My First Year as Toby

Conor and I at Crawfordsburn Country Park
Conor and I at Crawfordsburn Country Park

On the 10th February 2017, I publicly came out as transgender and requested that the people around me address me as Toby from now on. Of all the things I’ve done in my life so far, nothing has been quite so terrifying. This was a real sort of dread-type fear, because I knew that there were more people out there that would reject me than accept me, and I knew that I was related to a good few of them.

There are a few things I still feel sad about as a result of that decision.

Dad, Eil and II regret that I didn’t come out to my sister, that she found out when I updated my Facebook status. My reasoning at the time was that I knew she wouldn’t have a problem with me being who I am, and that to a certain extent she probably already knew. But that doesn’t mean she should have had to find out on Facebook. More and more now, I think I had just run out of steam by the time I’d come out to both of my parents, my closest friends and my recent ex-boyfriend, and I wasn’t feeling another conversation of the same nature. I got lazy, and as a result I denied her a conversation that could have been really good for both of us. And to make matters worse, I allowed her to worry that maybe the reason I hadn’t told her directly was that I thought little enough of her that I believed she would have a problem with it. If I’d given my choice a second’s thought, I would have known that would have been the first conclusion she’d come to. But I didn’t, and I still feel bad about that.

And I feel frustrated that I can’t afford to change my name properly just yet, and that my resulting multitude of names is making university applications and other bureaucratic adventures a massive pain in the bottom.

And I feel sad that there are still people out there that know who and what I am, and know what that means, and still choose to call my by the wrong name and pronouns. Because I know I’m asking people to make an effort, and I hate asking that as much as you hate being asked that. And I don’t quite have the words to say every time that it’s feeling a lot like you don’t believe I’m worth the effort. And I don’t want to start believing that maybe you’re right, that I’m not worth it.

And I regret that I don’t have the words to explain why what I’m doing is necessary, acceptable, and maybe not entirely selfish.

But there are many more things that I’m happy about as a direct result of my social transition. I didn’t know that being honest about the person I am would have such a massive impact on who that person gets to be. I am growing and changing in the most wonderful ways, and the changes have been entirely mental and emotional.

I carry myself more confidently now, and have the confidence and energy to do things I couldn’t even consider previously. I can stand in front of crowds and talk almost comfortably, and I can read my own work with only a minimal amount of embarrassment (and really, it’s necessary for a poet to be at least a little bit embarrassed if they want to avoid becoming a complete dickhead). I’ve had work published in a surprising number of print and online publications, and have been rejected by many, many more publications, and each rejection just comes to me as permission to edit those pieces and submit them somewhere else. Before, I didn’t have the nerve to submit anything, because the rejection would have destroyed me.

IMG_6644
Curtis and I in Elms, Thanksgiving 2016. Curtis was an RA that year!

And I have made so many exciting new friends, and I have made these friends because it turns out I’m one hell of a lot more likeable when I have a tiny sprinkling of self-esteem to allow me to actually interact fully. I had wonderful friends before, but it always felt like they were people who had somehow come to like me in spite of and not because of who I was (and that’s not to say that those friendships aren’t valuable: they are incredibly valuable. They just also happen to have been coloured entirely on my end by my self-obsessed self-loathing, and that has been entirely my problem even if I’ve sometimes projected it onto others).

And I’ve somehow ended up in this… really… great… relationship?? And that’s a fckn surprise.

That’s not to say I wasn’t capable of being in relationships before: I had one of each – one fuck-awful controlling bad jesus christ it was bad relationship and one completely wonderful relationship with someone who is still my best friend (which came with my very own Baby’s First Heartbreak but that’s just life like). But it’s sort of different now.

I spent my first week as an openly trans guy crying maybe 50% of my waking hours, and the reasons alternated between breakup blues, stress, terror, loneliness and more stress. But I do remember one day where I cried a serious amount over the fear that being trans would make it even more difficult to find someone who was willing to love me. Because trying to find a partner as someone with little-to-no interest in s e x (asexual? late bloomer? suffering the longterm effects of the Abby Vocational School’s lack of sex ed classes? Who knows!!) has been daunting from the moment my peers hit puberty and seemingly left me behind in that, but trying to find someone to be in a relationship with you despite having a number of incorrect and uncomfortable body parts is terrifying. In fact, it’s worse than terrifying, because terrifying implies that you don’t know what the outcome will be, while I was fairly convinced I knew what my outcome would be.

And like, spoiler alert, I was absolutely incorrect. And while I’m still able to justify the fear to myself, I was “out” for less than a week before I ended up in a relationship with someone who seems to actually sorta care about and maybe even fancy me?? Magic!

Bonus proof I was wrong: I know a heckload of trans and non binary people now. I can’t currently think of one who is single.

But you know, trans people are unloveable, obviously.

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