A transformation story that started with love

A period of self-exploration that started with love

I was 11 years old when unlike peer girls I fell in love with a girl. I remember how I accidentally met her in the street. She was standing far away and I got an urge to walk up to her and hug her. This was a very strange feeling for me and I got very scared. I couldn’t label it, tell anyone about it, I didn’t know what was happening with me. I tried to fight this feeling but it was in vain – my love kept growing stronger. Every day I waited for her to show up at school – I really loved her a lot…

Time passed, I was small and I couldn’t keep this secret to myself. Finally, I decided to tell it to my neighbor. The neighbor got very scared and asked me if I was a lesbian and left the room. I couldn’t understand anything, I didn’t know how to label this emotions and feelings.

There was a TV show that my family and I watched together. It was the 90s- one of the characters of the show decides to reveal their sexual orientation with their family and tell them that they’re gay. This was the first time when all the information and experience that I had ever had came together in my mind. In a matter of seconds, I realized what had been going on with me this whole time. I got so scared, as I was watching the TV I thought it was obvious that I was gay and my family members would find out.

Mental health, internet and advances in technology

Teenage years followed the childhood and my mental health worsened. I was suffering with depression, insomnia, I visited a psychiatrist. I was prescribed medication and soon was diagnosed with a bipolar disorder. I wasn’t allowed to get nervous and experience too much joy. I was constantly thinking that the doctors and psychiatrists were trying to “cure” me and change my orientation with the medications. I was lucky to have a good doctor, with whom I finally shared my concerns and they replied, that homosexuality is not a disease and cannot be cured with medication.

Then suddenly technology, mobile phones, computers and internet came into being. People found better ways to connect with each other. Using one of the online chats I met people who had the same questions and problems as me, so we started a search for the answers concerning our identities.

We found out that there were NGOs in Georgia that worked on LGBTQ issues and we decided to go there. That’s how we ended up in WISG with Eka aghdgomelashvili, who shed a light on the darkness that was all over us in those years – we were getting all the information, attending trainings, move screenings, meeting other community members… Finally we found out who we were, got answers from professionals, found each other and discovered that we aren’t some kind of aliens and that there’s quite a few of us.

All of this took me 20-25 years.

Am I really a lesbian? Maybe I’m a transgender man?

Despite the fact that I had more than enough information and experience and it seemed like all the empty spaces had been filled, I still had so many questions and the self-exploration process continued. Gradually, the trans community started to emerge in this countrhy. Girls and boys that were going through the stages of transformation. In communication with them I realized why the identity of a lesbian woman had been bothering me for this whole time. I wasn’t a lesbian woman. In reality I was a man. At this time, I was 25 years old.

Then I decided to study this subject more in-depth and find out what procedures I would have to go through to become a man. I got very scared, gave up, decided that I couldn’t go through with it. I thought that I didn’t have enough strength and I wasn’t ready neither financially nor morally – the idea to go through these procedures shifted into a further future perspective.

The story of the transition

Even though I could’ve started taking hormones and having operations way earlier, I wasn’t ready morally and it took me years for me to go to the free consultation with my friend and start the transitioning process.

I remember the day I took my first step with my friend and went to the clinic. The doctor told me that before getting the plastic operation I needed to have a medical examination that cost 500-600 GEL, and the operation itself was 5000-6000 GEL. We were very disappointed, we didn’t know what to do, it would take us way too long to save up this much money. Our lives were over, we were giving up and postponing the operation for many more years, if it wasn’t for the help of our friends…

We decided to ask help from the LGBTQ community members and in just a few months we were able to get all the tests in order for us to start taking testosterone. This happened one year ago. After that everything became harder, the pandemic started, and everything changed.

Advice to the transgender people who are now going through these steps

I will try to explain the stages that a transgender man has to go through for the transition process to be successful:

First of all, the transgender man need a conclusion from a sexologist that they are in fact a male. This procedure is very different for everyone, some people need a few months to get the conclusion, others – way less. It is more effective if you first contact a social worker that will help you and redirect you to a sexologist.

After getting the certificate you have to start the examination with an endocrinologist. It is absolutely unacceptable to start a hormone therapy without consulting a doctor. Many people do this and often it ends with a fatal result. Before starting the hormone therapy, you will have a full body examination. The doctor needs to know what’s in your organism to prescribe you hormones – this will allow you to avoid all of the side effects that follow taking the hormones.

The hormones cost about 15-30 GEL. There are a few pharmacies in Georgia where you can buy male hormones. The intensity of treatment is also different – it depends on the person’s organism. At first you take them more intensely – once a week, once every two weeks. After three months I started taking them once every 3 weeks. Now I take the hormone once a month and everything is okay. I am noticing how much my body is changing.

After the hormone therapy you can get plastic operations. This process is also different for everyone; it depends on who wants what. The most popular operation is the breast removal surgery that is now successfully done in Georgia. The cost of this operation is 5000-6000 GEL. There’s also phalloplasty, but this one cannot be done here in Georgia. During this operation one of your body parts, usually from your hand or foot is taken and a penis is created out of it. In developed countries a lot of transgender individuals refuse to get this operation. Various researches say that about 30% of transgender men get it because it is accompanied by many difficulties and the rehabilitation period is quite long.

Family, relatives, and the support that I receive from them

My family members have supported me since I was a kid. I remember once I was a kid and I had a long braid. It was summer and it was very hot. My dad came over and cut my braid of. He told me that it was too hot and I didn’t need such long hair. I had never had long hair since then.

They supported me at those times when my mental health was unstable. They helped me, took me to psychiatrists, did everything for me to be happy. Even though it took me so many years to come out, still, no one kicked me out of the house. On the contrary, slowly but finally they received all of the information that it is so hard for other parents or Georgians in general to receive.

That’s why I always try to think about my family and also urge others to not be selfish, not to think only about themselves and consider those people too for whom it is not easy to understand our coming out. We have to try to help them correctly process the information and in the step-by-step delivery of the information.

Future plans

I had to go through a very long journey to get to the desired result. This journey is still on-going and during this time I had to overcome so much humiliation and difficulties. People kept telling me that the transformation process would have negative consequences on my health, that I would die, harm my health, but I still took this step. It couldn’t have been any other way and today I am healthier than I have ever been. I always do routine checkups, go to the doctor regularly and love myself more than I did before.

People accuse me of being sinful, that I am going against god’s will. I am not an atheist, I am a religious person and I share the values that the orthodox religion of Georgia has. I love god and I feel his love and I know that god didn’t create us to suffer. God doesn’t want us to be suffering and to be discouraged. We have to live happy lives, follow our dreams and understand it well that we only live once and it’s not worth it to say no to our desires.

When I think about my future, the way out always seems to be to leave the country – I don’t see a future in this country. The state doesn’t recognize us as people, they don’t want to admit that we have rights too. What I want more is for our society to develop, learn to be accepting, appreciating the different, respect each other and support, not only because it affects us positively, but also because this is how a country develops. This is how we go forward – by accepting and loving each other.


The article was prepared by Zura Abashidze

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