sought medical transition, I had no idea of the root causes of my distress. Nor did I know the driving forces. Childhood trauma led me to seek a path of medical and surgical treatment.

The immense all-consuming discomfort I felt throughout my pubescent years followed me to adulthood and is what initiated a desire for escape from my body and life.

The distress I felt with my body worsened the further I progressed with transition.

I became further and further fixated on the appearance of my body.

It started with thoughts of my breasts that consumed my entire being. The feeling of disgust overwhelmed me and from the age of 14 I longed for them to be removed.

That desire was granted and at the age of 20, I had them surgically removed.

That was the beginning of an unravelling of deeply rooted disdain.

After each surgery, my depression worsened, and I became fixated on other aspects of my body. The desire for further surgery arose and because I was fixating on aspects of my body that were inherently female, I understood my desire for surgery to be the fix for my being in the wrong body. That these parts of me were never meant to be.

The distress, fixation and overwhelming desire for surgery never eased. The feeling of being whole that I had longed for never came.

I came to understand the root causes of my distress and deep desire for escape through therapy.

I learnt that the body I sought so desperately was to rid myself of any memory of the trauma that I had endured as a child. I didn’t know that at the time that I sought the path of medical treatment.

Please talk to someone before endeavouring on this path, there is nothing more painful than mourning the loss of parts of yourself that you lost through unnecessary surgery.

My legal right to live as my birth sex has been stripped from me

Those who are transgender seem to be handed all that they want, no questions asked. Surgeries, hormones and legal document changes. They are accepted and treated with dignity and respect.

I transitioned at the age of 19 and lived as male for 10 years. Recently, I realised that transitioning was a mistake and that this was something that I shouldn’t have ever done.

As I come to accept what it is that I have done and understand my reasons for deciding to transition and everything that contributed to the way I felt about my body and self. I am often overwhelmed with sadness and grief.

My skewed perception that I grew to develop of myself and my body stem from the abuse and words my mother spewed.

As I learnt of the root cause of my distress, I learnt that this is what caused me to grow a deep desire to be male.

The decision to stop testosterone consisted of far more than simply deciding to stop taking a medication. It consisted of an awakening. Awakening to the root cause of my decision to transition, what it meant to be male and why I so desperately wanted to be someone other than me.

My mind once consumed by the thought of my body and the doing of everything that I could to suppress thoughts of my disdain. Thankfully, I am now free of that.

I am at a place where I want to change the sex on my Birth Certificate back to my birth sex. I have discovered that this is not something that I can do. The legislation does not allow for one to change their gender marker back to their birth sex once it has been changed. I am outraged. All I am doing is trying to recover, put this behind me and live my life. A life where I am free of restriction.

The law allows for transgender people to medically transition without any psychological evaluation. To volunteer themselves to be lifelong medical patients. Yet, here I am wanting to live as my birth sex and I have no legal right to do so.

Do you realise the impact that this will have on my ability to live my life? To go out into the world?

All I am asking for is equality. To be treated fairly. To be given the basic human right to live as my authentic self.

How can they implement a law that is inclusive of transgender people and allow for them to change their Birth Certificate to reflect their gender identity? Yet, here I am wanting to live as my birth sex and I have no right to do so. How can this be?

The medicalisation of Gender Dysphoric Kids and Adolescents

The medicalisation of Gender Dysphoria is on the rise. What is influencing young people to medically alter their bodies? Are they being influenced by their peers? Is it trauma? A wish to escape their lives? A means for emotional suppression?
For me, childhood trauma led to my desire to hormonally and surgically alter my body. Transition was a means of escape from my life and the mental anguish that I felt. Transition gave me something to focus on and my body became the focal point. My mind was consumed and distracted from the root cause of my unhappiness.
Transitioning meant becoming someone else because who I was, wasn’t enough.
The thought of becoming another was my distraction and I did all that I could to rid myself of every part of myself that reminded me of the trauma.
Therapy has been incredibly beneficial, and I would strongly recommend everyone to seek therapy before making such a life altering decision.
Through therapy, I learnt to love myself. It gave me a safe space to grieve and explore my trauma.
The ever-growing number of teens who are opting to medically alter their bodies leaves me concerned. I wonder what is it that is causing this and why is this their only option? Is it an escape? from self? trauma?
Why is ‘top’ surgery so sought after? What is it about removing perfectly healthy parts of one’s body that is so desirable? Is it about ridding oneself of aspects of yourself because it’s a reminder? A reminder of trauma? sexualisation? objectification? What has caused such immense distress that the better option would be to become a lifelong medical patient?
What has gone on in your life to cause such immense distaste for yourself?
Is your experience of life causing such pain that it’s too much to think about because of how it makes your heart ache and you would rather an escape? Is transition your only option for a fresh start?

