Welcome to your Tape

Welcome to your Tape

“Welcome to your Tape”

A familiar line to thousands of young people as of recent thanks to Netflix’s popular 13 Reasons Why.

I’ve seen the social media posts surrounding the controversial issues with this show, that it may or may not encourage reckless behaviour in youth. As you become absorbed in Hannah’s life you start to feel her emotions, the teenage angst of life and how every action has a reaction.

But having survived High School myself, what I realised is; We are all Hannah. (Well not everyone, some are a Justin or a Jessica. But those reading this post quietly interested in someones point of view, yes you, are more than likely a Hannah)

What I mean by this is Hannah’s life experience is the extreme but all of us can relate to it in some way.

High School is a harsh time in life. Every little thing seems to mean EVERYTHING, school is all you know.

Maybe it was just me, maybe it wasn’t, but if you weren’t a Justin. You were an outsider.

The hierarchy of school was all you knew and honestly at that young age you thought that was how the world worked. If you weren’t pretty and popular, your mum didn’t chip in as much with Parent Teachers Association – you were a nobody, to the teachers and other students.

This everyday play of school life leaves you, Hannah, a target. The teachers don’t listen, the other students say nothing in a hope the attention doesn’t default to them and the world keeps spinning as you keep thinking, this is life, this is simply how it works.  I am literally not cared about.

But to anyone in that position right now.

Here’s the thing; The minute you leave high school, you enter the real world and in the real world there’s 100 Justins, 100 Jessicas, 100 Courtneys and 100 Hannahs (Yes there’s more you!) Truth be told they didn’t even realise this and with being so overwhelmed they aren’t special anymore they tend to back down a step. Peoples parents hold no power in the real world, your mum and dad don’t even hold power over you and the world is what you make it – not what school made it.

I spent my entire school life with no detentions, doing all my assignments and honestly no backbone and do I regret it? Yes. They say school is to build you for the future but honestly asking for the toliet? Not chewing gum or wearing heavy make up? A uniform? Things like this are not the real world.

So hold your head high little Hannah like person. This warped sense of a false reality is a blip in time for the beginning of the rest of your life, it’s temporary so don’t even for a second consider a permanent solution for a temporary problem.

Simple as. Now go back to watching Netflix and enjoy.

Much love to my fellow ‘different’ ones,

Harry

 

 

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Fertility Process: A U-Turn.

Fertility Process: A U-Turn.

For anyone that has been following mine and Jamie’s journey regarding the scenario of  us both being transgender (mtf* & ftm*) and in a relationship you may have heard of our hopes to have a biological child.

The process of this would have been somewhat straight forward in theory:

Jamie’s sperm (before starting her transition as the process kills sperm) + my eggs (trans men’s eggs are there until hysto/bottom surgery)embryo frozen for the hopeful future and use in a surrogate.

IVF

However one thing I didn’t think would affect me so much = my dysphoria.

Now first of you may ask? What is dysphoria.

Gender dysphoria  is the distress a person experiences as a result of the sex and gender they had at birth.

As part of the fertility process I’ve had to come off my testosterone injections to check the fertility health of my reproductive system and honestly I didn’t realise the mental impact this would have on me.

Let me introduce you to my world, as I write this I’m 5 weeks past my usual shot date, my stomach has been cramping for the past two weeks. A familiar pain I’d erased from my mind but as it returns it brings with it flashing imagery of how much self-hatred I had with these pains and a reminder of who, or what, I was before. Now how far I’ve came along, the progress, the transition and development I had worked so hard for, is crumbling before my very eyes and destroying my own mental state along with it.

This along with coincidental phonecall misgendering at work, spotting scares and my moods changing – I’ve been more emotional, cranky, and I’m not stereotyping all female bodied people to be this way with oestrogen but it’s certainly a reminder of who I used to be – I can’t do it, I cant face it and the reality of it is, I don’t necessarily have to.

Yes – a lot of people had followed this story, in fact the media even stole it when we were in no way ready for that, I had hoped for the idea to come about and Jamie had built up hope for this idea but honestly my own mental security is more important than anything else.

