TRIGGER WARNING – This article contains lived experiences of mental health issues and domestic violence reader discretion is advised
Words by Dani, NSW
At the age of 25, a young woman attends her first Mardi Gras and also does her first drama production “Cosi Fan Tute”. She begins living in stable and safe accommodation. She is finally piecing her life back together, the way it should have been from the beginning. She also starts saving for surgery. It wasn’t always this simple and this easy to be the person she knows she really is.
Picture this, a young teenager is walking through an inner city park in Sydney listening to music, Eminem is playing through his headphones. Tears are running down his face as only a few hours earlier he came to learn that his family did not accept his true identity. His family wants to “make a man out of him”. But this teenager has known since he was 5 years old that he should not have been born a male. This is something that has played with this teenagers mind every second of the day. Constant thoughts of “Why am I a female? I was born male. Surely this can’t be right. How do I tell Mum and Dad?”
School for this teenager was particularly difficult. One day in kindergarten the teacher got everyone in the class to sit in a circle. Boys on one side, girls on the other and everyone was asked “What do you want to be when you grow up? All off his classmates shared careers that aligned with their gender – boys wanting to be policemen or firemen and girls wanting to be nurses and carers. He was eventually asked and said, “I want to be a girl and I want to be a mummy” to which the shocked teacher did not say much, but did contact his parents. His parents made it clear this was not an acceptable vision of his future. Primary School was spent conforming, as he knew being honest would create a dangerous situation at home.
In year 7 and 8 he was forced to conform and was continually pressured and ridiculed to get into masculine sports. In year 8, on his 13th birthday he woke up listening to his parents fighting. This was a normal occurrence, however when he saw his mum walking up the driveway carrying a suitcase, he wanted to stop her but knew this was not an option. Along with the agony of watching his mother leave, puberty had begun to set in. When he looked at girls at his school who were developing, he would look at his own chest and scream in his head “Why aren’t I developing?” He also hated the way he was growing hair.
In year 9, feeling pressured beyond belief with having to live as the wrong gender, he started harming himself as a way to cope. This was almost a daily occurrence until he got invited on a beach holiday by his aunty. Whilst on this vacation he took off his shirt to go swimming, completely unaware that his body would show his ongoing self-harm. After his swim, his aunty asked his two cousins to go get some food. When it was just the two of them she offered her hand and said, “It’s okay, you can trust me, please open up I’m worried” to which he started crying and shared the pain of living as man whilst knowing you are a woman. He was shocked when his aunty said “Okay, this afternoon I am buying you your first dress.” She told him that when he was with her, she would help him dress and act more feminine. Naturally, he wanted to live with her all of the time.
When he had to go back home, he felt like the most important thing had been taken from him. Year 10 was the hardest year of his life. Having a typical amount of testosterone flowing through his 15 year old body was normal for most boys, but not for him. By this point he was crossdressing and would only have a smile on his face when he was wearing feminine clothing. After he completed his school certificate his family became very pushy about him being more masculine. He buckled under the pressure and started working as an apprentice mechanic.
At 19 years old, still living at home and still working as a mechanic, he finally hit breaking point. On this day, he had just finished working a 12 hour shift when he returned to the car park all of the time thinking, “You will never be a female and you are useless”. On this day, feeling so low with severe suicidal thoughts, something inside him also said: “Today is the day I come out”. He opened the door and noticed that his dad was already quite drunk. “Dad we need to talk, let me get you a beer”. His dad looked confused and asked if he had gotten a girl pregnant. He replied “No dad, I am transgender. I’m a girl”. It quickly became clear after revealing this to his father, that his home was no longer a safe place to live.
After this time, she was very hesitant to open up to anyone, but by the age of 24 she decided to share her true identity with her social worker. This person helped her get the ball rolling and allowed her to be happy as a woman. Another year went by and 3 months before her 25th birthday, she was able to gain access to the hormones required to start her medical transition. She also started seeing a new social worker, who saved her life in more ways than one.
If someone is different, do not judge them. Everyone has the right to be the truest version of themselves and share their story. I have pieced my life back together and am now finally hopeful for the future, I hope others facing similar challenges can find the courage to do the same.
If you or someone you know are suffering from a mental health issue or are looking for support, these organisations are a great place to start.
Eheadspace 1800 650 890 eheadspace.org.au
Qlife 1800 184 527 qlife.org.au