International author backs Kent transgender student

Thank you Sean McPolin. I’m glad Lily won this battle. There’ll be many more to come. Some to do with her being trans, others just because challenging us is what life does…
Makes me think of a quote I read the other day, “You’re gonna be happy'” said life, “but first I’ll make you strong.”
All the best to Lily and all of you out there on a quest to come home to yourself. Follow your heart and don’t ever give up.

Sean McPolin

An international author is supporting a Kent transgender student who threatened to sue her school.

Liam Klenk, 45, from Switzerland has offered his support to 18-year-old Lily Madigan, Chatham, after she threatened legal action against a Catholic academy, regarding their policies on transgender students.

Mr Klenk, born female, understood the difficulties Lily has faced at school, and struggles she will face in life.

liam-kLiam Klenk, born Stefanie, lived in Germany as a child.

He said: “Gender dysphoria is not a joke. I myself was struggling with it for many years until I finally transitioned from Stefanie to Liam when I was twenty-three years old.

“A weight as unbearably heavy as the Himalayan mountain range resting on my shoulders finally, amazingly, gave way to the weight of a feather the moment I took steps towards letting myself be the real me.”

The former scuba-diving instructor’s book – “Paralian – Not Just Transgender”

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An Intricate Microcosmos

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“I often hovered motionless and watched the coral reef for a while, contemplating reef fish behavior. Each organism was busy defending its way of life. Tiny fish would attack divers the moment we ventured too far into their territory. There were all kinds of characters: the camouflaged, the timid, the curious, the bullies, the cowards. Some were defensive, others aggressive. As I watched the busy shuffling and posturing on the reef, I saw an intricate microcosmos, a perfect metaphor of human social life and daily struggles.” (excerpt from Paralian, chapter 24 “Indian Ocean”)

You Don’t Have To

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From when I was four years old, I was happiest during vacations, far away from all who thought they knew me. I ran out to play, introduced myself as ‘Stefan’, and no one was the wiser. I would play “Cowboys and Indians” with the boys, roam through the forests or sand dunes and be free… until my parents would come looking for me, searching for their beloved daughter ‘Stefanie’…

I treasured those short spells of freedom. Being Stefan. Those moments during which I reinvented – or rather – found myself.

Back home in our little town, life went back to “normal”…
“Stefanie you have to wear a dress,” I was told.
“You can’t come with us. You’re a girl. They don’t climb trees.”
“You don’t need to be interested in science. Girls rarely are.”
“You have to wear at least a little bit of red and pink.”
Best was when, during the last year of high school, we were given suggestions as to what professional opportunities awaited us.
Being all sincere and helpful, the school counselor said, “Forget about being a game warden in a big national park. That’s way too unrealistic. You’d make a great midwife though.”

Many years later, after I knew without a doubt that I had, in fact, been born into the wrong body, I began hormone therapy. Amazing how with every drop of testosterone my body felt a bit more as if it actually belonged to me.

Yet, already during and after I went through all my gender reassignment surgeries, a whole new set of labels and rules crept up on me.
“You’re a man now, you have to drink beer.”
“You have to carry my suitcase. Men are supposed to do that.”
“When I run towards you and jump into your arms, you have to catch me.”
“You’re too soft spoken. You have to be tougher.”
“How can you not be interested in soccer?”
“You’re too sensitive. Men don’t cry.”

Over the years, facing societal expectations, I asked myself “Who am I?” many times over… and I realized it truly doesn’t matter what anyone thinks.

I am a man. I feel it in every fiber of my body and soul.

Yet I am my very own kind of man.

Growing up in a girl’s body gives me incredible insight I wouldn’t want to be without. I don’t fit many of the stereotypes usually associated with men…
I love my sensitivity, cry openly when I am happy or watch movies; hug and kiss my best friends, have no clue about cars, sports clubs, or beer; don’t get into fistfights, and never whistle after a woman.

Nowadays, when I am out and about and hear people tell each other who they’re supposed to be, I pass them with an amused smile.
We don’t have to conform to any labels or stereotypes. We can just be ourselves.

Book Recommendations by Dr. Johanna Nemson

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‘How I Got to Know My Colleagues: One Page at a Time’

A lovely blog post here about Paralian and other books from book enthusiast Dr. Johanna Nemson. Thanks so much for taking the time to dive into the diversity of our stories!

Home

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A multitude of life experiences have helped me grow into the man I am today. The world is my country. The bodies of water spread all over its surface are my true home – the one place where I feel complete in body and soul, not at odds with anything, serene, elegant, and handsome.

Wide Open Spaces and Faraway Places

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Looking out at the snowy and, admittedly, romantic winter scenery in Zurich, I find myself thinking of far away places. All my life I’ve dreamt of living abroad. I’ve dreamt of wide open spaces, of being closer to wild nature. Thankfully, I’ve been there in the past and hopefully will find chances to venture out again in the future.

I still remember staying in the heart of the Rocky Mountains and feeling vibrantly alive.
The air was crystal clear. Walking to work through the crunching snow in the morning, a hot latte in my gloved hands to keep them from freezing, a quick sip here and there, sweet waves of momentary heat, my steaming breath… I loved walking up that mountain, seeing deer on the way, literally tasting the wilderness all around me. So exciting. True quality of life.
Or that day when we kept the fire going, wrapped up snuggly in five layers of clothing, sipping cold beers with the surrounding, icy forest crackling, the nearby river gurgling away, Inuksuks along its banks, sparks igniting within and around us…

Then there was life in the Maldives. Daily immersion in the Indian Ocean. The seafloor invisible, a thousand meters below. Feeling unchartered territory at my fingertips. Removing my mask and taking my regulator out on purpose at thirty meters depth to taste and feel the amazing living entity that we call ocean and absorb a little bit more of its strength…

Starry Skies and Daring Dreams

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On May 28th this year, a dream came true: I published my memoir ‘Paralian’. It hasn’t been an easy journey. Far from it really.
But, I appreciate the intensity of the experience.
I haven’t sold thousands like I naively hoped to, either. Instead, I was reminded of why I began writing my story in the first place – for the love of writing and to share something important.
I’m cherishing the enthusiastic sparkle in my reader’s eyes. Even the youngest couldn’t put Paralian down once he began taking the book firmly into his tiny hands.
For me, 2017 will be another year of working hard, writing, and dreaming… I’ll take baby steps. So many dreams…
Thanks so much for your support during the last few years. Thanks for continuously being there and believing in me!
I wish us all a less dramatic 2017 – a year filled with good experiences, happiness, good health, hugs, abundant kindness, bright smiles, kisses, starry skies, and daring dreams. Much love xx