“The grandma situation” or How a person can change your life

Photo by Jeremy Wong

Today I would like to share my thoughts on acceptance, courage and grandmas.

Relevant things you might need to know before start reading:

— I’m 26 years old
 — I’m a transgender male
 — I came out four months ago
 — I’m two weeks on testosterone
 — I’m not the central character of this story 
 — I’m not an English speaker; I’m from the north of Spain.
 — I think this is enough for you to understand my lack of vocabulary and grammar mistakes.

Now that we’re well-informed let’s talk.

I’m a human being, and like every human being living on this planet, I’ve got fears. I was about to take a massive step in my life, the most significant change of all, and I was scared. I wasn’t scared about telling my parents, or my friends; I wasn’t scared about the doctors, the treatment, or the future surgeries; and I certainly wasn’t scared about rejection or society. At least not at first. The one thing I was scared the most, and back then I wasn’t entirely aware of it, It was my grandma. Yes, she was the catalyst of my fears.

At this point, you might be thinking, “why?”, “what’s the reason?”, “Is she an intolerant person?”. The answer is a resounding: not at all. Again, intolerance or rejection wasn’t the main subjects yet. I was almost like Willy Wonka back then, living in a world of pure imagination. It was another kind of problem we were facing: My grandma’s got Alzheimer.

Falling into oblivion or not being recognised by her, that was the nightmare. Those feelings were torturing me. “If she can’t even remember what she had for breakfast, she won’t remember me, my face, my name, who I am…” That’s true fear. Let’s call that moment: “The Grandma Situation” (TGS).

My first impulse after the TGS was not to tell anyone how I was feeling. I’ve never been good at expressing my emotions; I’m quite cold when love or affection comes to say hello so it would be easy for me to continue the charade. Maybe that’s why I’m still single and living with my parents, but that’s another sad story. This one is about her, my grandma, the woman who’s been there caring about me since I was in the womb. She’s been with me at every critical step in my life; I couldn’t stand to be a stranger at her house. What could I do? I was unhappy, depressed, angry, confused and a long list of other discouraging adjectives. It had been 25 years not being myself and “The Grandma Situation” made it worst, made me anxious. I had to act; I had to be brave like she taught me, It was time to jump into a void and fight for who I am. But I’m an overthinker coward.


Conversations with my brain part I: “In the event that she understood, What about my other grandparents? Would they be sympathetic? They live traditional lives, would they accept me? Oh God, so many questions, so many feelings… “ I was like an unstable bomb ready to explode.

The conversations continued. “Ok, This is the 21st century,” I thought, “we are evolving,” I said “we are more tolerant,” I convince myself. “That’s it; I’ll do it, I’ve made my decision,” but then the world hit me like a slap in the face. Psychiatric tests, no rights, not being recognised by law, transphobic attacks at the pride parade, or in the street at daylight, kids being bullied for trying to be themselves, disrespect… what kind of world is this? What kind of people are we? What’s wrong with society? Ok, I’m out.

I was outraged at the situation and even more scared. I continued talking to myself, a lot, I was going crazy: “I will keep it to myself, I can live like this, It’s not that bad…” It was “How to lie to yourself 101”. The talking kept going for weeks until my grandma asked me: “What’s wrong with you? You’ve been very sad lately. You should be happy” Here it comes the breaking point: If she could tell that my mood had changed, she will remember that now instead of a granddaughter she had a grandson, right? I’ll deal with society later; grandma always comes first.

It’s difficult for Alzheimer patients to retain short memories, but I gave it a try. I stopped thinking and talking to myself to start sharing and talking to my entire family (they were very supportive), and then the moment of truth, we told my grandma what was happening. At first, she was in shock and a bit confused but then she looked at me an said: “I don’t understand how does it work, but If you are happy I’m happy too. It’s your life, as long as you were polite and respectful, you should live it as you wish.” Since that conversation she has been treating me as a male, using male pronouns and tying her best. She remembers! The doctor said that the reason she hasn’t forgotten is the hight emotional load, which encourages my new life philosophy (I’m trying my best too) that love is stronger than hate. Now I’m a happy, proud and a lucky grandson.

My grandma filled me with hope. I’ve started my treatment, and my life quality has improved (physical and mentally speaking) Therefore repeat with me: There’s still hope. If someone tries to take you down for being yourself stand up and fight (figuratively, violence it’s never the answer) Don’t be afraid and don’t postpone or overthink your problems, don’t be like me. We have a lot of work to do to build a better society, but out there in the world, there are people like my grandma trying to understand, respect and love. Acknowledge the negative but focus on the positive. Love is stronger than hate.

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