Resilience in the face of change 

Kurt's story

My name’s Kurt and I identify as a trans-man, so I was born biologically female and I felt my soul and my brain was male, so two years ago I started hormone therapy to transition to make my physical appearance masculine and yeah, that’s sort of… my gender as a trans-man and I guess my sexuality is I’d say is straight-queer.

During primary school I was sort of popular and I guess that’s how you could explain it and really sporty and mates with all the boys and just you know, quite out there and confident.

As soon as I hit puberty, it got really hard and I think that’s when I started feeling the depression and the anxiety sort of around 12 or 13 years old and high school was especially difficult.

I went to a private co-ed high school where the girls had to wear a skirt or dresses and the boys got to wear pants or shorts and I sort of felt like as soon as I was put in that dress or the skirt, I was inhibited from any sort of movement or anything really. I felt awkward just moving across the room.  

I always felt incredibly ugly and just quite scared to engage with a lot of people.

During high school, I’d say when I was 18 was probably my lowest point. I did have suicidal thoughts and the year after high school I actually attempted suicide and I know that is… it’s a familiar feeling for my trans-guys.

My self-esteem was very low. I didn’t know sort of who I was or what I identified as. I didn’t really know it was sort of possible for me to transition, I just thought it was other people transitioned and it couldn’t actually really happen to me.  

I do remember lying in bed at night and thinking ‘oh, maybe I’ll just grow my hair longer and get a bit more feminine and maybe people will like me more and maybe I’m just supposed to be a girly girl’.

I did lose a lot of friends through being sad and depressed, just because I isolated myself quite a bit and that’s what I tend to do when I feel sad. I also didn’t really want to go anywhere because I wasn’t happy with the vessel I was given to travel around in, so it’s been a tough one.

I do remember when I was a teenager, just Googling depression, because I thought that I might have it, but I wasn’t sure if you know, it was really something that someone who kind of grew up in Brighton in a nice house would have and I did come across a Beyond Blue website that said ‘symptoms of depression’ and I read the symptoms and I knew that all the symptoms were exactly what I had and it kind of helped me be able to put a name to it, rather than just struggling with this yucky feeling like I just didn’t want to be here, but as soon as I saw the website, I was able to put a name to it and say ‘OK, this is what it is and apparently it’s treatable, so I can get rid of this yucky feeling’.

There was definitely a turning point for me.  

I went crazy researching transition things and looking at YouTube clips of trans-men and getting really into it and obsessing a little bit and spoke to my GP and psychologists about it and I just knew that this was the right thing to do and I think as soon as I knew that this was the path I needed to take, I started feeling more hopeful about life and really excited about the future and the different things I could be involved in and just really becoming myself and who I was meant to be.

My GP just gave me a lot of information and suggested things and sort of, I felt really trusting towards my GP and just sort of really believed what she had to say and she was a really big help.

Finding the right psychologist was quite hard. I did go through a few psychologists and I just wasn’t getting anything out of them. I sort of would go for a session and then not go back for another one because I didn’t really see the point. 

I quite like someone who is active in giving me advice and strategy plans and information on even neuroscience and things like that, just to prove you can change your thinking and you can be happy and that we’re all human and this happens to a lot of us.

It’s great that so many trans-guys are so willing to post their journeys on the internet for anyone to watch and learn from and they’re quite happy to talk about any issue really. 

On social networks out there, there’s a lot of groups for the trans-community where everyone’s quite happy to ask anything or answer anything and it’s really nice to be in a community, whereas before I think I was trying to fit in with the lesbian community which wasn’t very me at all, but I felt like I needed a community and now I have finally found the trans-community.

To keep myself healthy on a day to day basis is definitely a lot of exercise and a lot of positive thinking, especially when I first get up in the morning. I usually need about an hour just to settle in with the day time and how the world’s started up again in the morning and just get back into that sort of, almost like getting dressed and getting ready to go out again into the world sort of thing. I find that my dog has been really, really helpful. 

I think that I am really lucky that I can have this little dog looking at me every morning who needs things, because it gives me a purpose and it also forces me to go out and do something I’d enjoy, whereas I might just stay at home, ‘cause I can’t be bothered or I’m not feeling up to it, so it’s a real purpose that he gives me, my dog.