Every Journey Is Different

Written by Katie Joell form the LGBT+ @Sky network

If you travel to the same place daily, you could be forgiven that there is nothing new or different about your journey. Yet, consciously whilst the roads and paths might be the same your surroundings have changed. The people you pass on the street, the cars on the road, the change of seasons, or perhaps you pick up on details you’ve never realised until travelling the same route for months.

The same applies to transitioning. Whilst it may look from the outside that we’re all heading one way or another on the same path, each of our journeys to find our true self’s is uniquely different to one another, which is why I’ve always struggled to understand collectivism – the act of putting us all into the same box, thinking we all think the same and sign up to the same prescribed values, that’s just nonsense.

One of the biggest mistakes I made when transitioning was the act of pace, I wanted to transition as quickly as possible, I wasn’t patient, I became frustrated at times at the lack of results I was getting through hormone replacement therapy and laser hair removal, my whole life had been so consumed by the process of transition that I forgot who I was as a person and what made me uniquely me.

As with every journey, you’ll also hit bumps in the road, or to find physical challenges along the way. Back when I came out, it seemed less taboo to identify as gay than it was trans, that’s what I did when I was 16, it at least explained to my family why I was physically attracted to men. Perhaps on reflection I should have been braver and just lived my life whole for that ten-year period it took me to fully explain the gender dysphoria I had to my family. 

In fact, I’ll always remember a memory etched to my mind of when I was a child sketching out in my notebook how I felt about myself, my parents saw it and questioned whether I was feeling ok, it wasn’t obvious to them what I was trying to convey, but their concern to the content made me pass it off as something frivolous and not to worry about it. If only I had grew up in today’s society, I’d have probably felt more secure about telling them how I felt, alas what is done is done and cannot be changed.

My early transitioning journey came at a cost, it ended a civil partnership with my previous partner, I have no animosity about that at all, can you really expect a gay man to live out their life happily with a trans partner? But what it did do was create a fork in the road, of meeting someone new, whom I’m still with today. Up until this point I never contemplated having kids as something viable, but with my new partner that technically could be possible. I’ve counted myself as a bit of a traditionalist, if I was going to have children, they would have to be my own.

My journey changed once again, going through the arduous path of enabling transition through HRT to pause my transition to at least exploring the possibility of having children. I’ve been off of HRT now for 2 years, it’s been tough, I feel I’ve regressed somewhat from feeling more balanced and at harmony of how I feel, we’ve tried to have children but to no avail so far, it’s not wholly down to the way hormones affected my reproductive potential, but it probably hasn’t helped.

My next GIC appointment is early November, it’s been quite some time since my last one. Whilst the physical attribute changes of hormones can take some time and can work to different degrees to some people, the most profound changes I found was aligning my mental state and sometimes it’s not until you come off of HRT that you realise the changes it has on you. I’ve become less empathetic, emotionally numb, more defensive and more guarded expressing myself, it’s been a reset of that internal battle I’ve had with myself since childhood, except with a different name.

I know that some point down the road I will resume HRT and continue my transition, but I want to say to myself that I’ve tried everything I can to have children before doing so. It’s challenging, I feel as though I’m in no man’s land at the moment, but at least I can say I won’t have any regrets if it turns out I can’t have a child of my own.

Every journey is different, all you can do is be true to yourself and find peace within, try not to run before you can walk, because you will inevitably encounter bumps in the road in whatever form that takes, as I said, back when I started to transition I never really contemplated having kids, I flippantly overlooked sperm freezing and on reflection I wish I did because things can change. It does come at a cost, but it’s a cost worth paying if you ever did want to have children. 

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