I very much admire people who can admit defeat or change their mind in the pursuit of self happiness and that’s what I’m doing. Jamie can pursue a biological child with her sperm storage but I don’t need to be a part of that process to still be a father to that child if the time comes about.

Honestly, the further on the whole discussion around this process went the more I became uneasy, and with this sense of unease I felt like I was doing this all for other people rather than myself. With so many watchful eyes, people excited to see a child, I felt I HAD to continue on despite not being happy but the truth is it’s important to do things for YOU, not other people.

So as I finish this blog post I can say I’m back on my testosterone, and I’m me again. Honestly, I feel so much more at ease and my short break essentially doesn’t count for anything as I had high testosterone levels anyway.

Sorry to disappoint those excited followers – but Jamie can have her biological child as that’s very important to her, but me, I just want a family unit regardless of blood.

That’s all folks.

Harry

*mtf = male to female

*ftm = female to male

 

 

 

 

The Importance of Community

The Importance of Community

Only recently I have joined the Transgender online community due to being stealth* for over 3 years. But in the short 6 months of now being part of this community I have seen a number of things that seem rather ironic and somewhat disheartening.

One example in particular severely hit a sore spot and I just want to say how wrong some people are, to quickly judge, despite coming from a community which tells us not to do exactly that.

Just like myself, my partner recently joined this community and during the beginning of her time in one particular community group she got off on the wrong foot. This was due to lack of understanding on minority issues and instead of reaching out and explaining, all she got was calling outs on how ‘uneducated’ she was. It seems in some community groups it’s more a war on who-knows-more about minorities, and is a part of these, rather than simply explaining and assuming best intentions, so word to these people; being different makes you unique but it certainly doesn’t make you any better than another.

So come recently she put herself forward after becoming more educated, stating how she had developed and wanted to share this development only to have her past misdoings dug up by one member. Now why am I bringing this up you may ask?

Well, yesterday on a different group the very same girl who was told she was ‘unfit to represent’ one trans community reached out to a fellow trans person and offered to make a phone call on their behalf. This may not seem like much, to many nothing at all, but honestly if I had of had someone like that in my life during the beginning of my transition it would have made things a hell of a lot easier. Dysphoria and general anxiety made (and still to some degree this very day -makes) phone calls a dreaded experience. This is a simple very honest act of kindness displayed by one fantastic girl who I’ve seen grow day by day. Yet some people were very quick to judge her due to the past and rather than give her a chance. Many, even in the community, wouldn’t even offer that good deed but it sincerely put a tear in my eye.

To be honest that sort of ‘better than you’ behaviour saddens me about the transgender community, people are quick to judge, act unfairly and essentially be nasty but think because they are part of the minority this is okay. It’s not. Please remember we are all fighting the same battle against what is or isn’t a boy/girl, its a hard battle so please be kind.

The point of this post is that although community can be defined as ‘a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common’ it is also defined as ‘the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common.’ and I believe this is more important.

We are all transgender, that is the characteristic in common, but our attitudes and interests of how we approach the world and our own community should be that of the same. Act kind, assume best intentions and simply consider if it was you in the others shoes.

That’s all for now.

Harry

*Stealth – living in secret so I was passing as cis-gendered and not disclosing my transgender status.

 

 

BBC Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?

BBC Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?

Recently my timeline became flooded with outrage over a television programme created by the BBC. This programme was called ‘Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?’ and due to the negative reaction over this controversial programme I decided to give it a watch.

Now be warned this blog may be quite controversial as I don’t necessarily think it was as bad as the uproar suggested.

As I sat up the Iplayer, got comfortable and began watching I heard the line ‘If a child was to say they were a dog would we go out and buy them dog food?’ – one of the lines these outraged watchers focused on. But they lacked to mention this viewpoint was followed up by another’s stating how Transgender kids needed to be listened to or else they may kill themselves. A very true fact, and a non biased perspective as I expected from the BBC, to show both sides of the argument.

