At this months support group meeting there was a new face. To me anyway, he attended the group for the first time last month when I was unable to. We said hello when hanging our coats and when we were seated he wanted to introduce himself/make me introduce myself more formally. Apparently that included shaking hands, presenting name and then state gender expression (transvestite, “but still happy to be a man”) and time being so (came out six months ago). In that order. Then it was my turn and I stated my name. Since I wouldn’t give him information easily he then proceeded by asking me “so you’ve known you’re a guy your whole life, right?”I mean, whoa! I just met the person! I’m not comfortable charging that information with anyone. Mostly because I’m not entirely sure myself. Have I known my whole life that I’m a guy? If not – when did I realize? Like most other trans* people I have no clue, and that is just fine. Well, maybe not with this dude, but still, it should be fine and people should stop ask that kind of questions! Especially to strangers, even at support group meetings…
But the question remains. For how long have I known? It’s not an easy question to answer for anyone, cis or trans, since you can know these kind of things without having words for them. And then knowing and accepting is quite different…
I grew up in a time when AIDS still was an epidemic that only affected gay men. Given that perspective it doesn’t take a brainiac to figure out that our parents and other grown ups tried their best to keep us kids form acting on anything LGBTQ+. I don’t blame them, I would’ve done the same thing as a parent. But the result was that we were never exposed to people or images from the LGBTQ+ community. We didn’t know it existed!
When you don’t know something exist it’s really hard to know if you identify like that. If I was 15 years younger I could have searched the Internet for answers when I felt I didn’t fit in. I could have seen LGBTQ+ people in mainstream media. Maybe then I would have had a fair chance to know.
One part of the GIC assessment is a social investigation. In order to allow me to make changes, if my counsellor misunderstood anything, she called me to read what she had written.
It’s really, really weird to hear the story of your life, written by someone else for a third part. I know the story. I know it so intimately that I could repeat it in my sleep, but then I’m always me. I’m in charge and I have a genuine positive view of my life. But hearing someone describing your lived life using he and Fredrik make it more unfamiliar. Suddenly it could be about someone else and if it were, it would be an exceptional and hard life that I wouldn’t want to live. If it were about someone else, I would’ve felt very sorry for him!
One interesting aspect of the story was that suddenly all my friends were male. I’ve always thought that I mostly had female friends, but when we talked the counsellor asked about friendships that truly mattered to me, an sometimes she asked specifically for how my friendship with boys looked like growing up.
It dawned on me that all my “best” friends were male even though I haven’t kept contact with them since it wasn’t socially acceptable. There’s especially one guy that I still miss a lot. We were in the same class and spent most of the breaks together, playing pool, cards, floor ball or just chatting. I can honestly say that he was my best friend!
Officially I was best friends with a group of girls and in hindsight I guess most people around us must have thought he and I were an item (due to the opposite gender thing) but I still mourn the day he and his family moved away half away across the country. Since we were opposite gender at the time there were no natural or legitimate way for us to keep in contact. Instead I stalked his male friends hoping to be able to make them my friends, which probably creeped them out a bit.
I knew. The only thing I didn’t know was what word to use.