Some insight into being a transexual and some advice for those who want to change over as well

I find myself in a situation over and over where a transgender person will seek encouragement and advice from me. I love to help people when I can but this is a time when I'm very torn. I want to give hope and encouragement to the person at the other end that I know needs it so much. I know I needed it very badly when I started out and still do at times. However, my outlook on transitioning is a bit sad and dark.     

Its a tough life for most at best. I've seen so much sadness. I've listened to and cried with so many girls like me. I cant help but wanting to say don't do it if you have a choice. It's a giant commitment and in many ways something you cant undo. I fought my transition like hell for years then finally decided to kill myself because I could not reason my way past it any longer. I knew just how rough my life would become if I gave in this powerful need that was completely overwhelming me. I was so mad at myself because I truly believed I could use my mind to over come anything.     

I went to Transgendered meetings and saw a counselor for over a year before I started my transtion. I listened to one story after another about people losing entire families and losing everything they owned. Being forced out of longtime careers and often while losing any support system they had before setting out on this grand adventure.       

Transgender people tend to be very intelligent and often have really good jobs before they start out. Sitting in a room across from a TS (transexual) that had a big house, great career, loving family and then was left with nothing will make anyone think twice about following in their footsteps. Hearing about the family they were always so close to, that now won't even speak to them any more. It was quiet sobering but all normal stories in T-World as I call it.       

We come from all walks of life and back grounds but we share one thing in common, for social rights and acceptance we are the last to the table. Only because of our alarming rates of being murdered, suicide , beatings and discrimination that we are finely being discussed on any level.       
Before I went full time living as a woman, I loved getting out of the house and talking with people. I have always clicked well with complete strangers and have had many wonderful conversations over the years. Now that has all changed, lots of people smile and are friendly but they no longer open up to me like they did before.       
The first few years of my transition, I had panic attacks just trying to go a few blocks to the post office because you never know when someone was going to go off on you. It might just be them laughing a sort of fake laugh very loudly, trying to make you feel completely stupid or very uncomfortable. Many times its a verbal attack with an intense level of hate and loathing you would never expect from a complete stranger. I have never had a single stranger stick up for me while all that was going on. The general look I get from others watching them be mean to me is a look like, "What did you expect when you left the house looking like that?" Many times I have been in a situation where one or more men wanted to beat me up and for no other reason then me breathing really pissed them off. Standing in line in a store with some large, tough looking guy, whos only two feet away from you, that is so upset by your presence his hands are shacking is a trip. I've been in moments like that over and over again. When its a few angry men standing together it gets really scary.       
People cry over the nation anthem, as I have a few times, and then piss all over your freedoms without a second thought, like the freedom to just live our daily lives in peace. They all expect this freedom but some refuse to let us have ours. It reminds me of a line from one of my favorite movies, "How can someone say they love America but clearly hate Americans?" (The American President).       

My mind and my heart told me this was the right thing for me. I did however seek help from professionals before moving forward as should anyone stuck in this difficult situation. I truly believe I was faced with three very bad choices. One was to keep fighting a battle that just kept getting worse and was tearing me up inside. Two was to kill myself, ending all the pain and fear. Three was to just give in to something that I knew was going to undo my life on many levels and did.       
I was physically sick the last two years I fought my transition. A saw few doctors because of it and took many different pills, all for my tummy and my stress. I could not sleep, it was hard to eat and was very painful most the time but all went away the same day I decided to give in.       

I never thought I could not reason my way past it until I was sitting in a bathtub, surrounded by candles with a razor blade in my hand. I had a family at the time, a wife and 4 kids so I decided it was not really an option to do that to them. A week before that, a friend had told me once you have kids, its no longer your right to kill yourself. Its never a good choice whither you have kids or not but I decided she was right. She also said if I killed myself I could teach my kids to do that as well, if things got tough for them later on. That made a lot of sense to me and they were, and are, far more important to me then any fears I had about my future.       

The next day I told my wife what I almost did and what I was about to do. She said, "Its about time, you were meant to be a woman," but then asked for a divorce saying, "But I'm not a lesbian."       

I too ended up losing everything I had except for the love of my family and friends. I was very, very lucky compared to many others I know.       

The thing I find to be the hardest part of all this now, is how hard it is to find and keep work. This makes us as a group very unbalanced, causing a dark side to surround T-World from us just trying to get by. It forces many of us to become sex workers, doing porn or risking everything once again but this time out on the dangerous streets. HIV is very, very high for transexuals in some of the major cities. I have never slipped into all this but I have been tempted more then once, having no food can make your mind go into places you never thought it would ever go.       
Discrimination is everywhere we go. Whither its work, housing or even just working with the government trying to get some kind of assistance. The church I went to would never have me now and the party I voted for before openly works against me.       
I had to leave school, over the bathrooms of all things, because some women refused to share one with me. I was assured I could use the women's student bathroom, when I asked, before signing the contract. It took me years of waiting and jumping through hoops to get in that school. I was in school for about four months before it came to a head but it started right off on the very first day. At the end they gave me the choice to use a mens room with no locks in a part of school that was dark because it was an area not used at night. I explaned how dangerous it was for someone like me but was still told to use it our leave school, not much of a choice. I was the top of my class (99% GPA) and well liked but that did not save me for the complete embarrassment of it all and of course the huge disappointment that followed.       
Its a hell of a ride and before you just jump right in make sure you need it more then everything else in your life because everything else just might not be around if you do. Whatever you do, don't hurt yourself. DON'T hurt yourself! Get help. See a psychiatrist. You can see why I try to hold my tongue when asked for advice. I don't want to take the joy out of something that has been for me, so wonderful and fulfilling on so many different levels. However, I could never advise anyone on this huge life changing choice without sharing the likely costs. Some do very well and things go fine I'm told, although I'm not sure I know anyone that fits that description over the first few years. I've had a few girls say it was going perfect with little to no problems in the very beginning but then later I had them tell me everything had changed for the worse.     