Admittedly, the comparison of a dog (a non human animal) in relation to gender dysphoria (a genuine issue which can cause great distress in individuals) is a far-fetched comparison and not one I feel comfortable with. However this was spoken by Zucker a gender ‘specialist’ who had been dismissed from his line of work due to resisting the idea that transgender children needed to transition. Now a lot of these outraged watchers had an issue with Zucker being involved with the show at all, apparently he has been involved in conversion type therapies, although the full nature of these wasn’t explored in great detail during the show. Zucker’s approach was that children who state they want to be the opposite sex shouldn’t be ‘pandered’ to but examined as to why they feel like this and explore the issue with the child.

The people complaining about this show stated Zucker shouldn’t have been on the show on this first place, but the BBC were obviously looking to examine both sides of the transgender kids argument and to be honest they could have picked a far worse representative. Would they rather a religious backward person who claimed being transgender altogether was a sin? (something I have experienced myself) Or someone who stated this is a genuine issue that occurs in families today and it is important to realise how the binary of gender stereotypes needs to be broken down before transitioning in pursued?

The reason why I think this isn’t as awful an approach as the complainers made out is quite simple – I wouldn’t push anyone down the path of transitioning from one gender to the other unless absolutely necessary.

This journey is tough- it requires a lot of surgeries , lot of rejection and ultimately a lot of stress.

What I took from the show was that gender can often be an area of confusion for a child because they are taught girls should act a certain way or boys should dress a certain way. What needs to be done first is explain that there are many types of ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ and there’s no set narrative of what these genders are. Obviously if this approach didn’t work and for example they are seen taking drastic measures towards their genitals then a more advanced approach needs to be taken. But what I would try to teach my child is the diversity of humans and how girls can have penises, and boys can have girls names etc. Explore the concept that everyone if different regardless of gender and we don’t have to fit binary norms to be one or the other.

If I had a AMAB child who desperately wanted to live as a binary girl, then maybe I’d have to reconsider my approach but if it was simply a case of ‘I wanna be a girl’ I’d respond ‘Okay, you’re a girl – it’s that easy – you don’t have to change anything about yourself, girls can have short hair and be called Jack etc.’ rather than going out and buying them princess dresses and dolls, thus contributing to the idea that genders have to be a certain way to fit societal norms.

Overall, I guess, this blog is simply to state; that if I as a transgender person, took good from the documentary despite my vast knowledge on the topic. Someone with very little knowledge probably heard the same as I did – break the binary, allow the child time to consider what they’re feeling, then contemplate the idea of transitioning if it’s right for the child.

In my eyes the BBC did a good thing, addressing this is an issue and normalising the idea that this topic may occur in families and isn’t necessarily to be frowned at. They fairly showed two sides of the argument: one who says to wait and one that says go for it. Not even including the concept of an absolute NO. So despite all the negative reviews (which have their valid opinions and reasons to be disgruntled)  I’m a transgender watcher who wasn’t all that offended.

Over and out.

Harry

 

 

 

Sexism: My Perspective

Sexism: My Perspective

You may say ‘reverse sexism doesn’t exist’ but recently I was in a discussion which really hit home where I am in regards to my transition, and made me think about how I now sit in the world in relation to my gender identity.

Whilst having a mild debate my argument was dismissed using the wording “Actually I don’t need you to mansplain”, despite me never bringing gender into the discussion.

This lead me to googling the correct definition of this phrase; Mansplain: To explain to someone typically a woman in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.

