Dear Mary: I'm a woman trapped in a man's body
I was born biologically male but inside I have always felt female. It's been a natural instinct for me as long I can remember that I should have been born female.
I have been cross-dressing for as long as I can remember and I live my life as a gay male. I have some wonderful, caring, supportive friends who help me as much as they can and they know the full story. I am writing to you to try to find out what my options are and what the next step is, as I feel like I am ready to move forward and find out about transitioning from male to female. I feel like what's been holding me back for years is caring what others thought and not knowing what way I would take any negative reactions as I suffer with depression in general. But I am now at a stage in my life that I don't care what people think. It's my life and I should be free to live it as I see fit as long as I am not hurting anybody else.
Can you please give me some advice?
Mary replies: You have been thinking about this for a very long time and have now come to the conclusion that the only way forward for you is to transition from male to female. Almost everybody who finds themselves in a similar situation has a different story and a different journey to make. While some have limited themselves to cross-dressing, others have had hormone therapy and stopped there while others have gone the long road towards full surgery, because that is the only way they could be happy. You must do what is right for you and I can see that you have been progressing slowly towards your eventual goal. This is a good thing because it is such a huge step to take that it cannot be rushed. I have spoken with a few people over the years who have had the surgery, and they all said that they did it because it was simply the only thing that they could do in order to feel at peace. Without exception they told me that it was not for possible relationships that they might have, nor was it in order to function properly sexually but rather an innate sense that this was what was truly right for them.
The most important thing for you is to find somebody who is experienced in this area with whom you can work in order to discover what would be best for you. The Transgender Equality Network Ireland has a very informative website and if you go to www.teni.ie/further_support_health_professionals you will find a very comprehensive list of health professionals and clinics with gender identity experience. I cannot emphasise strongly enough how important this step will be for you. You need to work with somebody who can over time - and it will take time - help you discover what route you should take.
Many transgender people have written of their experiences and reading even one or two of them will give you an insight into the obstacles that the writers faced, together with the joys of knowing they were on the right path. Google '10 of the Best Books about the Transgender Experience' for details.
It is wonderful that you have friends with whom you have been able to share your story. I wish you happiness in your search for your truth.
You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.
Sunday Indo Living