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Opia

Opia [o-pia]  The ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.

A requiem for the sullen.

During some of my endeavours while venturing out meeting likeminded, it occurred to me that there seems to be a distinct divide between the characters who are going for real and those who just want to play dress up every now and then.

Deliberately putting this with some disdain, perhaps in a faint attempt to retribute.

Hearing the stories of those full on trans girls, they often left me pondering over their strong determination. About them willing to sacrifice so much for seemingly nothing. As for some, their happiness came at such a high price and getting their lives back on track often took decades rather than years. Losing their jobs, dear and loved ones. Going through long, intimidating and painful procedures in search for that authentic feeling of what they refer to as finally being themselves.

I know it’s all too easy to get lost in that maze of physical and psychological discomforts. I therefor deeply admire their commitment and grew to believe that compared to them, I lived a life of Riley.

Allegedly I took a wrong perspective. I had entered a world I didn’t know much about and all the different emotions attached to it made me feel alienated. But I’d recognized the sentiments and feelings and soon enough I could make sense of what they said. Being blessed with a reasonable physique and seemingly above average styling and make-up skills, it made me more than once draw the attention of those who saw no future in their lives without a full transition. Most of the times doing nothing more than giving them a listening ear, attention and recognition, it nearly always made me pass their scrutiny and got me their proverbial nod of approval. They apparently trusted and liked me enough to pour out their hearts. Which I wholeheartedly embraced because I love people and like to hear their lives stories, providing them the acknowledgement they so desparetely need . Especially those in our trans community have something to talk about.

There were occasions however, when those conversations abruptly ended as it came to answering their inevitable question,…..about how far I was in my transition. Somehow the answer wasn’t what they always expected. Admittedly the majority was more or less surprised and continued the conversation in a polite manner. But some acted like they just told their biggest fears and secrets to their worst enemy, soon turned away and ignored me at later meetings. Looks and demeanour were apparently enough to assume I was one of them, simply because I could relate to the things they said, but not worth the attention after it became clear that I only qualified as a crossdresser at best.

Why was I seen as a pretender?

When I made my first steps into this world I initially thought that all trans people, no matter what shape or form, would make a stand for each other. But slowly it dawned on me that the blurry line between crossdressing and transsexuality actually was a gaping divide. It kept me confounded for a while, because since when did one form of transgender identifies as more legitimate and genuine than the other? Wading through the marshes of this transworld idiom, it’s easy to get stuck in the quick sands of the terminology coming with it. People do have a natural tendency to label others and things around them. Primarily just to make sense of our complex world but not the least to define and establish their own place in it. That there’s some kind of hierarchy applied to it was something I had to find out for myself. By putting the other in a lesser category apparently makes their own case more important and legitimate, but completely ignores the other’s feelings and merely regard the fact that there might be loads of different ways to identify oneself. That we’re all rocking the same boat is easily forgotten and when it comes down to their own niche they’re riding high horses.

I made decisions in my life to do the things the way I do. And although I technically “only” identify as a crossdresser in some’s perspective, I know that I could have easily ended up on the other side of that line if circumstances earlier in my life would had been different. So why is it that they see me as lesser kind of transgender? Just because I don’t take hormones, my breasts and hair are fake and I didn’t had surgery of any kind? All those conversations initially took off with them talking about the feelings they have. Starting from an early age and how they had to cope with a childhood riddled with mental difficulties and hardship. Years of feeling out of place, being lonely and misunderstood. All the things I’ve been through as well and can strongly relate to. The physical part had always being of secondary importance to the psychological part. So similarities rather than differences till this point.

Recalling our conversations, I had been desperately trying to get to the essence of their discourse but quickly got trapped in the maddening loop of their moral truth. What it ultimately seemed to boil down to, was that in their opinion I took the easy way out. I simply lacked the courage to make that definitive and last step. But without knowing the whole story, did that entitle them to claim victory over those that for various, equally legitimate reasons, choose not to take it?

