Dear Young Trans Person,
I know what its like to be young. Granted it’s been a while but I’ve been through it and bought the T-Shirt. Being a young person right now is not something I envy. The pressure to be one thing or another and the mixed messages are so confusing and I don’t know how you deal with it. Much respect.
I went all through my childhood with gender issues and as an adult I medically transitioned. I do not regret my transition and I believe that there are times where transition has a place.
I hope you will please give me a few minutes of your time to read what I have to say.
We are all born male or female. That is your biological sex. How you behave and what people expect of you is your gender. For example society sees girls as wearing little pink dresses, playing with baby dolls before upgrading to the real thing, wanting to be princesses and wearing makeup…that is gender.
Some people will tell you that biological sex isn’t important. All that matters is how you see yourself.
Others will tell you that how you see yourself isn’t important, that all that matters is biological sex.
The truth is that both matter. You cannot ignore one in favour of the other or, worse still, pretend that one does not exist. If you were born male you will always be male. If you were born female you will always be female. That’s just a fact of nature. I’m sorry if that goes against what you may have been told but it’s the truth. Gender is based on roles and stereotypes created by society, it is not the same thing and this is something you can control and change. Your biological sex however cannot be changed. Again I’m sorry if you were told otherwise.
What about surgery you may ask? If I changed the label on a can of beans would it change the fact there were beans inside? Surgery may make you look like the opposite sex but that doesn’t mean you are. Biological sex is more than just your outward appearance. Scientists can even tell from a blood test if you are male or female !
By the way, that surgery that apparently turns you into the opposite sex? Don’t be misled; it’s a drastic and grisly surgery that could leave you in pain the rest of your life with long term medical problems. It’s not like someone waving a magic wand…far from it.
I’m sure you’ve heard of medicines you can take that cause spectacular changes….hormones, hormone blockers and puberty blockers. They are supposed to work miracles and I won’t deny they bring about huge changes. These medicines however can have lots of significant side effects, some extremely unpleasant. I won’t bore you with what they do but basically they alter your outside that you present to the world to look more like the opposite sex or, in the case of puberty blockers, stop you developing into an adult that looks like your biological sex.
Are you realistic about what these drugs do? Do you think these drugs make you change sex? Do you really want to be taking medicine all your life? Could you cope with getting blood taken for testing all the time? Would you be able to cope with side effects?
In any medicine someone takes there are always both risks and benefits. Doctors have to decide if those benefits outweigh the risks. Unfortunately when it comes to these hormones and blockers we just don’t know yet what all those risks are and the ones we do know about a lot of people try and pretend don’t exist.
If I told you there was a tablet that would make you really popular at school would you take it ?I think you probably would…I know I would have! What if I said there was a chance you could go blind? Would you take it then? Suddenly it doesn’t sound quite so appealing, does it? Don’t just focus on the benefits but look into the things that could happen that you don’t want.
When we are young we all go through a time of exploration. What do we like and not like? What kind of a person are we? What do we want to be when we grow up?
How do you know what you like? You try it! When I was young I wanted to be a pilot, a doctor, and a pianist. None of these happened because I changed my mind and none of them were the right choice for me any more. I also went through numerous hobbies and interests before I discovered what really excited me.
Yes, I did want to grow up to be a woman. However just because I felt that way then was no guarantee I would still feel that way as I got older. Do you think people should make decisions that will impact the rest of their lives and can’t be undone if they change their mind when they are very young? The way you feel will change. Some things may remain but even then as you mature you approach life in a different way and see things from a different angle.
I’m going to let you in on a secret…..questioning your gender and your sexuality as you grow up is completely normal. I cannot think of a single person I know who didn’t.
I’m not saying don’t explore who you are and what you like and dislike; what I am saying is simply don’t make life changing decisions that can’t be undone while you are still finding out who you are in life.
One of the biggest problems we have in society is that what is expected of us and that who we can be in life is tied in with our biological sex. How many times have you been told you can’t do something because it’s for boys (or girls) ? When I was 11 I was told I had to do woodwork because that’s what boys did. I wanted to do sewing and knitting instead!
To all you young women,
- I am sorry that at times you will still hear the message that to really succeed in life you need to be a man. It’s a lie.
- I am sorry you are being denied opportunities based on your biological sex and told it’s because you can’t be any good at them. It’s a lie.
- I am sorry you are being told that you have to behave a certain way, dress a certain way and look a certain way. It’s a lie.
- I am sorry that you are far more likely to be told that you can’t do things young men do and are praised for because you will get dirty or it is makes you less of a woman. It’s a lie.