Transitioning to Forget the Truth

Through my adolescence, I was consumed by thoughts of my body. These thoughts were a focal point, I was unable to see what it was that was happening around me. The abuse. It all surpassed my consciousness. All I was seeing were the inadequacies and the thoughts of my body consumed my being. Thoughts of my body consumed my mind. The dysphoria. The more I identified as being male, the more centralised the thoughts became. Once I reached certain steps towards transition, my dysphoria would ease, however another thing would arise, and the cycle was never-ending. 

I was drawn in. Wrapped up in the skewed bodily thoughts, feeling as though I needed to change my body in order to ease my emotional distress. 

Thinking surgery was the answer, I pursued it. Despite growing more depressed, I had no idea transition was not benefiting me in the ways that I had hoped for. 

At the time, I thought the depression was because my body wasn’t aligned with my idea of what it was to have a male body so I proceeded with further surgery and once I had the second, I had a major breakdown. 

I was unable to function for an entire year. 

It wasn’t until years of therapy that I really found it within me to speak about my trauma and as I sought through that, I discovered that this was the reason for why I transitioned.

The abuse I endured throughout my life is what led to the decision to transition. The words of others. The environment at home. 

The constant ridicule. My mother’s volatile behaviour. 

My parent’s inability to accept their child who was simply a tomboy.

My older brother tormented me throughout my childhood. He was very aggressive and scary.  

This all led to me feeling very inadequate. I developed a real hatred for myself and grew to feel as though something was very wrong with me. 

As I discovered trans, I developed an identity. 

I latched on and became so consumed by it that I lost myself. 

Now, I look back and wish that therapy was a first step rather than medical intervention. I was a kid who was lost. All I needed was a role model who was also ‘different’ to see that I was ‘normal’.

Jay

How did you come to feel that you are in the wrong body?

I have worked with many LGBTIQ people over the 20+ years that I have been a therapist. As a member of the LGBTIQ community, it is important to me and a privilege to help others struggling with sexuality and gender issues. In the last 5 years, I have been shocked by the unprecedented number of teen girls identifying as boys. They all feel that they have the wrong body and are convinced that if they change their body through hormones and surgery, their pain and unhappiness will go away.

When I work with people with gender dysphoria, I don’t accept that it is as simple as being “born in the wrong body”. I try to help people explore their histories and experiences so that they can come to understand why their body became such a source of distress and why they find identification with their natal sex so abhorrent. This is not about trying to help people identify with one gender or the other, or neither, but about helping them know themselves so that they can really make an informed decision about whether they will pursue gender transition or not. Some people continue to pursue transition, but others become aware that there are other factors generating their distress.

Most of the people I have worked with are deeply distressed. They will do anything to feel better. Transitioning offers a very attractive solution. So much hope is attached to what transitioning will do for them, that often it seems like they hope they can become a new person and start over. I have not seen one person with gender dysphoria who does not have something in their past or current life that is causing great distress. Sometimes there are really difficult family dynamics; many of the people I see are very lonely and have difficulty connecting with others; many are afraid to have their own voice and be themselves, hoping that transitioning will help them do that; almost all of the young people I have seen struggle with same-sex attraction (more about this in another post); and some have histories of trauma, sexual, physical, emotional.

Understanding what led to the gender dysphoria doesn’t necessarily make it go away. But if you come to see that your dysphoria is related to trauma, or bullying, or disgust about same-sex attraction, you are then in a better decision to decide whether transitioning is the best way to deal with it. Ultimately, true freedom comes from self acceptance. Jay writes about this so powerfully in this blog. But to get there, you have to open yourself up to exploring the pain of the past, exploring your internalised shame and self-hatred, and to the possibility that maybe its not as simple as being ‘born in the wrong body”.

Roberto D’Angelo

robertodangelo.com

Is it really as simple as being born in the ‘wrong’ body?

As I think about the prospect of having children, it leads me to the decision that I made at age 20 to have a hysterectomy. Children were never something that I thought I wanted, however now at age 30, I ponder whether this is something that I do want. Was my desire to decide against children more than simple disinterest?

Why, at age 20 was I allowed to make the decision to remove a perfectly healthy part of my body? Why wasn’t I questioned? Why wasn’t I asked if I wanted to freeze my eggs? Why was I not asked for reasons as to why I wanted to remove my reproductive system?

Was it because of emotional turmoil or just desired? Why was it desired and what did you think would happen once you had the procedure? Would your life be any better? Would you be any happier? Why would you turn to medical intervention to seek happiness?

Why are questions not being asked?