This definition gives me the imagery of a Neanderthal man, who is more concerned about ‘grabbing girls by the pussy’ and how fast they can down a can of beer. Which, contrary to this person’s belief, I can safely say I am not due to a number of reasons:

  1. My Transition: The person in question knew that I am a trans man, and yet they didn’t take into consideration that this means I have experienced sexism from both sides.  I’ve been both a girl who should ‘know her place’ and a man who apparently ‘hasn’t faced the struggles of a woman so can’t talk’ (Note: from people that didn’t know my gender history) This history means I would never use my position of appearing cis-male to somehow dominate a conversation, or look down on women due to their gender. Yes, there are some transmen who adopt all male privileges and will forget their past, but honestly my life has been a tough journey and it still shapes me to this day so confidence and arrogance are not qualities in my nature. Plus, there are privileges on both ends of the gender spectrum so it’s all a matter of perception.
  2. I’m Ready to Have my Ego Knocked to be an Ally: On numerous occasions I have been asked if I’m not into girls (either gay or asexual) because I refuse to join in with the ‘male banter’ that degrades women in a sexual manner. I actually convinced a colleague in an old workplace I was related to the girl he was saying how much he’d like to ‘stick it in her’ just to get him to stop.  I’ve questioned taxi drivers on ‘women drivers pfft’ comments, essentially anything that degrades a woman’s ability due to her gender I WILL and HAVE questioned.
  3.  I Don’t Walk the Average Male Life Walk: How I picture it, someone who ‘mansplains’ hasn’t a care regarding his identity, he is a ‘jack the lad’ type and saunters on this earth without a care in the world. I on the other hand, still do not yet feel 100% male. Dating for me was a nightmare (thankfully now I’m with a beautiful and understanding girl)  and using male public bathrooms currently is an anxiety ridden experience of limited cubicles and broken locks. Not to mention adjusting outfits that show off my ‘hips’ or are too snug around the crotch, stretching to try and look as tall and broad as my cis-male friends or simply not having the male strength I should have been born with. All these insecurities mean that AS IF I am going to look down on someone due to being female. When women are strong, ambitious and brave figures, and I’ve my own issues anyone could look down on me for.

This list could go on but what is more concerning is this one word made me realise people can so easily erase my identity of being from the LGBT community and therefore being an accepting, understanding person. They lumped me in with generic cis men who haven’t faced any gender struggles and it left me feeling somewhat – empty.

This is a feeling I had during my stealth* years and one of the main reasons why I decided to ‘come out’ and reveal my trans status. So having someone from my own community (this person was from the trans community although not on a stereotypical binary transition**) making me feel the discomforts I felt during this time period and why I revoked my cis male passing privileges just seemed rather cruel and uncomfortable. Though this specific trans group seems rather notorious for chipping at peoples insecurities, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. Which honestly is sad since as a community we should learn to support each other and think before we speak, rather than be angry at those who have adopted binary norms so meet their own self identity and therefore attack them for making this honest decision.

However, what I want to use this blog post to point out most is that fact that dismissive gendered phrases like ‘mansplain’ needs to be thrown out with phrases similar to ‘like a girl’ or those that refer to a woman being only capable of making food. Unless, a person is openly being like a male chauvinistic pig then fine, work away, but if they are simply a man and making a point, consider what they are saying before displaying sexism towards them.

As much as we are fighting to show the LGBT rainbow is made up of a wide spectrum of people, not just camp men and butch lesbians, society in general are exactly the same. We need to not place the same limitations on others as we don’t want on ourselves and realise that as humans, male, female, or otherwise, people come in all shapes, forms and opinions and therefore gender and behaviour can no longer be linked so easily together. Women are no longer seen and not heard, while men are no longer self entitled beings and this needs to be acknowledged by all people.

Your comment of linking my gender to my discussion is only adding to societies issue which feeds the differences between male and female rather than saying we all are simply human.

Over and out.

Harry

*Stealth = Living as if you were born male and hiding your trans identity therefore adopting cis passing privileges

**Stereotypical binary transition = binary refers to the two end of the spectrums; male or female. So a typical binary transition would be male to female or female to male. However, trans is an umbrella term meaning anyone who does not relate to their assigned at birth gender, and this person is a member of that spectrum.

 

Didn’t your Mother ever teach you it’s rude to stare?

Didn’t your Mother ever teach you it’s rude to stare?

During my time of gender ambiguity I didn’t really get that many looks on the street. The odd occasion maybe but nothing overly major.