- I am sorry you are told that you have to want to have children and that if you don’t now you will definitely change your mind because otherwise there’s something wrong with you. It’s a lie.
- I am sorry that you are told you must want to have a long term relationship with someone and that not having or wanting a life partner means you are failing somehow, that it means you are somehow to be pitied. It’s a lie.
- I am sorry you are told that either putting your career first, or wanting to not work and focus full time on raising children, or that wanting or even having to both work and raise children means that you are wrong or selfish or lazy. It’s a lie.
- And I am sorry that you are being told that at times you don’t have a freedom of choice over your own life and your own body because you were born female. It’s a lie.
Young men, I have some news for you too….
- You are not the boss of women. It’s a lie.
- Women do not exist to serve you. It’s a lie.
- You are not better than women. It’s a lie.
- You do not deserve preferential treatment simply for your biological sex. It’s a lie.
- I am sorry you are told you aren’t allowed to cry over anything other than maybe sports results. It’s a lie.
- I am sorry you are told you aren’t allowed to feel hurt and show it. It’s a lie.
- I am sorry you are told that there are certain things you must like and be good at to be a “real” man. It’s a lie.
- I am sorry that you are told there are certain things that you mustn’t like or do or that you’re aren’t allowed to be good at certain things because they’re girly or soft or somehow indicate your sexual orientation. It’s a lie.
- I am sorry that you are told that cooking and cleaning and ironing are women’s work, leaving you without the skills to solely care for yourself or the ability to pull your own weight in a household. It’s a lie.
- I am sorry that you are told that you must have a girlfriend and that your worth is determined by how many girlfriends you have had. It’s a lie.
- I’m sorry that you are told that you should view women not as human beings but as things you have the right to demand attention, appreciation and more from. It’s a lie.
- I am sorry that you are told that if you, as a boy, are the oldest male in your household that you are now the Man of the House, a narrow concept with responsibilities far too heavy for your young shoulders. It’s a lie.
- I am sorry you are told that you can’t wear makeup or certain clothes or look after yourself too well because that makes you lesser or dictates your sexual orientation. It’s a lie.
- I am sorry that you are told that you can’t be physically close to your friends in the same way girls are allowed to without it making you less or dictating your sexual orientation. It’s a lie.
Reject the lies society has fed you. Dare to challenge these traditional roles and stereotypes.
Here’s the big lie…rejecting these stereotypes doesn’t make you trans. A man does not become a woman because he likes pink and wears makeup. A woman does not become a man because she plays football, drinks beer and likes fast cars.
Why can’t you be who you want without being told you are the opposite sex? I dare you! I love makeup. My favourite colour is pink. I hate sports. I carry a handbag. Yes, I went through medical transition. I’m still a man.
I had a car once that made funny noises every once in a while. Do you think that car needed a new engine? I would take it to a mechanic and they would always fix the problem quickly. Of course for some people that funny noise does mean they need a new engine but in the vast majority of cases the problem can be dealt with without such drastic measures.
You see one of the lies going round is that if you feel like you are the opposite sex you should take hormones, change your name and declare yourself as having changed sex. Why?
I know what it’s like to be uncomfortable with your body and with gender stereotypes. Feeling that way though can have a number of different causes. Some of these resolve over time whilst others can be resolved by psychiatrists and psychologists. Imagine if you had made life changing decisions only to find out a year or two later you felt differently and actually you were happy with your biological sex.
There is a condition called Gender Dysphoria; it’s what I have and it’s why I transitioned. Just because someone has that condition though doesn’t mean they need to take hormones and have surgery. Hormones and surgery are a last resort only when other things haven’t worked and truthfully that is not very often.
If you woke up this morning with a sore toe and your doctor wanted to cut off your leg would that be reasonable? Imagine how you’d feel if you found out years later that the problem was simply something that would have cleared up if you’d just waited.
I beg you to please go and speak to someone about how you feel; someone who can be open and honest with you and genuinely help you explore your thoughts and feelings.
I cannot tell you not to transition. I cannot tell you transition never works. What I can say is that many people regret having done so and are angry at those who didn’t tell them the full truth. I can also tell you the reality a few years down the line is very different to what you expect. There are many reasons why someone can have issues with gender and just as many ways to help. Transition is just one of those ways. Where drugs and surgery and decisions that cannot be undone are involved, they should be a last resort.
Let me say this in closing. You are already unique and special the way you are. You are beautiful and you are loved. Never be told otherwise. Never feel pressured into calling yourself trans or doing something you don’t want to do, especially when that has life changing consequences.