Tag Archives: #LGBTQI

Traveling Aotearoa and Gazing Within

Currently, I am traveling in Aotearoa, mesmerizingly beautiful New Zealand. On my own, in a camper van, catching up with friends, and attending a wedding along the way. I love this mix of meeting wonderful humans whilst at the same time being able to enjoy lots of quality alone-time. Just me and the breath-taking natural world all around me. In fact, I’m enjoying every moment. Laughing out loud in the van sometimes when the beauty of the world and the joy of being alive hits me full force.

What a contrast to how I felt in 2019, when I was so down, so tired of life, and of fighting to make it in this world, of longing to be loved, that I had to consciously avoid pharmacies, because I knew if I’d set foot inside one, I’d give in, buy a few hundred tablets and take them all in one go. I was so incredibly tired. And so defeated.

The three years since that awful time have been an odyssey during which I’ve gone from having lost almost my entire sense of self-worth and self-confidence to re-building myself yet again. This through finding the courage to look at all that had transpired with a hard, honest eye. To then, eventually, be able to say, “Life is beautiful and you deserve better.”

Even my identity as a trans man, which had taken me a painful twenty years to grow into with confidence, had been seriously shaken in its foundations. I had transitioned when I was 25, in 1996, when I finally understood that I had always been a boy, a man, inside. But it had taken me those two decades to be ok with my scars, to grow into my body, to feel confident in who I was, and to not feel apologetic about being trans anymore.

Then, a statement from a woman I had loved and trusted with all my heart – my now ex-wife – had been the beginning of our lives together and my sense of self unraveling. At first, it had just been one cruel statement. A statement, which still haunts me to this day. When she said to me after living together for 5 years, “Yes, I have an affair. And I don’t feel bad about it. I needed it. For the first time after 5 years I finally feel like a woman again.”

In that moment I felt like someone had detonated an atomic bomb in the room. And just like radiation, her words began eating away at me from the inside. This first statement and many others after about how I just wasn’t good enough, literally reduced me to ashes. And any Phoenix-like antics felt like a million light-years away from being possible.

I felt unseen, worthless, not enough, almost existence-less. And to make matters worse, hearing these thoughts from someone I had thought valued me triggered old traumata from way back. Traumata which were responsible for me not having a sound base to weather an assault like this in the first place.

I’m still overcoming. Growing back into my skin slowly. Learning to love myself again. At this point, I am still scared of ever falling in love again. Scared of ever kissing a woman again and holding each other. Still worried I might not be good enough for anyone. And scared of trusting someone so deeply ever again.

Thankfully, by now I also know that my heart and all the love I feel inside of it, all the love I’m able to give, are strong enough.

Strong enough to eventually help me overcome this feeling of ineptitude.

I will, eventually, embrace another person intimately again and allow myself to be embraced. Yet first I need to keep working on embracing and loving myself fully and unconditionally. I need to learn to show myself the same kindness, love, compassion, patience, and understanding that I always give so easily to others.

For the moment, I am learning to set better boundaries, prioritize my own needs, my own emotional, and mental health. I am looking at my entire life with an honesty and clarity greater and deeper than ever before. And I aim to grow, better myself.

Build an inner base so strong, I’ll be able to navigate all tides and currents around me, and within me, far better. Be vulnerable, yet also rest peacefully within myself.

Being on my current road trip around beautiful Aotearoa, I am amazed at being able to feel unbridled joy again. I’m amazed at how much I enjoy my own company. I speak to myself, and tell myself, “You’re alright.”

Millions of thoughts are going through my head. And I let them all in, allow them to stay for a moment. Because I am, in fact, alright enough for now. I can weather them.

And while I look inward, my eyes, my whole body and soul also look outward, to absorb the magnificent natural wonders all around me.

I’m saying hello to a new lease on life. A new chapter. A better me. Life is beautiful. And so profoundly worth living.

