This is a blog by Dr Finn Ballard on their experiences as a transgender person.
To undertake a gender transition, or a process of affirmation – whether it involves medical treatment or not – is to undergo much emotional upheaval, and eventually, in the best of circumstances, to achieve a great peace and contentment. At the beginning, one feels great excitement at the prospects of self-realisation, a change in the way in which one is perceived socially, by friends and by strangers; and perhaps a change in the manner of how one dresses and carries oneself.
That excitement is further compounded in the eventuality of a medical transition, the effects of a second puberty of sorts, the effect of hormone treatment and of course the grave undertaking of a surgical procedure which is more or less irreversible.
Simultaneously, one might feel great anxiety: the complexity of navigating healthcare, the requirements to validate oneself before medical professionals, gatekeepers who have the authority to determine the very course of one’s life; the risk of rejection, isolation, violence. A marvellous development would be if those risks could be lessened, even if they cannot be eliminated. There is no need for a transgender life to involve as much grief as it generally does.
The diminution of the risk of suffering would require: more medical professionals who specialise in trans-specific healthcare; increased awareness throughout the medical profession in general of trans* issues; and a concerted effect on the part of community leaders – theological, political – to educate and inform. This responsibility is being upheld by artists, among them many transgender people, who are providing positive images in the fields of cinema, literature, and social media. It should also be upheld by teachers – and they should not have to work against prohibitive curricula – who can generate greater awareness of the rich and tenacious history of trans* and non-binary peoples around the world, from the very beginnings of human history.
The most important thing for transgender people and their allies – as well as those who oppose them – to understand is that we have ancestors, we have always been here, and we always will be.
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