This was originally shared on TMP’s original blog Transmuseplanet.blogspot.com in 2013.
Social media has its pros and cons but one thing it’s certain to do; is bring together people who would possibly never cross paths. When I created Transmuseplanet, it was just a place for me to ramble. Many friends suggested I create a facebook and google + page to share my musings. I created the page just to share my post. Immediately I felt, as Kabbalah would refer to as bread of shame. Meaning, what I was doing was just feeding my ego, and not giving back in return by simply sharing only my post and thoughts. I quickly decided to use it to share various types of information that would be of concern to our community. Being from South Carolina with my only claim to fame being a couple of lines in two indi films, and a decade as a gender illusionist showgirl, I felt the most likes I’d get would be a couple of dozen from close friends and family. The opposite happened. No family has shown support, or the few who called me friend, even stopped to read. Yet, what has happened, is a whole new world of friends, many whom I have and hope to meet someday. As of the first week of August 2013 when this was originally written, while I spent time in my local community supporting pride week, Transmuseplanet Facebook page crossed the 1000 like mark. Nearly 950 more than I had ever imagined would. Today, in 2017 with the edited version of my, somewhat, improved writing, that page now has over 25, 000 friends of TMP.
Many on the page, and the administrators informed me that reaching 1000 deserved acknowledging. I had been contemplating doing interviews of various people from our community, and decided to make it a random contest in away. I’d choose the 1000th like on the page as my first interview to support the intersectionality of the trans community. What better way to resist the “bread of shame” and begin to give back by highlighting the people who have shown their support and appreciation for this online community.
On August 5th 2013 that 1000th like happened and it was a young, intelligent young man from Germany. This process of interviewing and having the chance to chat with Lyle has revealed something deeper than I expected. It was a reminder of the common denominator that all trans people share; coming out, the desire to be your true self, the shame and dysphoria many would have us feel completely. It reconfirmed my belief, and why I started blogging on trans issues; that though we are different sexes, races, from different regions and religions, we all share the story of being trans. That’s what makes a community, and those shared struggles is what gives a community a story to tell. This random moment on social media gave both Lyle and I a chance to tell a story. A story I will for always stand with the future Lyle’s and Sabrina’s to tell. Thanks to Lyle our 1000th friend of TMP, who at the time of this interview was about to celebrate his 19th birthday, his first as his authentic self. ¹
TMP: Lyle, you are our 1000th like on our facebook page, thank you. You’ll be the first, and not the last, in a series of interviews focusing on Trans-people from around the world on the TMP. In your words, how has your life changed recently due to transitioning?
Lyle: Thank you for letting me be a part of this project! I hope you can interview many interesting people from around the world and share their experiences with all of your readers and I feel honored to be the first one! My name is Lyle and I’m a 19 year old student from Munich which is in the beautiful south of Germany. I am about 9 months on Testosterone now and I’m having my top surgery soon, so my life has changed a lot and it’s still changing! I was that depressed and shy teenager, which had no friends and spent all of his time in front of a computer screen. Today I consider myself an outgoing person, who get along with almost everyone. I have many great friends who accept and love me for who I am and that feels great! Transitioning has helped and is still helping me to find and express myself. It took me a lot of time to have the courage to go on this long journey.
TMP: We all have unique stories about our transition. Tell us, if you will, your experiences.
Lyle: Well, I guess my story is the average story of a female to male Trans-guy here. My childhood was great and I didn’t have that much problems with my identity, because I was around boys all the time and they accepted me as one of them. My parents were very accepting when it came to my tomboyish style and that I didn’t want to wear any dresses. It all got complicated when I turned 13 and puberty gave me a big old smack in the face. I lost many of my guy friends and I became very sad and depressed. I hated myself and my body and I didn’t want it to change for the worse. I was sick of reality and I got addicted to the game “World of War craft”, where I spent way too much time. The game made me happy though, because there I could be who I really am- a guy. When I turned 16 I came out to my mother and told her that I couldn’t live on with the body I had and that I identified as a boy. She thought I was going through a phase, but she helped me out by finding a therapist. The years passed by and I got very depressed because nothing really changed. I was doing terrible at school and had to repeat a whole school year. I was so unhappy that I decided to transfer schools and change everything that was going wrong in my life. I found new friends at my new school and the teachers there were very supportive and helped me out with my transition by using my new name and pronouns, they even allowed me later on to drop out of school for a year, so I could concentrate on my therapy, hormones and surgery. Everything was getting better and my therapist sent me to a Trans*-specialist, where I got hormones in Oct. 2012. It took me more than 3 years of therapy to start testosterone, so I had nearly given up on everything. I was so happy when I got the OK from the doctor. It really was the best feeling I ever had in my life. ²
My mother wasn’t too happy about me starting hormones, but I took her to an expert who told her how the hormones would help me out and that this kind of treatment would make perfect sense for me. The way she didn’t have to worry that I was making any wrong decisions.
My mother’s support was and still is very important for me since I live with her, and without my father. It took her a while to get use to all the changes that I am going through and now she is totally cool about it. I was very scared of coming out to my dad, but I decided to do so, as soon as I started hormones because he would notice anyway. To my surprise, his reaction was super cool and I was also very happy about that.