Sadly, this is not the case for my fellow sisters, Transgender sisters that is. Who have to deal with the whispers, the stares and the negative comments on a daily basis.

You see, we seem to be living in a world where it is ok for ‘women’ to adopt masculine qualities but if someone is viewed as ‘male’ and they adopt feminine qualities this is perceived as a negative.

What I see is someone who is brave enough to disregard the social norm that masculinity should be held onto, who is embracing themselves, their happiness and simply causing no issue, just being the true person they were meant to be all along.

Honestly, I had never considered the lifestyle that societies stigma may create for Trans women until recently. I’d adopted my white male passing privilege very quickly after starting HRT and hadn’t looked back or explored my own community much until this year. Sadly, the truth of it is each individual prolonged stare, sideways glance, muffled whisper or passing comment adds up. It becomes a burden to those who have to go through it making the simplest of tasks e.g. going to the shop, a dreadful experience and ultimately ends up reducing the quality of life they live.

If someone is different due to something they cannot help, we tend to advert our eyes, to not draw attention to their differences and not cause them any greater stress.

You know it’s rude to stare in that situation so why can’t you advert your God damn eyes when a Trans woman walks past you in the street?

They didn’t ask to be transgender, they’re not intentionally being different. So don’t stare, whisper or make a comment. Just let them live their life, that’s all they wanna do. Trans women are humans who want to go to the shop, get a bus or any other generic task the same as anyone else – in peace.

That’s not too much to ask is it?

Over and out.

Harry.

We Accept the Love We Think We Deserve

We Accept the Love We Think We Deserve

Figures report that on average 1 in 5 women have been abused by a current or former partner, in fact a lot of the research on the internet links domestic violence and women as going hand in hand with one another. But what is the case when the abuser in the relationship is a woman?

This is something that happens rather frequently yet isn’t often talked about. Society still paints women as the ‘frail and fragile’ and men as ‘tough and abusive’ when it comes to discussing domestic violence however in this day of gender equality these perceptions can often be flipped. This issue isn’t talked about that much though because of these social norms and the misunderstanding that men in fact can be domestically abused. So here’s my experience, through talking about these issues – that men can get abused- hopefully it’ll bring to light others who are still suffering. (Despite my role in the argument ‘men can be abused’ being a bit different as I was beginning my gender transition – but transmen are still men so alas I shall continue)

Allow me to describe a typical day with my abuser.

“A day in town shopping with my partner then I’ll come home and make dinner for us, this will be a pleasant day” I told myself, trying to kid myself that today would be different from all the other times we’d tried to have ‘pleasant days’.

After her taking her time to get ready, whilst getting angry about everything that didn’t go correctly, she would turn and say to me what I was told every morning “Ew, you look like a girl today, don’t you dare touch me when we’re out” – Now as someone who so desperately wanted to live as male, thought lowly of themselves as it was and was close to suicide as they couldn’t access hormones this was not something I needed to hear on a daily basis. I could go further into the extent of this mental bullying regarding my appearance as that isn’t all that was said but I think you get the jist.

On leaving our shared home (yes for some unknown reason I lived with this person), we made our way to town where my situation got worse. My partner knew that I didn’t like going into town all that much, as I suffered from anxiety due to people questioning my gender – I only went in as I knew if she didn’t get the things she needed I would be the one to suffer the wrath of it all, it was easier just to manage my anxiety than face that. Yet for some strange, cruel reason she did not make this experience easy for me. Yelling at me the entire time for the smallest of things – one of them, walking slow behind her as she browsed the clothes rails – Perhaps she didn’t realise I was hiding from the people around me that made me so anxious? Perhaps she couldn’t relate to the heat and uncomfortable feeling of  wearing a binder that drags you down? Whatever the reason I’m not sure but what I did was try to explain.

“Please, *insert name here*, these insoles you make me wear to look taller are hurting my feet, you can happily browse I’ll just be a bit behind” – I pleaded.

“Well, would you rather look like a short lesbian? Pain is beauty, at least those insoles make you look a little bit more like a boy.”

