Categories
Youths

Dan’s* Story

* Disclaimer: the name of the story teller has been changed in order to maintain the individual’s confidentiallity

We’re back with another story time. We love hearing your stories and we know it can be inspiring to those that are wishing to come out, or even those that aren’t trans and just need to hear stories in order to understand. Here is Dan’s* story…

When did you realise you were trans and what was this journey like for you?
I realised something was ‘off’ about my feelings towards my body and gender expression at around 8 (though I obviously didn’t have the vocabulary to describe it at that age). I remember being given a book about puberty/gender/sexuality at some point, probably at about 10, and I had a bit of an ‘a-ha’ moment when reading a very basic explanation of transgender people in it. I didn’t seek to do anything with that information for a while – obviously I was very young, and it seemed I’d found myself in this situation and there was nothing I could do about it, but at least  I knew what was ‘wrong’ now. 

What were the first steps you took to come out?

I came out at 12 to my mother, and our first step was going to the GP. She basically did the research and told the GP what they needed to do (that being organise an appointment with a specialist), and then I got a referral to Tavistock in London. I almost think being that young was beneficial to me in this regard – I was very lonely, but I wasn’t expected to know what steps to take. My mum was great in this regard; I know there wasn’t much information on transgender people, especially children, at the time and honestly if she hadn’t taken the initiative I think the GP would have had no clue how to handle me.

In terms of just feeling slightly more normal, seeing more trans people in media/generally in life is helpful. It’s a nice reminder! People like you exist, and they can be happy.

How was the process of telling your loved ones?

I’d tried to come out to my mum before ‘successfully’ coming out by leaving a letter on her bed and disappearing to my room. I’d been dismissed by her these previous times, but I think that was probably an issue of not knowing how to express how I felt and no parent really expecting to have to deal with a transgender child. I’m not sure she even knew it was a possibility at the time. She and my step-dad were very supportive after that. She told the rest of our family eventually (those closer to us first), and I’ve been lucky in that most are respectful, and we’re not particularly close to those that aren’t.

That being said, being trans at the moment for me means I’m constantly in a state of having to tell new loved ones. I recently decided to come out at university because of a break-up, and the fact that I’d rather be upfront on e.g. Tinder than have to have that discussion with every individual that shows interest/after weeks of talking only to have it be an issue. I knew my friends would come across my profile, and that I’d just have issues with dating that it’d be nice to talk about completely openly. Again, they’re all supportive (I wouldn’t have been friends with them for a year if there was a possibility they wouldn’t be), but feeling like you have to tell people, and telling people generally, always sucks. 

How has your transition affected you? Has there even been a big event in your life that’s happened as a result of you being trans?

I’m much happier. That’s the biggest change. I can’t claim I’m the most emotionally secure person I know, but each step in my physical transition (T at 16, top surgery at 18) has made me a generally happier person.

I can’t really think of a big (positive) event that’s happened as a result of my being trans. I’d have a lot of bad experiences, which I know is common to every gender non-conforming person.; luckily, there’s been nothing so huge that it’s completely changed my life.

What do you think the current state of support in uni and schools is for transgender people?

My school was decent (certainly not great), because my mum wasn’t afraid to stand up for me. I’ve heard that a trans child that has more recently been at the school has been treated awfully, and I think it’s clear how little regard there actually is for the wellbeing of trans children especially. Once no one was going to call them out on their poor behaviour, they stopped pretending to care.

There’s a Trans Association at my university, but I’ve never been to any meetings. I know people who have, and who work on its exec, and I get the idea that it’s generally a great resource and community – which is a good thing, because it’s the only resource.

My university health centre is not fantastic, similarly to my experience with GPs as a child; it certainly seems to stem from a lack of specialist knowledge. They’re too nervous to do anything with hormones without consulting my endocrinologist, which has resulted in me not having testosterone for a short while and my periods starting up again. This was very difficult for me to deal with when it started, but it’s been a year now and I’ve learnt I just have to adjust because they’re not going to do anything about it anytime soon. There’s definitely a lack of regard for the mental wellbeing of the individual patient, and maintaining consistency in my transition. 