Featured in Podcast ‘Mis Coming Out’

For all Swiss-German and German speakers out there, here a little something to listen to on a relaxed Sunday afternoon: Marco Schaettin recently interviewed me for his fabulous podcast ‘Mis Coming Out’ (my coming out) and I told him about my life story… ☺️ 

Click here to get to the podcast episode.

Further information on my website.

I Am Liam

Ever since writing this blog, I’ve noticed how I lose followers when, for a while, I don’t specifically write about being transgender. I guess some people are hoping for specific insights into a trans existence. But what is a trans existence? The truth is – and I can’t stress this often enough – we are all the sum of our experiences. That being said, no matter what I do and write, being trans (or being categorized as trans in our society) is undeniably part of who I am.

However, when you are trans it isn’t foremost on your mind every single day. It isn’t what you think and talk about all the time. It just is. I transitioned 25 years ago. Yes, I have faced and still face many challenges because of being trans. But, in essence, I am facing what everyone else does. Like every other human out there, I fight my battles, struggle, grow, love, hurt, long to belong, long to be loved, and aim to find a healthy balance between taking care of myself and taking care of others.

Over the years, what has become most important for me is to open my mind wide and see beyond the labels. If I am any sort of activist, then this is it: I fight for a world of compassion and mutual respect. A world in which labels become obsolete.

The more I experience life all over the globe, the more I realize that, rather than focusing on what makes us all different, it is so much better to focus on what connects us. The best I can do for myself and for everyone else out there is to be authentic, ignore the labels, and rather write about life in all its rawness. I want to observe the world around me with empathy. I want to understand those around me, no matter what their background, and write about the beauty and painfulness of our shared existence.

The longer I think about it, I even wonder, “What does transgender mean?” I was born as who I am. The gender assignation of the body I was born with did not match with my soul. But my soul was always human. I was just another splotch of color in our diverse universe. No matter what my physical shell looked like at any point in time, inside of it I was always beautiful, flawed, unique, struggling Liam. Society will classify me as a trans male. I classify myself as male. But in the end, does it even matter?
I am Liam. And I believe that is enough.

1996 liam in seebach 3

Photo by Susanne Stauss

Review for Paralian

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Hello 😊 Shout-out to all of you, who have read my book ‘Paralian’. If you haven’t done so already, can you be so kind and write a little review for it? Even if it’s just one word? Like a thought shared with buddies around a camp fire, books live on and grow through word-of-mouth.
If you search for either ‘Liam Klenk’ or ‘Paralian’ on any Amazon page, you’ll find my book immediately. Scrolling down, you’ll find a link where you can add a review.
And/or you can write a review for it here on Goodreads.
The more the merrier. Cheers! Much appreciated!

First Presentation in Hong Kong

hk ferry terminal view 1

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited by UBS Hong Kong to give a presentation about my life journey. It was my first ever speaking engagement in Hong Kong. The audience was wonderful. Curious, openminded, and not shy to bombard me with questions after the talk. Standing in the conference room on the 56th floor of the IFC tower, dramatic clouds piling up across the horizon, I was happy to be alive… and grateful to be given the chance to make a little difference.

Paralian – Not Just Transgender

2016 liam book signing

Flashback to 2016, the year Paralian was first published. Writing this book was one of the best things I’ve ever done, even though letting myself be seen to such an extent was also terrifying. Over the last year, life has been so turbulent, I wasn’t able to focus on anything at all. But, I will keep on writing and will always be the quiet yet gently persistent voice in the background promoting mutual respect, love, compassion, inclusion, no labels, and the basic human right of freedom for us all to be the unique individuals we were born to be. Diversity is a precious gift and privilege, not a threat. (Photograph courtesy of LiterallyPR)

