A couple of weeks ago, I took part in the annual ‘LGBT Talents’ event in Paris. I was deeply honored to have been invited as one of the panel speakers for one of half a dozen inspirational workshops on offer that day. I love speaking at this kind of event. It makes me happy to be able to inspire. To be able to lend strength and support and let others know that, no matter how difficult the deck of cards we’ve been given, we can find our way through and nevertheless play a more than decent game of happiness and personal success. I have no recipes or perfect solutions. All I can do is lend my perspective and be authentic and honest in sharing my own – so far quite challenging and unique – life journey.
Our panel was fantastic. My fellow speakers Alexandra, Rica, and Thomas were engaging, positive, and truly themselves as well. I was delighted to meet them as we talked about “The Issues of the Lesser Known Letters” in LGBTQI+. All of us didn’t hide behind phrases. We were right out there – offering to the audience all of who we are.
My personal highlights of the day were, first, a keynote by Antonia Belcher who told us about her life and difficult transition of setting free the woman who had been hidden away and trapped inside her male body for decades. She told us about her amazingly supportive family. About her open-minded children. And about her wife, who had married Anthony many years ago, then decided to remain by her husband’s side after discovering and coming to terms with the fact that he was and had in fact always been Antonia. So they got married a second time. Former husband and wife now being wife and wife. Still dedicated to supporting each other and spending life together as they always had been, come what may. Call me an incurable romantic. I had tears in my eyes throughout Antonia’s tale. Not even so much because of the hardship she was gently describing, but rather because of her beautiful resilience and conscious decision to face life with positivity, love, compassion, and dignity.
My second highlight of the day was connecting with the workshops’ participants throughout the day. I met wonderful individuals and was inspired by their bravery and quest to be true to themselves. Thank you so much to the organizers of this event for an unforgettable, enriching day!
So often in life things turn out far different from how we imagine them to be. Often, what we count on and believe in with all our heart turns out to be far more fragile and unsure than we ever imagined. Sometimes, it only takes a few days or weeks of intense pressure, or a break in familiar routine, for the walls of the temple of our hopes to crack and crumble, debris raining down all around us… leaving us to wonder why the beautiful structure we had built had looked so formidable and strong… yet turned out to have walls as thin and treacherous as an early-winter layer of ice on the pond of our desires. Reality always comes with a twist. Plans we make go up in a puff of dust, because life – more often than not – has other plans. Maybe our path is supposed to be far more challenging. For us to grow and learn from past mistakes we were only vaguely aware we were making. Maybe reality checks need to hit us with the force of a raging tsunami, tearing us up and away by the roots, so we can reawaken to what’s truly important, move forward, and build a better foundation, forever being more aware and appreciative of what we have been blessed with.
This coming Saturday, I will be given the wonderful opportunity to be part of the “LGBT Talents” event in Paris. I will be one of the speakers for the panel “MasterClass LGBT+ : Challenges of the less known letters” and hope to lend my unique perspective to an open and lively discussion. http://www.lgbt-talents.eu/index.html
Thank you so much to the organizers of this event for reaching out to me. I am truly honoured and looking forward to an inspirational day!
“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”)
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.
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
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