Resilience in the face of change 

Jacq's story

Hi I’m Jacq and I’m 48 years old. I just in the last 18 months started my transition from female to male, I’m a female to male transgender person and so I identify as male.

Sometimes I forget that, I went to a girls high school so when you’re talking about history it’s like oh yeah blah, blah, and sometimes I’m half way, three quarters of the way through a story and then I realise it’s going to be a really rubbish story at the end because I can’t say [laughs] I went to a girls high school. So yeah there’s, you know there’s stuff that happens all the time. 

Throughout most of my life I always identified as more masculine, much more masculine and once I hit puberty that kind of became, not really traumatic but it became more difficult for me to like myself and it created, for me it created anxieties about being out in public, you know instances of violence as well, homophobic violence because I identified as a lesbian and I was a masculine identified lesbian.

Using the women’s toilets became a real huge, huge deal because I would get thrown out of them, so, and if you think about how many times you go to the loo you know it created a lot of problems for me personally, I had a lot of anxiety around just going to the toilet, just going to the bathroom.

I’ll explain it like this, so if I was in a bathroom before I walked through the door into the women’s toilets I would go OK I hope there’s no one at the sink, I hope there’s no one at the sink, I hope there’s no one at the sink or I hope there's no woman about to walk out of the toilets. And then I would rush in to a cubicle and then I would wait until I knew people had left the sink area and then I would hope that, I’d try and wash my hands really quickly and never dry them cos it took too long, and I’d try and get out of there very quickly. So that’s quite a lot of anxiety in terms of something that just every day that most people don’t give much thought to. That ends up becoming a really big deal. Yeah so if you think about that over, what, 40 years that’s a lot of anxiety.

Yeah when I was about 32, so probably, not that long ago, for me I got to the point where I did attempt to take my own life.

For me it felt like I was never going to fit, I would never fit anywhere. 

So when I did attempt to do that, to attempt suicide I, the biggest thing I got out of that, and I would say don’t wait until you’re going to do that, speak, speak to somebody. Because the thing I didn’t do was tell anybody. And what happens is it becomes huge in your head, it’s just your own voice swinging around in circles and you’ll never find a door out of there like that. Without talking to somebody and without going through what is happening for you you can’t stop those thoughts.

I have a great G.P who’s fantastic as well and also a therapist that I see sometimes, I haven’t seen her for a while but if ever an occasion arises I make an appointment. The best thing about that is we can’t do everything on our own, we know it doesn't work, history tells us it doesn’t work. 

A friend actually gave me a recommendation of someone that was good and I contacted that office and it was actually, it was a psychiatrist at the time and he was fantastic. I guess strangely we didn’t talk about gender, and so it kind of sounds a bit silly maybe but in a way it didn’t occur for me that I could do something physically about it.

A lot of people don’t want surgery but some people do and some people need it to feel better about themselves and for me that was a really important moment. 

That involved having chest surgery or a double mastectomy and hours after that when I woke up I felt amazing. I went they’re gone. I feel, even with all that, trust me it’s day surgery, it’s not comfortable, even with all that pain and everything I thought wow. I felt like my life had completely changed at that moment.

If a young person came to me and said they weren’t sure where they fitted in terms of gender identity or you know they weren’t comfortable with their identifier at birth and their physical body firstly I would talk to them about linking in with some services, so especially someone to talk to. So you know great places like beyondblue but also for a young person headspace. And I would also get people to talk to other trans people in the community. 

I’ve actually accessed beyondblue in the past, I’ve actually accessed them via the website and in particular I looked at the man therapies part of the website which I thought was really great. And you know you do an online quiz and you all that was great information and also it leads you into what other services you can find. 

I still can have times where I feel you know fairly low but the difference is now I call someone. I make contact, even with a mate. But if I really feel I need to talk to someone that’s what I do, I contact my counsellor and that’s the thing that helps.

I still take, I just take a small, kind of small dose of an anti-depressant which works for the anxiety and other things I do is I try and get enough sleep, I don’t use illicit substances or alcohol. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have fun, cos I have plenty of fun.

Sure there are societal things, there are complications, there’s problems with phone banking with a very deep voice but on the other side of that if you go to bed liking yourself and waking up in the morning and essentially liking who you are and knowing who you are a bit more then everything else is much, much easier to deal with because the essential bit is who I am.