Feeling a strong responsibility towards my spouse and children I’m committed to make their lives as happy as circumstances allow me to do. Being the husband and father they deserve. I can’t just take the liberty to grand myself a second change in life by abandoning them in pursuit of a single happier goal. It was me fully aware of my situation, who made the choice to start that relationship, marry and have children. I can’t just simply walk away from them and be happy about myself. That I found another way to rebalance my life doesn’t seem to occur to them. I think that before either choice is ultimately made it takes an equal amount of soul searching, grief and courage to get there. And from my perspective I could simply reason that their choice was an act of selfishness and single-mindedly giving in to an idea. But that thought never crossed my mind. Why? Because I can relate to their struggle too. Because I know all their doubts and fears in a “been there, done that” kind of fashion.

Nowadays I’ll find encouragement in that some do understand I was almost one of them. We became good friends.

x Sophie

 

 

Video

Ever changing moods

2014, it was me harbouring worries for a future unknown. Spending my days in dull winter greyness, chasing up spring, but too far behind. No matter how fast I ran,…… just to see it sink behind the horizon.

Was it disappointment I felt?

moods scale II

Desperately looking for new ways that never came. It felt like I was waiting for something, but without knowing exactly what. The entire year felt like one long autumn and I simply couldn’t find anything positive to do or cling to. In search for answers I rounded up so much more questions about myself instead. All the doubts and fears that clouded my adolescent years returned. I didn’t want to dig up the past but apparently that’s the place where answers go when they’re left unquestioned.

Unravelling my childhood I found no cause, no reason. If I could find an explanation at all, it would be the barbiturates prescribed to my mother to relief her from anxiety and insomnia induced depressions during her pregnancy. But I can’t blame anyone for that, as I can only see it as a sign of the times. This was how medicine worked in the late sixties and it ultimately doesn’t prove anything, apart from having some vague statistics on my side. The evidence is simply too thin for Dr. Swaab to bail me out. Besides that, it doesn’t change a thing in my current situation. Unfortunately this took me quite some time put into a right perspective. The negative feelings about myself parted over time, although at a slow and agonizing pace.

Some questions remained though.
Locking away these feelings in my early teens wasn’t exactly my best idea as they now proved to be a lot harder to answer for.
Do I really have to start all over again? Leave my family, friends and job and find happiness in the parallel universe that have been luring alongside me for all those years?

I’m inclined to reason my way out of this scenario and count the blessings in the life I have. Circumstances made me take choices earlier in life that asked for commitment and responsibility. Like starting a family, raising children and pursuing a career in heavy industries.
I simply can’t drop it all and push these things aside as if they never happened. Am I running away from making that ultimate choice? Scared of the other life that might be not as good as I imagine it would be? It would have been all for nothing than and in that respect I’ve got a lot to lose. It would make a lot of people I love and care for unhappy and ultimately wouldn’t make me feel less lonely and misunderstood. And then again, what about those lost years? I can’t turn back the clock. I will never regain the innocent youth that make young people so attractive. I can’t just push rewind and start life again at 20. Silvester is the ultimate jailer.

My shadowy outlook on life sometimes make me struggle the temptations to leave or to give up the ghost all together and I’m afraid that these doubts and fears that power the dark kaleidoscope in my head will never leave. I will have to learn to live with that.

Knowing what I know now, would I’ve made that ultimate decision 35 years ago? I like to think I would had.

