Monthly Archives: June 2016

If you want to give yourself a chance…

… at happiness, there is really only one option…

2013 liam behind bolder

We’ve come so far. At least we like to think so on most days.

But then, members of the LGBT community are questioned on how they feel about society and about living openly as who they are. The answers are nothing short of stunning (and terrifying). Out of 1’000 people in the UK who were questioned lately, 74% said they feel a need to hide their gender identity or sexual orientation. They are afraid of how they will be perceived, how they will be treated…

My father is seventy-five now. He’s been gay all his life, yet like so many others he was always afraid to live his identity openly. He married, adopted a child – me – and tried to fit in as best as he could. Ten years into his marriage he began sneaking off into the bushes with other married men who were also secretly attracted to the same sex. To this day he hasn’t openly come out to anyone but me.

I am transgender. And I have chosen a different path. It took me until the age of twenty-one to fully understand why I felt so homeless in my own body and why despair followed me like an ever-present, looming cloud. When I realized that I am (and always was) a boy, a man, trapped in the wrong body, I knew I needed to take action.

As I describe in my book Paralian-Not Just Transgender, “Pondering the best course, I understood it all came down to two simple choices: I could stay within the uncomfortable familiarity of what I had and resign myself to being unhappy in the wrong body for the rest of my life, or I could risk everything I had and everything I knew. Maybe in the process of doing so, I would at least be able to solve one problem in a life that had consisted of a complex web of daily problems.”

I began seeing doctors, asked for advice, talked with other trans people. I was scared out of my wits, but never once doubted that taking bold action was the only possible way to survive. It was clear being trans wasn’t like catching the flu, and if I just waited long enough it would pass. This was here to stay, and so was I.

“It didn’t matter how gruesome a picture the gender specialists painted. I accepted the risks and consequences. No matter how scared I was, there was only one possible way to go, and that was forward.
Apart from preparing myself for the physical complications, I also braced myself to face losing all my friends and acquaintances. There was no way of knowing how they would react. I feared they would all start screaming, arms windmilling wildly, and run out of the room, never to be seen again.”

They didn’t. That’s the thing about coming out. It never ends. You’ll have to do it over and over again. And you’ll never have any guarantees on how people will react. But so many will surprise you with immediate acceptance, kindness, and compassion.

“In the months following my decision to come out, my faith in humanity was restored many times over. Almost all reactions to my revelations were entirely, and sometimes surprisingly, positive. Many of my friends and acquaintances simply smiled a knowing smile when I told them, and confessed they had always taken me for either a hardcore butch or a transgender person. My behavior seemed to have given me away for years. People had known who I was, long before I myself had re-awakened to my identity.”

Keeping secrets is hard work. Even more so if it means that you have to live against your very nature. Above all we need to be kind to ourselves and cherish this one life we’ve been given. And yes, people will know. Those closest to us will feel who we really are. We owe it to them and to ourselves to be genuine and not hide from each other.

We’re bound to always make bad experiences. It may feel safe if we don’t reveal our “otherness” but, if we don’t dare to step up and say “Hello world, this is me!”, then a great many good experiences will be lost forever.

Just the other day, a fourteen-year-old student interviewed me. She had to write a paper on “being different”. One of her questions was “So what does being different mean to you?”
I had to ponder that for a moment and then I smiled and said, “To me there is no “different”, no “other”. The human species is incredibly diverse. We come in all shapes, colors, and sizes as well as a myriad of different social backgrounds, ideologies, mentalities, and personalities. As much as we’d like to pack everything in nicely labeled boxes, no two people are alike. We are all different. We are all “other”. And that’s the way it should be. Diversity is a gift, a privilege, not a threat.”

So go out there. Give yourself a chance. You most definitely deserve it.

Home Within

1995 photoshoot with oliver 2

This was 1995, roughly a year before my gender reassignment surgeries. My clothes couldn’t be baggy enough and my coats couldn’t be long enough so as to hide my traitorous body. Alien female curves and boobs as big as gene-manipulated water melons disappeared behind these thick layers of tent-like clothing. By covering what shouldn’t be there in the first place, the young man inside of me was able to at least take tentative steps into the courtyard of the prison he was trapped in.
Today, twenty years later, an organic food magazine made me smile. Next to a photo of juicy apples, tomatoes and avocados, I read, “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”
Oh yes. If only they knew how profoundly right they are… far beyond the vegetables…
My body will never be perfect. But, after all that’s happened, I feel content and have claimed my place to live. I’m home within myself.

