Tag Archives: #paralian

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

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…

We’re All Human

2017 i am what i am

Today, as every year on the 20ieth of November we remember all those who have been killed because of their gender identity. Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. The sheer numbers of those killed in the most barbaric ways are staggering and break my heart. This year it is 325 individuals that we know of from around the world. One life was taken every 27 hours. Basically, this means one trans person was killed every single day of this year. Simply for who they are. You can find the full list of those we have lost here: https://tdor.info

Just imagine. Lives extinguished, broken. Because people are afraid of what they don’t understand. And, rather than try to understand and open their minds, they choose violence to keep their world the way it is and supposedly always was.

But these murderers and anyone else resisting diversity and inclusion are wrong.
Trans people have always existed.
Being born with a gender identity different from societal norm is not something people choose to be. They are not an anomaly or trend.
They just are.

Individuals of all shapes, colors, identities, and sizes have always been part of humanity. But many societies, governments, and churches have tried to eradicate diversity. Because, the more individual, creative, and colorful people are allowed to be, the harder it will be to control them, to convince them to conform to stereotypes and labels. We are all victims of our societies, of hundreds of years of stereotyping for the “greater good”, for “order”, and “structure”. But peace and order are a sham if they are built upon the dead bodies of thousands of innocent individuals. If we cannot open our hearts, if we cannot include everyone and give people equal rights, then we are as far away from the “greater good” as can be imagined.

The key for me has always been inclusion. Because, at the end of the day, believe it or not, we are all human. I have never cared if someone is white, blue, green, black, purple, cis, gay, lesbian, bi, poly, unicorn, or whatever. These are all just labels.
And labels have nothing to do with humanity. In fact, they distort the picture.
There are no “trans people”, no “fringe groups”, no “normal people”.
If you open your heart and mind, there are only “people”.

So, I live my life accordingly. I try not to judge. I try to accept people in all their many beautiful shapes and sizes. In all their identities and beliefs. And I will not let myself be limited either. According to the current labels I am a trans man. Well, yes I am. But I am also not. First and foremost I am a human being like everybody else. I am far more than just trans. I am the sum of my experiences. I am the man and boy I always was, regardless of having entered this world in a female body. I am an adventurer, a rebel, an introvert, a creative soul. I am impatient, sensitive, compassionate, stubborn, loving, and restless. I love to travel, love to write and create, love to have a beer with my friends, and love to spend a quiet day at home with my wife and our three cats.
No one will tell me who I am because the only one who can truly know is I.
All lives are precious and worth living.
We just need to look beyond our fears.
Beyond the labels.

This is for all those we have lost. You will never be forgotten. RIP.
But this is also a message for all of us still inhabiting this breathtakingly beautiful, pale blue dot. Don’t ever give in to labels and stereotypes. Don’t take no for an answer. Don’t be afraid to be yourself no matter what. Because “Life’s not worth a damn until you can shout out: I am what I am!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIryTgUheUs