The Pink Panther and Me

20 May

I thought a good subject for my first blog post would be to explain the title of my blog. It’s also a good introduction to who I am so that people will know what they are getting into reading this blog.

I am a trans woman. I have been transitioning full time since January 1st 2011. I have been on hormones for 7 months as of this post. It took me a long time to come to the point of transitioning, a really really long time.  I know for many people a later tranisiton is because they arent sure, or the dysphoria is mild till they become an adult, or they have a spouse/children to consider. For me it was none of those things.  I have no spouse, I have no children, and my dyshoria has always been acute. I knew who I was and what I wanted to be from my earliest moments but something got in the way….something stopped me from becoming the person I need to be. It all started with a pink panther.

My very early memories as a child were mostly happy. I am smiling in all my pictures  as a child. I had an insatiable love of reading, I used to look for every fact book I could and tried to show how grown up I was by learning everything I could. I mostly played with my sisters toys and would occasionaly dress like her when I could but I didn’t think anything of it. I knew Daddy didn’t like it so I just didn’t do it when he was home. I watched a lot of TV and loved a lot of music. I would pretend I was Stevie Nicks or Olivia Newton John in my room and dance around. I also had a passion for stuffed animals. Any stuffed animal.

My parents liked to go to the fairs around the region I lived in during the summers and would take me and my sister along. My sister never wanted to stay with Mom and wanted to spend her money on rides but I would stay behind and go where she loved, the games. There was all kinds of games, spin a wheel, pop a balloon, toss a big die and bet to win a cheesy carnival prize. You would always end up spending more than the cost of whatever you eventually won but you would always end up with something. Mom and I would have fun and I would walk away with a stuffed animal. My sister didn’t want them, she was older than me and was way too cool for kids stuff like that. I loved them. They were soft and cuddly, unbearably cute, and I could play pretend games where they were my friends.

I should probably add that I didn’t really have any friends in my neighborhood other than the girl next door. Even she would only be friends when we were home since I was that weird boy that no one liked. It was ok with me though, I was happy and I had my friends. By the time I was 7 or 8 I had collected at least 50 stuffed animals, probably more. There is a couple of old pictures of my in my room, sitting in my bed absolutely surrounded by them. I loved everyone of these toys I owned but my clear favorite was the pink panther. He was cute and he was pink (I love pink) and his cartoon was the neatest one I watched on TV aside from Rocky and Bullwinkle. I love cartoons too, I am still a sucker for a good cartoon. I always went to bed with the pink panther clutched under my arm and I felt safe.

I sort of liked school too. I got really good marks and the teacher liked all my silly jokes I got from my joke books. The other kids didn’t like me so much because I wasn’t very boyish. Really I wasn’t boyish at all. I tried to hang around the girls and I would say things like “I want to be Wonder Woman” when we were talking about our favorite superheroes. I got beat up a lot. Pretty much every day. A black eye, bruises, bloody nose, scrapes and lots of pain. It didn’t worry me, I could just go home and play in my room and I didn’t have to worry about them. Mom started freaking out though. Dad decided I needed to learn how to defend myself. That went badly. I didn’t really want to for starters but I did it anyway with much complaining. Eventually I just told myself I could learn to fight like Wonder Woman and I was pretty good at it too. One thing Dad didnt consider though is that bullies don’t like losing fights. They came back in groups and I ended up getting hurt worse. Dad and Mom decided I needed help so they sent me to the school guidance councillor.