I would plead my case, meekly stating “You can’t talk to me like that” but it fell on deaf ears. She saw my attempt to to explain why I was doing no harm as an attack. Storming off despite my explanations of why I couldn’t keep up. As I chased after her I would repeatedly ask for her to slow down, until finally, I would reach out to make her slow down.

That my friends, is where I went wrong every time.

I can’t describe perfectly the  look I was given as she turned around but picture an intense stare filled with hatred. “Don’t you dare fucking touch me” she would angrily growl whilst gripping my free arm, digging her nails in so hard it left marks on my skin.

“Touch me again and I’ll make you wish you never did. No one will care if a lesbian gets hit on the street.” – I was actually glad this was on the street, at least here she didn’t actually hit me, which wasn’t the case in the house.

At this point, my eyes would be filled with tears, why did it always end in fighting?

“Please let go of my arm you’re hurting me”

One last dig with her nails on the already broken skin so show her dominance and off she stormed.

Eventually we’d text our way to meeting up again, go and get her things, which of course I silently paid for to “make it up for our fight” and then we made our way home.

As I sat listening to her state how hungry she was as I cooked, I presented dinner at the table. She begrudgingly would sit across from me and stated “This better be good after that stunt you pulled earlier” -one bite and returned that intense stare I told you about.

Before I know it, the cup of boiling hot tea I made for her to have with dinner was flung across the table at myself. “This is fucking disgusting” – and once again another storming off occurred, this time thankfully only to the bedroom.

As I sat there crying, from the pain of the tea, the exhaustion of the day along with the fact both our dinners are not soaked in tea. I gathered myself “This isn’t what a man would do”

I don’t honestly know what I was thinking but, again, like every other fight we had I went in to apologise for the poorly made dinner. She would apologise for getting angry and say she was just hungry and girls ‘get like that when they’re hungry’ apparently it was cute? I would be made to order take away as a consolation for the dinner, she would then sit on her phone as we ate our meal in silence.

“Oh look he’s messaging me again, and him, and him” she would proudly state. “You know with how today went I should really give one of them a chance. They’d know how to treat a woman as they’re real men – you’re gonna have to prove yourself to me why I should stay” – she snarlingly smiled.

After a while of preaching to me about all the things I should be doing we made our way to bed. Which would ensue me catering for her needs then being told “I’m not a lesbian” when it came to me and then falling to sleep feeling disappointed.

This I thought was a normal relationship, I thought I was the issue and I was lucky to have someone. As the title, and one of my favourite movies states “We accept the love we think we deserve.” and this is the ‘love’ I thought I deserved. Which now thanks, to the kind and loving Jamie O’Herlihy, I know simply isn’t the case.

So yes, a lot of my friends knew about my ‘crazy ex’ which they just assumed meant the crazy jealous stalker type of girl, which I also had so suffer with her, but I’m sure they didn’t realise that I was also physically and mentally abused by this ‘crazy ex’.

Which, now I’m admitting, as I think people need to recognise that despite the social perception that girls are the innocent ones in relationships – unless of course they betray the man with their body by being a ‘slut’ as this is the only power women apparently have, their bodies, domestic abuse does in fact happen to men.

Thankfully I escaped my abusive relationship, despite the mental damage still being there, and have found happiness with a girl who loves and understands me. I’ve learnt what a real relationship is meant to be like and it’s shown me just how bad my previous one was. If you’re unhappy in a relationship please just leave, for too long I stayed with someone I shouldn’t have because I believed, as she told me, no one else would want to be with me as I was a “freak”.

This is not the case, once I accepted being single I was happy, and it gave me time to realise I don’t need any one but rather can welcome people in to be a part of my life. I’m now currently sharing my life with Jamie and I’m happy shes proud to have me as her boyfriend. There’s better people out there you just have to realise when to let something go to allow the opportunity to meet new people to be there.

So if you’re a man, or a woman, suffering domestic abuse remember you are not alone but you can escape. Just find the inner strength and cut the ties you know should have been cut long ago.

That’s all folks.

Harry