Long read, sorry. I know this is a public forum, but please only read this here and don’t go sticking it on social media, however well meaning. Can’t explain why, it’s just a polite request please. I alluded in a thread last month to my gender status. After seeing a couple more threads around this issue, I want to feel brave enough to be fully honest in here, and try to dispel some myths and help people to understand just how hard it is to be a transgender person and the long-lasting damage society’s and medicine’s lack of understanding causes. First of all, it is extremely important to point out that there are sensible people and nut jobs in every demographic. Someone who wants you thrown in the gulag for not using their new fictional pronouns they made up, based on liking cats last night with no prior thought, is not the same as a genuine sufferer of gender dysphoria, which is often a very private struggle. There are some very odd extreme people who spout some absolute nonsense while claiming to be trans, and this harms the rest of us because it makes us all look insane. I’ve seen posters on here mock trans people, and it’s these oddballs they’re typically mocking, but in doing so they’re also hurting us, because it belittles something we’ve had to cope with, alone, since childhood. We didn’t choose it. This is what gender dysphoria is, with my personal examples and from a male to female perspective. Gender dysphoria is growing up feeling like a girl, but knowing from being a toddler that something isn’t right with your body and doesn’t add up. It’s looking down and feeling confusion and an upset you can’t fully understand at that age. It’s liking girl toys, but everyone thinking it’s weird and only ever giving you boy toys, so you start believing you’re a weirdo and try without success to only like boy toys. It’s wanting to wear girl clothes as a kid but being told you’re not allowed, it’s weird, and please don’t say that again - so you repress it. It’s waiting for the prayer at the end of the daily primary school assembly so you can ask God to please make you a girl, because when you’ve asked grown ups they’ve just laughed at you. God never does make you a girl, so you become the school’s youngest atheist. It’s wanting to have long hair and makeup as a teenager, but being mocked by your peers for both, so you repress it. It’s having more female friends than male because you have more in common, and being made fun of in school for that. It’s experiencing all of these things, building up a backlog of trauma, and telling yourself “If I don’t want to be bullied for the rest of my life, then I have to force myself to be a manly man”. This is where the damage starts. Your voice subconsciously changes, you start using a broader blokey deep Yorkshire accent to seem like ‘one of the lads’. You start to associate ‘manliness’ with the teenage lads who do toxic things, so you join them, and end up in trouble with the law because you want so badly not to be mocked anymore that you become willing to do selfish and stupid things to appear ‘more manly’, which you later regret. You create a false ‘manly’ outer shell that makes you incapable of showing real emotion, because doing so might make people suspect you again. You deal with every stress internally and start to feel overwhelmed and suicidal. When you’re depressed you lose motivation, so grades plummet and a series of failed jobs ensues because your head is mush. Those who knew you when you were younger start to dislike this false masculine persona, and you feel just as uncomfortable as they do. Eventually, the pressures and the mental exhaustion become so much that something has to give. The fake life becomes unsustainable and everything comes crashing down around you. When this happens, sufferers of gender dysphoria tend to do one of two things: transition or commit suicide. I want to transition, because I have people I care about, and I don’t want to leave them. I’m not going online and insta-buying female hormones, or suddenly going out in a frilly dress. I’m going to therapy, to first and foremost help me work through a backlog of trauma longer than my left leg, which all relates to my gender, which feels as though it was assigned incorrectly. Being able to tell my friends was one of the biggest reliefs I’d ever felt. Now I’m getting up the courage to tell family, some of whom are not going to like it. I might lose some people I care deeply about over it, but it if I do it will be because they don’t accept me, and not because I want to push them away. Now, some things about transitioning are very scary. The medication itself is strewn with side effects and cancer risk, particularly breast cancer. In a given year, almost a quarter of trans people are physically assaulted for their transgender status. Almost all are verbally assaulted, and on a regular basis. Going out becomes hard, because regardless of gender I might have to pee. I can’t go in the men’s because it’s humiliating; I can’t go in the women’s because I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable. There are genuine concerns around the safety and rights of women to feel safe, and I respect that (some more individual-cubicle disabled facilities would be a good compromise btw). Further notes: Trans athletes is a very grey area to me. Bone and muscle density post-transition is actually lower than a cis woman’s according to various studies. Ask a trans woman to open a tight jam jar. Very difficult. But testosterone can still be above the natural range for a cis woman, and this could be an advantage. The counter argument is “Doesn’t a 6’4 woman have a natural advantage over a 4’10 woman?” And it’s a fair point. It’s very difficult to take a side on this from my perspective, and I’m not an athlete, so I stay out of it. Cis woman is not a derogatory term. It is used simply by the trans community to differentiate in important conversations. We know you’re women, but we don’t want to be seen as inferior people, and having a prefix for us and not for you makes you ‘normal’ and us ‘abnormal and weird’. We don’t want to upset you, we just also don’t want to feel second-class. Next time you’re at Oakwell, look around at all the manly blokes around you. Statistically, at least one or two will be suffering inside with this, but can never be themselves through fear.