I don’t know if I have mentioned to you before that I am Dyslexic. For a long while I have been thinking of writing my next book on this subject.
Being Dyslexic is something you are from birth, it is not something you develop or choose. Most people know from a young age (usually having been diagnosed through the education system). I was not so lucky, I had no idea most of my life. I was assessed and diagnosed in 2003 at the age of 26. It was a new chapter.
One of the first sources of help I turned to was a book called the ‘Gift of Dyslexia’, and I have been re-reading it this week with research in mind for writing a second book.
It has started bringing back memories of a time when my world was turned upside down. I had to come to terms with my ‘coming out’ as Dyslexic. I quickly add that I do not wish to undermine anyone trans, your journey is pathed with different difficulties than mine, but I have been struck by some similarities.
When I finished my first session in 2003 with the academic psychiatrist, he said to me there is no doubt that you are Dyslexic, and now that you know you will have to start to deal with it. I broke down in tears of huge relief, after a lifetime of struggle and frustration with aspects of me that I had never understood; to be given a reason, an explanation, was overwhelming.
But he immediately warned me; ‘be careful who you choose to tell. People often don’t understand what it means. People will judge you, make assumptions and you will experience discrimination.
Is any of this sounding familiar to any of you?
Sadly he was right on every count. Initially it was an emotional time. It felt so unfair, why did I have this thing? Why did I have to be different? I had to decide carefully who I initially told. I was embarrassed when I told people because I hadn’t come to terms with it about myself. It didn’t matter that by some miracle and shear determination I had somehow managed to scrape through getting GCSEs, A’ Levels and a Degree. I knew the negative assumptions people made, and I didn’t fully understand myself what it meant to explain it to them. I wanted to understand how much of my personality was shaped by it.
In terms of discrimination; when I moved jobs a year later I decided to be honest and tell my new boss. She asked to see the report I was given after the diagnosis, so she could understand and help support me in the workplace. I was struggling with some aspects of the job and after some miserable months past, I realised she had used my report to unnecessarily give me all the specific jobs, that would be the most difficult to the aspects of my Dyslexia. Luckily she left the company shortly after. In diffent circumstances I lost another job because of it.
Those of us who are not transgender cannot possibly understand how devastating everything that comes with dealing with being transgender can be. But just the other night Princess and I were talking about the journey she has been on, and how much about her is positive because she is transgender, and because she is out.
I still suffer moments of crippling frustration when aspects of my Dyslexia stop me in my tracks. But they are just that, moments. They pass as quickly as they came. Because the positives, the strengths, the uniqueness of me that is my Dyslexia, out way’s the negatives. But it took me a while to realise being different is a gift, and that I can rise above others judgement, because my struggle to understand myself has made me stronger. And I hope that whatever your journey with transgender, it can make you stronger too.