No one should have to fear…

… for being who they are.

gay pride

So much hate still out there. My heart is heavy thinking of the Orlando shooting victims. But you know what? Killing won’t help those who hate because they are too afraid to open their minds and understand.
Because human diversity is as old as the world. Being straight, gay, lesbian, trans, or any shade in between is as natural as the sun, the oceans, the wind, and the stars. These energizing, life-giving elements of our beautiful blue planet will all be around until the end of time. And so will we.

Presenting in San Francisco

golden gate and liam

Arriving in San Francisco today after 11 years of absence was surprisingly like stepping into a pair of well worn, comfortable shoes. All senses were flooded with familiar yet deliciously foreign sensations. I inhaled the city scents, basked in the Californian evening sun and headed straight into a strong Pacific evening breeze during a brief walk along shore.
Tomorrow I am invited to present Paralian at a Global LGBT conference. A quick hop across the globe just for that. Amazing and a bit out-of-this-world.

My Awesome Interview with Radio FUBAR

This was a wonderful interview. Greatest, charming host, lively conversation… 30 powerful minutes you won’t regret listening to!

Fubar radio interview (Episode 29) – Access All Areas – Lizzie Cundy in conversation with author Liam Klenk 

On the website, scroll down to ‘previous episodes’. Select Episode 29. The interview with me begins at -31min and 30sec. So it’ll be the last 30min of this episode. Have fun and let me know what you think!

In Conversation: Liam Klenk  

Diversity, change, and fluidity are a gift, a privilege, not a threat. Susan Platt talks identity and borders with author Liam Klenk.

Source: In Conversation: Liam Klenk  

This Week’s Eclectic Media Buffet

2016 Bibimbap in London-small

What an eclectic mix on my interview menu in London this week!

On Tuesday, I had a lovely chat with Rosie Hopgood from the Sunday Mirror. We met at the London Aquarium, enchanted by the many sharks and stingrays circling us lazily while we talked.

Wednesday morning started out with a pre-recording for the “Global Village” show of Newstalk Radio Ireland. Aoife Breen was a pleasure to connect with. After the energetic radio interview breakfast, I went on to a journalistic lunch. Back under the watchful London Eye, I met with the fabulous Nick Hoare from Gay Times. We chatted for a long time and it was a true pleasure!

Thursday morning, I was up early to go to yet another promising on air breakfast. I went to the BBC studios in London for a live link-up with BBC Leicester. Great and fitting to have this opportunity, since my publisher is based in Leicester. The 20 min interview with Jonathan Lampon was in-depth and refreshing. I did find myself giggling uncontrollably when I left the studio however. All had gone so well until our goodbyes when Jonathan asked me to pop into the studio sometime for a visit, and wished me well. I had started stuttering on air, “Thanks… ahem… b… bye… I make… I’ll make sure to do that.” It was very funny. I’m still ages away from being the suave, routined interviewee. But then that’s ok. I’m enjoying how new and exhilarating every single media experience is, and I am sure my listeners can feel my honest and genuine enthusiasm.

Thursday evening was the highlight of my media buffet. I was invited to chat with Lizzie Cundy on Radio FUBAR. My flight out of London was booked for that evening but I had made a last minute decision and changed my flight home to Friday instead to be able to honour the invitation. It was the best decision. The interview was extensive. Lizzie was open-minded, positively beaming, and an immensely charming host. It was the first radio interview during which I was also able to talk more in-depth about my teenage experiences, my adoption, travels and many other elements of my life journey. Our talk was truly not just transgender and very much reflected the positive, diverse nature of my book.

Overall a week to be remembered. I’m leaving London enriched, bursting with new impressions and experiences. It was a true privilege to meet this broad spectrum of dedicated, compassionate media professionals!