In July 2015 I was lying on my bed that I shared with my fiance crying my eyes out. I had broken down after another fight and had taken off in the car only to return 10 mins later after doing blocks round the area in which we lived. I returned home and retreated to the bed, she followed and laid down next to me.
She asked what was wrong.
I cried and blurted out through the sobs that I was desperately unhappy.
She then asked why ?
I summoned up everything I could through the pain and trauma I was experiencing. My life had all lead up to this moment in time. Two months earlier I had been 30 meters up a tree in my role as an arborist when I suffered my first terrifying panic attack. I had come to the sudden realization whilst I was working, that everything that I had been building and working for in my life, my business, my house, my apprentice and most importantly my fiance and her family, was wrong. I had created a life over nearly two years that was a sham, I was not being who I really was. I was wearing an elaborate mask, one that I had worn to the outside world all my life.
I acknowledged the fact that I was not being truthful to myself on many levels. It had all come to the surface in that tree and for a moment I froze. I couldn’t move or think and I knew I was in serious trouble. I managed to get myself together enough to come down from the tree. I pretended nothing was wrong but on the inside I was freaking out big time. After that my apprentice climbed everyday and I threw myself into my business and smoking heaps of weed. I internalized everything and tried everything I could to distract myself from the physical anxiousness that was now gripping me tightly and not letting me go. The panic attacks only increased and the fights intensified between me and my fiance. I was terribly distraught, how could I tell this person that I honestly loved very dearly but was just not compatible with anymore. I was repressing my true gender and openness in my sexuality. It was so complex and it has taken me over two years to come to terms with whom I truly am. At this point I was really at the foot of a mountain. It was incredibly daunting coming to terms with the fact that I was inevitably going to inflict this incredible amount of emotional pain upon all these people who had trusted, loved and bought me into their family.
The option of suicide came to me quite a few times and that was primarily one of the reason I chose not to climb trees anymore. I didn’t trust my body or myself anymore. I had become so good at lying to myself in order to fit that I had believed my own lies in the end. It all had to stop and I spent most of the time weighing the pros and cons of each back and forth and always coming to the same conclusion. I had to be truthful and destroy all that I had built and worked towards.
It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life
I answered her question through immense pain. The words fell out of my mouth and must have hit her like a brick.
“I think I’m gay”
I dared to open my eyes and look at her
There was confusion and pain and then a narrowing and malevolence
She asked “Have you acted on these feelings”
I responded truthfully “No”
Over the next few hours of explanations through lots of crying and pain I began to tell my truth to her. It was the start of me becoming Penny, the transgender woman I was always supposed to be. For me my sexuality and gender were all mixed up and I needed to out myself to give myself the freedom to explore being Penny. This is not the same for everyone and I now feel a very clear delineation between my sexuality and my gender. It was just all mixed together back then and I needed to unravel it.
Change is painful and painful change is what I needed. I didn’t regret anything that I had done, it had all been a learning experience to understand what I didn’t want in my life. Almost immediately after I had muttered those words I started to feel better. The next big step was my family. This would prove to be a much tougher gig.
I was sexually abused by a teacher of mine when I was a child. This was something that I didn’t remember until just before I met my fiance. I had a repressed memory, something triggered it and BOOM it all came flooding back. I immediately repressed it again and ran head long into a drug and sex fuelled party binge that ended with me proposing to a very beautiful and kind woman who had been flying in to see me whilst I was on tour with the cirque. When I came out, this trauma did too, as for me they are all linked in, the physical, sexual and mental abuse and the suppression of publicly expressing my sexuality. When I disclosed publicly, that’s when stuff started to go sideways with my family. They wanted me to suppress it again and vehemently denied that it had happened.
I ended up on the advice of my therapist to go to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It was my time to stand and represent my people. I have met so many people in my life that have been abused as children. I felt that I had an opportunity to speak and try to make a contribution so that things can change. It culminated with that speech on my first post.
I used lots of psychotherapy to start the healing process and eventually combined Holographic Kinetics and Sound therapy to accompany the regular therapy sessions. I eventually found a transgendered/gender diverse therapist which has helped me in my process of self discovery. The next step for me is to help start a support group for Trans/gender diverse people. Connecting Trans/gender diverse people to each other, so that they can share their stories is important, it reduces the isolation that trans/gender diverse people can feel, given how few of us there are. I have found talking to trans people so rewarding, I find commonalities and this is something that I haven’t ever found with just females and males. For me trans/gender diverse experiences are trans/gender diverse experiences and the only people who really understand that are trans/gender diverse people.
I started wearing female clothes and adapting a female appearance within weeks of coming out and slowly over time I became more feminine. I started estrogen a few months ago and so far its been a very smooth transition. I already had low testosterone due to a medical condition which had been diagnosed years early which had seen me put on testosterone, this treatment was horrible and caused me to be very destructive. I have found it a completely different experience being on estrogen. It like my body had already begun preparing for this transition long before my mind was ready. My body fought the testosterone and caused me to be an animal. This experience however has been wonderful. I’ve noticed that I have much softer skin, stronger nails, a familiar sense of wellbeing , a change in my habits and the way I do things. My attention to details has risen as well. I am more precise about things and have had a massive softening on how I approach conversations and the way I interact with people. I’ve downloaded an app to help with my voice, and that’s going to take some time. You can download it here:
I feel very happy about who I have become, that person is slowly blossoming like a flower and will only continue to bloom. It is a truly magical feeling, being authentic and having the outside reflect what is on the inside. Coming to understand what the female perspective in the world is like after living as a very frustrated and angry man.