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Trying to tell someone

Adam 190

 

Issue 9
February 2000

 
Let me start with the second time I told my parents about my Gender Dysphoria. "Told" perhaps is the wrong word to use because I can't remember telling my parents I was unhappy, at fourteen and a half, but I can remember crying and crying and crying. My communication with them was through wet eyes. I had lost the ability, or felt too embarassed, to use words, and crying showed, I suppose, that I was upset without having to be to specific about what the problem was. And it also meant that I didn't have in say things like 'gender' or 'dysphoric' or 'TS' (words which I barely knew anyway).

And my Mum saw my distress and realised I was asking for her help. And she did help me. She took me to the local nurse. The woman who used to come into my school and check the kids for nits. That's how I remembered her and I still do, though I do vaguely remember that first meeting with her and my Mum, talking over various gender related issues in a room that looked exactly like it should for a local clinic - squeaky chairs and an abundance of half- filled tissue boxes. My Mum sat opposite me and the 'nit' nurse in the middle. I can recall very few things from this day and the months after that. My memory has gone blank apart from being able to picture the interior decor of that room. But I know that it was a significant day for me because it was the first time I was forced to use words to tell my Mum that I had a problem, that it was a big problem and had to be sorted out and taken seriously.

Now, the first time I told them was when I was about nine or ten, when saying things to parents didn't seem hard at all, and I think I just came out with it and said "Mum, I want to be a boy." And, though I'm not sure how she looked, whether she was shocked or matter-of-fact about it, I know what she said back. She said "Well, if you do, we'll have to move away from here." And, as a child, to hear that, is the most scary thing in the world. All you've ever known is 'here'. You want to stay 'here' forever and it scared me so much that that is perhaps why I tried a different approach four years later.

Talking to other people with Gender Dysphoria has made me think about the whole process of 'coming out' differently. Many people that I have spoken to say that they kept their secret in for decades because they were scared of hurting their parents. My guilt lies with the fact that I couldn't hide my sadness from my parents when so many other people thought it a priority. I have to honestly say that, when I told them, I was not racked with guilt thereafter. It was not until I was sixteen or so (and that was only through prompting by a psychotherapist) that I started wondering how my parents felt.

Yes, I was a selfish child and stubborn too, but I needed to be. The first time I told them, I was only preparing them for what was to come. The second time must have been petrifying for them but not altogether a big surprise. And then it was up to them. I was too young. I couldn't do anything more. And though I hate to dramatise it, when my parents first sought help with that nurse, it began a series of meetings with various professionals that changed the course of my life, and my parent's hopes and dreams for their child completely and forever. And for their selflessness, I am eternally grateful.

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