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I am an F to M, or rather F to X trans: now that I started my transition, I consider myself as simply agender.
Transidentity is still considered as a disorder in France. Accessing hormones and surgery means following the official French psychiatric follow-up.
It should definitely be a choice for those who feel they need it. But it shouldn’t be an obligation. In fact, most of the trans who signed up for those follow-ups lie without the shrinks noticing: on trans forums, in trans networks, we exchange tricks about what sentences you should say, how you should behave to get as fast as possible to the point when the shrink signs the paper that gives you access to the hormonal treatment. That’s what I did: I tried hard to stick to the shrink’s definition of “M”.
For them, it’s M or F.
There’s no in-between, no intermediary. Those doctors consider that you are a “true” trans (primary trans) if you declare you know you are trans since you were born. That doesn’t make any sense! For me, like for some other trans persons, the knowledge of being trans emerged with the years (secondary trans). Those doctors, they’re all cis. And there you are, sitting in an office with a cis person who feels they can decide whether you’re truly a trans or not…
There are “official” medical teams. You can’t choose which team you want: your social welfare benefits will apply only if you stick to one of the official teams. Plus, if you comply with their follow-up but in the end decide you don’t want genital surgery after all, then the doctors consider that you are not, there again, a true trans. Maybe you just didn’t want to go through that surgery, maybe you felt it would be a form of mutilation. But they just don’t understand that sex and gender are two different things, and that wanting to change your gender doesn’t mean you’re uncomfortable with what you’ve got between your legs. You may experience the latter as just another detail of your anatomy.
I didn’t want to go with an “official” medical team. You see, the local team here is very close-minded. So I wanted to go for a more open-minded shrink to start with. But then, I also wanted to have a mammectomy — although I didn’t want any phalloplasty: the F to M surgery is not very advanced yet and I’d rather continue experiencing pleasure when I fuck. And then I’m transgender, not transsexual. Whatever. So I chose my shrink, but then I couldn’t get any social welfare benefits. So I went for crowdfunding. I didn’t want to, but my friends insisted that I should. It worked: after one week, about a hundred persons, two dozens of whom are perfect strangers, gave me enough money and I could pay for my surgery, after years spent saving money, in vain. That’s several thousands euros!
For years, my friends and family had been filling a “Boobsbox” for me. Every Christmas, and for every one of my birthdays, they all pitched in a little something, to help me. A friend of mine who’s into art even painted it for me. It was pretty. But then the crowdfunding operation changed everything. In the end, another friend of mine said: “Here are five more Euros, so you treat yourself to a beer and celebrate!”
Network is all. I know it’s not good for me, but I am the one deciding when I should take my testosterone and when I shouldn’t. Now and then, I stop and start again, depending on how I feel about my body and the way it changes. But I still ask my endocrinologist to prescribe the maximum number of doses (one every two weeks). That way, I save some. Some of us do that, in the trans network. We give our spare doses to those trans who simply can’t afford any medical follow-up, or don’t want to apply for it. It is difficult, you know. Not everyone feels strong enough, emotionally, to go through those follow-ups.
Some people still mistake me for a woman in the street. Before my transition, it was driving me mad. Now, I just laugh about it. Before my transition, that was a whole different story. I bandaged my boobs and I packed. Now I don’t care. Before my transition, I was really trying to emphasize my M side. Now, I’m just fine with my non binary identity.
I’m so lucky to have loving friends I trust. That came as a bit of a surprise. You don’t expect this. With my family, that’s another story. They support me, but they say they don’t understand. Sometimes they even refer to me as “she,” or use my former first name. Some of my trans friends tell me that they would not allow it, that it is disrespectful and that they would just stop seeing their family. Well, I didn’t. I’m glad enough that they support me. But yeah, not using “he” and “Armand” to talk to me is definitely not cool. Anyway. They’re not informed and don’t want to be. My mom says she doesn’t like my new first name. As for my father, the only thing he ever cared to tell me about all this is:
“In any case, I hope you’re not going to change anything to what’s between your legs.”
This is a video by Jamie Raines, a trans Youtuber, aged 21, who shows his F to M transition in a short movie made with 1400 photos that he stitched together.
Tomorrow, I’ll still consider myself as ‘transitioning,’ but today, I’ve already reached a fair number of the goals I initially fixed for myself. I still don’t really know how I’m gonna evolve nor how I’ll want to evolve. In any case, my identity is not F, nor M: it’s T, like Trans. It means a lot to me. It’s vindication. Pride. As it should be. A way for me to fight, for myself and for the others. Some trans topple over into one gender / sex or the other (F or M) when their transition comes to an end. As for me, I don’t want to pick any of the two.
A recent positive or negative experience with people? Let’s see… There’s this colleague at work. The other day during lunch break, we were just chatting and doing small talk. And then, one thing leading to another, but also quite unexpectedly, she declared:
“If my son were gay, I guess I’d cry, but I’d come around to it. Now if he were trans, I mean, there’s no way I can accept that! I just can’t understand that trans thing!”
I discussed it with her without really exploring the topic in depth and without revealing my transidentity. I tried to tell here that nobody expected her to understand, but simply to accept what is, well, a reality. In the end, she ended up saying that I might be right, that it was not about her and her life after all. She hesitatingly concluded:
“I mean, y’know, if you’d rather be a woman, I would totally understand!”
I was taken aback, so I just laughed! If only she knew… She had spent the whole break saying horrid things about trans people… to a trans!
You know, this colleague… She’s only 23…
Many thanks to Armand who kindly accepted to give me some of his time for this interview.
Are you uncomfortable with transidentity? Do you wonder about it? Are you afraid of it? Get informed.
This article is Post #5 of the Equal Rights Week on Carrie Speaking.
CARRIE SPEAKING, aka C.I.D
Travel Writer, Blogger.
(Read more on http://carriespeaking.com)