I’ve Stopped My Gender Transition…
It was on the Tuesday, the 5th of July, that I dressed for the very last time as Natalia, and felt as her. It seems like ages ago, in a different reality and dimension, in a different universe altogether.
I did not intend to bury her on that day, but it did turn out to be the effective dawn of my womanhood, at least for now as I see it. I wanted to be and to live as a woman throughout more than 30 years of my life, starting in my very early childhood, so it was an end of a life-long dream. It seems that my female identify is not supposed to come to light, and must be casted away, at least on the surface of who I am.
And so, the 5th of July was probably one of the most painful moments of my life, no doubt, and the pain hasn’t disappeared to this day, which is many months later. I regret immensely stopping my transition, but at the same time I see quite clearly that it was necessary for my survival. I think I was was on the edge of taking my own life or at best losing my sanity, a prophecy that creeped ominously on me when I least expected it.
While I thought stopping abruptly my transition would move me away form the edge, the opposite happened. It is the 28th of August when I tried to hurt myself, unsuccessfully for my own sake. What followed was a nightmare, a real one. Two weeks in a hospital made me truly feel like I was a nut-case. The chemical cocktails; and the the grim presence of sad, abandoned, depressed, and psychotic people made me feel like I was one of them, to never see the sunlight again. Coming out of the hospital exactly two weeks latter, was a grand event, for I took it upon myself to never quit, and to never throw in the towel again.
But what followed was just as nightmarish as everything before. Kicking off psychotropic pills demanded an incredible courage, for it’s not easy to fight anxiety and depression when deprived of the chemical relief. Neither is it easy to tell the doctors that you don’t want poison in your body, for they think you need it, and cannot do without. But how can it be not poison if it makes you not sleep for even a second for five days in a row, making your nervous system cease to function. How can it be not a poison if you cannot lift yourself to wash yourself, let alone eat or drink. I’m so lucky it’s over, that I’ve found the strength to fight it, for my own sake, and those I love.
I am not yet feeling that great, but at least the black thoughts are less omnipresent and there is a light to be seen in the tunnel. And I’ve got a job, as a fancy, hotshot CFO – a job that would never be accessible to me as a woman, let alone a transgender one. What’s more, I see all of this as an incredible opportunity to start loving myself exactly as I was created by the Creator, which is a biological man. It’s surely worth trying…
On the reasons I stopped my transition, there’s something else I must bring up. It became evident to me after a year of living as a girl that I could not longer continue paying the very steep price for my dream. And so, it was my presentation as a woman, and I think a rather presentable one, that I had to cease pursuing. But I also had to stop sending other powerful cues about my target gender, and so the the long hair got cut, the makeup removed, and the female voice hidden…leaving dry tears behind. Hiding these cues was tough, because I got so good at sending them and because they became my second nature. Put differently, I was and felt convincingly womanly. And yet, gender transition sucked all of my energy and made me feel awkward. And it is this lack of energy and the presence of awkwardness that made me wonder if I was doing the right thing, i.e. transitioning my gender. Did I doubt myself when I should’ve persevered? I cannot stop asking myself this question…
This question was and is an enormous burden to me, since I have invested myself so heavily into transitioning. I was on hormones for a year, and as the result felt emotionally very different than I did as a man. I saw more psychologists and psychiatrists than an average person would in a life-time. And then I changed my first name from “xxxx” to Natalia, I completed a year-long life-test, I prepared the legal application for gender change in my home country Poland, I informed all of my friends and close network about the changes in my life, I separated from my wife (not willingly), I moved to an apartment that can only be called a prison-cage, and I had to deal constantly with the doubt about my ability to secure work and pursue rewarding professional career. I also experienced some social- and a lot of professional isolation. None of these things alone could knock me to the ground, but in combination they became a lethal weapon. Just mentioning of my “masculine” name fills me with terror, for consequence could be dire…
But there was more. I could not deal with the guilt of breaking my marriage, one that I cherished enormously. I illusioned myself into thinking that my wife would continue loving me and being with me, since she “loved me, no matter what”. How wrong I was! Neither could I handle the disappointment of realizing that I could never feel fully adequate as a woman, not because I lack “XX” chromosomes but because I lack life-long social conditioning that girls get along with estrogenic shower in their brains. I felt that my body was over-sized (although everyone told me it wasn’t). But most critically, my brain did not sync with the changes I experienced living as a woman at the social level. For example, I struggled to see myself in a lesbian relationship, this due to my sexual orientation and the fact that I felt attracted to women but as a man rather than as a woman. Or I could not handle the idea that women constantly look for a protector and need so much reassurance about everything, something I was rather annoyed with and which I am convinced is at the heart of gender inequality (women, you must smarten up). What’s more, I struggled to bear the idea of not being a male role model of my children which I believe they deserve to have if they are to survive the gender bipolarity that dominates our world and which decides about everything, from how we speak or are spoken to to how much we get paid at work.