The Road Ahead

2016 liam speaking

It’s been a while since the publication of my first book Paralian.
From the very first word I typed into my laptop in October 2013, to the publication of Paralian in May 2016, it was an amazing experience. I felt whole. Driven. For the first time in my life, I did something that felt entirely worthwhile and meaningful.
Considering the business side of it, I was naive when first getting started. I thought I’d be able to sell thousands of books. To this day, I sold only about 900. But I am told, for the first book of an unknown author, (and it being in the hard-to-sell memoir genre to boot) this is a fabulous outcome.
Paralian won 5 literary awards. I’m so grateful all the hard work and soul I put into it has been recognised. However, the real success of Paralian lies in how many lives I was able to reach. I loved being in touch with some of my readers, being accessible and doing my best to be there for them. Someone once quoted Spiderman to me, “With great power comes great responsibility.” I agree wholeheartedly. I have powerful stories to tell, and have the power to write well enough to be able to share these true stories and tales in a natural, authentic, compassionate, and honest manner. I believe I do have the power to touch people’s hearts. It is a responsibility I take very seriously.
One thing I also discovered through the entire publishing journey is that I am a gifted public speaker. I enjoyed these face-to-face moments with small and large groups of enthusiastic listeners as much as they did. The Q&A sessions after each event were surprisingly engaged and open. I enjoyed putting myself out there, building bridges, and making a real difference, no matter how small my contribution might have been in the grand scheme of things.
Last year, family and work led me from Europe to far away Southeast Asia. As soon as I left the Western World, all opportunities to give presentations and continue building my author network dried up instantly. As much as I treasure all new life experiences, I feel as if I have lost part of myself. Every day finds me longing to write (but mostly being too physically exhausted to keep my eyes open when I come home from work). I know I’ll have to fight exhaustion and make time, even if this means getting up early before work every morning to find 2-3 hours of uninterrupted writing time. So far, I couldn’t. In the long run, I hope I am tenacious and strong enough.
I also long to get out there again, connect with other writers, readers, kindred spirits. I long to find ways to continue giving presentations and make a real difference in my passionate, personal, and soft-spoken way. If this is impossible in Southeast Asia, who knows, maybe I will be coming back to the Western World again in due time. Or, hopefully, I’ll find a way to build the necessary connections from afar, travel long distances to get to the events where speakers like me are needed.
My second book is currently still in its first draft… slowly developing… The aim for the months and years to come will be to finally find a literary agent who will believe in my potential. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that I suck at negotiating business deals. Plus, it takes too much energy away from me. It distracts me from focusing on the creative process.
Keep your fingers crossed on all fronts, dear friends. I’ll always keep you up-to-date, even if sometimes there will be longer pauses in between.

(for the photograph, a big thanks goes to Literally PR who have been nothing but fabulous in all our work together)

What Would An Ocean Be…

2017 at devils tear lembongan

“What would an ocean be without a monster lurking in the dark? It would be like sleep without dreams.” ― Werner Herzog

I decided to use this beautiful metaphoric description of life as an epigraph for my book Paralian.
There is no light without darkness, no life without struggles, no path without challenges.
The monster lurking in the dark is as essential as the air we breathe. How else will we grow, and become more understanding and compassionate towards our own imperfections as well as towards the beautiful imperfections of the people around us? How else will we learn to understand that beauty and imperfection are the same thing?

Here Is Where It All Began

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The other week, I went back to our old house on Lamma Island in Hong Kong. Here is where it all began. This was our garden… and behind those windows on the ground floor was our orange-coloured living room… featuring a small table on which I wrote Paralian. One of the happiest years of my life!

Looking Forward to ‘Sticks & Stones’

liam at sticks and stones

On June 2nd, if you are in Berlin, come to the Sticks & Stones career fair. I’ll be giving a presentation about my life and about what being transgender means to me. In short, I don’t believe in labels. We are all the sum of our experiences. I don’t ‘identify’ as anything. I simply am. I am Liam, the boy, the man I always was, regardless of outside appearances. For me, it’s all about being human. About inclusion. About respecting everyone around us no matter what their background. About loving and embracing life. And about letting go of outdated societal stereotypes that have nothing to do with who we really are. I am looking forward to sharing my thoughts and putting myself out there once again. I am also hoping for an engaging Q&A session after. I do not want to lecture people or tell them what to think. My aim is simply to share a few experiences, build bridges, and encourage as best as I can. I hope to see some of you there! Grab me for a beer after!