Starting younger helps I think but the average person starts off at fourty, last I heard. I started hormones and went full time at fourty. When I moved to the inner city, it helped a lot. I did not realize how much I lived in fear until I move to LA around people that, for the most part, just did not care either way. It's a bit colorful in LA and your just another flavor there.
If one of my choices was to not do this and not have the fight that was raging inside me, I would have choose that hands down to keep my kids living with me. Only you know if you have a choice. I cant help you there but there are others that can, again seek help. I do of course wish you all the best in what ever you do.       
Try to remember fear will make you stand out and that is not a good thing. If you do finely do it, don't hold back. You will be on the high dive over the deep end so, if you jump, do it with conviction. I can't stress enough the need to seek help before you start not after. Don't take hormones on your own, you can hurt or even kill yourself. You should be sure about each step and think each part of it through, clearly and carefully.       

Its my right as a free American to pursue my happiness. The least we can expect from life and ourselves, is to be ourselves, if we lose that we really have lost everything. Its not our fault its so hard, we are not the problem. We are doing nothing wrong pursuing this difficult goal. Its a freedom few would say we should not have. Even most of those who make everyday life so hard for us would not say it should not be part of our freedoms.       
If your reading this and your upset by the subject remember if you believe its my right to do this then don't be mean to me. If you believe it should be a freedom remember you steal a bit of my freedom every time I decide not to go to a birthday party, or decide not to go to a movie and so on because the last time someone went off on me. That is hardly living free.       
I hear them say now and then that free speech gives them the right to say the awful things they sometimes do, sure it is. Its not socially acceptable to say whatever we are thinking and whenever at any cost. If you don't like dogs you don't go around telling off dog owners. If you don't like coffee you don't get to walk into a coffee shop and start yelling at everyone in it. That is not a freedom any decent or sane person would expect.      
My perspective is from ten years of chatting with TG's and TS's. Countless chats with girls like me. I went to the TG club's in LA for many years and met a lot of others just like me. I had two years of group meeting and saw a few shrinks on the matter over the years as well. I've read a lot on it and thought a lot about it of course. I know this subject very well. I have lived full time and on hormones since 7-22-2003 and before I went full time, I was close to full time for a few more years.       

I really love being the woman I always wanted to be, in that light it has truly been a wonderful experience. I've seen a side of life few could ever understand without going through it themselves. It has not all been bad, far from it, just hard.        
If you learn to let the little things go by the bigger stuff will not take such a toll on you. Learn to forgive. Most the people that pick on us are not bad people at all, just very confused. I have won over a few tough cases and became their friends over time. I just went to a St. Patrick's Day party thrown by a couple that really hated me when we first met, I even thought the husband was going to hit me. Try to remember its mostly just a knee jerk reaction and I bet most feel bad later. If you stick to the high road and not be rude back, then you will have clearly won. If I can, I just act super nice and sweet, its not that big of a stretch, and some feel bad right off. This takes a lot of will power because its easy to get angry about so much. Try your best to just let it go and don't dwell on them later.        

My goal here was to say some of the things I needed to hear when I was so lost and scared, first starting out. This was not meant to scare anyone off that was really meant to be a transsexual. Reality sets in fast when you jump and I'm hoping that you knowing the water is a bit cold at first will make it less of a shock. Its also a warning to those who just want it and don't need it, be careful what you wish for.

(An update 12/6/08) I moved back to the area where I fled in fear, for good reason, a few years ago. I'm just coming up on a year and its going very, very well so far. No one picks on me or has been openly mean to me. I still get some unfriendly people but compared to the not so distant past, its only an minor annoyance.
I have a part-time job on the weekends and school during the week to get certified as an Administrative Assistant. There was a time when I never thought my life could move forward being a TS. I would have swore the two were completely incompatible, but learned if you don't give in to fear and just press forward, they can come together.       
It takes a while to learn to walk the walk and talk the talk. Now that I'm more relaxed and more passable the daily hate no longer follows me around. I've heard again and again that passing is 80% in your head and 20% is your presentation. My advice is just feel your way though and let your inner-self out, without over analyzing everything or worrying about what others think.       
It did get a lot better for me and is likely to get better for you if you can just survive the valleys and the painfully awkward beginning. I meant every word of this with love and from my heart to everyone who is lost and confused at the beginning of this large and strange maze we call transitioning.

( 12-15-09 My next progress report. )
Life is better now then ever. I finished school and got my certs. My novel is now out and seems to be doing well. I got a new job a few months back and really like it. My supervisor wanted me to dress gender neutral on the job--in other words, not dress like a woman. She would have had an easier time asking me not to breathe at work. I still don’t see the kids very much and that makes me very sad at times. But over all life has been very good to me.
I don’t ever get picked on. Most people don’t know I’m a TS, but when they do, everyone has been great about it--other then my pinhead supervisor. Things are changing for the better in the way the public, in general, deals with exotic creatures like me.
I gave a speech on the Transgender Day of Remembrance (11-20-09). It reminded me its still not a safe world for us. We lose about two a week to being murdered--in the Americas and Europe. In the USA, our safe zones are getting larger and more and more places are becoming far less dangerous. Being safe and smart goes a long way.
We are moving forward and transitioning has become for more user friendly. Our attempted suicide rates are still so high there is not a close second among any other group. Those that do succeed are far to many--and again, higher then any other group. Seek help and don’t let fear wipe you out. Change is coming and I know if you stick around for it, you will love what you find.

Your friend Lisa Eve