I am unable to live a lieBy Luc Raesmith
PHOTOGRAPH by Sharon Kilgannon, Alonglines.com
One of my greatest challenges has been the lack of awareness in society of the various conditions that I have lived with, resulting in the fact that I didn’t receive diagnoses of these until I was in my late forties or early fifties.
It was another trans male who suggested some four years back that I might be on the autism spectrum and told me that there’s actually a twenty percent higher incidence amongst trans people of having Asperger Syndrome.
In Brighton, unusually, there is an adult support group, and I joined this and also made a request to have the neuro-behavioural clinic’s assessment and received a diagnosis of having Asperger’s last summer, at age fifty-four. It’s been a huge revelation to me and a relief, because it’s answered a lot of problem issues and queries that I had around my challenges of relating to people. This effectively stopped me having a degree, having a career and having partnerships. But it’s also given me another label to be political about.
I don’t feel as though the Aspie side of me has been compromised by or has compromised my trans identity at all, perhaps it’s even enhanced it. Aspies have an intense need for honesty, for a sense of integrity, so I am unable to live a lie, whether that means getting in trouble for what I am saying, for how I behave, or for having to move on from activities and people dynamics. I have a bipolar disorder level II diagnosis from 2004, when I made a first suicide attempt and was hospitalised in a psychiatric unit, but my supposed unipolar depression started when puberty set in at eleven. In 2009 I received a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, although I had probably lived with that since I was kindergarten age.
Fortunately, following recovery from a serious overdose in 2007 when I literally ‘woke up’ to knowing that I needed to transition to be the androgyne person I was, the art therapist from the same hospital unit (to whom I was re-referred for post-crisis therapy), knew about the Gender Identity Clinic in the next door building. My GP did not mention it – and I don’t think my psychiatrist even knew of it at that time. But, once I was referred to a GIC consultant psychiatrist and diagnosed with gender dysphoria, that became the sole access to mental health treatment; I was very lucky in that I received four years of ongoing gender counselling there from a therapist who was able to recognise the validity of my non-binary gender identity. But art therapy for the invisible disabilities in my life in general was ‘off ’.
This is Luc's testimony in Chapter Three (Dysphoria, mental health, stress, coping, escapism, fantasy) of the ground-breaking Brighton Trans*formed book.
To read more intimate, heart-breaking and heart-warming stories from transgender people, click here.
This page was amended on 19/12/2014