Today I want to talk about some of the positives and some of the pit falls of being activity part of the transgender community online.
I started to look into transgender websites early last year. This was from the angle of wanting facts and plain information on what transgender really meant and what (if anything) people who felt transgender could do so they could feel more comfortable in their skin. There was not a tonne of information out there, but enough to give me a good understanding. Compare that to information around me: GPs, library’s, people’s knowledge etc. which was non-existent. The internet gave me golden ticket into understanding there were many people like me and there were procedures (if you chose that route) that were well established and documented. So far a big thumbs up for the Trans community.
As soon as I “confirmed” (for some reason that sounds odd) that I was transgender I started to use/browse transgender forums, specifically transmale ones. Here I found there was access to individuals experiences which, unlike websites, were uncensored and the most up to date. I found out how I could: try access testosterone quicker, top & bottom surgery procedures explained and documented, private vs. NHS, opinions on doctors & clinics & hospitals, legal documents, changing exam certificates, clothing, packing, binding, mental health, store trans policies & everything bar the kitchen sink.
At first this is great, you feel you have support and backing of other Trans people. If you have a concern, there is a great chance someone has already voiced it and it’s been discussed and resolved. You don’t need to go fishing for information that the websites are reluctant to put up or just can’t update regularly enough.
However after a while there is a kind of saturation point. When 95% of stuff you already know and understand, so the pros start to decrease, and you start to feel more of the negatives. You notice someone who came to the forums after you, but is on T before you. Some people in depression talking about how they hate being Trans and talking about ending it. You want to help but at the same time feel its swirling bad thought patterns in your head. You feel guilt for not responding. People compare body shapes and gains, you feel a bit shit. Some people talk about how being Trans made their childhood unbearable and they wanted to be called “he” from age 3. You start to question if you’re really Trans then?….Someone who has gone private for top surgery so can get it done in 2 months. Jealousy raises its ugly head and it also begins to feel like one long rat race competition to be “transitioned” first.
Then you sit back with a coffee one morning and think “what the f*** is going on“. Since when did I give two hoots about some transman’s pecs in some Southern county being more defined than mine? Have I gone mad!?
It’s the darker side of the forums which is hidden in-between all the positive stuff. “Trigger warnings/CWs” can only go so far, and it’s not these forums fault per say. It’s just you have a bunch of people, many of whom can’t openly talk to anyone else about this major stuff going on in their life’s. So it spills into messages and photos, looking for people to comment and chat about progress and changes. So many opinions and stages of transition and life… it’s hard to keep everyone happy. In the end of the day, just because we are all transgender does not mean we are all buddy pals. After all, it’s not part of our personality.
The ability to have an active Tran’s forum is great and extremely useful. But so is the ability to take it all in small doses and not get swept up in the comparison and competition like undercurrents. Feel good for your own and others progress, just keep ’em seperate!
Comparison Pic: Day 7 vs. Day 168 (Week 1 vs. Week 24)