What are your methods of coping when you feel down?

I can’t say I’m very good at coping methods. A lot of my mental health issues are (at least somewhat) separate from being trans, and mostly I take naps, if I can, to clear my head; going home for a change of scenery and remove myself from a difficult headspace has been the most effective method, but less convenient.

When struggling with dysphoria, I’ve found that actually having trans friends to talk to is the only thing that helps. I know my cis friends would listen, but being able to vent to someone who understands is irreplacable. I think a sense of community, even if it’s just knowing one or two other people, is perhaps the most important thing to remind you that you’re not alone in struggling with this.

What would your advice be to a person who is coming to terms with the fact that they are transgender and aren’t sure what to do?

The NHS waiting list is long – it’s really long. Try and get on it to talk to a specialist (I HATED it but ultimately it did help me understand that I am trans, and that that’s an OK thing to be, and what my options were now I knew this). In the meantime, you are allowed to experiment with gender expression, clothing, names, whatever. This stuff is malleable, and not as rigid or precious as people seem to think it is. Obviously this is easier for some than others depending on your environment, so stay safe above all else.

Talk to other people who are trans/non-binary/gender non-conforming to any extent. Understanding the experiences and emotions of others can put your own in perspective, and also creates that community I mentioned earlier. They can also give you more specific advice if they’ve been in your place before, or you can figure it out together if you’re in similar situations.

Categories
Adults Youths

Taylor’s Story

To continue looking at real stories from members of the transgender community in order to support you and help with the struggles you might be going through, we spoke to Taylor, who is non-binary/trans-masculine! Here is Taylor’s story…

My name is Taylor. I’m 25 years old and non-binary/trans-masculine. My pronouns are he/they. My story has been a slow but beautiful unfolding. From where I am now looking back, I can see a lot of signs from my childhood that indicate to me now that I was a little trans baby in a cis, heteronormative world. Growing up, I didn’t have the language or exposure to others like me, so it got suppressed for a long time trying to meet gender norms and societal expectations. I grew up pretty sheltered and went to a Christian private school, and played on a sports team that kept me from interacting with many people who weren’t cis and straight.

I started to break out of this in my senior year of high school when I first came out as a lesbian. Then, in college, I stopped trying to fit a feminized expectation that familial/cultural expectations had placed on me and allowed myself to be more masculine, which felt closer to home for me. Around this time, I decided to leave the sport I had been playing since childhood. This opened a path to redefining my identity in many different ways. During my time in college, I took a Gender Studies class and met a trans guy, and then everything clicked. I had finally met somebody and learned the language that expressed how I felt inside. I sat with this for a few years and during that time I socially changed my pronouns to they/them.

Left: Taylor now, after Testosterone. Right: Taylor pre-hormone therapy.
Image: @Taylor__Pop

At 24, I realized that starting HRT would be the right thing for me in order to help alleviate dysphoria and bring me closer to my true self. I came out to my partner and close friends and I’m fortunate to have loving and supportive people around me. However, coming out can be very scary and unsafe at times. Although I am out to many people in my life, I am still figuring out how to come out to my mom. Coming out is an ongoing process and you have to do it over and over again. This is why trans visibility is important, for the trans people that grew up sheltered, the trans  people that feel alone or scared, and for society to accept that we exist and have always existed. Not only do we deserve love. We deserve rights, healthcare, and protection. Gender affirming healthcare and a society that accepts us can literally save lives.

Since starting HRT, I feel closer to home each day. I’ve realized dysphoria hasn’t gone away completely, but my mental health has improved so much with the changes that have happened and I know will come. I’m fortunate to have access to trans-specific healthcare and it has made the medical process fairly easy for me. But again, socially,  we have a long way to go. Even at my trans-specific health clinic, I was misgendered on my shot day by the person administering my shot!

To wrap up my thoughts, being trans is not just about going from point A to point B, it’s a way of being. I think it’s important to highlight that gender is fluid and can mean different things for each individual person. My gender is my own.