How come those who claim to be transgender are not questioned? How come at least 12 months of therapy is not mandatory before commencing an irreversible procedure?
How come medical transition is approved without question? Is it really as simple as being in the ‘wrong’ body? Does gender dysphoria exist? Or is feeling immense ongoing discomfort within your body a result of abuse? Trauma? Is there such thing as being in the ‘wrong’ body?

Are the youth of today transitioning because they are searching for themselves in the wrong places? Do they think that discomfort within the body is only felt in those who are trans? Is trans the cool new hip thing to do?

Torment, a low sense of self, trauma, internalised homophobia, difficulty adjusting to the developing pubescent body – are these the real reasons people are transitioning?

Is transition being used as an escape? An escape from self. Or is transition an aid in the suppression of trauma?

Why allow young people to transition without question? Without having them go through at least 12 months of therapy first in order to sort through any repressed trauma or issues pertaining to mental anguish.

A hurting heart

As I reflect upon my life and look at the way that I have developed – how trauma has led me to lead a life of isolation. How it has given me a skewed perception of others and myself. It has prevented me from developing relationships and living a life of fulfilment. As I come to terms with my past, I learn what it is that led me to feel the way I do about myself. Learning of the fear that I have felt regarding relationships, attachment and trust. I learn that I have lived the majority of my life feeling unlovable. It has been a feeling that I have struggled to wash away. All the learning I have done of my sorrow, all the understanding that I have of my trauma, I know that the way that I have been treated and the words of others are untrue. However, they have left an imprint. Despite all that I have overcome, this feeling of inadequacy remains.

Why is it that despite all your working to overcome these feelings they remain? – Why do they linger for years to come?

Why is it so difficult to undo the hurt that people have caused you?

Trauma, not Gender Dysphoria

As time went on, I became aware that the unhappiness that I felt grew despite my working on my childhood trauma in therapy. As I thought more about my transition, I pondered if it really was all I made it out to be. Through talking with my therapist, together we pondered what it was I thought transition would bring, what led to my decision to transition and how it was that I felt about my body. I began to see what it was that contributed to my decision to transition. For the first time I began to see the pain, hurt, sorrow and sadness of my past. I realised that the words of others initiated my decision. 

Learning of the torment, the depth of the hurt and the extent that the treatment of others affected me, my life and my view of myself allowed me to see that this was the cause and reason for why I latched onto transition. Transition continued the suppression and numbing of the trauma. Transition allowed me to focus on something else and it was a way to cope with the hell that was my environment at home. 

I thought transition would bring the happiness that I so desperately sought. I thought it would bring solace and that this is what I needed in order to find my true self. I thought that I would be enough.

Transitioning became all that consumed me. I changed my persona. It led me to run from my true self.

Transition intensified my bodily issues and led me to seek surgical intervention as the bodily discomfort became unbearable. As I grew more depressed, I sought further surgery, thinking that was what was needed to feel aligned within myself. It caused me to have a breakdown and I was unable to function for an entire year. 

The process of questioning if transition was right entered my mind. The knowing of unhappiness and how unable I was to progress through life arose. I was lost. 

As I began to realise that I was running, I realised the detrimental effects transition had, had on me. I pondered heavily – was it the right thing to do? What cost has this had on my life? Why did I do it and what were the reasons? What did I think it would do and why did I need those things in order to feel satisfied with myself? 

As I began to answer those questions, I discovered that it was time to put my transition on hold and as I did that, I found what it was that I had been looking for all along – myself! 

Becoming Lost

Transition for me meant finding solace. I thought it would aid me in finding myself and the development of my personal attributes. The further I progressed with medical transition, the more intrusive and all-consuming the dysphoria became. These thoughts became distressing and led me to want to have surgery which I did as I believed the unhappiness, I felt was due to being transgender and in order to find happiness, contentment and progression through life, transition was required. I believed I was in the wrong body and this was the cause of my distress. For me, medical transition was a necessity and without it I would’ve killed myself.

As I took testosterone, my mind was consumed by thoughts of the changes I would experience and once those settled the onset of thoughts about my body occurred.

Once the physical changes came to a completion, I experienced an immersion of thoughts regarding my body and I increasingly became dissatisfied with it. As my unhappiness grew, I felt the cause of my unhappiness was because my body was not male and so I thought in order for happiness to be felt, I needed to change my body further.

As time went on and the decision to have surgery was made with the destination of happiness in mind, it became clear that this result wouldn’t become reality as my unhappiness dawned on me and I soon realised that transitioning wasn’t the answer. The search for happiness, solace, comfort and acceptance of myself wouldn’t be found in trying to become something that was never me. A man.

The slow process of realisation began, and I eventually decided that it would be best to stop taking testosterone, I felt liberated.

Through the process of deep evaluation of life events, it became evident that they were the reason behind the contribution to me transitioning. With this has come profound grief, sorrow and heartache.