As a new blog project idea I decided to allow LGBT individuals of all ages, background, races, religion and origin write their own blog post for my blog. I decided to do this as writing about my own story is getting extremely boring, and everybody’s story is different and unique so I want to highlight that. Here is Ciara’s story:
I came out as a trans-girl publicly in November 2015 to a lot of support from unexpected places. People I’d not spoken to in ages liked my status, left encouraging messages and I received no direct negativity (a few people ‘unfriended’ me and/or blocked me). It’s great that in the past five years, stigmas towards being trans are being stripped away. We still have a long way to go, but it’s a lot of progress in such a short period. Sadly, my battles still aren’t over. While I feel a great sense of relief that I no longer have to compartmentalize my life but I am still dealing with an enemy that is extremely difficult to combat. That enemy is myself.
The reality of gender dysphoria is quite harsh and unforgiving for any trans person. Feeling like your body isn’t yours is a terrible feeling and, from what I can gather, it can affect people in different ways. It’s not necessarily a case of disliking your genitals like a lot of people would instantly imagine. In my case, the triggers are much more obvious and difficult to ignore.
The first issue is that my facial hair is quite dark and is still visible somewhat even when freshly shaven. The experience of shaving itself is extremely unpleasant and honestly, quite degrading and undignified. My skin seems to hate the process regardless of what is used which leaves me only able to shave up to three times a week without severe irritation. And even then, if someone were to touch my face, there’s a possibility that they’ll feel rough patches that I can’t do anything about. Makeup helps with the beard shadow but I can’t help but wonder if it’s still visible. Before I came out, I grew a beard. Having the beard fully visible for all to see triggered much less dysphoria than I feel from the hair removal process and following anxiety that it brings. It’s completely stupid but that’s the truth.
Another issue I have involves something that affects a lot of men and trans-women. My hairline has been slowly receding for a few years and it states me in the face when I look in the mirror. My ponytail feels thinner and I can’t run a brush through it without a fair few hairs coming out. I know this happens regardless of gender but it’s still a worry. I’m afraid to style it in case it speeds up the balding process. HRT might help with that but I’m a long way off that stage due to NHS waiting times and the fact that I live in Wales, which adds a few more steps (I first expressed that I wanted to ‘correct’ my gender in 2013. I’m currently waiting for my third psychiatrist appointment in the hopes that it’ll be my last before being referred to Charing Cross, which has a waiting list of about 12-18 months, so I’m told). Sadly, the only option for the areas that I’ve lost is a hair transplant; an expense I can never hope to afford. Wigs are available, but after having your own hair that has been long for around ten years or so, it wouldn’t feel like it was a part of me and would instead serve as a cruel reminder of what I lost.
Finally, I’m unable to look at my chest due to a lack of breasts. Again, breast augmentation is an expense I’ll never be able to afford and I feel that the combination of these issues are a real threat to my femininity and my ability to live in the real world without encountering problems.
Some may argue that other trans people have dealt with these things, so why can’t I? The reason is simple. Some people can deal with things better than others. I’ve suffered with severe depression and social anxiety since I was about 10, brought on and exacerbated by bullying throughout my school years. I have suffered two nervous breakdowns and haven’t fully recovered since. As a result, I often find going out extremely difficult, if not impossible and this anxiety amplifies the effects of my dysphoria triggers. Any time I go out I can’t help but worry that people will see my beard shadow or that I missed shaving an area of my face. Or that someone will notice my hairline. Or that my lack of breasts will give me away. It all adds up to me not being able to just go out and do things, like I should be and inevitably makes me feel even worse. It forces me to shrink into Youtube, gaming and music as they give me much more comfort than the real world can. And as time goes on, I feel less and less hopeful that I’ll ever be the woman that I need to be, because my frame of mind is just that crippling.