This was a long time before “it gets better”; when you were bullied the problem was with you not the bullies. The guidance councillor interviewed me. He sent me to see a specialist. The two of them decided that my issue was a problem with my gender non conforming behavior. This needed to be fixed before I could be happy (no one actually asked me if I was happy btw, I sitll maintain I was) so they sent me to yet another specialist in Toronto. I am pretty sure that it was the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, now CAMH home of Canada’s most prominant gender identity clinic. A gender identity clinic with a very checkered past (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenneth_Zucker)

I was sent home and it was decided that I needed to learn to be a man. No more gender deviant behavior. It was the only way to make me happy. My toys were thrown out, I was only allowed to watch appropriate TV shows, no more playing with the girl next door, I was made to go to hockey games with my brothers and I was forced to join boy scouts where I could learn to be manly after school with all the kids who bullied me during school. That day I came home and my toys went away is one permanantly etched on my brain. More than anything I remember the garbage bags being loaded with stuffed animals. As a cried and begged to just keep one I watched as my pink panther was put in a garbage bag and taken from my life forever.

I stopped being happy that day. Before that I could cope, I could escape. I could enjoy a bit of pleasure and childhood as myself in my own room. After that I was lonely, empty, sad. I couldn’t handle the bullies anymore because there was no escape. I would hurt myself. I got fat. I cried. Worst of all I gave up. I saw no future. I tried again to transition 11 years later at 19 but I as soon as it became difficult I assumed it was impossible and I gave up. Every time I tried after that day to persue my gender identity I would either put myself in danger or I would fail and end up hurting myself. This was my life for over 30 years.

In 2010 I hit rock bottom. I was 325 pounds, unable to walk from diabetes complications, getting daily nursing care and having severe constant anxiety attacks. A couple of things happened though. Firstly, a brilliant and wonderful surgeon fixed my ankle when I thought I would never be able to walk on it again. Secondly I found an old picture book. It had a picture of a young child on a bed holding a pink panther and smiling. I remembered that I could actually be happy and I wanted that. It had been so very long but I wanted that.

Since that day I have changed my life. I have lost over 140 pounds and am nearly off all my diabetic medications. I look really good too. I look much younger than my age. I also started transitioning full time. I knew I needed to be me or I was just going to die so I came out to Mom, my best friends, and all of my family. It has been really good for me being the woman I was meant to be. I smile. I like myself sometimes. I started going back to school and am hoping to enter a nursing program in January to finally get a job and have a life. It’s not all roses. Bad things still happen. I still have nightmares. I still face crippling anxiety at times. I do, however, see a future for the first time since I was that small child. That child didn’t deserve losing the life they lost. I feel like I’ve ben dead since that day and im just walking up. In spite of the challenges and the backsliding I keep trying to move forward, for that kid no one spoke up for, and for a pink panther that deserved to be loved for a life time.

P.S. Someday I will buy myself another stuffed pink panther. No one will take it away this time.

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3 Responses to “The Pink Panther and Me”

  1. Xanthë May 20, 2012 at 5:22 am #

    Dear Anna,

    the part where you relate how it was decided for you by the pshrinks that your gender non-conformity had to come to an end, and especially how your toys were all thrown away, is a truly horrible thing to have happened – I’ve nothing in my own experiences growing up that can possibly compare, so I can’t imagine how upsetting that must have been for you as a young child. If virtual hugs and cuddles are welcome on this blog, they’re here for the offering: {{{{{{{}}}}}}}

    I really wonder what motivates the anti-trans pshrinks to fuck up people’s lives (I already knew about Zucker and your story tends to confirm others’ observations). This sort of thing enrages me, but it is an impotent, hopeless anger that these privileged people will never have to suffer anything like the things that their hapless patients are subjected to.

    P.S. I really hope you get another pink panther. ♡

  2. Anna May 20, 2012 at 11:31 am #

    Hugs are always welcome 🙂

    I do think things are getting better at least. Those kind of mental health “professionals” still exist but they are becoming less and less frequent as time goes by. Mostly I think some regions of the world are behind others in right but rights are coming, and access to service is improving.

    As to what motivated them; I am not sure i ever really want to understand. My speculation is that a religeous like surety that you are right leads people to many attrocities.

  3. Utakata May 20, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

    I thought it was all about being pink…

    …nice design though. Minimalist and all pretty. ❤

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