Tag Archives: #nevergiveup

You’re Becoming You

2017 liam at devil's eye in lembongan

A little while back, on June 2nd, 2017, I read the following text underneath one of Brandon Stanton’s photographs for Humans of New York (thanks for your inspiring work Brandon. I hope you don’t mind if I share this here):

“I don’t think I’m going to miss eighth grade. It’s been a tough year. A lot of my friends are struggling with depression and self-harm, and it’s hard for me to watch. I just care about them so much. Growing up is so hard for some people. It’s such a big thing. It’s your foundation, I guess. You’re becoming you. It’s such a big thing and we’re going through it right now. Some of my friends are struggling with loving themselves and loving life. I think they forget that we’re still learning. They think that they’re already who they’re going to be. They think they know the future. And it’s going to be horrible. And they’ll never be able to fix it. But that’s not true because we’re still changing. And we’ll always be changing. Even when we’re old, we’ll be changing.”

As I read the musings of this insightful teenager, what she said struck me as such a profound truth. She talked about herself and her teenage friends, most likely never realizing that, by doing so, she described the human condition in general. Most, if not all of us, face similar existential questions and troubles no matter our background or age. Many of us are struggling with loving ourselves and loving life. And yes, we’re all continuously changing. Life and change are one. Irrevocably. We spend our entire lives becoming who we really are… learning, un-learning, growing, evolving with each experience we make throughout our turbulent life journey. There is nothing to do but to face those waves as they crash over our heads. Some breakers will pummel the crap out of us. They’ll push us down like a bully in a kid’s swimming pool until we can barely catch our breath. Other rollers will lift us up and carry us further than we ever imagined.

A Story of Hope

1997-at-metropol

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance #TODR. https://tdor.info
Everyone on this list has lost their lives simply for being themselves, for longing to live their lives as who they truly were.
In honor of those who have been taken from us so violently, let me share a positive story with you of how it could be. A story of hope:

“Even though it was still the early days – I’d had only four months of hormone therapy – it was time to announce to the people in my life what had been happening. I couldn’t pretend forever that my voice sounded deeper because of a cold, and I didn’t want to shave off the rapidly growing amount of body hair. It was time to jump into the bottomless ocean and reveal myself.

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.

Some reactions towards my disclosure about my real gender and my new name were outright comical. My team at the movie theater consisted of an elderly, conservative Swiss projectionist, as well as elderly Swiss ladies, stout-looking workers from Serbia, and other unique characters. One evening, I asked them all to gather in our small office because I had an important announcement to make. I was sure they would be outraged. I was sweating buckets and my heart raced.

In short, I told them I was actually a man and was going to change my body accordingly. Forthwith, my name would be Liam. Erich, the projectionist, just emitted a deep, rumbling “Hmmm?!” The elderly ladies exclaimed, “You will be such a handsome young man!” and the Serbians unanimously stated, “You are part of our gang. We’ll always have your back”. I was dumbfounded. Half an hour later, Erich passed by my popcorn stand. He stared at me very seriously and after a lengthy pause grumbled, “Couldn’t you have picked an easier name? How am I supposed to remember an odd one like Liam?” He stared at me for a moment longer, then turned abruptly, and walked away with a big grin on his face.

Only three days later, my company informed me of my appointment with the tailor who would change my work uniform into pants, blazer, and tie as soon as possible. I was in heaven.”

(The picture shows me only a few weeks after my tailor appointment.)

Help Me Reach The Front Page!

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Look at what Bored Panda just sent me, dear friends and supporters!!! Can we try together and create one more large wave of shares of this link please?

Please take a minute to go there, SHARE on your social media pages, and click the “UP-VOTE” arrow!

We’re only a couple thousand k views and a few dozen up-votes away from landing this important post on the front page! Then millions will see it and we can make a real difference.

I already received so many emails from people sharing their own stories after they visited the Bored Panda story. Beautiful comments coming in, but also calls for help and advice. I am doing my very best to answer them all. And I’m ready to receive even more! So let’s go for it. We’ve come so far already. Thanks in advance!!!

You’re Not Alone!

BoredPandaLink

At the moment I am sharing this story on Bored Panda to reach as many people as possible – with your help. Can you please share this link, and also go on the page and give it an “up” vote?

We got about 3’000k views so far and many good responses. I’ve received emails from people with all kinds of backgrounds, including trans people and parents of trans kids. I was touched to hear their personal stories and they told me my post helped them during a difficult time and gave them hope. So I hope we’ll be able to reach out even further.

Thanks so much for all of your support already! Truly couldn’t do it without all of you xxx

Conquering those Mountains…

2013 at lake minnewanka

“As a teenager, I started to feel like a dwindling army, spread over too many fronts. Slowly but surely, I spiraled into a deep depression.
My parents were in no position to help me. Apart from me witnessing their arguments, their involvement in my daily life was minimal. They were too deeply entangled with their own demons. I never felt free to openly discuss my problems and thoughts with them. They rarely helped with homework, teenage angst and insecurities. I had no choice but to overcome all obstacles by myself.
Gradually, the stress at home, alongside my other troubles, became too much for me to handle. I became suicidal. During this phase of my life, I frequently jumped up onto bridge railings, despite being probably the worst athlete anyone had ever laid eyes on. With no sense of balance or coordination, I would teeter at the edge of the abyss. One part of me hoping I would fall and wondering who would notice or care. Another part of me shaking my heavy head at my stupidity and wanting to live, to live a full life more than anything.
Thankfully, these moments of tempting fate taught me how much I loved being alive. After only a few months of contemplating taking my own life, I dug deep and found courage. And I made a decision: whenever faced with seemingly insurmountable problems, I would do my best to stop running, stop resisting and instead choose to embrace them.”
(Excerpt from “Paralian: Not Just Transgender”, Chapter 5, “Swabian Ocean”)

I’ve experienced times like these more than once over the years (and probably will again).
It just got too much sometimes as I became a sherpa struggling through my very own Himalayan mountain ranges. As life added bag by bag to my load, the weight began crushing me. Labouring on, lonely, caught in a storm, the air thinning with every step I took, it seemed soothing and attractive to simply jump off the edge of a cliff and have it done with.

I am glad I never jumped. It’s not just a cliche: there always IS a way. And life is damn beautiful precisely because those forbidding mountain ranges sometimes rise up way too high in front of us. So we go forward, put one proverbial, optimistic hiking boot in front of the other, over and over, until we conquer those mountains. We have the strength to do it more than once in life if we have to. And along the way, throughout our journey, we discover moments of pure happiness we’d never have found otherwise.

Top 100 and featured in Nigeria Today!

It’s only noon here and it’s already been a great day!
Early this morning, I was quite stunned to find myself featured in yet another online newspaper: Nigeria Today picked up yesterday’s Mirror article. I’m honored and still a bit speechless! Hello Africa!!!

Only a few hours later I was delighted to discover that ‘Paralian: Not Just Transgender’ has shot up to be within the top 100 books on Amazon (Family, Health, Lifestyle > Sexual Behaviour) and #201 in Psychology!

Very happy author here as you can imagine 😀 😀 😀

Grab your own copy of Paralian if you haven’t done so yet! It’s definitely worth the read, uplifting and inspiring, and not boring for a second. As an ebook Paralian is available for under 5 bucks! Available from Amazon, Troubador.co.uk, Waterstones, WHSmith, Apple iBooks Store, Kobo etc.

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.