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Friday, July 16, 2010

Transition Thoughts & Reflections - Karen

Our second essay in this series is from another Scottish girl. Karen is a non-transitioner....someone who should transition but fights it daily. I might add that Karen is someone I lean on for support, since our missions are similar.

Karen has two blogs.


If you wish to contact Karen, send me an email and I'll forward it to her.

You can also meet our bloggers on the T-Central Facebook page. See the link at the bottom of this page,


When Calie asked me to do a piece for the T-Central series based around (not) transitioning, I have to say I felt very honoured.

But what to write on?

I'm one of those who choose to try not to transition, to hold back and be what we appear to be. Finally, I couldn't work out what single subject to waffle on about so this piece is made up of a few shorter subjects.

Will I ever...?

Will I ever make the decision to transition?

Yes. I decide to transition several times a day when the girl fog is bad, but I always seem to make one more decision not to transition, than to transition, though.

No, really I do.

Yesterday we were travelling and by the end of the day I was at the second of the three options of the apolcalypse, having been fluttering between all three all day.

What are the three options I hear you say - well they are of course not to transition, to transition or the third darker way which hits so many of us as a final and easy way out of the torture.

So on some days, when it is really bad, I'm screaming inside of myself, trying to keep the thought away. On those days I'm ready to 'cut it off' and go where my sub concious tells me I should be.

But, and it is a big but, I have a fabulous wife who I love to death and two cracking kids. Why would I want to put them through hell, potential ridicule and literally tear their world apart?

At some earlier points, I would have included the arguements about good job / house etc etc, but on reflection these are not so relevant. Sure if I transitioned our whole world would probably change financially [although there are some girls around the area who have transitioned in similar jobs to mine I am led to believe], but by the same token, some big financial crash could do the same easily enough, and we are pretty lucky to have gotten through the recent crash relatively unscathed.

The important point is not only would I be deprived of them, but they would also be deprived of me and the 'normal' stable family structure we are in.

Now, I know that if we were to separate under other more 'acceptable' situations, such as 'mere' adulterous behaviour [!!] or just to grow apart, the end result would be fairly similar, but the key point is I absolutely love these people. My wife is my soul mate, my rock and the one who has saved my sanity in the last year or so by the power of her pure love for me. I cannot do anything to harm them. I even struggle to pull sticking plasters off them if required. That is how soft I am.

So, while I love them, and they remain loving me, I'm going to fight the desire to transition. One day it might get me, but it won't be from a lack of trying.

Stand up and be counted

One subject that has been exercising me latterly is the invisibility of trans people. They remain hidden in their physical shells for years, before bursting, all beads and heels so to speak [for MTFs anyway], into the sunlight for a few months, or maybe a year or so, until they reach that basic level of passability where they are no longer obvious.

I believe this sudden transient behaviour is partially to due to the general perception of trans people and helps in some ways to reinforce it. I remember reading a piece by a prominent British trans woman who pointed out that until we stand up and become visible, both pre and post transition, we participate in our own oppression. Until we become a visible part of society, our experience will never be understood.

So, should those of us who have not yet transitioned or those of us who resist, stand up, if the situation demanded it, and be honest and brave enough to say - "yes I am trans"?
I really do not think 90% of the population appreciate the burden we carry at times and most would regard this as a lifestyle choice, and a sort of sexual deviancy.

I bet few know of the mental turmoil we have, the aches and cramps, anxiety attacks and depressions we go through and huge sense of being just plain wrong somehow.
If they did know would they think of us any better? Well, that is not for me to say but, given that most mental illnesses are regarded with suspicion, I think we would have a hard challenge regardless. But gradually if some of us stand up and make our voices heard, slowly things may change and people may start to realize that we all fight this and transition only happens when the pain is unbearable, when there are fewer reasons to stay than to go, and the remaining options are too dark to contemplate.

As far as us influencing any debate amongst the general public about transgenderism we have to be in it to win it as the saying goes.

So what do I experience?

I have a post it note on my PC at work that says INTBAW.


Stands for I Need To Be A Woman.

