Tag Archives: #notjusttrans

No Stereotypical Male

2016 liam on egypt beach 1

“I myself had fallen prey to stereotype some years earlier by adopting a swagger and hiding my curves beneath voluminous sweaters. Now, talking with other transgender people, I learned more about who I had become since then.
I had no intention of becoming a stereotypical male. Rather, why not become my own species? I was not going to be a victim, but would be who I was born to be. I would not think of the years I had lost, for nothing is ever lost. I didn’t want to have regrets or doubts.
In essence, it was important to me to be perceived as a man. It felt like the true foundation of my personality, as well as part of my true soul. Continuing on as a female-bodied person would never be an option. However, I valued my years spent in a female body. Life had been hard, had even seemed close to unlivable at times, but it had been my life. The body I found myself in had shaped this life inevitably. It had influenced my perceptions, my actions, and my reactions to the world around me.” (Excerpt from Paralian, Chapter 10, “River Limmat”)

Always on Edge

1996 liam in seebach 2

It’s easy to blame feeling lost, torn, and confused on one particular part of our lives. Over the years, I could have blamed it on being orphaned, adopted, having a neurotic mother, being bullied at school, being transgender, being rejected by my birth mother, betrayed by my girlfriend, etc. etc. The older I get, however, I realize, at least in my case, feeling on edge seems to be a permanent part of who I am. My mind is always working on scenarios and options. Always trying to make sense of everything inside of me as well as around me. Always trying to understand the deeper motives of everyone, including myself. Observing. Processing. Learning. More often than not, I just get the equivalent of a muscle ache up there in my strained brain and end up feeling totally uprooted, not sure of anything anymore. This photo was taken in 1996, one year before I had gender confirmation surgery to adjust my body to the male soul which had always inhabited it. I felt lost back then, too. And sure of myself at the same time. Crazily enough it seems to always be both. Now, 21 years later, after countless further life challenges I feel happy being me. But still, it doesn’t take much to make me worry, doubt, begin to feel insecure. Even though most days I realize I have found happiness already, many times over. I have found love, I have stretched the limits, and I still have enough fight and adventure left in me to sustain me for a few more rounds in this boxing ring of life. Yet, even with an abundance of profound life experiences, I often feel as if I am still a teenager trying to find his way. I don’t fully understand what it is I am actually looking for. I’m afraid to trust in what I have. I am eager to move on towards new beginnings and, at the same time, I am terrified of them.

Happy New Year!

IMG_1479

Last night, as I was standing at the stove, preparing a yummy and massively rich cheese fondue for my dad, I suddenly felt an intense prickling in my neck. As an avid reader of thrillers I couldn’t help but recognize the feeling: I was being watched. Turning around slowly, I discovered these two. They were obviously trying to hypnotize me into giving them some fondue, too.
Happy New Year everyone! I hope you got to spend the evening with some of your loved ones! And I wish you much strength and joy for 2018. May it be your best one yet xoxo

Which Way To Go…

liam holding pup

I’d love to hear your honest opinion:
While writing the first draft of my second book, it’s becoming clear that I need to make a decision whether it should include me as a character or not.
As you might know already, the book will be a collection of stories about the animal companions I’ve shared my life with and how they have inspired me and helped me grow as a human being.
It will focus on moments when these animals and I forged a special bond, when each of them taught me something… about them, about life and, in turn, about myself.
At the moment, I am not quite sure how to proceed with the overall concept. See, because the animal stories are connected to my life I am not sure if I should tie in my being transgender or not. In a way it has no real relevance to my friendship and experiences with these animals. But of course first a little girl is together with those animals and over the course of time she turns out to actually be a boy. As the years pass and other animals come into my life, we go from “she” to “he”.
Somehow it wouldn’t be quite truthful to refer to myself as “he” as a little kid when I didn’t yet consciously comprehend who I truly was.

I feel there are two ways of writing this book:
1) If I don’t want being transgender to become a theme in this book at all, I need to create a fictional character, just any kid who grows up with those animals and learns from them. Then it’ll be rather fiction than non-fiction.
2) I leave it as a book telling the story of my animals and me. The book will focus on the animal characters of course. But it will then be a semi-autobiographical piece as well. And it will be necessary to somehow gently add being transgender… (or will it?) … to be as authentic as possible.

