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Sunday, January 27, 2008

I won't beat around the bush.

This post is translated from my original French post Je n’irai pas par quatre chemins.

From birth, I have lived with a timebomb in my head, a bomb which exploded one Saturday morning in August 2007. After this precise moment, I was only sleeping three or four hours a night, I had lost 15 kg (33 lbs) and my life had been turn upside down to a point which was unimaginable to my partner, my near-and-dear, and my circle of friends.

Broadly, since I was a child, my brain tells me that I am a woman. To manage this situation, I had developed very strong denial mechanisms. I became the model of "manlyness". I went to the Royal Militairy College (St John's Royal Military College) (and prepared to be an infantry officer), I played American football, and I was a bouncer. But, you see, once my denial mechanisms came tumbling down, I lived with depression that led me to consult a specialist for these things, in Québec.

I suffer from gender identity disorder. When a person feels herself ill at ease with the roles or identity of her gender, the doctors say that she suffers from this malady; it is a psychiatric term describing a very grave mood disruption which implies sadness, anxiety, tension, irritability, and affects one in 30,000 people, according to medical statistics. In my case, it is a psychological state of a person who is unsatisfied with the sex in which she was born, and I was diagnosed a type II transsexual.

In my situation, the only therapy is transitioning to be a woman. The only other alternative is to do nothing and the consequence of that choice is a severe depression which might lead to suicide.

I asked my doctor if there wasn't anything else: injecting me with male hormones, aversion therapy, etc. He told em that for 50 years, all the alternatives have been explored (including electroshock) and that the only treatment which gave positive results was transition. One doesn't change the brain to correspond to the body, one changes the body to correspond to the brain.

Furthermore, a scientific debate rages about if GID is an illness or a condition. GID is in the psychiatric bible (which is called the DSM-IV). But this reality might well change because science presents the hypothesis that it is instead a condition present at birth. It seems that during the 7th week of pregnancy, an abnormal hormonal influx happens, so that at the time of sexual differentiation, the body develops as a male, but the brain remains female (see here, here, here, here and here). After birth, amongst social pressures and life risks, the child will forge denial mechanisms which fail sooner or later. Thus, when they fail, the inevitable will become the only reality present at all times.

The diagnosis is formal; I have thus begun hormone therapy two months ago, and I started to sleep again. It's another corroborating sign of the diagnosis that has been confirmed by many other health-care professionals and by my own self-knowledge. (I crossdressed in a non-fetishistic manner, in private, from age ten.)

I take this news with many joys and sorrows at the same time.

Finally, I will be the woman that my brain has always been, and I am very happy, but the anguish of the perceptions of others, the fear of being a freak, the aprehension of losing my lecturing contracts and the culpability of knowing the sadness that this news creates among members of my familly, weighs on me enormously.

The most cruel aspect of my situation is having to leave my sweet darling, whom I profoundly love and with whom I have been together for thirteen years. She has supported me, listened, loved, and helped in an admirable fashion, but now I am at a stage which causes her enormous suffering. In order to spare her, I must now permit her to grieve for the man she still loves. This is the most wrenching part of my situation. In the next few months, I will remain (socially, legally, in business settings and otherwise) a man. But from a future time, which I will determine, and after I have undergone facial feminisation surgery, and am recovered from this operation, I will change my status to Michelle Blanc.

I am reassured that I will survive, since my current clients and friends know of my situation and offer their support. I am happy to hear this from them and to be witnessing that friendship and professionalism can transcend the identity taboos of our society, and it makes me feel much more secure. I already know that I will be not-so-bad-looking woman. I don't want to be a man in a dress, but already, my friends tell me that I am a a much prettier woman than I am a man (in all subjectivity). I know I will survive this morally, because I have already grown enormously, and life holds for me many more positive surprises, such as being more emotional and able to express those emotions. Like my friend, Martin Lessard, who met me as a woman, said, it seems that I have become calmer and more "civilised". My friend Muriel told me that the shock was not to see me as a woman, but to see me as a man afterwards. She told me that I seem so happy, calm, and comfortable in my skin that afterwards, when she saw me dressed as a man, that it struck her how I had played a character all my life. Let's say that this encourages me.

On the other hand, the defects and qualities which you think of when you think of me won't change. I'll probably always have a big mouth for example, and as one has just seen it, it will be "sounding off", without a doubt. As a woman, I don's know why, I don't swear any more and I'm a little more reserved. I'm also more emotional. Altogether, other than my outward appearance, mannerisms, and some minor character traits, I will be the same person who is passionate about people, work, nature, and the simple things in life.

Now that the timebomb has gone off, know that I don't intend to go on about this subject here. I will create, in the future, another blog to furnish information about this phenomenon to other people who live with this problem and for those who are interested in the subject or who just want to understand and not be slaves to their prejudices.

So, there you go.

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