But that’s today, tomorrow will be different. 😉

x Sophie

 

Video

Sellotape

Blending two identities into one isn’t so easy.
The little war inside my head apparently raged on for too long and that took its toll on my expressiveness. So busy with imaging the person I thought others needed to see, it totally killed my creativity. Over the last year it slowly dawned on me that acceptance wasn’t a goal, but just a start.
Finally on track to negotiate a truce that will last, I’m franticly trying to fix the damage done to myself. But finding my true identity isn’t just a unidirectional process. I’d like to think it’s me busy accepting Sophie as part of my identity, but isn’t it actually Sophie accepting me? Have I been pushing her away for too long?

vleugel

With my coming out and all that followed, the dialogue between her and me definitely changed.
Was it me telling Sophie what to think and how to behave in the past, very often it’s her now telling me what to do. I like to believe that letting this happen, makes me a better person all together. I have a lot to learn from her. Also that women are treated differently in society than men and that it’s not a choice as I always liked to believe. It’s hard to admit, but Sophie is the better part of me as she’s way more social and has better emphatic skills than myself.
Dropping the male mask isn’t easy. Society likes us to play our part and in daily life it’s all too easy to oblige. Letting Sophie play her part in my male identity not only changes how others see me but also my perspective on all around me. Looking through her eyes the world seems a better place. It gives me energy and it’s her creative nature that put me back into photography, music and writing again.
She gave me back my wings, now I only have to learn how to fly again.

Thanks las!

x Sophie

Giving me wings,

You’re a fool man, you throw it away
You kill her with your confidence

In the old days, the cause you embraced
The simple things that people over complicate

Speaking in lies known to yourself
You’re speaking at length, on all those days

Will you come with me
And we’ll be ourselves
And we’ll walk into the light
And you colour yourself in golden wings

You’re never yourself
Not even with me

Will you come with me
And we’ll ask the dust
It’s on my way
It’s all my concentration
Can hold

But you alienate me
You throw it down and rip it off
When nothing’s feeling right
And I’ll show you how you can sellotape it on

You’re giving me wings, so I don’t have to jump
And you’re giving me will, so I can carry on

Dissimulate and celebrate this time we had alone

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXLsJ75QX_k

 

One of these days……

One of these days……

Gender dysphoria is a wicked thing. One day it feels far away and something from a distant past, to be back and occupying your entire existence the following. It doesn’t apply to any rules and it comes and goes at a most erratic pace. I’ve spend quite some time trying to find the mechanisms that drive us into our mothers and sisters closets to keep most of us hostage there for many a decade.
But the more I read about it the less I understood. So many views and opinions.
Truth is that some of us will never surface and come out, but those lucky and brave enough often face a difficult and painful journey. I also had my fair share of scraps with self-acceptance. Recognizing this thing comes natural, but accepting and embracing it as a part of yourself isn’t that easy. I had to drag it into the light, kicking and screaming and although I managed getting to grips with it, even today it still rears its ugly head every now and then. I know it will never part, but coming to terms with it, at least makes me prepared.

Slowly turning it from a life long burden into my personal balancing act.

got

Guess I’ll be walking that tightrope forever. 😉

X  Sophie

Happy being her

Happy being her

Finally being able to accept Sophie and giving her a place in my life brought so much peace and rest, it’s hard to belief it’s for real.

Driving back from a meeting early September all fell into place. Walking along the canals in Amsterdam, back from the pub where we T girls regularly meet, it suddenly dawned on me that I hadn’t been playing a part that evening. Before that moment I had always been conscious about the fact that I’m actually a guy, playing a female role. But this time it was different. For the first time I really was Sophie.
A warm glow took over me and for the first time in decades I felt I finally belonged. A simple happiness that I only remembered from my early childhood and that had seemed to have left me half way my adolescent years. I didn’t play a part, I wasn’t an act, it was genuinely me, it felt real.
An entire male life erased in an instant. I drove home tears running down my face, messing up my eye liner. Tears of happiness, tears of acceptance, tears of finally coming home. This was a genuine feeling coming from deep inside and which I had ignored for decades. Somehow unconsiously I was able to let my female side take control of what and who I’am.  It took me a while to understand what was happening that night, but it felt right and the glow lasted for days.

I finally found myself again in a form I always knew I was mend to be. Coming to terms with and accepting that side of me put an end to a significant part of my struggle. That day I fell in love with the female inside of me, embraced her and told her it was right.

The clouds started to clear.

Featured image

X  Sophie