it is always darkest before the dawn… but the dawn of life never recurs, so don’t rely on that logic unless you are an ardent reincarnationist. This post will be pretty dark, just to warn those who come here for inspiration. Today, I find myself more in need of it than capable of offering any.
Leelah Alcorn took her life at seventeen because she dreaded a future of looking like “a man in drag”, and her logic was, though grim, based on an undeniable premise: the best age to begin transition is as early as possible, even before puberty if one can, and avoid the irreversible physical changes that will otherwise leave their indelible, hateful marks all over the body.
“The hope is that by delaying puberty, young teens will be given valuable thinking time in which they can decide if they are sure they want to begin gender reassignment using cross-sex hormones at the age of 16.
Ultimately, this strategy would also make it easier for them to live in their chosen gender. For example, potential male-to-female transsexuals will not have developed the deep voice, facial changes and body hair associated with adult masculinity.”
New Scientist, “Delaying Puberty Could help Gender-Confused Teens”, 5/12/08, Linda Geddes
Having said that, there are examples of people who have transitioned after puberty, with extremely successful results. Jacqui Gavin for example, who had to leave her family and undergo the process without their support, transitioned so perfectly that she later went on to become a model, and is now a noted advocate for transgender rights. She was, in time, fully acknowledged by her mother as her daughter. She was 21 when she transitioned.
I am 35. Based on current NHS waiting times, assuming they approve me at all, I will be well into my forties by the time I transition.
I am a young woman, but I do not look like one, and I have lost the chance to ever look like one. I will, in fact, be very lucky if I can even avoid looking like a man in drag for the rest of my life. Who, other than transgender and LGBT groups, and my spouse and closest friends, will ever accept me as a woman? Probably few if any. Obvious transwomen rank low in the unspoken social order of the modern world, sneered at by right-wingers and radical feminists alike. I am protected by law, but law does not oblige people to like or respect me, to honour my choice of name and the gender identity I passionately feel but will never resemble, to call me their daughter and not their son…
I should stop this dangerous process now, if pure logic guided me. I have, as yet, inflicted little that is irreversible on my body. The phytoestrogens have slightly swollen my breast tissue, but if I stopped taking them now nobody would ever know except my spouse. I could grow my beard again, go back to being Anthony Burns, make the best of what nature has given me and accept that being a decent looking man is better than being a poor imitation of a woman.
Except that I never was.
In fact, I was never more than a poor imitation of a man, and that is all I will ever be if I backtrack. Crawling back into my disguise and hoping it will grow on me has never worked before, although the disguise has grown all too far into me, and my desire to tear it all off has never been more certain. That will be painful, and the result is unlikely to be pretty. It may well even be hideous and pitiful.
But it will be me.
But please, if you feel gender dysphoria, do not delay in acting upon it. Professionals are there to help and not to judge you, and if you do have a negative experience with one, you are always entitled to seek a second opinion. Above all, do not delay your actions or repress your feelings to make others feel at ease. They will never cease to expect such sacrifices and compromises of you if you take that course, and in the end it will just be more painful for everybody. Every year, indeed every minute wasted with this is regret stored up for the future. Eleanor knows she will never be a beautiful, or even a remotely convincing woman, but she hopes she might at least be a wise woman, with the perspective to help others dodge her mistakes.