Categories
Youths

Stellan’s Story

We want to hear your stories. Transpire is not only an educational site, but a community in which trans people and allies and come together and support one another. This is Stellan’s story…

Telling My Story: I wrote a poem a year or two ago, called Exo Adaptation. Here it is:

“As the snail retreats into its hard shell,

And protects itself from life’s sharpest blows,

I so envy its exoskeleton. 

Mother Nature, hear me out now. Please.

I demand the armor you fashioned for 

the animals of this senseless Earth. 

Why engage in a world that hurts and hates?

Why not withdraw into a safety net,

Only soaking up sunlight when needed?”

I try to recall the headspace I was in when I wrote it, but I honestly can’t place it. While I was only daydreaming about buckling down into some sort of armor then, I’m now a deeply guarded person. If it takes a battle to build a soldier, I guess I’m a Captain, because I’ve been through a war. Religion made my parents the enemy. I did my best in coming out to them. I tried texting it lightly first (“I’m agender”). I tried a letter and knowing just what to say (“I’m transgender”). I even tried not taking any action and going about my business (I’m wearing a nonbinary flag today!). That’s the path I’m on to this day. I hate that it was my best course of action though, because of how isolating it’s been. My phone call with a Plume specialist, my trip to the pharmacy to pick up my first container of testosterone…. Not a single person in my Christian family was there to cheer me on. Why did I make my efforts? Well, I couldn’t force myself to suffer in silence- not when I spoke up from the start. It inwardly feels like I screamed my truth until my heart grew hoarse. I just wonder why they couldn’t listen.

Image: @spiralingcadet

I feel alone a lot of the time. Luckily, I built a support system from the ground up. Online support groups, as well as people like my partner, gender-affirming therapist, and creative mentor, saved me. 
 My parents have their suspicions, so I don’t have a phone right now. I get watched like a hawk, but my secrets are worth it. I’m worth it. That’s the most critical thing I learned. No one’s going to turn you into the person you want to be. Not some Fairy Godmother, and not Mother Nature. You have to decide to take the leap of transformation for yourself. Isn’t change worth all the life you’ve yet to live?

Categories
Adults

Brands to Shop With

Are you looking to shop with brands for or run by trans and non-binary people? We’ve selected a few of our favourite brands that put the trans and non-binary community into the heart of everything they do. 

Unofficial Rebrand

Image: Official Rebrand

OFFICAL REBRAND (or?!) is a sustainable non-binary brand founded by MI  Leggett, who is also non-binary themselves. They say that they wanted to redefine what it means to be sustainable in both the world of fashion and art. Official rebrand offers some amazing on trend and artistic pieces to really add wow factor to any outfit. They carry a wide range of pieces, from printed tank tops to elaborate coats. If you are edgy and out-going when it comes to your fashion choices, this is definitely the brand for you.

Radimo LA

Image: Radimo LA

Radimo LA is an online retailer. It started when founder Dan Owens got tired of seeing the misrepresentation of gender fluidity from brands such as H&. They ensure to show their products on at least 3 gender presentations, sized and skin colours, which is obviously amazing for the representation of gender, weight and ethnicity. Having a brand that does this is amazing as sometimes it can be hard if brand’s only use one model. For instance, if the model is white, size 6 and female, it can be hard for people outside of this bracket to see what the clothing would look like on them. With a brand like Radimo, they are pushing the boundaries of diversity and representation within brands. 

Origami Customs

Image: Origami Customs

Origami Customs is a brand which sells binders, compression underwear and more for transgender people. Before having surgery or even starting hormones, trans people struggle to feel confident with themselves due to their gender dysphoria. For a trans man who hasn’t yet had surgery, wearing a binder can conceal the breast’s in order to make for a more masculine look. Likewise with trans women. Thing’s like compression underwear can make for a flatter appearance to make it appear as though you have female anatomy. Having products like this can decrease stress and anxiety massively and this is a brand that we praise. Origami Customs pieces are something that trans people will highly benefit from and we’re glad to have came across this brand to help those of you that might need products like this. 

Categories
Adults Youths

Transparent Podcast: Jess King

In this episode we speak to Jess King. Jess is the long-time best friend to our founder, Jordan Burrows. This podcast explain’s the journey Jess went on after finding out her best friend was transgender. She also discusses how it actually brought the pair closer together, forming a friendship that has lasted close to a decade.

