Tag Archives: #nevergiveup

No Limits

2017 paralian-no limits

25 years ago, when I had my gender reassignment surgeries, I vowed to never let this important decision of aligning my soul with my body hamper or limit me in any way. I was going to continue going after my dreams. And I wouldn’t take no for an answer. Part of this meant to be able to retain my flexibility and spontaneity. In order to be able to live abroad and travel over longer periods of time, I overcame my fear of needles and learned how to inject myself. Since then, no matter which cultures or corners of the planet I go to, needles and vials are always part of my luggage…

“Sitting on an airplane bound for the Indian Ocean, with all relevant possessions in one bag and no return ticket in my pocket, I felt like an explorer about to make his greatest discovery. When would I take to the skies again? And where would I fly if I did? I had no idea, but anything seemed possible now.
Before leaving Switzerland, I had asked my doctor to write me a special prescription: thirty-six ampoules of testosterone. Not being able to produce enough of the male hormones on its own, my body needed a little help on a regular basis. My checked luggage now contained a two-year supply of testosterone injections, vials, and needles. My doctor had written a letter, attesting to the fact that my bodily functions would be severely disrupted without the medication I carried. Nevertheless, I was nervous. What if my stash was confiscated at Maldives customs? What would I  do?
Maldives immigration was easy. I presented papers from my employer and within five minutes, my passport sported a big, new ‘work visa’ stamp.
Then came the hard part. Already sweating with apprehension, I collected my luggage and headed for customs. There, my heart skipped more than a few beats when my luggage was singled out for inspection. Vials and needles were easy to see on the bag scanner’s screen. Even I could spot them, as I nervously snuck a peek over the customs officer’s shoulder. Surprisingly, he waved me through. Just like that, maintaining my manhood was ensured for the immediate future.”
(Excerpt from Paralian, Chapter 6 “Indian Ocean”)

A Friday Night

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One moment I was having a beer with a friend, enjoying a good conversation. The next moment I felt my heart racing. The small shoulder bag, which I had placed carefully between my knees and the bar wall, was gone.
You know that question, “What would you take with you on an island if you had to leave right now and could only take one item?” Well, the one material thing I would currently take with me was in this bag: my Moleskine notebook… in which I had been scribbling the first draft of my new book over the last eight months.
I am only at chapter seven so far, mind you. But, carving out writing time for these seven chapters next to my day job and private turbulences had been incredibly hard. Most days, I would write during my morning commute to work, or on my lunch breaks…

After the initial shock and after making quick phone calls to block bank and credits cards came the moment when I hurried outside into the park right next to the bar. Phone in hand, I tried to open the flashlight app. But I was so upset that, instead, I took about thirty photographs of my feet and the ground before I managed to hit the right button.

I searched for hours. Checked in dark alleys, in garbage bins and bushes, under benches, in public bathrooms, and under containers… but there was nothing…

To be fair, I experienced a lot of kindness that night as well. I came back to the bar five times, making my rounds, re-checking all the convenient spots where a burglar might discard unwanted items. Each time, the bar staff insisted to give me yet another beer free of charge. Some guests inside the bar were genuinely concerned. People kept asking if I had found anything. Some of them even came outside for a while to help searching. My friend and I had planned to go to a concert. I spontaneously gave my ticket to a homeless guy who had sat on a bench in the park across the venue. He was over the moon and ran over to the entrance, waving the ticket over his head like a magic wand as he slipped inside to enjoy the rare treat. My friend went to the concert as well. Meanwhile, the bar security guard lent me his heavy-duty flashlight, and my friend came back after the concert to help me search further into the night.

Now, the weekend has passed. My initial depression as well. There is nothing left to do but to order new cards and IDs, buy a new bag and wallet, and otherwise hope for a miracle. Maybe the thieves DID discard my – for them – useless items in an accessible spot after all. Maybe someone who cares WILL stumble over them and will either ring me or bring my stuff to the lost and found.

I really don’t care about anything but the notebook. While writing, I had felt frequent moments of magic, when I had gotten the words just right to paint a strong mental image for my readers. There is no way I can re-write this first draft exactly as it was.
So keep fingers crossed for that miracle my friends!!!
If it comes down to it and I have to, I’ll try to write it even better. But, if I can actually manage to do THAT is in the stars…

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!

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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.