Today I am about 9 months on testosterone and I feel great! I haven’t had any surgeries yet but the hormones are doing their job great (except for annoying acne ha ha) and I already like myself a lot more than I ever did.
I am having top surgery by the end of August and I just can’t wait to be one more step closer to my true self!
TMP: How would you describe the acceptance and visibility of Transgender people in Munich Germany?
Lyle: That’s a good question! Transgender people in Germany have gained more and more visibility through the media that suddenly “discovered” us. It’s not that much of a good thing through, since many of the TV shows present Trans* people in a freak-show kind of way and exploit them, instead of educating the audiences. I saw a show a few weeks ago which had people take guesses at Cis and Trans people; they got points if they guessed the gender correctly. Terrible, but there are also good shows, articles that help to educate and a very famous trans-man named “Balian Buschbaum”,³ who has written books, visit schools and has many appearances on TV. I would say that the acceptance here differs from place to place. I haven’t dealt with any discrimination myself, only with people who showed interest in my transition and asked me loads of questions (not all of them appropriate of course), but I guess I’m lucky because I live in a big city where people are very educated and tolerant. I think Transwomen suffer a bit more than trans-guys when it comes to acceptance here, but I would say that it’s not too bad here.
TMP: How is life different for a Trans-man in Munich, than what you “may” have heard for Trans-men in other parts of the world?
Lyle: First of all there are many laws that support Trans* people here and our healthcare system takes care of our surgeries and hormones, so you can’t be discriminated against on your job or at school. I hear many sad stories from other countries of Trans* people being beaten up or fired just because they are Trans*. Things like that happen here rarely and it’s always a huge scandal. I believe the biggest problem here is the lack of education and not laws or religious groups etc.
TMP: We all play a role and contribute to Trans visibility by existing. How has your visibility contributed to your local community?
Lyle: I’m a part of many online communities and I always offer help to anyone in need. I started a German you tube channel, where I talk about my transition and reach out to anyone who is interested, while trying to educate people on what being transgender is like.
TMP: What are your goals?
Lyle: I just hope to find my purpose in this world and to be happy one day. Also, I want a pet snake! Lol
TMP: What are your hopes for the Trans community, specifically, in Germany?
Lyle: I have experienced a lot of hate from inside the community. I just hope that we can all get along and work together to make this world a better place for everyone.
TMP: Who are some of your Trans role models, if any?
Lyle: I’ve been following a guy on you tube, who inspired me a lot. His name was Kai and he was always very positive about life and his transition.
I was very disappointed when I couldn’t find his videos anymore, because he took them off you tube. I wonder how he is. Another great Trans-man is Balian Buschbaum, who I mentioned earlier. It takes a lot of courage to stand out there and stand up for us.
TMP: When did you come to accept who you are?
Lyle: I had a bad phase when I was 17 and I tried to shake off my plans of transitioning because I felt that it would make everything more complicated. I tried to force myself into society’s standards and I ended up feeling suicidal. I realized that I am the only one who has to live my life and I had to decide what was best for me. I then forced myself to deal with it more and carried on with my therapy. I haven’t completely accepted myself yet, but I hope for this to change soon, since the traits, I don’t like, are vanishing bit by bit.
TMP: If you had one chance to tell the world and knew everyone would hear you at once. What would you like them to know about Lyle G., and who he is?
Lyle: I’m just a regular 19-year old human being and not different from anybody else. We all deserve the same amount of respect and kindness. Life has its ups and downs for everyone, so stay positive and never give up! I’d also like to leave my favorite quote here:
“[…] the circumstances of one’s birth are irrelevant; it is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are.” – Mewtwo (Poke`MonJ)
I got so much more than I was expecting from my chat with Lyle. I got a sense of the things that are universal to so many of us. A young Trans-man in a country so far away from my own, yet also feels one of our communities greatest obstacles is the in fighting over our differences. If we are to grow, gain respect and acceptance, our first step has to be towards extending those traits to our fellow Trans fam.
The fact that he, in his country, is as aware that Trans-men earn far more acceptance than Transwomen, as well as I do here in South Carolina, USA, makes for an interesting conversation as to why that is. What does that say about the human race that we are more willing to understand why a woman would transition to be a man, yet it’s viewed a negative for a man to transition to a woman? That theory alone is an insult to women and feminism everywhere. It shows the deep roots of old misogynistic views about women, and leads to greater discrimination against trans women.
Our 1000th friend of TMP may be a hard act to follow? You’ll have to check out the other faces to challenge that, but the strength that we share is what makes all trans beautiful.
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- It has been four years since this interview. I lost contact with Lyle a year afterwards. During that time he was still happy, and proceeding with his transition. Sending loving vibes for his continued happiness.
- The German Standards for the Treatment and Diagnostic Assessment of Transsexuals, published in 1997, were an attempt to regulate this area of conflicts within the German health system, which in 2013 still created long wait times to receive medical treatment for dysphoria. PDF Download: Transgender health care in Germany: Participatory approaches and the development of a guideline.
- Balin Buschbaum , is a former winning German Pole Vaulter, activist and model.