I had a telephone appointment with a member from the counselling team from the NHS so I could get on the very long waiting list to receive counselling. It went okay, but I’m going to probably have to seek help privately just because I don’t think this can wait 6 months. At the beginning of the interview he asked me some basic demographic questions. But I found one incredibly hard to answer.
“What is your sexual orientation?”
I paused for a very long time.
“Oh. Uh. I don’t know.”
“I guess I identify as queer.”
He seemed somewhat offended. I realised not everyone has reclaimed ‘queer’, especially not NHS employees. I stuttered and fell over my words, trying to get across my uncertainty. I think I was put in the “Not Given” box. Although he did add a side note “patient identifies as queer” or something to that effect. Following on from that, I was forced to suddenly condense all these emotions I’ve faced over the past year into a sentence explaining why I want this counselling service, what brought me there. That wasn’t easy.
He asked me how I felt, and I told him. He asked me why, and I didn’t know what to tell him.
I am lost. I feel so detached from my body; it doesn’t feel like mine, I don’t want it to be mine. I want to look like a man. But do I want to be one? He challenged my confusion, and said I sound very uncertain about this decision. I’m not uncertain about the physical transition that’s going to happen. I know that’s what I want, and I haven’t been happier since the possibility came into my head. There hasn’t been a single doubt about that, I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.
But the social transition, that’s something else completely. You’re not prepared for that. I have to suddenly shake off this lesbian identity I’ve built up for the past several years. It’s the identity I brought with me when I moved out, and when I made friends. It’s a part of me, but now I have to deny that. On top of that, it’s forced out of me, before I’m even ready. I’m not seen as a lesbian, I’m not seen as a part of the community that was a part of me. It feels like a rejection, even though it’s inevitable. It’s confusing. I feel like the odd one out. I feel like I don’t belong. And that’s so hard because, that’s where I’ve been for most of my life. That’s where my friends are. And now, I don’t fit in. I don’t feel like I fit in anywhere. Where do I belong? People look at me and put me where they think I belong. How can I adopt an identity of someone I loathe? (Strong word, I know; I’m in a loathing mood.) A heterosexual, cisgendered man. That’s the box I’ll be put in. Where I should belong.
I feel so isolated. You seek support from groups that you identify the most with, which complement your similarities. I’ve always wanted that from South Asian groups, but I’ve felt rejected from that group for a long time. Because I look different, abnormal. Now I’m blending in. I’m not standing out. I feel completely invisible. Because I look the same, normal. I still feel rejected, because they’re taking me for something I’m not. And if they scratch the surface, I’ll be different again. Ethnicity aside, it is gay girls I identify the most with. That’s my social support, where my friends are rooted. But as a guy who is into girls, how do those similarities match up? There’s such a stigma of male presence amongst lesbians. I know because I used to feel it. I used to encourage it. I used to wonder why a straight guy was in a gay club. I used to think a straight guy hanging out with lesbians would just be eyeing them up all the time. It didn’t feel right. It made me feel uncomfortable. Like he was violating my safe space.
That’s who I’ll be. That’s who I’m becoming.
I’m one of the boys now.
I let out a heavy sigh as I read that over and over again. I don’t really know what else to say, but I feel like I need to explain how I feel a little more. I’m not visibly trans. At least I’m not going to be. I still get associated with the lesbian crowd, which is fair enough, most people still know me as that, as the lesbian they met years ago on a lesbian night. I wonder if my friends see me as that, because I’m still associating myself with the lesbian crowd. I wonder if they’ll always see me as that. They know I don’t want to be the heterosexual, cisgender dude society will see me as, and want to label me as. I’m making sure that label won’t be on me. I’m trying. It’s hard to try and fight this label off when I’ve still got my old labels on me, whilst I’m trying to adopt new ones. It’s confusing, again.
I’m losing sight of myself. Of who I want to be. But I think I should really be focusing on who I am right now. That won’t change. And I need to remember that. It’ll change if this dark despair swallows me up. I can feel it coming. It’s already here, really. How do I usually end my disgustingly depressing entries? A curse word? Something sharp and snappy? Something that will hopefully make you and I forget about the torment I put myself through, feeling alone and rejected. Something political.