I am totally torn, because I don’t want to be stereotyped in the future or even now as a “transgender author”. But I am also aware I have powerful things to say that can potentially make a difference. I have a unique view of the world which maybe I should simply own up to. Then again I’ve always seen myself as “not just transgender”, but as a human being who is the sum of his experiences. All my life I’ve fought stereotypes and felt that it is mostly our obsession with labelling other people and ourselves that creates the most trouble for humanity and prevents inclusion.

So what to do? Any thoughts dear friends and readers? I won’t hold you to it. I could just really do with some honest input and gut feelings from people who can still see the wood for the trees.
Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts with me either here in open discussion or in a PM! xoxo

Friendship

dave and liam

Today I am thinking of my close friends, my family. This was Christmas 2006 with my best buddy (I’ve changed his name in my memoir to protect his privacy) and an entire team of unforgettable people on Kuredu Island in the Maldives.
Every day, I am fully aware how lucky I was – and still am – to have this wonderful friend in my life, even though now we rarely get to see each other anymore. Most Christmases on the island we cooked cheese fondue together and ate it in front of one of our rooms, with a good bottle of wine, or two, or three 😉
I miss those long, enchanted moments, miss planning adventurous trips, or just listening to each others’ thoughts until the early morning hours.
Merry Christmas everyone! To true friendship, family, love, and compassion! xoxoxo

“My best friend on the island, Milo, had arrived one year after me. He was German and an amazing soul. Milo had a beautiful body and long blond hair, making him very popular with the single ladies vacationing on Kuredu. What made him one of a kind, though, was his keen people sense and his positive spirit, which was second to none. His good humor and naiveté often had us all in tears with laughter. Milo’s English was very basic upon his arrival. When he started guiding snorkel boats, he would greet his snorkelers every morning with a heartfelt, “It’s such a pity to see you today!” then misinterpret the roaring laughter of his snorkelers as pure delight. We enjoyed the show too much to inform him of his error.
Milo and I were soul mates. We spent many evenings outside on the front step of our rooms, drinking gin and cokes and gorging ourselves on ready-made cheese fondue brought all the way from Europe for us by returning guests. We traveled together several times in our breaks between contracts. We dreamed of exploring the world together, planning daring adventures for the years to come. I hadn’t been blessed with such a deep friendship since my childhood. Milo was like the younger brother I never had. His friendship and unwavering loyalty meant the world to me.”
(Excerpt from Paralian, Chapter 26, “Philippine Sea”)

Trust Your Children

1975 on a boat with mom

Two of the most common questions people ask me are: “When did you know?” and “How did you know?” In a way, I always knew. Even as a three-year old child I instinctively thought of myself as male. My body was female, but I knew I was a boy. This was no clearly defined thought but rather pure instinct, a state of being. Whenever I went somewhere new, I seized the opportunity and immediately introduced myself to the other kids as “Stefan” instead of “Stefanie”.

Over the years, like all of us growing up, I was told who I was supposed to be. Thankfully, and due to all the many tantrums I threw, my parents did let me wear boys clothing at least. I remember each time my mom sent me into the ladies room, I wanted to rather go to the “boys”. Without fail, as soon as I walked into the “ladies”, the flustered females I encountered wanted to throw me out because from the looks of me they thought I was a boy. I secretly loved this, but didn’t really consciously understand why it gave me so much satisfaction.

After puberty, when the Internet took off and I had access to more information, I finally read about transgender people. The fog lifted and I began to consciously understand who I truly was. The mosaic pieces of my childhood fell into place.

There are different kinds of knowledge. There is knowledge based on instinct and emotion. Our souls leading the way… And then there is knowledge based on reflection, education, experience, and comparing ourselves to others…

From own experience, I can only encourage all of you: trust your children. Even if they have no way to put into words yet what they are feeling, they know who they are from a very early age. Be their safety net, love them no matter what, let them be true to themselves, and let them reach for their very own stars!

A Nomad At Heart

liam at spluega pass

“My longing for change had only grown. The nomad within me was straining at the bit, hungry for new horizons. My new plan was to take a more subtle approach and give myself ample time to let go of the world I knew. The safe bubble I had created for myself in my Swiss home had served the important purpose of grounding me when I had needed stability more than anything. Now I would slowly sneak up on leaving my haven. After all, no matter how comfortable my Swiss bed might be made, no matter how deeply I snuggled into those soft down covers, I was highly aware that eventually, it would be time to get up and explore.” (Excerpt from Paralian, Chapter 20, “Puget Sound”)

This was in 2004. Currently, I am back in Switzerland. It still feels comfortable and safe. But I wonder, maybe I am not made for safe havens… and, someday soon, the time will come to get up yet again and go back out there into the unknown…