Standing on the shoulders of giants

‘Brave’ is a word I keep hearing about myself. Is what I’m doing brave? I hadn’t thought about it until Rubi told me I was yesterday after I shared with her how I had sent a ‘coming out’ email to the service I work for. I got back some lovely responses too this morning, some mentioning my ‘courage’ and one particularly that spoke of me as a ‘brave man’. It made me think about what courage is, and how also those around me are being brave too in being publicly supportive of me. The old quote (Issac Newton v arch rival Robert Hooke) ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ came to mind. The giants I am hitching a lift on right now are some pretty amazing people I have to say…

My own strength, self-belief and confidence as a trans-man is being sustained by all those guys who have transitioned, past and present, and crucially for me, also the open-hearted genuine acceptance of me by those I love and care for, and who love and care for me.

I had an email this evening from a very dear old friend:

Hiya

Sorry it has taken me so long to reply to your email, life has been and is really manic and I wanted to give myself some time to read your blog properly and work out how I feel about your news. I shared some pretty intense times with you in the past and I needed to assimilate that with your discovery.

I realised quite quickly you will always be S to me, whatever your gender or sexuality you will always be my mate from Poly, and I’ll continue to love you forever and I feel privileged that you are happy to share your journey with me.

 I have read your blog and think you have a fantastic writing style; your descriptions are really engaging and your strength of feeling jumps from the page. I also really like the photo of the back of your head with the tattoo peeping out!

 Best of luck for your return to work and completing your diploma, I sincerely hope that you will never have to experience a depression on the scale of your description ever again.

 All my love

xxx

I cried for the first time in ages when I read that. I am sooo feeling a lot of love from people far and wide. People I am/have been intensely connected to, and people who I have more distant and boundaried relationships with.

I do appreciate it’s difficult for people to adapt to such a fundamental change as someone’s gender, after all, it’s taken me 43 years to acknowledge it myself. But as I come out to my wider world, of work and earning my living, I’m quite conscious of what people are communicating by their silence or by their avoidance of eye-contact. It’s early days, indeed early hours, and I do feel positive that most people will adjust. Those that don’t may ultimately find they have a problem because I will deal with any niggles and dragging of feet to protect my dignity at work, but I think that open communication is the best way to deal with this sort of thing so that everyone can gain. But no-one has the right to choose to not respect my identity as a bi-gendered man.

The 22 years I’ve spent as an out lesbian prior to 2 months ago are not something I regret. More than anything, for nearly all of my adult life I have expected to be treated with equal rights and respect because of my sexuality, and I’m not about to give up that expectation be it on the grounds of my changed gender identity or on my mental health (or anything else for that matter). Is that brave? To be clear about my personal right to be respected as a unique human being and be willing to face any challenges or threats to that right with an inner strength that is nurtured and sustained by the support of those around me?

Yes, it is brave. Yes, this journey does take courage. To say otherwise is completely disrespectful to the many many transgender people, past, present and future who step outside of their birth gender-assignment and pay the highest price in terms of family/friend rejection, unemployment, homelessness, assault, and far too many trans-people pay the price with their lives.

Yes I am brave, but so far I’m a very lucky man.

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About Sam Feeney

I am a counsellor, trainer and LGBTQI community activist. I write about my journey through life as a someone who lives and breathes gender and sexual difference and who cares passionately about creating powerful and sustainable radical social and political change.
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One Response to Standing on the shoulders of giants

  1. tercoperro says:

    Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. ~Ambrose Redmoon

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