Kaleidoscopic reGeneration: Part 2
This is part two of the series exploring Seth’s experience with his transition.
Having started with private doctors, Seth was able to get advice on legal name change, And was able to legally adopt an integral part of his identity, his name. In Seth’s case, as he is Belgian by nationality, legalizing a name change has been a long and winding road. But it was his doctor who was able to advise Seth to do a Deed Poll1, which would be legal for all UK documentation, regardless of nationality. Being in Scotland has been a positively inclusive experience – no social media or any other abuse, and the medical side of things has been, albeit long and at times expensive, fairly straightforward and accessible. However, these steps have led to one of the biggest hurdles for Seth, which has been to deal with the Belgian legal system. Culturally, Belgium is one of the leading European nations in terms of LGBTQ rights, having been one of the first to legalize gay marriage and having a progressive attitude for equal LGBTQ rights2. Legally, however, in Seth’s experience between 2012 and 2018, Belgium has been frustratingly backwards. “The advantage of being recognized as transgender and to have it confirmed as a mental illness, all medical costs would be one hundred per cent covered by social security. LGBTQ associations in Belgium want to maintain this social security for all transgender people but remove the legal ‘mental illness’ aspect from it”, Seth explains. “The stigma of it is horrendous. To be able to change your gender legally in Belgium, you have to prove you’re sterile in your birth gender. You also need to prove you don’t have any sperm or eggs frozen anywhere. You cannot even keep that option for yourself for later, to have biological children later on.”
However, the law enforcing sterilisation prior to gender change was repealed in June 2017, having taken effect since January 2018 – something Seth only recently found out himself, giving him an enormous sense of elation. Knowing he would not have to endure any medical procedures to be recognised legally and equally as the man he has always been, and now to even be legally recognised is a relief. “I mean, I’m stoked!” he enthuses. There’s less pressure now both in legal and personal fronts. For Seth, the biggest change thus far to be able to begin to feel at ease in his own body was a full double mastectomy. As a trans-man, Seth did not really feel he could “get away with rocking double-H boobs,” which pre-transition Seth had been naturally endowed with. The top surgery took place in 2015, and the rest of the biological steps will follow, in good time. But there is no rush. The hormone treatment Seth has been on as of 2014 has gone a long way to enable Seth’s mentality and acceptance of his identity outward in public as inward with himself to be stabilized. Now, as a 32-year old female-to-male transgender in mid-transition, according to Seth, he is fairly happy with how – physically – things are at the moment. “I’ll go through the hysterectomy eventually anyway, but this means I can take my time and still get my papers in order like I want.”
Most importantly, Seth emphasizes how his “personality has not changed; I feel it has only enhanced as I can be free in who I am, naturally. I went through a whole period of overcompensation – being hyper-feminine when I was younger to becoming hyper-masculine before coming to terms with being trans man who identifies as a queer gay man. The queer in the definition of my identity is really important part of who I am.” For the time being, for Seth a full biological change is not necessary. Well, at least not until it can medically be guaranteed that changing one’s sexual organs also guarantees continuing natural sexual pleasure. Physicality of pleasure is important, and so far, Seth is happy to hold on to that little clit that guarantees the best of two worlds.
Seth highlights how, in his experience, it is trans-women who have it harder everywhere. “Being trans-man is easier as physically if you can grow a beard and your voice is low – you’re a man. But trans-women’s change takes longer, their voices change slower and less noticeably, the hair growth and other biological aspects take longer to change. And this leads to shunning and being made fun of, also inside the LGBTQ communities, who are set on hierarchies and gate-keeping. Being labelled “not enough” gay/trans/whatever.” For Seth, the majority of his negative experiences have been due to lack of exposure and understanding of what it is to be transgender, especially as two separate experiences of being a trans-man versus a trans-woman, even within LGBTQ communities. To change this, to change the attitudes in and out of the communities and the societal mindset, Seth believes much more visible, public and inclusive representation is needed. Seth might not be looking to become a role model, but he strongly considers more open representation and communication provides more acceptance. And if his story can help, either someone in process of transitioning and not knowing what steps to take to initiate the change, or just looking for their “light bulb” moment, then fantastic; here he is.
Useful links for those searching for answers and beginning points to their regenerative transition journey in Scotland: