"The unexamined life is not worth living" Socrates

- - scatterings of ideas sent to my younger self, a sensitive girl who was fooled into believing she was a boy because of anatomy - -

Sunday, 6 January 2013

How Do You Tell a Teenager?

It's an old joke, and the answer is, "You can't tell a teen anything"

In my experience, if you want to tell a young person something, it is best to put them into a position of thinking they learned it for themselves. Come to think of it, it works for adults too. 

I have jokingly told those who know of my love of learning "I can't decide what to do when I grow up". Lately this has become a question with a much more serious answer. I relate to teenagers very well these days.

It may be the most futile desire ever, but one of the wishes I had starting this blog was to be able to send letters across the years to my child self, a lonely kid who learned to become very self-reliant but also self-abusive in response to the constant pushing and poking to satisfy the needs of the adults around him. 

Those adults were afraid for the kid. I found out the sort of thinking that had gone on in a heart-to-heart with my grandmother a few years before she passed away:  
"We thought you might 'become a homosexual' if we didn't get you away from all those girls you played with." 
I look back and think how misguided that sort of thinking was from so many points of view, while also recognizing with sadness how characteristic that sort of thinking was in the 1950's. I often wonder sixty years from now what people will say of the 2010's and our primitive thinking.

If I could meet with the fifteen year old me in dreamtime, what sort of case could I make for turning away from the internalized pressures to recognize and harness suppressed feelings? How could I explain that everything important he would do while living that pretend life; marriage, children, career, friends, all of it would simply make it harder to recover and honour the real person, and having found her, to then do something to correct the birth defect? How could I get across how futile and wrong it is to work so hard escaping from yourself?

It would take some pretty fancy planning to come up with a way to have that teenaged me think those first thoughts to defy every voice but the one he learned to hate the most, the one inside; to ignore the danger he has been taught to believe exists in that voice and turn it around. I want to yell at that stupid brilliant hurting kid I was "Rebel damn you! Stupid teenager who didn't ever rebel!!"

Some days I would like to say damn you stupid person who has never grown up or rebelled! to the person in the mirror, but it seems life has already tried to do that. Instead, what I am doing now is taking what all the normal people around me see as my blessings, marriage, children and all, and finding a way to live as honestly as chemical intervention and goodwill can allow.

Every person has regrets at my age. They can all look back at events they would handle differently. I have lots of 'normal' regrets. This feels different. This is one of those 'this should never happen to someone else' regrets. It is a feeling that somehow it should be a life mission to find a way to help anyone I can to run that gauntlet (for we cannot avoid pain or hard choice no matter what the rest of the world is like), and live their life authentically.

I will admit being afraid to take steps to use what I know in the here and now to help young trans-people. It would mean outing myself, even though I have no intention of transitioning. The reason I won't take those steps is the very same reason I haven't transitioned in fact. 


  1. Ok,so my question is, when you look at your wife and children, when you think of them as babies, holding them at birth and how that felt, all the memories good and bed, the things that made the life you DID/DO have, do you honestly regret it all?

    was there no joy in any of it?

    Knowing what you know now, would you sooner those kids NOT be walking the earth?

    sooner their lives never happened?

    are they a mistake?

    A part of you that will mark the world for the remianing generations, to say that you were here, you existed?

    were they really NOT something you did "right"?

    Something to instead be ashamed of?


    Take a serious read of this and tell me if THAT is were you'd rather be at this point in your life.

  2. Oh Renee, in previous posts I have said many times they are the best thing this particular person did and no, of course, this I could not call a mistake.

    What you must remember is that any number of things along the way could have changed that.

    At the age of fifteen there were so many twists and turns made to negotiate a simulation of 'real life'. There was almost as good a chance that I would drive myself mad trying to do what I did. I am the version who survived as a man and somehow 'fathered' those amazing people. Would I like to go back and try it again and not be that deceitful dodgy person and somehow be a good parent too? You bet.

    Renee, I am where I need to be, given what my history is. I have read the document you suggest and more than once. I am not fifteen, but if I had any clue of some of those truths at that age, you can be sure there would have been a high probability of some better outcomes; yes even better than this one where every day I question whether I deserve any of it.

  3. So many times I read of people who "snap" and proceed to completely dismiss and disregard those achievements, the people (children, wives) themselves and the lives and memories thosw people founded their whole whole happiness on.

    Disregard things that others who are less fortunate would be overjoyed to have and NOT EVER take for granted.

    People read my blog thinking I'm about attacking and invalidating them, I'm not, I'm about trying to help them see their life for what it is and find the best way to work with and appreciate what they have or CAN have from it.

    Some people's path leads/led them to fatherhood, some's did not, some's path saw ten transition early, some late, there is no shame ever (IMO) in quietly And honestly owning YOUR OWN path with dignity.

    Best wishes.

    1. People cannot be allowed to contemplate transition challenge free, so good for you.

      All the Best to you as well.

  4. The other day, in a chat, a friend began telling me about a 20-something transitioner she met. "She looks good", she said. At that point, I asked her to change the subject.

    There are times when I just can't face what I should have been...what I should have done...many years ago. Halle, you've said it very well in this post.

    Calie xxx

    1. .I've found your comment to be rather fascinating Calie, you've inspired quite an amount of introspective thought and contemplation, so much so that I felt inspired to write a post analysing your thoughts in the hope that it might help others.
      Thank you