It's not there to remind me, it's there because I scribble it down many times a day as a way of getting the thought out my head. It's the thought that meets me on waking, if not before, lurks behind my shoulder all day and, given the slightest nudge, screams at me and beats me up physically.

To be fair it's not constant. Recently I've managed to bury it deep under conscious thought for 5 months or so. But, like a pool of water fed by a stream, it will always burst it's banks and wash away those barriers we have built.

But, it is also the isolation of having a condition that cannot speak it's name, which I guess is fairly closely linked to my point above about participating in our own oppression. More than anything I generally feel stuck at a place where no route offers a satisfactory way forward. Some Faustian version of hell where every choice damns you regardless. Stay as I am and accept the very real pains and mental turmoil; transition and lose my family and structure; or just lose everything. No way works, so for now I stay as I am, try to express the woman within as best I can (which is getting quite pressing right now tbh) and try to protect those I love from it.

Overall to me it has always seemed like a mental illness but one where the body and outward expression is wrong and the mind is correct, but primarily mental all the same.

Odd stuff really.....


  1. Is it possible to come out to your family without transitioning? I know a few trans people who aren't transitioning, but their family accepts them as who they are- and this acceptance is all they need. I know coming out is scary- and if you don't think your family will accept it I completely understand not wanting to- but there are more than 3 options. I hope you can find more that work for you.

    You are a woman- I know that might seem like something people tell you just to make you feel better, but you really are. It should be IAAW instead of INTBAW. Your don't even have to see your body as "male" if you don't want to.

    I don't know your situation so I apologize if my suggestion isn't helpful- but I hope you can find a way to be happy. I hope that for all people.

  2. What a wonderful post, Karen! Although I've never married, I can totally relate to your apprehensions, concerning transition! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us!

    Melissa XX

  3. Except for not having kids, could never have brought them into a world which did this to me, and loss of work, what work, this is the post I would have had to write if asked until I was nearly fifty when the dam did burst.

    You have caught that sense of helplessness and desperation we live with constantly while trying to maintain the impression of normal life to the world around us.

    An excellent glimpse into our tormented minds.

    Caroline xxx

  4. Hi Karen.
    Your post is spot on and explains exactly what it is like for people like us before transition. You are also 100% spot on that no matter what choice we make, we have major downsides to face as a result. I've said before there are no easy answers to GID, we just have to make the best of a bad situation and live with the consequences.
    I too tried as hard as I could to hold onto my lovely family unit, but sadly I just ran out of fight to keep it at bay, and transitioned to deal with the horrendous internal gender torment. The good thing is that I've solved/cured the GID issues, and I'm totally at one in my own skin. The very bad part is what I've lost in the way of my loving family, and I suspect you and other loving Fathers out there would regret that part as much as I do......and the hurt (although eases) never fully leaves either.
    Good luck on your chosen path hunni.
    Alex. x

  5. This post says it all so well.

    Mine isn't a post-it note, it's a mantra, IWTBF, I Want To Be Female.

  6. Thanks for the kind comments girls.
    @Chartreuseflamethrower - I am actually 'out' to my wife, but keep it hidden from the kids and the others. If I hadn't come out things would likely have gone in a much darker direction altogether and it's my wife's love that keeps me going to fight the desire to transition.
    It's quite ironic this post was put up today as today has been the worst day for girl fog in ages.

  7. I completely understand these feelings and have been there.
    All thos fears you express are rigth there in front of me as I move forward some are still a possibility and some thankfully may work out fine.
    But nothing is sure yet.
    I admire your courage and loyalty to your family and wish you well.

  8. With regard to your kids, if they are young, you may be surprised to find they accept you for who you are.

    I have two boys and my 10 yr old has no issue with it and my 13 year old doesn't mind if I transition, "so long as I don't become gay" are his thoughts on it....

    Children are amazingly resilient... and have an uncanny ability to surpise us to no end.

  9. Karen,

    I love your post. I am walking in your shoes as well. All my friends have transitioned and, in a way, I feel very lonely yet very happy. I miss my friends and my life as a woman but then I have a wonderful soul mate and a wonderful family. What horrible choices we all fce!


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