"I think you're really brave"
If only I had a pound for every time someone has said that to me I'd have all of about 3 pounds.
I'm sure that a lot of people have experienced the same. Family, friends or colleagues decide that you have to be brave because you have made the decision to be yourself, and maybe even have surgery to give you a physical appearance more in keeping with the gender you have transitioned to.
Last week I had that conversation with someone that knows that I'm hoping for surgery later this year. I did try and correct them by saying I wasn't being brave but it wasn't the place and I don't think they were really listening.
Read on below the fold, hopefully there's nothing there that will upset anyone. It is, however, how I feel after people keep telling me that I'm brave.
What I wanted to tell them was that going to your doctor and telling them that you are transgender and want to be referred to a Gender Identity Clinic is not brave.
Being assessed by you local mental health team is not brave.
Being assessed by a psychiatrist in order to be referred to the GIC is not brave.
Being assessed by the GIC in order to get their help and support is not brave.
Telling your family and friends that you are transsexual and will be undergoing gender reassignment is not brave.
Telling your work colleagues and then transitioning at work is not brave.
Living as a woman for two years, having regular counseling, taking hormones, undergoing laser hair removal and electrolysis is not brave.
Having a surgeon turn your male genitals in a female vagina is not brave.
Living your life as a woman with physical attributes that match you gender identity is not brave.
Slowly poisoning yourself with painkillers because things get too much for you is as far from being brave as you can get.
Living your life as a woman even though it means that you might lose your family and friends, job, home and all the other things that you hold dear, running the risk of being beaten and maybe killed by someone that takes a dislike to you individually or dislikes all transgender individuals, is not brave.
No. Its not brave its survival.
Bravery is the parent that has to be there for their child who is seriously ill, maybe even terminally, while not letting on the seriousness of their condition.
Bravery is the child that has to watch their parent losing their parent to dementia or to a slow death because of a terminal illness.
Bravery is the soldier on the battlefield or on patrol who runs the risk of being shot or blown up as they try to protect others and help them to share the freedoms that we take for granted.
Bravery is the young boy or girl that goes to school each and every day, knowing that they face being bullied because of who they are or because the person doing the bullying has picked on them at random.
What we go through might look brave to others but its not. Its simply what we do to survive, to go on living and not become another statistic that people quote when they discuss the number of transgender individuals that have committed suicide.