We hope that seeing the bond that this friendship duo have can help those of you who are worried to come out to your friends, and realise that your friends will be there and continue to support you.

Enjoy!

Categories
Parents Teachers

Transparent Podcast: Sarah Noble

In this podcast, we speak to Sarah Noble. Sarah is the parent to her transgender son, and also works closely with LGBT students at RSA Academy Arrow Vale.

She has been a huge help to students and has played a massive role in supporting people who wish to start their transition.

This podcast shows her journey from at first, struggling to come to terms with her son’s transition, to now helping other children in the same situation.

Enjoy!

Categories
Adults

Love Life 101

Dating can be hard at the best of times. It doesn’t matter who you are, some people are just unlucky with love. However, transgender people face so many problems when it comes to dating. Here’s a guide at how to ensure your relationship remains healthy and the dating experience can be as positive as possible.

Ensuring your partner or the person you’re seeing accepts you is key. If you are with someone that is with you and they use your gender dysphoria against you than put them in the trash. It is key to ensure that the person you are with is understanding and accepting of you and your journey. Make sure you are transparent with them about your gender journey and ensure everything is laid on the table at the very beginning.

Don’t rush – from my own experience, being trans can lead to being unlucky in love. Sometimes you might date people who have only ever been with one gender and being trans can sadly complicate things. If you have been unlucky then make sure that you put yourself first and don’t rush anything. Once you start to fully love yourself, then someone else will start to love you. If you still aren’t at a place of 100% acceptance, then any relationship won’t work no matter who it is with

Be sure to notice the signs of domestic abuse. 28% of trans people have experienced domestic abuse. It can be scary being a trans person and seeing these figures. So, make sure you’re alert and see how the person you are dating acts. If they start showing signs of aggression, especially early on, then see this as a sign of their character and end the relationship as soon as you can for your own safety. It’s important to stay alert of these things early to ensure that you don’t get too involved with someone who may be a suspect of domestic abuse.

Don’t feel pressured. Sadly, some people fetishise the idea of being trans. Something completely normal and something that a lot of people struggle with, can be a fetish for other people. If you are dating someone that feels this way, they may pressure you to have sex early on. Know your worth and don’t allow someone to use you for sexual intercourse if you feel it is too early. If you are in a situation where you feel like you are being used sexually because you are trans, act on it. There are plenty of people out there who will like you for you and not like you initially because you are trans. Find someone who loves you, but still accepts you’re trans rather than someone who loves that you’re trans and is mediocre about you as a person. 

From my own struggles with past relationships, I hope that these tips can help you and your love lives and ensure that you stay protected when it comes to these aspects in a relationship.

Categories
Adults Youths

Coming Out

Many people struggle with coming out. Due to the stigma surrounding the transgender community in society, often people wish to keep it private as long as they can. We have some tips on how to come out to your loved ones, and what to do if they don’t accept you.

  1. Plan: planning how you are going to explain this to your family and friends will be easier than springing it on them. Try writing down key points on your phone, or imagine you are sending a text but don’t actually send it. Plan everything you are going to say and exactly how you will explain that you are trans, and then ensure that they are actively listening when you tell them

2. Set the environment: It is very important that when you tell your loved ones information like this, that you are in a calm environment. You want it to come as naturally as possible. For parents, it can come as a shock, so ensure the environment is right and that they are listening. Make sure that they are sat down and not busy doing housework or anything else. Ask them to sit down and tell them that there is something you wish to tell them whilst in a calm environment.

3. Allow communication: When telling someone news like this, a lot of questions may be asked. Your parents will want to fully understand. Make sure you plan ahead and be prepared to answer questions so you can gain their full support and guidance. If you aren’t prepared for the questions they may ask, you may feel bombarded, so ensure you think of anything they might want to ask so that they understand the full story.

4. Do research: When first coming out, you may feel a little lost. Some people are aware they want to transition, but don’t have the information on who to speak to or what steps to take first in order to start your journey. Make sure you do your research. Start by speaking to your GP. They will give appropriate advice based on your case. We also have articles on Hormone Replacement Therapy, so have a look at articles like this to get more information on the journey you’re about to embark on.

