I long to be a woman - being trapped in a man's body is torture
Q: I am in a very bad place at the moment and I am really struggling. On the outside I am a successful businessman with a young family, tall, well-built and very masculine. I am struggling with gender dysphoria and I am at the lowest ebb.
I started secretly dressing as a girl when I was 10 years old and all I wanted to become was a girl in my early teens. But, growing up in Ireland in the 1980s, there were no resources or internet, so it was a very confusing time. For years I still dressed on and off so I felt it was just cross-dressing.
However, in the last five years it has become more than that. I have had counselling and they have confirmed that I would be diagnosed for transition to becoming the woman that I should be.
I know if I did this I would lose everything, including my children. Every day I constantly think: 'Why have I been born this way?' It is tearing me apart.
A: Your letter has alarmed me, not so much for the actual content, but for the unspoken feelings of being unable to go on.
It is difficult for anybody who is not in your shoes to understand what feelings of imprisonment there must be in being born into the wrong body.
People with gender dysphoria can go through very real feelings of depression such as you are experiencing.
Only you can decide whether or not you alter the course of your life by sharing with your wife what is in effect the real you. I heard an interview recently with a woman who had transitioned very late in life as she felt that it would not be fair to her wife who had married her in good faith as a man. She, therefore, had waited until the wife died before going ahead and becoming a woman. That was what she felt was right for the time during which she was a husband.
At the other end of the spectrum, Bruce Jenner, while being part of a Kardashian reality show, decided that he could no longer live as a man and transitioned very publicly into Caitlyn. And, while it was very difficult for her family, they all seem to have supported her in what she did.
Spouses and partners of gender dysphorians say that their partners seem to think that it is all about them, whereas the whole family is affected.
This brings me to the feelings of despair that you speak about and I have to mention suicide here. This all-too-frequent act leaves such unspeakable grief to those left behind that if you have any thoughts of ending your life then please, please talk immediately to the Samaritans, who are available round the clock at 116123.
I may be over-reacting but it is no harm to bring up the subject, just in case, because it may cause somebody, not necessarily you, t o think again and make the call.
I know that life is difficult for you right now and I hope that you are continuing to get counselling to help you deal with all the many questions and decisions that you face.
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 St, Dublin 1.
All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately