Tearing yourself apartBy Michelle Steele
PHOTOGRAPH by Sharon Kilgannon, Alonglines.com
Gender dysphoria ends up with you tearing yourself apart.
I felt very uncomfortable in quite a lot of places. I had anxiety, depression and panic attacks in public. I never felt quite right and had paranoid feelings of people looking at me, or I felt ill. I felt like I was sort of dying or ill. This went on for years and years. I tried to cope but I put that down to my own internal struggle with gender. I don’t get them now, at all. You really need the doctors behind you with this, so I’ve actually changed doctors just to find someone who understands. I’m just seeking as much help as I can; I’ve been referred to Charing Cross, I’m seeing an endocrinologist and two psychologists, so we’ve been through the whole idea of gender dysphoria. I want to progress with hormones and voice coaching and I’m having electrolysis, so the physical things are really helping my self-esteem. It’s very important.
Without those things it’s really difficult to feel that this whole thing is going well. I think there’s a question over how far you go with everything; I mean I just feel that I’ll keep going until my body is matching how I feel inside. I question everything I’m doing to make sure it’s the right path for me. I don’t listen to too many people because it’s my journey. I’m in control of this. Making sure you’re in control and you understand what’s happening to you is very important. It’s also important that people understand I can be a woman, and I can be trans, and it's quite normal.
This is Michelle'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