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Adults Parents Youths

Hormone Replacement Therapy: The Basics

Disclaimer: The information found throughout this document has been provided by the NHS. If you wish to find more information on Hormone Replacement Therapy, please visit the NHS website.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (or HRT) is the process of a transgender person starting to take the appropriate hormones to start the physical process of becoming their desired gender. Here is your basic guide to what you should know before starting HRT

What are hormones?

Hormones are naturally produced in the body from glands. These hormones are released into the bloodstream so that they can be carried around the body. Amongst many others, the body produced sex hormones: Testosterone produced by the testes and Oestrogen by the ovaries. 

What effects do naturally produced hormones have?

Overall, Testosterone produces masculinising effects and Oestrogen produces feminizing. In-hand with genetic factors, sex hormones impact your reproductive system, your brain, and physical characteristics like height and build. 

Then, during puberty, more changes occur as a result of sex hormones. For instance, in women breast development and periods will occur and in men, facial and body hair will begin to grow, along with height, muscle bulk and penis growth. 

What do trans people aim to achieve with HRT?

The overall aim of HRT in transgender people is to allow the body to produce the hormone linked to your desired gender. This causes physical and psychological changes so that you can appear and feel as the gender you wish to be. 

For trans people, starting HRT and seeing and feeling the physical changes in your body to become who you really wish, it is a huge deal. Starting HRT is a start to your transition and begins the process of changing your body to look and feel more feminine or masculine. Blockers may be needed in cases where the hormones in which your body naturally produce must be blocked in order for HRT to work.

HRT is often the first stage for transgender people, following surgery if wanted or needed. 

What physical effects does HRT have on transgender people?

Trans Women:

  • Fat may be distributed to the hips
  • Slight reduction in the size of penis/testicles
  • Erections and orgasms may be harder to achieve
  • Muscle bulk and power might be reduced
  • Breasts may feel tender and lumpy and may increase in size
  • Facial and body hair production becomes weaker. This can be helpful in the hair removal process

Trans Men:

  • Promotion of facial and body hair growth
  • Male pattern baldness may occur
  • Clitoris increases slightly in size
  • Sex drive may be heightened
  • Increased muscle bulk
  • Deepening of the voice, but may not be to the pitch of other men
  • Periods will stop occurring
  • Acne may develop

Once start HRT, you will have to stay on the medication in order for your body to keep producing the new hormone.

There are no large risks to taking hormones, and they are considered ‘remarkably safe’ according to the NHS. 

The most serious risks when taking Oestrogen are:

  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Stroke
  • Pulmonary embolism (block in a blood vessel in the lungs)
  • Altered liver function

The most serious risks when taking Testosterone are:

  • Polycythemia (over-production of red blood cells)

Although these risks are extremely rare, if you start seeing signs of the above, or have side effects following the start of HRT, make sure you inform you GP immediately. 

Categories
Adults Parents Teachers Youths

Mental Health Helplines

Mental health is something that is no surprise within the transgender community. Whether it’s the fear of telling your family, you’re being bullied, or you’ve faced harassment (physically or sexually), mental health issues are prevalent within the trans community.

It’s always good to have someone to talk to. This doesn’t have to be someone you know. There are trained professionals on helplines and online 24/7 to ensure that your mental health and well-being is paramount.

Here are our recommended mental health helplines:

Mermaids

mermaidsuk.org.uk

0808 801 0400

Samaritans

Samaritans.org

or call 116 123

Childline

Childline.org.uk

or call 0800 1111

Supportline

Supportline.org.uk

or call: 01708765200

YoungMinds

youngminds.org.uk

or call 0808 802 5544

Students against depression

studentsagainstdepression.org

The calm zone

thecalmzone.net

Bullying.co.uk

It is okay to accept help and speak to someone about your feelings and struggles. Unfortunately, being transgender can be difficult. Speak to someone and make sure you get support if needed.

Feel free to message us via our social links on the ‘contact us’ page!