And then came the social and professional marginalization, but not one that was thrown in my face but came to manifest itself as a benign neglect of some sort. All of a sudden a big part of the world started turning their back on me, although many closest friends remained. I believe that some people felt awkward about the changes in my life, and some chose to step away. The strategy of “doing nothing” seemed the safest thing to do. Then there were people, and women in particular, who felt they had to stand by my wife and distance themselves from me. Often, these were women I thought to be my friends, and yet they turned out anything but, suggesting that friendships are very gender-biased (sadly again) and that they can be very artificial. It is these women who often whispered into my wife’s ear saying what a terrible thing happened to her, and what a bad person I am. There were also men and women who stood in the distance asking metaphorical questions about how I could possibly do what I did. They judged me as either a pervert of some sort or uncaring father and husband. At professional level I felt marginalized, not necessary because I was transgender (remember, I passed very, very well) but because my condition made people think I wasn’t stable. And of course I was in a sense insecure for I was settling into my womanhood, a process that takes time, years in fact. It is why the integration of transgender people at workplace is of such critical importance to the success of their gender transition. But for me, a freelancer, gender transition was a professional suicide.
And so, on the 5th of July I stopped it all. But the fallout from my gender transition did not end on that day. In fact, some things got worse as has already been said. But being in hospital and fighting the insomnia wasn’t the only hardship I faced. There was also the gender de-transition, such as getting hormones out of my body, reconnecting myself with my masculinity and dealing with the tainted image that people (and women in particular) still hold, changing my first name back to what it used to be, or getting male clothing. But the thing I truly struggled with, was finding the “guy” I once was: the confident, energetic, joyful, funny person that many peopled liked. I think I had been thrown on the rocks to much, and that the bruising just doesn’t want to go away.
Well, my journey has been rocky to say the least, but I must keep going, and make my life better for myself. Despite the difficulties I encountered, it is tremendously encouraging that I met on my path absolutely wonderful and amazing people who reached out to me, and embraced me for the person I am, and not for the gender I have. I have learned from these people more about our shared humanity than religion, books and spirituality all combined could ever teach me. And I’ve learned so much about myself, because you truly learn only when you’re vulnerable, beaten, bruised and with the face in the mud.
Lastly, I must confess I haven’t closed the door to my gender transition. This is a very, very important point for me, one that fills me with hope for a better tomorrow. I have learned that by attempting a gender change you make yourself very vulnerable, in fact you are putting your life at stake. For this reason, I must create ideal conditions for my transition, whereby professional marginalization can be avoided, where I have the emotional resilience needed to weather the storm of stunned friends and family, and where I am free from a marital relationship and obligations. But what I need most is a 100% conviction that there is no other way to ensure my survival and happiness than by undertaking a gender transformation. And it is this last consideration where I must give myself another chance, as a biological man, and try to love him for what he is or could be. And perhaps, when I find him, all else will fall nicely into place. And perhaps my wife will start loving me again, or perhaps another wonderful person will emerge in my life. Or just perhaps, I will again decide to be Natalia, and I will do so without a shred of doubt or guilt, convinced that this will make me a fuller person, true to herself.