Glass Shards: Three Years On

Three years ago is the day I first said the words out loud: “I think I might be transgender.”

It feels like a lifetime ago. In some ways I suppose it is, because transitioning is a rebirth of sorts.

I haven’t been updating this blog recently because I haven’t had that much to say. Life is flowing along, and my transition has no longer feels like the focus, so no news is mostly good news. That’s not to say that everything is perfect all the time, or necessarily how I expected it to be. But for the most part, life is pretty good.

Coming up to this anniversary I kept thinking about the Glass Walls poem (see below), which I wrote while trying to come to terms with my gender identity.

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Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Re-reading it made me want to attempt a follow up. Poetry isn’t my usual medium, but I love how in a poem it’s possible to sum up thoughts and feelings in a couple of hundred words. If I’d tried to express the same ideas in prose it would probably have taken a couple of thousand. I like to think of poetry as a tequila shot compared to a pint – short and cutting straight to the point.

So anyway, here’s the original poem as a reminder, please scroll down for the sequel.

Glass Walls

I don’t want to be a girl
“But you are a girl,” said kindly. “There’s nothing you can do about that.”
Transgender. FTM.
We didn’t have the words for what I was when I was growing up

I pushed hard against all things female
Demanded short hair, boy’s clothes, blue not pink
I ran, jumped, climbed, fought. Determined to be as good as a boy at everything — or better
Forced unwillingly into dresses, I sulked
Endured the hot shame of being seen like that when it felt so wrong
It wasn’t me
I wish I was a boy
“I know you do, darling. But it’s never going to happen.”
My mother died before I learned that it could

In my teens I had bigger worries than the betrayal of my body by puberty
Girls instinctively knew what I didn’t know myself
I was an outsider
Weird, unwelcome, wrong
Slowly, painfully, I learned to play the game
I crushed my unwilling spirit and crammed it into a box labelled Girl

I built walls around myself, mirrored walls that reflected back the expectations of others
Long hair, make up, the right clothes
I was admired, liked (at last), I fitted in
Inside I was dying and I didn’t even know it
I grew up a prisoner inside that glass castle

The cracks were already forming
My true self chipped away at my prison
While denial plugged the holes just as fast
It shored up the walls for another month, another year, another decade…
I still wished I was male
If only or in another life
I buried the impossible desire so deep I didn’t know how much I needed it
The older I got the higher the walls became
Daughter. Sister. Wife. Mother.
I tried so hard to be what the world expected while the cracks spread
Depression and anxiety bloomed like dark flowers on a vine
Winding around me and blocking the light

What’s wrong with me?

A story finally gave me my answer
A message in a bottle tossed into the ocean of the Internet and washed up on my screen
I read, devouring the words
Transgender. FTM.
The recognition was a punch to the gut
The words a map of my escape route

I tried to carry on, afraid of what transition would mean for me and my loved ones
I lied for a few more years
It’s too late for me
Maybe if I’d known twenty years ago…
I’m fine
Really

But knowledge has the power to break down walls
Even when someone inside is frantically shoring them up
The cracks spread and widened until the walls shattered and tumbled down around me

Here I am

Terrified, exhilarated, hopeful
Blinking in the light, surrounded by glass as bright as diamonds, and as sharp as blades
There is nowhere for me to hide anymore
Transgender. FTM
The only way is forward

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Image by Zdeněk Tobiáš from Pixabay

Glass Shards: Three years on

Here I am

Transgender, FTM
Brother, partner, parent, friend
Author, choir leader, walker without a dog

This is me

Three years after the glass walls shattered
I’m out — and trying to be proud
No longer imprisoned by denial, I’m showing my true self to the world

Life brings new challenges now
Frustrations
Disappointment
Anxieties that morph into dragons of fear I have to slay

Outside those mirrored walls I’m open to scrutiny
I constantly wonder
What do they see?
Do they see me?
I rarely know for sure what strangers think
I stride unnoticed through men’s toilets
Yet a misplaced ‘Madam’ can ruin my day with stinging shame

Ambiguous, I am an enigma to many
They look, brows furrowed
Trying to solve an impossible equation, or a puzzle with a missing piece
I hold my head high, hoping to open narrow minds with my visibility

Some days it’s hard to be strong
Exposed and raw
I feel like a living specimen, pinned by needle-eyes
Spread and waiting for the slice of a blade

Children aren’t afraid to ask:
“Are you a girl or a boy?”
“I’m a boy.” I smile
They smile back, while their parents apologise

There’s no way back to that safe prison
I trampled the glittering shards beneath my feet as I escaped
Burned bridges as I stormed past the point of no return
Running free

I’m grateful to be out here in the light
Vulnerable and authentic
The world finds me confusing
But I know exactly who I am

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Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay